Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

First of all, Happy New Year everyone!

Today Jordan and I went to Shimokitazawa for a lot of shopping. It was fun, though very long. Honestly we probably should have left a tad later, and I should dressed a tad heavier, but it was definitely enjoyable. Unfortunately we did not find the second half of the area until rather late, when we were cold and tired and lots of shops were closing, so we didn't really see everything. A reason to go back, I guess? Some highlights: There were lots of ponchos, that were awesome. There were some cool jackets, including a Korean one that was red, had a tiger on the back, and a zip-down hoodie. Like, the hood had a zipper in the middle. It was really weird. In a store there was a random Fender Stratocaster just hanging out, possibly for sale. There was a golf magazine in a convenient store with a japanese man dressed in 70s Britt-punk attire. We got a free tea tasting that was absolutely delicious (I will maybe pick some up when I'm closer to going home). Lots and lots of animal-socks -- with eyes and mouths and such. Really delicious looking waffles...that we didn't eat! Much more!

Afterwards we went to Yoyogi Kouen (Park) to celebrate the New Year. There was a standard festival with expensive food (500 for an anman! Ridiculous!) And some sort of music thing - basically large screen with a New Year's concert showing. We walked around a bit, Jordan realized how close we were to a fashion district which we then explored, and then we went back so as to avoid getting stranded by metro. It was nice, but I was just inside and non-attentive when the year changed...which doesn't really bug me. We almost ended up on a bus tonight, so it is better than nothing! Also Gen gave me a rather sweet card, so I kind of feel like a jerk now. Oh well, I will probably pick him up a little something in Hokkaido, I guess?

Tomorrow, around 10pm, we will board our bus for Aomori, then take a ferry to Hakodate for our trip. So I think I'll just relax and maybe do some work tomorrow, but for the two days following I will be in Hokkaidoi! It should be lots of fun, and will hopefully include some hiking, a castle visit, an onsen, and maybe some soup curry and dairy products. Also -- snow! I am rather excited.

Another note: Jordan also keeps a blog and is somewhat better at writing than me. Her post on yesterday had a bit more detail and wonderment in it, so I would recommend reading it. If nothing else, it will provide a different perspective on what I say. Honestly, it will likely give a more complete story to events we mutually experience. Read it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Day

Today has started out pretty good and continued that way pretty much unhindered until this moment.

I woke up feeling pretty decent, took care of some things, packed some stuff up, and headed out to get breakfast. I got some Yakitori (Grilled Chicken, typically with Salt or Teriyaki) from a rather nice and casual Japanese vendor I have never seen before. He had no problems asking if I was a Gaijin and chatting with me about it, then dropped in that I looked "cool," asked what it meant and put in some guesses. He gave me a 10Yen/Yakitori, and was generally jovial. The experience has been with me all day and rose my spirits in a pretty good way.

I got a good amount of reading done on the train to Narita, and the scenery was beautiful. It took longer than expected, so I didn't have to wait very long for Jordan, who of course was delight to see (especially after last week's error). On the way back a Canadian guy, Michael, started chatting with us. Seems like a nice guy, he's apparently here for a year working as a chef in a Roppongi Gentlemen's club named Tetra. Interesting guy, most Westerners kind of just glare at each other or ignore each other when they see other Westerners they don't know, but he opted to talk to us. I would like to meet him again, at some point.

There were some issues in getting into Jordan's home for the month...the key left in the mailbox got pushed all the way in, but we eventually got it out. The area her apartment is in is not the best, but the apartment itself is rather nice. We walked around a bit, she bought some magazines, we got some delicious bento, and we made friend with a local drunk man. Basically, after peeing on some street, he ran up to us and decided that we were shy/indecisive about entering a ramen shop (we were just trying to translate the menu) - so he told us he was friends with the owner and basically convinced us to enter. The shop owner was pretty displeased and told us they were closing, so we left...only to meet that man again a few minutes later on a different road. Very odd.

I  unfortunately lost a 2010 scheduling book I got in my Japanese Class's Christmas had all the subway maps and I was thinking about using it as a kind of journal/diary. Might use losing it as an excuse to buy one, though I don't know how long I would be able to keep that up, or even what sort of journal I would want to keep. I just feel I should take to writing things more immediately. I kind of want to practice writing very openly about myself and my thoughts, so it would be great practice. I also want a Kanji Notebook, to write down kanji I don't know to look up later, as a learning tool. So I could always combine both goals into one general notebook...we'll see what happens.

Other things, Ben and Mom both called a few minutes of each other when I was at Jordan's pad. It was rather odd. The Bento shop by Jordan's place is way better than any I've been to before (which is only really 2 or 3, if you don't count konbini and supermarket bentos). I may end up meeting family in the Caribbean or something over my two month break (Exciting!). Jordan and I exchanged gifts, she got me the book I've been pining for for months now (Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent), and I gave her the Tokyo Jihen single she was asking for. Related not, Julianne apparently got me something...I am really curious to see what. Tomorrow Jordan and I will go to Shimokitazawa (full of thrift shops, I went a month or so ago and got cool pants and a jacket), and who knows for New Year's eve. I am hoping some people will join at some point, but it seems a bit late and no one's really interested. Should still be fun! Also, the bus for Hokkaido leaves the next day!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Illuminations and the first Holiday

So before I say anything else, I think I am going to stop uploading pictures here. It's a rather enormous hassle and has kept me from posting anything a number of times. Eventually I will make all of my pictures available, but probably that will wait until I'm back in the US. I would prefer this being a picture blog, but it's clear that it is not something I am capable of doing. When I post pictures expect them to be on my facebook, or on my deviant art until I am back in the US, working on a real computer.

That said, I have been up to a lot. A little after my last post I went to see the Illumination in Roppongi with my friend Rike. I sort of invited myself and feel she may have been happier on her own, but it was still rather nice and very pretty. We also stopped and tried some hand-made donuts, which were pretty tasty (but rather pricey! Oh well, it is Roppongi).

I also had a lovely Channukah, and even celebrated twice -- both times at Ben's place. I have been there rather often, it seems. His host mother is an excellent host (as is his host sister), and an even better cook. Though, the second time we celebrated Ben did most of the cooking (I was surprised at how good all of the things he made were), though I brought some latkahs (both sweet potato and normal), which were a success, and his host mother provided us angel-food cake for desert. A very nice holiday indeed!

The very next day I ended up going back for a house party hosted by his host sister. Lots of good food, and lots of Japanese conversation. I managed to look introspective enough that the party-goers assumed I was better at Japanese than Ben and Laur, which was rather hilarious. I guess it is all about confidence and appearance.

My Festivus was pretty good too -- I spoke to the guys and shared my grievances over Skype. I also posted on the blog. It's been a while since I plugged Procrast-Nation, but it is worth checking out. They just hit 500 posts (mine was 501)! Though, if you just wanna check out mine it is titled "The Body, the Spirit, and Perception" and is a preliminary reflection on Lynn Hunt's book while I was still reading it. It is somewhat unrefined, so please be gentle.

Other than that, I have been reading some good books (Lynn Hunt, "Inventing Human Rights: A History," Patti Smith, "The Coral Sea," Suetonius, "The Twelve Caesars"), watching some good/awful tv and movies (Strangers with Candy, Merlin, even Star Trek, A Home at the End of the World, If the World were Mine), and generally having a good time despite the various essays I am working on. I have also gone on plenty of trips around Tokyo - which is making me like the city a good deal more.

Some places I went:
Keio University and surrounding area, very nice, very pretty campus!
Walking tour to Nakano Broadway -- seedy area! But it was nice to revisit, even briefly. I got Seta something as a thanks for the hat she gave me! Also found a good Bubble Tea shop, finally!
Walking tour to Square-Enix store/Yoyogi - lots of fun to revisit, and not that far! The store hasn't changed much, still way too pricey for me, but I am happy I went.
Walking tour to Rainbow Bridge -- oh man this was a full day! I got to see so much, I really loved it! The city is really big, and rather hard to maneuver, but this was definitely worthwhile and I definitely plan to do this again, earlier in the day, so I can get to Odaiba! I was very upset to find the Rainbow Bridge closed for pedestrians when I got there. Oh well...
Shiodome Pokemon Center -- with Laur, pretty cool. A full Pokemon Center is not much more than the one near my hotel 3 years it was not too exciting, but was fun.

As some are probably wondering...I had my date wrong -- Jordan will actually be here tomorrow. It's given me a chance to do a lot of work, so it's not so bad. I'm just upset that we won't have a week where I don't have class and we will both be in Tokyo, but I do have 3 day weekends all the still not too big a deal.

Also, we have tickets and hotel set for our Hokkaido trip -- I hope to have exciting news about it soon!

P.S. I have received many fine gifts, for the holidays and will therefore only eat out until school starts again. Also I am now positive more than ever having a roommate is not something easily done for me -- I will have to pick mine very carefully when I return to the US, or find somewhere I can live by myself. The reason is sort of personal in regards to someone not myself, so I won't post it publicly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thanksgiving / Baking / Future Plans

So I do not really have pictures today, but I do have a post! Just as good.

So I'll start with Thanksgiving -- it was a lot of fun! Ben, Laur, and I went out and got a Strawberry and Cream cake, and ate it together. Surprisingly we did it rather evenly without cutting it (I think so, anyway). It was really tasty, and a lot of fun to just sit together and chat over cake. I've never had such a small Thanksgiving, so it was really interesting. Afterwards we walked Ben most of the way home, and Laur and I went to this well-known gyoza/Chinese restaurant -- which was decently cheap and really excellent! Laur got some Peking duck, and I got Dan Dan Men/Ten Ten Mien (basically a semi-spicy Chinese Ramen). We also split some gyozas, and everything was really delicious and filling. It was a rather good holiday! I feel I should repeat that in case anyone was worried about how it would go, being away from home, especially since Halloween was not up to par.

Anyway, besides that I have been focused a lot on school and various intellectual interests. Pretty much I am reading a lot for class, and listening to a lot of philosophy/news podcasts -- which has been really nice. Beyond that, it's mid-term time, and soon it will be finals! We really only have about 3-4  weeks of class left, especially with the two week winter break coming up.

Other than that I have started baking here, which is a rather cheap way to eat filling food. I've saved up a lot of Mikan (Japanese Orange) zest, so I have made some really tasty treats. I have also been going to t.he gym pretty regularly, I have lost some weight. The gym is really obnoxious to get to  -- it is in the Student Center, and music circles (clubs) just practice their instruments in the hall, along the stair well. They are all loud, most are terrible, and are playing different pieces. It is like the worst post-modern orchestra you can imagine, and it drowns out whatever I am listening to with my obnoxiously loud headphones.

The only exciting thing that's really happened so far is that my class went on a field trip to the Ghibli Museum. I might put pictures of that later, but they sort of didn't want us taking many. Honestly it was not as cool as it should have been. It was mainly museum shops and cool architecture, basically just glitter. The best part was this short excerpt from My Neighbor, Totoro they showed everyone -- and which I could understand part of (it was mainly silent)!

For the future...tomorrow my class will be doing some sort of Taito drum lesson, which could be cool, and I think we are making Mochi on Thursday. Jordan comes to visit on the 22nd (until mid January or so), which is also my last day of class before winter break! I want to try to get her into the dorm for our Christmas party, and I totally want to make her go all sorts of places with me, but the only really big thing we're doing is a trip to Hokkaido for maybe 2 or 3 nights...though it'll take about a day to get there and a day to get back, so it'll probably be really tiring.

Other things -- I am probably going to submit pics to the AU abroad picture contest thing. Depending on how that goes I'll post my submissions here, too. Though, I should mention again that I put a good amount of pictures on my DA page at I may or may not submit something to the Philosophy department magazine thing, depends on how much time I have. I also should have a page on imdb thanks to Dan Levine and "Acquaintances," which I will plug with a link to where you can stream it when available. I also hope to do a showing of this here in Japan!

Well, hopefully I will be better at posting in the future, jaa!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Various Things

So not too much has happened recently. I finally went to Akihabara, which was somewhat fun (I will upload pictures later as I am rather too tired to do it now). I have entered midterm season, which mainly means essays in my case. I will start (and finish) my only non-essay midterm this weekend, and probably start writing my other essays by next weekend. So...really don't expect many posts from now until my winter break.

In other news, I have finally put my self up on and have priced myself rather I should be able to start tutoring soon! I also have been putting a lot of photography up on my old site: so feel free to check that out. Really, I have nothing more to say. Sorry!

P.S. I guess I also had a long conversation with a cell-phone shop clerk in which I managed to cancel my texting plan, and have begun going to the gym somewhat regularly. Not very interesting, I'm afraid.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

It has been a long time!

So I have done a lot since my last post:  I went to a Chinese Opera, I celebrated Halloween (twice, of course), got a package, I almost got my Working Visa, I bought new clothes!

Chinese Opera: Was sort of fun, but really long and not something I care to do again. It was more a variety show of Chinese theater than anything else.
Halloween: was somewhat extremely lame. I dressed as a  70s disco king during the day...which everyone confused for me just dressed nicely. During the evening I went as a Biker-Themed Exotic Dancer -- which was hit with mixed reviews...from the same groups of people. I went to a Halloween Party and was basically complemented all night, proceeded to lose a costume contest, and was then told by half the people that didn't vote for me that my costume was amazing and I should have won. Afterwards there were a few planned and botched ideas -- such as going to a train party the next day (was advised against), and going to a club (left too late), so instead I went to Big Boy with Ben! Pretty cool. I of course changed my outfit for this outing to more club-appropriate gear. All available in the album at the bottom of the post! Beware, though, it  uploaded them in reverse order. The next night I, dressed in a nostalgic super-hero costume (no pics unfortunately, I wore a paper crown, a pink shirt, underwear over my pants, and my bed sheet like a cape -- my name was The Lion King), went with Ben, dressed as a BDSM-bottom cat-boy, to Shinagawa to people watch...and was reminded why Ben should not be allowed to use my camera. He took and saved 3 ratty pics -- the rest he deleted. There was an awesome pic of two Popeyes that got deleted! It was still sort of cool. Basically Halloween in Japan is not as cool as Halloween in the US, was the lesson from the weekend.
Package: My mom sent me candy and socks! Both of which I really like. They are red cashmere socks, and the candy lasted about 2-3 days, so I am rather satisfied. If I get another one, though, I hope for some coffee!
New Clothes: I stopped by a store and picked up a rad pink shirt, and a rad brown shirt, which there are pictures of. Together they cost about 980yen ($10) and are awesome as hell so I am rather satisfied. Later, some friends and I went to a place with a name I cannot remember. It is near Todai, and rather cool! I got some patch-work pants and a really cool jacket, both of which are really warm! I hope to upload pics of the pants soon, but the jacket is online now.
Working Visa: Basically in the course of a week I went to Shinagawa and applied, and then got permission to go back and pick it up. However, when I went, I forgot to bring my passport! Yeah, pretty dumb. I want to go Monday, but I am concerned I will be late for the FRANZ FERDINAND CONCERT! We will see how this goes.
Future: Monday I will go to Franz Ferdinand, and Wednesday I have my first assignment due for history of Mathematics -- I have no idea what to do for this. Afterwards my midterms should start so I will be rather busy soon...and I don't have another break till December.Oh well! I'll try to be better about posting.

P.S. My Chrome is having difficulties loading GMail. Anyone else having this issue/capable of helping?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Various Festivals and Things

This last week or so has been pretty cool. My pictures, start with Rike wearing a mustache, so let us start there:

I have no idea why it is so fuzzy, but you can make out the mustache...almost. She war wearing it for her birthday, I believe is the reason. We all went out for Nabe to celebrate, which was rather tasty.

Anyway, a few days later (Saturday) I went to a Rome/Carthage exhibit with Sho Xiao Yin and Tama. It was depressingly small/expensive, but it was still pretty cool. I am shocked at how much time Sho was able to spend looking at things -- Tama and I ran around this big mall the museum was in once we finished looking around. There were a few interesting pieces I would have liked to take photos of, but I couldn't. Basically there was an unnamed emperor, whom I think was Gaius Claudius, a few frescas of women just doing stuff, some children competing over a prize, and one of Amor (Cupid) and Psyche. I'm glad I went, but I will keep this experience in mind and not go next time. I guess the main interest was I got a new earring, finally (I do not like it very much as it basically looks like a hole in my ear:  

However, the rest of my week/weekend was significantly more fun. On Sunday I went to two different festivals -- Waseda Homecoming Festival, and a Kishimojin festival. The main interest at the Waseda Festival were the cheerleaders: I had only seen them on TV before this, somehow. It was pretty fantastic.

The night festival was way more exciting, as it was filled with food:  

Afterwards there was a pretty cool parade, which is hard to explain even with pictures. There were people of all ages using drums and symbols, holding these shrine things, and twirling weird things on long poles. It was really odd, though, as it went parallel to traffic -- and pretty much was done in a way where the public and the parade people were somewhat integrated. It's really hard to explain, but it was really cool.

Other than that, I've finally gotten my Alien Registration Card and completed my health check. I just need to start planning a Halloween party, get my money from when I was sick (covered by health insurance), mess with my phone plan, get my working visa, get my re-entry permit...and I'm done with bureaucracy and miscellaneous work for the month! Hooray!

Also, shout outs: Mother and Seta, I look forward to receiving both packages!

Here is the gallery:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I am terrible at this

Sorry I have not updated in over a week.

Basically I've just been doing whatever, mainly classes. Last weekend I decided to stop using the dryers, since they don't dry, and ended up with this: This week I am using the balcony/dryers outside...and the hangers for my shirts, I guess. Next week I might try the laundromat down the street, since honestly both the washers and dryers in the dorms sort of suck. I am pretty unsatisfied with these dorm facilities: Washers, Dryers, Bathroom Sinks, Showers, Key Holes, Locked Top-Floor Balcony/Windows, Pillows, Lack of Oven. Basically I appreciate that my dorm is rather cheap, but that's primarily because they're all doubles -- junk should work well. All in all none of it is that big a deal, but it is sort of aggravating - especially since there is a monthly utility fee and I am not satisfied with the various waterworks in the building. Oh well. Somewhat related -- sometime in the next week I'm going to try to get my iTouch connected to campus wireless. Apparently there is a blog with instructions, as the tech people here just turn anyone trying away.

Um...things of interest last week: My Level 2 course is rather difficult and I am feel behind in it, but I hope to catch up. My Kanji course is too easy, and I will either switch or drop. I failed to get credit for my History of Math course as a Philosophy course and will need to contact the History department for it and my Japanese History course -- this may prompt me to drop phil as a major and try for phil and hist minors, as I have about equal credits in both fields after this semester, and am slightly annoyed with the phil department at the moment over this. Thursday was a TYPHOON DAY which I spent doing basically nothing. BUT I SURVIVED MY FIRST TYPHOON! I also went to an International Student Party...which was good in that I got free food. Also, isn't this men's barber shop thing awesome:

This weekend I did some fun stuff, too. On Friday a few of us went to an arcade (Jason, Wu Chiang, and Megan) where we got an attendant to help Jason win Wu a bear, and I blistered my hands playing the drum machine with Megan. I got to play the Lucky Star theme song as well as Tank! The Cowboy Bebop theme! It was awesome.

Saturday night Ben and I went to Nichome, the sort of gay district of Shinjuku. It was kind of...really small and lame. It was maybe two~four blocks, depending on how you count it, and it was mainly tiny one-room bars and sex hotel things. We ended up going to this club, that kind of picked up and was fun after about 11, and a bar called Usagi (rabbit) where there was a cosplay event. At Usagi I got creepily stared at by a worker dressed as a pirate, then we conversed with some drunk middle-aged locals/regulars. At the club we danced with some various groups -- most notably these two, probably straight, girls. I am rather satisfied with this club experience solely because they played Daft Punk (One More Time!! Though I would have been more impressed/excited with something off of Alive 2007 or with Superheroes or Digital Love) and not Kanye West's song that samples Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. But....other than that, basically the people dancing were doing one of two things: Trying to show off their poor dance skills to pick up guys, or just sort of grinding against their boyfriend and making out. It was rather disgusting and I could not have stayed much longer than we did because of that. Oh well, sometime I will go to Roppongi to one of the clubs that plays bad-90s pop music. I basically can't see any way a club like that could not be loads of fun.

Sunday I went to Yokohama in a rather large group, which was enormous fun. It is a harbor, and home to China Town. Basically we got there, walked around taking pictures of the pier:

After the pier we went to an International Food Festival thing, which means I got to have a delicious Peruvian Burrito filled with Chorizo, a Mango Smoothie, and Indonesian Fruit Tea!

Soon afterwards, we went to China Town...which resulted in a lot more pictures and really delicious dinner. Some highlights:

After all of this we got some Anman (adzuki bean filled buns) and walked around the pier area at night. Basically, what I came to Tokyo for:


I'll update later with a full photo-gallery.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Schedule/stuff

So since my last post I have gone to some more classes, and did a bit of a revamp of my schedule. My current classes look something like this:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Intensive Japanese Level 2, Kanji, Intellectual Movements in Japanese History
Wednesday: Intensive Japanese Level 2, Russia: From Lenin to Putin and Medvedev
Thursday: Intensive Japanese Level 2, History of Mathematics
Friday: Russia From Lenin to Putin and Medvedev, Intellectual Movements in Japanese History

Scheduling and class material wise it should be a lot easier to deal with. If you're wondering why I dropped Japan's Foreign Policy in favor of two courses that will not count for my major (I have been arguing with my Philosophy advisor for the last 2~3 days over History of Math to no success) it is because I perceived some issues with the Professor, as well as major overlap with my China, Japan, and the US. Pretty outright, despite some unintended flaws in the course, Prof. Bong did such a good job that this course would add nothing new -- something I hope to avoid doing. Just the way I prefer my academics. Plus, if the same thing occurs next semester with my History of Science course it will likely just inspire me to drop Phil down to a minor/completely and pick up a History minor or major, more than anything else. After this semester I will have equal credits in both fields, and both require the same number of credits for a major (and presumably a minor).

Anyway, that's boring -- let's switch to more interesting things!

Yesterday (Saturday) Ben, Laur, Ghazal, and I went to the National Museum in Ueno! We had a few adventures along the way, mainly in a Toy Store. Although I didn't take many photos in the museum, far too similar to the museums I visited in Korea, it did have some cool/unique things...such as grouping Egypt with Asia.

After we walked to Asakusa for my first crepe in Japan!

That was about it for the day, as we were rather exhausted. However, today I did some fun stuff too: I went to a Hokkaido festival! It was an experience hard to describe, as it was filled with a flabby Bruce Lee, two encounters with a Rockabilly Club (which I hope to join in the future), and LOTS of food. I will give a quick photo snippet:

I intend to make a photo album for the last two days when I wake up tomorrow, so look forward to that! I'll add it to the bottom of this post, most likely. I guess I will also buy my remaining books and pay my rent tomorrow, though that's not very fun. (Also thanks mom for transferring my rent money in!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gomen Nasai

It has been forever since I last posted, and I am sorry for that. Circumstances became...odd.

Saturday I sang Karaoke in a group, which was a lot of fun. I was very surprised that Laur new a Patti Smith song that I sung (Because the Night), and that Jason did not know Don't Stop Believing (Nor anyone else, for that matter). Anyway, I sang so much my throat and ears started to hurt -- indicative of something worse than just singing too hard. I would have posted when I got in, but I got in around 5am so I just crashed.

Sunday I basically slept in and went to the Jewish Center with Ben.

It was a long, boring, and painful service. Added to that, despite being tiny, the temple was set up like an Elite inner-city synagogue with reservations and everything. The congregation, despite being small, was rude/impersonal to their own (a young child was crying, almost everyone turned and shhhed loudly, multiple times, until the mother took the kid and left), the Rabbi gave a little speech on how every Jew needs to connect with god on their own. In other words, the 3 hour service had nothing to do with building a sense of community and giving us an opportune start towards asking each other for forgiveness. I'm not sure what the point of it was, waste time so you can go to sleep after and not worry about fasting? Finally, the President just basically asked for money and was generally rude/indignant. Oh, and he gave a speech basically about how Pakistani people are terrible due to some things done to the Jewish populace, and how they don't deserve to be thought of as even human (On Yom Kippur -- the day of forgiveness and repetence, really?) In general, an unpleasant experience. Though, Ben and I got food afterwards from a really nice woman (she reminded me of the Korean that hand-fed me). We also took pictures next to the fake-Mich: (Ben sucks at cameras, apparently)

Monday I had my first class -- Intensive Japanese level 1! It was pretty dull an way below my level, so I took the exam to move up...which was really tough. Oh well, I should find out if I move up tomorrow. After class I got my Hanko (stamp)!

Now, Monday night I got really sick and threw up both food and blood. I also have red spots around my eye, that should be nothing. Pic:

Anyway, I should go to sleep now. I am still a little sick. I'd like to pretend I will fix the formatting of this post in the future, but I doubt I will. I may switch to the old blogger though, as this one apparently sucks.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Should have waited a bit, apparently. Here's my schedule:

Monday: Intensive Japanese (9-12:10)
Tuesday: Kanji (1-2:30), Japan's Foreign Policy (2:45-4:15), Movements in Japanese Intellectual History (4:30-6)
Wednesday: Russia: From Lenin to Putin and Medvedev (1-2:30)
Thursday: Intensive Japanese (9-12:10), Japan's Foreign Policy (1-2:30)
Friday: Intensive Japanese (9-12:10), Russia: From Lenin to Putin and Medvedev (1-2:30), Movements in Japanese Intellectual History (4:30-6)

This is tentative though, as I still hope to test up from level 1 to level 2 in Intensive Japanese, which could effect my Intensive Japanese course times as well as my Kanji course times, and I may drop Movements in Japanese Intellectual History for The Collapse of Complex Societies due to issues with credits (It meets on Tuesdays from 4:30-6)


I don't really have much to say about today, nor do I have pictures. After the nattou I waited a bit, made a decent bowl of smashed potatoes (it was almost more of a stew) and later on went to get a Hanko -- which will read "Shyoru" in Katakana and be ready on Monday. I then headed out to drop stuff off at school, got intercepted by Jesse, who had me accompany him to SoftCell to fix his phone (we decided to call each other before the next tea club meeting), and dropped off my photo with the help of Ben. I picked up some stuff at the Co-Op (Finally got soap and a hand towel! Pretty Pretty brand soap, to be precise). Um...later on I went to a Ramenya (Ramen Shop) with Leo, and just sort of hung around in the lounge. Tomorrow we should go to Karaoke...

I guess I'm reaching a point where it will be sort of silly to update daily. I really am only adding this now because I have been updating around the same time each day so far. I may or may not drop down to a reduced schedule based more on when things happen than on some daily/weekly schedule. We'll see.

Oh, another note, I was invited to Hokkaido in November by Misa and Abby. I may or may not go with them, though, as I might prefer going later in the Winter...we'll see!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I just tried Nattou, and yes, it is worthy of its own post.

I don't know how many of you have heard of nattou, let alone tried it, so I will try to explain it. Nattou is a fermented soy bean paste, it's extremely sticky and has a very strong flavor. Although known for its smell, I honestly did not notice it until I ate some. However, now that I have eaten it, I am sure its distinctive flavor/smell will haunt me forever. I'd say it's disgusting, but that doesn't really describe what is wrong with it. It's the sort of flavor/texture combo you have to taste to understand, and once you do you will probably not be happy you tried it.

However, this much I pretty much knew and expected beforehand. So I decided to prepare it in a somewhat traditional way, that sounded good. As described in my last post, I put it over white rice with blanched spinach and a raw egg. It came with a packet of soy sauce and mustard, so I put them in too. After a little mixing this is what it looked like:

Please note the gooey texture and appearance, as well as the bubbles. This dish continues to foam as you eat it. The best way I can describe it is like eating a bowl of raw yeast - it's gooey, sticky, warm, foamy, and just in general rubs you the wrong way. Even without the loads of soy sauce and cayenne pepper I put it in, the flavor was much more bearable this way, but it is the texture and foamy nature of the nattou that makes it so hard to eat. I honestly tried to eat it, I even tried warming it in the microwave so it would solidify a little, but it was no good. It just added to the horror.

Since I bought it in a pack of two, I am tempted to try and make it more edible. My main thought is I need to cook the egg, or not use one at all, to help the texture. I might need to use two packs of rice, as well. More spinach, maybe some carrots could help. Hell -- maybe I will just make instant curry and put it in there with lots of cayenne pepper and some salt. Maybe just put it at the bottom of a bottle of Vodka/Soju -- by the time you get to the nattou you shouldn't be able to taste or feel it.

I hope this post can help someone.

Toyama Park

Today I went to Toyama park, and chose not to make a bank account. I didn't take a lot of pictures...not sure why. Here are...all of them:
Afterwards we walked around a bit, stopped and ate, and got very lost.
Though, it was worth it, because we found a Western Fencing Shop! It had Astroboy dressed in a lemee. I want to go back -- it was right near Bunkyou-ku on Mejiro-Dori. Hopefully I can find it again! It was also near a Halloween food shop, or something, so it should be fun to explore in the future.

Tomorrow I was supposed to go to the Pokemon Center, but I think that's being postponed. I may get my Hanko(stamp for documents) tomorrow and open a bank account. Also, probably tonight, I think I will try Nattou - fermented soy beans. It is apparently very hard for Westerners to eat, due to its strong flavor and scent. I will probably eat it over rice, with some blanched spinach and a raw or sunny-side up egg. Also a LOT of soy sauce at the ready. And maybe an alternate meal prepared.

P.S. I'm not sure what format people like for this blog. Do you prefer short daily updates like this, or less frequent long updates like I did in Korea? Do you like pictures embedded in the posts, or on separate albums? Any other ideas? Please -- tell me everything! What you like, what I should change, EVERYTHING! Thanks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Today Laur, Ben, and I went to Asakusa/Edo area. Mainly we walked around a Buddhist Shrine and took lots of pictures, though we did also stop by the Bandai studio for a bit. It was close, though, so there's not a lot to say about it.
There are 3 blocks between these sites.

I also got a passmo/smart card at the station, and saw this in a few stops:

Later on I went to Santoku and purchased some beef, garlic, and spinach. I used it all to make a standard noodle dish. Then I just sort of hung around, got some Shiroi (white) Taiyaki -- it was the fish-waffle thing filled with vanilla (or just sugar-flavored, really) ice-cream and adzuki beans. Picture:
It is clearly adorable.

Tomorrow I will get my bank's strange -- I have very little to say about today, but I did take a lot of pictures. I basically just played tourist all day. Please compare them to the Buddhist shrines I took photos of in Seoul.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tea Ceremony

Today has been a long day. It started with grocery shopping, which was very confusing:
The result was I avoided buying meat, and picked up cooking sake instead of cooking oil. Oh well! The food I made later was still pretty good. Everyone in the kitchen/lounge helped me figure out what I got -- Green Onion, Potatoes, Cucumber, Carrots, Cayenne Pepper, Mustard, Cooking Sake, Soy Sauce, and Vinegar.

Afterwards I ran to meet Jesse and Laur for the ICC tour, only to find out it's tomorrow. So, instead, we went to the club office and checked out basically every floor to see what clubs were available. We were greeted rather coldly by everyone, except the Tea club. They told us about their meeting later on, so we decided to go to that, and continued searching. We took a break for lunch, then headed to the Ceremony.

My lunch was "Tanuki Soba," Jesse got "Kitsune Soba," and Laur got "Katsu Don." Pictures are of Tanuki and Katsu (the woman basically told me their Katsu Don was famous so I had to take a picture of it when I was taking a picture of Tanuki. For reference: Tanuki = Racoon, Kitsune = Fox, Katsu = Fried Meat Cutlet, normally Pork as in Tonkatsu"
Tanuki Soba, Katsu Don

The Tea Ceremony was interesting. It was actually more casually done than the Korean ceremony, though this was just practice. Unfortunately Jesse is the only one that took pictures. We got to mix some powdered tea! I think all the tools and the tea were basically the same as in the Korean ceremony, however there was a bigger water boiler. It was pretty fun, and we met some interesting people. I exchanged phone information with a third-year student/possibly the club leader, Asami.

From there, Laur left and Jesse and I sort of wondered around. Eventually he led me to a 100 yen shop to buy a bowl, which was the final product necessary for me to cook. I have taken so many pictures of my food I did not bother this time. I will say it came out alright, better than I expected due to the lack of protein. Didn't do much else -- just some laundry. Though, Damon and Abby finally got phones! Also, they are cooking upstairs now with the aid of a few girls (probably a good thing).

Tomorrow I think Ben, Laur, and I will go to Edo. Should be fun!