Andreas’s Japan journeys

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Homestay package III

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 11:52 am

Ok, so I have rewritten everything just like it was and now I am finally going to update this again. Just hope there is no problem. I deleted the last entry so now it looks as if there has been a pause for a month with nothing in January, which basically is a truth, but I hope this will make up for it. Enjoy people!

Exploration a’la 1542 28/12

I feel like the Portuguese when they first discovered Japan. I went to Nagoya for the second time that actually felt like the first time (the real first time I got off the train, went into a store across the street from the train station and then returned home). This time I experienced the city with some friends and we saw all the glorious things that a big city had to offer (except the castle unfortunately). The hot dog restaurant where a hot dog poured ketchup on himself and I could eat 3 items for the price of 70 SEK.

Nagoya. A back-alley with a temple. On the sides there were two huge office complexes and then this small shrine… They sure take care of their old buildings. On the right is a vending machine for warm food. I’ve never seen one of these in Sweden, only for drinks. But in Japan you can find ones for food and batteries as well!

The Indian restaurant where I ate the best bread I’ve ever eaten, with garlic and tomatoes on it, with some chicken curry that I slurped until my stomach felt as if it would burst. The 7 storey anime boutique, where my friends spent extra time on the 4th floor, the one dedicated to the porn…, and on the way back to the station we went past a place with a huge sign of an anime girl and though; cool another anime place we haven’t been to yet, but as we got closer to the entrance the naked girls gave us second thoughts about entering. We did thought the place and its surroundings did seem a little bit too suspicious anyway! Only thing was, it was just next to everything else decent. We really didn’t think there would be something suspicious there.

The Indian bread called nan, delicious!

From left to right; Hard rock cafe! – Club SEGA, need I say more? – Oh my, what’s this…

I also went to this superstore for electronics. They had it all, cameras, TVs, sound systems, computers, games, you name it. Only problem was… they didn’t have the game that I was looking for. What a let-down. They did have the expansion pack that has been released just a few months ago, but the price was outrageous. I could probably buy two expansions in Sweden for that sum of money. And it was in Japanese as well, so I don’t think I’d have understood anything anyways. So that is one more thing to add to the very short list of things that are more expensive in Japan than in Sweden; computer games. Now don’t think this applies to tv-games as well, because it sure does not. I can buy Zelda for 6000 here, and in En it would probably be about 10000 in Sweden. I’m thinking of ordering my game from Sweden since I can get it for about 100 SEK there, instead of 450 SEK…

– – –

Today’s word is hakkendiscovery

Open congratulations!… 1/1

…To you all! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. Happy New Year! That’s what they say in Japanese when they want to celebrate the new year. I think… Well it sounds like it, and there may be a small logic to it. I think… Open the new year and celebrate for it, yoho! Something like that. At least it was a blast with the host family to celebrate New Year’s because there was no real christmas for me. The dad in the family worked on christmas eve just as I thought. Actually, he worked on the day that we count as New Year’s Eve. 31/12 that is. Just a little, but it was 9 in the evening that he had to go to work. *thumbs up* In any case, on 1/1 we headed for the nearby shrine called hachiman. Hachiman is also the name of a god, and that’s why the temple is called the same thing. But before that we had the best dinner yet, with shabbu shabbu, the best Japanese meal I know of. It’s a pot where you cook your vegetables and meat instantly, it’s all raw when served on your plate, and you use your chopsticks to stir your meat in the pot for 10 seconds and then it’s done, slurp! One piece down the hatch and then you pick up your next raw piece and cook it. It’s great, and extremely expensive at restaurants so I’m glad I got the home-made version.

My hostfamily – Shabbu shabbu – Mochi!!!

After the dinner we watched some tv with various “celebrate the new year” programs running all night, but we headed for the temple at 12 am. By car… 5 min walk to the temple and we took the car… And the okasan is telling *me* I’m gonna gain weight if I eat fruit in the evening……. Oh well! It was good that we had the car since we forgot the things we were going to bring as offerings. So once back at the temple again at like 20 past, we could finally get to it. There were loads of people and I went around trying to take as many pictures as possible before the battery went out. Then I rang the bell and made a short prayer. Shinto temples are so much cooler than christian churches.

First some comedians and a bit singing. The guy in a school uniform is really funny. He is playing an anime-character, a schoolgirl that slays something cause he walks around with this sword all the time. But he speaks in his normal voice and makes fun of the audience. He’s not as scary as a few people who actually gives in and becomes the character they appear to be (which means talking in a strange voice and thinking they are the opposite sex… ozoroshii)

Here we have a really popular artist called djOZMA. He’s crazy, but fun. And I was quite surprised when he and all the girls dancing with him got naked… well, later it was said that they were dresses (the girls, he was actually naked) and the tv company had to appolgise because some viewers had taken offence. The thing became so big the news in the States actually reported on it.

Some mini shrines that the family made to please the hose gods and bring them luck for the coming year. Notice the oranges all over the place.

After the prayer was over I got oranges (to stay healthy during the coming year) and the guy handing them even said happy new year in English to me. I think he thought I didn’t speak Japanese. And for some reason I didn’t that moment, because I had forgot what happy new year was in Japanese, so I couldn’t show off. Damn memory, it always fails at the critical moments, like when you see some nice girls or when a guy says happy new year to you in English! But at least I got two oranges instead of one like everyone else did! I’m special! Then we got some rice wine with rice in it. Talk about doubling it. And there was some strange fruit in it as well, cut to pieces, that was really hard. Tasted a bit strange but at least the drink warmed me. Then we went home and I cried “gott nytt år” into the street and the famly thought I was being robbed and a dog started barking like hell. Talk about a successful New Year’s Eve!

This is the temple we went to, a bit dark, but you can see it’s a shinto shrine because of the distinct red gate called Torii.

– – –

Today’s word is iwauto celebrate

Fiskdam the Japanese way 3/1

Today the host family and I went to the same Hachiman shrine we went to during New Year’s. Today was the first festival of the year and it was dedicated to getting a good harvest this year. It is played out every year, but only once, so I’m glad I was part of it, because it was crazy I’m telling you. First of all, when we finally got there the temple was already full but we got good seats anyway. Everyone was either too curious or too afraid (dochikanaa….) of the big bad foreign guy clamping into their ceremony to give me space to sit. The ritual had already started some ten or fifteen minutes ago I think, with the group of priests singing to the lone beat of a drum. It took at least thirty minutes. Two songs were played but they were long, but I didn’t mind. Was something new and different, so I snatched some shots, trying to get the drummer as well. After the song one of the priests had to act as the cow and carry the rice candy that symbolises the harvest on his back, circling one lap around the drum. When I say candy, I don’t mean candy like in Europe with chocolate dipped raisins or anything. It’s called mochi and is hard as rock. And it’s huge. About 1 metre times 1 metre circle shaped, half a decimetre thick. The old priest had major problems going round the drum and the rest of the priests had to hold the mochi (took about 6 guys) not to break the cow-priest’s back.

Left to right; The priests singing – the rice is handed out – my rice – my homestay mother’s rice, basically rice all over the place. Did I mention that this thing called mochi I’ve been talking about is made out of rice?

After that the real ceremony was over and I thought, cool, ok let’s go home. But no, now we were going to wait for the priests to throw all the mochi out to the audience. If you eat the mochi you will remain healthy the coming year (didn’t I hear that about something else just recently…?). The way the mother explained it, I thought it would be like fiskdam back in Sweden during childhood birthday parties, but without the rod. I could not have been more wrong… It was chaos!! War! Take cover! It didn’t help. After cutting these huge pieces into smaller variants, half the size of my hand, the priests could heave them out in the audience, and everyone went crazy. The mother told me I had to get as many as possible! I thought, well, I’m in front and have quite a good place, I can easily catch one or two when they throw them out. I mean I’ve been to concerts and stuff where they throw stuff at the audience. If this is the behaviour at a Japanese concert I’m too afraid to attend one.

First of all, they threw full buckets at once and there was no way you could avoid the mochi pieces. I got several in my head and face, almost knocked me to the ground (they are hard). And the guy to my side… holy shit he was like fighting for them! If they didn’t land in my bag I had he would snatch them right in front of me. And the person behind me would grab me feet so he could get the mochi. It was seriously a battle! No wonder the Japanese could get so far in the Second world war, what with the fierceness they fought for some mere candy… But in the end the foreigner prevailed!! I got quite a share of mochi myself after levelling up in the skill “mochi-avoiding”.

But in the final sequence one priest apparently thought that I should get more, because there were actually few who were throwing directly at me so I didn’t get that much at first, so he threw the whole bucket at me, and despite my ultimate reflexes I got at least ten of them right in the head, and into the bag. The rest bounced off and guess who took the ones I couldn’t catch from the ground but Mr. Belligerence. He was quite old so he must have a high experience level of “mochi-snatching” and he gets +5 when competing against foreigners I bet.

After the battle I had to clean my pants, jacket and hair from mochi pieces and walked groggily from the battle-raged temple. That night we feasted on mochi pizza. I thought we would get the mochi on the pizza as small pieces together with the mushroom and tomatoes, but no, it was the entire dough that was made out of mochi and then fried, so that was quite the different pizza, just like the previous fish pizza I got at the homestay… but it was good, really.

– – –

Today’s word is tatakauto make battle

All about school 5/1

I figured that since I have actually been here for three months already, I’d give some more info about my school and all. Especially since my class has ended and I will get a new one with new teachers the next semester. So I took some pictures of the school and my classmates and of course my teachers. I was actually threatened by one of my teachers that if I didn’t write that she was the best teacher I had had she would do horrible things to me (including lowering my grade I have no doubt!), so let’s get it over with and say that Naruse-sensei was my best teacher during this time! (uso…*thumbs up*)

Some photos of my class and classroom. First off are the five rules – listen, talk, write, read all you see, and the 5th and most important rule; check out the teacher is she’s hot. – My friend from Canada – Chris from America, he’s gone at the moment, this was from my last class. He’s coming back next semester – A class shot – Second class shot – Now here we have the picture of the class wedding. My Greek friend Kostas and Korean Hwang are married (Kostas is naturally the bride!) and their German kid Toni, talk about multi-lingual family!

The Yamasa II building where we study at the moment, when I took this shot I was in another building however.

Lastly my teachers; my kanji teachers (from last semester, I don’t have them any more) – Naruse-sensei, best teacher in the world… – and Terada sensei

– – –

Today’s word is ichibanthe best

All about my homestay 6/1

After due consideration I have decided to make something more about my homestay. Just like my school it feels as if I have not really introduced my homestay where I have now lived for a month and will spend another three months with. In an earlier post I gave you some pictures of the house from the inside, and while I want to give some from the outside I have so far failed to get some pictures from there. I do have some more of the kitchen… but I’d like to show the house from the bypassers view too. I am going to see if I can get some photos later on. Instead of pictures of the immediate house, I have taken some of the surrounding scenery (I have no idea why I didn’t take some of the house from the outside at the same time, so don’t ask) and of the two temples that are close-by. There are two temples within 5-15 minutes by bike, a shinto and a buddhist.

Ok, so here we are finally with some more pictures of my house. First off the kitchen and the bathroom.

And here we have some pictures of the outside that I took one a bright day. It appears that the family didn’t have a huge garden as I thought at first… I just haven’t had time to check out my faulty statement.

The shinto one is where we celebrated the New Year but since it was dark I figured I should give some more presentable pictures of it, because it’s a very nice place. Only thing is, there is a love hotel right next to it… The other temple is also very nice and located more inside the urban area of the district, while the shinto is outside by the fields so it is undesturbed. I am uploading the pictures of the temples into my gallery, so you have to make the effort of going there and wait for all the pictures to load (I still haven’t figured out a better way unfortunately), so I hope that you are patient. A good way is to open the gallery in a seperate window and let it load for 2 minutes while continuing to read here. I’ve also got myself a mobile phone with a sumou guy on it! I didn’t like the colour at first, but you get used to it. At least it’s better than pink.

My mobile phone that I bought, and I even have a sumou on it!

– – –

Today’s words are jinjashinto temple, and oterabuddhist temple


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kurisumasu supeshialu!

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 4:09 pm

So I could not stay away from the updating anyway. But I have good reasons, for how can I enjoy my christmas without telling everyone about the things that belong to christmas in Japan. First off, there’s the semester-is-at-end celebration. After receiving our grades (I got straight A’s all through. Reading, writing, listening, talking, attendence and the overall grade \(^-^)/ ) we head for the bar called Zig-Zag. It is owned and run by the school’s Declan and it’s located inside the school campus… No I’m not kidding, really! Declan was even behind the bar yesterday night serving his students drinks. Just imagine this happening in Sweden. The ministry of education would probably die of a heart attack, which would probably be a good thing… What raised the weirdness-factor during the night is that my kanji teacher came to drink with us. My homeroom teacher didn’t come, she went out with some own friends to drink until she dropped. I just have to ask her for a duel next semester or somethings. She’s a pretty heavy drinker according to her colleagues, and she can hold her own pretty long.

But besides the drinking in a bar which isn’t very special for Japan, two other things happened to me that makes this christmas pretty special compared to my Swedish ones. Major earthquakes that I could (finally?) feel, and karaoke! First one was when I was going to sleep. Two powerful shocks make the paper walls in my room shake like crazy. I thought they would break. The second one came the morning after during breakfast. It was even more powerful. The news reported the earthquakes about 30 minutes later and it had measured about 3 I think on the scale. I don’t know if anything serious happened to anyone, but the trains were delayed by 6 minutes, and in Japan after an earthquake that is concidered really long.

Then we have the nice thing called karaoke. I’ve tried some crappy Russian machine back during high school and recently also the Singstar on Ps2, but nothing can beat real Japanese karaoke. Sound isolated room, sing all you want during the whole night, we started at 12.15, got out at 4.15, free drinks as much as you like, I took it easy with lots of water, but some of the other guys sure did not… And of course; the price. 200 SEK ca for the whole thing per head, and then you’ve got literally tens of thousands of songs from the 40s to the very latest j-pop single released last week. It was crazy. I tried to get some X-Japan songs to come true, but alas, the only one that I could sing to was Stab me in the back as it has English lyrics. The other two I tried had kanji so I could sing the hiragana and then sit quiet for about 30 seconds… But to compare the Singstar that you must first pay 2000 for a Ps2 for and then the game for what 400, and then you get like 15 songs… I’m not too fond of singing, but in a group in a karaoke bar, it sure beat the hell out of that Sony.

Concerning christmas I’m not going to celebrate it in the ordinary way this time. My host family does not celebrate christmas, only New Year, and so I will enjoy myself with some movies I’ve rented instead. It’s amazing how cheap the rental in Japan is. I got 4 movies for 80 SEK. Now in Sweden, I’d probably have to pay about 120 for the same amount of movies, and 40 here and there might not sound much, however, concidering in Sweden that’s for 1 day and in Japan I get it for 7 days, it does make a hell of a difference. I don’t know how, but in Japan everything is so cheap! Perhaps I’m gonna have to eat those words once I take my trip to Tokyo, but for now here in Okazaki, I’m saving myself a fortune. Had I bought everything I have in Sweden, I’d prolly be broke and homeless by now.

– – –

Today’s word is OshougatsuNew Year’s Eve

Monday, December 18, 2006

Homestay package II

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 4:23 pm

After this update I will not be updating any more until after New Year’s Eve most likely as I will be busy with my final exam and some nice holiday travelling to Tokyo and Nagoya. MERI KURISUMASU at you all for this year.

The doubutsu gang 15/12

It’s been almost three weeks since my last update, mainly because I’ve been so busy studying I haven’t really had the time to write anything, and also because nothing really special has happened to me recently. Until today… I had a very strange day today, but luckily nothing happened. Imagine yourself being stuck in Japan, you’re on your way to school and suddenly there are truckloads of cars where there usually are no cars, and no students as far as your eyes can see where there usually are about 50 of them at the time you ride along the street all other mornings. Alright, so I didn’t really wanna get hit by the crazy drivers (especially after the Declan telling me that Okazaki has the highest death toll compared to the rest of Japan when it comes to traffic accidents. Needless to say, Okazakian residents suck at handling their cars. I see one new newsflash every week about a student getting killed on their way to school by some driver who went against red light). But since there are no cars on the road in the morning, and every other cyclist is going on the road instead of the sidewalk reserved for both pedestrians and cyclists, I also ride on the road. Today however, I did not. I almost crashed because of that choice, ironically.

I actually encountered two school girls walking and I came up from behind, ringing my bell like crazy (I went down a slope) and I could not get out of the way since I rode on the sidewalk. But the girl in front of me wouldn’t move! Panic panic pniac. She actually did move when I was like half a meter away, and I skidded on the stones avoiding her. Yey, I’m such a great cyclist I can do that stuff. Onward I went and got to school alright. Only to actually do crash with another cyclist during lunch… But it wasn’t my fault, honestly!

After crashing I got in to the porn rest- I mean obento restaurant. Bought some roosu katsu. While waiting, you’re invited to read some porn. I didn’t, but I had to accuse my friend that that’s the only reason he wants to buy obento at that place. and he agreed that that was the case, naturally. Actually, there was a guy who *did* pick up the magazines and mechanically went through them all while waiting. You think Japan is strange? You have no idea… Especially when all the clerks are girls. At least the guy had the two of us to hide behind while reading.

I lost in jan-ken-pon (sten sax påse) yesterday too. Three times. I lust for revenge on Monday. The guy cleverly avoided me the whole day so I could not issue a challenge. So now I’m the bad-boy in school. I’ve got animal written on my hand. I just need to show my fist and they know I’m the leader of the pack. Only problem there’s only one member in my bad-boy gang so far. I’d better recruit some in the neighbourhood. Soon I’ll have my own criminal empire of school boy delinquents.

My school mark is pretty much finished, now it just has to be produced. It’s a bit expensive, but I’m getting 5 and it’s a nice design with some nice gold and red, so I guess that’s why I have to pay through my nose. I’m getting it after Christmas. The school administration is excited about seeing what design I created, so I guess I’m going to their office first thing after the mark is done.

Tonight in about 6 hours we’re going to try the Brazilian pizza restaurant again. We’ve been informed that it opens at 8:30 in the evening. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a restaurant that opens at that time. Sheesh, these foreign people you know…

That about sums up my day. All I need to do now is wait for the Brazilian pizza. I hope it doesn’t have fish on it…

– – –

Today’s word is kedamonobeast

The land of reverse 18/12

Japan is a strange country. Everything in Japan is cheap except for CDs and Brazilian pizza. A tip, if you come to Japan, never eat Brazilian pizza. Never. You’ll be paying through your nose for pizza that is at best edible. The pizza back in Sweden is soo much better, and it costs 1/3 of the Brazilian ones. We bought one pizza for 3000, that is 180 kronor. And it was just the same size, didn’t taste special, there were no special stuff on it, and for some reason, they have the guts to demand 3000. I could’ve bought a CD for that! Geez, these foreign people you know…

One thing that is the opposite is the Wii. It is sooo cheap over here that I cannot believe it. After talking to a friend about it he told me Wii was 3300 in Sweden. I had to check it up, and while it was a bit of a modified truth (if you bought the pack one with 2 games) it did cost 3250. Thing is I don’t want one of those games (some skateboarding game). So if I buy the pack with only one game it’s 2800. Still quite a lot, because I want a second game (Zelda) and that’s another 600. So it still gets to 3400 in Sweden which is unacceptable since Nintendo said that Wii was going to be really cheap to compete with the PS3 and X360. So what the hell is wrong with people in Sweden buying it for 3000 then?

If I buy Wii in Japan, the console is 1600 without anything to it. If I then add 800 to a total of 2400, I suddenly have Wii Sports and Zelda, the two games I want, and I still pay 1000 less than in Sweden. Somehow I must buy the stuff in Japan. Only two problems arise now; the games are in Japanese… ok I’m studying Japanese, but it will be difficult to understand I think. Zelda at least which has information. Sports is just smash and win. The second problem is I don’t know if the console will work with my Swedish TV. Can I buy an adapter, a new cord or something? If now I’m screwed. This calls for an investigation.

To add to the good news, I’ve spoken to my host family and school and I can stay until the end of March here, so another 3 months of ready breakfast and cold rooms, Japanese conversations about fat food, toilets and alcohol, and of course, a limited access to Internet again. I can’t wait!*thumbs up*

Today’s word is hantainoopposite

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Homestay package 1

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 7:57 pm

So I’ve been without Internet for the past week and have not been able to update the blog. Don’t fear though. It didn’t mean I stopped writing. As I am borrowing the Internet for tonight, and then disconnecting myself again, I am posting a batch of the updates I’ve written so far in my new home. Enjoy!

…And into the lair 27/11

Wow. That’s the first word that comes out of my mouth for each room we walk through when shown the house I’m going to live in. It’s really amazing how they can mix a style used for hundreds of years with the new high tech society in which Japan is most likely the leading nation. We are walking on wooden floors and tatami mats, while at the same time passing by the automated toilet, the probably equally high tech bathroom, and then into the kitchen (which is not as high tech as the rest ok I’ll give you that, but at least it’s better than boiling water outside and then bring inside).

I’ve got my own room, as in the deal. It can be shut with a pair of shoji, sliding doors. And I’ve got my own terasse. Talk about major kakkoiiness. I’ve taken some photos of my room, together with some other pictures of the house. It’s very large for a Japanese house, but only one floor (still like most Japanese houses) which the Okasan seemed to complain about. Ok so it is still very narrow, especially the corridors, but compared to the rooms I’ve seen at Yamasa, I’m very pleased. I’d say my room is about the same size as my last room at Yamasa. However, I won’t have it all by myself. There is a huge piano occupying 1/4 of the room. I’m putting my bags underneath it so I don’t waste the space that is already taken.


Another thing about the house is that I will not have Internet to my own computer, unless I move it to the computer room. (Might do that if I can get the family’s permission to use the Internet on my own computer as well, however, I doubt they have a router). Therefore I have to use their computer when using Skype (which I have been given permission to do as many times as I like. That was probably only a polite answer, so I’m going to explain once more to the family that I’m calling another Skype user which means
the cost is 0.) Lots of parenthesises don’t you agree? This Internet business means I will not be able to update my blog, or come online on MSN unless it is fixed. We’ll see how it goes, the man of the house hasn’t returned yet.

So what about the family then instead of the house. So far as I’m writing this I’ve only to meet with the Okasan, and she seems nice enough. She studies English twice a month, so when I don’t understand something we try to talk in a mixed Japanese/English lingua franca and so far we’ve been successful I think. She is a shufu, a house wife, meaning she’s entertaining herself while her husband is away to work. At home she has tons of paintings all over the house, but that is a past career. At the moment, she’s taken up pottery instead. Quite the artists’ house I’ve come to (the piano is for the son, who’s studying music in London I think). EDIT – Chigaimasu. Wasn’t music apparently, it was just plain English.

In my room there is a temple (fine fine, it’s a shrine…). Both of them are atheists (strange sight in Japan), but they still have the shrine with (I don’t know whose, probaly the husband’s since the wife becomes a part of the husband’s family when they marry, and thus the mother-in-law is her real mother) the parents. Since they are atheists, I don’t have to be afraid that I must move or anything as I might have had to do in another family if the shrine had been in my bedroom. Now all I have to think about is cleaning my futon away every morning so I can use the room.

I think I am going to enjoy tomorrow when I can explore more of the house, and especially the garden which seems to be very nice. It is already dark and it is only six o’ clock, but I guess that’s what I should expect in the end of November. What is still strange is how warm it is here in Japan. It is about 15 degrees C during the day, and only during mornings can you feel a slight chill. It is very nice, especially comparing to Sweden at this time a year. No warmth in the morning, but during the day instead. I’m at school during the day! What’s the point… Oh well, here in Japan it is nice and warm so I shouldn’t complain about things that I’m not experiencing. Now I’m going to focus on my homestay! *thumbs up*

– – –

Today’s word is kenshuuseiintern

Video Japan VII 29/11

Now I have met with the father as well, and he proved to be hospitable as well. We sat a long time into the night, discussing everything imaginable. In Japanese. And English. The ammount they can comprehend that is. I am hoping that this experience will prove to be a useful one for my studies. It is obvious that the family wants to try their English on me, but for the most time they speak Japanese at first. It is not the first time they are acting host family, and are aware that the students from Yamasa coming are there first and foremost to learn their language, not to teach them English.

And believe it or not, it’s actually begun to get a bit cold in Japan, even down south. It is about 10 degrees here now, and waking up at morning is getting more and more difficult. All you want to do is stay in bed, underneath the sheet where the warmth is. My mother was right about one single thing about Japan, and that is that their houses sure aren’t well heated. In fact, they have no radiators whatsoever. Instead, they warm their houses with sunlight and mobile gas-powered somethings.

Despite the coldness, I am getting to like it here in Japan oh so much I thought this song could describe pretty much how I feel about my current situation!

Today I also bought a mobile phone. It’s yellow. And it has a camera. But it doesn’t work. The morons at MiniStop charged me for sending a fax to Vodafone for registration of the phone to me but when I got home and the hostfamily helped me to make the necessary phone calls to register my code I was told that the fax had never been sent. Stupid hot dog-rolling broad. Here I was believing that people in Japanese shops were service-focused even towards foreigners… Instead the host family used their own fax to send it at 11:30, so I hope my phone works tomorrow.

Some crazy video. Nothing scares the Japanese police!

An even crazier video. Arnold is getting high in Japan.

– – –

Today’s word is abezureonna – Wow, too rude to translate. Just don’t use it…

Hello or konnichiwa, dochiraga iidesuka 1/12

Ok, now it’s getting cold. I’m not kidding. I’m taking the bike for 45 minutes in 10 degrees every morning to get to school. I’m glad I took my gloves with me, cause I don’t want popsicles as hands when I arrive. The most important thing is of course that other people are also using gloves so I’m not the only geeky one to do it. *phew* Bought myself a new tie as well, a red one. The black that I had before was a 100 En one, so it broke pretty quickly, and the host family recommended that I’d get another colour, because black is almost only worn by mourning people. So I got a nice red one. I’m not sure if I want to disclose the price, it still stings in my eyes. But at least I know I got a good quality one.

When buying the tie I joined this club. The Japanese are crazy about clubs. It seems that every store has a club of its own. The membership is free (I thouroughly checked this, don’t want a bill I have to pay later on. If I get one, heads are gonna roll), and you get points for every purchase that you make. It’s probably to keep customers or something, because these points are turned into an equal amount of En, with which you reduce the price of the next item. Currently I’ve lost track of how many clubs I’m in, because I join them all, just in case I will go to them again in the future. You never know, I’m here for another 7 months. Since there is no fee I figure what the heck.

We also got a pleasant surprise with a test on Monday. Study study study will be my next game during this coming weekend. I’m sure I will pass as I’ve got over 90% on both previous tests, however, this one I am not as prepared for, because the grammar and vocabulary has siginificantly become harder. I can’t wait for Christmas holiday. Then I can repeat some of my weak points. (Thought I wanted it for the holiday itself? Hah. In Japan there is no such thing as true spare-time). Christmas Eve is a normal day, and if you’re a kid, you’re very lucky if your family has the tradition of giving presents. Don’t expect a Santa though, Pop’s working until 12 like any other day.

It is fun to see how different people become once they grow up. There’s this Scots in the class that is a bit frustrating occationally. Everything must be his way or he’ll get mad. So you’re not allowed to open the door to the classroom, because then it gets cold in there. Yeah… I’m beginning to wonder if he’s from Scotland or actully from some African country where it’s 30 degrees all year round. Everyone is sweating their ass off because the airconditioner has broken down, and even the Florida guy is taking his clothes off, but we may not open the door to let some nice fresh air (yes fresh as well as cold, the stench in the classroom is unbelievable. Since the door is never opened the air inside gets very stiff) because it’s fresh and cold. The guy’s dedication to keeping the door closed is unbelievable, he actually never leaves the classroom during breaks except for lunch when going to buy it, so that he can shout at anyone leaving the door open (accedentally, intentionally, dochiraga hmm?) when coming in. The guy’s the oldest in the class but gets very cranky when it comes to that door. I’m second youngest in the class, so I guess his words that I should grow up doesn’t only apply to me…

Talking about young people. I’m constantly being greeted with a “hello!” from elementary school kids when riding either to or home from school. It’s so funny, because the high schoolers (I pass about 200 of them on my way to school) just stare quietly at me (omg, a foreigner, his skin is different!). But the younger ones, I just have to call them knattar cause with their yellow hats they look just like knattar, they are very eager to try out probably the only word they can say properly on me when I glide past them on my luxurious bike. But instead of saying hello back, I give them a “konnichiwa”, and on more than one occation they have ran after me yelling something in Japanese that I have no idea what it means. Just today I could clearly hear “Are! Nihongo!” though. And I also made a successful short conversation this morning with one of the midori no ojiisans (pensioneers with green hats) that guide school children to safety from traffic. I’ve got to make my presence known not just by being there with white skin. I’ve got to show them that I can speak Japanese too, so today I was barely able to explain where my school was located during the 20 seconds it took for the light to turn green at the zebra crossing. I feel complete.

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Today’s word is atarashiino hajimea new beginning

Would you like some fish with that? 2/12

Being in Japan means trying out Japanese things. So I went to a temple, to see how they are cared for in comparison to how people in Sweden see their church as. I first went to a buddhist temple in the vicinity. I’ve been to huge temples and castles with the school, so it was nice to see that there were temples that were (not as huge though) equally impressive just 15 minutes away by bike. At around 11 on this Saturday morning they were cleaning the temple, sweeping away the fallen leaves and making the gravel paths look nice. It just so happened that an old lady came by who prayed at the temple, and I think she said that it was OK for me to enter and have a closer look. However, with the security markings on all the doors, I wasn’t really sure if I could. Since the lady didn’t enter, I didn’t take any chances. But I still got some good pictures of both the inside and outside, since some of the doors are open, I guess for the specific purpose of looking in.

After the buddhist temple visit was over I took the bike in the other direction to the shinto temple that is located even closer, and which I go by every day on my way to school. It is located high up on a mountain, so I had to climb some stairs to get to the top. They had even put up a sign saying “danger: playing around is forbidden”. Most likely because of the steep hills and whatever ponds there were with no way up. But I wasn’t there to play, but to take pictures. I first went off on the red tori, the special temple gate that every shinto shrine has. At the top of the stairs there was another one, and once at the temple building I met another cleaning team that were burning leaves and branches that had fallen down from the surrounding trees. After I was finished taking the pictures I wanted I went and bought some ramen for lunch.

Talking about trying out Japanese things, and especially food then, I have a perfect example of a culture collision that I feel I just have to share. Yesterday’s dinner was pizza, probably because it was the last dinner that the daughter would share with us before she goes off living on her own in an apartment she recently bought. I was quite excited about trying out home-made Japanese pizza, and though it was quite good, there was one thing that I really had not expected to see on a pizza. Me and my friends still haven’t gone to the Brazilian pizza restaurant that we’ve been planning on for weeks (we’ve actually gone there but the place has been closed both times) and at that restaurant you can get pizza with ice cream on it. When I heard of it it was so far the weirdest thing to put on a pizza that I’d heard of, but not after yesterday’s dinner. Namely; I got fish on my pizza…………

Seriously, I’m not kidding. I got 2×2 cm fish cubes on my pizza slices. And I think there were crumbs of sea weed in the pizza dough (spotted some green dots when preparing them) but I cannot prove anything cause I sure couldn’t taste any. In any case, the fish was alone enough to show that the Japanese really are eating fish every day… When we were going to get “meat” for dinner some days ago, that was actually meat and fish. I’m not complaining, cause the fish does taste good (even the one on the pizza, despite the unusual use), it is just that I didn’t expect it to go this far. At least I know I’m getting smart with all that fish so my tests will go just fine.

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Today’s word is bikkuri saserushocked

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Out of the nest

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 7:25 pm

So! I got some great news today. I was handed a note secretly by the teacher during first class. “Meet Ms. Takagawa, 1 floor, lunch-time”. Wow, I thought. A secret rendevouz with some Ms. at the first floor at lunch. Do they set each other up with students that excel? So I waited. And waited. And finally third class was over, not before the teacher could exceed the time by 10 minutes as she always does every Tuesday lesson before lunch. Seriously, I’ve just got to tell her some hard facts. But not at that time. It would disrupt my precious schedule even more than had been done.

When I got to the first floor, it hit me. I had no idea who Ms. Takagawa was. How was I supposed to find her if I didn’t even know who she was. Was I supposed to look for the hottest girl amogst the staff or something? Well, I didn’t have to worry for long because the Ms’s found me instead. HOMUSUTEI mitsukemashita, she said. Yes! I went through the roof. Finally, after one failure right when I came to Japan (though not my fault of course), I am given a second chance to live in a real Japanese family and experience some family life. I’m moving in just days. Feels so good. Two sons (unfortunately they both have already moved out despite being younger than me), no pets, meat eaters, smoking allowed, though that doesn’t apply to me, my own room, internet connection. It is too good to be true I thought, so what’s the catch, I asked. The trip to school will be 30 minutes or longer, should I go by bicycle or train, it doesn’t matter. Doh. Well, I quickly accepted anyway. Ride to school back home is about 20-25 minutes anyway so it will not differ much there. Since I have a bike already I’m going to ride that one, as taking the train will both take the same time, and be very expensive. I have to ride two rails meaning I have to switch trains at one time. Also, the two rails are owned by two separate companies, meaning I have to buy twice as many tickets to get to my end station, and from there walk to school. With the bike, I can move fairly swiftly, stop by any place on the way if need be, and I don’t have to wait for any trains. Kimeta! When can I move in?

My new way to school

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Today’s word is mendounainconvenient

Monday, November 20, 2006

Video Japan VI

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 7:17 pm

And so I have come home from the breath-taking journey to Sekigahara. It was breath-taking alright. All those stairs we walked, and the mountain slope was pretty tricky too, it sure took it’s fair toll on my knees. But 10 minutes rest and you’re alright. But, do I have some cool stuff to tell you now or what.

First of all, the coolest thing wasn’t Sekigahara itself actually, but the castle that was built next to it. Why? Because that is the castle where they recorded the major part of Shogun the movie! Wha, I freaked out when I noticed it. I was walking along this huge stone stairway with walls on either side, and I thought to myself, wow, this looks just like the road that Blackthorne takes when walking up and down in Ishido’s castle. And then when I went out through the gate and out on the bridge, I knew I had seen the place before, because of the structure of the road beneath the bridge. And then suddenly our guide, the Declan from school says, this is the place where they recorded Shogun and the bridge-scene. WHAT?! I went loose on that place with my camera, so if you’ve seen the movie, I hope you’ll find it amongst the pictures I’ve uploaded to my gallery. If you can’t remember how to get to my gallery (it’s in the link list to the right) here is a link:

I also got some very nice pictures of a reconstructed castle, with gun ports (where it says teppo in the pictures) and tatami mats. Even the steep stairs are frightengly realistic. At least they have installed steel railing so you can support yourself while climbing them.

Soon the third and last of the Spiderman trilogy will be released. I already have the story figured out in my mind, and when seeing posters and the like I think that the real story will pretty much be the same as I have already pondered on. It’s frightening really. Either there is a telepathic bond between the director and I and he’s stolen my ideas for the movie, or the only logical way to present the next enemies in Spiderman 3 is to base it on previous events in Spiderman and Spiderman 2. But that is hightly unlikely. I think that the director has picked my brain. Literally.

Anyway, to get in the mood for Spiderman I watched some Spiderman episodes on Youtube, and I got the tip from my Canadian friend (whom I btw got a picture of from the car together with my Greek friend) that I should watch the Japanese version of Spiderman. I thought, is he out of his mind, but it turned out to be the truth. There really is a Japanese Spiderman series, and not just a few episodes, there are apparently a season or more of them. Be sure that you are very resilient towards the 70s, because this is how basically every single tv series that were worth watching in Japan during the 70s looked like.

Just look at how he’s running… and the song. And… everything. It stinks the 70s so much it’s unbelievable. And the way he enters. And his voice…

To give a better impression of Japanese tv, let me show you a clip of a Japanese music video instead.

Hm, ok well maybe it wasn’t that much better. At least be glad I didn’t post you the version with guys instead of girls…

Korikki Night of Fire

Here is another version of the video. I am not allowed to embed the video from this site because it may not be secured according to wordpress. So be it, but you have my word that the link is safe, should you go ahead and press it.

I’m not sure why, but I’m going crazy about this song. It’s addictive I’m telling you. I probably have watched it about 20 times already and I slowly begin to like it. Is this some magic embedded into the video; to take over and control the listener to like it? At least I can safely say it’s not because of young girls waving their hips about. Especially that orange one. Yeah. Perfectly safe. *starts the video once more* Oh no…

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Today’s word is sakushuexploitation

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

“There is no I in team, only wii”

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 8:12 pm

Yesterday night I went to bed early. I had to be properly rested for the challenges of today. That would not be the case. My bed had sworn an oath to keep me as uncomfortable as possible during the night, and when the alarm clock went off my back hurt like hell and my eyes would’ve fallen down if I hadn’t used extra ordinary powers to keep them from doing above mentioned action. In order to beat my bed I have now bought a new pillow so I’m going to try that one out tonight, see if anything changes.

But back to the challenges. Today was the day of judgement. Two tests in one day. I had prepared myself but as usual my stomach was acting up. Always nervous for a test. I mean, if I perform poorly the world will end! So I just got to get good grades. Or something. I won’t see the results of my labour until 1 or 2 weeks from now however, so until then I guess I don’t have to sharpen my sword…

In happier news, Nintendo Wii was released in Japan about 1 and a half weeks ago. I’d sure like to get one once I get back to Sweden. It looks so cool and I’ve waited years for a new Zelda game to be released. I didn’t really think that the Wind Waker was a “real” Zelda game and therefore no true successor. So when rumors of Twilight Princess were spread on the net, I got excited. A game like Ocarina of Time. W.o.w. And it is released to Wii no less. That seems to be one cool controller. I would like to try out Red Steel as well, looks really cool. Now I’m just rambling.

Back to reality. Wii will cost be money, but at least it is quite cheap compared to many other consoles out there. Actually, it’s the cheapest one for being newly introduced to the market. Don’t get me wrong, I’d sure like an XBOX360 too, just going to wait a few years for it. Don’t really want to pay 4000 for it without knowing if any good games (like Shenmue III) will be released for it. Ok so Halo 3 is coming and it looks so good, but right now Twlight Princess looks like the cheaper choice. I’m actually for all consoles with good games, instead of stupid fanboys who can only love one. “Nintendo ftw, XBOX go and die!” *sigh* Damn 30-year-olds acting like they’re 12. And 12-year-olds acting like… themselves.

EDIT – Ok so the one who supplied the video is a bit cranky… you have to go to this address to watch the video. Stupid really…
“Wii would like to play.” Yeah, so would I

Some Japanese Wii commercials

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Today’s word is isshonitogether

Monday, November 13, 2006

Video Japan V

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 8:39 pm

Alright, so I’m back. I don’t know how, so don’t ask, but my computer is working as it should now again. After several restarts the other night, I thought my computer was ready for the scrap yard, but alas it shut itself down during the night, and when I awoke the next morning and turned it on, it was working like before. Strange indeed… Divine intervention, self-destroying virus (if that was indeed what made my computer act up in the first place), or perhaps the computer developed a self awareness and did not want to die (who knows, it worked in Star Trek), I don’t know if I even want to know. What is of import is that the computer is working now and I can once again update this blog!

I discovered this dog on Youtube the other day, and I just had to put him up here. It’s not a very cute dog like the other one, but it is still definitely a must-see. I can guarantee that you find it amusing. It will only steal 1:30 minutes of your life, so just go ahead and click the play button before you shut your browser down!

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Today’s word is tasukattasaved (as in rescued)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A man leaning against a tree

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 9:54 pm

The title says it all. In Japanese, the sign for yasumi – to take a break, pause, rest – is a combination of “man” and “tree”, thus a man leaning against a tree taking a break. That is what I am going to do now with this blog. My computer has suffered, and is still suffering, a serious virus attack. Even as I am writing this my computer is running the anti virus program, but the virus is hindering the progress. The virus apparently slows down the working speed of my computer, making everything lag and freeze. Since it is a second hand computer, I do not have a windows cd, even back home in Sweden, and I am in a country with no new windows cds in Swedish available, I am actually seeing the worst case scenario appearing before my eyes: I may have to realise that this computer is gone. I do not look forward to buying a new one, since electronics are pretty expensive here in Japan. And if I did, it would be in Japanese. Sure I could probably insteall a Swedish language pack later on, but still. So for now, you’ll hav eto wait until I somehow miracously save my computer from the virus, or I make a new update at another computer.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Suite suit

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 5:00 pm

Ok, somebody hit me. Hard. In the face. I’ve just gone and spent 35,000. I am so broke I can’t believe me. That was half the money I had on my bank account after transferring money from my VISA to my newly created Japanese bank account. First I had to wait an hour at the bank to get the money transferred, all because today’s banking lesson at school proved to be a bit inefficient. Luckily there was a girl at the bank who was there last time, who could speak frustratingly little English, and she was very patient and helpful. Ok, so I got my money transferred and withdrew some of it to try out the ATM machines. Wow, they looked high tech, but in the end, I felt as if Sweden actually does have better ATM machines. Especially after finding out that I must have my bank account book with me every time I want to withdraw money, and not just my bank card.

Anyway, once the banking procedure was finally over, I headed for Aoiyama. It’s a clothing store, and they seem pretty big in Japan. And all their posters have foreginers on them posing with clothes, and not Japanese. Strange. I went inside and spat a few lines from my Berliz pocket Japanese hand-book which proved effective enough. I got help selecting some pants, and the jacket I had chosen suited me already. I chose the same brand for the pants as jacket to get a matching set, colourwise. The sales clerk also wanted me to buy some shoes, but after calculating the price (35,000 I had to say it again), I decided that shoes for 10,000 (though I would get 3,000 off if I bought them now), was not worth it. My own shoes have to do for the moment, and to tell you the truth I don’t plan on ever buying those black shoes anyhow. A bit too snobbish for me. With only the suit, I think I turned out pretty good anyway actually. It’ll be fun to see the reaction in the classroom next Monday.

Wowee! Watch out, here comes Mr. Gum (says so inside my jacket). I hope I’m not mistaken for some foreign maffia dude… Damn, forgot my sun glases though

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Todays’ word is kakko iicool as hell

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