Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My (Possibly) Last Post for 2004

I just finished eating my dinner and packing my bags for Nagano. We're meeting at 10pm at Ikebukuro station which gives me about... one more hour here before i have to leave. I will be there until Saturday evening i think, and then on Monday morning i'm off to Hong Kong - so as the title suggests, there might not be another post before New Year. On to the (rather boring unfortunately) details:

Yesterday:
Had class, msged Yuki for lunch but she had a presentation that she hadn't prepared for that afternoon. Instead i hung around with Hiro and Kris for a little bit (Hiro is going to England just after new years to see if he likes it enough to go on exchange there) before heading home to get ready for badminton. 'Getting ready' involved mainly taking a nap until it was time to go :) I did manage to get my homework done for today's classes before i left though.

Training was officially the last one for 2004, and quite possibly the last for my stay in Japan. They don't have training in January because that's exam period for everybody ... and i don't know if i'll be here in Tokyo in Feb. We did a LOT of multi-feed yesterday too for some reason.
After doing 5 sets of 20 shuttles of smash/net multi-feed, we did 5 x 20 of half court smash practice, and then did 20 x 20 of full court cover. I don't know how good an idea that was for me to do the whole lot given that i'm meant to be snowboarding tomorrow. My legs and feet are quite sore as i type this ~

Today:
Being the last day of class everybody was in reasonably good spirits. We had a visiting Japanese teacher from Washington University observing us in class today. I didn't realise he was there (we were told about it last week, but i sort of forgot) until after class finished though. I hope i didn't say anything too rude in my random example sentences hehe.

After lunch, i had my last grammar class of 2004 which was extremely empty. Guess a lot of people have already gone home for Christmas. After that, i said bye to Matthias/Miguel (who i have grammar class with), but i managed to run into them two more times by accident. In the end i just walked to the station with them haha.

Since then i've just been packing and getting my washing done (i didn't think leaving my shirt from last night's training unwashed for a week is a good idea). Now hopefully i can find Kris or Ben or somebody to give my unused eggs to, so that they don't go off and get wasted while i'm gone...

Anyway, in case i don't post again, everybody have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! I'll see you all in 2005!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Christmas Party (with photos)

Well today i only woke up half an hour late!~ I woke up still dizzy though ... Somehow managed to have a shower and get myself ready for school. Woke Ben up after knocking for about 5 minutes on his door... Apparently after i decided to sleep last night, a few of them stayed even later watching some stuff on TV. I hope we didn't make enough noise to cause any more complaints from the neighbours (as we already got a warning from our resident dorm assistant the other day regarding noise complaints).

As for last night's party, it was a whole heap of fun. Almost everybody went to quite a bit of trouble to cook something ... and everything was really nice. The range of food was all pretty much asian, seeing as the vast majority of the people who showed up were either Korean or Chinese. There was some interesting western style お好み焼き (Japanese pancakes) with ham and cheese inside too courtesy of one of our American representatives hehe. I made some curry, which i thought i made too hot by adding a lot of chilli to, but everyone seemed to be quite okay with it. Unfortunately though, I managed to be the only person to think of cooking rice out of everybody who came. I ended up eating my curry with Kou-san's fried rice :) Later Kris turned up with his rice cooker which was good though.

Souhei, Asli and Hyun-Jyung all came along too. I think they all probably got an overly good impression of how fun it is to live in the dorm - although i really can't complain, i wish everybody would turn up to the lounge like last night more often.

After eating (and sort of cleaning up) we played this blindfolded hide-and-seek kind of game. Restricted to the lounge. Basically, one person is blind folded in the middle of the room, and their job is to wander around and find somebody, and name them. Not as easy as it sounds, when all you have is your sense of touch to go on. Except when you find Kris - who has a shaved it which kind of stands out lol. After blindfolded hide-and-seek... Everybody else is allowed to move until the person stops spinning, at which point you have to stay on the spot you are standing (you can try to avoid the blind folded person any way you like, as long as you have at least one foot planted where you started though). It is a lot of fun, and very difficult when you don't know half the people's names. We did write them all up on the board - but seeing as you are blindfolded when you need to know them it's not all that useful.




The other side of the room



The other other side


After that, i popped back to my room to clean my dishes. I for some reason didn't feel like sleeping and headed back down not too long after though. Where i really can't remember what we did exactly now. It involved alcohol though...

Today, gave my speech in 発表授業 (presentation class) which went well ... I was surprised i could still remember it. Afterwards, had conversation partner session (last one for 2004! and possibly the last one with Souhei too :( ... he's going to be busy over January unfortunately). I left really early though, because i had to meet up with Min-Kyung to go get a present for the ski trip christmas party. After grabbing some McDonalds (that's only like ... the second or third time i've eaten it here, ever, i think), we just went to Shinagawa station to find something. Funnily enough i bought the very first thing i saw in the very first shop we went to lol. It was this little shoe-scenting teddy bear (a perfumed teddy bear that fits in your shoes basically). Min-Kyung didn't take much longer either so we were done in like 15 minutes hehe. Speed shopping :)

Chilled for a bit with Aaron since getting back home ... Actually it was probably more than a bit. It's already approaching 10pm and i haven't done anything productive except buy dinner from the convenience store and eat it. I shall go get started on my second last bit of homework for 2004! :)

Christmas Parties

Someone remind me not to drink so much on a sunday night... It's going to hurt trying to get up tomorrow...

I thought i should try to write this down since i probably won't remember by tomorrow morning. After cleaning up my pots/plates after the christmas party tonight i decided for some stoopid reason to head back to the lounge. There, i don't know what i drank, but i feel really dizzy now ... which means tomorrow my head is going to hurt. Sigh.

I have some photos from the night's activites, but i don't think i'm going to be able to upload them right now... Bleh, time to sleep. I think. Nite. (Why the hell i bothered posting this i don't know........)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Quick update.

It's late again, so just a short one.

Friday:
Did some homework, went to school, came straight home and did more homework/study. Got bored of doing that and went to sit in the lounge until it was time for bed. Yeh, boring day huh.

Saturday:
Had a test this morning (hence the study yesterday), and another one this afternoon. I need to learn more kanji still ... :( Not much to today either when i think about it unfortunately. Actually had some motivation to do some study when i got home - but i soon got a bit sleepy and had a nap until it was time to get dinner ready. Made curry tonight, and i'm planning to make curry again tomorrow as well for the dorm christmas party that is happening here. (The notice says everyone should bring food for 3-4 people so i figured that's an easy way to do it... however, it also means that if people follow instructions there will be way too much food hehe).

I was down in the lounge just before and i watched the second half of Shrek 1 (in Japanese) ... it's been so long since i've seen it that most of the jokes were quite fresh. I think i prefer the sequel still however. We might watch that tomorrow, since Chris has the DVD-twin pack with both 1 and 2 inside.

Tomorrow i'm planning to meet Souhei in the morning to go to the sports shop in Shinkawasaki so that i can get some ski goggles/gloves and things. Need to go to an ATM too which is a bit annoying since half of them close on weekends... Afterwards i need to do some study before the party (have a presentation on monday) so hopefully i won't get too sidetracked doing other things.

おやすみ!~

Friday, December 17, 2004

Soccer!

Everything is starting to pile up now. There’s so much to do, but so little time to do it. And it’s not just the homework either. I just realized that I’m actually not going to be in Tokyo for the majority of the next three weeks, and I’ve hardly made any preparations. I need to go get some stuff for Nagano (and work out what’s happening with ski-equipment rental!); organize myself for HK; choose a topic for my term paper; study for all the tests coming up… the list goes on. Anyway, I will start with what I can do for now: blogging.

Last night I went to Yokohama International Stadium to watch Japan take on Germany in an international friendly. Jakob very kindly organized the whole thing and got the tickets shipped all the way from Germany (he bought them through the German soccer association or something I think). Our seats were really good – had a good view and lots of happy German supporters. I think I might have preferred to sit down with the Japanese fans though who seemed to be more energetic even when Japan conceded a goal, or two, or three. So yeah unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who’s side you are on) Japan lost to Germany 3-0 in the end.

Go-go Japan!~ (see what i mean about being enthusiastic? that was one huge flag)


There was about 10 of us all together who were meant to meet at the stadium at 7pm – in the end we met up closer to 8pm for a variety of reasons: mine mainly being my own disorganization. But poor Rim actually went to the wrong stadium (there’s another stadium in Yokohama for baseball called Yokohama Stadium – as opposed to Yokohama International Stadium), but still somehow managed to get there on time.

The match itself was pretty mediocre, given that Germany was clearly the stronger team for 90% of the match. But it was definitely worth it just for the atmosphere and experience of seeing an international soccer game live. The other thing that detracted a little from the experience was how damn cold it was. I was wearing my jacket on top of two layers of clothes AND a scarf (thanks Kwokie!~) and I was shivering by the second half.


The players on field ...


The ride home (and the walk to the station) was something in itself too. Seeing as the vast majority of people here catch public transport everywhere – when you have 60,000 people crammed into one stadium who all leave at the same time, things tend to get a bit hectic. There were people all the way from the stadium to the train station when we finally got out of the stadium itself. Walking normally it probably takes about 15 minutes tops to get to the station from there. With that many people, it took about 45 minutes. Then trying to get IN to the station to get on to a train also took a good amount of time. The match finished about 10pm but we only managed to catch the second last train home which was near 12 midnight… We lost Ben and Matthias on the way back too – I have this feeling that maybe they just decided to stay out in Yokohama for the night to celebrate the German victory hehe.

Madness in the train station


じゃ、もうそろそろ大学へ~

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Class Dinner 2

Last night (Wednesday) we had our second class gathering. We went to a restaurant in Harajuku which i've forgotten the name of now. The setting was really nice - we had one of those Japanese style rooms where you all sit on the floor on cushions, but unfortunately i forgot to bring my camera. Will post photos when i get some from my friends. The place served basically fusion food (like ... a mix of eastern-western style dishes) and overall everything was very well done. Main complaint was that there was just way too little food lol. I mean for about fifteen of us they basically gave us two little bowls per course...

I went straight from school to the dinner - despite finishing class at 2:30 in the afternoon. In the time between, i popped back to the travel agent to confirm my ticket and then spent the next few hours in the library. I didn't realise the place was so big! There's about 5 levels above ground, and another 3 or 4 below. Trouble is the vast majority of the books are a in Japanese.

Anyway i need to get some work done. I wasted most of today by sleeping in till 1:30 - the consequence of having about 4 hours sleep for the last three days straight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It's been 4 days...

Since i last blogged. The gaps between blogs seems to be getting longer these days. Definitely have to make an effort to keep it updated regularly.

Saturday:
Slept from about 6am till about 11:30am after the night out on Friday. I don't know why i woke up then - i didn't even set my alarm that early. But i figured for the sake of having a reasonable sleeping pattern, getting up then wasn't such a bad thing.

Seeing as i wasn't going to class (figured it wasn't worth rushing to school just for my afternoon class), i tried to call Carol (Min-Kyung's sis) to see if she wanted to go walk about Shibuya. She must have either been sleeping still, or already out and about coz nobody answered. Min-Kyung somehow still went to class that morning (although the fact that if she misses one more saturday class she will fail is probably partly the reason for that). So, i spent Saturday tidying up my room, doing a little bit of revision, and generally having a good recovery day :)

On Saturday nite i had a chat to Ben for a while about Christmas travelling plans. We were originally planning to go to the Kansai-area (where Osaka/Kyoto is), but seeing as I will be in Nagano-ken for the first week Ben thought he might go up north by himself for a bit. While we didn't really work out what to do exactly, we decided to each call up some youth hostels and stuff on Sunday to at least find out about availability over the new year period.

Sunday:
Well on Sunday i didn't call a single youth hostel and neither did Ben. Ben spent the whole day writing an essay that he was meant to hand in last week (i think). I on the other hand, went to Shinagawa to study with Simone and Tony (well, we went off and ate lunch first for about 3 hours ... before settling down to freeze in the Starbucks at Shinagawa station...). The starbucks at Shinagawa is in a kind of 'open-ended' mall, which means it can be quite breezy there. Definitely not a good thing when the max temp was about 10 degrees.

Overall i think i probably did about as much work as i'd normally do at home there (which isn't a whole lot i guess hehe) - since instead of having a computer (BLOGGER) to distract me i had people to talk to. Was a nice day out though - and getting home from there only takes 30 minutes!

Oh and while i was chatting to Simone/Tony about my dillemma over what to do during New Years, the idea of visiting either Hong Kong or Korea came up. Tony's going back to Korea over new years while Simone is going back to Hong Kong. That got me thinking and by Sunday evening i was checking flight availability/prices online.

Monday:
After class i went to the travel agent at school to see about tickets to HK/Korea. Seeing as i had left it so late, my expectations weren't too high. The lady i spoke to there was really helpful and i found out most of what i wanted to know. The main thing was, there were still seats available on flights to HK/Korea over new years...

Afterwards had conversation partner meeting as usual. Except we sort of swapped partners this week. Simone/Asli and I spoke with Souhei, while Tony/Chris talked with our usual partners (Mari and Yuka). Didn't get as much Japanese practice as i normally do since Souhei's english is so good... Whenever i couldn't express something, i could speak in English instead of trying to figure it out in Japanese... Still, we stayed around till pretty late talking. Interestingly, unlike the rest of the world New Year's Eve/Day in Japan sounds like it's generally really quiet. Most people spend the time with family and possibly close friends .... Not going out partying/drinking. Unless maybe you go to Shibuya - where it's kind of a party every night.

Tuesday:
Well by this morning i'd decided what i was going to do with my New Year's! After lunch, i booked myself a ticket to HK on the 27th of this month - returning on the 4th just before school starts again.

I spent the rest of the afternoon getting my re-entry permit (into Japan) organised from the Immigration Bureau of Tokyo - which isn't far from Shinagawa station luckily. Took quite a while though because there are so many people leaving the country around this time...

After, i went to badminton (which was the smallest training i've been to yet, 4 people including myself at the beginning). I found out that it stops next Tuesday until Feb (or late Jan) which actually fits in quite well with my plans for Christmas/New Years BUT then doesn't fit so well when i come bak hehe. I hope all the running around for the last few months doesn't get wasted in the month when i have off training :(

Well, i think it's about time for bed now. See you all~!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Clubbing in Shibuya

After class yesterday i met up with Yuuki and Simone for coffee. Aaron, Ben and his conversation partner ended up coming along too and we sat around for a good two hours. We had dinner at a place nearby which is just opposite the Mita campus... The food came out pretty quick and was actually pretty good for a 700 yen meal. When i start staying at school to study more i think i'll go there again.

More interestingly though i went clubbing last night with Min-kyung, her sister (who just arrived in Tokyo for a holiday yesterday) and this club/society called IRR (i forgot what it stands for now - international something or other). IRR is actually the club that is organising the ski trip over Christmas so i thought this would be a good chance to meet them. We were originally meant to meet at 7pm; but that time got moved to 7.30. I ended up getting there about 8pm hehe :)

Despite that, when we actually got to Xanadu (a bar/club place) there was actually a private event on until 9pm so we had about an hour to chill anyway. Just ended up having some (more) coffee at the shop right next door to the club.

Xanadu is actually quite a nice place to just sit and talk despite boasting some rather large-loud-looking speakers. There are lots of little bar tables and stools around the place and the music isn't so loud that it's difficult to hear each other. With a few exceptions, the IRR people and us foreigners were a little bit stand-offish unfortunately. Of the fifteen or so of them there, i think i only met about 5. Still, there was plenty of alcohol and i think most people had a really good time.

Min-Kyung; Ji-Hee; Me; Jun; Carol (Min-Kyung's sis) at Xanadu


Me and Osu (actual name Yuu-san)


When it got to about 11.40 though, the party sort of ended. Most of the IRR members didn't want to stay out all night, and needed to catch the last train home. Seeing as we only got there at 9pm though, about half of us exchangees didn't feel like going home. After about 15 minutes deliberation we managed to convince the other half plus two of the IRR dudes to stay out too :)

We went to Club Buenos which was a short walk from Xanadu. When we got there it was empty. Seriously we were six of about the ten people in the club. As it got later though, it got increasingly crowded until it came to the point of hardly being able to move lol. It was R&B night - but there wasn't any popular R&B at all. Everything (that i remember) was actually sung live by various Japanese groups. That was fun at first, but after about 3 hours started to lose its sparkle...

Min-kyung and Carol at Club Buenos


Outside Club Buenos


In the end we ended up getting out of the club at about 3:30 or so - at which point Min-Kyung, Carol and Ji-Hee took a taxi home. The rest of us had another hour and a bit till the first train, so we went off to grab some food from one of the Japanese-style fastfood places called 'Matsuya'. Basically it's a place that serves rice dishes - really quickly, and really cheaply. I had some large set thing which came with a raw egg too. I think it was probably just as well the alcohol had worn off by that time since being really tired, drunk and trying to eat raw eggs doesn't go down too well.

I managed to catch the very first Yamanote-line train and the very first Yokosuka-line train home too! That got me home in record time for a night out - i got back to my room at 5.30am! I took a few cool looking shots of the view from my balcony (it's always so nice to stand outside around then because it's so quiet, and the air is really nice and fresh)... It was actually pretty much black when i took these shots, but with some extended shutter times they come out quite well.

Twilight in Shinkawasaki


Anyway i am going to have a shower and get myself some food! Laters.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cooking cookies?

Sorry i haven't posted for so long ppls. I keep running out of time when i have class on Mondays through Wednesday. Every night i seem to manage to stay up till 2am finishing off my homework - before having to drag myself out of bed at 7am the next morning to go to school again. Anyway let me think what i got up to:

Tuesday:
Had a test in class. It was one of the harder tests we've had because it was on chapter 7, which was the chapter where everything suddenly started getting a lot harder than before (i.e. the sentences got a lot longer, the grammar got more advanced, the vocab got harder). I think in the end it was okay, but a lot of people didn't even manage to finish. Teachers really don't seem to care here because they just told whoever wanted to have more time to go to their office after lunch and finish it off.

After lunch, i went with Ben to have a look at some travel packages to Osaka/Kyoto for the Christmas break. We really had (and still have) no idea what we wanted to do, but we did get some information about youth hostels and stuff down there. I am going to have a fair bit of time free after i finish semester in January anyway so i might end up going to kansai then.

Plans for Christmas so far are skiing in Nagano-ken with Min-Kyung (some club from Keio which i've never met is organising it). Have yet to get details on that though :(

Wednesday:
I just remember that i was really bored in class. Came home straight afterwards, and wasted the whole night sitting on MSN/ICQ. Remind me not to do that when i intend to go out the next few days :(

Today (Thursday):
Well today was extremely cold. The temperature suddenly dropped down to like, 12 degrees, and with the wind-chill factor it felt colder. Oh and i actually have something interesting to write about too. I visited Souhei today (i just met him on Monday at the conversation partner meeting). He really lives quite close to me - about a 10 minute walk from Shinkawasaki station. However, all up because it already takes me 15 minutes to walk to Shinkawasaki station, it is a 25 minute walk from my room. Still, it's a lot closer than anybody else i've met so far :)

A couple of Souhei's friends came over too, and Simone and Tony (Souhei is actually Tony's conversation partner) came as well. The point of the gathering? It was one of Souhei's friend's birthdays tomorrow, so today was cookie making day. The two girls, Star-chan (Yumika i think is her actual name) and Osa-chan (her real name was Osada i think) brought an ambitious looking recipe along with them. Basically, the idea was to make a cottage (complete with icing for snow) out of big cookies. It even had a chimney and a door. In the picture, it also had a little cookie animal sitting next to it - but they opted to skip making that, which Tony was quite disappointed about.

Well if you think that sounds complicated, it was. After having lunch (we just bought some stuff from the supermarket to Souhei's place), we spent at least another 2 hours there working out measurements and things so we knew how much ingredients to buy. Well, i should correct myself there and say that Star-chan and Osa-chan spent 2 hours working out stuff; Me, Simone, Tony just sat there watching. Souhei spent most of the time running back and forth trying to get the recipe printed so that we'd know what to buy at the supermarket.

An hour later we'd managed to go to the supermarket, come back and get ready to start preparing everything. I don't know if they have the saying 'too many cooks spoil the broth' in Japanese, but i think we were verging on it today. There was a total of 7 of us there... If you consider the size of an average Japanese place (and Souhei's place was actually relatively nice and spacious) that's about 5 too many people :)

Anyway here are some photos:

Star-chan, Osa-chan and Ten-geng-san in the kitchen


Simone hiding behind the furawaa (flour), and Tony trying to work out how to use the sieve (it was one of those mechanical things - but it got stuck half way through sifting the 900 grams of flour we needed)


This is Me, Souhei and Tony ALL trying to work out how to use the sieve~


We did eventually figure out that we just needed to hit it a bit to unblock it by the way :) By the time we'd done that though, it was already verging on 4 o clock and seeing as i had training it was getting near to being time to go :( I almost skipped going to training so i could eat some of the cookies - but in the end i felt bad about not telling the badminton guys i wasn't coming and left at about 5 pm. I will have to ask Tony how the cookies turned out.

At training today there was only 6 of us there for the most part (including myself) so i suppose it was just as well i went. We didn't even set up all four courts since there was so few of us. I suppose a lot of people are studying for exams and stuff at the moment... Anyway, i need sleep.

Oh, and i have a favour to ask. Could all of you who read this post, stick a comment up?~ I just want to see how many people actually bother looking at this thing regularly (or bother READING until the end hehe). Thanks everyone :)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Someone help me think of an original title...

Well, despite having to struggle with myself to get out of bed this morning, on the whole i'm quite glad i did. Today was one of those days where i was just in good spirits for no particular reason. Maybe it was just in comparison to yesterday - which i almost entirely spent doing homework (yeah that pretty sums up my whole day yesterday so i won't write anything else about it).

Oh, but on Saturday night, i watched 'Go' (without any English subtitles at all!~). Highly recommend it to anybody who likes romantic-comedies. It's a remake of 'Tokyo Love Story' I think - but it's definitely worth seeing; it's a bit like ... umm ... My Sassy Girl - Japanese style. I think i might have even enjoyed it more if i had some english subs to help me understand.

Class was a little slow today - but i'm finding that the more questions i ask the easier it is to concentrate. Even if they're not very useful questions lol. On the other hand, some of the other exchangees have started doing their homework during class to help pass the time hehe. Hopefully i won't have to resort to doing that :)

We had a joint conversation partner session today with Tony and his partner which was good fun. His partner's name is Souhei-san and he's lived in the US for a year or so. His english is amazingly good - he even has a perfect American accent~ What's really cool though, is Souhei-san lives in Shinkawasaki just like me!~ His place is really close to the station, so i guess it'll be really easy to hang out when we have free time. Kuri-chan came along again today too - but she had class in 4th period so she only got there quite late.

Oh and the other weird thing i have to jot down is that the weather's been acting funny here again. Yesterday it was about 26 or 27 degrees. Despite the fact that the night before it rained like crazy. BUT, it was 26/27 degrees with galeforce winds, so it didn't feel that hot. I actually thought my door might blow down at one point it was so strong. Today, it was back to normal Autumn/Winter weather - a cool 14 degrees with nice blue skies and a rather cold breeze. Somehow though, walking home this evening felt warmer than walking to the station this morning with the sun out. Yeah, either i'm getting sick, or the weather in Japan is just weird overall :)


Oh and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my lil sister Mel~! ! !

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Saturday ... again?

I'm not quite sure what happened to my week this week - i can't seem to remember what i did on each of the seven days since last Saturday. But my little alarm clock definitely says it's December 4 - so i suppose it must just be the routine of getting up and going to school starting to really blur together.

Friday:
Had my economics class. Did the second part of my presentation since we ran out of time the week before. The class got very side tracked on some other random comment half way through though - so i was just standing up the front for about 30 minutes while we had a class discussion. We ran out of time to finish presenting the other part my group prepared though. This week was the sixth week it's been put off since the date it was 'due'...

I actually did some kanji study out of self-interest last night after i got home. Have you ever wondered whether it is good to listen to music while you study? Well, i now have a new theory. I think for me, music is actually helpful for me to remember things. If i'm sitting down trying to just memorise kanji, or vocab having music helps me concentrate - mainly because it stops me feeling really bored and getting sleepy. But somehow, it seems to make me able to concentrate for longer without needing to get up to stretch my legs and take a break.

On the other hand, when you have to do more analytical things like solving a problem, or just generally arranging your thoughts to form a coherent argument for an essay, listening to music seems to be more of a hinderance than a help. It is incredibly annoying to be half way through something and then get caught up listening to whatever's playing and lose your train of thought.

Today:
Had class from period 1 to period 3... Met up with Min-Kyung for lunch - but because of period three classes our lunch break is only about 45 minutes long (minus another 15 minutes for lining up and getting your food) which doesn't leave much time to do anything but eat :(

Hiro was wondering around after class today (although come to think of it, he's kind of wondering around after class everyday), and he showed me what he is doing in his english class. It looks pretty hardcore - it's basically a book put together from random facts from the New York Times. Topics range from the spread of HIV in Africa to the trend towards shame-based punishment in the US. When i asked him if he understood it though, he said he only understood the bits translated by the teacher hehe :)

Decided to try cooking something a little different tonight, so i got some chicken wings on the way home... I don't really know what i put on them exactly, but they turned out okay :)

いただきます!


And now i guess i should go start on that essay that i have due on monday~

Friday, December 03, 2004

Badminton Recreation Day

Slept in till about 1pm as i tend to do on Thursdays when i don't have anything pressing to do. And was quite productive in the afternoon - I managed to finish some homework before it was time to head off to badminton.

What was special about today's badminton session was it was the 納会 (last session of the year). So instead of normal training we had a 'recreation' day. What does that mean? Well have a look down below:

Basketball anybody?


We spent most of our normal 30 minutes warm-up time running around with basketballs, volleyballs and some weird foam things instead of stretching. Needless to say, i think the whole badminton team sucks pretty badly at anything not involving a badminton racket, myself included. I have some fun movie clips of people trying to play basketball which i can't post up here...

We ended up playing dodgeball for the first half hour or so and then moved on to soccer. For some reason we decided that the only way to score a goal was by heading the ball in, which made it a 0-0 game. (Despite some valiant attempts to crawl past the goal keepers, heads down). Eventually somebody from the other team (by fluke) kicked the ball really hard into somebody else's unsuspecting head and scored... We had to change the rules in the second half - but unfortunately that only led to another own goal by my team resulting in a 2-0 loss. Determined to get revenge we played another game of dodge ball - which my team lost as well.

After that i think we were slowly realising that we needed some badminton so we set up a mini team tournament between ourselves, comprising two singles games; two doubles games; and one mixed game.

Getting ready for our mini-tournament


The two girls 高橋さん(Takahashi-san) and 本出さん(Motode-san) **EDIT: Changed those ちゃんs into さんs. Can't use chan with surnames! Thanks Yuuki!** were designated the team captains so that they wouldn't inadvertently both end up on one team. Despite much clapping and cheering on my team's part, we lost. Quite badly too.

The results ... (weird how we all got 12 points huh)


My team is the one on the right. The open circles mean 'win'; the coloured in circles mean 'loss'. Notice the lack of open circles on my team's side :) Now i should probably point out that the teams were actually different for dodge ball and soccer etc - so it wasn't the same people losing every time. It was just me that seemed to be on the losing team everytime hehe. Still, it was a really fun change from the normal serious training sessions we have.

Went to some other chinese food place for dinner afterwards, where i finally had something which came with a decent serving of vegetables! It was actually an oyster dish but it came served on top of some greens (choy-sum i think) fried with oyster sauce 'chinese' style!~

On the way home, since i had my camera, i thought i'd just take a picture of something i always see on my walk back. Unfortunately there is not much light at 11pm around there so this was the only shot that was worth keeping (i had to rest it on something to keep the camera still enough to take a night shot):

Yagami campus by night (in the background there)


And with that i think it's time to go have a shower~ Night all.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Music at last

Well after buying that dvd drive last wednesday, today i finally got around to plugging it into my computer. Thankfully i didn't have to do anything to make it work except put the power cable into it - guessing the meaning of every second kanji in an instruction manual takes a lot longer than you'd think :( I also finally bought some music too...

My dvd drive (it works sideways like that hehe!) and some music CDs


The japanese style of putting a lot of effort into presentation carries over even to their CDs. That Zard album lying on my desk in the photo actually doesn't have a plastic cd case. Instead it's like a mini book with lyrics and full colour photos when you open it up (and of course the CD is in there at the back too ehe).

I had a test for my grammar class today. Everybody seemed quite worried about it yesterday but (as most of the tests here have turned out) it wasn't very hard. Unfortunately, I didn't know that yesterday and was up till about 2am last night studying for it. Well okay, i studied for it till about 12.30am, and then just ended up talking (Aaron and I decided to study in the lounge... which tends to induce more talk than study.)

Oh and later on Kris came down to watch Kill Bill (he rented it) which was quite funny. I didn't realise how bad the Japanese sounded in that movie until last night lol. (You probably won't understand the next bit unless you've actually seen Kill Bill vol 1). What was funny was when we watched the scene where the bride comes into that sushi shop and pretends she can't speak Japanese. We watched it with Japanese audio with english subs - so she's like saying that she can't speak japanese IN japanese. But the japanese definitely goes really funny in the bits where she's actually meant to be speaking in Japanese - because it goes into like baby-talk mode. Eventually i realised that i really needed to sleep more than i needed to laugh at Lucy Liu's japanese and went to bed though :)

Anyway i'm going to go learn some kanji now that i've given you all something to read and look at ~ :)

Monday, November 29, 2004

I think it was something i ate

When i got home from uni today at about 6, i was feeling extremely tired and lethargic. To the point of me lying on my bed for the next 3 and half hours, and not being bothered to even wash the dishes after i ate dinner. The day wasn't any longer than normal either - had class in the morning, one afternoon class and then the usual conversation partner meeting. Which is why I have come to the conclusion that it must have been something i ate (yep super detective skills there)...

Breakfast was instant noodles - which is a bit out of the ordinary - because i forgot to buy bread (dammit i just realised i forgot to buy bread today too lol). But i think the culprit is the katsu-kare (pork cutlet curry rice) i had for lunch today. Now that i think about it, I sort of do feel quite tired in the afternoons after eating that. Although previously i've been putting it down more to lack of sleep and just taking naps... Anyway, i am going to try not eating it for a while to see if it makes a difference lol.

And that concludes my most useless post to date. Stay tuned :)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sleepy Sunday

I slept in till midday today. I set my alarm for 10am, but i wasn't really intending to get up by then any way. I just didn't want to wake up and discover it was 5pm in the evening :)

I tried to make some chips again today since i've had these potatoes sitting in my cupboard for quite a while now. I decided to boil them first so that i wouldn't have to fry them so long to cook the things. Only problem was i got a bit sidetracked doing some revision while i was doing that - so when i went to turn off the stove, the potatoes look more like mush than anything else. For anybody who's tried deep frying mush before, you'll know it doesn't work too well :)

In the end though, they turned out okay. They tasted kind of like ... crispy mashed potato ... (okay well it was crispy mashed potato). But what didn't turn out okay was the pot. That was quite black and needed a lot of scrubbing and hot water to get it clean. Ah the joys of cooking.

That's about the most interesting thing i did all day i think. So far (it's 9.13pm now) i haven't even left my room so there's not a whole lot else to write about unfortunately... Till then~

Procrastination is bad

I've come to realise that the more time i spend in my room, the less i seem to get done. After doing kanji revision for about 5 hours last night, tonight i managed to do nothing but sit around and make myself dinner. I didn't even have a nap to waste time - i just sat around reading things on the net and listening to various music clips from the HMV japan site.

I was expecting the kanji tests today to be quite difficult (they were meant to be revision tests of everything from chapter 1-6) but somehow it turned out quite straight forward (i.e. it took under 10 minutes to finish). I was a bit peeved that i spent so much time learning everything last night... But i guess it does feels good to think i know a few more kanji after all that study. It's getting a bit frustrating being almost illiterate here since there are so many kanji characters i just don't know...

Since being at school means no fun pictures, i'll just show you all the stuff i bought at Akihabara the other day:



I still haven't tried connecting the dvd drive; but there isn't really much point at the moment as i don't have any dvds/cds to play hehe. The wireless router is nice though because it means i can really carry my computer all over the place and still have access to the internet - i can still connect to it (barely) from downstairs in the lounge... Considering i'm up on 3rd floor that's not too bad an effort.

Anyway i'm going to ATTEMPT to do something productive with what's left of my night~

Friday, November 26, 2004

Back to school

Mita-sai officially ended for me today with my economics class this afternoon. I can't really complain though since most people actually had to start yesterday (but since i have a day off on Thursdays normally, i had an extra day holiday).

Looks like the workload is going to start picking up as we come towards the end of the semester here. I need to start thinking about choosing a topic for my term paper... Before i know it January will be here and all the final assessments will be going on at once.

After class today i had an interesting talk with Jakob about language - his major is some sort of linguistics field so it was quite interesting. Have you ever thought why in English we say "I go" and "you go" but "(s)he goes"? Apparently it's because of English was originally a Germanic language - where morphology (changing the stem/base of a word) gives the majority of meaning. Modern English however takes most of its meaning from syntax (to the average English speaker saying "(s)he go to school at 9 o clock" makes perfect sense; it just sounds funny). The poor people trying to learn English as a second/third language must think it's really weird. I guess i shouldn't complain about having a hard time with Japanese hehe.

Anyway speaking of learning, i have two kanji tests tomorrow which i need to study for... And since i don't have much else to say i'll leave it there~

Mt Fuji? Not quite...

Home at last. Just had my shower and now it’s time to try to update this blog. Had a looong day today. Where?

Fujikyu Entrance


I got up today at 5.30am to get ready because our bus left from Shinjuku station at 7.40. I was quite amazed that I actually managed to wake up considering how much walking I did yesterday up in the mountains. Despite that, I somehow didn’t leave my room until about 6.30 so I missed the train I was meant to catch to Shinjuku… Not a good thing to do that early in the morning; the next train was fifteen minutes later. That cut it really fine – because I only arrived at Shinjuku at about 7.30 and I didn’t know where I was meant to go.

Luckily Simone and Seong were there already so they picked up my ticket for me – all that was left to do was get to the bus terminal. That turned however out to be a bit of a disaster. We were meant to meet at the ‘west exit’ of the station, but what I didn’t realize was we were talking about the west exit of two different stations (I was at the JR west exit; they came out the Shinjuku Subway west exit I think). Since I was late though, the two of them had gone to the terminal already and were giving me directions as if I was coming from the same exit as them. Needless to say I got quite confused, but luckily the security guards here seem to double as information/direction helpers. After running across a couple of 5 lane roads I found the bus with about 30 seconds to spare before departure. Good start to the day huh?

The trip down to 富士急 (Fuji-Kyu) took about an hour and 50 minutes end to end. Beautiful 青空 (blue skies) and clear crisp air down there was a nice change from the congestion of Tokyo. Also, since it was just a regular weekday the amusement park was quite empty meaning less queues and more rides for us. The first ride we went on also turned out to be the best. It was called “Fuji-Yama” – and boasts some record for being the tallest (or was it fastest? or longest? Hmm I really can’t remember) rollercoaster in the world. Well at least I think it was for a little while – I doubt you can hold a record like that for very long. In any case, it was basically your standard go-up and then go-down roller coaster (no loops or anything…). But what made it really fun was the ‘go up’ part was really high – like 80 metres or so. Meaning the slope down was really steep, and went for aaages. The first time on it, I was so unprepared I stopped breathing at that first drop. And just when I was about to recover, there was a second, and then a third. You really feel like you are going to fall out of your seat. Gives you the biggest adrenalin rush though.


That's the first up-and-down of Fujiyama...


We went on a couple of other miscellaneous spinning rides after that. With the sky so blue though I think it kind of took some of the fun out of the rides which flung you around upside down. I seriously had no idea of which way I was pointing – or if I was even really spinning around – because all I could see was blue half the time. There wasn’t even any clouds to judge by. But I’d take that any day over a cloudy day down there – since it was clear, Fuji-san makes the place look almost like a postcard. It’s this huge snow-capped mountain just hanging in the background the whole time. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t come out very well on the little digi-cams we had; I think you need a proper SLR to take those long range shots.

There was a splash-down kind of ride down one end of the park which we ended up at after that. Seong didn’t want to get wet, so only Simone and I went. It’s more wet than your average water-rollercoaster I think though. Before you get on, it is highly recommended to buy a 100-yen disposable raincoat. After riding it I understand why.


If you can't make it out, the sign reads 'No Shampoo'... I think if i had some i could have had a pretty good shower though


I managed to tear the hood on my rain coat, so when we hit the water I got all wet from the head down. It luckily didn’t take too long to get dry after that though. Roller coasters act surprisingly well as clothes dryers when it’s a clear day~ Anyway the other highlight of the theme park was this really fast ride called ドンドンパ (Don-don-Pa). Lining up was incredibly annoying though because they had speakers all along the queue playing ドンドンパ (don-dOn-PA!) over and over. When you are standing there for 30 minutes it starts to grate. I pity the people who come when the park is busy and you need to line up for 2 and a half hours.

What made this ride special was it shoots you from 0-170km in about 1.5 seconds or something. After that it’s a pretty standard-fare coaster, but it does have a 90 degree vertical up and down which adds a bit of fun to the ride. It’s all over extremely quickly, but I must say that take of really looks like you’re entering warp-speed from some sort of sci-fi movie. Everything just goes blurry.


The 90 degree drop of Don-don-pa


Had some food after that because Seong and Simone had been out since about 5.30am at the fish market (I went the other day so I didn’t bother going there) and were getting really hungry by then. That kind of limited our ride selection for a bit – but was okay because we ended up going ice skating. Yep, there’s an outdoor ice-skating rink. I think that it’s actually a pool which they freeze over during the winter. After not having skated/bladed for a long time it felt really weird out there. But after a little while on the ice it turned out to be a lot of fun. Fell over a couple of times which hurt a bit though.

Fun on the ice


Seong and me...


Self portrait skills


Ran out of ideas after not being able to skate backwards, so I decided to just see how far I could slide on the ice. On my bum. That got me quite wet. Seong tried it too…

Evidence


We had to walk around for a bit so that we could dry after that. And even after a walk through the haunted house, a ride on the ferris-wheel and some ice-cream the two of us were still kind of damp. It was getting quite late by then though, so we had one last ride on Fuji-yama and wound up the day with a ride on the merry-go-round and then some go-carts which are so slow that you can’t actually overtake anybody. All in all, we all had an extremely good time.

Leaving Fujikyu


At Shinjuku station the three of us had dinner in a place nearby before heading for home – which is why I’m back so late. And now I think I better stop writing before I waste the whole night… Laters all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Autumn in Japan

I didn't get enough sleep last night again (sorry for not posting too!) and i have to get up extremely early tomorrow so this post is going to just be full of pictures.

To cut a long story short: today I went with some people from my class to a mountain to the south-west of Tokyo (i think it's south-west) called Takao-san. It was about an hour from Shinjuku station so it's not really that far away. We walked up and back down the mountain, and took lots of photos on the way ~ The weather was perfect and the autumn leaves (紅葉) were extremely pretty. Anyway i'll update properly tomorrow. Good luck to everybody who's still studying for exams~!

The last stop on the line - and our destination: Takaosan guchieki


One of the many photos i took of the beautiful autumn leaves up there


There were lots of little shrines too


This was a shot of the sky from near the peak


Us on the way down (from top left: Ben, Yuki, Hyun-Jung; Me; and Rim in the front)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Tsukiji-Shijou (Fish Market)

I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed this morning at 7am to get ready to go down to visit Tokyo's fish market with Ben. I didn't sleep until after 3am last night because of the fact I only woke up at 3pm that afternoon...

Getting to the fish market took about 15 minutes walking from Shimbashi station. The place was bustling with activity even though we only got there about 9.45 or so. (The lonely planet guide book recommends you just arrive before 10am to make sure you don't miss out on all the action... but i think the place is probably already starting to wind down by then)

The place really is big for a place that just sells fish. We walked for about half an hour in a straight line before we got from one end of the place to the other. But then again, we were stopping to look at things quite frequently so i'm not really sure how long the place was. I think we foreigners were probably as interesting to the stall owners as the hundreds of types of seafood were to us. One of the stall owners actually came up to us and was so shocked that we actually understood some Japanese hehe. Anyway, on to the photos.

At the fish market


These are the biggest prawns i've ever seen (to get some idea, those little looking prawns behind are actually about the length of my hand)


And some pretty huge octopus tentacles too


When we'd completed our walk down one of the many aisles, we had all seen about as much as we wanted to and decided to start looking for somewhere to get some of the fresh seafood onto a plate and into our stomachs. On the way out I found out what they do to the live fish that haven't been sold. They take them out of the water and cut them in half. Cool huh. Poor fishies. Not that getting cut into slices for sushi while you are still alive is any better i suppose.

I was expecting the place to smell quite badly considering how much fish there was lying around, but surprisingly it didn't. What was bad though, was the place we went to eat some sushi did smell kind of fishy. Let's just hope that wasn't because the fish they were using was going off...

Having fresh sushi there i suppose was nice, but honestly, i don't particularly find it much better than the supermarket sushi i can buy every day on the way home. Still, it's part of the experience.

Walking back to the station took a bit longer than getting there because we'd gone on a bit of a detour to get to a sushi place. We passed a (the?) Nissan office though, and they had a skyline on display which i thought some of you might like to have a look at:

The Japanese Nissan Skyline



Rear view


It looks quite similar to their luxury sedan here which i forgot the name of now (but was on display right next to the skyline).... Oh and according to an article in the paper, that new luxury sedan has this new automatic distance control thing which works even at low speeds. So you can just leave it to control the car when you're stuck in a traffic jam without having to pedal :)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Many meetings

Saturday was day two of Tokyo Sightseeing for me. I got to Shinjuku station (and actually found the West exit) to meet Hanson at about 9.30am. Our first stop for the day was actually my university. As you might remember, I have a break for the next couple of days because of this thing called 'Mita-Sai' (Mita Festival) - and all the stalls and performances all occur IN the university.

When we got there, i couldn't recognise the place. It looks so different with hundreds of stalls and people running around everywhere. Most of the stalls were selling various kinds of food - ranging from takoyaki (cooked octopus balls) to chocolate bananas to waffles. Actually speaking of waffles, there was a funny club which seemed to consist of only girls wearing black t-shirts with "Heartful Waffles" written in bright pink on the front and back. I don't think i managed to get a photo of them unfortunately :(

Enthusiasm for cash? Some of the antics the clubs/stalls got up to at Mita Sai to encourage people to buy things


Hanson and his mum didn't seem to find the festival terribly interesting, but for all the effort everyone had put in i thought i'd try at least one or two things. After sitting down to have some okonomiyaki (japanese pancake thing), i ran into Hiro who was actually helping sell this Japanese dessert/sweet called 'mochi'. I bought a pack of that to try too.

We caught a taxi to Tokyo tower which only took about 5 minutes. It's much closer to my university than i realised. It was a nice view from up there - but Tokyo's skyline is really not all that inspiring i suppose. It kind of just stretches on and on and on...

The view from Tokyo Tower. Beautiful day too.


I took photos from every side up there (i think) but i won't bore you by posting them up here because honestly, they all sort of look the same~ :) After walking around the place a couple of times, i found this interesting sign:




But it's a pretty neat idea


And look who I ran into at Tokyo Tower!~


Yep, that's Mui! How's that for chance? While Hanson's mother was wondering around the tower, she ran into a family friend from Melbourne who happened to be doing some sightseeing in Tokyo. Then two minutes later, from around the corner comes their daughter, Monique. I'm not sure who was more shocked when we realised, Mui, her mum, or me.

Turns out her dad's got some work to do for a few days in a place down near Mt Fuji, and Mui and mum came along for a short holiday. Seeing as they didn't have any plans for the day, they came along with us to eat lunch and have a look around Tokyo.

We had lunch in some place near Shimbashi station which served some tasty lunch sets ranging from sashimi rice sets to tempura. Somehow one of the waiters could sort of speak cantonese too! We went to Odaiba (a new-ish area around Tokyo bay) next to have a wonder around. Of course we ended up inside a shopping mall for at least half the time, but there was lots to do even in there. I found another Sony showroom while the rest of them were buying snoopy products from 'Snoopy World' - and they had Aibo on display again. Only this time, it was like a whole display room for Aibo. And there were sony reps there to explain everything (one of them even spoke English pretty well!).

Speaking of dogs, the other thing that you notice about Odaiba is there seem to be a lot of people taking theirs for walks there. The vast majority of them are small tiny toy dogs, and a lot of them have jackets and other clothes on too hehe. But it was nice to see so many of them wondering around the place (or even just being carried around the place in specially made handbags).

When we finally got out of the shopping complex bit and took a stroll outside, we were greeted by a really nice cool breeze (which soon became a little bit too cold) and some great views of Tokyo from across the water. We also found this.

Japan's version


At night apparently it gets really pretty around there now, because they have all the Christmas lights up. While we were having some afternoon tea/coffee/cake the lights on Rainbow bridge did start to come on which really made it feel like the perfect tourist spot. Unfortunately, with the sun setting it also got a good deal colder too which sort of ruined that image a little.

While we were originally going to eat dinner in Odaiba, after afternoon tea it was only about 5pm so we decided to head back to central Tokyo find somewhere to eat. I took everybody to have a look at Shibuya which was as usual crammed full of people. I think it wasn't quite the scene the parents were after hehe. We had dinner in a comfortable little udon shop - although because i actually spent about 20 minutes walking around trying to find Kris and Rui, my dinner wasn't quite as comfortable in my stomach (i ate my udon and curry rice in about 5 minutes flat).

Said goodbye to people after dinner (both Hanson and Mui and parents headed off out of Tokyo this morning) and met up with Kris, Rui and Martin for some drinks. Both Mui and Hanson were going to come too, but in the end Mui decided that she wouldn't. She didn't know how to get back to her hotel so I was going to have to take her - and since the last train stops at around midnight that wouldn't leave a lot of time to do anything (would need to leave time to get to Mui's hotel from Shibuya, and then get back to Shinagawa before my line stopped running). Hanson did come along - but after drinks at the izakaya and 30 minutes of pool it was time to make for the last train. Seeing as the night was still pretty young, we decided that we'd continue but back at the dorm (instead of out in Shibuya). Hanson had to go back since he had an early start this morning.

We managed to think we were right on time for the last train home, but when we got to Shinagawa station, we found out that we weren't. Luckily, there was another line home that got us back (in a more round-about way) by about 1am though. We bought some more beer from the convenience store while we were walking back, and spent the rest of the night in Kris' room talking.

By about 6am everyone was getting tired and hungry - so after a quick trip to the convenience store to get some food, Rui and Martin headed off home and I went off to get some sleep.

Since waking up today, i have done the laundry and cleaned up my room a little bit. Now i think i better get started catching up on all my reading!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Sightseeing around Tokyo

Yep, i spent today actually going around Tokyo like a tourist today. I did spend about half an hour walking lost around Shinjuku trying to find Hanson's hotel this morning though. Luckily, after he called me for about the 5th time i actually realised my phone was ringing and got some help. In the end Hanson and his mother came and found me instead. Good tour guide I was turning out to be :)

We went to Ueno first to have a look at the big park there. Which, upon arriving, i realised i actually HAVE visited before. The weather was quite spotty today though so the umbrellas wer out in full force unfortunately. Not quite optimal weather for a stroll in the park, but it was nice none the less. Stopped by at Tokyo National Museum too (it's in Ueno park - or at least right next to it). There was a display called "Treasures of Ancient China" which we spent about an hour or two at. It's amazing what the Chinese had in the way of sculptures and tools back in 2000 B.C - they had cool looking axes and spoons and things (and wine warmers!~). The exhibition ranged from back then till i think about maybe 6th or 7th century A.D; so there was lots of buddhist artwork/sculptures to look at too.

By the time we came out of there we were feeling a little hungry so we hopped back on the train and continued on our way around the Yamanote line (that's like the city loop around Tokyo) till we got to Akihabara (Electric Town). We picked randomly picked some restaurant from it's sign outside to have lunch at, and then wandered around there for about 2 hours. Was tempted to get a DVD drive for my laptop, but i decided to hold off at least until the new model comes out.

Next stop was Ginza. Had a bit of trouble trying to get there since i couldn't remember how to get there (because there's no 'Ginza' station on the JR line hehe). After finally giving up and going to ask the grumpy looking station assistant, it actually turned out to be quite close by. In Ginza we had a drink and decided to pay the Sony display building a visit.

Blue lights in the Sony building


Aibo!~ this is the latest version, it's quite cool ... it can see colour and everything. And you can pet it! :)


Afterwards, we sort of aimlessly walked around amongst all the expensive designer label stuff until our feet got quite sore. We took a rest on some seats in some store nearby for about 30 minutes till we felt like walking a bit more. Had dinner in some random place nearby - was like an izakaya-ish sort of environment. BUT they had an english menu which was nice~ We got to try all sorts of assorted things ranging from tenpura to oyster-nabe (hot pot). As is the case with most places everything came in small serves meaning you can try a lot of different things. It was very reasonably priced (especially considering it's mainroad Ginza), coming to only a bit over 2000 yen a head.

Here's a nice shot of the lights that are up (i'm assuming for Christmas) around the place.

Ginza by night


We were actually planning to go have a look at Shibuya and Roppongi after dinner, but i decided that i should probably get some rest (i didn't sleep much last night), and also work out what to do with ourselves tomorrow. I'm thinking Tokyo tower, Odaiba and maybe a quick tour of my uni... But in any case we shall find out tomorrow i suppose~

Friday, November 19, 2004

Mita-Sai is here

Monday:
Went to school, went along to Simone and Asli’s conversation partner meeting again. We went to the Excelsior Café near the train station this time. Most of the time was spent learning apparently ‘useful’ words in Japanese. Simone and Asli had their notepads out most of the time writing down everything. Somehow we got onto the topic of 変態・スケベ・チカン (perverts and weird people on the trains) though – and it sounds like a fairly common problem here in Japan. My friend Ji-Hee was there and said she’s unfortunately met a few of them on the crowded trains to and from her place. Both the conversation partner’s have also had similar experiences when they were in high school…

Tuesday:
Only had class in periods one and two. Class was entirely dedicated to speeches though so it was quite fun since you just have to sit and listen and ask a few questions. Had lunch at a tempura place near campus (it’s almost a fast-food chain – you can get take away tempura too). It was good none the less – and only cost like 500 yen for the meal! After that I went straight home to learn my speech for Wednesday class. Probably spent about one hour altogether doing it with all the procrastinating, and then headed off to badminton training. Training was easier than normal because they had a tournament on Wednesday. I broke the strings on my second racket unfortunately however… Afterwards I went with some of them to eat some dinner – and I finally got to try this Chinese place they always go to (since we got there before they closed this time). I had some spicy fried chicken with rice and cold udon set. If you have never tried cold udon I highly recommend it – although I’m not too sure how easy it is to get outside of Japan.

Wednesday:
Gave my speech in class. Was pretty bad I thought since the topic I’d chosen was originally for an essay – and I had no idea we were meant to use it for a speech later. If you’re wondering my topic was the ‘Bionic Ear’ – go look it up in google if you don’t know what it is. The two other people from Australia in my class talked about the Sydney Opera House and koalas hehe. Anyway I tried my best to explain as many of the weird words I used – but I still think a lot of people didn’t understand much which made it a bit boring. I was extremely tired after class finished since I managed to go to bed at about 3am on Tuesday because I was looking for pictures to use for the presentation. BUT, I finally decided that I would take a trip to Yokohama to the badminton store so I could get my two rackets restrung. So with the help of some directions from Kogai-kun (badminton friend), I made it to the shop and got it done. I helped Kris (he lives opposite me in the room opposite me) get a racket there too since he’s been just borrowing people’s rackets at the badminton club that he’s been frequenting so far. While we were waiting for his new racket to get strung, we found a place to eat where I tried this variation on maguro-don (tuna-sashimi on a bowl of rice basically) which was called マグロ利久丼 (maguro-rikyuudon – at least I think that’s how you say it) which was really good. Kris had some eel thing which I can’t remember the name of.

We almost didn’t make it back to the shop in time to pick up our rackets – since we both didn’t look at the time while we were having dinner. They were still open when we got there though so it was okay. After we went looking for a game arcade, but didn’t find one which had anything we felt like playing. We did find this weird multiplayer card game though. It seemed to be a bit like magic the gathering – where you buy booster packs and things, and there’s different sorts of cards that you use. But the catch is, you play with the cards at this arcade-machine thing. You actually insert them in, and I suppose when there’s other people there they insert theirs. And there’s a screen – so while there was nobody playing it at the time, I’m guessing that there’ll be some sort of animated thing happening there when you’re creatures fight with each other…. Quite interesting I thought.

I took a few photos outside for everyone to have a look at too:

Outside Yokohama station at night


Another random shot


A side street in Yokohama somewhere


Enough random photos yet?


Thursday:
I woke up at 4pm. That’s definitely the longest sleep in I’ve had since I’ve arrived. I guess all the days of having 3 or 4 hours sleep finally caught up with me. Today was the first day of the Mita Festival break so I made the most of it. Although, come to think of it, I normally don’t have class on Thursdays anyway. I have until next Thursday off from class - and a lot of my friends have all disappeared off to various parts of Japan (and a couple off to Korea) for the week. I however will be staying here in Tokyo to hopefully get a look at the place a bit better. Oh, and Hanson is here for 4 days as well - so i'll be meeting up with him tomorrow for some sightseeing too i think.

As for today, I pretty much just had time to roll out of bed and make myself some instant noodles before it was time to go to badminton again. Training is back to being really hard – I didn’t even try to do the shuttle run with the rest of them tonight – was starting to hurt too much just doing the multi-feed. Went to eat with them after again – I think I probably learn as much Japanese at badminton training as I do in class. The listening practice is really good – I think I’m slowly starting to understand more and more of the conversations now… Hopefully I’ll actually start to understand all of it before I leave hehe. Anyway that brings me right up to now as I sit here typing this blog. Till next time.