Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Claw Machine Saga


Look what I got! A bunny! Today I went to Akihabara (home of the famous Electronic Town for those who don't know) because I desperately needed an external hardrive (I had about 1GB left on my computer's HD). Anyway, I was successful in that (I also bought a DS game and a 4GB thumb drive). Rachel, Laura, Kate, and Jeff also came so that we were just hanging out once I had finished my errand. We went into a store that had a couple of claw machines with these bunnies. I had seen them before and wanted one (soooo cute!) so I was looking at them longingly through the glass knowing I'd never get one as I am terrible at claw machines. Well, a store employee saw me and came over, unlocked the machine and moved the bunny you see above so that it was literally teetering on the edge of chute thing. It still took three tries to get the silly thing XD and I had Laura help me because I'm still lame, but I got a bunny! And a girl that worked at the store came over to congratulate me (I think that was her job actually...) and I found the guy that had set it up for me and thanked him. Yup.

Please give me ideas for a name for the bunny. Preferably Japanese (so this request is aimed at YOU Jessa--or anyone else with some nihongo knowledge). Sorry, Usagi-chan is not creative enough.

I should also mention that today is Jeff's birthday (Happy birthday Jeff, not that you read my blog...) though we're celebrating it on Monday with karaoke. Maybe I'll get another karaoke video :P

Yesterday, I had another day with the American business class. It's so much fun! Too bad it's only three sessions :( However, next week we have a party after the class. Hopefully I'll manage to get some phone numbers off the people in my group... Hey, a couple of them are really cute.

And I also realized I lied about having basically no photos from my trip last weekend. I have a video I took while on the bus as I really wanted to be able to show you guys the lake and the fall colors. It kinda worked so I'll put it up. Enjoy!

video

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sorry...

I must apologize for how long it has taken me to post anything. In my defense, I've been pretty busy with school lately. I had midterms (though now I'm done with those) and stuff. I also have to apologize because I'm pretty sure I promised some awesome pictures from my weekend trip to Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the weather was not so good. It was too cloudy to even see Fuji-san except for a brief couple of moments in the morning when I was still refusing to get out of bed. That just means no pictures. I did have a pretty good time.

The drive was gorgeous. Sadly taking pictures from a moving bus is very hard. But fall here is definitely colorful. Lots of reds and oranges. It was cold though. Not in Tokyo, but the place we were staying was quite chilly. The place was pretty cool. We stayed in traditional type rooms with tatami mats and futons. With the futons filling up the floor at night it felt like a great big sleepover. As for activities, I didn't end up going to the onsen because I didn't want to walk the 15 minutes in the cold with a threat of rain to get there. Instead I played basketball with Rachel, Hue, and some of the guys. Never do that. The guys were jerks (in the best sense). It was fun though and it kept me nice and toasty.

After basketball, I took a bath (I know it doesn't sound noteworthy, but Japanese baths are an experience). Then there was dinner and after dinner we had a party. Very laid back but lots of fun. Plus it was cheap as snacks were provided and we only had to pay 500yen a piece if we wanted alcohol.

Then we went to bed and didn't get enough sleep since we were up again at 7:30AM so we could have breakfast and get ready to check out. I just hung out at the place we were staying until lunch and then after lunch we left. I know, it doesn't sound exciting, but I had a good time just hanging out with the group. We have some pretty cool people.

So that's the weekend... Not much for other news. Today I'm going to Waseda to help with the American business class (I did this last Friday too but I'm not sure if I mentioned anything about it before). We watch the Apprentice and I help the students discuss what's going on in English and make predictions about who will be fired. It's pretty fun, and I get paid.

Anyway, can't think of anything else to put in here... I'll try to get some pictures in my next post. This weekend is my friend Jeff's birthday and Rachel and I are planning to go to Akihabara (I desperately need an external hard drive) so hopefully some fun shots will come out of that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pictures for "A week in the life of Me"

I got the photos working so here they are!



First up is the Torii at Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Harajuku. It's beautiful. I'm not sure if you can quite see at the top, but there are three golden chrysanthemums.










These people are complete strangers, but they were standing there letting people take pictures of their absolutely adorable daughters all dressed up in traditional clothes. I'm not sure why, but there were actually several little girls dressed in kimono and a few women as well. In a different area there was also a Shinto wedding going on. Cool, yeah?





And here I am at the shrine next to a bunch of chysan- themums. There were all shapes and sizes of them. So amazing. This area had smaller ones but there were som where the blossom was as big as my head.









And here's Tokyo Tower! It's so pretty all lit up. Too bad. I really like the perspective on this photo by the way (good job Suzanne!). Random fact: Tokyo Tower is based (obviously) on the Eiffel Tower. However, Tokyo Tower is a few meters taller.

For those who are curious: I saw no magical girls or people with wings. There were a lot of noisy school groups though.





This is from the evening that Suzanne and John came over for dinner. Mami's younger sister was there (and kindly took this photo). Both Suzanne and John got their egos stroked when Mami and Tomo tried to guess their ages and were very wrong in the correct direction. The food we're about to eat in the picture is called sukiyaki. In that pot is sauce that you put meat and veggies and noodles and whatever into to cook. In our bowls is a raw egg that you put the cooked food into before you eat it. Absolutely delicious!






As I said, Rachel and I went to an ikebana exhibition (Japanese art of flower arranging). I probably took a hundred pictures before my camera battery died, but you get two. Sorry, but uploading takes a while. And then arranging them is tedious and annoying because I'm a perfectionist. Anyway, this one is really pretty. There were a bunch that were cool, lots were beautiful, and some were just strange.












This is one of the ones that I thought was just cool. The color is awesome and the shape is so fun. I really enjoyed going since it's such a unique experience to Japan. I don't think any other country has such a heightened art of flower arranging.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A week in the life of Me

Sorry I'm so slow. I haven't been able to get Suzanne's pictures to work here so I was waiting to post until I could, but I've given up for the moment... Sorry, but at least you get to hear about what's happening.

Monday, Suzanne and her coworker John arrived and as it was Culture Day (a Japanese national holiday) there was a festival at Waseda that we went to. It was pretty fun, but we didn't stay too long because Suzanne and John were understandably tired from traveling.

Tuesday I had class, but then I spent the evening with Suzanne and John. We ate curry for dinner and then went to a bar for a bit.

Wednesday we spent the morning watching the election. We couldn't tear ourselves away until Obama was declared winner. After that we went to Harajuku. We went to the shrine there wich is gorgeous. They have all these chrysanthemum flowers growing in pots there. We saw a lot of little girls wearing kimono too which was adorable. After that we wandered around the shops a bit before getting back on the subway to go see Tokyo Tower. That was really cool. It's so pretty when it's all lit up at night.

Thursday I had class again, but after that Suzanne and John came over to my host family's house for dinner (we had sukiyaki). My host dad wasn't there, but Tomo (my host mom's younger sister) came over. We had a really good time.

Friday was Suzanne and John's last day so we were going to stay close to the hotel so they could get to the airport on time. We wanted to go to the Imperial Gardens, but apparently they're closed on Fridays :( So we went to the Museum of Modern Art instead. That was cool since I got to see several pieces that I remember studying in the Japanese art history class I took at Knox.

Saturday Rachel and I went to an ikebana exhibition which was really cool though my camer's batteries died halfway through (I still got about 90 shots though). I think I'll put a couple of those pictures up later. I'm being lazy about photos right now.

And now you're pretty much caught up. Well, today I had my first midterm, but that's not interesting really since it was very midtermy and I'm sure you all know what that's like.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Suguru's birthday

This was just too cute to wait so you get another post so soon! Today is Su-chan's 2nd birthday so we had a nice dinner though I doubt Su-chan really understood the concept. Anyway, in the picture is Su-chan blowing out candles. Sorry he's cropped funny, but it's impossible to get him to stay still long enough for a good photo usually. You do get to see the cake though. Let me tell you, the Japanese really know how to make a good cake. It was delicious. And my host family really spoils me as I got two slices (which is two fifths) of the cake. Yummmmmm.... I guess it's maybe too bad that my birthday is after I leave. Though I'd have to share it with my host dad. Though that could be pretty fun...


While at the Studio Ghibli Museum, I bought a Totoro plushie for Su-chan as he LOVES that movie (I'm sure by the time I leave Japan the number of times I will have seen that movie will be in the hundreds and I'm not kidding in the slightest). So here's a video of him playing with it right after he opened it. If you couldn't guess, the other two people in the video are my host parents. Enjoy!
video

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Beginning of a Busy Weekend

As it's been about a week since my last post, I'll start there with my updates.

Class as usual on Monday and Tuesday (though Tuesday Kate and I got to give a presentation on how the US election will affect Japan in our Japanese politics class). Wednesday was an errand day. Kate, Laura, and I all headed off to the Immigration Bureau to apply for work permits. Living in Tokyo is very expensive so I've started searching for possible students (might have found one already!). Then there was class again Thursday.

Since I don't have class on Fridays, this will be a four day weekend for me. Monday is a National Holiday (Culture Day). Waseda will be holding a festival starting tomorrow though some activities started as early as yesterday.
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This is a video of some cheerleaders that were performing during lunchtime on Friday. They gave us candy :D They are somehow affiliated with Waseda though I'm not sure how as Waseda's colors are red and gold (no blue) and we're not the Falcons, our mascot is a bear. (Also, please ignore Rachel and my conversation bits in the background, it's not that interesting.)

Today I went to the first of the Waseda-Keio baseball games (SouKeiSe, where Sou is Waseda--don't ask it's a kanji thing, Kei is Keio, and Se is fight). And Waseda WON!!! 3-1! Now, I don't particularly like to watch baseball as I think it's incredibly boring to watch. However, this was different as I barely paid any attention to the game. The Japanese are very into their cheering. We sat down in the stadium about an hour before the game started so we could learn cheers. So much fun.

video

Here's some cheerleader video from the game. These are Waseda cheerleaders. There are guys too but I didn't get any good shots of them though they are INCREDIBLE! Being a male cheerleader here does not carry the same stigma as it does in the States.

Now for some boring old photos:

Here we have the sign behind the Waseda section of the stands. There's our bear mascot ready for baseball!

This is the Waseda flag. These guys would stand there and hold the furled flag horizontally for about half an hour before unfurling. Those things looked way heavy, but they just stood there with these serious expressions on their faces. Also, that silver tip looked like it was designed to harpoon whales.

And the winning scoreboard! By the way, once we won instead of leaving the stadium, everyone stayed for over half an hour to complete the formalities. Waseda sang our alma mater then basically saluted the Keio students then Keio did the same back. The players all bowed to each other probably more than once, and the flag guys on both sides bowed more than once to each other too (with the flags). Japanese people have some peculiar habits...

I might post again after the activities of Monday for this is a busy weekend so there'll be lots to tell about hopefully. Tomorrow is Su-chan's birthday (and Kathy's!) and Monday my Aunt Suzanne arrives. So look forward to more later!