My mother's here! We'll be heading to Tokyo Thursday! I'll be in touch!

[Wed. at 11:23.] I don't suspect that I'll have much time, energy, or motivation for much in the way of substantive posts over the next few days, so I'll likely just update this post now and then with short blurbs. We're going to meet Brian Yamamoto and Yo for lunch soon. That'll be good (and the last time I'll probably see Brian for a long time). I haven't eaten anything in about 24 hours except for some almonds. We were going to eat dinner but we both had a very long day and ended up just crashing until this morning. I'm hungry. I've had to caution my mother already about talking loudly in my paper-thin-wall–havin' room. Dang loud foreigners. Heh.

[Thurs. at 10:49.] Yesterday, we had lunch at Denny's with Brian Yamamoto and Yo. I was quite pleased to hear that Brian will be back in the area in a couple of months so it won't be so long until we meet after all. Brian and Yo gave us a lot of useful information about Tokyo that really helped a lot (thanks, guys!). My mother and I rode to city hall to put the finishing touches on my visa extension (all done!) and, later, we actually went back to Denny's for dinner. During the day, I got a call from a friend of mine who asked if I wanted to visit Okazaki Castle that evening and check out the partially-bloomed sakura. Well, there wasn't really time but it was a good opportunity to visit the castle (by car, at that). We got to visit the inside of the castle as well, though it was pretty late, and we got a great view of the city at nighttime. The weather was perfect and it was a great visit. Now it's morning and, shoot, still not much done in terms of preparations. She wants to go to Tokyo by regular train. That's a six-hour ride. We'll see what becomes of that. (Schoolmate Julien just got back from Tokyo and offers a bit of useful information. Also, I'm glad that I'm totally legal now.) (It seems that schoolmate James and I have very similar itineraries. I saw that backwards "3" as well—heh heh.)

[Thursday at 16:02] We'll be leaving later than expected but our hotel reservations are made and we're making the final preparations. I can relax a bit, as we (understandably) had trouble finding a hotel. Tokyo, I'm comin' for you.

[Monday at 19:56] Sorry for the lack of updates during the trip. Turned out that I couldn't access many websites during the trip, including Blogger, and by the time that I thought of using a proxy to bypass that, it was time to come back. I'll write a bit more later, but, basically, the trip went well. We had a lot of fun together in Tokyo and saw a good deal. I liked it, personally. I think I could likely live in Tokyo. My mother liked it too, but would prefer to live in an Okazaki-style city indeed. Well, my mother's here until Thursday, but I'll try to update to some extent before that.




I'm pretty sure that I just experienced a very small earthquake. I shall remain on alert for a while.

The good and the bad and some humor

  • Bad news: Huge quake in central Japan
  • Cool news: Saw my first Domo-kun commercial today (I like NHK)
  • Good news: Met with an e-mail friend for the first time today and we hit it off very well
  • Good news: I got a library card today!
  • Good news: My mother arrives Tuesday
  • Bad news: Plans for our trip to Tokyo barely exist
  • Bad news: I have to complete a radio script with Yo by tomorrow.
  • Good news: No more homework, no more book, no more teacher's dirty looks! For two weeks.

Also, I just learned about an interesting type of humor often used in Japanese. It's called dajare and is a type of wordplay. (I'm pleased to note that I understood all but one of the examples right away.) This lead to owarai, the world of comedy in general (which itself led to various information). Useful stuff. You won't learn this at school.

By the way, have you ever noticed in anime how characters will hear or observe something silly or unexpected done by another character and then faint or nearly faint? Japanese people actually do this! I mean, they don't actually faint, but they'll kind of act like it or pretend to lose their balance and stumble a step or two. (A "faint response," one Wikipedia article called it.) For whatever reason, I'm totally enamored with this and have done it a few times myself. (I'm likely to bring that back home with me. I'm just saying.) Specifically, I remember Hada-sensei and Hiroe-sensei going it in class a couple of items.


Fourth term, final day | 4学期目の最終日


Tomorrow is the final day of this term. My first year here in Japan will also come to an end soon. G class was truly a strange and wacky class but I enjoyed it a lot. We won't be able to study together again next term, it seems. For certain reasons, I'm pretty concerned about what the atmosphere in the class I'll be in term will be like. Well, no reason to worry. It'll work out.


Sayonara, Tik Ka, Zoe, Briiiiaaaannn ...


Today was Brian Yamamoto's goodbye party. I was in one of my moods that I sometimes get in at parties and spent a good deal of time in a very small alcove chatting with a number of friends who came to visit. Two Japanese guys were there mingling about but I wasn't in the mood to meet new folks or make small talk in Japanese. So what happens? Yo brings them to the alcove and leaves and I'm forced to chat with them. And, you know, it worked. After that, I felt more sociable. Nice work, jackass. (Eunice told the two guys that I play Go and they asked if I played shogi as well. I replied that I never have in a way (さしたことがない) that made me trip out over my うまい (skillful) Japanese. It was amusing.)

Thank you, Brian, for a wonderful party—no, for all of the wonderful parties. Things will be that much deader without ブライーーーアンーーー! around.

(Give Zaya and Yan hugs for me. Well, give one to Yan if she's in a condition for it. If not, please offer a suitable substitute.)

Tik Ka and Zoe

Earlier in the week was Tik Ka and Zoe's farewell dinner. We went to Festa Garden, an all-you-can-eat restaurant in the relatively nearby Aeon shopping center. Tik Ka and Zoe and I started together at the bottom and studied together for six months. For the past six months, we've been separated but we were at least able to have an elective class together this term. Soon, they'll be leaving too. Man.

Well, guys, I'm gald that we were able to study together. You're good people, see. きっと we'll meet again. Certainly, online, right?



Call me Jonathan Bueller

Today was my class's trip to the Toyota factory but I opted not to go because I didn't want to part with the 1,400-plus yen that trip would require, especially when I'm attending a large get-together this evening that will cost a thousand yen and with my mother's trip right around the corner. I thought that I would go to Nagoya to complete my visa-extension process but I figure I'll do Tuesday morning before I meet my mother at the airport.

So, I did nothing here at home. I, however, did got to voice chat with my good friend SharkBait back home, which is a rare treat. (I should be working on my last schoolwork, or the radio script for Monday. Oy.) In other friend-related news, I was surprised to receive a note last night from a friend of mine here in Okazaki whom I fell out of contact with a few months back. (I hope you got my e-mail reply. Let me know here if you didn't!) Quite pleased about that.

From now, I need to prepare for this evening's shindig. That means I need to cut my hair.


この にほんご を よみますか?
がんばって ください!
すごい です ね?!








Pink book or that other book?

Tomorrow is my final test of the term. Recently, I've not been studying very well so I'm a bit concerned about how well I do, but I'm comforted by two facts: (1) I'll do fine and (2) it doesn't really matter. I met with Hiroe-sensei today and we discussed what I'd been doing next term.

See, Yamasa has introduced a class level in-between the "pink book" (the second New Approach book and sequel to the one that I've been studying for the past six months) and "the other immediate-level book" (which name I don't know in English and serves as a go-between for the two New Approach books). He said that there's no problem at all with my going to the pink book and he thinks that I'd be just fine and make good grades and all, but since my reading speed is a bit slow, he also thinks that it could be beneficial to study the other immediate-level book since that class will focus more on reading. I appreciated this because he is concerned about my actual progress as a whole instead of just shooting me up the scale. So basically, he said that I could study either book and that, with everyone else in the class, he had a clear suggestion for which book to study, but with me, he had none, as either path was fine. Which is a good thing, I think.

Of course, I'm going with the pink book. My reading speed, while not particularly swift, isn't actually as slow as it appears in class and on tests and I'm not worried about it. (Everyone's reading speed and comprehension varies with their interest in the material. More so with me, I think. And goodness knows that most reading material at school is not exciting. When I'm reading my go book, for example, though, I'm quicker.) I prefer to just read more on my own. (Joaquin's been pretty inspiring for this.) I was fairly lazy this term but, in exchange, I'm ready to put more energy into my further studies. I needed a break. (Study here for about a year and you'll understand. But I'll write about all that later.) My main weakness is vocabulary, I suspect. I'm going to ramp up my kanji studies as all, as this will help my vocabulary.

So I'm feeling pretty psyched about next term. I'm going to put more energy into my studies but more intelligently and efficiently. I think I should make a study schedule as well. Besides, I can't let guys like my schoolmate James have all the fun. (Heh heh.)

I'm hungry.

Update: By the way, my listening comprehension is also rather weak. I just finished watching an episode of Full House and realized that watching it—really watching it—is excellent practice, so I'll be doing that from now on. (Takes me back, I tell you.) Before that, I saw a nice teen drama that was likewise useful. I need to use the CD that came with my textbook as well—haven't been doing that much.


Parties end, assignments remain; Mom; Blog II

Well, my five-day-straight run of get-togethers has come to an end. Good times. Now I'm faced with both an essay and a term questionnaire that I neglected to complete by their due dates. Beh. I left class early to go to Nagoya to wrap up the visa extension process, but I went to the ATM to find that a deposit made into my account hadn't posted yet, so I'll have to go tomorrow. This evening, I had dinner with my classmate Cynthia—had a fine time.


I don't think that I've mentioned this publicly yet, but my mother is coming to visit me for ten days starting a week from tomorrow. We're going to Tokyo and possibly to Nara or Kyoto as well. It'll be my first trip to Tokyo—oughta be interesting. I don't expect that I'll be posting here too much during that trip, unfortunately. But I intend to inject some life in this project for my second trip here. Look forward to it!



改めて、昔の伝説が続いている。 | The legend of old continues.
美少女戦士忍者カク! | Pretty Soldier Ninja Kaku!

Did you catch the chakra-gathering sound?

You can find all of the videos collected at YouTube.


Unbelievably busy

Many folks are leaving next week and there have been nonstop get-togethers, dinners, and karaoke parties. I just got in a little while ago from a karaoke outing for a Japanese conversation volunteer group. (Twelve hundred yen—@#$%! I am greatly concerned about the status of my wallet.) I've have get-togethers this week every day from Wednesday until Sunday. It's fun, though. There's a dual-class outing next week that I think I'll be skipping at this point, however.


Watching go with Lee and such

Today was a mixed bag but mostly good. I started out in a reading class having eaten no breakfast except for a banana, which was not pleasant, but I felt pretty good by lunchtime. Unfortunately, my parade was rather rained on and I spent the fourth class pretty frustrated with most of humanity.

While resting up in the computer room during my fifth hour break, I was watching a KGS go match when my classmate (and go rival) Lee approached me and inquired about what I was doing. ("Stop cheating," he joked.) We then watched the match together for several minutes, which was quite enjoyable, as it was our first time doing so. Actually, it was my first time watching a match and commenting on it with anyone. It was pretty enjoyable. (I'm suddenly thinking how awesome it'd be to have a girlfriend that enjoyed go. And Mario Kart, of course. Heh heh.) It was a mid-level amateur dan game, so we could scarcely understand just what was happening.

We watched until it was time to go to our final class. On the way, though, I ran into a friend of mine with whom it's always hard to find a good opportunity to talk, so we chatted for a few minutes until I was solidly late for class. It was our final "daily vocabulary" class and, most unfortunately for me, the topic was cooking. It was a moderately difficult assignment using a lot of vocabulary. Man, I don't like cooking. I don't even like eating all that much. I usually do it because I have to. If I could be like Juggernaut and survive without food or water, that'd be sweet. I grant that the near-invulnerability would be vastly sweeter, however.

Two links: The freakiest We Are The World performance on record (go, Ray!) and The new You Don't Know Jack's second installment. Also, if you haven't looked to the right, I have a Google Reader feed of interesting items from feeds that I subscribe to. Check it.

I really need to do at least a bit of studying now.














So the other day, as my English conversation student and I were about to walk out of Aeon, we ran into Hiroe-sensei and Hada-sensei, who were searching for a basketball for last Friday's basketball competition. (I didn't enter this time. Still stingin' from last time.) I was caught off-guard and, like a dummy, asked them if they were still working. It was 4 p.m.—duhh. Then I proceeded to clumsily introduce my student to them. It occurs to me that I don't know that they have ever studied introductions (of people) before and I would like to request that. Several months back, I ran into Sugiura-sensei in a similar fashion. (Looking at that text of that post that I just linked to, I couldn't help but notice that I'm saying the exact same thing about not having studied introductions as I am now. Ha! I'd better get on that.)


Maybe just once or twice ...

While the grammar is technically correct, the nuance of the wording of that sentence just makes me nervous.











Tonight, I went to Aeon with a few friends. I raced Brian Yamamoto in Mario Kart Arcade GP and won by, like, a quarter of a second. I'm the man. The four of us also did print club (super photo booth) photos which was pretty awesome, as it was my first time.



My most recent game. I was black.最近、Igowinというフリーソフトをダウンロードして使っている。コンピューター相手の力が強いので能力が上達するようにいい基本的な作戦の原則練習かなと思う。さっき、初めて14級レベル(2個の碁石のハンディキャップ)になってうれしいー。

I downloaded a small freeware program named Igowin a couple or three weeks ago and have found it to be a pretty good tool against which to develop my basic strategy skills. I just made it up to 14 kyuu level (two-stone handicap) just now for the first time and, oh yeah, it feels good.

By the way, I'm almost halfway through my Japanese Go book!

Update: Great day in the morning, what a game I played just now! I successfully broke white's attempt at eyes (or at least impenetrable territory) in the lower left corner and killed its stones. Killed 'em dead! I'm finally understanding this stuff. Man, what a rush. Eat that, fourteen kyuu!


Update 2: Uh, greater day in the morning? I just crushed 13 kyuu as well. I'm learning a lot right about now. I'm on a streak, baby! But is it skill or just what one would call luck? Whatever the case, unprecedented!


Update 3: Alas, I was finally taken down by the twelve kyuu computer but not by too much. I let it capture the upper-right—that was my biggest mistake, I think. And perhaps I concerned myself with the lower-left too much, though it is at least living. It was a pretty fierce battle. Well, that's enough of these pointless updates.

修正3: やっと12級レベルに負けちゃった。右上を負けて(一番大きなミスかも)左下に集中しすぎた(でも生きている)と思う。はげしい戦いだった。これで、このつまらない修正がとまるよ。



This is for the benefit of Hada-sensei and, of course, who ever else hasn't seen it. It's a classic.





Drinking to One's Death

It would be awesome to be able to make something like this at school.

Well, whatever the case, I learned a couple of useful expressions.

Found via Japan Probe.

Useful DS software | 役に立つDSソフト

To you lucky folks in possession of a Nintendo DS, Neo Samurai presents some software you might find useful.



Visa extension adventure: part 1 | 在留期間更新の成功

Today, I went to Nagoya to apply for a visa extension. I came here with a one-year visa and I have to extend it for another year. This trip was my first time going as far as Nagoya station (usually I stop at Kanayama) and my first time riding the subway alone with no guidance. Plus, I don't ride trains or subways often and I rarely go to Nagoya so every time I go, it's a bit exciting. Plus, I had to manage to get the process done successfully. It wasn't all that big of a deal, but it still felt like a bit of a trial by fire of sorts.

Fortunately, all went well. I lost some Cool Points for not taking a number for about five minutes after walking in and for blanking out when trying to say the name of the service I required (for some reason, it's really hard for me to remember), but I got a couple back from the man behind the counter who commented positively on my 100% attendance rate.

Even though I rode new rapid trains, the ride was longer than I expected. I had no problems riding the subways either. I'm getting used to figuring out those rather complicated-looking route maps. On the train back, I scooted over to allow a couple of older ladies to sit across from each other and they happily said, "Gomen nasai." I mention that because that same sort of thing seems to happen each time I ride the train.

Oh, and when I was done, I explored the street I was on and found the Disaster Prevention Center, to which I suggested my class go during a field trip that we'll be taking in a couple weeks. The center was my (and Joaquin's) proposal, but the trip proposal presentations and voting are tomorrow. The point is that the odds that I ended up there are quite low and that it's somewhat convenient that I did.

Anywho, I have a headache right now, so I'm going to sign out.






Yo and I's latest Shaberiba Waiwai has been uploaded (with BGM intact, I'm pleased to report). At 8:50, we have a bit of fun. Also, the Japanese word for genre is "janru" and I had trouble with that. Unfortunately, there were only three people outside the studio last week due to everyone having various appointments.




I went to dinner with a couple of Korean friends that were returning home the next day. While at the restaurant, one give me an envelope with a letter inside. On the envelope, my name was written as "Jhon." "Hey," I said, "my name's spelled wrong" (not that I cared). It's "John." Then I realized that there is no "h" in my name. An amusing and mildly embarrassing experience.


A small situation in front of Seiyu | Seiyuの前のこと




男は精神障害者 【せいしんしょうがいしゃ】だったか、酔っ払っていたか、今でもわからないが、危ないかもしれないので必ずこの少女を守らなきゃって思った。それからどうなるか、ちょっと考えてみた。けんかになったら警察がいるかどうかとか、周りの運転者は手伝ってくれるかとか、本当の殴り合いの経験がないので少女だけではなく、僕自身を守れるかなぁとか。





This is the miniature go board that I purchased. Sweet!

After the radio show yesterday, my classmate Lee told me that they sold miniature go boards at Aeon (the local mall) in the fourth-floor store named Loft. I decided to immediately head there, both because I've been seeking Go boards (not necessarily miniature) and because I felt like going somewhere. Thus, I hopped on my bike and headed there.

I got stopped by the light at the large intersection in front of Seiyu and so sat waiting. As I did, an 11-year-old–looking girl appeared on her bike, waiting to cross, a few yards (er, meters) to the right of me. As we waited silently, a odd-looking man came running toward the girl from the crossing perpendicular to us. His gait was odd, perhaps as if he had a slight limp, but I wasn't paying much attention to him. Until he started yelling at the girl as he approached us. I thought that perhaps he knew the girl and was trying to flag her down. But, no, I think not.

I didn't understand what he was yelling, but he ran straight up to the young girl and started speaking to her rather loudly. He looked mentally retarded to me. Or, looking back, perhaps quite inebriated. (It sounded like he might have said something about an abacus, which would seem odd enough to be the ramblings of either, I would think.) Regardless, the young girl stared at him in silence for a couple of seconds as he hovered over her, then she suddenly rode over to the left side of me, effectively putting me between the man and herself. I turned to look at her and saw her staring at the man with a distinct fear in her eyes. At this point, I understood that this situation could be serious and glared at the man to see what he'd do next.

Fortunately, he decided to amble down the sidewalk away from me. I turned back to the girl, who looked up at me, and I said, "Scary, huh?" I'm not sure if she nodded very slightly or anything, but she said nothing, still looking a bit rattled. Unfortunately, I said nothing more to her and, for whatever reason, I felt that maybe she didn't feel like talking to strangers and that I could make her uncomfortable too if I started chatting her up too much. But I really wish I'd said something else, like "Don't worry. If anything bad had happened, I'd have helped you" or something. Ah well. I'll be ready next time.

We crossed the street and she rode off to the left. Me, I bought myself a magnetic portable go board.

Couple of snippets

It was a good day for me. Class and the radio broadcast both went well.

Rhoda was the first to class today. Saints alive!

Image © 2007 Jonathan's Japan Journal

This banana was fat enough for the skin to break. And, boy, was it good.