Blog: Viking Invades Japan
Created by JayRandom on Sun 08 of Jan, 2006 [20:12 UTC]
Last modified Sun 22 of Apr, 2007 [04:24 UTC]

(11 posts | 32244 visits | Activity=2.00) RSS feed
Description: This story is a serious, biographical ballad of a Norse boy, Keith, who possesses the burning urge to study the language of and from the Japanese people, so that his grades may be presented to the world proudly! Seed of knowledge!

Keith has since returned from his journey, but his heroic tale shall live on.

Procrastination to the Max!

posted by Phelen on Wed 29 of Mar, 2006 [14:28 UTC]

Well, here I am writing again. Well, I was mostly finished writing this post when my computer decided to be stupid and hit the back button on its I have to start over. Please forgive me as I am going to go over most everything with a featherduster, so to speak.

To update you on the lask three week, I will start on the weekend I went to Hiroshima with my friends. We had an awsome time, and between getting lost on the bus/street cars, trying to find a hotel to stay at, and having to survive the 7 hour plus trip just getting there, we somehow took the funniest picture I've seen, visited a kung-fuey shinanigan inspiring Sekkeien Gardens, and over all had the time of our lives. As for the funniest picture I've ever seen...just look at this, and know that it wasn't edited in any way (other than the elaborite bordering Scott gave it). The poor woman just stepping into the picture, realized it, and had time to look shocked before the picture was taken... so see for yourselves;

The next week was filled with much studying and getting wet too often for my liking. Thursday I got drenched on my way to hang out with my host family, Friday (yay I was dry!) I met up with Shinnichi-san at a very cool restaurant that has cheap and good food, went on a feild trip Saturday that consisted of seeing many rock gardens, a real garden, and getting wet again. Sunday came and went and was spent doing chores and writing papers in Japanese and English. Monday, Scott, Shinnichi-san, Sugimoto-san, and I all went to a Karaoke bar and had a blast singing a variety of songs for four hours. I think I killed my voice in the first couple Guns and Roses songs, though.

Tuesday was like Sunday.... And so I will fast forward to Friday, when Scott and I made our way to Tokyo. A very large city...and furter away than Hiroshima from Hikone. We spent Friday night finding the capsule hotel and otherwise getting our bearings. Saturday, we woke up and prompltly visited Tokyo tower (which isn't quite the same as they draw the interior of it in Anime...). It was very high, and mostly lacked the expansive plass floors of other such buildings....until we found there was another floor to the main observation deck. That's also where we found some "soft cream" aka soft serve ice cream in a cone that was shaped like Tokyo tower. The Strawberry stuff was pretty good. From there we walked over to the imperial gardens. We met a nice guy who knew a little English and wanted to practice. So we had close to an hour English and Japanese conversation. We then left to check out the Ginza shopping district but we blanched at the prices, and so fled back to Akihabara, where we spent too much money for our own good. I did get a spiffy new camera for really cheap. I also got a picture taken with some cosplayers who were walking down the street. Stefan...that one's for you.

Sunday we wandered about ueno (a section of Tokyo) and saw a lot of museums (the greatest concentration of museums in Japan, actually) at ueno park. There was also a Sakura festival going on, so there were a lot of stands set up selling food and offering different entertainments, like paper scooping fish. I can make my own I'm sure many of you avid anime watchers know to what I am refering to, however. There were many different games.

That was all the time we had in tokyo, so we left to get back to Hikone at a decent hour. Since then schoolwork has again devoured my soul. It has left enough space for one other thing, though; ping pong. I have become so much better at ping pong since I've stayed in Japan that it's like night and day.

I'll try and find time to update my blog pictures tommorrow, but tonight I've had it. Writing a blog entry for three weeks is tiring without having to do it twice.

Thanks for your patronage, Keith

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しゃしんのおに Demon of pictures.

posted by Phelen on Mon 06 of Mar, 2006 [11:24 UTC]

I have now updated most of my pictures. Just so you know they are not necessarily in the order they were taken. Sorry for the inherent confusion, but most of them shouldn't be too confusing.

Thanks for your support. -Keith

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Episode of the なまけもの(namakemono/lazy person)

posted by Phelen on Mon 06 of Mar, 2006 [09:27 UTC]

Wow...can we all say slacker?

It's been a while but I did try to update the last post until I realized that no one would read it if I didn't just make it a new post. So please read the little addition to the last one as well before starting this entry.

As usuall I've been doing a lot of studying and homework for my Japanese class, but on the other side, I've likely spent as much time a day eating and preparing my food. That is to say that I don't often go out to eat. It's expensive, though I suppose you can find going out less expensive here than in America, if you know where to look. The thing that helps out the most in that aspect is the lack of tipping in Japan. The service here is better for the lack of tips, too. Perhaps we should implement such a policy in America.... Oh how the waitresses would revolt. Then again, this would mean that they might recieve a decent salary in exchange...yeah, wishful thinking, right?

Enough of my pointless rambling? I guess I'll get down to my last few weeks.

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The update you were all waiting for.  かもしれない

posted by Phelen on Wed 15 of Feb, 2006 [02:55 UTC]

So I've been neglecting my posting duties again, haven't I? Gomen, gomen. I'll try to post more often. Now that I've finished with the empty hopes of doing something I'm likely not abe to.... Except soon it may be.

This Saturday I will be moving back into the dormitory at JCMU. My host mother is a worry wort and is concerned about me commuting. I've finally gotten used to the route but I don't really want her to worry too much, either. *Sigh* Speaking of this coming weekend, Sunday I will be leading a group of students to Kojinyama, a mountain near my host-family's house, to climb it. It should be a great adventure.

Now on to what I have been doing for the last week and a half. Lots of studying. There's been a lot of new vocabulary to learn lately in addition to whatever we are told to memorize from class. For example, we learned at least three other words in class yesterday (or rather they were mentioned once and we were told to memorize them). Besides that we visited Nara (todaijji temple and another famous temple as well) on Saturday with the Japanese Civilizations Class. We took a charter bus there and back (about a 2 hour drive each way). At Todaiji temple there were a lot of deer (shika) and I was awestruck at the sheer size of the buddha there. There was also a whole in one of the support columns that is large enough to fit a small person through. It is said that if you are able to make it through there were are sure to reach enlightenment. ....I'll add more in a bit.

Or so that's what I said back then. I really just had to go get lunch, but as things go, one thing led to another and I find myself looking back three or four weeks to try and remember what I was doing way back then.

I did move back into the dormitory successfully and was overjoyed at my rediscovery of frequent internet usage. It really is something isn't it? How often I'm online and how infrequently I remember to post The week after I visited a shrine with my Japanese Conversation Partner. It was called Taga Shrine and there were many places with negai, or wishes, written on peices of paper or blocks of wood, etc. It was really something. It was on a Tuesday and I even got to learn how to pray properly, like a Japanese person. First you throw in money (preferably a 5 yen coin, or goendama), then you bow twice, clap twice and bow again. Then, you keep your hands together and pray for your wish to come true. Some shrines also have bells and such not to ring so that the kami know to listen to your wishes.

Well...Now that I think about it I'll just continue my update with a fresh slate...especially as I have much more to say. -Keith

PS: That whole thing about going to Kojinyama...yeah, too many people bailed on me, so I cancelled the whole trip. But It would resurface some time later.

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hishashiburi da ne? It's been a while.

posted by Phelen on Mon 06 of Feb, 2006 [05:30 UTC]

Hello everyone, Sorry for the two week lapse in in my posting. I will try and give you at least some idea of what I've been up to for the past two weeks. To say the least, I have been very busy with schoolwork and just exploring around. I had an interesting conversation with my host mother who is actually a published political author. Quite a host family I'm staying with, really. I've also started feeling a little better about correcting her English more. She seems to appreciate it, though I'm being careful not to do it too much (it gets on everyone's nerves after a while, I'm sure).

The weekend before last, I visited Viva City Mall in Minami Hikone again and, with my friends, more thouroughly inspected the place. I was suprised to find a movie theatre, bowling lanes, and a kareoke place all on the top floor of the mall (which I beleive is three stories). We ran across some very interesting shirts, filled with Engrish. So I took some pictres of those, too.

After a full few hours of exploring that mall, we had 'lunch' at the Mr. Doughnut in the food court. There are so many cool things there, even soup, if you really need actual food. I tried out a bunch of the doughnuts and I didn't have a single one I didn't like, even custard, which I usually avoid in America, was so deliriously delicious.... Okay, so maybe that description is a bit over the top, but it still seems like that.

The friday before last, our cultural event was the japanese tea ceremony, which was actually very interesting despite taking so long. It really is amazing how having a single okashi (sweet) and some tea can be stretched out to a half an hour ceremony. I even managed to sound smart with my knowledge of tea (which I've been picking up from my host mother). There is a specific type of tea that almost tasted like coffee it was so bitter called hojichya (I think of it like ojicha (uncle-tea like).

This last friday's cultural event was a very cool lesson on Kabuki and Noh. I got to volunteer for lessons on how to laugh and cry and poor imaginary tea(there are no props...only fans) and drink it, too. It was a lot of fun because everything is very over exagerated. Everything. I wish I could have gotten it on tape to show you guys.

I also had a very eventful last Saturday. Brian-kun and I went to Nagahama (about four cities north of Hikone) by train (that is after I got to the train station by bike). It was snowing a lot and besideds the one and a half hours getting to the train station, It took about another half an hour to get to Nagahama. We had to switch trains on the way there (altough not on the way back). While we were there, I bought a few souvineirs, visited a matsuri museum, a figure museum (which we just found along the way), Daibutuji Temple (I think that's how it's spelled), bonbei viewing, and at least the outside of Nagahamaji Castle. It was still snowing, making things progressively more beautiful and colder as the day went on. By the way, the Japanese use water to defrost roads instead of salt. The worst was at the Buddhist temple with all its tatami mats and no shoes rule. Lucky they had slippers there for tourists, although the only gaijin-sized ones were taken by Brian before I saw them. I got lots of nice pictures that I don't quite have time to upload all of, so I'll pich the best ones and add those in another post.

Well, that's all for now,

Matta ne -Keith

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An insidious birds-eye view...

posted by JayRandom JayRandom on Mon 23 of Jan, 2006 [20:06 UTC]

Hey look, you can stalk Keith using Google Maps!

-- Jon

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しゃしん を とる おに 2: ザ おに リターンズ

posted by Phelen on Mon 23 of Jan, 2006 [09:03 UTC]

Picture-Taking Demon 2: The Demon Returns

Here is yet another full post of pictures. It's still not all of them, so please be patient with me.

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にっき を 書いた

posted by Phelen on Mon 23 of Jan, 2006 [03:44 UTC]

日本語だけ   今日は土曜日です。 こじんやまに行った。  きれいでおもしろくてたのしかったです。  おしあみをあんかしました。 とてもおもしろいでした。

Today has been an interesting day as I have participated in an oshiami (arranged meeting). The setting for this oshiami was a nearby mountain called kojinyama (sometimes a mountain is called yama or san, same kanji and both are correct whenever, however, certain mountains are more commonly called one or the other). I guess I'm getting ahead of myself as I have not even explained what I have been doing for the past week yet. Please be patient with me. Just for your information by the way, the oshiami was not for me. It was for two nice people that my host mother knows and wanted to set up. Now that I have that cleared up, I'll go on with the rest of my week and get back to this when it will make more sense for you.

My last weekend seems so far away already and I strugglel to remember much of it. I stayed in Hikone and mostly took the opportunity to sleep in and once Sunday came, study and lot. Different friends and I explored more of Minami(south) Hikone and Clint-san showed us an awsome used bookstore filled with lots and lots of cheap manga. It was like dying and going to heaven, where manga only costs 105yen.... Then I looked at the newer manga and my hopes fell. 205yen. It was an abomination...but still like half the price of new ones, so I shouldn't complain. The entire second floor of the used book store(Book off by name) was an arcade. They even had some crazy porno games that look like mah-jong but different. I didn't understand them so I went on to the cooler ones like Melty Blood. Strange name for a fighting game, but it is awsome and it's based off tsukihime, for those of you who know about that anime.

All that and I still had time to study...crazy world, eh? Monday came and classes started again. I slipped out of the japanese habit a bit but got back into it pretty fast...or maybe it's just because it was early in the morning. Well not so very early, but still. Nothing very interesting about most of the week. I did get some time to leisurely watch some anime like Canvas II, Air, Comic Party Revolution, and the oh, so new and spiffy Fate/Stay Night. I also saw a new anime called hantsuki (short for hanbun no tsuki...(Half moon in the blue sky...something like that, anyway). It's pretty good and I would recomend all of the before-mentioned series (watahi no susumeru desu). It was thursday after class that I found out that I was moving in early with my host family due to heavy snows expected Saturday. Which meant Friday at 3:00PM. I was kinda nervous about it all and had to spend most of my thursday night packing, although I didn't finish until Friday afternoon. I had both a Japanese test on Friday morning and a Culture lesson on Gakki (musical instruments). I got to play a koto (a thirteen stringed one) which was totally awesome. I also learned about bamboo flutes and drums (the kind poplular at matsuri or festivals around japan).

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しゃしん を とる の おに

posted by Phelen on Tue 17 of Jan, 2006 [23:14 UTC]

Here's a bunch of pictures that I finally have uploaded and ready for your viewing:

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むずかしい: A tale of freetime, but mostly schoolwork.

posted by Phelen on Sat 14 of Jan, 2006 [01:19 UTC]

On the outset here, I'd like to apologize for taking so long to post again. I haven't had a lot of time to myself for things like picture editing or any large scale writing. I've barely been keeping up with my e-mails.

The First Weekend:

The first weekend for me here was mostly spent getting used to the surrounding area of Hikone. It's a large city in my estimation and even has subclassifications after city (shi in japanese). I currently reside in Matsubara-cho (cho being the smaller classification).

This is also the period of time when I took the last pictures I put up (New-old town). I pass by that street on my way to a very cool place called Sunmusic. It's actually two buildings right next to each other. The first building is a huge book store on the first floor and a huge DVD/video rental on the second floor. I don't think enyone rents to we gaijin (foreigners), though. The other building is a game/music/DVD store of both new and used stuff. There are a lot of cool things you can find there, like a new copy of Suikoden II for the PSone. I guess in Japan they still believe in the older systems. I even saw an active used game store, Wild King (yet another english name), which deals in Super Famicon (AKA super nintendo) games and systems. They even have a huge system that is barely larger than the cartridges it takes.... I don't recall what the sytem was called, though.

The Wild King store isn't someplace you should go into if you're offended by porn, as much of the store's merchandise is just that. I mostly try to ignore it and instead look at cool stuff like used Manga, which come in sets for very cheap (i got the first 5 manga of 'Pretty Face' for a little less than 500yen, which is less than $5). Awsome deals for the old stuff anyway. What is really great about Japan is that used stuff is almost always in pristine condition. Some of the pages for the 'Pretty Face' Manga have started to yellow with age, but other than that, they are perfect copies. New-like.

On the same adventure (I went out that way twice last weekend and Wild King is on the way to Sunmusic) my friend (Clint, a picture of whom can be found in the blue jacket in the New-old town street photos) and I stopped by a place called Suki?? (?? being a Kanji that I recognize but am unsure of as how to pronounce it, Kanji pronounciations go wacky when it comes to the names of things), which has a awesome dish called Gyudon (Beef Bowl for those who wouldn't recognize the Japanese name) which is a dish I used to cook a lot back home (well, occasionally anyway). It's one of the few places in Japan that is open 24/7. Everything else seems to have short day hours. Also this same weekend I picked up some FF soundtracks (basically 5-10) and the Chrono Trigger soundtrack. When I made the purchase I ended up filling up 5 or 6 fo their bonus cards, the use of which I am still unable to say. I'm not sure if it is like so much yen off the next purchase or what, but it should be interesting to find out. I also stopped off at the local grocery store/mall Cainz Home (the katakana being like so カインズ ホーム) for some food for the upcoming week.

That's all the fun and exciting stuff about the weekend. And now it is time to scare you with tales of the Japanese classroom....

The Weekdays and Class:

We had Monday off and so it was included in the weekend portion (yes, I know it doesn't seem like I did much over the weekend, but there are detials I won't go into for the sake of finishing the rest of this post.

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Dokidokisaseru: Tales of Flight

posted by Phelen on Mon 09 of Jan, 2006 [02:30 UTC]

I managed to survive the arduous 14 hour flight over to Kansai Airport in Osaka, though it we were pretty quick about it (managed to get into the airport about a half hour before we were scheduled). I was sitting next to two Japanese people who didn't speak any English (well, they knew how to say "thank you", anyway) and I had a small but very very drawn out conversation (or conversations as it may be) and I found out that they live in Nara and were visiting her older brother who lives in Boston. They visited New York while they were at it, too. Three in flight movies and a lot of extra time later I stepped off the plane and had my first glimpses of Japan (Clouds seemed to be everywhere during the flight, so I didn't get to see much from the sky). There are a lot of mountains just about everywhere you look. It's something that you can understand and explain perfectly until you've seen it in person. Much like my inability not to wince when I see cars driving on the left side of the road. I think I'm beggining to get used to it, though.

Customs wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it might be. I was ushered into the 'gaijin'(foreigner) line and after waiting a little while was processed so fast I was still spinning my eyes.

Continue on for pictures.

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