Friday, July 22, 2005

Darth Vader and schoolgirls. Is there anything else a nerd would want to see in the same picture, besides maybe a beowulf cluster of something? The caption says (as it does in the Yoda photo as well), "Star Wars has come to au cellphones!"

Yoda is stealing his woman. I always suspected the force was strong with him.

This was some 40 feet tall at least.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Sasumata

Here's a translation of an advertisement for the Sasumata*

*note Sasumata is defined as "two-pronged weapon for catching a criminal; man-catcher war fork" by the WWWJDic, which I used to look up "sasumata" (I've never seen it before, but suspected it had roots as a military weapon).

---begin translation

Guarantees Safety from Mysterious Persons or Strangers!
Sasumata for Prevention of Crime [Prevention of Crime Tool]

Now, the observation of a Crime Prevention Tool.

--begin image--
For use at a crucial moment! If that time comes, protect everyone!

Our "Crisis Management from right beside you" slogan is introduced and spreading within educational institutions, financial institutions, hospitals, agricultural cooperatives, convenience stores, etc.

Pin down suspicious persons from a long ways off

Only a little power becomes a large force!

A lightweight aluminum-form that can be used easily by women, too!
--end image--

Guarantees safety from mysterious persons and strangers!
A tool for the prevention of crime, made from super lightweight aluminum alloy - Sasumata!

At any rate, it's lightweight and easy to use!

The Sasumata [tool for the prevention of crime]

Product name - Sasumata
Price 17,777 yen (18,666 w/tax) Shipping not included
---end translation---

The rest is order information (how many you want, order button, send to your friend, etc; unrelevant stuff to the translation at hand).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

原宿 (Harajuku)


On Sunday, because it wasn't raining, I decided it was the perfect time to go to Harajuku (the fashion district of Tokyo) to see the freaks and fashions. It was an excellent experience!

The first thing I noticed was the even-odd-for-Tokyo juxtaposition of old and new -- the huge stone lanterns sitting at the corners of the intersection of two main roads (leading to Shibuya, among others) was an odd sight.

There was also plenty of artwork to be had, whether it be art along the sidewalk or in an incredibly unbelievable art house/commune. I took no pictures within the commune, despite my entrance, because I didn't know if it was allowed, and I was too spooked by the coolness of the commune and the artwork to ask. I really wish I had the money to buy some of the stuff -- it was downright odd. I can't even describe it, so I won't try. However, if I happen to see artwork that looks like it, I'll make sure to mention it here.

I also saw Tokyo Union Church (technically in Shibuya), a non-denominational, English-speaking church. Perhaps if I go back to Harajuku to pick up the sheet music to one of my favorite composers, Joe Hisaishi (もののけ姫, きくじろの夏, 千と千尋の神隠し) (Princess Mononoke, Kikujiro, Spirited Away).

There was plenty of fashionable young people to be seen.

I randomly walked into a store with Star Wars ads, only to find it was the au Gallery (au [yes, lowercase] is the cell phone branch of KDDI, a telecommunications company in Japan; I have an au phone). Inside, there was a guy who made some movie 10 years ago signing autographs for a DVD release, but I was not distracted for long; I trekked to the second floor, where I realized they were housing the au Auctions memorabilia. Currently there was Star Wars movie memorabilia. I saw Anakin's lightsaber, Yoda's lightsaber, and AT-AT, a thermal detonator, a Darth Vader mask, and some very funny au/Star Wars advertisements. In one, Yoda was putting the moves on some chick while she was on a date. The guy looks none-too-happy. With that sight, I had to take pictures of them. So I'll post them.

I walked to Meiji Jinguu (明治神宮) to see it. There was a wedding photo session there, so I gave up trying to explore the place; I didn't want to disturb some bride on her favorite day. I didn't even go further into the place to find the temple. It's basically a forest smack dab in the middle of Tokyo. But I did snap a picture of the wooden gate (門,もん).

I also have some fashions to share with you -- Gothic Lolita (ゴシック・ロリータ), [name unknown], and "decorar" (デコラー). My favorite is decorar, where you basically decorate yourself with unbelievable amounts of accessories. It looks so happy!

Here's a couple more pictures of the dressed-up kids at Jingu-mae (神宮前) near the station.

Before I went back to Sagamihara, a band named Wakaba started playing at Jinguu-mae. I stayed to listen, and afterwards they were selling their CDs. They were an awesome guitar duo, so I went to buy a CD or two. While waiting in line, the girl in front of my was trying to buy the CDs, but she didn't speak excellent Japanese (I guess she was Australian, although I didn't really focus on her English). I offered to translate for her, then wished her an enjoyable stay in Japan. I felt so badass, like a local! :) After that, I chatted up the band and had them sign one of the CDs for me. They complimented me on my Japanese (don't they all? ;) and then I went back home, tired...very tired.

Yesterday (Tuesday), I gave my final speech in Japanese about the declining standards of education in Japan (previously given in English in my Japanese Society and Culture class). It was 9 minutes long, and then we had a 1-2 minute discussion about the topic. I will turn in my written report tomorrow. After I do that, I'll post the paper in Japanese (with maybe an English version up later) for anyone who wants to try their hand at reading my (hopefully flawless!) Japanese.


Tanabata (July 7, 7/7) is a celebration when, according to a Chinese legend, the Vega and Altair stars (who are lovers), can meet for one night each year. The river of stars (Milky Way) gets low enough so the bridge connecting their habitats can be crossed, and they get to be all romantic with each other.

I went to Hiratsuka for this with my hostmother, her friend, and my friend (and my hostmother's friend's hostdaughter) Emily. While there, Emily was lucky enough to have a kimono bought for her by her hostmother.

A popular thing to do is to write your wish on a piece of paper and tie it to a bamboo tree. I saw an interesting one asking for "May I finish [college] in four years", in the same grammatical fashion as we Christians say "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven" (a non-forceful imperative).

I also chatted up some Japanese man whose wife was making chijimi (Korean pancakes) to sell. He had lived in Israel in his youth, and thus could speak English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (which we conversed in for about a minute), Korean (of course, since his wife is Korean), and a few others he knew a smattering of. It was fun, and watching his wife chastise him was funny. "What the hell are you doing?" she yelled at him, when he wasn't paying enough attention to the cooking pancakes.

That reminds me of the chijimi I went and ate at a Korean friend's apartment a few weeks ago. I'll have to write about it sometime. This paragraph is here so I don't forget about it.

In any case, we finally came back, and I had the weekend to relax and go to Harajuku, which will be the subject of my next posting.

飲み会 (Drinking Party)

Last Friday, I went to a drinking party (飲み会, のみかい) with Amuse Company (my tennis buddies). Turns out, that their last meeting until the camp that I'm going to with them July 31 and August 1. I'm very glad I went. I had promised Takuya, the leader, that I would go drinking with him before I went back to the States, so I couldn't weasel out of paying the 30 dollars. It was so worth it. I also learned that I can drink a whole lot and not be affected at all. I started slow so that way I could find my limits, and after a while of no limit in sight, I decided to not hold back. I kept drinking, but when I wanted to be safe, I still refused alcohol. It was very fun, though. I got to hear a lot of drinking songs (the one the girls sang was the best, because I could actually understand parts of it). I'll have to transcribe some of it here when I have time to rewatch the video I took (thank God I had my video camera with me that day, in addition to my still camera).

Much pandemonium occurred, and there were quite a few drunk people. Takuya stayed fairly normal, but man did this one girl get red! I've heard there is a Japanese phrase referring to drunk people that employs the color red, and boy, they aren't kidding! This girl was quite red. I think it has something to do with a chemical deficiency that some Asians lack (only Japanese?), that has an interaction with alcohol.

In any case, there was sake mixed with Pocari Sweat and it was nice (I hate sake by itself, as it tastes like cotton in your mouth -- yuck!), beer, and other alcohols that they just referred to as "Sweet" and "Sour". I didn't ask the names of them all, either. One sounded suspiciously like wine coolers ("fruit flavored drink"), but other than that, I don't know.

The only affect I felt was at one point near the very end, I ran across the room, and was like, "Woah," for about a half-second. Other than that, Kyle is master of liquor. But I still prefer Dr. Pepper ;)

More names of my tennis mates, before I forget them myself -- Ken (another one), Sayuri, Taka, Takashi, Mana, and Mokoto (Makoto?).

OK, pictures will be posted soon.

Up to my Last Thursday

In my Kanji Class two Fridays ago, we did calligraphy. I had a fun time writing 蔡 (my girlfriend's last name) and 日本 (required by the teacher). I still have the papers, and plan to bring them back with me to the US. Note that from last semester I have 海留 (a phonetic representation of my name) written by my professor of Japanese culture.

Last Thursday was my last day teaching English at Suzuki's English School, but I still have a couple of Tuesdays left. I taught five people -- an man in his 60s who speaks Japanese to me and I speak English back who also owns his own company of about 60 employees; Mao, a 9th grader whose English pronunciation is not perfect, but he learns the correct pronunciation quickly -- I got him to pronounce "th" correctly, whereas most Japanese punk out and use "z" instead; Kasumi, a 7th grader who has only been studying for half a semester now; some guy that I forgot his name (new student last week) who has extensively traveled, and he's only 21!; and Honami, my boss's 10th grade daughter; her English is superb and she was probably the most fun student to teach because she was upbeat and we always had things to talk about, while I actually had things I could teacher her about English, which is better than talking with someone who has flawless English.

I have learned a lot about the English language and language acquisition through the teaching experience. Just yesterday, I was teaching about the structure
"Person has some trait, and OtherPerson has the trait, too."
For example,
Jon was late today, and I was, too.
I will sleep tonight, and Jan will, too.
Hiroshi has to sleep, and John (has to/does), too.
I like pizza, and Hiroshi does, too.
The question was raised, how do you know in the second half, when to use "will" or "do" verb, or "be" verb, or "have", etc. I told them to give me a moment, and then I came up with a rule that seems to work (of course it's probably a little more restrictive than actual English).

The parallels that need to be learned are
auxiliary verb (can,may,must,have,do) --> auxiliary verb
copula ("be" verb) --> copula
and, as always, tense must be carried over (which also explains another reason why "will" carries over like an auxiliary verb).

Of course, anyone reading this page most likely innately understands this rule anyways. I challenge some reader out there to come up with a better rule to express this concept or find errors in it (where my rule creates an improper sentence, not where a proper sentence breaks this rule).