Monday, November 27, 2006

Ah! The Pictures!

So, its come to my attention, that i havent really updated any of the pictures I've taken pretty much, well... all month. I think i'll do something about that when i go home tonight, so, lots of lots of pictures soon to come.

Well exams are over, the Japanese stuff was pretty easy, well they weren't easy but, how should i say... i already pretty much know the format of the test and how it works, so its not really all that hard to study for. Then again, the kanji midterm was alot easier than i thought it was gonna be. I figured it would be like most of the kanji quizzes/tests that we've had up till now where you have to write down the pronounciation from the kanji or vice versa. Now, reading kanji is waaay easier than remembering how to write them, especially since you have context around the kanji that usually gives you a hint at what it is. And to my surprise, the midterm kanji test was more knowing the reading or meaning for it, which made it waaay easier. And as a result, i did very well.

The Japanese history exam was, well... i managed. Prolly didnt study quite as well as i wanted to but, well these classes are taught in english, and theres actually quite a number of Japanese students in the class as well. they can speak english very well, some better than others as well, but conversing in english and writing a detailed essay in english is a different story. As a result, i'm sure they're graded easier. Well, the grading scale in Japan is just easier to start with anyways, sometimes i just dont understand grading scales, but i guess if its in my favor, then, meh.

Anyways, where have i gone lately... well i didnt really do a whole lot this weekend, in fact i kinda layed around all day saturday, which... was actually pretty nice to just relax and do nothing. Oh, Thursday, yes yes, had off of school thursday. Which... was Thanksgiving... right? lol, so yea, theres some differences in the holidays here, we did have off of school thursday, i forget what they called the holiday, but for all practical purposes, it was thanksgiving. And as we had the day off, i was finally able to meet up with Shu for the 1st time since getting here! it was actually really *really* nice to see a more familiar face. Like, i've got lots of close friends here, but i've only known them for 2 months, ya know.

Oh, quick note for those of you who may be thinking, "who is this... 'Shu'?" Yabui Shuichiro was my neighbor in the dorms for my 1st semester back at the U. Upon hearing he was from Tokyo when we were all introducing ourselves, i kinda... had to talk to him. Long story short, i was invited to stay with him when he went back to Tokyo that winter break. All i had to do was pay for the flight ticket, and most of my food and all of my lodging would be taken care of. Prolly the sweetest deal i've ever had in my life. I also stayed with Mia's (Kikuta Miyako) family in Fujisawa during that same trip. She studied abroad at my high school my senior year. I'll finally be able to head out and meet them for the 1st time this sunday, really lookin foward to that. I wish i coulda have met up with them earlier, but they're just so busy! lol

Well, taking the train out to where Shu lives was also a new adventure, as well super cool for the fact that, umm... i did it, and i did it on my own, booyah. So if you recall i mentioned generally how the railway systems work here in Tokyo. Primarily theres JR (Japan Rail) and the Metro (Subway). Well, theres also a number of private lines in various parts of Tokyo, one of the bigger being Keio. Shu lives west of Shinjuku, off a Keio line, so i had to use that to get there, which was a new experience. Well i've taken it before 2 years ago, but i dont really remember that as much anymore, especially since i've gotten so used to JR and the Metro. Anyways, heres how ya do it...

So i live in Heiwadai, from which you can only take the Metro, Yurakucho line to get further into Tokyo (since i live in the boonies), from which you can transfer and get most anywhere else. I guess one of the easier ways (from big station to big station) would be to take the Yurakucho to Ikebukuro, switch to JR and take one of the lines that goes to Shinjuku, and from there switch to Keio Toei Shinjuku line to Meidaimae, and switch one last time to the Inoshikara line for one more stop to Eifukucho. Piece 'a cake, eh? Actually its really not that hard, plus it makes the trip faster since its more interesting than just one boring long ride. Although transfering and waiting for the next train can take some time.

Well i have a commuter pass that i use every day to get here to Yotsuya, and i can go to any and all of the stations in between for free, including, Ichigaya, which happens to be one of the stops on the Keio Toei-Shinjuku line... or so i though. Well it is but like... You can only go as far as Shinjuku on that train, and then you have to pay another entrance fee to go any further. See like, when you ride the trains, it costs, oh about... 150 yen avg just to get on the train, and you can go i'd say, 4 stops or so for that much, and after that the next 3 or 4 are 20, 30 yen more expensive, and so on. So its really much more worth your money to take the train farther. So, in my attempt to save a lil money (and time), i switched at Ichigaya to the Toei-Shinjuku line, which did take me as far as Meidaimae, where i needed to go, but i still had to pay just as much as i normally would have had to, which is kinda a bummer, but meh. I prolly did save some time tho, so i guess thats cool.

Anyways, lots of fun meetin an old friend of mine again, haha. Also felt kinda odd to... talk in English... well it was normal for us to talk english since he's fluent, and we of course spoke in English back in the states, but i like... kinda wanted to prove how i'd advanced in my Japanese... or something, lol. Well i've sent him a number of emails in Japanese, and he complimented me on the fact that i'm using more common phrases and stuff, w/e. It was also really cool to go somewhere i've been to before too. Like, i dont exactly remember all of it as clear anymore, especially since my view of Japan now is completely filled with my experience of the past few months, but i did remember some of it, which was really cool. Of course this time its completely filled with a different outlook. Last time i took the trains quite often, but that was just my following my friend around, its not like i had any clue as to where we were going, lol.

But good news! Looks like i'll finally be getting a job, and a nice one at that it seems. Shu works for an english conversation/teaching school called Gaba, and he tells me i shouldnt really have much trouble working there as well, especially if i put him down as a reference. I've been looking for a part time job for awhile, but nothing has really turned up, but supposedly this should work out for sure. As well the hours are extremely flexible. I guess i can pretty much at liberty choose when i wanna work, which will be really nice. If i do the private tutoring, which is really nice and well payed, thats only like, an hour at a time, and unless you work really hard at getting the schedules lined up, well, tutoring isnt really done back to back in a block, its usually an hour here and an hour there right? So i may only be working 5 hours of tutoring, but it'll take up 10 hours of my time. But if you work at a company, you can work in block hours of time, which will work into my schedule very well, still giving me time to go out with friends, etc. AND, it seems the starting salary for working at Gaba is around 2100 yen an hour (approx 20 bux), which is pretty descent. You can make up to 3000 or more doing private tutoring, but espc without any experience, 2100 is really nice.

Good pay, good schedule, sounds good to me!

I've really gotta go get a work permit though, i keep forgetting about that. I'm here on a student visa, and they really rather you just study, since thats, well i guess what i'm here for, despite Japanese schools are way easier than America, but w/e. So if i wanna work, i've gotta go somewhere and get a work permit, meh. I don't think it takes that much time, so i should be alright. Then i can finally start working, making money, and not fealing guilty about spending money on all this stuff i've been doing. Well at least i'll be able to afford doing this stuff, its so expensive here in Tokyo, heh. I'm prolly gonna be broke after this is all said and done, but i'm 21, in college, and in Tokyo, when else am i gonna have a chance to do all this stuff.

Well, this has already gotten long enough, and it looks like i gotta get goin, later that Thursday i explored at park in Hikari ga Oka, which is next to Heiwadai, but if i talk about that now, this might turn even more into a novel, so i guess i'm out for now

More pictures to come later~

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Break in the Action

Ok, my painfully hard learn Japanese History class just let out, and before i get craking on learning more Kanji and studying for that class, i need a quick break. Actually i didnt really pay any attention this time, well thats not really much different from usual, but this time i actually did a whole bunch of studying kanji. We've gotta know 200 or so for the test tomorrow, so i've still got a painful amount to go through. Granted these are all kanji we've done for class already but... well as is the case for my classes in the past, you get into a rhythm where everything is just repetitive, just changing words and kanji. So eventually you just cram what you need to know in yur head the day before (or 10 min before as it more often tends to happen) and then soon forget it right after you finish the test/quiz. Actually i can still read about 90% of all the kanji we've gone over so far, so thats a start. But recognizing and writing them is a different story. Oh well, i'll make somethin work out, I always do.

As for this History class, oy vey. Its not just me either, cause theres other people in the class, native english speakers included, that tell me they just cant focus at all. I've never had a professor thats just too boring to pay attention to. I hope neither of them read this, but i'm sorry, i mean no offense, but no one can pay attention to you for more than 20 min without passing out. The room always gets super warm too, which never helps, ugh. Thats why i dont wanna go to the library, everyone tells me its really warm in there. I'm gonna end up sleeping instead of studying. Although the computer labs get rather warm alot as well, which i dont understand even more. Well its obvious why they get warm, but when theres 8 air conditioners in the ceiling, it should never have to get that warm. Especially since its a computer lab, it needs to say cool, grr, why do u think i'm always like computer labs, lol.

Speaking of that, i've come to realize i must really have Minnesota blood runnin through me, cause i swear i'm short sleeved in places where other people are wearing coats. Like seriously, its getting down into the 50's outside, maybe a lil cooler at night, i've finally closed the window in my room, but i've still not turned on my heater. Yet other people have theirs on practically all day. I suppose it does get a lil chilly in the morning, but i'm always walking home carrying my coat instead of wearing it, kinda starting to get annoying. Even yesterday it was raining, and definately quite chilly in the morning, but come evening, still raining, yet i walked home short sleeved. I don't get it, haha.

As well when i went to Nippori, amoung other places, i've got a coat, but its not that cold out, yet my friends are just freezing. I'd lend em my coat, cause its only like, 57 out or somethin, which is easy long sleeve weather, yet my friends cant believe that i would be fine with that and refuse my coat, lol. so I made em take my gloves instead ^^ But that isnt quite as bad as class gets sometimes. I'll get to class after riding the trains (dont get me started on that), so i've already taken my coat off, and eventually end up short sleeves. Yet there are other people in my class wearing coats, scarfs, hats, gloves, it just makes me scared to think of how they could manage visiting Minnesota in January. Its all these people from California or the southern parts of the states, they just have no idea what real cold weather is all about. Hense they prefer having the heater on in class, ugh

The trains (particularly the subway) are of course the worst, and its only gonna get worse, pretty sure i mentioned this before. But you got yur coat cause it is startin to get chilly out, but its like 80 inside the train since theres a couple hundred people in each car (well.. at least a hundred, wouldnt be surprised if it got up to 3 or 4 per car). Anyways, get gets warm, fast, and then whomever is runnin the dang thing doesnt seem to think that we might need airconditioning. Oh theres AC in the train, it just doesnt get turned on all the time, and that drives me crazy. I can understand since, well at least the Seibu-Ikebukuro line comes from Nerima, from which it goes underground, so initially it is in fact above ground. But geeze, shouldnt there at least be a fail safe, ie: if it hits 85 degrees, TURN ON AUTOMATICALLY! lol. People are telling me the next step is to turn on the heaters in the train, which, if you havent noticed, they dont need T_T

I'm interested to see if the situation gets reversed in the summer. Aka: i'm dying and other ppl are just fine. I guess its entirely possible, although i've lived in Florida before, plus it gets pretty darn hot in Minneapolis as well. Anyways, now that thats outta my system, i think i should get back to some more Kanji Madness. Oh, but dont worry, i still love this place to death

Ah, almost forgot, maybe i should write a lil somethin about what happened yesterday, a good friend of mine Sasaki came out here yesterday for lunch, and eventually dinner. Sasaki was one of our TAs for my summer Japanese class a year and a half ago, and he finally came back to Japan after 3 years in the US. Supposedly he drove through all 48 states in the past 3 years. Dont ask me how, but he said he did 80,000 miles worth of driving O_o Anyways, hes livin in Ibaraki right now (next to Tokyo), and its really nice to see someone i've known for more than 2 months, as well i got to show him around campus, or... introduce him to a bunch of my friends, good times.

Ok, studying for real this time, eventually i'll get around to uploading more pictures too, just... not this week i dont think

Monday, November 20, 2006

Midterm Maddness

excuse me while i die taking midterms

yes yes, the ever popular, always exciting, lovely midterms. This week i've got... 4? Of which, 3 are for Japanese. But thats good, cause those are alot easier since i get to practice Japanese every day and i actually learn the subject in class. Unfortunately i cant say quite the same thing for my Japanese history class, and i'm not sure what i'm gonna be able to do about that. I'm kinda disappointed tho, cause i really am interested in Japanese, its actually quite fascinating. I love the country, plus it'd be really sweet to learn some history behind all these amazing yet super old buildings. Learning about Samurai is cool too of course. Unfortunately however, class... makes me pass out in 20 min.

Now we have 2 teachers for this class, one Japanese, and another English. The Japanese teacher definately knows her English, no question, she has been learning and speaking english for quite some time. However... she's not fluent, and her pronounciation is... well not always perfect. Which makes for some interesting times in class (ie: korear, moodar, coup de'tar, rerigion, lol!!) Then the native english speaking teacher is of course easy to understand, however... well both of their presentation style is... oh man i just cant take it. Its soooo booooring! I want to learn the material, but its impossible for it to be interesting listening to those 90 min lectures. So what have i done? if you havent noticed yet, i've taken pictures of the notes for class, that way myself and my friends can copy them later. As for during class... umm... sudoku... japanese homework... email friends... nintendo DS... sleep... that kinda stuff, heh

I have managed to catch up with the reading for the class (thats a first for any class actually) in the last couple weeks, so the midterm... might be ok, but theres just 2 tests for this class, so i gotta do well or i'm in trouble. But the rest of my friends are all in the same situation, plus Japanese schools are linient on the grading, as well as the grading scale, so i'll manage. I always do.

Anyhow, I'll be uploading more pictures later, maybe tonight if i get a chance, gotta force myself to study so i can do this comfortably instead of by the skin of my pants like usual, lol. But for a quick recap of what i've been up to for the past week... what did i do last week... i'll have to look at my pictures, i should really write down in my lil planner thing where i've been going each day. Its usually just Yotsuya, but sometimes i'll go somewhere else for fun quick, ie: Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, etc

Umm... last week i stopped by some random shrine in Ichigaya with a friend walking home, friday i went out to Shinjuku with some friends for a nomikai, and then saturday was a super long day in Nippori and eventually Ueno. Saturday rocked. Goin out and having fun with friends is cool, but one of my bigger goals in being here is to see alot of the sights in Tokyo ya know. I came all the way here, theres no way i'm leaving without seeing all the cool cultural hot spots. Plus they make for the most amazing pictures.

Well about time i get back to be productive, or... something like that

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two Words: Dead Tired

Oh man, its been like a week since i've done anything on my blog or flickr. Now i did finally get the internet in my room, which is really nice, since i now have the luxury of my own privacy for like, internet calls back home. However, its also the devil. Seriously, although i've gotta say Whose Line clips on YouTube are about the funniest things ive ever seen... i hate how they keep me up till midnight or 1 before i even start my homework, ahh!! anyways, apologies on wasting time online rather than doing something productive like i could be... like this, however its kinda late, and i've gotta test tomorra, so i'll keep this short

So today, a day like any other day, gotta say tho, as each day goes by, i'm liking the idea more and more of how i'm 'used' to living in Tokyo, thats so crazy, who woulda ever thought that would actually happen, haha, anyways, after school as usual i went over to the school a friend of mine that lives here in Azalea goes to, Gakushuin. you remember that nomikai i mentioned last week which prompted a big post about drinking and alcohol in Japan (btw i've learned even more stuff about that since). Well i'd been invited to go play soccer with them some time. Now i go to Sophia, not Gakushuin, but its totally cool since its a circle. Clubs are more hardcore practice every day and have matches and stuff. Circles are just goof off have fun recreational stuff, so its really not that big of a deal that i'm not a student there... although i gotta say it was pretty funny doing stuff with a Gakushuin circle when i'm not even a student there >_<

Anyways, lots of fun, except i about died. I'm so out of shape, oh man. And i knew this, it was of no surprise to me, but its also been about 4 or 5 years or so since i've played much of any soccer. Not necessarily embarrassing, but i didnt really amount to a whole lot. Actually i did have one sweet play where i (somehow) set someone up for the coolest bicycle kick evar, woo. Buuut... i also got hit in the face with the ball, that wasnt as sweet. See, we were goin for a headbutt, idk how it happened, but i guess it... bounced off the other guys head (i'm alot taller remember) and hit the right side of my face, more so my cheek. Now remember i'm really out of shape, as well prolly not getting enough sleep, and i've kinda had an off and on cold from the gigantic change in moving to Japan. In other words, working out gave me a descent headache. As long as i didnt like... shake my head or anything it was fine ya know, but when that ball hit my face... the back of my head exploded. Oh man, that hurt so bad. Went out later for my friends birthday and had a few drinks, but it was soccer that i have a headache from, not the alcohol, lol

So yea, had to leave a little early cause today was a friends birthday, but its really nice to get to know people at another school. I've got a like, real social network now, lol Oh, gonna be going to Mia's school's school festival in a couple weeks (Keio), so maybe i'll expand my social network even more, woo

so my friends birthday party, Ikebukuro. Gakushuin is in Mejiro, which is the next stop south on the Yamanote-sen from Ikebukuro, so we walked (my friend and I) from soccer to the restaurant clear on the other side of Ikebukuro, lol. Gotta say it was rough, but i kinda feel a bit of a drive to keep up with soccer or some other kind of sport and get in better shape. Although i can't imagine what i would look like if i were in shape, as far as getting even thinner. I've actually already been told supposedly i look a thinner than some pictures i have from back in the states. I can imagine why i would be, but i seriously didnt think i *could* get any thinner... apparently i can. Maybe its my face that looks thinner... idk, oh i also havent cut my hair since coming here, so its super long, but i keep getting complimented on it looking better long. I dont get it but... saves me a ton of money not going to a hair salon, they're so expensive here, yeesh

well i should get some sleep, once again another Japanese test tomorrow. This class is definitely the level and speed that i wanted, just the one downfall is that i'm mostly remembering all the material (vocab and kanji primarily) short term, forgetting all the stuff within a week after cramming for the test just before i take it, lol... yea, tomorra morning will prolly be more of the same, meh

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Edited the timesnap on this, i did write this on the wee hours of the morning on the 8th, but i've been busy and havent bothered posting what i wrote on here, but from today on (the 9th) i've got the internet in my room, which means much easier to post blogs and such, hopefully this weekend i'll have sometime to catch up on our Ikebukuro Sunshine 60 adventure yesterday before too much more sweet stuff happens, anyways, thanks for readin this, enjoy

Ok, I might be a bit of a bad person for this, I’m pretty sure this just made my day, and I’ve gotta write about it before I forget, cause I’m definitely forget some details by morning. So heres what just happened…

**Pretext: This is just something that happened in the area, not actually here in Azalea, don’t wanna freak anyone out (like my parents) midway explaining this, haha**

Got back from school, bought some dinner and paid my electric bill at the convenience store, got home, ate my dinner in the lounge, Davy, Christina, and Adam were drinking in the lounge, Matt was chillin outside chain smoking, ya know, typical night, lol. Around 10 o’clock I decided I should prolly retire to my room, shower, study some, and go to bed. So I take a shower, and after I’m done I hear sirens outside. Now not just your usual sirens, lots of em, and they didn’t disappear. But you hear em all the time anyways, so it was nothing special, I figured, meh, whatever, theres some emergency somewhere, nothing special.

Then I hear a lot of noise outside, from people running up and down the stairs, talking kind of loudly. Still I figure, ahh w/e, they’re prolly drunk, or someone else just got back or whatever. But then I hear (and it was definitely Adam who said it), “Dude, theres a fire!” Which of course lead to my immediately dropping everything I was doing, throwing some clothes on, and running outside to see whats up. Now I live on the 2nd floor here in Azalea, and from the stairs off in the distance you could definitely see a faint glow. In other words, there really is a fire, and better yet, it’s close. Of course we gotta go check it out.

So its around midnight, and we venture off in the direction of the fire. This might be a lil twisted but, it was interesting, and we were excited as we hurried off into the night. I’d never actually seen a fire before so, oh wait… yea there was that one time someone’s garage or w/e burned down in our neighborhood, but I don’t really remember it very well, maybe I’ve got pictures of that somewhere in my computer, I’m sure I would have taken pictures…

Anyways, so this fire was a good 15 min walk or so away, but it of course didn’t feel like that. It was kinda tough to not get lost too, since we were pretty much just walking in the direction of the fire, not really with anything in relation to a map or whatever, just, towards the fire. You can always use Life (the local super/dept/everything store) as a home base so to say since you can pretty much see it from anywhere in Heiwadai.

But eventually we did make it to the fire, and it was kind of surprising how many people were there. Granted most of them were probably everyone in that neighborhood who were out of their houses watching, but there were a bunch of people on bikes that came to check out whats going on. It was really nice though, us being tall gaijin, cause we could really go anywhere we want, what with our very low and inconspicuous low profile, heh

The fire was, however… not really much of anything. Well I’m sure it was, but it seemed they had it mostly under control by then, so there really wasn’t a whole lot to see. Plus they don’t want you to get close anyways, so theres really not a whole lot you can do. The atmosphere were pretty crazy though, espc since the streets are so narrow, a fire truck takes up most of the room, then add in a bunch of people, firefighters, and their equipment and hoses all over the place. Crazy, but sweet. Definitely worth it. I only managed to catch a glimpse of the building that was burning, and all you could see was a glow from the upper floor and a lot of water being sprayed all over. I smell like campfire though now

On the way back, we ran into a little playground that had an elephant slide and such. Well we had Adam slide down that, after which Christina spots the swing set, and cannot help but go swing. This then leads to lots of loud talking and being kind of obnoxious which was probably fine since the fire was pretty noisy, what with all the sirens and all, but I just get nervous cause I really don’t wanna further any negative sentiment towards foreigners.

Anyways, left Christina and Davy to have fun swinging while Adam and I went home. But on the way, we definitely ran into this small shrine on the side of the road. It was pictch black, but still super amazing. Its like…Japan is sooo much older than America, so any of that old significance stuff is just way cooler than anything in America, lol Took some pictures, and headed the rest of the way home.

It was def really interesting though, made life here in boonies Heiwadai just a bit more exciting

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Swimming in Asahi Nomikai

Wow, what a night, I think i should really cover the topic of the Japanese Nomikai, cause its quite possibly one of the most popular things to do around here. But first, a little pretense on last night (oy vey)

So, after friday (which was also a nomikai), my weekend pretty much consisted of sleeping in, a little bit of cooking, and studying. So basically... NOTHING! I'm starting to get super pissed at my friend Davy and his tour guide/practically girlfriend who takes him to all these freakin super cool places and he comes back with all these awesome pictures from his amazing camera and makes me super jealous every time! agh!! lol, nah its cool, but i definately gotta tag along sometime, otherwise i'm prolly just gonna end up killin ya Davy. Oh shoot, but then there will be no one left to bang on my door if i oversleep... hey but i was the one ready before you this morning despite bein drunk last night

ahem... anyways, allow me to properly explain along with pretense before any of ya jump to conclusions now. First off, yesterday. So most all the schools have their school festival as well around this time of the month, and seeing as though there are friends of mine livin with me at Azalea that go to other schools in the area, i'd certainly love to check out those festivals as well. Which leads to yesterday, Gakushuin's last day of their school festival

Oh man, Gakushuin, this place is super cool. I mean Sophia is a really nice school and everything, apparently we're one of the top ranked schools (like 5th or something) as far as academics are concerned, so thats actually very cool. But Gakushuin is like... HUGE, the campus is just enormous, its like... the UofM of Japan, lol, but even cooler. Haha, ok, i love the U's campus, and actually i dont think you can really compare the two, Japan and American school is just not the same, lol. But this place is just... gorgeous, the trees are huge, and theres big wide open spaces, PLUS, theres like... a forest and a pond! Seriously, on the... i believe north/northeast end of campus theres like... you enter this little... i dont know what else to call it, its a forest. The trees are way too big for it to be a park, its seriously this wooded area that you enter and you practically leave Tokyo. The busy city and people noises disappear, and you're surrounded by greenery secluded in this small tucked away forest. In the middle of this (or maybe its actually kind on the edge) is this pond, with a bridge that runs right over top through the middle right above the water. Its like... the most peaceful place you'll ever find in Tokyo, definately gave me 2nd thoughts as to if i'm going to the right school, haha

Apparently theres also like... a horse stable or something in that same area, as well as this other old style building tucked away down in this rare forest. And it was at that small building inside this peaceful little corner of not-Tokyo that they were doing tea ceremony. I'd never been to one myself, nor do i know much of anything about it, aside from turning the tea cup/bowl around when you drink from it. But we figured what the heck, and did it. And lemme tell ya, with the atmosphere of that place, you really get pulled in everything, its almost a moving experience.

Anyways, my friend Matthew who goes to Gakushuin is in a couple circles there, so he showed me around campus, as well i got to hang out with a bunch of his friends from his circles, which also included buying the food they were selling. Oh yes, now if you were to ever go to a school festival for the first time, you'd pretty much leaving thinking it was primarily a food festival, cause all the clubs and circles set up booths in the streets, make, and sell food. Delicious food at that, mmm-mmm. Theres also events and such as well as other things that some clubs/circles do in the classrooms. ie: for Amity at Sophia here we had a speech contest... that i for some reason did

Well this was the last day, oh might i also add that i believe most school festivals dont usually sell alcohol at their school... well Gakushuin does, haha. I didnt drink any there though, but just an interesting fact. Wait... they did give me some really delicious Nippon Shu, but i didnt buy any of course, too expensive. Man, I swear that stuff is just too smooth and delicious for words sometimes. Anyways last day, so that means its time to clean up and then go party, hense... The infamous Nomikai

whaddya know, of course wikipedia has a nomikai article

Nomikai, literally translated as 'drinking party' but please do not let the tainted American views on drinking get in the way of understanding exactly what a nomikai is. A nomikai isn't a nomikai for no reason, participants dont drink just to get drunk, its a celebration. But i suppose it could be better explained as it really being a part of the culture. Nomikai is definatley without a doubt a part of Japanese culture. You of course dont even have to drink if you dont want to, but a majority of people do.

The nomikai works like this, you pay a certian amount of money, in last night's case, 2000 yen (so cheap!!), and the party consists of nomihoudai (all you can drink) on beer and a large variety of drinks, varying between different places. The beer is always one brand that the restaurant carries, which also varies between the popular brands of Japanese beer, usually Kirin or Asahi, sometimes Suntory as well. Last night was Asahi, Asahi Super Dry (my fav!) Anyways, on top of the nomihoudai, you get some food as well. No, not some, a TON, so its practically tabehoudai nomihoudai party. Eat, drink, and be merry to your hearts content.

Now its not just, heres yur food and drink, go at it, theres etiquette at these things, alot of which spawning off the sempai/kouhai relationships, which is in itself another huge topic of Japanese culture, basically you just need to understand that its the relationship between the older and younger, or higher ups and underlings... or w/e you wanna call it. For example, if your sempai (above) has finished his glass, it is a customary curtousy to refill it for him. As well of course in the case of friends, you fill each others, and what the heck, your own while your at it.

Not only that, but theres a structure to the nomikai as well. Well... at least the beginning and apparently the end, if anyone is sober enough by that time. No one drinks or eats anything until the party has officially started, which proceeds the opening comments/remarks by the leader or president or w/e of the group. Then the party itself is really... well just that, a lot of drinking, socializing, and having alot of fun with friends. Alot of time this leads to 'calls' or chanting for people to chug a drink. But its not like people are downing entire bottles of beer and getting extremely plastered withinin 10 minutes, they're like... real nice about it, usually its just a small glass of beer or whatever alcohol there is. Well of course, Japanese are kinda smaller people on average, so their tolerance is much lower, so if they did more than that it would get real dangerous real quick, heh. Which was also i guess another advantage and... perhaps something that made me a little... cooler i guess. Even if i have average tolerance in America, thats like, huge tolerance here, so everyone is amazed if you can polish off a bottle (which is like a normal/large glass in america, hahaha) Idk, apparently i've got a high tolerance but... i dont really know myself, its not like i'm trying to push myself to see how much i can drink, or competing against people or anything, if i feel i've had enough/too much, i stop. I dont know about you, but i for one am not really a big fan of throwing up, so in attempts to prevent that, i do this amazing thing trick that i seem to have though up... I stop >_<

Anyways, my generally feeling on it was just... good, lots of fun. I've been to parties and stuff a number of times in America, and... its just a totally different feeling. I could be entirely wrong on some of this stuff, but this of course cause its my opinion. I just get the general feeling in the past 2 months i've been in Japan that people are so much more responsible about alcohol here than back in the states. But then again... frat's dont exactly have a great reputation as far as it comes to drinking

Oh, and if any of my family members are reading this, which... i'm sure you are (oy what have i done?? haha) i'm 21, and officially legal anywhere too now i might add, woo, and I'm responsible about it, its not like i'm getting plastered every weekend or anything, i've actually yet to have an experience where i forget what happened, as well i've never really had any bad headache or anything from a hangover, so apparently some people would like to think i just havent had enough to drink yet, that or i guess i really do have a high tolerance, anyways i'd like to believe i'm responsible about it and have fun with the positive parts, if you think i've completely lost my mind... well sorry, i'm 21 and callin the shots 6300 some miles on the other side of the planet, haha

I did make it to class this morning by the way, did my homework this morning, as well managed to (somehow) memorize the 30 some odd kanji that were in today's kanji test. I blew through the test as well, like, no hesitation, each kanji came to mind immediately, it was super cool, i was exteremely tired though

Well i should prolly head back home, its after 6, i'll upload pictures later, as well i really need to get around to uploading these videos i'm taking to YouTube, that should be a lot easier once i get the internet in my room later this week. That which i gotta say i'm definately lookin foward to. The internet in Tokyo, as you can imagine, is super fast, i mean come on, its Tokyo.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

~Speech Contest Blues~

**Insert Final Fantasy Music**
Japanese Level Up!!
**Continue FF Goodness**

Well i didnt win the speech contest, but i gotta say i prolly learned way more Japanese in the past week than i have since coming here. As well doing a 5 minute speech in front of a big crowd really makes asking someone a question or asking about food at a restaurant seem much easier. Well, now it is. I am a little disappointed about not really winning anything from the contest, which is actually fine, but the whole reason for me participating in this contest was because of my friends were kinda harpin on me to do it since i speak japanese well, etc. So... i did it, and barely finished it on time, which is prolly the reason why i didnt do as well as i'd liked. I'm more disappointed in myself for not doing as well as i could, but i suppose thats to be expected when you do something last minute

I also didnt really get to do anything at Sophia's school festival no thanks to the speech contest, which is kinda pissin me off. Worked on my speech all wednesday, thursday was rehearsal, and friday was the actual contest. People say i didnt really miss much, but i dont care, its a freakin school festival, how many times am i gonna get to go to one ya know, especially my own school's festival while i'm still in college, heh. It was really annoying tho, the speech contest ended just in time for me to go down to the main street really hungry where all the food stands were just in time for them to all be closing at the same time... agghh! lol, oh well, participating in an event for the school festival is a lil cooler than just going to it right? haha

IMG_8605Anyways, i dont mean to talk like it was terrible or anything, everything went well, and it was a very good experience for me. One of those things that i prolly didnt really want to do, but it really forced me to expand my Japanese, which makes it more than worth it. Plus, i did get 1000 yen off of the nomikai we went to afterwards, woo. Yes, ahh nomikai, i guess its tradition after the speech contest (this year was the 12th annual) to pull an all-nighter partyin, haha, well if its tradition, might as well

Turns out we went to the exact same italian restaurant i went to for the halloween party a week earlier, except this time, there was nomihoudai on alcohol, and for only 500 more yen. Actually since i was in the contest it only cost me 1500 yen, woo! haha, that lasted 2 hours, after which we went to Yotsuya... in Yotsuya, lol. Theres this lil restaurant near the station in Yotsuya thats name is... Yotsuya :P Gotta say the 2nd place was a little cooler, cause i was the only gaijin in the whole group, woo! hahaha, that can get dangerous tho sometimes, cause you forget that you stick out like a sore thumb >_<

IMG_8686Didnt stay out all night though, everyone pretty much went home by the last train, cause we started this whole adventure at 6 or so, and i had more than enough to drink by 8:30 (of course i took full advantage of nomihoudai, gotta get my money's worth), so getting home by the last train was more than enough for me to be satisfied with a good night. Oh yes! I did have some Nippon Shu at that Yotsuya place we went to, mmm-mmm delicious. Nippon Shu is what you prolly know as Sake, in Japan tho Sake just refers to any and all alcohol, if you actually want rice wine, thats Nippon Shu, and its delicious, rather strong, but delicious

Anyways, barely made the last train again. Atually this time i was actually waiting for the last train, but it was the last one i could take, unlike my mad dash for it the last time from the JR Yamanote-sen to my Metro Yurakucho-sen in Ikebukuro station, haha. Got home, and of course stopped at Life on the way back since it was pretty late, gotta get all those good deals on all the old bread and bentou from the day. The bread and bentou that they make during the day gets marked down in the evening and most of it is like, 1/2 off by 11 or so, and the last train got me there around 12:20. Oh yea, so i believe these are the times for the last trains...

The last Yurakucho leaves from Iidabashi around 11:56. It leaves from Ikebukuro around 12:08. So if i catch the last Namboku train from Yotsuya around 11:48, i can make it in time at Iidabashi for the last train in my direction, this is good information to know, that way next time i'm waiting for the namboku at Yotsuya and sweatin bullets about whether or not i'm gonna make it in time, i'll know for sure based on what time it is, lol. I seriously have no idea why in the world the trains stop every night tho. I mean i can understand for maintainence reasons and stuff, but can they not afford to run 1 every hour? just rather... annoying, heh, oh well, thats life in Tokyo

Thursday, November 02, 2006

ソフィア際! Sophia Festival

Well, this week is the Sophia School Festival, so naturally we have off school, booyah, seriously, Japanese people just love to have holidays, i love this place, anyways, as i've mentioned prior, it appears as though i'm gonna be in a speech contest, I signed up for it, well... i dont know if you could call it signed up, it kinda turned into... well, i'm doin it, and if i win i can go to Onsen, so thats cool but whatever, basically, right now i dont care about it, cause as soon as i start to care, i'm gonna get nervous, and its all over, lol

anyways, check out my speech, entitled... The Northstar State, hahaha, its... about Minnesota, perhaps the 2nd coolest place after Japan, lol

So Halloween was pretty fun, went to a friends party in the evening, they rented out a whole restaurant, so it was pretty fun. 2500 yen for supposedly tabehoudai, but apparently not. We got there a little late so, i guess most of the food was already out and eaten... oh well, it was a private party and there were lots of ppl there i hadnt met (and if my memory serves me right, most of them were girls i think, haha, w00t), after that i went over to a friends house in harajuku for a few hours, had alot of fun. Didnt go to the club or wherever they went afterwards cause i had to get home and finish writing my speech, heh, oh well, it was fun.

Didnt dress up as anything unfortunately thoug-i mean, i was a model, psh, duh, cant you tell? lol, anyways the next day i met up with a friend in Ikebukuro and she helped correct my speech, I was able to write out everything, but its usually full of small mistakes, haha, anyways, not that difficult to fix, just takes time sometimes

Oh, after that, since we were at Sunshine City (its like... this mall complex or w/e in Ikebukuro), my friend showed me this crazy like... game ameusment park or w/e called Namco Namja Town, this place was, just... crazy, i'll be goin back again for sure, and i'll definately take lots of pictures, actually some friends of mine went there today (i couldnt cause of a speech contest rehearsal) and i'm sure there were lots of pictures taken, i'll link them sometime later, so stay tuned ^^

whaddya know, of course wikipedia has a page on it

well my battery is low, and i gotta get some sleep anyways, so i'll write a lil on the results of the speech contest tomorrow... or the day after, apparently its tradition to nomikai and be out all night after the speech contest... meh, if its tradition, guess i'll just have to tag along...