Archive | January, 2009

"Learn Japanese" page has been updated.

31 Jan

Today I worked for my blog to add some changes.
First off, I moved linking blogs that used to be in Blogroll over to the “Links” page.
This is to prevent my Blogroll from being so long with additional ex-links as time passes.
I want my blog screen to look neat & tidy. 😉 Also, I finally grabbed some quality time to write for the “Learn Japanese” page.
This style might change in the future, but at a moment I’ll give it a try like this J-pop info.To tell you the truth, I was more interested in sharing anime or manga and explaining the background or way of speaking in Japanese there. But I couldn’t find good ways to make it. The anime at Youtube for example is too long a story per view to explain.

I’m not a teacher and there are many good teaching-Japanese education materials available in the world, so I just wanted to avoid explaining how to conjugate verbs, etc., you know…

So, please let me hear from you if you have any good idea so that the “Learn Japanese” page can be any fun & useful to those who are interested in Japanese language.

Well, I found that once I started writing my blog, I like that.
But I always have to spend long hours to publish a quality post. 

How easy it’d be in Japanese! 
How much time I can save if I were good at HTML and computer stuff, that’s another struggle!

But I’ll keep this in English to make my dream come true.  What’s my dream? 
That’s to travel around the world, meeting friends at each country!
So I want to make friends in other countries and keep myself fluent in English, which can be achieved by blogging outside Japan. 

So much for today.  
Kirin

I ordered my name stamp in Kyoto.

29 Jan

I’ve been busy again since I’m back to the real life in Tokyo. (I’m not exactly located in Tokyo, but only a few train stations allows me to reach Tokyo, so I’ll say that.) But it’s just about a week from the trip, nevertheless I feel it were almost half a month or so.
The parcels that I dispatched from west Japan have been delivered to ourselves, my mother-in-low, and her friend, as well as some friends of mine. When I was almost forgetting, the final souvenir to myself has just come.

This was a small stamp store in Kyoto. Actually I think I could get the similar stuff in Tokyo, but I just did this for myself as a piece of memory from this trip. When I finally arrived the store, it was about to close in 10 minutes or so. I was told to pay delivery cost and then I can order the name stamp of my own before they close. The delivery cost was very cheap and that encouraged me to do that 🙂

And here it is! The stamp is cute, named Kirin in Hiragana, Japanese.
(Kirin is a nickname but I like using it since I’m married and my last name was changed. I really liked my family name from my dad, but in Japan either husband or wife has to accept either family name and discard the old one. My new last name from my husband is plain & boring compared to my old one from my dad, but when followed by Kirin, it sounds OK to me. I just don’t even show my last name in this blog because I don’t like to be called with Ms. last name, or last name + san, as in Japanese style.)

Anyway, I was far more impressed with the letter from the shop than the stamp.
What a beautiful calligraphy it is!
This could be even an art to me.
Compter typing has become so popular these days and that makes this letter look so nice.
It gave me a moment to think of our culture.

When was a kid, it was very popular among kids to learn calligraphy, abacus, and piano.
As for me, I didn’t. Instead I learned how to play Koto & Shamisen and that was so rare.
For your easier image, for example this music is a piece of cake to me, as I played it by ear at the age of 5 or 6.

I stopped playing them at the age of 13 because I didn’t like them due to too much practice. My mom wanted me to be a professional Koto or Shamisen player, but I wouldn’t because I thought they were way too behind the date. I was also sick of wearing Kimono every time I play them in public.

Well, I wrote too much about myself.
I thought I should have learned calligraphy, which does not require an expensive musical instrument, also expensive gear to put fingers and again expensive Kimono. Just a pen and a paper needing nothing else…

Kyoto reminds me that I'm a Japanese.

24 Jan

I’m back from my Onsen (hot spring) & sightseeing trip from west Japan (Kyoto, Osaka & Wakayama) the other day and here I am again! 🙂 I’ve got some nice photos that I took in Kyoto and in Onsen when nobody but I was out there, and I’d be willing to share them with my blog readers here. I think I should make use of my Flickr account and update it with latest nice photos, too.

To be honest, I know I tend to have new things and dislike olds. In that way, Kyoto, a good old historical city, was far from my interest to me until this time. Then you’d think why. I was supposed to go pick up my grandma in Osaka and take her to Wakayama Onsen spot with my dad. I could buy a bullet train ticket only, however, sometimes hotel can be booked so reasonably with a set of train ticket. So I decided to have another night at Kyoto before I head for Osaka.

I’ve been grown up in Tokyo area, not exactly in Tokyo but 30 – 60 minutes is good enough to allow me to get somewhere in Tokyo, and so, the Kyoto scenery even touched my feelings and that strongly reminds me of being a Japanese. I’d never have such thoughts in my ordinary, busy, realistic and digital life in/around Tokyo.

Isn’t this cool? Just one simple Kanji tells that we have to be quiet on this narrow street. The black/yellow stripes are little too outstanding from the atmosphere, but that would be for catching attention, I guess…

Strolling around Kyoto alone was so fun to me. I never knew where I was brought to, when I just followed my curiosity. I wish I had more free time out there, but I was just walking & walking until it got dark and I got tired.Well, so much for today, and I’ll continue my post on the trip next time!
Also, I’ve updated a further detailed post in “travel & eat-out in Japan” page for your reference, if you’re interested in. 😉

I hope I can check out Rilakkuma store in Osaka!

18 Jan

I’ll go to west Japan (Kyoto, Osaka & Wakayama) to see my grandma and to have Onsen trip with her next week. I may wanna drop in at Rilakkuma store in Osaka, that was supposed to be opened last year as in my old post, if I have any extra time off. 🙂 This time I am totally free from household labor, which is always endless. I don’t even have to take care of our little female dog, “Pi-chan” because I’ll leave her at a pet hotel. I’ll post on this trip when I’m back.

Save your Yen at a cheap guest house.

16 Jan

Weak economy and strong Yen might make you feel reluctant to travel in Japan.
But I found an interesting video from Youtube, introducing some budget guest house around Sanya, Tokyo.

This reminds me of my long stay and travel in Australia when I was at the age of 25.
I was a backpacker, and I stayed at budget hotels such as YHA or backpacker’s hotel for about A$10 per night or something. I like this experience because I’d never feel like sharing a bedroom with someone I don’t know, when I’m getting old. I used to sleep on a bunkbed out of 3 or more in a room. I’ve seen a quite stranger (man) sleeping with one of the girls who chose to stay at a “girl’s room”.  😳

Anyway, here’s a link to an economy backpacker’s hotel called HOTEL NEW KOYO in Sanya, Tokyo.
The cheapest room costs 2500 yen per night and did you know that end-of-year thru new year period is totally booked by many foreign tourists because they wanna go to Comic Market (Comiket) that takes place at the very end of the year in Tokyo.  Exploring Hatsumode, visiting shrines to pray for good luck in new year, is another good experience that you can have especially in this period.  Oh, let me add that I didn’t know anything about Comiket.  I knew it from a related video from Youtube when I was browsing.  Those who are interested in Japanese anime, manga, akiba, figure, etc., might wanna check out the event.

Normally most of the stores and restaurants are to be closed for holidays in this period, but when it comes to Tokyo, it’s a city without sleep.  Stores may open a few hours later than usual and close little earlier but that is it.  They just won’t rest and lose any chances to have customers any time.

So much for today. 🙂

When nice French dish turned to the worst one

9 Jan

Last month my hubby and I went to see our friends to have a nice dinner at a French restaurant near our house. I knew we had to pay over 7000 yen (about US$70) per person for the dinner.
Most of the time I fix meals and we do not spend much money to eat out, except for some special occasions. That day was one of the special occasions that is called “Bounenkai” sort of end-of-year party.The french restaurant was very small and we were the only customers who stayed there at that day.
That was good, if only there were no kids.

That was a big surprise to me when I found some of the friends brought their kids and a baby to the restaurant. I knew they had kids but I thought they would ask someone to take care of the kids when they eat at a good restaurant. I was so shocked and unhappy to this matter. The meal was good, but the conversation was focused on their kids world! Someone sings baby songs, 4-year-old boy crawled under our chairs, and the baby parents even change diapers in the middle of the meal, not at the rest room but at the bench on which they sat. A daddy had a boy on his shoulders and played with another boy speaking like a baby words, when a mommy scolded her kids making noise with the cutlery. These activities were made while we had a dinner at a nice French restaurant.
Can you believe that?

That was a nightmare!
I was appalled and didn’t even feel like getting furious at them.
I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. Instead I kept myself drunk & quiet.
The friends of us are nice people, but from this aspect I would never regard them as my “friends” from the bottom of my heart and I realized I dumped the money, prescious time of my own, respect to the foods and friends at that night. I was looking for this occasion since some of the friends were for the first time in long time absence. But I was just so shocked and swore I’d never have such dinner again in my life.

On the way back to our house, I asked my hubby how he’d feel about this situation.
According to him, in Japan it’s quite normal to bring kids anywhere, and kids are always at the centre of the topic, which does not matter even if we also have kids or not. That cannot be helped because parents wouldn’t think as I do. They are just happy talking about their kids, bringing them to anywhere they want to.

WHY? I saw parents eating cold meal after taking care of the baby. They shouldn’t be happy with that. Let alone, how about the people like us who were involved in that?
In fact, there was no fruitfull talk among adults and that was also great disappointment to me. The price of the meal should not be just for the meal. It should include a good opportunity for nice conversation in a good atmosphere.

I’m still confused with this incident.
Am I wrong? Do I think abnormal?
This is something like non-spoken rule, or common sense.
So I just write as I feel.

Happy New Year 2009!

4 Jan

In Japan, we actually have no Christmas holiday but instead, we have long new year holidays. Up to today since 27 Dec. 2008 when we talk about this year, which is a good example. I’d think it’s no big difference making 24th & 25th of December national holidays, adding to the following long new year holidays. Anyhow, many people choose this period for travelling abroad or going back home to stay with family. I’m always staying at home or spending this time with family than travelling, because if we choose to travel, everything is going to be too expensive, sometimes that could be even 2 times more than off-season.No matter how we spend this period, most of us will just follow the traditional way of celebrating a new year with Osechi dish and Ozoni (soup with baked rice cake) to eat, exchanging new year cards between friends, visiting shrines to worship good luck for the new year and may purchase some luckey charms, daruma doll, and draw sacred lots to ask for fortune…and so on. Oh, let me add one thing. New year cards are definitely more common than Christmas cards in Japan. It’s something traditional, and regarded very natural for anyone should do in new year.

I thought I was able to have some time off during this holidays, but as it turned out I’ve been busier than I usually am.

How was your holiday?

Did you have a good time?

Hope this new year 2009 will be something good for all of you!