Wednesday, June 22, 2005

kickin' it at the kodokan

Hello my dear readers!
These days are passing slowly and fairly uneventfully. I *still* don't have internet at my apartment, which is causing me no end of grief, as without it it feels like an appendage is missing. I vaguely remember days before the internet, (or at least before it was usable in my house back in '94). You know, before things like email, google, and when we had to ride dinosaurs to school. But we have progressed and evolved beyond those times, and it's high time for my apartment to get with the program. Ah well, the installation guy should be here any day now. For now it's a nice excuse to go to my old alma mater, (Jouchi Daigaku), and the occasional internet cafe.

hehe, enough ranting. SO, time to talk about Judo! I think I mentioned in a previous blog that I recently got my brown belt... I used to practice in LA about 4 blocks from my apartment in west LA, in a place called the Sawtelle Judo Dojo. It's a really great place to go because there are always a lot of people and the instructors are tough but fun, and expect great things from their students.
Anyways, my friend Emily Lilly (another brown belt from Sawtelle Dojo) came to practice at THE KODOKAN. The kodokan is the world center for judo, it's a 12 story building in the heart of tokyo where international players go to train. She doesn't speak Japanese, so I played tour guide and took her and her mom around town. I had a great time, and just for the heck of it I went to practice with her that evening.

It was fun!! At first the head instructor took me aside and had me demonstrate I could fall properly, but I didn't know what falls he wanted me to show, so I'm sure I did something weird. He said in japanese 'how long have you been doing Judo?' when I replied 'um, about a year, sir' he shook his head and said 'and you can't even fall properly? tsk tsk. You'd better train with the white belts today'. Embarrassed, I went over to where the new girls were, and I was partnered off to do a few basic throws and falls from a crouching position. It was my partner's sixth time. Hehe, I thought I would be bored, but I actually had a good time, because the instructor corrected little things I had been doing wrong and never realized it. Soon I was merrily throwing and falling away with zest! ^-^ At about that time the head instructor (a ninth dan... that's above black belt level) came over and said 'huh? wait a second, you got good really fast. Alright, did you want to practice with one of the other brown belts?' ..heheh. So, to my relief, I got to practice with Emily after all. Needless to say after her two weeks of intense practice, my butt was thoroughly kicked. I haven't had so much fun in awhile! *^-^* I also practiced with some japanese black belts, but I think they took it easy on me ^-^.

In japan, girls/women have a white stripe in the middle of their black/brown belt. I don't know whether to take it as a vague insult, as in 'women can never truly become brown or black belts', but I'm just going to think of it as tradition, since at higher levels, men and women can practice together, even in Japan.
Oh, remember Emily Lilly's name, I have a feeling she's going to be a famous Judoka in a few years. *^-^*

In other news, yesterday I visited Stef (LMU student) who's studying abroad at Jouchi. *sniff*, reminds me of the good old days... ^^ It's nice to have a friend from the states here in Japan!
Last Friday I went drinking with Takeshi and his coworkers. We went to a beer garden, which is a name for a type of restaurant on the roof of a department store that serves appetizers and.. you guessed it, beer. ^-^ The waitresses were girls in tiny budweiser dresses, much to the delight of Takeshi's male coworkers ^-^ They're very sweet and friendly. I was told 'if you and Takeshi ever have a fight, we'll be on YOUR side! ^-^ hee hee. kampai! (cheers!)
Sorry, no pictures today because the computers in the internet cafe here in Sengawa don't seem to like me. Oh well, next time.

Tune in next week for my special report on Japanese food!
until then, genki de ne!(take care!)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Today is a good day to dry

No, this is not a klingon proverb, this is what I think whenever the sun is shining and the sky is blue. "Why?" might you ask. "Don't you have dryers over there?"
The short answer is no. Everyone hangs out their laundry to dry, and most of the housewives in my complex do laundry nearly every day so that their family's clothes will all fit. *sigh* I REALLY miss dryers. Takeshi made the case that its probably not very good for your clothes to all be put through an intense heat cycle every time you wash them, but still, I find myself at a loss. What the heck do you do during the RAINY SEASON? (which it is right now)... I should really ask someone.

Anyways, here are some more pictures!

See? I really am working on my comic! This is proof! ^_^ There should be a new one up now.This is the outside of my complex...
Ok, at first I thought this was an amusing misspelling of the word NEAT. But Takeshi explained that this is an acronym for "Not in education, employment, or training". Basically some punks who are very proud not to be conforming to Japanese society. Hm, but now that I think of it, I am not in any of those things either at the moment. Does this make me... NEET? ^_^ (I guess this is the equivalent of 1337...) And this is the outside of my dormitory. Note the many lines of clothes hanging from the balconies. Mine is one on the first floor! Ah, what a conformist. I guess I"m not NEET after all. ^^

Jya ne!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

photos at last!

Hi! Ok, these are photos I took from my cell phone. Man, my phone is so amazing. I can watch live TV and play 'Puyo Puyo Fever!' on it! ^^ haha.
Achem. On to the good stuff (?).

This is Risa and Anh while we were eating super fancy cake in Ginza (the expensive financial district where Risa and Takeshi work) Yum... This is Jen and Spencer holding their gifts they bought from Tokyu Hands, that store ahs a lot of fun and weird things in it. Like fake nipples. Don't ask me why spencer bought them, ask HIM! ^^;;
Ok, this is my famous garbage calendar. Can you believe it? You can't throw out the garbage on the wrong day OR ELSE. I'm not quite sure what the OR ELSE is, but I'm sure a giant robot or possibly Mothra comes and kicks you out of Japan.This is the apartment phone number list. If you look REALLY closely, you can see tons of Japanese characters, and in the middle, a very suspicious 'k y r a'. Heheh... I'm normal, I swear... ^-^::
This is our living room (after much cleaning ^^). Note the chairs have no legs. Ok, now when I came to the house, there was just ONE legless chair. For Takeshi. Naturally the first order of business when I got there was to GET ME A CHAIR! now there are two. much better. ^^ And this is us! Takeshi just came back from work. He wears a suit and tie every day!! How horrible! I guess I got used to working at Rhythm&Hues where we can wear whatever the heck we want. Especially since I worked the night shift, I once wore pajamas to work... ^^

Sorry the pictures are so tiny, but I think they're pretty good for a phone! Actually they're larger, but I had to shrink them so I could email them to myself. Oh, speaking of email, I'm sorry, my phone's email address was wrong, I corrected the previous entry. Hehe. Anyways, keep in touch, peeps! ^-^

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Lost in Translation? NOT!

Hi guys! I met up with Stef and some of her friends at the Ichigaya campus of Sophia University. Ahh, it was fun to reminisce about my student days at Jouchi/Sophia, and I realized how truly tiny the foreigner's campus is. It's one building. sigh. Anyways, we went to karaoke at an amazingly cheap place in Yotsuya... karaoke and a soft drink for 250 yen per person for one hour! I was impressed. Afterwards we had some pasta. One of the guys had some delicious spaggetti in suid ink sauce, which was wonderful except for the disturbing fact that it turns your whole mouth, lips and teeth BLACK and does not come off without an excessive amount of scrubbing. ^^;
Anyways, we were chatting, and the topic 'Lost in Translation' (the movie starring Bill Murray) came up. Most people liked it, but I found a bonding note with my newfound friends: They did not! Why? Because, it shows the elusive high life of a super millionare in Tokyo. It's nothing like that for students. While Mr Murray and co take taxis to high rise hotels, the rest of us mortals are crammed into trains and carted off to our tiny apartments. ~~ Ok, I guess I'm sounding a little bitter when my life is pretty good, but still. I think I eat more sushi in the states than I do while I'm here. foo. ^^

Sorry, still no internet at my apartment. But there should be a new comic up soon, I can't update from here for some reason, but I sent it to dad and he should be able to get it on the site for me. (yay!)

I got to meet up with Jen, Anh, Elaine, Risa, Ayumi and Spencer for Ayumis wedding, it was so beautiful! The after party was star wars themed, it was really cute. ^^ This weekend I went to Yokohama with some friends from when I was studying abroad... the weather was great, and I spoke Japanese the WHOLE DAY! Wow, impressive! ^^ haha.
if anyone wants to email my cell phone (yeah, that's right! ^^) my email address is kyra_in_japan_shinkai(at) 
talk to ya later!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The garbage sorting is out of control!!

Hey guys! Ok, I've been in my new apartment for a few days now, hung out with the lovely people here for Ayumi's wedding, and generally getting used to the country again. I forgot how small everything is. It's... (gasp) ... MY SIZE! ^^

Hehe. So I had a bit of cleaning to do to 'de-bachelorify' the apartment. Takeshi swore it was clean.. but I think a single guy has an interesting concept of clean, like not taking out the garbage for 3 weeks. Haha ok, he took it out right before I arrived, but there was certainly a ...'unique' smell when I got there ^^  

So we went to Akihabara, which is for those in the know, the land of geeks. I had a great time. We went to get a computer, and I saw a lot of brand new computers selling for thousands of dollars , and a lot of computer parts, selling for pretty cheap. It was awfully tempting to try to build one from scratch, but I thought installing a Japanese OS would be pretty tough for me. Maybe next time. Instead we settled on a refurbished used computer. It's unfortnately a Windows machine, which I'm against in principle ^^ but it's got XP installed which is the stablest version I know of. Anyways, internet will be connected next week, so more news then. As you may have expected, I'm the only forigner living in the apartment complex. This complex is basically a dormitory for Norin-chukin bank's employees and their families. Everyone is much older than us and has at least 2 kids. Man, I feel a little out of place there, but they are all very nice and friendly.

Ok, so let me explain about the garbge. There is a calendar to help you keep track of which days you can throw out which types. There are five main types... burnable, nonburnable, plastic, newspaper, bottles and cans. You can't put it out the night before and it has to be put out before 8 in the morning. Dear lord. Luckiy Takeshi wakes up at 6 so he puts it out ^^.

Sorry, I'll put up pictures soon, but I'm in an internet cafe with limited time. Soon I'l have my own computer and I'll have all the time in the world.

...I can't find a scanner. As soon as I do, I'll update my comic, never fear, dear readers!
Oh by the way, Miyazaki Hayao (Totoro maker) made a new movie called Howls Moving Castle. Its based on a book by an English author, and I bought it yesterday, I recoommend reading it before seeing the movie. It's so cute ^^.

Lots of love,