Thursday, September 29, 2005

woah!! jobhunting!!

So, I finally got my spouse visa! I went to the Tokyo immigration office yesterday to pick it up (er, get my passport stamped), and they gave me a 3-year visa! That's good news, according to many accounts they noramally start you on a 1-year visa that you have to renew a few times, then they upgrade you to a 3-year, and after you renew that a couple of times, you can apply for a permanent resident visa. And THEN.. if you're really GOOD, you can apply for citizenship. Man, is America this crazy? ... at least I got a couple of years of a head start.

Anyways, what that means is that I can work! Legally! I got it last week, and now it's Friday of the following week, so I thought I'd take my lazy butt down to the employment center for foreigners finally, instead of playing 'Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time' like usual (I beat FFX-2 already. See why I need a job? ^^). I highly recommend 'Hello Work Shinjuku', they have a ton of companies looking for workers in every occupation. You go there, look up promising looking places in their computer, print them out and bring the papers to the desk, and one of the employees will call all the places you bring up on your behalf, then let you talk to them. When I left the office, I already had an interview lined up and several places promising to call me back. What I wasn't expecting was my phone ringing all afternoon!!

It's nerve-racking enough to get a phone call pertaining to a job offer, it's much worse when it's in another language, and it's much much more nerve-wracking when they use super polite speech so I keep having to ask them to repeat themselves. eeep!! I had about five of these calls! And now I have two more interviews lined up!! So very quickly I have to figure out how not to sound like a complete idiot before tomorrow, and look nice. And this week Takeshi's out of town, so he can't help me *waaah*.

Hee hee, the reason he's out of town is amusing, so I'll tell ya. He works as a financial consultant ( I think?) at a bank that deals mostly with agricultural stock and farms. It sounds weird, but it's a very large company. Since they deal with a lot of agricultural industries, they send all of their new employees around the countryside to 'experience agriculture'. ^_^ So these last two weeks he's been sent around to *cut rice *plant mushrooms *work in a flower farm *milk cows... hee hee! Sounds like a late summer vacation, if you ask me. He said they work him really hard, though ^^ (I can just imagine the farmers saying "let's teach these city boys a thing or two about REAL WORK!!") haha, poor baby ^_~ Well, here I go to cram super polite Japanese. Wish me luck on my interviews!!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Save the bugs! I mean, the trees.

I was taking a nice jog around the neighborhood, and I saw a row of three large trees, colorfully decorated with signs plastered all over them. Upon closer inspection, the signs were written by kids, complete with little pictures of beetles. The signs said: "Don't cut the tree! It has lots of bugs!" Now, to you or me, this may be a compelling reason to cut that tree down real fast. But here, there is a national pasttime of bug catching. ..Okay, not just ANY bugs. Big beetles, in particular, are what little kids are looking for. The rhinoceros beetle (called a kabuto-mushi ...mushi means bug) is native to japan, and I have to admit, they're pretty cool looking. They walk very slowly, have a hard shell, and the males sprout a large horn.

My first experience with this enormous bug (they can get up to 2 inches!!) was a little over two years ago. I was visiting Takeshi's parent's house in saitama, and it was a pleasant summer day, and I was walking back from the nearby convenience store, when all the sudden... (cue dramatic music) I see this HUGE BLACK BUG strolling along at its own pace in the middle of the street. "AUGHGHGHGHGHGHG WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!!" I yelped, running home at top speed. As I slammed the door, Takeshi's mom said "Oh, are you alright? what happened?"
I tried to collect my thoughts and remember my limited vocabulary. "There's a .. there's a.... really big bug! Outside!" This piqued her interest. " Oh really? Where?" she stepped outside. Yep, it was still there. It stopped and looked up at me, as if to say 'you got a problem, sugar?'
To my ultimate dismay and horror, Takeshi's mom PICKED IT UP WITH HER BARE HANDS. "Good job, you found a kabutomushi! These are pretty rare these days! They're not dangerous, here, hold it!"
Of course, there was a battle raging inside of me. One half said 'You're not SERIOUSLY going to TOUCH that thing, are you?!' .. the other, much more primal side, was drawn with an odd mixture of revulsion and delight at touching something so gross. (you can probably guess which side won). It was hard, cool, and had prickly feet. ^_^

Bugs are an industry here. you can usually find beetles for sale in the kids toy section of any major department store, even if it doesn't have a pet shop. They range from 5oo yen (the price of my bikini) ^^ to over 10,000 yen ($100!) Really big, african 'Hercules' beetles can cost even more than that.
Sega has made a series of games and toys called 'mushi king' that are currently their best sellers in japan. I'm not exactly sure how to play, but they seems to have a lot of fighting beetles in it.

Apparently a couple of weeks ago, a sign was posted that those trees were scheduled to be cut down for city maintenence. So for those poor kids, they just want to make sure their favorite beetle catching spot isn't destroyed. I'll let you know if the trees stay up or not... hopefully they will, for the sake of children's innocence and love of touching gross things!
although I must say, they obviously had help from their parents ^^

On Site Footage! Breaking exclusive bug-tree photos!!


Thursday, September 15, 2005

natsu no owari

Aww, summer's over. I would be sad except that that means it's no longer 35 degrees celcius (for those of you that don't know the conversion, that's approximately 100 billion degrees Farenheit) outside.

I got the new Final Fantasy 7 movie today! It was released directly to DVD, I guess Square was afraid of the flop that the last CG movie they did had. Too bad, because it would look really great on the big screen. I love it, there's so much attention to detail and every scene looks great. I just wish they made the characters a little less... invincible. It's hard to get emotionally involved with a character that never gets hurt. Most of the fun of the movie is all of the inside jokes if you've played the game. Like the 'battle end fanfare' ringtone and the sign that points to a 'chocobo farm' on the side of the road. Cute!! Also I am proud to announce that Sephiroth's lips are no longer purple. Thank goodness. Anyways, please don't download it (grr) or if you do, be sure to buy it when it's commercially available. I really want Square to make money off it so they make more movies like this.

Ah, it's another lazy day, so here are some more pictures instead of a story ^_^

I came across this in a mall. The sad part is they spelled his name 'Crapton' in handwriting right under the correct spelling. If this weren't such a common mistake, I'd think they were trying to tell us something... Another classic case of l/r confusion ^^
I met sonic the hedgehog in person! He was just standing around in Ikebukuro. I guess he lives there.Just when I thought *I* had it bad with the garbage sorting, I find out it could be WORSE! Takeshi's grandma lives in a city where they require you to write your NAME on your garbage. That's just... wow.
I told you most people sleep on futons here. Well, I was at the furniture store and saw they did sell beds! .. wait a second. That's just.. an elevated tatami mat! Let me guess, for you to put a futon on. .. not quuiiite the same thing as a mattress, I'm afraid... I was at a pet store, and there was a huge turtle, walking around, unsupervised. Aparently they let him out for a walk every day right before closing. can you imagine taking him for a walk around your neighborhood? ... it would be a very slow walk. ^_^

See ya later!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Vote for me on September 11th

It's time for the prime minister election in Japan! I think the timing is a rather odd date, as an american, but I guess you can't stop the world on Sept 11th. Apparently, Koizumi is no longer 'dynamite', so the democratic national party is trying to muscle in a bit.

Unfortunately, this means that everywhere you go, trucks with LOUDSPEAKERS are driving around, shouting at the top of their lungs why their party is so much better and whom to vote for. In small, otherwise quiet neighborhood, you can hear them very well, even with all the doors and windows shut AND with the stereo on. When you're on the street and one comes by, it's tempting to stick your fingers in your ears to try to block em out. If I had the opportunity to vote, I would specifically vote for the people who's names I don't remember, because that means they haven't been bothering me. For instance, "TANAKA EIKO" has driven past my window at least 30 times in the last week, she would NOT get my vote!!

The funny thing is, even though they're being really obnoxious at insane decibles, they are using SUPER DUPER polite keego (honorific japanese). Its kind of a juxtaposition. Imagine:


Hee hee.
I was heading down to the grocery store, and some ladies were handing out promotional materials. One of them is.. what apppears to be a compressed towel, sqeezed into a mold shaped like a five-yen coin. I thought it would be a nice souvenir for someone. Here's a picture of it:

So, the first person who wants it that emails me their home address gets it in the mail! ... If you send me your address but you're not the first, I'll try to find something to send you. Like maybe a half-eaten bag of chips. Or if I'm less creative, a postcard ^^ My email addy is kyraweaver[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Yay a contest!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fear the futon

Every now and then I hear extremely loud banging from outside, but it's pretty close. I always thought it was construction until one day I was out hanging up some laundry (because there are NO DRYERS, still a constant source of annoyance to me). Achem, anyways.

Another curiosity to me, the foreigner, is that everyone sleeps on futons. Ok, that's not really unexpected. But what you should know is that futons are really thin here. They're not the ultra-thick, 500 lb cotton stuffed glorified mattresses on wooden frames I'd come to expect from so-called 'futon shops' in the US. The average futon (pronounced "f'tone" for those in the know!) here is about 2 inches thick, and gets thinner with each use. They must be folded and put away every day for the advertised reason that ticks will start living under them if you don't.

I have a secret hunch that it's to make more work for bored japanese housewives. (Of which I am now a member, how weird.) There are a lot of things that I believe are for the sole purpose of creating more work for housewives... so many of them, in fact, that being a housewife becomes a full-time job.
Listen to what I gotta do just to dispose of one plastic bottle (like a plastic coke bottle).

a) rinse it out,
b) take labels and caps off of the plastic bottles
c) place bottle in PET bottle recycling bin,
d)place lid and label in PLASTIC recycling bin. Because, you know, the bottle itself is a different kind of plastic. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE!!

When you're having a drink in a plastic bottle on a subway station or something, it's fine to just toss the bottle, label and all into the 'bottle' bin. This confirms my theory that they CREATE busywork for people, and by people, I mean housewives. And by housewives, I mean me. Boo!!
I secretly think this is part of the reason that dryers never caught on here, they save too much time. ;p

I'm still waiting for my visa to come through, so I can't look for work yet (although I have a nice part time job as a programmer where I work at home for a guy in San Francisco, so I'm 99% sure it's legal. Just don't go running to the visa guys to tell on me quite yet please ^^) But as soon as I get a full time job, I'm gonna be more than happy to have Takeshi help me. Don't get me wrong, he does help. I do about 75% of the housework. But while he's at work, I mostly sit around and play Final Fantasy 10-2 and draw my comic all day, so I don't feel justified to complain. ... but once I get a job... watch out! ^^

Anyways, back to my story. I was out hanging up the laundry, when all the sudden this incredibly loud banging comes from my neighbor's patio. I mean, like WHAM!! WHAM!!! WHAM!!!. "Ah," I thought, "Ms Yamashita is having some repairs done on her patio". I peek over to see my gentle neighbor talking quietly to her three-year old son. "That's odd, where's the banging coming from?" Then suddenly, I see a large flat object shaped rather like a tennis racket in her hand. She stopped talking to her son for a second, then WHAM!!!! WHAMM!! WHAMM!!!! Gentle Ms Yamashita is giving a futon draped over her balcony the beating of its life!!

I suddenly see how, amidst all the annoyance of household work and the natural frustrations of raising two small children and living the life of an american '50s era woman are released. Heaven hath no fury like a woman beating the dust off a futon!!

I can also imagine, if that were my mom, I would be very careful.

*boy creeps up to a mom on the patio* "uh.. mom, I ... got in trouble at school today..."
mom: "Oh really? That's a shame." (suddenly turns around and beats the living shit out of the futon, and turns back around with a gentle smile.) "but you won't do it again, right?"
child, traumatized: "Yes! No! Of course not...Illbegood!! *dashes off at light speed*

And here I am, just doing judo...