I'll get around to personalising my page layout....... sometime xD
In the meantime, happy browsing~
For the next six weeks, I will be studying at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai, which is located in Osaka, really close to Kaisai International Airport. This time, 32 students from across the world will be there improving on their Japanese language skills and increasing their knowledge about Japanese culture and their way of life. I hope to document my day-to-day discoveries on this trip in my LiveJournal, as I have done with KIZUNA. If you kind enough to read it, I hope that you’ll find it interesting and of use.
So because I am in Japan and my days will be packed with studies and awesome exploration, I will no longer have any time to translate in these upcoming weeks. And I won’t have time to reply to most fandom-related comments either, sorry guys >.< I will still be reading them all and I'm grateful for every single one though!! ^D^ If you have something you want to ask me, I will try to reply asap, although the safest course of action would probably be to just flick me a private message.
Also, because I won’t be able to post long entries on LJ as often, I have created a twitter account. Please follow me at https://twitter.com/hahaho_7 =D Let me know who you are on LJ and I’ll follow you back! Nothing on it yet because it’s new, but I’ll be attempting to post a picture a day of something that makes me happy for the next 100 days as a challenge to myself~ ^-^
(On a random side note, I was pretty annoyed when I discovered that someone had already taken the name “hahaho7” =.= I mean seriously, who on earth wants that username besides me??)
I'm thinking of making videos too, but we'll see how that goes and I'll let you know.
Jaa, I’m off!
P.S. I am soooo excited to be able to watch “Dark System – Battle of Love” on Japanese TV in real time!!!! =D
(Photo by Roger Marks)
Setting up the stall at the festival. (Photo credit to Venessa’s Photography)
Japanese KIZUNA participants visit Auckland
In March 2013, a group of Japanese students from Tohoku came and visited us at my uni, the University of Auckland!! =) We spent around two days together and had a great time. Some of the things we did included:
× Taking them around on a tour of our university
× Attending university lectures about both Japan and disasters
× Making fake food!!! =D With Ganso Food Sample Kits~ I love this stuff, no jokes <3
The fascinating results of our “cooking”. Looks pretty convincing! (Photo credit to Yuki)
× Making karuta cards, and playing a few rounds with them. This is the same game the JUMP played in the 2nd JUMParty, although when we made them we used the English alphabet instead of hiragana. KIZUNA donated our handcrafted karuta cards to kindergartens.
× Making paper lanterns, which we then placed on the ground to form the word “kizuna”. Our lanterns were all gathered together to be carried back to Japan for an event (“Nori no Tomoshibi”) commemorating the victims of the disaster.
Making paper lanterns. (Photo credit to Yuki)
Holding our karuta cards behind the lanterns~ (Photo credit to Yuki)
× We heard presentations made by the Japanese students, which were truly inspirational. Some of them had lost family members in the disaster, and many of them (perhaps all, I’m not too sure) had physically participated in volunteer activities – they were really out there making a difference. Although they weren’t majoring in English at university, they still did made the utmost effort to express themselves in our language, so I really admired that perseverance.
× We partied and stayed over with them in suite rooms in a 4.5 star hotel xD Okay – so that’s not the point but it was still pretty awesome haha~
Workshop – Japanese responses to social crisis and disaster 1995 and 2011
Various university lecturers and specialists came into the University of Auckland to hold this conference on the two great modern Japanese earthquakes. What I learnt here included the fact that many religious organisations helped out, for example by providing the victims with temporary shelter, although their aid is largely not recognised.
Things as they stand today
Last year it was discovered that radioactive water has been leaking from the Fukushima Power Plant, and as far as we know, TEPCO has not been completely honest. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties Japan has faced in recent years and the universal sense of misgiving which its nuclear crisis has imparted to the rest of the world, Tokyo has been selected to host the 2020 Olympics, so the future is not completely pessimistic. All we can do now is support the people of Tohoku and hope and pray that TEPCO/the Japanese government have the people of the worlds’ best interest at heart in carrying out their actions.
Thus concludes my journey on KIZUNA. Many thanks to JICE for making this trip happen, thank you to Venessa and Yuki for letting me use your photos, and last but definitely not least, many thanks to you for reading my blog~ =)
Hope for the future. (Photo by Viktor Hertz)
It was fancy. Security was strict. Representatives from each of the four groups suited up and did presentations on our findings throughout the trip, which I’ve mostly explained to you through my other posts. You can watch my group (group D’s) presentation below.
Lunch and more Farewells at Odaiba
Our last meal together. By this time I had had so many buffets that I was actually pretty much at my buffet-limit D= We took some last group photos together, wandered around Aqua City for a bit and then got presented with our “graduation” certificates.
Statue of Liberty in Odaiba. Oddly not out of place at all xD
Last group D pic!! (Photo credit to Venessa's Photography)
Then it was time to say goodbye to the Aussies and our guides + translators. I cried a bucket on the bus to the airport ;__;
But honestly, this has been one of the best (if not THE best) experiences of my life. I learnt so much about Japan, and the courage of its people. I met so many awesome people who I will never forget. Simply, it has been incredible.
Almost three years later, Japan is still on the road to recovery. Here’s what you can do to help:
1. Visit Japan as a tourist, especially to the Tohoku region. Trust me, the scenery is amazing and you’ll have the time of your life. Or even better, go as a volunteer.
2. Purchase produce from Tohoku.
Back to New Zealand
So then it was arriving at Narita Airport once again, and whiling away the hours until our flight. It’s a pretty cool airport, but I was too wasted by this time to appreciate it much. We finally got on the flight and halfway through it, Richard spilt half a tub of yoghurt all over my new poncho grahh!! >=) But I still arrived back in Auckland in one piece =D
There was an interesting origami display on at one of the stores.
( Inoo the philosopher. Undoubtedly he has spent many a time enshrouded in darkness, contemplating how best to live life.Collapse )
Any mistakes, please let me know! Apparently next month will be Yuto's turn, but I won't have time to translate argh sorry Yutorin =')
We had two main activities here – a lecture, and interaction with the students.
Ø Lecture on Godzilla
I was pretty surprised at the topic of the lecture at first. But as the lecturer soon made it evident to us that the continuing releases of Godzilla movies throughout the decades in fact each represent the mental state of the Japanese people at the time of release, especially in regards to disasters of national significance, whether it be World War Two, the Great Hanshin Earthquake and Sarin Gas Attack. Godzilla himself is also a physical embodiment and thus an outlet for the Japanese peoples’ fear of radiation – an insidious unease which permeates Japanese society ever since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of World War Two.
One of the interesting points that I remember the lecturer making was that the path of destruction that Godzilla cut out in the original 1954 movie is actually the same path taken by US army air forces in the 1944 Bombing of Tokyo – make what you will of that.
A new, American-made Godzilla movie will be out this year! I’m going to try and watch it.
Ø Interaction with students
Actually, I don’t remember discussing anything particularly productive with the students o_o Mostly, we just teased the girls about which guy they thought was the best looking in our group, but they were a fun bunch xD
Group D with students from Tokoha Gakuen.
We went back to Tokyo that afternoon and had the rest of the night off, so Richard and I headed to Akihabara. This is Tokyo’s famous electronics district for those of you who aren’t familiar. Anyway to be quite honest, we actually spend most of the night walking in huge loops around and through Akihabara Station (trust me it’s not easy if you’re directionally challenged!!), but here are some highlights from when we weren’t being lost:
× Pac-Man Smash air hockey (I always end up at those game arcades huh…)
This was the craziest and hands down most fun air hockey I’ve ever tried. The table was huge and in the middle of the game like 100 pucks just poured down and whizzed around everywhere. I’m certain this burns more calories than going to the gym. Highly recommended.
Just watch it!!
× AKB48 Café & Shop
It wasn’t open when we went by, but we saw the strangest thing o.o This bunch of young men congregated at the front of the shop with glow sticks, and they all went into formation and began dancing in unison to the AKB48 pv playing on the screen outside. But their dancing became gradually more erratic and by the end they were simply clutching onto the glow-sticks and swinging their arms in wild circles above their heads. It was quite a sight. And then they all fell flat on the ground and lay still.
AKB48 Café & Shop entrance – I wonder if those guys were on a pilgrimage. Or is this a scheduled routine. I will never understand their mysteries.
Double-posting again in one day, omg I'm crazy. Anyway I probably won't be able to translate due to (very awesome) real life events for the next seven or so weeks at least, so if you only read my translations, take this as a see-you-in-a-while gift! *chucks* =)
( Inoo has gone through some depressing times. Click here to read about them.Collapse )
I split it in two parts because it's quite long. Part II is now here~
My own comments are in light blue italics and any corrections are most certainly welcome. Hope you enjoyed!
It was time to leave Harada, so together with the whole family, we took a photo in front of Mr Fuji. They then pressed upon us at least 3kg of assorted Japanese food and drink. At the farewell lunch when all the Kizuna members and their host families gathered together, the MC asked Mrs Suwabe to share her thoughts about this homestay experience.
It was here that she revealed that the Suwabe family had not in fact applied to be a host family for the KIZUNA programme initially, but had stepped in last minute for a friend who could no longer host due to an emergency. She said that due to this, she was initially a bit worried, but we were such lovely girls that she was now glad to have met us.
I was so touched by the fact that even though they hadn’t volunteered, they still received us with such warm-heartedness and generosity. I still keep in touch with them through old-school hand written letters, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again in the middle of this year!
Homestay buddy, me and the Suwabe family~
We said goodbye to Taro-kun too.
Central Shizuoka at night
We stayed at a place called Hotel Associa Shizuoka which was very central in location, so I’d recommend it if you want to explore Shizuoka city by foot, which is exactly what we did after dinner.
Shizuoka City backstreets at night. (Credit to Venessa's Photography)
Some things of interest I encountered that night:
× We found a street performer singing live. She was trying to sell her albums, so we pooled together and bought one. She was really glad and even signed the album with all our names and took photos with us!! =’)
These days whenever I listen to her songs again, I can remember being in Japan really clearly. Let me know if you'd be keen to hear some!
Us with Kuboyama Shion.
Signed album! This was the 4,657th album she'd sold so far.
× Then it was the chain-store Don Quixote, or "Don Kihoote", literally spelt. This was 4 or 5 levels of... everything, going at a very reasonable price. Mostly household items I guess. Bought some makeup here, would highly recommend this place for people who enjoy shopping and eyeballing Japan's innovative and sometimes just plain old weird household items.
Look for the big yellow letters. (Photo by Todd Lappin)
× We went to an arcade, where we met this guys who looked a bit like a hobo, but he was like… the king of this certain type of ufo catcher. Not kidding, he could get anything he tried for. He had an entire bag of toys which he’d already picked out, and when he heard us clapping and cheering for him, he seemed to be really happy. He told us to pick as many as we liked out of the bag, and then he got each of us to pick out one which was still in the machine so he could demonstrate his mad skills for us xD Point being, he was a really nice guy, but I think he must have been pretty addicted to doing that. If I remember correctly, once he finished he just gave the bag of toys back to the arcade O__O
Example of a ufo catcher – this one was selling some sort of food.
× At the arcade, there was another set of purikura stalls. Except in this one, you could cosplay! For free! So we decided to all cosplay and take some pictures. I promptly picked out the schoolgirl uniform and got changed.
It was a bit too big for me.
But when I came out, it transpired that one of our friends was now banned from the purikuraa cosplay section!! ='O As it turns out, it was because we didn’t read the “girls only” sign in that section and he had attempted to go near the girls’ changing area =__= Anyway, we still took photos but I was the only one in costume.
Purikura always has a way of making Caucasian males seem terribly feminine. Richard says it turns everyone into aliens.
It was a rainy day so we went to the mall. While this may not sound like much of an exciting daytrip, it was in fact fairly eye opening.
Christmas at Aeon Mall with the Suwabe grandchildren, and my homestay buddy.
× The pet store had all kinds of tiny puppies, and an assistant would come up to you and ask you which one you wanted to cuddle. It also sold a crazy assortment of dog suits, including one that was in the shape of a coiled up snake O_O
Lots of animals were on sale that I’d never seen before in a New Zealand pet shop, including ferrets and a Giant Flemish Rabbit that was as large as a medium-sized dog.
However, I later learnt that the treatment of animals in Japan is at times negligible – puppies are sometime taken from their mothers and sold in pet stores at far too young an age, and I also heard that they get euthanized when they are not bought >.<
A Flemish Giant Rabbit with a cat on top, for size comparison. (Photo by The Original Turtle)
× Daiso, the 100 yen store, sold… EVERYTHING I ever wanted *__* Almost.
× Sushi train!! I’d wanted to do this for a long time. Even though we’d just had an extremely filling breakfast of yakisoba fried noodles, a specialty around the Fuji region, I still managed to try everything that looked interesting. The winner would have to be a tie between the hotate scallop sushi and the ootoro tuna for me! I didn’t realise that when the plate is black, it means that wasabi has already been pre-added, so I got a pretty unpleasant surprise there =/
× Next we went to the specialty snack store, where the highlight was the Arashi cardboard writing mat lottery! The mats were all in separate black plastic bags which were attached together at the opening, and I paid ¥50 to pull one out. The first time I got Aiba-chan, but I really wanted Nino or Jun, so I ran back to do it again, but I only got Ohno xD
× At the supermarket, I bought Hayashi rice curry. I really wanted to taste it ever since watching Ryuusei no Kizuna, but when I finally had some it wasn’t as awesome as I’d expected haha.
× 2013 calendars. I bought a Hey! Say! JUMP calendar (unofficial) at a stationary store and my host father (Mr Suwabe’s son) bought me an Arashi calendar <3 Mr Suwabe also bought me a Mt Fuji calendar.
× My first time entering a Japanese game arcade. Like nothing I’ve seen before, flashing lights in all colours imaginable and a cacophony of bizarre sounds. There was a medium sized dinosaur in a round glass enclosure-like game thing in the middle of the room O_O
Otakara Chuuko Ichiba – aka fangirl/boy PARADISE *__*
If you are a fan of manga, anime or Japan’s idol culture, you need to be here. In short, this place caters to all your otaku needs, whether it be volumes of manga, anime dvds, models (including Gundam), uchiwa, singles, albums whatever. You name it, they most likely have it, and the best part about this is that most of it is dirt cheap. Why is that you ask? It’s because all the products on sale here are actually second hand, although seeing as they are beloved fan merchandise, most are still in excellent condition. I picked up JUMP NO. 1 and Ya-Ya-Yah’s one and only single here! Was reeeaally excited about the latter, because I couldn’t even find it anymore when I searched in record stores >.<
My Johnnys stash acquired from the trip yay ^D^~ I also bought Shige's first novel, "Pink and Grey", which I somehow forgot to include in here.
Walk around Harada in Fuji-Shi, Shizuoka
Mr Suwabe owned an extraordinarily well-kept vegetable patch on a piece of land a short walk away from the house, so we went to have a look. Discoveries along the way:
× A Japanese manhole is a work of beauty. No, just look.
A sewer cover for Fuji City. (Photo by Adraude)
× There are considerable-sized live crabs in tiny parks with freshwater streams.
× The source of the water that welled up in this stream is actually Mt Fuji, and as a result of that, it is the same temperature all year round. It felt slightly warm when I touched it, since it was the winter season.
× It is common practise in Harada to keep a fair-sized vegetable patch, separate from your house. The streets are narrow and quiet. The houses, quaint. Even though larger shopping centres such as Aeon are within driving distance, Harada borders on being rural, and the neighbourhood is peaceful and idyllic.
Veggie patches, small colourful houses + Mt Fuji = perfect life.
We had an exquisite crab and tempura dinner that night courtesy of Mrs Suwabe. I swear she also
Dinner with the family.
Spent half the day on the bullet train - there is a considerable distance between Fukushima and Shizuoka.
My first glimpse of Mt Fuji. One day, I will climb it!! (Photo credit to Venessa’s Photography)
We had a pretty amazing lunch whilst on the train, which I didn’t manage to finish again >.<
Meeting with host family
My homestay family for the next two days was the Suwabe couple. They are a retired couple, who both used to be teachers. Their son, his wife and their three children lived in a house on the same plot of land just a couple of metres away, so living with them was almost like having three generations under one large roof! Mr Suwabe’s hobby is horticulture and Mrs Suwabe’s is cooking, so my homestay buddy and I had the most amazing meals while we were there, complete with home-grown vegetables. Dinner on the first night was sukiyaki, which is kind of like hotpot =)
I didn’t take too many pictures while I was there, since I felt like it was a bit rude to be taking photos of someone’s house interior when you aren’t too familiar with them.
However, here is a list of things that surprised and fascinated me on the first night:
× On the way there, I saw cute construction barriers for the first time! They were ducks!
× The house was incredibly high-tech. The light on the second floor landing turned on by motion sensor.
× There practically an air-conditioner in every room.
× There is a mini-sink on top of the water compartment of the guest toilet, so that every time you flush the toilet, the water which you wash your hands in automatically runs out of the tap and into compartment, where it is recycled for flushing. Highly efficient and resourceful.
× I saw Johnnys Entertainment members on TV! It felt like there was pretty much at least one member on one channel at any given time.
× The futon was soooooo comfortable~! ^D^
Duck road construction barriers :3 Who could ever bear to crash into one of these?
Demonstration of toilet sink!
Matchy-san was sampling gourmet food over on one channel whilst Koki was shedding tears in his monk robes on the another. I miss Koki ;__;