今週の漢字: 歌う

I’m updating a bit later than usual this week. I was busy during the weekend. One of the things that I did was sing. Yes, you read correctly. I went to a karaoke parlor with some friends. I’ve already gone to karaoke a few times since coming to Japan. It is really popular here, and from what I’ve heard in the past, it’s incredibly popular with many other Asian countries. I’m not sure why it hasn’t gotten so popular in America, especially with shows like American Idol. One of my friends dubs it a karaoke show with razzle and dazzle. It’s painful to know that it’s true and still TV’s juggernaut. Getting back to karaoke in Japan, it is one of the healthy forms of stress relief and fun. As with the other times, I had a good time. It’s usually a bit nerve-wracking whenever I go though.

I don’t know what song to sing. I listen to a lot of different songs, but I’m really bad with remembering the lyrics. You might be wondering, “It’s karaoke! The words are there on the screen!” Of course that’s all good and well, but actually I sort of don’t remember some parts of melodies sometimes too. It definitely doesn’t help that the melody in the karaoke parlor is so faint.

Anyway, the important part is having fun and karaoke fulfills. The next step for me is to learn some Japanese songs. I’ve been trying to get the lyrics down to some songs so that I can have them in my arsenal to use in the future. I tried to sing a Japanese song once and that didn’t go too well. It was too fast for me. I could pick up some words, but I probably sang about 30% of the song successfully. Now, it’s time for more practice.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Pendant le weekend, j’ai acheté un CD. Le nom de la bande est The Pillows. Cette bande est mon favori. Les membres sont japonais. Est-ce que vous savez leur? Je leur aimais depuis j’étais un lycéen. Si vous ne savez pas cette bande, alors vous devez écouter maintenant!

今週の聖書の詩: “‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- Romans 10:8-9 (NIV)

今週の写真: More food! Curry udon (it was good, but spicy… =/ and you know how I am with spicy…) and a chocolate parfait (the other parfait is what my friend ordered, the fruit parfait) from Cat’s Café—double YUM!


今週の漢字: 値段

When I told people a year ago that I was coming to Japan, one of the common reactions I received was, “Oh! Japan is a very expensive country!” I want to use this post to clarify any misconceptions and reaffirm some thoughts on Japan’s standard of living.

Some things definitely cost a lot more in Japan compared to America, especially the price of certain fruits. It still amazes me that it costs at least $15 (USD) to buy one watermelon. The other day, I came across a store that was selling cantaloupes for about $75 (USD). Isn’t that just crazy?! I think it was marketed as a Father’s Day present. If my child wanted to spend that much money on a present for me, I would prefer something that I can reuse instead of a cantaloupe. Be aware that I wrote “certain fruits” cost more! There are some fruits like tangerines that are reasonably priced. So why are some fruits so much more in Japan? It’s elementary, my dear Watsons: import costs.

People used to tell me how I would be able to buy lots of electronics for cheaper in Japan. Similar to fruits, some electronics cost more in Japan than in America despite being the same or alike. In this case, it’s more about where you look and what brand you buy. If you were to buy a brand new Sony HD TV, it might be the same price compared to America or even more. However, if you were to buy the same thing at the right time, it can be drastically cheaper. I mentioned once in my blog about the high frequency of sales. If you must buy one of the more well-known brands, you would be paying more money than if you were to buy a lesser known comparable brand. You might think that it’s the same in other countries, but the quality difference between a lesser known and a well-known brand in America is drastic.

Here’s a brief list of some items I have found to be more expensive in Japan: designer clothes, steak, beef, corn, nuts, peas, watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, strawberries, music albums, DVDs…

How about the cheaper things? Well, here’s a list of reasonably priced stuff (sometimes cheaper): non-designer (but still good quality) clothes, other vegetables like bean sprouts, unique bread (okay, obviously there’s not much of this in America), good quality electronics or electronic related things (I bought a pair of decent headphones from the ¥100 store)…

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Il est un peu difficile à comparer les prix entre les États-Unis et le Japon parce que j’oubliais des prix en États-Unis. Je me souviens le prix des vêtements, mais ne pas des nourritures. Avec mon salaire, il n’est pas difficile pour habiter confortablement. La proportion du salaire et coût de la vie entre les États-Unis et le Japon est semblable.

今週の聖書の詩: “‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
- Hebrews 10:23-24 (NIV)

I think this is important to remember. Many people want to do things for themselves. I’m no exception, but we need to remember others. Does this mean that we should self-destruct for others? Not exactly, but if we try to do good for others, why would we need to ruin ourselves in the process? Plus, let’s look at it this way. If someone were to be seriously hurt, is that really good for the people who love that person?

今週の写真: This week is a call for RANDOMNESS! YAY! Well, mainly because I don’t really have new pictures that I can post. If only Japan’s privacy laws weren’t so strict, I could post pictures of students and teachers from school events.

1) When I was in Nagoya a few weeks ago, there was a group of people practicing a dance for what I speculate to be for a festival in the near future; 2) FLASHBACK! I can’t believe it was only 2 years ago when I went with my family to California.


今週の漢字: 漢字

It’s proving to be hard keeping up with learning kanji. A lot of it really comes from laziness. My way of learning consumes so much time. My method of preference is learning a few characters everyday, especially the radicals. After I learn some, I write a journal entry in Japanese trying to use all the characters I just learned at least once. Of course, I hope to also utilize some kanji I have already learned. I think I might need to modify this method, because it takes me about 2 hours a day. There are some days when I just don’t have that much time to spare.

I don’t like to use techniques that use the kanji as the foundation of pictures. For example, once I saw a book using 子 and there was a drawing of a child around it. It doesn’t help me, because I can’t associate the character with the picture well enough for me to remember. I like to know the radicals in order to understand the meaning behind each character I learn. When I know the radicals that make up the kanji, I can write it easier. I like how each character is packed with so much meaning.

When my family came to Japan, I asked my mom about some kanji I had learned and if they had the same meaning in Chinese. The first thing she said to me was, “You know how to write that?!” I guess it can be surprising for my mom to see her son write Chinese characters (although I’m writing it specifically with the Japanese meaning in mind).

Because I grew up in the United States, I didn’t appreciate other languages when I was a kid. I communicated primarily in English, so I didn’t think I needed to learn anything else. Although I now appreciate other languages, I don’t regret having rejected other languages when I was little. I am happy with what got me to where I am now.

Today is a day to celebrate all those fathers out there. Here’s to all you daddies, especially the best: MY DAD! =) Happy Father’s Day! Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Mes parents ne me forçaient pas d’apprendre le chinois. Ils disent quelquefois: «Nous regrettons que nous n’apprenions pas vous [mes soeurs et moi] le chinois.» Ma mère veut mes soeurs à apprendre le chinois, mais elles ne veulent pas. Mes soeurs et moi, nous comprenons un peu de chinois, alors nous ne sommes pas les pires. Il est possible qu’elles apprécieraient le chinois un autre temps.

今週の聖書の詩: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.”
- Proverbs 13:1 (NIV)

今週の写真: Look at the interesting presentation of this kitsune udon! Does anyone want to listen to some black music? How about eating donuts and dim sum?


今週の漢字: 面白い

Do you feel that you must read my blog every week (and I don’t mean going straight to the pictures)? Do you find that my blog fills that hole in your life? Do you laugh sometimes when you read my blog (and I don’t mean out of embarrassment for knowing me)? If so, then you are lucky (or unlucky) in sharing a similar sense of humor with me. I haven’t really found many people who are in this special pool. However, when I write plays or skits, I seem to effectively tickle pickles. I categorize my sense of humor as witty (and sometimes lame) bantering with a nod toward the extreme and sometimes intense silliness. Does this sound like you? Some say that people with a similar sense of humor are the most alike. If you are most like me, you must be thinking, “Oh, the horrors!” Okay, only I say this. In fact, I don’t even believe in this. Anyway, let’s move on to the real purpose of writing this topic.

If you are a native speaker of English, then you probably know that puns are the biggest offenders of humor. Usually, they are terrible and should never be told, yet I do it sometimes. Well, that’s not important. I think Japanese comedies embrace puns. It seems to go along the lines of humor that is based mainly on characters misunderstanding each other. I’m not completely sure if what I am writing is accurate, but this is just my impression from the comedy and variety shows I’ve seen. It may not necessarily be misunderstanding as it is about a character influencing another character into some bizarre situation. A lot of the humor seems to involve a tremendous amount of physicality. I don’t particular find too many of the Japanese comedians very funny, but that may be due to only understanding part of their spiels. I wonder what foreigners of English think about comedies in English, especially British comedy.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je suis allé à Nagoya hier avec des étudiants et un autre prof. Il était un bon jour. Nous avons mangé à Hard Rock Café. Ensuite, j’ai présenté leur au thé tapioca. Ils n’ont pas le même sens d’humour. Pourtant, ces étudiants et l’autre prof ont le même. Il est difficile en lycée quelquefois parce que des étudiants pensent que je suis très sérieux. Des Américains pensent aussi que je suis sérieux!

今週の聖書の詩: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- John 1:14 (NIV)

今週の写真: Nara (Near Kyoto) – Day 3: Nara is very close to Kyoto. Many people who travel to Kyoto also visit Nara. One of the things that Nara is known for is the deer. Look at them! To all you skeptics looking at the pictures, they are very real and roam free. Aren’t they adorable? Nara is also known for its big Buddha statue. I didn’t take a picture of it as it’s an idol, but the size is quite impressive. Instead, I took a picture of Todaiji, the famous temple in Nara that houses the statue.


今週の漢字: 会議

There was an English camp for the 2nd year English track students this past Wednesday to Friday. It went very well. I was very proud of my students, because they really tried their best. The goal of this camp is to promote communication in English in an isolated environment. The students, 2 teachers, and 4 AETs (including me) stayed for two nights at a youth house and conference center. My teaching partners and I planned out the schedule. The English camp started at least eight years ago, so a lot of the events have become traditions. I just suggested certain changes based on what I heard about the past English camps. I felt that my suggestions helped the flow. Basically, the activities are run by the AETs, but the majority of the background is run by the teachers. All of us really put our all and then some into the camp.

Activities for the students included creating skits, singing songs, watching a movie, playing games in English, and experiencing other cultures. The students are supposed to talk in English not only to the AETs and teachers, but also with each other. I was very impressed. I love how this class is the most active of all my classes. From what I hear, they may even be the most active class ever. However, their test scores are not as high as their predecessors. As another AET mentioned, if only they could be admitted to top universities based on attitude.

I brought out more of my kid side. As some of you know, I like to tell people that I’m a big kid. I have no shame in this. I really wish people would just embrace their youth rather than live through their children. Maybe my inner child no longer exists. My sister told me the other day that I’m old and weird. Well, I’ve always been proud of my weirdness. It’s too bad I am now considered old to those younger than 18 years of age. I think I should stop now before my readers who are older than me reflect on their age. Oh dear… it must be too late.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je me sens bizarre parce que je suis entre l’âge d’étudiants et de profs. Quand je parle avec les profs, il n’y a rien à dire. Je pense que les profs me voient comme si je suis un enfant. Pourtant, les étudiants me voient comme si je suis vieux. Je veux trouver des personnes japonaises qui sont 22 ans aussi. Beaucoup de ces personnes aiment aller aux bars, mais je n’y vais pas.

今週の聖書の詩: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’”
- 1 Corinthians 4:18-20 (NIV)

What is wisdom? Have humans really gone far? I wonder…

今週の写真: Kyoto – Night 2: Walking around Kyoto; sushi… YUM; karaoke; Pocky flavor??