In English: I know… I know! This is long overdue.
Yes… I’m still in Japan, alive and kicking. I’ve just been so busy. Of course I haven’t been so busy that I don’t have the time to update my blog, but I need some relaxing time too. Since Korea, I’ve traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in the summer (you can see for yourself in the pictures section). I also went to the summer Comic Market, the largest fan comic convention. In September, my cousin visited me and we had a good time at Fuji Q Highland, the Japanese theme park that used to have the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. At least it can still boast the roller coaster with the fastest acceleration. I finally got my costume finished for the 2009 Tokyo Game Show, and that event was lots of fun (though slightly disappointing this year because it was much smaller).

Heading into October, I knew I would be busy with school as there were some students participating in an oral interpretation contest. I helped them with that, while making and dealing with the midterms. There were inconveniences caused by the typhoon that basically hit all of Japan mid-October. Then there were all the Halloween shenanigans.

November hit quickly and I’ve been spending quite some money on clothes as I prep up for winter and getting more into fashion (shock and horror, I know! …but it’s only slightly… read the French section for more). Thanksgiving has come and gone, and this year’s dinner was great along with a failed turkey in the oven. It was salvaged by frying the meat and boiling the rest.

Okay, so now that the brief update on my life is complete and December has already started, let me get into my post. I was talking to someone the other day, and he was talking about how he got somewhat used to life in Japan. I reflected on where I am now in terms of how I see Japan. There really isn’t much that surprises me anymore, which I guess is a good thing. I have gotten more settled in my life here. I still try to study Japanese when I can and when I am not tired. I still play games, read manga, and watch different media. I still spend a lot of my time talking to friends and family.

No longer are the closed but open views on sex in Japan shocking to me. I simply pass it or hear it and shrug it off. No longer does the fashion blind me, especially now that America and Japan’s fashion are basically on the same wavelength. Okay, there are times I’m still surprised like when I see the women with the ridiculously high skirts or the guys with the incredibly tight clothes. I allow you to punch and kick me silly if I ever wear such outrageously tight clothes. Anyway, I’ve come to expect people to tell me that my Japanese is SO AMAZING, despite it just being a lie. I am not being pessimistic nor am I being modest. I know I’ve improved since coming to Japan, maybe not as much as I wanted, but it is totally not as good as how people SAY it is.

What else? It has sort of become routine to explain why I look the way I do and how I am not really Japanese. From that point, I am prepared to explain how I am not 50% American and 50% Chinese. What’s more? I am all ready to explain how my parents are from Hong Kong or near Hong Kong. Then it seems to naturally segue into how Mandarin and Cantonese are completely different. I even use the same example over and over again. I say (or rather butcher) “thank you” in Mandarin followed by saying it in Cantonese (maybe I butcher it in Guangdonghua as well). All this aptly ends with the other person ooh-ing and aah-ing.

I think you get the point. Okay, I’m sure you got the point a while ago, but yea, I’ve gotten used to life here. In the spirit of Thanksgiving that recently passed, I am thankful for my life, family, and friends (from the states). Of course these come first, but I’m also thankful for:

1) my experiences in Japan
2) Toyohashi Grace Baptist Church
3) awesome friends I’ve made in Japan
4) Mito HS
5) some fun co-workers
6) my students, of course!

En français: Il fait froid.
Je prépare pour l’hiver ces jours. Alors, j’achetais des nouveaux vêtements récemment. Ils y ont deux magasins japonais où j’aime acheter, Right-on et Uniqlo. Quand je discutais au sujet de la mode avec mon ami, il rigolait à moi parce que je ne m’avais jamais intéressé dans la mode. Je pense que le Japon me changeait. Est-ce que c’est bon? Je ne sais pas, mais ma soeur pense que c’est un bon changement.

日本語で: 映画館でカイジを観た!
日本の映画をあまり見たくないけど、11月11日にはカイジを観た。漫画もアニメも知っている。話は面白いと思う。だって、映画はちょっと違う。たとえば、マンガのエンドさんは男だけど、映画は女です。でも、どうってコトはないねぇ… 映画とマンガの感じは同じ!カイジの俳優は藤原竜也ですよ。みんなさんは日本の映画をよく観たら、多分知ってる。その人はDeath NoteのLightです。Death Noteを観たときに藤原さんはあまり良くないと思った。カイジのほうがいい。これから日本の映画をもっと観るね。とにかくカイジのBlu-Rayを買うつもりよ。じゃあ、予告編を見て!

今週の聖書の詩: “‘I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
- Malachi 3:6-7a (NIV)

I think this is very important. Too often, we just turn away. We look to God on Sundays, but then we hold dear all our earthly things during the week. I have always tried to say that we need to look toward God. We need to walk with Jesus Christ, but I feel like I am yelling at everyone’s backs. Okay, I am obviously overly generalizing. I hope all of God’s children can focus their eyes on God and not on all the meaningless things out there. Of course, I do not always follow this. I mean, just read my French section, but as long as we are all aware of it and try to be better Christians, we can be lights of the world as we are meant to be.

今週の写真: At the time of my last post in September, I was hoping to slowly post pictures of my SE Asia trip. However, considering how much time has passed, I’ll post all of those pictures that I wanted to post. Read the picture titles for the captions. I really do hope I can get back into the groove of updating more regularly.

Thailand -->

Cambodia -->



In English: South Korea
First up, it was Korea in July. Oh boy what a trip it was! I had a great time. I was in Seoul for 4 days. It would have been nice to visit other parts of South Korea, but I think my friends and I did a lot in such a short time. Here’s what we did and my impressions:

This was a nice shopping district with plenty of brand names and legit stores. It was also filled with restaurants. Aren’t these activities in all places: shopping and eating? Anyway, I liked some of the clothes and there seemed to be a decent variety of food. I wouldn’t know how much of Korean cuisine is mixed into the international ones. I certainly hope it’s not as bad as how Japan interprets everywhere else.

Ah, in this market area for souvenirs and more traditional knick knacks, you need to make sure your bartering skills are up to par. Many locals seem to like to come here for food as there are many food stands set up all equipped with a makeshift kitchen and tables for customers. Oh yea, this is also a location for ginseng galore!

Korean Folk Village (in Suwon)
Slightly a tourist trap and supposedly popular with Korean schools, this is one of those “living museums” where people inside are supposed to do things the old-fashioned way. The houses and huts are brought there from all around Korea. I recommend it if you ever go to Seoul. It’s a tad far from the city center at about 45 minutes away. I think it’s a good breather from all the shopping, though you can do more of that at the village too.

Gyeongbok Palace
It’s the largest palace in Seoul. You can’t go wrong with that! This is definitely great to see if you’re interested in palaces or if you like to compare between different Asian architecture. It’s amazing how large the area is considering it being surrounded by cityscape. I suppose the world is full of places like that.

More shopping! It never stops. There are enough clothes and accessories to go around for all ages. I’m sure there are other things too, but all we got to go through were clothes… mounds and racks of them. There are a few buildings and each one is filled with stuff following a theme. The first building we walked through was of belts, hats, wallets, ties, and clothes for old women. As a side note, I find it funny that it seems like all old Asian women wear and act the same way. Anyway, we spent way too much time in the first building. We meandered to another building at around 10PM or at least in that hour. We spent about 2 hours in the 2nd one. It was definitely a building geared toward our age. The first few floors were women’s clothing. The middle few were for men's, and the top floors were for accessories like belts and hats. I got on a slight bargain high, but I ultimately bought just one button-down shirt. My friends were happy with buying a number of things. I’m still amazed how late it opened until… 3AM! Imagine shopping until then!

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
The border between North and South Korea would have had more impact if there were souvenir shops all around. In order to see more of the DMZ, you would have to find a private tour. Ours was good. Our tour guide was unintentionally funny. At first, he annoyed me because he was ridiculously loud over the mic in the bus. He kept trying to rush the group as there was a schedule he had to stick to. When we went into one of the tunnels that North Korean soldiers dug for a surprise attack, the leader said something like, “So do you know what they [North Koreans] said in response to the tunnel? That it was for coal, but it’s a lie. They tried to use the tunnel to invade the south. WE HAVE TO GO!”

It’s a mountain in the south part of the city. I took a cable car up and walked down. My friends and I were on a quest to find the garden, but we were disappointed. The map made everything out to be much larger than it actually was. It’s a nice mountain, and it’s perfect for jogging through (think like how people jog through Central Park in New York). I don’t need to go back to the mountain if I were to travel again to Seoul.

Yoido Full Gospel Church
It’s huge! The building exceeded my expectations of the largest church in the world. It was breathless. I couldn’t go inside though. We went really late, but as we couldn’t fully understand when our last train to get back to our hotel was, we rushed to the church and back to the station. We had less than 30 minutes, if I remember correctly. The church was maybe about a 10-minute-walk from the closest subway station.

En français: La Corée est le milieu.
La Corée est entre la Chine et le Japon. La Corée est moins de net que le Japon mais plus de net que la Chine. La grammaire est semblable à japonais mais la langue a l’air de chinois. Il était très intéressant quand j’ai entendu la langue. J’ai pensé «Pourquoi je ne peux pas comprendre?» J’entendais que le hangul est facile à apprendre. Je souhaite que le japonais sois plus facile. J’ai le même sentiment avec le chinois.

日本語で: 結婚の実
「どうして人が結婚するの?知っている?男心は火のようだよ。だって、女心は水のようだ。冬に男の火は小さくて、女の水は氷る。その時男は女と気が合えない。春に男の火は暑いになって、女の氷は運良く溶けている。逢引を始める。そうして、夏に火と水が熱々ねぇ… 秋は冬のようになって!じゃあ、人が結婚するべき。さもないと、カップルは終わるだろう」って…

今週の聖書の詩: “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
- Hosea 6:3 (NIV)

今週の写真: South Korea… duh!