Monday, October 31, 2005

Centrique Fall Arts Contest Help!!!!

Today's blog is gonna be a short survey. I am going to enter some photos (around 5) to the Carthage College Centrique arts magazine. I'm wondering which ones to use, so please post a comment about which pictures you think look good from this set. The entry date for the contest is November 15, so hurry up and comment already! Thanks~!
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Omens, Crew Team, and Why I feel a little more like Napolean Dynamite

So on Friday, while I was walking to my dorm after class, and later walking to meet up with crew team to head to Hiroshima. Walking to the dorm I was met by a snake. I just stood and watched the snake as it stopped, turned around, and slithered into the grass nearby. I thought this could be a sign. Then later I was talking the walk by the pond to meet up with the crew team, when I was met by this!!!

creepy crawly Posted by Picasa

Ahhh!!! It had pretty good speed, but when it saw me (and I saw it) we both stopped. I grabbed my camera to let you know about the creatures which rule the night in Japan (no I'm not talking about THAT night life). I admit it, I was a little freaked out..but then I started to feel like Steve Irwin, hypothesizing about its manifest destiny and possible adaptations and diet, my curiosity and "croiky, have-a-look-at-this-sheila" engine firing on all 12 cylinders. Luckily, I had my umbrella just incase the creepy crawly got any ideas. If I didn't have my umbrella with me, I'm pretty sure one of us would have sprinted home. :)

I had my first crew team practice in Hiroshima City on Saturday. I had planned to stay for both Saturday and Sunday's practice, but I had plans to meet Takuyan because I had to get some shopping done and see about going to the city hall to get my alien registration card. Saturday's practice started out easily enough. Wake up at 5am, grab a little bit of something to get the old glucose levels goin', you know. Practice starts at 6am, but warm-ups start at 5:15!! I learned this at 5:13! We did a little run followed by some stretching and bodyweight plyometrics, enough to start a little burn in the legs, some of the other members actually broke a sweat doing these, I think it was just that they were over dressed. Sure it was cold, but I was fine in shorts and a Tshirt. Nobody could believe that I wasn't freezing. Feels good to not be cold when everybody else is freezing :)
I got my first experience in a boat during the morning practice. Yuta, my rowing instructor, and I just kinda grabbed a boat, and Yuta showed me just the basics about oars, feet position and how to carry and replace the boat. After we were in the boat, I started to learn the technique. Legs, Arms, Arms, Legs. This is something that has to go into my system before I can join the rest of the team in the 8-man sweep (each person gets one oar) boat. Yuta and I were in a 2-man skulling boat. Skull is where you have two oars. I guess I did OK as far as my first time goes. We didn't capsize :) Learning a completely new sport is definitely difficult in a new language. Learning the ultra-focused terms for boating is pretty exciting.
During practice our crew managers make us all a huge meal. Huge in regards to the fact that they are cooking for 20 people, and also huge that there are 3 different sizes small(200yen), medium(250yen), and large(300yen). If I was eating at a normal restaurant, each meal would cost me more than 1000yen for the amount of food which is served. I had the medium, just because they didn't know if I had what it takes to finish the large size. I'm sure as I progress into the crew world, I'm gonna get a hankerin for some large size crew team grub. It really is a lot of food, too. We had rice, fish, and 3 more kinds of food served cold. There is also egg and soy sauce to mix into the rice (mmm...raw egg).
Afterwards, we had Hiruyasumi (afternoon break) until 3pm. This time is reserved to catch up on sleep, do a little bit of organizing on the webpage, discussing crew stuff, going into the city for a little shopping trip, pretty much anything as long as you're back by 3pm. I just hung out in the boathouse with the crew and looked over some magazines from Puma to get the new team uniforms.
Afternoon practice with Yuta was the longest practice ever!!! We went over the exercise routine so I could mesh with the flow a little better and know which exercise is next. Then for maybe 3hrs we discussed rigging. How to use the balance and protractor (Billy boi, this is for you,....protractor) and different measures to know the length of the oar, angle of the clutch pins, which hold the oars, and to set up the stretcher (place to put your feet). I think it was really a lot to take in all in one day, especially in Japanese! I don't quite know how long it will take to catch up to being able to practice with the rest of the crew, but right now I will be in the stroke seat, with Yuta in the bow seat, so my rigging numbers will just be the same and I have to memorize the process and the numbers.
Well, it was really a lot of fun...making a lof of great memories with these guys everytime we meet and remembering our outings at Carthage with my ppls over there!
>>>cough cough, I wanna give a shout out to uh..Big D, Billy Boi, Bubolz, Midnight, Sy Sy, Nasty Nate, Yoder Bear, Seb, Frau Jaessing and all my fans out there, keep it real!

souteibu1 Posted by Picasa
Yuta, Satomi, Ida Posted by Picasa
souteibu2 Posted by Picasa

And now for the part you've all be waiting for, why I feel like Napolean Dynamite. Let's face it, the reason we like Napolean Dynamite is because we all see a little bit of his awkwardness inside all of us, except me that is. I am like Napolean Dynamite in a complelely different paradigm. "How so?" you may ask. Well, the suspense is killing you by now, so I'll just tell you. It's because deep down, we are both country, straight-country to those of you urban folks. Today I noticed how much I love milk and potatoes. Two main staples of my diet and I know of Napolean Dynamites. I made a soup with some potatoes and a soup mix I had lying around. The potatoes were so good, could be something to do with being in Japan, but I mean really, can potatoes change flavor just by being grown somewhere else. I don't know how these are called, but they look like smaller versions of our Russet Potatoes (note that Idaho, Napolean's state, is the home of the potato). After the soup, I decided to try out my milk that I bought, and wouldn't you know, this milk had a totally different taste!!! (Remember Napolean Dynamite was in a milk tasting test) Granted it's a different company, but it's the same 2% Milk, with a completely different taste. I immediately reported the amazing information and newfound love for Japan and its milk selection to my next-door neighbor Daisuke, which he found less exciting than I did. The one that I had before was a rich smooth taste, but this one was actually, dare I say, sweet! No additives, no preserves, straight milk,.....different taste. I'm pretty sure most of you who didn't grow up in the country have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, but to my family and those of you who have lived in America's Heartland....this is a breakthrough discovery in Japanese culture, I believe :) I'm tempted to buy a different brand of milk each week now just to experience the rainbow of flavors which milk in Japan has to offer. (Then for my senior thesis, figure out a way to put this milk production into the global market place and later overthrow Wal-Mart, haha!) Moreoever on a short-term projection, I can safely say I feel closer to Napolean Dynamite than ever before.
Sore de, mata!! baibai!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Crew Team Go!!!

I just talked to Tasegawa today. I guess I don`t have the weekend off to train on my own. Instead there is practice in Hiroshima City. I wonder how this is gonna be, even Tasegawa said this is gonna be hard. Let me translate a part of my schedule...
Friday 9pm (yes, PM) leave campus for Hiroshima City, spend the night in boat house.
5am (wake up), 6am (start training), 9am (breakfast), Afternoon break, 3pm (back to training), 7pm (more food)...sometime after that we sleep...then on sunday we go through the routine again! I guess we won`t get back to Hirodai campus until early on Monday morning, so I wonder how much fun I`ll be having in Intermediate Japanese that day. :)
Oh, and on the race last weekend, we got 3rd place. Goo team!! woooo!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


What`s going on?? Right now it`s Wednesday 7:30pm, and I`m in the West Library. Pretty much things are in a general flow right now. Crew Team (rowing team) had a race on the weekend so they get a week off from training. I on the other hand have to keep running and working out in the gym so I can try to start catching up to their level of endurance. People are always in shock when I tell them that I`ve joined crew for some reason. I guess it must be a very hard sport. But, I guess it wouldn`t be much fun if there wasn`t a challenge would it? :) I haven`t even been in a boat yet to practice that aspect, but I guess that will be coming up next weekend.

Classes seem to go pretty well. It is true that Japanese classes are pretty laid back. We just go to lecutre which lasts 1.5hrs and I only get homework for one class. The rest of my studying is just additional as far as the what I do to understand the lectures and notes from other classes.

I decided not to buy a rice cooker since I`ll be here just 4 months, but I think I should still get some rice to boil in a pot. It`s so much cheaper here and rice is practically the only thing that you can buy in bulk. I did find some stuff that looks like oatmeal, but I`m not quite sure about it yet. This would be good as far as breakfast. I`m sorry, but miso soup for breakfast just isn`t filling enough and doesn`t have enough calories to start me in the morning when I have been exercising the day before. I want to try making some kind of small stew or bbq (along the lines of nikujyaga) when I`m here, but I actually don`t know what to do for it other than throw everything in a pot and let it cook for a while. If you have a simple recipe, send it this way :)

I haven`t seen Takuyan in a while because he had a test this week and he is often playing with his chou kyoukoudo concrete. He and I are gonna meet next week to hang out, at least long enough to get my Alien Registration Card from the City Hall. Hrm...I guess that`s all for now,
jyaa, mata!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Phil`s Schedule (Revised)

So, I was able to successfully join Photography Club and Rowing Club. Now my schedule has filled up so much. Photography club is much easier to work around because photography is generally an individual activity anyway, and they don`t mind much if you miss out on their weekly meeting so much as long as you keep in touch with them.
Rowing club on the other hand. I`m sure that I`m going to devote a lot of time to this club and hopefully make friends with these people too. Here is a funny story....I had 3 classes on Tuesday and also set up to meet with photography club for dinner and rowing club. I went to my two classes in the morning, then went to the gym with Carlie. I had my Historical landscapes at 3. Right after that I went to meet with the rowing club. Little did I know that I was meeting them to practice! So, I lifted weights already but now I was in for the real workout. We went on a 4km run (2km uphill, 2km downhill) then we lifted weights in the training room. It was just light weight but we did 20 repetitions. So I did 60 squats and 60 barbell lunges.....
The next morning I could barely move my lower half. Upper half was just fine. The best part is that at night I still have another training with Rowing club....
So now to revise my weekly schedule, I have running and lifting with rowing club Tues, Wed, and Friday from 5pm-7pm. Then on Sat. and Sun. boat training in Hiroshima city.
OK, I gotta go rest now.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


On Thursday night we had a kind of mixer party for Japanese and International Students. I didn't show up until 7. Actually I thought this was the beginning of the party. But I was wrong. The party was already going when I got there. I didn't have enough time to get a name card until I was already speaking to one of the Japanese girls there. Soon I got my name card though, and started to rummage through the food:) I also met up with Aki and Yousuke. I guess Yousuke was a drummer for a kind of popular band called High Maintenance.
The most unexpected thing happened today. The girl who I talked to first at the party came up to me and we were just talking for a little bit. I was so surprised, I didn't know that Japanese people would come up to talk to me like that. Usually nobody even looks at me when I walk by on the sidewalk. We just had a small conversation like "Hey, whats up" and where my class was, but I was too shocked that anybody stopped to talk to me, I couldn't remember any Japanese at all! Anyway, making Japanese friends is fun...peace!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Phil`s Class Schedule

1050-1220, Intermediate Japanese IA
900-1030, Japanese Economy
1050-1220, Elementary Japanese IIC
1500-1630, Analytical Study of Historical Landscapes (Japanese, auditing)
900-1030, Elementary Japanese IIA
1050-1220, Intermediate Japanese IB
1500-1630, Political Economics (Japanese, auditing)
900-1030, Elementary Japanese IIB
1050-1220, Intermediate Japanese IC
900-1030, Modern Japanese Language (Japanese)

That`s 8 Classes for 16 Credits
and 2 Auditing Classes for 0 Credits.

I`m also joining photography club and possibly rowing club...but they aren`t classes, just something to keep me occupied. (As if studying Japanese wasn`t time consuming enough!!)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mystery Markets, Okonomiyaki, Sake Matsuri

I found my first snake. I decided to venture out into the outlands of the map we were given. I had already been to the grocery store called Youme Town, but there was another place on the map that said "Market" so naturally, I expected to be able to find something. Well, I guess I must have followed the map well enough, but maybe just the map is wrong, because when I spoke with these 3 elderly Japanese women, they were confused by where I wanted to get to. They sent me off to the Seven Eleven. By this time of walking and heat I decided at least they know that there is a Seven Eleven in this direction so I went there and bought two subs. A lot different kind than in the states...these were with soba noodles, egg, ketchup, and maybe a little mayonaise. Tasty nonetheless. Afterwards, to satiate my curiosity about this mystery market, I took off in the direction of where this market should be. Turns out there was also a convenience store on the map, but it seems the convenience store is being renovated because there was a construction crew there, I guess my market could have had the same fate. Well, I guess that attempt at shopping went completely wrong. Oh well, I did get to have a nice conversation with the 3 old ladies :)

I had classes today, Japanese Economy and Analytical Study of Historical Landscapes. Japanese Economy was very fine, it's in English. Then, I had Historical Landscapes. This class I found out is completely in Japanese, while the texts used are in English. Well, maybe if it was just in normal Japanese it could be fine, but the class is using very specialized terms, monastery, abbey, fief, knight's service so I cannot understand much at all. I talked with the professor about my taking the class. I decided that I can take this class, but just not worry about the assignments. It would be much different but I feel my speaking skill is really not up to par for this kind of class. I'll just audit it and learn from reading the texts and paying attention in class. I'm sure I can still learn so much from this class even if I don't receive any credits from it.

Then! When I returned to my dorm, I opened the door to the floor and these two guys were peeking out of their doors. Turns out they planned to have a kind of introduction party with me! My Japanese skill is still a problem talking wth these guys, but I hope I can become their friend and speak lots and lots of Japanese. Tonight we are going to drink Osake at 9. Everybody is giving me a nickname to call them by, so I just met Dai and Gatchi. I guess one guy a few doors down is studying English, so hopefully we can communicate much much better tonight when he comes. Wow, I don't know that this kind of thing would happen in USA... I'm very happy to meet everybody. Akihiko, Dai, Chin, Low, Hiro, Gatchi, Odoya kun, hajimemashite, douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

On Wednesday night we all went to Hibiki for some Okinomiyaki...all I can say is that I wish I had a bigger stomach like Gatchi. He ate his, and one piece of mine and one of Chins. This stuff is soooo good. Its got like egg, cabbage, noodles, cheese, and special kind of teriyaki sauce that you can only get in Hiroshima. Actually this Hiroshima style Okinomiyaki is special to Hiroshima. Oh man, it's so good! The moment it hits your lips is pure bliss..haha. Well maybe not that good, but pretty good.

Saturday, I went to Sake Festival with the international students and met up my tutor there. Pretty much we just walked around for a while until Takuyan showed up from his experiment. The people I was with up until then just wanted to get small samples of sake from the breweries and we did that. Then we hit up the ethnic street for a little food. I had a Sri Lankan style chicken roll. Funny that there was a Canada stand there, and I said "Oh, Canada, what could they have to contribute to ethnic cultural activities?" Hehehe. A little later Takuyan showed up and we got some more substantial food. I forgot the name but its Chinese bread with pork inside. Then we asked the group if they were ready to go into the Sake area, but I guess they didn't want to. It cost 1500 yen to enter, but you cannot re-enter at will. Well, Takuyan and I went inside, as part of the 1500 yen we got awesome little sake glasses. Our personal sampling cups. There were more than 150 shops inside the sake area! Thats a lot of sake! Inside was a little weird, because just you could tell people had been there all day and had too much. Ippai nonda, na~. We can't have Joe Camel anymore, but the Sake Matsuri Raccoon is sure a hit with the kids!

Carlie, Danny, Conspicuous Sake Raccoon Posted by Picasa

A funny story about the drunk people. I wore my Yoshinoya T-shirt, and I got so many compliments on it. But, there was one old guy he came up to Takuyan and I and pointed to my T-shirt and said that he liked it. Then he continued to talk about something, I could not understand because he was obviously drunk and, coincidentally, that doesn't help Japanese speaking skill. Well, he talked for maybe 10minutes about something, Takuyan and I nodding our agreement. After he left, I expected to get some kind of translation about what the old guy was saying from Takuyan, but the old man was so drunk. Even Takuyan only understood that he liked my T-shirt! Haha! Both Takuyan and I didn't understand any word that came out of his mouth besides for his pleasure from my T-shirt.

A little afterwards, we got out of the tent. We went to see his girlfriend's restaurant. It's such a nice restaurant, I think the name was Fugumai. It's a very traditional restaurant and all the waitresses are girls in kimono. It's such an expensive place because of this and you can buy pufferfish! Yea, the poisonous one! Takuyan said he and I should go there sometime. Alright! I could also tell how nice of a restaurant it was because Takuyan started using such formal humble Japanese when he was there. I followed his example, bowing and saying my arigatoo. I got to take a picture with the girls....

Takuyan's girlfriend is on the far left...(I am in the middle) Posted by Picasa