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Home page: http://www.rain-man.org/
Posts by Chris Valdez
On Friday, March 1, everyone from my school (I think there were about 300 of us) went on a field trip to 箱根 (はこね, Hakone), Kanagawa-ken, Japan. It was about 1.5 – 2 hours by bus from Shibuya. So why did we go there? I mean, just what is Hakone known for?
Well, it’s probably most known for its 温泉 (おんせん, onsen), or hot springs. We didn’t actually go to any though, which is probably for the best. I didn’t really want to see my male classmates in the buff. However, 混浴 would be OK! ^_~
Hakone is also known for its 黒卵 (くろたまご, kurotamago), or hard-boiled black eggs. The story goes that if you eat one, you’ll have 7 years added to your life. I ate two.
Now, before you get weirded out about the idea of a black egg, I have to tell you that only the shell is black. The rest of the egg is white and yellow and otherwise normal. And it tastes just fine. They’re black because of the sulfuric water the eggs are boiled in. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of them, but you can see them in the video below!
While there, we also took a boat ride around 芦ノ湖 (あしのこ, Ashinoko), a lake located in Hakone. There was a pirate ship type boat there, but unfortunately we road a normal one. Still, it was nice to get out and see some nature. It’s a joy to see it after being surrounded by urban things all the time in Yokohama and Shibuya.
It was on the boat ride that I had the chance to eat two “strange” things. They can both be seen in the video above. The first was a piece of squid filled with some type of peppers inside. This came from a classmate who brought it from her home of 大连 (Dàlián), China. As said in the video, it’s not something I’d try to find on my own, but looking back while I type this, it was pretty tasty.
Next was a duck tongue. Yes, the actual tongue of a duck. I really wish I had taken pictures of this with my camera rather than only video. Still, watching the video you can get an idea of how alien that thing looked. The flavor was good, but the texture was a little strange. I’m glad I tried it though!
It was a trip of about 7 hours with the bus ride and all. I really wish we could have two field trips each term, or at least a few days to walk around areas of Tokyo and get out of the classroom more often. But I guess once is better than none!
As always, there are plenty more pictures. Click here for to view the rest of the pictures.
School is an interesting thing. I get to see classmates and some friends, learn some things, and have an opportunity to get out of my home. Of course, there is always homework to do if I attend class, as well as taking one or two tests every week. All in all though, it’s a good time.
After my first quarter (the year is split into quarters), I thought I would have become accustomed to the workload, which would leave me with a bit more free time right about now. Haha, silly me! If anything, class and homework is more intense. At least I don’t have to worry about having nothing to do and becoming absurdly bored like I was during winter break. (more…)
My “semester,” or first session of class, has come to an end. I’m proud to say I passed and am moving on to level 3. Basically, that means more vocab, kanji and grammar to learn. Woo!
From Oct. 9 – Dec. 14, I learned about 1,000 words. I learned approximately 200 kanji. In class we went over something like 20 chapters from our textbook. Each with at least two important grammar points to remember. Oh, and I learned some inappropriate Chinese words from some Chinese classmates. =)
Our finals were about 3 days of various tests. That was probably the most stressed I’ve ever been about testing in my entire life. You see, for better or worse, I’ve never been one to worry about tests. I would see friends pull all-nighters, become so stressed they couldn’t eat, sleep… basically unable function.
It’s not that I never cared about tests–I did. But I think I never cared as much as I do now.
At one point in this session, maybe three weeks ago, I felt so stressed and emotionally overwhelmed about things I silently started crying in class. It was strange–I was sitting there listening to the lecture, smiling and laughing a bit… and there were some tears.
The past three months have probably been the most fun I’ve ever had in school. And for that, I say thank you to everyone supporting me: my family, my friends, my teachers and some of the greatest classmates I could ever ask for.
Friday morning I was awoken around 5:30 to a slight shaking of my bed. This is nothing new, as I’ve felt small earthquakes in the middle of the night before. I went back to sleep.
During the second half of class we learned about procedures and what to do during an earthquake. Cover your head, immediately open a door so that the frame doesn’t become warped leaving the door stuck closed, where our school’s evacuation center is, etc.
Then around 5:30 p.m. after class, there was a real earthquake, and definitely the strongest I’ve felt since being here. I was on the third floor having dinner with someone from my class, and I immediately felt it. A second later everyone else there did, looked around, became quiet, and immediately began checking their phones. What was a bit worrisome about this one was the strength of it and the duration. It honestly felt like 45 seconds to a minute of swaying.
Turns out it was near Miyagi-ken. Last I heard, there were some injuries in that area. Here in Tokyo and Yokohama, everyone is fine, the last time I checked.
Just a quick update to let everyone know I’m OK.
Also, finals this week! Listening, reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation and I hear an essay will be required. Oh, and a speech. Sooo, probably won’t post for a week or so!
Most people know that I’m not really an outdoors type of person. The only camping I’ve done was in Rainman’s backyard back in middle school one night… and later on we ended up going back inside. So, it’s a bit of a surprise both to myself and maybe others that I voted to go on a field trip to Japan’s Takaosan (高尾山).
Located about an hour away from Shibuya Station, on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji from this mountain. And that’s just what we did. A selection of pictures follows, but for ALL of the pictures, visit my smugmug. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the white balance set correctly on my camera, so I had to correct in post. And I was lazy, so a lot of it still looks way too blue. (more…)
Here’s the promised video, along with some pics, from the 2012 Tokyo YouTube meet-up in Shibuya, Nov. 3, 2012. There were two “rooms.” One was what you see in the video above, then there was another room where various acts (many musical) performed on stage. Sadly, I didn’t get any footage of that. =(
I was on the fence about going up until I walked out the door, mostly because of the cost of going, but it was well worth it.
Sorry for the lack of updates. I’m trying to be a good student and put my studies ahead of anything else (videos, photos, blogging, etc.). School is my priority at the moment (and sometime soon I’ll try to write a post of what school itself is like).
On Nov. 2 I turned 30 years old. (more…)
Last weekend I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. While out, I came across Kishine Park (岸根公園), shown in the video above.
It was a wonderful day out, and there were many people out, as you can see. I’m guessing a lot of people go there in spring for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.
In March of this year for admission into ARC Academy. I visited the school for a few hours during a weeklong trip here to Japan, and the school looked promising. An immersive environment with promises of students becoming conversational in about three months’ time.
Oct. 9 – 12, 2012, I had my first week of class at ARC Academy in Shibuya. I’m proud to say I think that goal is perfectly attainable.
The school has eight levels. I’m in level 2, or second lowest. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’d say the most difficult part for me at the moment is my lack of vocabulary. One day this week, there were about 40 words mentioned or in the homework I did not know.
Every day we learn some grammar concepts, 2 to 6 kanji, and do lots of practice (oral, aural, reading and writing).
But it’s working. I feel like I’m actually learning. I think the last time I was as excited as I am now about class was back in high school when I was taking theatre and computer science classes.
In fact, it’s the first time I can remember where I actually did homework the same night it was assigned. I’m not waiting until the next morning to do it.
So class is 3 hours Monday through Friday with a 15-minute break in the middle. And no English. All Japanese, all the time. As I’ve told some people, my brain is mush after class now.