Immigration deserves its reputation

Online, I see many people I know complain about the immigration offices (入国管理局) in Japan. Not immigration in the airport, but the offices residents go to for visa changes and renewal. Most of the time it’s people complaining about immigration in Tokyo.

Long lines, unhelpfulness, etc., were among the complaints I saw. Every time I’ve had to go since 2012 has been at the Kanagawa office. Dunno if I was always lucky, or if it’s just the office, but wait times typically have been between 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Then again, I’ve gone from 9 a.m. (opening time) to 10:45 a.m.

But recently, I learned to understand people’s frustrations. Why? Follow my tale of woe below.

When I came to Japan on Sept. 26, 2012, I had a student visa, or 留学 visa. It was set to expire on Dec. 26, 2013 (1 year and 3 months). Around Dec. 20 I received a job offer. I immediately began the visa change process. Continue reading Immigration deserves its reputation

Tables are turned

Updated Feb. 7, 11:50 p.m.
Turns out I forgot to link my friend Allie, aka, Tokyo Tako. ごめん!

You may or may not know that in college my major was journalism. Before that, I was incredibly shy and had a tough time talking to people I had never met before. Well, when you’re a journalist and interviewing people, you have to talk. And I learned how to, with everyday people to international celebrities, both American (Hoobastank, Bruce Campbell, and more) and Japanese (Koda Kumi).

I’m still a shy person, but I can “turn on” that mode and talk to people. Unless it’s a big group. But I’m glad I learned how to.

Junko, Grace and me. I swear I’m not as fat as I look in this pic! The shirt just looks baggy =/

Sunday, I met up with someone I’ve only interacted with before via Twitter and Facebook–Junko! In a fun twist, she wanted to interview me! A video of it will be posted at some point on her company’s YouTube channel in the future. I’ll make sure to post a link to it on here when it happens. ^^ Also, someone she had talked to for the first time ever that morning, Grace.

Anyway, learning to overcome fears is a great thing that more people try to do. It’s allowed me to meet some awesome people, some I now consider to be friends. =)

Learning to read faster

I’ve heard of speed reading and things like that, but I’ve never really given it thought before. I just assumed it’d be tricks like skipping over simple words, like prepositions. But in fact, there’s more to it, as I’ve recently learned.

A few weeks ago I came across a link for Spreeder, a free site sponsored by the makers of 7 Speed Reading. Basically, you copy/paste text into a window. Then site runs some fancy javascript and jQuery scripting magic to adjust the rate at which is shows the words to you.

The premise, and what kind of opened my eyes to speed reading, is that most people, myself included, tend to read only as fast as you can say the words. That is, when you read, you often have a voice in your head. If you can silence the voice, you can read faster. So, the site will parse the text you pasted, and show you one word at a time on the screen, in rapid succession. It starts you off with 300 wpm, but you can adjust it up or down in 25 wpm intervals. Mine is set to show me two words at a time at 950 wpm.

It’s an interesting concept, and I will say that when I use Spreeder I read much faster. 7 Speed Reading claims there are many more methods, and it’s something I may invest in later this year. After I’ve received a few more paychecks.

Baseball in Japan

I’ve never really liked sports. I greatly dislike American football and basketball. I’m not into hockey, soccer or most other major sports. But I can watch and enjoy baseball. I don’t know why. Many people say baseball is one of the most boring.

Unfortunately, the Hawks were sucking this night. July 1, 2013

I’ve been to maybe 6 or so Major League games in the U.S… and now two games of professional baseball in Japan. First thing I noticed: Teams are often associated with their sponsors. Take for example the Hawks. They’re from Fukuoka, but Softbank is the sponsor or owner (too lazy to look it up right now). Anyway, people may say “Fukuoka Hawks,” “Softbank Hawks,” or some combination of the two. Continue reading Baseball in Japan

ねぇ、知ってる?

ねぇ、知ってる? – 豆しば’s catchphrase

A few weeks ago I was discussing Japanese “cuteness” with Rachel at a small cafe in Tokyo. While there, the topic of acceptance of cute things in Japanese society came up.

I never thought about it, but it’s something I think I enjoy. And I’m not talking about girls, guys, or things like that. I’m talking about mascots, characters, icons, etc. A perfect example is 豆しば (Mameshiba) seen in the picture above.

Mameshiba is a cute bean (literally a bean) that pops up in the most bizarre times to instill some random knowledge on its listeners. Check the video below for a collection of commercials featuring him.. her… it? Continue reading ねぇ、知ってる?

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