Category Archives: Japan

End of a session, Christmas has passed

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.


I hiked a mountain in class; what did you do today?

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).

This was my first time seeing Mt. Fuji in person. I’m glad we climbed 高尾山 and not Fuji.

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. Continue reading I hiked a mountain in class; what did you do today?

Promised update about the YouTube party

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.

Continue reading Promised update about the YouTube party

First week at an immersive Japanese language school completed

Sakuragicho Station, Yokohama. I’m cheating… this picture is one I took August 2010.

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.

Ramen is truly a food of the (fat) gods

Tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu ramen is a truly amazing thing. Remember to drink the broth!

I finally got around to eating some ramen this stay in Japan. For those of you who don’t know, I love ramen.

Today I ate at a place that’s no more than a five-minute walk from where I’m staying. My old roommate, Yoshi, recommended I go as soon as possible. Well, I did. And it was amaaazing.

Did I mention it was cheap, too? 600 yen for the standard bowl of ramen.

I mention this, because in all of Texas, I’ve only had good ramen twice. Once at a food truck in Austin that closed down this summer, and at a new place that opened up a month ago, also in Austin. But there a bowl of ramen was something like $9 or $10, I believe. And it still wasn’t as good as this.

If only it were healthy. デブになるよ!