a website by a Leong

Browsing Posts published in June, 2005


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I’m finally getting around to organizing the first batch of pictures from this summer trip. It’s kind of weird; I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures, since I honestly haven’t been doing anything super out of the ordinary. Also, I take pictures either with my usual 3.2 megapixel Fuji FinePix camera, which I’ve always been using, or now with my 2 megapixel Docomo cell phone. See if you can see the difference, or tell which pictures were shot with which camera.

There are 2 pages: 1 of stuff from the first few weeks of being here, the other of just Kamakura stuff.


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Today the IES kids went to Kamakura. Since I’m such a good intern, I went along with. Before I go any further, I must mention how awesome I am. That is, I was supposed to be at the center between 8:00 and 8:15AM. Since I live out in Myoden, and usually leave myself an hour to leisurely get showered, dressed, and ready, I was planning on waking up at like 6. I even set my keitai alarm clock to wake me up at 5:45. Well, I decided even though I needed to be up earlier than I have all summer, to stay up until around 2 or so in the morning watching Kamen Rider Blade, which I brought with me. Yeeeeah, that didn’t work out so well. I remember waking up once around 3 because a HUGE mosquito was eating chunks of my flesh, but the next thing I know it’s 7:08AM. I definitely couldn’t not go on the Kamakura trip, and showing up late would be really bad since I’m supposed to be like staff or something.

First thing I do, of course, is check on my keitai what time my train leaves. 7:29, if I want to get to IES on time. Note again that it takes a bit under 10 minutes to walk from my apartment to the station. Somehow, I’m not really sure how, I managed to shower, get dressed, pack my bookbag, and RUN through heavy rain to the station in time to catch the 7:25 train! Since I’m pretty sure doing all that stuff in so little time is impossible, I will just assume that I am awesome.

Yes, it was raining. That’s not ideal for this kind of tour, where you go look at various temples and outdoor places. The bus ride wasn’t too bad, a bit under 2 hours with 1 rest stop, but I got a bit of a headache. Maybe it’s because I had my tornado of awesomeness getting me to the center on time. Anyway, I never get headaches, and I even less seldom take medicine, but I took some Tylenol on the bus. Worked I guess. I can’t remember the names of most of the places we went today, but I’ll cheat and read them off the schedule I have in front of me: Engakuji Temple (円覚寺), Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (鶴岡八幡宮), Giant Buddah (大仏), and finally Hase-Dera (長谷寺). That was the order we went in. For the first two, it was raining hardcore and wasn’t so great to walk around in. By the time we were getting to halftime (AKA lunch), the rain was stopped and the weather was actually getting somewhat decent. The last two places were pretty sweet. I still would like to think that if I somehow ever get filthy rich, I’m going to buy a lot of land and make a house in old Chinese/temple style.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about each individual place, but I might a bit when I put up pictures (will be soon). One more interesting thing to talk about though: once again, I was mistaken for a Japanese person. I’m not talking about the just walking around the street kind of blending in, I’m talking about someone I’m actually having a conversation with. The first time it happened on this trip, last week or so, it was an IES student who didn’t know very much Japanese. He tried spitting out the sentence “Where did you study English?” Ummm yeah. It’s happened once or twice after that as well. Today’s was one of the summer students, Karen’s, host sister who came along, and we were talking or something and she asks me “So how long were you over there?. I at first assumed she was asking how long I’m in Japan for, and I asked “you mean this time?” until a few seconds later when I realized she was asking how long I was in America for, assuming I was a Japanese guy who studied abroad. So, it looks like my Japanese is somewhat decent enough to pass as a Japanese person. More importantly, my English is somewhat decent enough to pass as an American after a somewhat awkward explanation.

I’m never really offended when it happens, but I really think it’s kind of funny. There’s nothing like the distinct Japanese girl “へぇぇぇ?” (What?) when you say something like “No, I’m not Japanese, I’m American.” Maybe I should take it as a compliment.


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It’s Sunday evening, and I haven’t left my apartment since last night when I got back (around 7PM) except once to do laundry. Why am I wasting a perfectly good Sunday in Japan? I’m tired! Haha. Summer IES kids got here on Thursday, and ever since that day I’ve been actually doing a pretty good deal of work and running around.

For the most part, my internship is to shoot video and then produce (by August or September) a 50-minute promotional video for IES to use to promote the Tokyo program. That really isn’t too bad, except also the last few days I’ve been helping out with the orientation and various other things associated with the beginning of the summer program. On Thursday I went to the airport to help welcome and move the new kids in. On Friday I sat through and helped kinda with orientation sessions all day long. Yesterday, Saturday, I helped with the lunch where all the kids met their host families and then move in. I guess I haven’t been doing that much especially, although I have been running around a lot between the IES Center, school, the OVTA hotel where the summer students stayed for the first few days, went to Narita Airport, and etc. Last night, I skipped a BBQ at Huston’s because I just wanted to go home and rest. And I’ve been doing so every since, it’s been nice. I took a slight detour last night before coming home to go to the next station and pick up like 10 volumes of the Detective Conan manga. I’ve read a bit, but am skipping the chapters that I’ve already seen the anime of.

The summer kids, for the most part, are the normal batch of IES kids. And IES groups are usually pretty relatable to the kids you will find in a Japanese language class in the US. There are a few cool kids, a good number of huge dorks, some people who seem to be lost, and some who seem to be here to just party. I’ve associated myself with the cool kids as I see fit. I’ll probably hang out with some of the kids I like, and ignore the rest. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Oh yeah, if some IES kids are reading this (it’s inevitable), it might be interesting. Actually I should go read some summer/spring IES kids blogs (I know a few have them). Might be interesting. I think from here on out, my job is to just go on all the fun trips and film stuff, so probably the heat is over (haha until I go back to the US and actually have to edit this video together).


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I just finished watching Devilman, which I rented a few days ago. Before I go any further, there are 2 things I should point out that might affect my viewpoint on this movie, and thus my thoughts. 1) It’s all in Japanese, and I’m not completely fluent in the language. 2) I never read any of the original comic or saw any of the original anime, which I’m sure a big majority of Japanese people have.

Now that that’s out of the way, I think this movie ranks up there with movie greats like Versus, and might I even say The Hulk from a few years ago. And not just because both movies have pretty cool computer effects, but because both of them have their screenplays seemingly written and edited by retarded drunken monkeys. From the very start of Devilman, I had no idea why things were happening. They didn’t bother to explain everything or show any continuity, which may be because the majority of Japanese people watching the movie probably knew the general story of Devilman. I, of course, did not (let’s be honest, I STILL don’t).

The easiest way to explain the movie is to call it an hour and a half long movie trailer. There are a lot of awesome visual effects and the movie definitely looks cool. However, dialogue and the general storytelling seems a bit sketch, and there are a lot of holes. Another way to explain this movie would be if you took all the pre-rendered movie scenes out a of a video game like Final Fantasy, edited them together, and expected people to understand what the heck is going on. Near the middle of the movie, there was some kind of plot going on, but by the end they decided it was hopeless and just had a really cool CGI fight and a really bad conclusion. In summary, this was a really really bad cool looking movie. Does that make sense? Probably more than this movie did.

I do have to say though, that having Bob Sapp in the movie as the world news anchor was a nice touch. If the rest of the movie doesn’t make sense, you might as well throw in Bob Sapp. Overall this movie gets a 6 out of 10. Maybe a 7. It would be good to watch at a party where everyone is doing something else, because even paying attention (and even knowing Japanese) doesn’t help save this movie from being anything more than eye-candy.


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Hard to believe it, but I’ve already been in Japan for over a week. Since I don’t have internet access at home, I’ll most likely be writing at my apartment from now on, and just posting whenever I get a chance to jump on the internet. Also remember that I’m mega lazy, so that might not happen. I will be putting the date and time in manually, so what you see if when I really am writing the entry in Japan time. Last fall I think I just changed the global time settings for the entire blog, but when I set it back in January it changed them all the Indiana time. This way, the entries for this trip to Japan will all show the correct time and stuff.

I’ve noticed that being in Japan is just old routine for me now. Even after I arrived at the airport last week, and Seth and Tre were there to pick me up, it was like nothing changed at all. This might sound kind of stuck up, and I’m not trying to do that, but I’ve become accustomed to living in Japan by now, so I guess that’s a good thing. In less than a week, I moved into a mansion (er, apartment), got a new keitai (cell phone), got a train pass, and was back to absolute normal routine. I guess it’s only been like 5 months since I was here, but it still seems a bit of a feat the adapt to living in an entirely different country so quick.

Anyways, enough of the philosophical stuff. What have I been up to? Up until like Tuesday of this week, I was pretty useless. It was like a vacation. I went on Saturday with Seth, Ari, and Tre to Kappabashi near Asakusa, which specializes in the fake food models that pretty much every restaurant in Japan has. It was really awesome seeing all this fake food, and also kind of strange. Half of the stores seemed more like museums than stores, with their stuff in display cases. Once you see the prices, you see why. The fake food is about 10 times more expensive than real food! For instance, a small piece of fake sushi is around 500 yen, and a fake bowl of ramen was like 6500! Instead of hollow plastic food, like I always assumed, the models are made of solid rubber-like material and are all made by hand, thus the high price. Yikes.

After that, on Sunday, I went to Akihabara for a few hours in the afternoon. I forgot that on the weekends they block off a lot of the roads there since there are so many people shopping and stuff in the area. There were also a bunch of cool bands playing in the street, including on band that was either Native American or Mexican. Either way, what in the world were they doing in the middle of Japan? Also, right when I got out of the station at Akiba, I noticed a big chance. What I vaguely remember from last year as construction and maintenance has now become a really sweet park-type area and a few new buildings. Japan seems to always be growing, and that was a big shock. Just like the Room Deco building in Makuhari near IES, spots that were under construction a few months ago are now complete. That night I went to Top Run, the yakiniku viking, with Ari, Lars, and Duy. I ate about half a cow and a full pig; Derek would be proud. I even inadvertently adopted Derek’s style of cooking: pile the meat on the grill, and start mixing. Oh man it was good. Oh man I was so full.

On Tuesday, I finally started actually doing intern work, but I’ll write about that later on. Summer kids orientation started yesterday, and I actually have lots of stuff to do now. I’m beat, and I think it’s time to just pass out. I have to wake up tomorrow at like 7AM, even though it’s a Saturday. Maybe this internship isn’t going to be as cushy as I imagined.


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Quick post kids. Here’s my new cell phone e-mail address. Go ahead and get in contact with me through this if it cant wait for me to check computer email. I don’t have internet at my apartment, so its quicker to use the cell phone one.

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