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Happy Earth Day!

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Don’t be alarmed – I didn’t really all of a sudden start celebrating Earth Day or anything.  But it does give me an excuse to finally get around to uploading the Spider-Man video we made back during IES.  Yes, this was about five and a half years ago, but I uhh   got distracted.

Some background: Bryan, Mikey, and I were in the same Jissen Nihongo 4 class during IES.  Hosoi-sensei’s theme for the final project was the environment.  We were broken up into 3 teams, with everyone having to write reports or something, then integrating that research and information into a video.  Somehow we were able to convince her to let us make a Spider-Man video (since Derek wore that costume every day) that was only loosely related to the environment, let alone the class project.  We filmed it on a Saturday outside the Techno Garden with Ari and Seth’s help.  Actually, I won’t go into what Seth did but it probably wouldn’t be considered help.  Oops!

We edited it at SALC, using some old computer maybe with Premiere 6.5?  I don’t really remember.  But I do remember that we were running low on time until the very last minute, editing and doing to voice over work while the other teams gave their presentations to a random assortment of Kanda kids.  But Hosoi-sensei knew that we were awesome anyway, so we got to show our video at the Sayonara Party.  Aoyagi-sensei came to the party just to watch the video, which was cool of him.  And of course we got an A.

The full title of the video is 地球環境保護戦士スパイダーマン, or something like “Earth Environment Protection Warrior Spider-Man” if you want to be weird.  I think Enviro-Warrior Spider-Man sounds more normal.  The result is a parody/homage to tokusatsu, pro-wrestling, etc. in the way that only a ghetto-yet-awesome college class project could turn out.

And here we go:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7aYAhin4jY

And yes, I realize on YouTube I have the video listed as “Spider-Maso” in Japanese.  But it’s close and I don’t want to get hassled for copyright infringement or anything.  I dunno.

Because (train) knowlege is power

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A public service announcement from Brian Blanchard
I finally got around to encoding and uploading the instructional video I made for IES back in the summer of 2005 when I was interning there. It’s a basic guide on how to use and ride the trains here in Japan. I think they still show this at the orientations, or at least they did for a year or so.

It was quite a rush job, and if memory serves me right I went out and filmed it with Blanchard all in one morning/afternoon. After pulling an all-nighter to finish editing it on Blanchard’s Mac with Final Cut Pro before he left for the airport (yes, I was cutting it that close), I finished it somehow. It’s actually not too bad now that I watch it again. Not my best work, but not horrible either. Of course there are no graphics or titles since I didn’t have time to bother, but overall I suppose it’s a decent way to introduce trains to IES kids. My favorite shot is the station attendant scratching himself.

Oh and some more random behind-the-scenes stuff about this video. I had a very rough script outline, but no cue cards or prompter, so most of the lines were me and Brian reviewing my outline before each shot, and him memorizing/improvising with each take. No one would be able to notice, but every station or train included in the video and b-roll was along my usual commute path from Myoden to Kaihim-Makuhari, passing through Nishi and Minami Funabashi along the way. Do you like the snazzy music? All from FreePlay. Also, I’m sorry there are so many handheld shots; I know someone will yell at me for that.

It’s here on YouTube for easy viewing, or I’ve uploaded a higher-res version in MPG format on the Videos page.

Days 6-7: Stomping grounds

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Over Sunday and Monday, I didn’t do too much of note, although I did make some progress on my business work. On Sunday, I spent most of my day out at LaLaPort, the super huge mall in Chiba. There’s a Toys R Us and an Akachan Honpo there, so I was able to do some work while going back to a somewhat familiar place. There is a Shakey’s pizza buffet there, but it was a Sunday lunchtime, so it was packed. I didn’t feel like spending 2 hours to wait to gorge myself on pizza alone, so I ate elsewhere. LaLa Port is such a huge mall, even bigger than some in the US, I think, but it is mostly clothes shops where you can buy t-shirts that cost 6000 yen. That’s right, $60.

Monday, I headed out to Makuhari. Things really don’t seem too different there from last summer, except for 1 new building or complex that you can see right after exiting Kaihim station. It was kind of weird, since I walked past the bus queue and didn’t even notice it, then looked to my right and thought to myself “did that just pop out of no where?” Chances are it didn’t, but it is Japan, so maybe it appeared out of the ground to launch a robot or something. I was planning on going to Carrefour and Plena to investigate their baby product selections, but instead went to the IES Center around 4. I ended up staying there until almost 6:30, so there wasn’t much investigation done for that part of the afternoon. Got to catch up with the now-assistant director Shin-san, who is awesome as ever but he now has some fashionable glasses. He also moved from his little office in the front of the center to the “main” office area in the back, so at least he has a window now. Although it is a view of an alley, it’s still natural sunlight I guess. He introduced me to the new Director, Marik-san, and was like “he was here over a year ago, but it doesn’t seem like it.” I didn’t think about it much before, but it has been an entire year and I feel like I was only gone for a few weeks. I guess I’m just that well adapted/desensitized to being in Japan. Oh ya, and the new director is a pretty cool guy. He apparently was one of the guys who started United Nations University, and has been in Japan for over 30 years, so you could say that he’s more than qualified to run IES Tokyo.

Went to Y’s afterwards, Shin came to hang out for a bit then had to go for a meeting. Yoko and Tomomi came, and we stayed until close. I missed Y’s so much. Pretty much the same as usual, although I think the food selection actually improved a bit, since they had sashimi, rice (not fancy, but they were missing it before), and those BBQ riiiiiiiiibs. Also a snow-cone machine for the summer. Was given a Nikka and chocolate snow cone, which actually isn’t as bad as you would think. Matsushita-san was awesome as always, and gave us the usual counter even though we didn’t have that many people. I really think Y’s might be the greatest place in the whole country; we have to get a complete A-Team reunion there sometime soon.

I’ll likely come back to Makuhari once or twice more this trip. I’m kind of glad now that my AEON placement is out in Ichihara, because while it’s an hour/an hour and a half away from Tokyo, it’s only 30 minutes from Makuhari. Honestly, I think I might like Makuhari more than Tokyo on the whole. It’s not as big and doesn’t have as much variety or weird stuff, but just for hanging out and everyday things, the place is perfect. Carrefour has everything you need, you can hang out at Y’s and Hana no Mae, and if you want to work out, eat Indian food, and study 1000 kanji a day, then the World Business Garden is right there. Haha.

Two points that don’t really fit with the rest of this entry. Instead of writing a transition to make the flow of ideas smooth, I will just bust into them straight forward:

By 2011, all Japanese TVs will be digital. They will have to be, or it won’t work with broadcast TV. Since all broadcast signals will be digital, everyone has to have a digital or high-vision (HD) TV by then if they want to watch TV and stuff. Although it sounds like a sweet idea, I guess it kind of sucks for old people who just want to watch the news, or people who don’t really want to buy a fancy new TV. But hey it’s Japan.

Shin-san said that there is a popular TV drama show (the most popular one at the moment) called Supli (サプリ) starring Misaki Ito that tapes all of the office scenes in the IES building (Sumitomo Chemical Engineering Bldg) in Makuhari, on the 16th floor or something. Every Thursday through Sunday they’re up there taping. If I happen to be in the area, I’ll see if I can sneak a peak at anything. Shin-san says he saw Misaki Ito at the Sunkus downstairs, which is awesome because she is absolutely super mega hot. He also saw them taping the Kamen Rider Kabuto stuff around there, which is awesome also.

It’s Saturday evening, and I’ve been spending most of the day just relaxing and recovering from the last few days events. Let me try and start this out. Thursday was Brian’s last day here in Swinging Nippon, so we went out to Bikkuri Ramen for the second time in the week. On the way there with Yuji, he took too long in the bathroom so I got on the train without him. Also, there happened to be a IES girl on the train so I just let Yuji catch up on the next train. 結構オレらしいな話なんだ…

So for Bikkuri, it was me, Brian, Yuji, Ari, and his brother Josh, who is here for a few days before they head to China. And since pretty much every Japanese person I talked to asks this, YES, Ari’s brother is also very tall. Although it was a very fun and good time, it wasn’t quite up to the gyoza-eating level as last semester’s was. We all started with a Ramen-Gyoza set, and then Ari and I were the only ones who started going with only gyoza. Yuji dropped out pretty quick, Brian ate a lot, and Josh ate a lot of sets. Ari ended up eating 30 gyoza (5 plates) total, and I got 31 since Brian gave me 1 extra. It was a cheap victory, but it didn’t matter because we were all still so disgustingly full of cheap Chinese food. I love Bikkuri Ramen.

After that, on the way walking back, Brian got Yuji with the most solid kancho performance I have ever seen. It was a good job, although let’s not forget how horrible and terrible the kancho really is. I won’t go into detail here. Me and Brian went to go chill in the sweet internet cafe we found, Air’s Cafe, and just like the last time, ended up spending about twice as much time as we meant to in there. The place is so sweet. It’s only like 105 yen per 15 minutes, or 3 hours for 1050 yen. You get your own nice little cubicle with a nice computer/internet, a huge LCD monitor, a leather chair and ottoman that reclines almost fully back, magazines and about 1700 comics you can read, and also unlimited coffee, tea, soda, etc. It’s a marvelous place. If it had video games and showers, I would probably live there forever.

After killing so much time, I got home and realized that I needed to edit the IES Train Instruction video together before Brian left. Brian also had to pack up his stuff, as he was planning on heading for the airport pretty early in the morning. I ended up working on and off, falling asleep here and there. The previous night I didn’t sleep much because I had to go to film the summer Japanese classes at 9AM. Actually, it turned into a disaster because I didn’t get clearance ahead of time, I had to talk to the program coordinator, got confused as Japanese the entire time, and it was just a stressful experience just all together. Anyway, I got the train video done, I think it’s actually pretty decent. It’s only about 8 minutes long, but it covers most of the basics and doesn’t have any retarded jokes like the previous students’ video did. Additionally, I tried encoding Seth and Ari’s IES Sayonara Party video for CD-Roms to give out to everyone. Couldn’t get it to work though, and I didn’t really have much time to do so.

When all was done, I was in pain from having so little sleep, Brian headed to the airport a little before 7AM, and I headed out to school again to tape the summer kids final skit performances, which started at 11. I fell asleep for about an hour, involuntarily, and packed my book bag, which was about a million pounds heavy. I had all my camera equipment because I was hoping to tape some more student interviews, and also my laptop since I was planning on trying again to help encode that damn Sayonara Party video. I checked the trains with my keitai, and I made it in time, but they must have cancelled a train or something on the Musashino Line, because I would have been late to school. So, I decided to just go on Sobu Line and maybe take a cab. I ended up walking from Makuhari station since I couldn’t see a taxi, and was late to the start of the performances. Oh well.

Tried more on the Sayonara Vid, with no luck. I wish I could have gotten it to work, but all in all it doesn’t matter that much. They at least had the copy to show to everyone at the Sayonara Party. By around mid-day, the lack of sleep was kicking in, and I was being reminded all too well of last semester’s Sayonara Party, this past spring at IU’s finals week, and pretty much any “end of” time I have, where I leave work until the last second and end up not sleeping and feeling like death.

The Sayonara Party was really good. There were a lot of people, so having it at the school’s cafeteria Lapas (more like a restaurant, not like a ghetto school cafeteria) instead of Y’s was a very wise decision. This year’s party really did feel more like the “end of an era” than last semester’s, even though back then I didn’t know I would be coming back. It’s weird; I don’t know how to describe it really. After the party, a big group of us went to the Room Deco arcade for purikura and such. We ended up staying there for a long time, probably like 2 hours. Then we stopped by the conbini and went to a park for the rest of the night. By the time we got to the park, I only had about an hour left before last train, so I decided that I would just pull an all-nighter. The park was a lot of fun, had to say goodbye to people as they went home for the night and were leaving this weekend back for the states. Definitely is weird (I’m not going to say sad) to say goodbye to all those people. Either I’ve known them since last August or just since this June, but still, I won’t be seeing many of them ever again. IES/Japan really is a great time, and I’ll miss hanging out and seeing everyone. Things won’t be the same, but all the key people will still keep in touch, so that’s always cool. A-Team banzai.

Around midnight-ish, me, Seth, Mii, Yuji, Tomomi, Minami, and like 3 other Japanese kids walked all the way to Bamiyan since it’s open 24 hours. It was a lot of fun, but eventually everyone either left (if they lived in the area) or passed out. After everything, we woke up around 4AM to catch trains home. So much for the all-nighter, but it was still fun hanging out and sleeping on the Bamiyan table. So that was the end of another one of the longest and greatest finales in the life of Anthony Leong.

後一週間

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Once again, I haven’t updated in quite some time. Things have been pretty busy around here lately. Let me now then attempt, true believers, (anyone get that reference?) to sum up everything that I’ve done of importance since my last post. In summary, I’ve gone to/done: Ghibli Museum, Kabuki-cho, real Kabuki, the Meiji Shrine, Kaihim Beach, Harajuku to see freaks, karaoke a bunch of times, Disney Sea theme park, and the Yokohama International Fireworks Show.

Wow, going through my pictures to summarize all of that makes it seem like I really have been doing a lot of stuff. Nick left a little bit ago, after showing him a good old fashioned Y’s. Brian is still here, after extending his flight by about a week and a half. He’s pretty much adapted to living here like I have, and the only real difference is he doesn’t have a cell phone. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a major handicap here in Japan.

I’d like to sit here and write a blog entry about every awesome place I went, but I’m way too lazy. However, I’m going to try and put up pictures of most of these places soon, and I’ll have (er, try to have) substantial descriptions and captions for them.

Since I only have 1 week left here in Japan, I’m actually getting pretty busy with everything. It’s almost 1:30AM now, and I’m planning on waking up tomorrow around 7AM to go get some b-roll of the summer IES classes. I’ll write another entry sometime soon, and hopefully I’ll get pictures up again this weekend. I will be back in the States on the 28th, and back to Bloomington by August 1.

餃子天国

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I haven’t written in a little while, so I thought I’d catch up. Nick and Brian got to Japan last Thursday, so it’s been pretty sweet going around the area and hanging out. They’re both crashing at my “mansion,” which is pretty small, but there’s enough room for us all to sleep on the floor with a comfortable amount of space in between each other. For their first meal, Seth and I of course took them to Bikkuri Ramen for some cheap gyoza and ramen. Seth took all of us to Mr. Donuts so that he could get the special prize glass.

Saturday and Sunday, I went with the IES group(s) to Mt. Fuji and Hakone for a day trip. It was short, but a very very fun trip. It was cloudy so we didn’t get to see Fuji very well, but the hotel was right on lake Kawaguchi and was awesome. On the way (via bus), we stopped by Erinji temple, a winery, and did some peach picking. Japanese peaches are super huge, watery, and mega sweet. Good eating.

At Fuji, it was a bit like the Nagano trip last year, just it was only 1 night long. I think the summer kids and spring kids kind of met each other, but for the most part the groups were pretty segmented. I roomed with Seth and Ari, and we were hanging out with a lot of random people. I finally met the kid named Andy, and all that can be said about that guy is that he is sweet. On the way back home, we took the bus halfway up Mt. Fuji (to what is called the 5th station). While it is nice to be able to say that I was halfway up the mountain, I was definitely not impressed. Not only was it cloudy so we couldn’t see the top, but the stop was pretty much just a tourist trap with like 5 big souvenir shops. Also a bunch of foreigners were there, in particular a bunch of Brazilian or something old guys. We also stopped at a place famous for its springs (comes from the melted snow on top of Fuji) and there was an awesome noodle shop behind a public bathroom. Shin-san recommended it and it was very good and very cheap.

Speaking of Shin-san, he didn’t get to eat at the noodle place because of certain situations. I’m not going to go into that much detail since I’m pretty sure a few summer IES kids have stumbled on this blog. However, kids, I will say this: if you’re not able to take care of yourself, it’s not a good idea to leave home, let alone the country. Don’t bring your problems on other people, especially when they have better things to do like eat cheap and good noodles.

Right now it’s the very end of Tuesday, and I’m getting ready to go to bed. Today after sending about a million faxes at IES as part of my intern duties, I headed to Ikebukuro to meet up with Brian and Nick. We went to Namja Town, the greatest place on Earth. It’s pretty much like a giant food court fused with an amusement part. As far as food goes, there are three main “zones:” Gyoza Stadium, Ice Cream City, and the Cream Puff Town. Gyoza Stadium was as awesome as the stories I heard all last semester from everyone. It’s pretty much an indoor village with a bunch of the top gyoza shops. We tried about 3, an the Okinawa gyoza place was definitely the best. Turkish pulled ice cream was good in Ice Cream City, and to cover all the zones, I got a chocolate cream puff also. We spent a lot of money, but it was a worthwhile experience. I could eat gyoza all day long.

On a side note, I’ve realized that a lot of my blog entries don’t make a lot of sense, or it’s just random stuff. I think that although I realize that other people are going to read this page, it’s also a good way for me to track what I’ve been doing. In a few years I can look back on what I’ve written and see what kind of stupid stuff I’ve done in my life. So basically, if you don’t like my blog, that’s too bad, I like it. If you do like it, or something, then leave me comments.

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