While In Japan - An Article for Future JYPE Students in Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
31 July 2005 19:07
I sent two parcels, one to Tokyo and one to my client. The DVD recorder is 1400 yens (The size is bigger than 120cm total length) and a parcel to Tokyo of 100 cm total length is 1000 yens. The parcel is some winter clothes I will only need in the US. There are even free confirmation letters to tell you the parcel has safely arrived. This kind of surface mail is the cheapest, and are always insured with the 300 thousand yens insurance. I was there at 6pm, and that main post office is truly 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I really like the post office in Japan.
31 July 2005 10:00
I realized I could only get several hours of sleep, but I don't feel sleepy at all. The same thing happened when I first arrived in the Kaikan. When I first got here, I wake up very early in the morning. It was like always before my alarm went off. That lasted for about 2 weeks. I guessed even I seemed normal, deep down inside I was very excited. Maybe right now is the same thing, I am leaving here and I am very upset inside. The other two guys from the UCs had the same experience. They only got a few hours of sleep everyday when they first arrived.
I just got 2 interesting mail from the mailbox. The first one was a kitchen scrub, made by steel. The paper that wraps the scrub said, "Please clean your kitchen area well with this steel wool, especially your gas burner. daijyou mawari no gankona abura yogore ha, korede migaitemite! OFFICE" This is the first time I have received a kitchen scrub in the mail. Together with the kitchen scrub, there was a checklist for cleaning the room. I have to say the office has done a good job taking care of foreign students. I borrowed the dehumidifier and the weight scale from the office. They helped me make a new key when (I thought) I lost my keys.
The second interesting mail is a gas bill. June 27, 487 meter cube. July 27, 488 meter cube. For a whole month, I used 1 meter cube of gas. I do use warm water to wash my face, and I think others may have zero meter cube on their bill. Anyway, that means the gas bill will tell me exactly how much the gas is . The basic fee including tax is 619.45 yens, and for 1 meter cube on gas I pay 160.2825 yens including tax. I can't believe they count my gas usage down to the fourth digit after the decimal. The website for the gas office is http://www.gas.city.sendai.jp.
The post office guy just came right after I typed "The basic fee for" in the last paragraph. The postman was in white shirt and long pants with a post office nametag clipped to his front pocket. I started saying Japan was great, there are Sunday mailing services. The total mailing fee from Sendai to Tokyo was 1300 yens. And the postman told me for packages within Japan, only the size matters, the weight doesn't matter. My package, which is the biggest box I got from the post office near Kaikan, is marked as the 120 (cm) saizu or size. The biggest size on the receipt is 170 (cm), which is the total length of the width+height+length. The receipt was in great color, with "JAPAN POST" written on the receipt. The website is http://www.post.japanpost.jp. Toll free number is 0120-232886. When the postman was leaving, I asked him how much in the 1300 yens was handling fee for picking up the package. The postman dropped down the package in his arms, and listened to my question carefully. He then told me there was no handling fee with his hand making a batsu or cross energetically. The fee is the same whether I bring the package all the way to the Katahira post office or I just sit on my butt in my room and wait. "NAI~~~(none)?!" I couldn't believe there are no handling fee. If I did not hear from a real postman that there is no handling charge, I wouldn't believe it. The postman left at about 10:20am with big balls of sweat on his forehead. Hontouni arigatou gozaimashita. Nihon Yuubinkyoku ha SAIKOU~ (^o^)
Yee? Unlike the international mailing slip, there is no insurance
column in the Japan mail receipt. I wonder why. Maybe the post office is too
reliable to need an insurance? I don't even need to fill out how much the thing
in the box cost and no need to weight my box. Ar~ it is written on the left
bottom corner the parcel is insured up to 300 thousand yens. Great, that is
better that I have expected. There are 6 choices about when you want the parcel
to be picked up:
31 July 2005 09:04
At exactly 9 am, I got a called from the kitayama post office.
And the guy didn't call again.
I believe this thing does not happen in the US. Let me try to tell what happened. The stories has begun yesterday. I started to pack up yesterday because today is my last day in the Kaikan. I got things I will only need in the US in a box. The box is 25 kg according to the weight scale from the kaikan office. (The maximum weight allowed is 30 kg). I was packing and packing, and I was told the closest big post office that runs on Saturdays and Sundays is right next to my lab in Katahira. I was thinking of taking the 25 kg parcel onto my bike, and I will ride my bike to my lab in Katahira. Anyway, that was the plan, and later I remembered the clerk at the kaikan office said something like there are people from the big post offices who will pick up parcels at your place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "Hey, why not check out this post office service." It was 3:30 in the morning, and I called 2739513. That is the phone number for the closest post office which has this pick up service.
To my surprise, there was a person answering my call. When I first called, I tell the post office staff I want to send a parcel, and I want a pick up service. The post office staff told me there is no picking up service at 3:30 in the morning. The staff told me someone will pick up the parcel at some time next morning. The time cannot be specified, the staff can make an appointment for me in the morning. Finally, the staff told me to wait for another phone call. And at 9am, the phone call came.
I think the posting service in Japan is great. I remember when I first arrived in Japan, mailing a 30 kg plus luggage from Tokyo to Sendai was about 20 dollars, please check my expense chart at the bottom of this page. Today, which is a Sunday, I am going to send 2 parcels to my friend's house in Tokyo, and 1 parcel to my client who bought my DVD recorder for 300 dollars.
30 July 2005 11:03
I will go to Tokyo on July 31st Friday. Come back to Sendai for graduation ceremony on August 5th. Go to Hong Kong on August 6th. Come back to Tokyo on August 26th. Go back to the States on August 27th. And Berkeley starts on August 28th.
I remember the final exam of my Japanese grammar class. My name was on the test, and I can tell some of the questions are made by my sensei, Nakamura e. There are names I asked about, and I honestly haven't taken any exam with my name on the test questions. I didn't do too well. I jotted down questions I wasn't sure off after the exam, and I checked the answer with the textbook. yappari I missed several questions. Anyway, I don't really care. I learned a lot from this semester.
30 July 2005 2:26
Today is the last Friday for me in Sendai. This morning I started off finishing my Kanji homework for my last Kanji class. My last Kanji class is the last class of all my classes. After finishing the homework I headed off to my lab in katahira and have a meeting with my lab professor regarding the 6 pages final report I submitted yesterday. In the report that I proof-read two times, there were only a few minor errors.
I went to cancel my kokumin Hoken or national insurance today. The stuff in kuyakusyo or the ward office made me pay 5640 yens. Then I went to the bookstore in Seikyou to cancel my co-op membership. The staff in the bookstore gave 5000 yens back to me.
For my 4000 yens bike, I decided to give it back where I bought the bike from and get 2000 yens back. I need the bike today, so I will return the bike after my trip to Tokyo. I will come back to Sendai for the graduation next Friday. I will check out my room and return the bike next Friday before or after graduation.
From the money memo that I kept writing, I will have around 1000 dollars of scholarship money left over. I plan to buy Japanese grammar books and Final Fantasy X with the money. By the way, Final Fantasy XII is being released on September 14th.
During the night, I mean around 1am in the morning, I just walk around places near Kaikan. For no reasons, just walk. I will miss Japan. I can already see myself in Berkeley missing Japan. I wonder when I will come back to Japan again.
By the way, did I said I got everything sold out except the DVD recorder? In fact the DVD recorder is sold online using Yahoo! Auction in Japan yesterday. I was trying to sell for 20 thousand yens, but instead, I got the recorder sold for 30 thousand yens. It was very fun to learn the differences online shopping are done in Japan. The Japanese banks are different from US banks. I don't want to give examples now, but if you come here and deal with the Japanese banks, you will know.
I am giving my TV to my friend because I want to watch TV until the last hour I leave. In other words, I don't have time to sell the TV. My friend's TV was broken couple days ago, so everything is good if I just give him my TV. I will miss the Japanese TV after I go back to the States.
29 July 2005 22:45
The Nihongo Naruhodo jyuku on channel 5 from 10:30pm to 11pm is very helpful. It explains Japanese mysteries foreign students often run into. I wish I saw this program earlier.
28 July 2005 17:02
I just finished my 5-pages final report. In fact, I typed so much I made a 6 and a half page final report. My final report will consist of a DVD of things I have done in the laboratory too.
I just called the airline to confirm my flight. Let me summarize my experience. I got the cheapest ticket I saw, and that was with Northwest Airline. My mom wanted to come to Japan, so she bought a ticket in Hong Kong. The airline is also Northwest airline. In order to go to Hong Kong with my mom, I bought a round trip ticket to Hong Kong through Northwest airline also. One trip ticket is more expensive than round trip ticket.
The weight limit for the luggage from Narita Tokyo to Hong Kong is 20 kilograms, and there is no limit in terms of how many luggage you bring. All you need to worry about is not to exceed 20 kilograms. For the weight limit from Narita Tokyo to San Francisco in the States. I am able to bring 2 luggage each weight 32 kilograms. In other words, I can bring 64 kilograms back to the States. Since I am going to Hong Kong, then come back to Tokyo to take the free flight from JASSO. It is a better idea to leave my luggage in Tokyo. I should leave 44 kilograms of luggage in Tokyo. I plan to leave my luggage to my friend Yasu in Tokyo.
Let me make a memo of the overweight charge. From Tokyo to Hong Kong, 1 kg over 20kg is 1802 yens, 5 kg over is 9100 yens, 10 kg over is 18100 yens. From Tokyo to the States, 1 luggage (another 32 kg) over is 19,800 yens, 2 luggage over is 39,600 yens. And if you have 3 luggage and the third luggage is over weight, the charge is 59,400 yens. Sounds like it is better to have 4 luggage (39,600 yens) instead of 3 luggage that is overweight (59,400 yens).
The 38 mangas I bought and 11 Japanese books plus 5 of Japanese textbook all together is only 10 Kg. I cannot believe my friend Nikuman has already sent 200 kilograms of stuff back to Sweden and still have a big box in his room.
27 July 2005 7:49am
Today is supposed to have typhoon, the news said Sendai is 30 degree Celsius. You need the fan in the room. My little thermometer says 27 degrees Celsius. Temperature will be 21 to 27 degree Celsius for the next week according to the news.
Today I need to finish the report needed for the research.
24 July 2005 3pm
Sendai is the 7th biggest city in Japan.
23 July 2005 2:04am
This Thursday, I went to the Tohoku University Hospital. A professor in Tohoku University gave me a tour of the imaging facilities in the Tohoku Hospital. The radiologist in the Hospital told me the best MRI machine they have is made my Philips, they have another MRI machine made by Siemen, and one MRI machine made by General Electric. They also showed me PET scan system, they have 4 PET scan machines, all put into a small room.
20 July 2005 8:37pm
Today is a matsuri of the Kaikan's closest shrine, there were fireworks since the morning all the way till dawn.
I went to marutsu today, there are many things there, much better than radio shack. I bought a solar panel, a 2 V 500mA solar panel. When I look at the back of the panel, the solar panel is actually made in China. I also got a solar motor. What the hell, the most important test is over today, I will just get back to my circuit.
17 July 2005 4:04pm
I am now studying for the test on Wednesday, so I am reading the stuff I learned this semester all over. I want to say that the beginning of Japanese II is very easy. The confusing grammar stuff start from chapter 31, the volitional form. Starting from chapter 31, you have all these grammar rules to follow, and the rules can be confusing sometimes. I have heard Japanese III and higher doesn't use a textbook, they hand out copies and worksheet during class. I was originally placed into Japanese III, but if I got a chance to choose again, I will still choose Japanese II.
16 July 2005 4:53pm
I just got most of my stuff sold out, right now just the rice cooker and the DVD recorder is left. I earned 2 thousand yens yesterday, and 4 thousand yens today. This money is good enough for a PS 2 FFX game, but I am not sure I will buy that right now.
Right now I can pick up a random Japanese manga and understand what the conversation means. Ureshii~ (^o^)
16 July 2005 2:02pm
Just started raining at exactly 2 o'clock, a very strong rainfall. I bet this is what is called the summer rain. Good thing I got a dehumidifier from the Kaikan office.
15 July 2005
I got my alien registration card on July 14. Which is 3 and a half month after I have registered for the card. In fact, I have to go to the kuyakusyo in person to get the card. I believe I will need the alien registration card at the airport.
13 July 2005
People are saying the rains these days are not strong enough, when we get further into Summer, the rain will get heavier. Anyway, time to talk about leaving. I love this place, it is so sad to talk about leaving.
I am going to Tokyo to spend my last several days in Japan. I will leave on August 6th, which is the earliest among others. The night bus to Tokyo is 4000 yens one way, so around 8000 yens round trip. The night bus leaves Sendai at about 11pm, and reach Tokyo around 6am or 7am.
I just found out in this 4 month program that I actually get scholarship for 5 months, which is 4 x $800 + $1050 = $4250. Right now my saifu or wallet is left with exactly 1man 5sen en or $150. I still have money form July and August. I guess I will just buy tons of stuff before I leave.
This is the time to get things sold.
Last week we had Somen in @home tutoring.
4 July 2005
Yesterday was raining crazy cats and crazy dogs. It was like from morning all the way till midnight, it's heavy rain all day, very wet. The Kaikan was out of electricity for like 5 seconds, for which I don't know why because there wasn't any earthquake or things like that.
27 June 2005 1:58
This week, or maybe last week also, the highest temperature in some areas in Japan is higher than 30 degrees centigrade. Some places reach as high as 35 degrees centigrade. Right now, at 2am in the morning, my little thermometer said 23 degrees centigrade. My instructor said some day last week is the day which has the longest day time of the year. Which probably also mean that day is relatively hot.
I got the Kibuki ticket in the mailbox. I am able to watch Kabuki for free. The date will be July 8th and the 9th. This is the time I should reserve a place in Tokyo for my trip in August. It is also almost the time to buy a ticket to China. Ah. I got a JASSO air ticket, but before I go back to America, I want to go check out China. So right after the graduation ceremony on the fifth of August, I will be in China. I will come back to Japan to catch my flight to the States. I will arrive at San Francisco on 28th August, if the ticket from JASSO works out, and school starts the next day on 29th of August.
22 June 2005 16:37
Today I visited the tomb of the Date somebody, who is the guy who built Sendai 1,600 years ago. The visit cost me 550 yens. Today is actually a holiday, because today is the memorial day for the opening of Tohoku University. In order to celebrate, I went to Pachinko Tiger. I lost a thousand yens in less than 5 minutes. In return, I kept two of the Pachinko balls.
18 June 2005 21:33
There was a Korean guy, called Lee, who just knocked on my door. Came in. And asked me, "What is your purpose of life?" I am not kidding, Lee asked me with exactly those words, and Lee meant what he was asking. The thing is, I only talked to Lee very briefly couple times. I have to say Lee is a very interesting person.
Lee actually intended to invite me to join a party. And then he talked about anything that come to his mind. I think this is the fun of living a the dorm. You get this extra interesting experiences, and yes, like my Berkeley friend Peter Lau said, "There are always people around (in the dorm)."
From this day on, I have less than a month before my last Japanese grammar class, and July 14th will be the day I need to present my research. I can't believe things are ending already when I feel like I have just started. I really wish I could stay for an extra semester in Japan.
16 June 2005 0:55
I got a post card today in the mailbox. I check the mailbox yesterday, so I am sure the postcard just arrived today. The postcard said I have 4 book vouchers in the Sendai International Center, and I need to bring the postcard and Student ID to get the voucher. That is the $250 book voucher Tohoku gave me. By the way, I changed my mind from getting a bus pass to getting a book voucher, because the bus pass will arrive in the middle of July, and I certainly cannot use up $250 of bus pass in half a month. I take the book voucher, and I plan to buy lots of interesting Japanese books.
Today, I am going to buy the Nihogo Kiso I book from the person in A310, I don't know who that is. Anyway, another thing is I lost my door and mailbox key, and I copied a new pair from the spare key in the Kaikan office. Copying two keys cost me 1050 yens. Don't lose your keys.
Today I got the second cell phone bill from Vodafone. The amount is 4,315 yens. Saying 938 Pkt (packet) on it. The cost for the packets was 281 yens, and the bill said the packet usage was due to super mail.
14 June 2005 0:55
Today, well, I mean yesterday, since right now is tomorrow already. Yesterday was the first day I was able to make a native Japanese laugh couple times in a row. I like to mark this day. I think being able to make jokes in Japanese is a very important step.
7 June 2005 07:20
I got the sky perfect TV box from Yodobashi camera. Without the contract with sky perfect, I got 13 channels of test channels, advertisement channels, and shopping channels. I am going to start the kari touroku or temp registration today. I will get at least 2 weeks free channels. Hao told me I will actually get one month of all channels for free. After that I can get 5000 yens of free credits, which is good enough for me to watch TV for a month. In other words, I will have 2 months free TV. Well, I am leaving in 2 months.
The TV tuner and antenna for Sky Perfect is about 7700 yens together. "Hey,
what are those antennas for? Are they satellite TV?", I asked the salesperson in
yodobashi in Japanese, "Those are for BS (Which is satellite TV)."
The installation of the dish wasn't hard. The cable was barely long enough to reach my window from the roof top - which is on the 5th floor- and I am on the bottom first floor. You take the dish from the box, go to the roof, find a fence, fix the dish, throw the cable down the building, get the cable from your room window, hook up the cable to the tuner box, the video and sound is outputted from the tuner box by 3 AV cables.
The 10 channels yamasaki san, the home stay family, had was BS channels. Yamasaki sans bought a big flat plasma TV that BS is embedded into the flat plasma. Yamasaki san got free installation of the antennas too. I can't imagine how expensive is that flat panel. Yamasaki san was thinking of getting a bigger TV even he has that big plasma, this is crazy.
7 June 2005 00:26
Kyoto was 31 degree centigrade today. 20 to 24 degree centigrade today in Miyagi Ken.
6 June 2005 01:19
Week 15 will be the last week of Japanese classes. By then, I will need a 400-600 words essay for the culture class, 2 reports for the science and industry class, a presentation for my research. That's about it. I don't think any of these things will be hard.
Right now, 4am exactly, 14 degrees centigrade, or degrees Celsius. Very very foggy outside. I would say, within 10 meter of visibility. The sky is bluish white as always at 4am.
5 June 2005 20:46
I just called room A-424, which is the only room in the Kaikan who got Sky Perfect set up. It was pretty scary. I called A-424 not knowing who is in there, and it turned out it's a girl who doesn't speak English. Fortunately enough, the girl is friendly enough to let me call her again at 10pm, because she has something to do right now. I want to get all the info ready before I get sky perfect.
The rent for the second month is 13,559 yens, which is received on May 10th. I didn't use the phone much, didn't use the gas much, and the electricity is not expensive. Rent of the room is 5,900 as always. I believe this is a typical minimum charge per month to live in the Kaikan.
The first Vodafone bill was here on May 10th. The total charge is 6,481 yens, with 2,700 as the registration fee. I didn't go overtime, and didn't send lots of messages. I would say I sent out less than 30 messages.
The girl in A-424, called Hao, came to my room and discussed Sky Perfect with me. I think I will go get a Sky Perfect Dish tomorrow, and get everything going. Anyway, Sky Perfect wasn't so exciting as I originally expected. The TV schedule features not so interesting programs, old animes (few new ones), and not so new movies. New movies are always on Pay Per View (PPV) basis.
4 June 2005 22:21
I am so excited because of the digital TV. I am extra excited because I am EE. Anyway, so today I went to a Japanese home stay. This is a family of an insurance agent and his wife, they own at least three condos and a company of 10 people. Their son is doctor, and their son in law is a radiologist. Anyway, that is just to say they have enough money to do almost anything. So in the house they have a big flat panel TV, and they can see not only the analog channels that I was watching in Kaikan, but also digital high definition TV. At that time I was thinking, yeah, that's just like cable TV in America. So it is a natural thing to ask how much was the "cable". It turned out that "cable" is actually the Japanese version of HDTV, for which they named it DTV. And the home stay couple said the DTV is only 3000 yens at the beginning and then it's free afterward. I was like, What?!
So we talked and talked. I look at the nice big TV, look at the cables that it is hooked up to, I go checked out the antenna on the roof. Sorry, all these bad habits of EE. So I said I wanted to see the radio shops in Japan. I was thinking about places like radio shacks should be around somewhere. I was thinking of buying some solar panels because I have heard solar panels in Japan are cheaper. I may be able to build a hydrogen generator out of the solar panel, and then I can use the hydrogen gas I got for a fuel cell car or a hybrid car or things like that.
The home stay couple took me to Yamada Denki, and that is a big electronics shop like Fry's. I have heard of Yamada Denki from the TV CM or TV commercial. Yamada Denki is something like Yodobashi Camera. I went and check out how much it takes to transform my analog TV in the Kaikan room into a digital TV. I want to see some 16:9 channels with all those nice TV schedule just a button away. It turned out the converter box from Digital signal to Analog signal is about 7700 yens. For which I had enough points in my yodobashi camera point card to pay for. So I decided not to buy anything in Yamada Denki and instead, I go to Yodobashi camera for the converter. In other words, I could get that converter - which is 7700 yens - for free in yodobashi because of my point card. I got lots of points - says 7800 yens - from buying the DVD recorder last time.
When I was in Yodobashi, I asked all questions I needed to ask. I found out that I can get that converter for free, but there is a monthly charge for the Sky Perfect TV. (Yahoo BB Hikari TV is doing some internet TV program, which is totally different by the way). Like 450 yens per month if you don't got with the year plan. And if you want like 35 channels, you pay like 3000 yens. I think I will definitely get that digital TV thing. I didn't buy the converter today, because I want to do some final info checks before I buy that. I am going to go to the sky perfect website and see what's there, and I am going to read the sky perfect magazine thoroughly to see what channels I will get. Moreover, I remember the last time I did the laundry, I saw couple digital antenna sticking out of the roof top. I will follow those cables to see if someone in the kaikan is using sky perfect already. I may do some weird things like knocking on someone's door and say, "Hey, I saw you got a Sky Perfect TV cable sticking out of your window. That's a really cool thing you have. May I see this this this and that that that?" Ah, by the way, there are nothing called refund in Japan as far as I know. There is usually 1 year warranty tough.
I submitted the application for a Japanese credit card like last week or the week before. I want to sell the DVD recorder online when it's time for me to leave. I found out the DVD recorder wouldn't work in the USA.
Quite a lot of rains today too. The morning was like 14 degrees centigrade.
31 May 2005 20:31
Today is the first day I am able to hear a new song from TV and understand all the meanings and pronunciations of the lyrics.
Rains quite a lot these days, this morning is 15 degree Celsius. Beginning to have koromogae or seasonal change of clothes.
I have heard from someone the insurance covers adjusting braces. So I decided to visit a orthodontist and find out the insurance doesn't cover getting a new braces. Whether the insurance covers maintaining an existing braces, I am not sure.
23 May 2005 0:32
A Japanese show is saying there are cases where some peoples have their money all disappeared from their bank account. Cases are like from 50 thousand dollars to 150 thousand dollars. The money just disappeared from the bank account in a day, and when you print out the transaction history, their were just one transaction that got all the money out. I was so surprised such things happen in Japan. In America, there are daily withdraw limits, and such big amount of money certainly cannot be withdrawn from my bank account at least. If I remember correctly my daily withdrawal limit is 500 dollars. Someone told me when the Japanese economy collapsed, one reason was because the loan system of Japanese banks are bad. Things like banks in Japan just keep lending money to company that has continuous deficit. From what I saw, there are certainly problems with the Japanese banking systems. I think it is inconvenient that when I cash in a cashier's check I need to bring extra money to pay for the transaction. I think it is inconvenient that the ATM machines are closed at 6pm everyday, and I wrong it is unfair that withdrawing money from my own account from an ATM during certain hours will cost me transaction fees. "That is stupid, they gotta go around fixing it." As couple of my friends talked about the Japanese banking system.
22 May 2005 20:12
The one of the home improvement shows in the US was made like a drama, a funny show that you are supposed to laugh at the show. That show wasn't so interesting to me. On the other hand, the home improvement on 8pm very Sundays in Japan was much more professional. Every time the show has a house that the owner paid about 150 thousands dollars to hire one top carpenter to remodel the house. Every episode has a different carpenter and a different house. You got to see the original, dangerous, and undesirable house. After that, you see moving truck with those moving guys getting the furniture out. Then there are people breaking up the walls. So the interior of the house was completely destroyed and redesigned. Finally the crappy house turned into heaven, and the owners are in tears. I like the Japanese style of home improvement show because there are pros doing the work. Notice, the home improvement show reveals a culture phenomenon. In the US, shows are supposed to be funny, even for home improvement show. In Japan, people has great respect to seniors, therefore for home improvement shows, you got to see great professionals in action. Berkeley Civil Engineering is the top of the world, but I am so sorry Berkeley Civil Engineers don't got to see these cool Civil Engineering projects. I am sorry, the Japanese home improvement just showed me the finished house. I am amazed. The finished house was an absolute art. You can't believe how the designed played with light. You also got to see how the designed got his designs from paper to real objects.
22 May 2005 10:49
I just realized couple days ago Joel and Titus are both Japanese major. Joel and Titus are the only ones from the UCs that are staying in Tohoku for a year. They are Japanese major, so they are actually in the DEEP program, not the JYPE. Joel and Titus takes any Japanese classes they wished. In other words, there were no JYPE student from UC during Fall semester in Tohoku. In Spring, Fred from UC Irvine, Shyam from UCSB, and I from UCB came to Tohoku.
As this is the time to fill out the form about when I am going back and all. It just came to me that I am going back in September and School in Japan starts in October. In other words, I will probably meet the JYPE students for Fall 2005 to Spring 2006. In case you are those guys, when you come to Tohoku, you want to find some Japanese who speaks fluent English, whom could be able to explain things to you. So the question becomes how do you find those people? This is what you do. You go to the @HOME tutoring every time. The time for the tutoring is different every semester, so you just have to check. In this semester, the @HOME tutoring is from 3pm to 5pm Tuesdays and Fridays. People in @HOME tutoring do lots of Japanese stuff, every time is something different. The best part is, you can bring your favorite things - like Japanese songs you love to sing - and ask @HOME people what is the meaning of the song. The @HOME tutors are all undergrad student - couple of them are pretty cute I have to say - in Tohoku and a couple of them have been to America as exchange students, so they speak decent English.
I wasn't thinking for those guys going for a year when I wrote these things. I was thinking there will be an engineering guy from Berkeley in Spring 2006 going to JYPE. So I was thinking I am speaking to an Engineer or some sort. For those who are Japanese major going to Tohoku, I am sorry, I know nothing about Letter and Science.
21 May 2005 09:43
Yesterday at the @HOME tutoring, we made Ochazuke, which is rice mixed with green tea and other ingredients like salmon umeboshi, sea weed. The Ochazuke tastes really good, and that Ochazuke is something I would like to make myself.
I have been playing around with the DVD recorder. I just got done reading the manual, now I believe I know everything that box can do. I am now turning off the TV and let the DVD recorder takes the TV program onto the hard disk. Maybe recording TV programs 24 hours isn't a bad idea. I could go back and check what was on TV that day later. The DVD player can get TV schedule from the antenna, and I was able to connect to the recorder with my computer via the Ethernet port. The Ethernet port can let you see what is in the hard disk, change the title of the video. But the Ethernet port was not able to give me the video itself, I guess I have to burn the video out. I saw a DVD-RW disk for 500 yens in family mart, and I saw a DVD-R in 100 yens store. I chose the lowest quality, which is still very good in the case that I am not using any high definition displays. For 160GB hard drive, I am able to record about 160 hours of TV. I could have change to even lower quality so I will be able to record 284 hours of TV, but I didn't want to do that. In the DVD recorder, I can do video editing within the recorder, I can create chapters and menus that looks exactly like a DVD, I can cut out the middle of the video, or merge the video with another video. I am having much fun. The great thing is from now on I don't need to have the TV on just in case I will miss some interesting programs. When the programs ends, I intended to sell the recorder on Yahoo Auction. Before that happens, I should by all means get a credit card.
Someone told me a credit card takes 9 months to get, well I don't have 9 months. Anyhow, let's see what happens. Ah right, Yahoo auction is like the most popular auction site in Japan, EBay is like doesn't exist at all. When I ask every Japanese where do they go when they want to buy things online. They say Rakuten or Yahoo Shopping. Other places I liked to go is the www.ebookoff.co.jp which is the biggest used book online shop. I used to use www.kakaku.co.jp, but kakaku.co.jp seems to be in hiatus these days. Kakaku.co.jp was where I got my SD memory card.
The news said the temperature is going to climb up from now on. I am expecting to pack all my long sleeves next week.
20 May 2005 20:05
Today is the first day I want to wear short sleeves. The news said this afternoon, I mean during midday or mahiru, was 25 degree centigrade.
19 May 2005 20:45
Today at 8am, the temperature was 22 degrees centigrade according to the news.
I bought a DVD recorder for TV. The recorder can record TV programs, can go online and get TV schedules, and it was 42,800 yens. I got 7,700 yens of points back. I didn't know I could have gotten so many money back. With the 7,700 yens that I get from buying the 42,800 yens DVD recorder, I can now buy both FFX and FFXII PS2 games with the free points. Great.
17 May 2005 22:09
I am now watching a show called Biribiri Shijyou No. 1. This is a program that visit rich people. Last time was rich guys in Japan, and this time the host went to Hong Kong.
This time the program went to Hong Kong. The one they interviewed this time is Cheung Yuk San or 張玉珊, the very young and beautiful boss of Syuushindou or 修身堂. This Japanese program called Cheung the bininshyachou or the beautiful boss. A diet program in Syuushindou is to lose 20kg in 3 months. The question was, How much was that diet program. The answer was 25 man en or 2 thousand dollars.
Then the host visited someone else. This time are two sisters, probably actresses in Hong Kong. Now the host is in an apartment on the 72 floors 200m from the floor. The windows in the heya or room can see the whole victoria harbor. What an extreme luxurious apartment. The apartment is actually consisted of 3 floors, and a complete view of the Hong Kong airport. The question for these sisters was how much was that luxurious mansion? The answer is 14 oku en when the mansion was purchased, and the price of the mansion is 42 oku en, which is 42 x 10^8 yens or 4.2x 10^7 dollars. Everything sounds like astronomical numbers to me.
The sister just said that takai aparto or luxurious apartment is just a vocational house, the real home is somewhere else. I wonder how can those people be so rich. Now the host is in the real home, a white bear fur was used as a carpet. The rich dad is in the real home. When asked what the father do for living. Father said, I made toys. The father makes 500 oku en per year. This rich father was more than 30 hotels everywhere. When asked of hobby, the rich father introduced his mini aquarium. After that the host, the rich father and the 2 beautiful sisters all go fishing on a huge boat. Now the program reviewed the real home, which is a 5000m^2 house. A 5000 m^2 land in Hong Kong is crazy, knowing that the land in Hong Kong is one of the most expensive in the world. Now the host visit the garage, which had more than 30 expensive foreign cars, these cars are all only-one-in-the-world cars. The license plates were numbered like 8, 88, 138, which means rich, rich, rich, and isshou rich (rich all life) respectively. Now comes another question, how much is the number 138 license plate? The answer is 1540 man en or 154 thousand dollars. The number 8 license plate was 8000 man en or 800 thousand dollars.
17 May 2005 7:53
Have you ever wonder why the touchpad of your laptop can serve as a mouse, but when you touch the touchpad with a pen, the cursor does not move? The answer has to do with the electrical properties of your hands. Our hands actually has some specific electrical properties that computers can recognize that is a hand, not a pen. Some new computers start using this type of recognize to lock your computer. In other words, you can lock your computer, not with your fingerprints anymore, but with your whole hand. The TV commercial of this type of computer says things along the lines like, "You is you."
Today, from the NHK news, a company called TSC went even further. TSC made a wrist band with some chips and memory, the salesperson in a market just touch the price tag, then touch the reji or the register. Suddenly all the info and price are transferred from the price tag to the reji. This is a very interesting device. I beg all of us knew or have experienced conducting electricity with our hands, but how many has thought about using our hands as data cable? I am very interested in the voltage TSC used in their wrist band data machine. The voltage is directly corresponds to the energy transferred within the hands.
16 May 2005 19:27
The episode of blackjack I read in 13 secrets to speak fluent Japanese was just playing on TV. The blackjack Karte 27 was quite different from the Manga. One thing was in the Anime, someone was trying to rescue the doctor, and that little girl was in the room that was running out of air. These two things were happening in the manga. Another thing is in the manga, the doctor wasn't able to collect money from those rich guys, but in the Anime, someone took a video and the doctor did get his money.
15 May 2005 17:50
I had lots of fun in the Aoba matsuri. The news report says for these 2 day aoba matsuri, there are 480 thousands people joined the omatsuri. That is pretty impressive knowing that Sendai only has 1 million people.
Today I spent 8 hours shopping. As always, I bought tons of stuff again. I am glad I still keep all my expenses below the amount of scholarship allowed. One of the things I bought is a java game for my Vodaphone. The game can go into any new phones actually. I bought the game in 100 yens shop.
15 May 2005 06:15am
Last time was Hitachi apple iPod hard disk, today, it is Toshiba 45GB highly dense DVD on the News. Latest hard disk is surely doubling its capacity every year. Well, I suppose it is true that by the time I graduate, which is May 2006 or one year from now, everyone would be living in the Tera-byte Range instead of the Giga-byte range. Electrical Engineering is sure an exciting area to be in for my generation. I love to hear Electrical news from Japan, the electrical news from Japan are often so exciting.
I was talking to some potential Tohoku students that wants to go aboard the other day in the Education Aboard Fair. 2 of the female Tohoku students majored in English Literature, so I told them I have just read Norwegian Wood. One of girls said she read that book in Japanese, and she loved it. I have never imagined there would be some girls actually likes Norwegian Wood, I suppose this kind of things only happens in Japan. Sorry to say, I found Norwegian Wood too luscious and too manly, and I am looking forward to read another classic Japanese literature.
14 May 2005 20:56
Aoba Matsuri or Green Leaf Festival Begins today and continues on tomorrow. The news just told me 3,200 people performed in Downtown Sendai. I will go to downtown tomorrow to see this big Matsuri for myself. From the TV screen, I saw adults and kids dancing various dances.
A senior, kitabatake, who sits next to my lab desk, told me Tohoku Students have to take 2 foreign languages in their freshmen and sophomore years, even kitabatake majors in Engineering. I think this is a good thing that so many people are required to learn foreign languages. Kitabatake told me Spanish is easier because the writing is similar to English and the pronunciation is similar to Japanese.
14 May 2005 10:57am
Today, the needles in the little thermometer points to 10 degrees centigrade. The sun is hidden in a big white cushion high up in the sky. The dim light from the sky is still high enough to rock the head of my solar powered rocking doll.
13 May 2005 04:00am
Today was raining all day. Well, I mean yesterday because it's 4am right now. I just saw the TV weather forecast. The whole next week is either raining or cloudy. Tomorrow, I mean Today, Sendai is going to be 11 degrees centigrade.
12 May 2005 22:51
The staff from Tokyo Study Center came to Tohoku to give a talk to Tohoku students who are interested to study aboard. After the talk, we had a party, and there was tons of food that we couldn't finished. I ended up packing four boxes of sushi and meats back home. Anyway, the party is only for the 5 UC ryuugakusei or exchange students and those tohoku students who has been selected by UC for EAP. The big conference hall has 3 projectors on the ceilings, and the PowerPoint slides was displayed in 3 places on the pull down slide. And of course, there was a huge, and I meant huge, plasma TV in the conference Hall in the Kawauchi Campus.
Another interesting thing is, I went to the computer center , or the multimedia center as they called it, in Tohoku University. In the center, there are lots of IBM PC on the first floor, lots of LCD displays, and the second floor was filled with fujitsu PC and LCD displays. In those computers on the second floor, if you turn on the computer, there are tons of input methods installed in Windows XP. Besides Japanese and English, there are Russian, Spanish, German, French, Chinese, and Korean input methods. The multilingual computer Tohoku installed was great. I don't think American institutes will choose this multilingual setting in their computers.
The last interesting I just saw on TV news was a bending paper. I know bending displays were nothing new, but this bending paper is actually a paper-like scanner. The bending paper is really light weight, and I believe the power consumption is nothing. When I saw the news, I was like. "This is why I have to come to Japan." After seeing all these cool things in Japan. I have made a decision, I have to be fluent in Japanese no matter what.
By the way, I read the papers that were handed out in the education aboard talk. In the info packet, Berkeley requires 600 points in the TOEFL test, which is the highest among all the University in America.
11 May 2005 04:02
I didn't know, in Japan, the sky starts to brighten up to at 4am in the morning. Little thermometer says 9 degrees centigrade.
7 May 2005 12:05
12 degrees centigrade, raining, makes the day extra cold for the omatsuri 御祭禮 of a jinjya or festival for a shrine. Young guys and gals holding a big temple like model walking down roads with religious music. Interesting scene. This is my first time to see a omatsuri.
A show is going on right now called Hochochoc Monomane, a show with ogura yuko, koyuki from last samurai, and 木村拓哉. I have to write these info down for my own reference. The word Waratteiitomo appears when ogura yuko shows up with others, maybe waratteiitomo is a name for a song.
6 May 2005 20:01
Hamasaki Ayumi and Gackt just appeared on TV. This is a program called Music Station, must be a big program. Now there are so many great Japanese music for free, great.
AU by KDDI is promoting a program for 1,050 yens per month cell phone program. I believe you got free video phone with the plan. Yes, the same KDDI that you always see when you look at 3G cell phone stuff.
5 May 2005 22:46
I just paid for my gas bill in Family Mart, a convenience store like 7-eleven. You just take the paper you got from the mail box, then you go to family mart reji or register the paper and money. Then beep, the gas bill is paid.
I bought 2 interesting things today. One is a kind of tea in a little bottle, called u-ron chya. The tea name is actually a Chinese name. The description said the drink is best for after eating lots of fatty food. I don't know what I have eaten, but I notice my body fat level is increasing. I need to clear up my body with simpler food these few days. u-ron chya seems to help. The second thing is meiji vitamin C supplement. By the way, I don't find fizzy vitamin C anywhere downtown, so I bought vitamin C powder. The vitamin C powder tasted awfully bad. I stopped having the vitamin C powder and decided to buy salad bowls everyday. Anyhow, so finally today I found the meiji vitamin C that tastes good, I will probably stick to meiji vitamins from now.
5 May 2005 15:05
There was a special Japanese culture class during this Golden Week. The class was a trip to a informal Japanese Tea Ceremony. There were only 3 students in the tea ceremony, all are friend I know. Ben from Germany, Albert from Indonesia, and me. Out of the 2 hours of tea ceremony, I only got a cups of tea and my feet suffers from the proper Japanese way to kneel. That 2 hours, I had one thin tea and one thick tea. For some reason I found the thin tea to be bitter, but the thick tea to have no taste whatsoever.
4 May 2005 20:50
That California woman is flashing her tits on TV uncensored. It is 8:50pm in the evening. Just now, I saw a California woman with her upper body naked flashing her titties to a train passing by. These all happened on a free, public, antenna-based TV channel. That California woman just finished mooning a train. Together with the woman was a group of about 30 people mooning the train as the train passed by. I can't believe a woman can show every Japanese her boobs on TV at around 9pm. The show that did this was a game show with lots of famous Japanese figures as guests, including 2 girls from the Morning Musume group. I have heard Japanese TV was kind of loose on these kind of things, now I see it for myself.
I finally see why kids are supposed to go to sleep well before 9pm.
4 May 2005 16:20
I went to the Magic Festival in Sendai 2005. The magic show was lots of fun, with a theme of the cartoon figure Doraemon. The magic show has all the standard things like making handkerchiefs appear and disappear, cutting people in pieces, making people pops-up and be gone, and so and so forth.
My stomach tried something called tamakon today. Tamakon is a meatball with some kind of seafood, I believe.
3 May 2005 7:23
There are a total of 8 free channels when I turn on TV. Namely channel 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12.
Yesterday night, I dreamed in Japanese again.
2 May 2005 20:40
By the way, yesterday was cleaning day, I throw away everything I am not using. That means no more 2 microwave, no more 2 heater and so forth. I still have 2 TV. I need to get rid of the TV soon.
The question-answer show going on right now revealed an interesting fact. Some older generation Japanese, in their 30s or 40s, has difficulties spelling words like "paper" or "smile". Or the people on the show just can't remember these words all of a sudden. But those people were superb in answer everything in Japanese.
I just found myself writing down something that is not important. Sorry. I shouldn't do write down things that I won't care enough to remember myself. I won't do this again.
Today I learned another method of buying things online. Besides the cash on delivery, there is a method called something like convenience store paying. You go online and order things, then a ryousyuusyo 領収書 or statement of purchase will be mailed to you. Taking the ryousyuusyo to 7-eleven and pay. Then the thing you bought will be mailed to you. I heard the tesuuryou 手数料 or handling charge for convenience store paying and cash on delivery is almost the same. I want to try doing the convenience paying method next time.
Besides, I found out bookoff actually has a website that do online sales, at www.ebookoff.co.jp.
1 May 2005 22:56
Today is Souji no Hi or Cleaning Day. My habit of cleaning the house on the last weekend of each month. Clean the carpet, wash the kitchen, hondana o katadukemasu or tidy up the bookshelves.
I devoted my day to remember about a hundred vocabularies and reading sen to chihiro no kamikakushi. On top of that, I am getting addicted to the Japanese TV. Japanese TV show has so many health related stuff. Like how to get lower medical price when you get sick. Another interesting show is home improvement, this time the home improvement project cost about 10 million yens. The new home was like heaven, except you know that was originally a crappy house.
My room looks so nice now. My room doesn't feel like my room right now.
1 May 2005 10:56
Yesterday night, I dreamed in Japanese. I was explaining the bunpou or grammar to others. This is a significant step. This means I am comfortable with Japanese. I dreamed in Japanese probably because I spent the whole day yesterday reading Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi. I tried to memorize lots of vocabularies.
Since 2 days ago, there seems to have Yakyuu or baseball games in the field near the kaikan. I see people in baseball uniforms training or jogging out of my windows. Baseball is popular in Japan. Baseball games are something that go on the TV.
30 Apr 2005 13:28
The Bazaar from the student union in Tohoku was just over. The Bazaar starts from 1pm and in 15 minutes, everyone has been in the buying place once.
There was only one thing I really wanted from the Bazaar. That is a waving solar flower. That flower just keep waving by solar energy. I like that so much. When it was almost my turn, someone took the flower. Dong! I didn't even see who took the flower or I will pay that guy for 1,000 just to have that flower. I feel bad.
Anyway, I bought lots of other stuff, like shoes, hats, file folder that can fold, Tohoku T-shirts, little futon, and a big place. These things are mostly 10 yens, the T-shirt is most expensive, 50 yens. Oh, I still want that solar powered waving flower. I probably will go to downtown to buy a solar flower. Probably I need 2,000 yens for that waving flower. I saw something like that in Daiel.
Buying things in Bazaar is so exciting. If I do the Bazaar enough time. I will surely be addicted. I asked the staff in the Bazaar. "When will there be another Bazaar?" "Next year."
I also got a free ticket for the 2005 Magic Festival. The ticket is worth 300 yens. Today, perfect 23 degrees centigrade at 1:28pm.
The past Wednesday, I got the official course list from Tokyo Study center. I mailed the signed course list back to Tokyo on Wednesday.
30 Apr 2005 07:03
I fell asleep a while after I wrote the article yesterday. I was too tired after the hot spring. When I fell asleep, the sun is still up. When I wake up, the sky is all bright. "Did I slept for 24 hours?" I thought. The pleasure was so great, I felt like I have fallen slept forever. This is what one supposed to feel after the hot spring. You should feel sleepy, and after you wake up next morning, you feel like you were rebirth. This feeling is like having doubled the daily carbohydrate intake, with enough fluid, then have a long and good night of sleep in a warm room until you feel like waking up.
The weather is superb these days. The temperature started to pick up 3 days ago. Yesterday was 18 degrees centigrade according to a road-side digital thermometer. All sunny like California. Windy still. During the mid-day, you wish you have short sleeves on.
29 Apr 2005 16:51
For the last couple days, I read stuff for my Quantum Computer Research. Not much happened.
I just came back from my first experience of hot spring. I went with the MORI group to the hot spring in Sakurami, in ichi no bou. There is a roten tennen huro or natural open air hot spring. I only paid 2,000 yens and I am sure the trip wasn't just 2,000 yens. I am so thankful to the MORI volunteer group.
25 Apr 2005 21:25
I realized the scholarship is in the bank account today. The money was in the account since April 21st. I am so happy, with all the junk I bought so far, the scholarship pays for everything.
I have been told in Japan, when you turn on the TV. There are only Japanese programs with no English subtitle and no English anywhere. That is not true. Every day after midnight, you have English programs. I have heard sometimes they have English movies someday.
24 Apr 2005 23:20
After studying Japanese for like 5 hours, got a little tired. I decided to take a walk outside. I went to check if I have mail in the mailbox, and I saw Ben, from Germany, and Matt from America standing right out of the kaikan.
I asked Ben and Matt where are they going. They said they are going to rent movies. "Cool, I want to go." So I jumped on to Matt's bike and went to Tsutaya. Tsutaya is like blockbuster in America. Tsutaya is everywhere. I rented Wasabi, a movie with Hirosu Ryoko and Shyanreno (Japanese-made English name, he is the guy in Leon the Professional). And I rented Full Time Killer, a movie with 反町隆史 and Andy Lau (The guy who acted as the main character in more than 100 movies, the Guinness Record holder for acting the most number of movies in the world). One is American Hollywood with famous Japanese TV actress, and the other is Hong Kong movie with famous Japanese TV actor. I have to watch these two movies.
The Tsutaya DVD rental fee is 350 yens for 1 week. 2 movies cost me 700 yens. Kind of expensive. I don't think I will go and borrow any DVD again. Manga is more appealing to me because I can write all over the inner pages with the explanations I looked up from the dictionary.
The bike ride with Matt wasn't so easy. The way to Tsutaya was mainly downhill, so far so good. The way back is mainly uphill, so I ended up jogging back most of the way. Today I got enough exercises. 3 hours of bike ride, jogging in the middle of the night, plus the Japanese TV show was showing so healthy exercise so I got some extra exercise on top of that. With all these exercise, I don't feel tired at all. Probably because Japanese food is so healthy? People said I will get a Japanese stomach because of all the Japanese food. No wonder the average life time of Japanese is the longest among the whole world.
The Tsutaya gives you a nice green bag for your DVD, very nice.
24 Apr 2005 16:54
Here is one tired person just came back from a 3 hours bike ride. This tired person is now sitting and typing on the laptop.
There was another Book Off store north of the Kaikan. Not the one in downtown. The thing was, yesterday, Stephen, from America, told me the Book Off in the north was bigger than the one downtown. Stephen's statement turned out to be wrong. The bike ride to the Book Off in the north took me an hour. The ride back from the Book Off in the north took only half an hour. I mean half an hour to go back to Kawauchi campus. Today the Ohanami or flower viewing hosted by @HOME is in Kawauchi.
In the Book Off, I bought 11 more mangas. Including book 0 of Love Hina, a set of 7 Hushigi Yuugi or An Unbelievable Game, and 3 I's. All these 11 mangas cost only 620 yens. Very Very cheap. All of these 11 mangas have Yomikana or Japanese pronunciations. These will be my Japanese textbooks. In fact, in those 11 mangas, one of the manga should cost 500 yens. But the cashier obviously thought the 500 yens manga cost the same as the 105 yens mangas I bought. Lucky me. In other words, the cashier messed up and I got the manga cheap.
The Ohanami from @HOME was very fun. There were more than 100 people in the Kinen Kodo just for the @Home Ohanami. There are many other groups in Kinen Kodo doing Ohanami too. There were lots of food, lots of drinks, big game for everyone to play. Out of all, I am most impressed by the speed they clear up the left over trash. Everything goes into the right garbage bag, burnable, plastic, or recyclable. Amazing efficiency. When I was the president of my club, I have never seen such efficiency. I am honestly in awe seeing how a club is run in Japan.
Today is not so cold, but very windy, so overall the weather is pretty chilly especially when you're on the bike. In other words, today is sunny, windy, and at 11 degrees centigrade.
Now let me talk about something totally not related to anything. I just realized in America, Japanese instructors want you to believe Japanese is easy and fun. When I am taking Japanese classes at Tohoku, instructors reminds you "Japanese is hard, isn't it?" Instructors in America want you to believe Japanese is not so hard. Maybe Japanese instructors have the Samurai belief. That is you learn Japanese because Japanese is hard. Japanese is a challenge for you, and if you put enough hard work into this challenge, your work will finally get paid off well. America on the other hand, just because Japanese is fun, not hard.
I just counted the number of vocabulary sheets I made since I have been to Japan. For less than a month, I have made 8 sheets of vocabularies. Back in America, the whole year learning Japanese only gave me 16 vocabulary sheets. Seems like learning Japanese in Japan is a lot faster than in America.
24 Apr 2005 08:13
I am almost done reading 13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese. The book said, Learning Japanese = Opportunity to make fun of yourself. I remember I once wanted to ask the antonym of a Japanese vocab.. Instead of asking for the hantai or antonym of the word, I asked for the hentai of that word. This makes the volunteer laughed because Hentai can mean sexual pervert.
23 Apr 2005 23:16
Anyway, let's talk about today. Today I went out with the conversation partner. I got this partner from the @HOME conversation partner program. My partner's name is Okyuu, and Okyuu majors in chemical engineering. Okyuu is an image of a regular Japanese College freshman. Okyuu can talk in English with many English words, but forming a full sentence in English seems to be a little difficult for Okyuu sometimes. Anyhow, Okyuu's English is better than my Japanese anyway.
With Okyuu, we went to Book Off again to buy some manga sets my friend Stephen talked about. I found a set of 12 love hina manga costs only 600 yens. I like love hina so much I don't mind reading love hina again and again. Love Hina will be my Manga Textbook. Just today, I couldn't resist reading the love hina I bought, and I found tons of vocabularies in 20 pages of love hina. I looked up every vocabularies as usual, and soon enough half a A4 paper is filled with new Japanese vocabularies. Well, anyhow, right now, after school has started. I have an average of producing one full page of A4 size paper filled with Japanese vocabularies in every 2 days.
23 Apr 2005 08:49
At 8:40am in the morning, someone repeatedly knocked on my door. I was expecting the guy who knocked, he handed me a box that says 6,266 yens on the box. The box holds a little thing that weighed less than 5 grams. That little thing is a 512MB SD card that is used for my cell phone. I bought the SD card online, and the shipping was about 700 yens. On top of that cash on delivery fee is about 1000 yens, and the original price of the SD card is the same as those in Akihabara, about 5,500 yens. As a reference, to buy a 512MB SD card in Yodobashi camera costs around 8,000 yens. Cash on delivery (COD) is called daikinhikikae 代金引換 in Japanese. You see the word daikinhikidae on Japanese websites.
So far at this point, I have spent 90,000 yens in less than a month. This number scares me.
Yesterday night Albert, a guy from Indonesia, pointed out to me, the fat-free milk I was drinking wasn't 100% fresh milk. The milk is like 50% from concentrated milk and something else. I have never heard things like making milk by some concentrated milk mixed with other stuff. I will check the milk bottles more carefully next time I go buy milk again.
22 Apr 2005 23:03
With all the demonstrations against Japanese going on all over China. A TV commercial aired 2 minutes ago shows the main actress in the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is a Oscar-winning Chinese film. I thought China is all against Japan, but what is such a famous Chinese actress doing in the Japanese commercial?
Today in the @HOME tutoring, we made onigiri or rice ball. Making onigiri was very fun. While we were making onigiri, I used my laptop to copy the songs sakura and Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana from a CD Fumie san borrowed from hakshi san (not hashi san). Fumie san brought me the CD, many thanks to her. Fumie san and Hakshi san are both @HOME members. Fumie was the girl helping me to get my alien registration card days ago. I am going to go over those two songs until I can sing the song, completely understand the song, and be able to play those two songs on the grand piano in the lobby.
I had the first ever Ohanami or flower viewing with the lab people today . Really pretty sakura flower and surprisingly nice weather we were having. Today morning was raining, but in the afternoon, the sun was bright. A little bit cold. People said Ohanami is always a little bit cold. With some sake or beers, the weather will be just fine.
21 Apr 2005 23:54
I have to write this. I just watched a TV news from probably America. They hooked up a live human brain to a computer, and the guy was able to use his "imagination" to move the cursor and draw pictures on the computer. With no hands, no anything, just brain imagination to do the drawing. This matches exactly my professor's prediction. My professor, Garcia, is quite into this kind of things. My professor predicted connecting from human brain to computer will be the most important thing, not nano science, not low power or stuff like those. I knew researches have been successful on using Monkey brains to control cursors. Human brain is a big leap. I am excited. This means for my era of Electrical Engineering world will involve interfacing with the human brain. Wow. Ah-huh, I want to download the whole Japanese dictionary into my brain right now. Probably put more DRAM into my brain will be nice.
An hour ago, I saw Ogura Yuko on the 10pm TV show, a food show with tasty-looking food. I didn't know Yuko is going to be on that show, or I would have watched the show from the beginning. sannen deshyo.
21 Apr 2005 13:45
I went to the 77 main bank to deposit a 60,000 yens cashier's check. I have been told I can only deposit foreign checks in the main bank. The banker in the main bank was extremely cautious. I wrote the date, then I felt like my writing was kind of bad. So I added another stroke to make the date looks more readable. The banker saw my second stroke and said no no no, then have me fill out another blank deposit slip instead. Then I wrote 2005 Nen or 2005 year in Japanese. 2005 Nen is not fine, I have to say 17 Nen according to the Japanese calendar. So I fill out yet another deposit slip. Kind of annoying. On the deposit slip, I have to fill in why I got the money, and where I got the money from and all.
Finally when I got done with the cashier's check, I asked if I can get a credit card from Bank 77. The banker said no, and told me I have to have steady monthly income to get a Bank 77 credit card. I wanted a credit card because I have heard we can transfer money from the America account to the Japanese account through paypal. The problem is, I have to have a credit card to setup the paypal account. This is what I have heard. Transferring money through paypal seems to be a much more convenient choice than the postal saving ATM, and I have heard paypal is cheaper than the postal saving ATM. The postal saving only allows a maximum transfer of 10,000 yens from a Visa card.
Today the lab internet network was down for several hours. The lab internet was pretty fast, usually 300 kbps. I haven't tested the network speed yet.
20 Apr 2005 19:13
Today I got the Samsung 256MB USB drive together with 3 PIC microcontrollers from Berkeley. The 256MB Samsung USB drive is a USB drive you cannot buy in stores. A gift from Samsung to Engineers in Berkeley. The postal date said April 14, so the USB drive took 6 days to come to Japan. I won't work on my microcontroller until the program is finished.
The sky rained the whole day, and the temperature is pretty cold. Right now, let me check the little thermometer, the little thermometer said 10 degrees centigrade. C'mon, warm up. I didn't bring many winter clothes.
My bike is stuck in Kawauchi campus, because it wasn't raining in the early morning. When the weather kept on raining, I just took the bus.
Today, I bought 2 piano score books from Yamaha. The piano scores here have several versions. I bought the versions that only has one song in one thin score book with solo or orchestra version. The 2 songs in those 2 piano scores are "Sakura" or "Cherry Blossom" and "Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana" or "The Unique Flower". I heard these 2 songs at the @HOME tutoring yesterday, and I decided to buy the scores of these 2 songs when I saw the Yamaha store near Ichiban Chou. Music stores in Sendai is much better than the one in Berkeley. The Sendai Yamaha has many popular song scores.
18 Apr 2005 19:45
This is the beginning of week 2. I just printed out some piano scores, and played on the piano in the lobby for an hour. Yes, they do have a big grand piano in the robi- (lobby). After the dorm office hour, the office is close. You can ask the guardsman for the piano key, and you can play until 9pm.
17 Apr 2005 19:11
Ah, I am still reading Norwegian Wood, almost done. The book just talked about looking in a restaurant window, picking the dinner of the day by looking at some plastic food. I just remember I was in the campus cafeteria one time, and there were dishes you take on the long metal bench in front of the kitchen. I took a bowl of soup from the metal bench. When I lifted up the bowl, I found the soup to be light-weighed and the soup was not swirling one way or the other. Then I started to realize that is a plastic fake food. The guy in the kitchen uniform saw me with the plastic fake food kindly took the plastic bowl from my hand, and offered me a real bowl of soup. I laughed at myself a little right there. I thought acting so stupid is something funny.
In other places, I see plastic food from time to time. So if you happen to be in Japan. Remember there are many plastic foods lying around.
By the way, I found fat free milk in the grocery store today. Meiji Fat Free Milk is the cheapest. All of the milk is in rectangular paper boxes.
I went to see a ikebara or flower arrangement yesterday too. The flowers are really interesting. Some flowers dyed in night-glowing colors, some plants with black-lacquer-like branches, and some flowers ended up in old sport shoes hanging on the walls. The Ikebara is in Jujiya on the 8th floor.
17 Apr 2005 11:46am
Spent a whole day reading the Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Norwegian Wood is for the Japanese Culture class. Japanese Culture class is the most interesting class out of all classes, probably because of the Japanese Culture instructor. Presentations are always done by students, and I remember the first presentation by students is about Vending Machines in Japan. Japan has some used-schoolgirls-panties vending machines, fresh-eggs vending machines, living-bugs vending machines, cigarette vending machines that checks your ID, and so on. Pretty interesting presentation.
Oh, I forgot to say, yesterday I went to book off and got 1 I's manga for 100 yens, and 2 anime manga of Love Hina for 400 yens each. Book off has tons of 100 yens mangas on the first floor. But I know nothing about most mangas in the selves.
16 Apr 2005 9:39pm
Bought a Canon Small Digital Dictionary from Brian, for 2,000 yens. I am pretty satisfied with the dictionary's Japanese to English function, the size is pretty small, so that's good. The dictionary has the usual and useful function like remembering Vocab (tango) for you. But the drawback is this Cannon dictionary cannot do Kanji. Anyway, overall I kind of like the canon dictionary, because it's small. The dictionary is originally about 9000 yens.
Today I went to Hard Off and Book Off. Book off is the place to buy cheap manga, many people in the kaikan bought tons of manga. You can find PS2 or other games in Book Off. Hard Off is a place for used electronic stuff, and you can find some games in Hard Off too. For me, I am going to hunt for used Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X2. Someone told me I can actually buy games much cheaper in Hong Kong, and I probably want someone to modify the PS2 so I can play games downloaded from the internet. I think I will do these things on my trip to Hong Kong, before I head back to the America.
16 Apr 2005 10:04am
The Brastel phone card I receive in the mail box on the first day of arrival does not work with public phones unless you pay. I tested the phone card two days ago with the public phone in the kaikan in front of the kaikan office. I thought the phone card will give me some free minutes since the phone card is promoting itself. And you shouldn't use the phone card in your dorm room because that will still cost you domestic calling charge.
Yesterday I went to the @HOME group tutoring for the second time. @HOME group is really really helpful. The tutoring is the place where others can explain things over and over again to me until I understand or until I looked up the word in the dictionary. Made 3 color Odango yesterday, with flour, sugar, and coloring. Tasted pretty good.
For the "Sendai Shiei Shisetsu RyouSyou" or "Sendai City Public Facility Usage Pass" I talked about before. Here is a list of places I can go for free. Oh, you can bring your family there too, and your family will enter for free because of you.
1. Hakubutsukan (Museum)
Plus 2 days ago the center from international exchange said we can go to a classical music concert. But I looked at the songs, and those songs are too classical for me. I rather play my own songs on the piano.
By the way, the Roman Pope, his Japanese name yohane.pauro 2 sei, died 2 days after I have been to Japan. That means April 2005. And like the day before I came to Japan, I watched the movie Eurotrip. In Eurotrip, the Roman Pope "died" too. I found this to be a strange coincidence. Ben, from Germany, told me that the German Email in the Eurotrip movie is not real Germany. Ben and his friend watched the movie and have no idea what the German Email means.
12 degrees centigrade at 1:17pm according to little thermometer.
14 Apr 2005 17:26pm
Just received the Rent and Utility Bill from the office in Kaikan. The bill was in the mailbox, issued today. Rent 5,900, Electricity 842, gas 1,530, water 1,196, management 1,500, Phone 1,090. Total 12,058 yens. The phone bill is actually the minimum charge. The phone bill for April will show up in May. This is crazy. I never thought I could pay for a month with only US$120.
14 Apr 2005 1:52pm
Left the laptop in the lab. Went home at 11pm yesterday from the lab. Got a PS2 for 1000 yens from Hiroko, thank you very much Hiroko. I was only wanting a DVD Player and I got a PS2, this is very nice. The PS2 can play DVD with subtitles. Very cool.
The MORI group is having free lunch every Monday and Thursday. This is very nice of them. I got myself all full. I will have a extra Japanese lesson with the MORI group too.
Just signed a form saying my Tutor in the lab is receiving additional amount of money and benefits because she is taking care of me.
13 Apr 2005 7:19am
Wet outside, 9 degrees centigrade according to little thermometer. I am now so thankful for the heater because I didn't bring enough clothes.
12 Apr 2005 9:32pm
Japanese people's English wasn't as bad as I expected. There're quite many people, if you slow down, they are able to follow what you're saying.
I met like 1 or 2 Japanese students who could pronounce English fairly well. I gotta ask those students why their English pronunciation was so precise. But of course, most Japanese students are just too shy to speak English, not that those students are not good at English.
I have seem lots of Professors or Doctors have understandable English.
12 Apr 2005 9:20am
11 Apr 2005 8:05pm
Ben lent me one of his 5000 yens bus pass. I am supposed to give Ben one Bus Pass back when I get my 5 x 5000yens bus passes. You can choose book voucher if you want, but I chose bus passes. The bus pass says 5000, but the bus pass is actually 5500 yens values. A 10% bonus from the bus company.
Wait for one second, I just got a call. (talking on the phone ) You know what? Right after I finish typing the word "bonus" (3 lines above, underlined), I got a call from Ben. Ben told me I got a new bike! For 4000 yens from the lottery hosted by the MORI group! Yes~~! I can go around the town with a bike now.
Oh, Sendai has given me a lot. Several free meals, free bus passes, big scholarships, cheap cheap bikes, and cheap dorm room. I love Sendai. I will have to come back to Sendai sometime in my life. Maybe after I get married. I wonder what my professor looks like when I come back.
This is going to be really stressful. I am suppose to come up with a proposal this week, and this proposal is going to determine my grade for a 5 units class. I think I am going for Quantum Mechanics, but I what the heck know nothing about quantum mechanics.
I am so lucky. I just got 2 free books from a Korean guy called Hyeong Hyeon Ryou. Those 2 Japanese books are the books for my Japanese class, and they costs 2650 + 2100 yens = 4765 yens! I got those 2 books for free. The thing is that Korean guy bought those 2 books in English, then later a friend of him left Tohoku and gave Ryou a Korean version of the textbook. So Ryou doesn't need the English version anymore, and now I have free textbooks! So nice. This makes one of the best day of my life again.
Just now, I went out and check my bike, nice nice silver big 26 inches bike with a front basket, a dynamo, front and back lights, 1 lock, 1 bell, and a back seat. PERFECT. I love that bike already. This cool bike with everything is only 4000 yens, and I can get 2000 yens back if I return my bike to the MORI group. That will be only 2000 yens for using the bike this semester. But I think I will try to bring this bike back to the US because the bike looks so nice.
The international exchange center has given me a card today. The card is called "Sendai Shiei Shisetsu RyouSyou" or "Sendai City Public Facility Usage Pass". Basically a card for which I can use to visit public museum or public places that normally costs money, for FREE. Hu-Hoo.
By the way, yesterday I was spending another 3 hours trying to fix my broken TV cable. That's like 6 hours total just to get that damn cable to connects properly. Later yesterday, I happened to talk to Ben about the TV cable, and it all happened Ben has a working TV cable. I just hook up the cable and the TV cable works. Hurray. Now the crystal clear TV works perfects all the time, not just from time to time. Hallelujah.
10 Apr 2005 8:50pm
Just saw a commercial on TV with Ogura Yuko in the commercial. Happy. The commercial is right after the one with Ueto Aya.
10 Apr 2005 9:51am
Woke up at 6am, and spent 3 hours reading 50 pages of "Norwegian Wood" and one chapter (1 out of the 13) of"13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese". Today will have the welcome party from the MORI group, and I think I am supposed to register for the Kanji class today.
Yesterday was Kuni san's birthday party. The meal was 3000 yens, more than all the toiletries I bought for about 2700 yens. Hella expensive birthday party. When someone else invite me to a birthday party, I need to think twice now. Met Kanako and Takeshi san in Kuni san's birthday party. Kanako san was very talkative.
9 Apr 2005 8:13am
Look out of the window, the dumpster is absolutely bare. I think when I went out yesterday, another truck was clearing out the field.
Yesterday I couldn't get any money from the postal saving ATM. My Wells Fargo credit card was blocked, because Wells Fargo thought my credit card was stolen, and didn't let me withdraw money. I called Wells Fargo yesterday night to remove the block. I should have told Wells Fargo I am moving to Japan. By the way, near Kaikan, the closes ATM that works for wells fargo is the bank 77 postal saving ATM right out of the Kaikan. Out of that 77 bank, there are 2 ATM, and only the left side works for wells fargo visa credit card. Wells Fargo Visa check card never works for me. The transaction fee is US$5, which is different than the $3 transaction fee I was told. The 2 ATM that are at the post office mysteriously don't work for wells fargo.
Fat-free milk is what I had in the US everyday, but I don't see fat-free milk in the grocery store. The milk box size tends to be small.
Molecular Biology class changes instructor every class, the lecture has lots of terms, kind of difficult to follow, no textbook. A Biochem major student told me normally a class like the molecular Biology needs 3 hours a day everyday with labs for one semester. I think I will drop this class and do more thinks with clubs.
Today went to the Chiba Barber Shop, 1000 yens. That old guy used to take only 800 yens, now is more expensive. Has a broken Japanese conversation. Knows Chiba san is living alone without family or wife. Poor Guy.
Oh yeah, I changed my research advisor from the Mech. Eng. Yoshida sensei to the Electrical Eng. Nakajima sensei yesterday. I like my research. Quantum computing with 10^-3 Kevin degrees setup. Bunches of oscilloscopes and DC power supplies hooked up with the big metal tank. My research group consists of 1 American, 1 Korean, 1 Brazilian, 1 Chinese, 1 Swedish, 15 Japanese including the professor, and me.
Just got 20k from the ATM with my wells fargo check card, so I was wrong. You ARE able to use wells fargo visa check card to transfer money. I think what happened was my check card was blocked by wells fargo also.
Pretty windy, and very windy yesterday, couldn't walk straight sometimes. 17 degrees centigrade at 10:30am today according to the little thermometer.
Today I bought lots of facial cleansing stuff, and shampoo and conditioners. All things I bought today costs about 3000 yens.
8 Apr 2005 9:05am
Saw the garbage men took the burnable garbage just now. It's Friday. Yesterday when I got home, I realized someone cleared out the whole dumpster. The dumpster is practically empty now. 19 degrees centigrade at 9:20am according to the little thermometer out of the window.
7 Apr 2005 11:59pm
First day of class, both class ended early. Wanted to change my academic advisor.
7 Apr 2005 5:21pm
Woke up at 5am, didn't really wanted to, anyway. 9 to 18 degrees centigrade according to Vodaphone weather forecast. The forecast costs money, and I only realized the weather forecast costs money after I first used the weather forecast.
By the way, yesterday in downtown around 1pm, the weather went up to 28 degrees centigrade according to the LCD display on top of one of the building in downtown Sendai.
A total of 44 people in the JYPE in Spring 2005 according to the papers from the academic orientation, the package with numbered tags.
6 Apr 2005 9:15pm
Got a Vodaphone cell phone today, didn't pay anything and took the phone out of the store. Thanks to Amanda and Catherine, they took me to get the cell. Well, school starts for real tomorrow. Got to pack up. Oh, I did the placement test today, totally sucked. Everyone here is better than I am.
5 Apr 2005 6:35pm
Today went to Kawauchi campus and Aobayama campus, met Yamada san and Kasukabe san. Shibasaki san and hiroko were there too. Met 2 other JYPE students, Matt from Pennsylvania, and Ben from Germany.
Got paper works do, turned in 7620 yens for 2 kinds of insurances. The kokusai kouryuu (int'l exchange) center basically just went through all the registration stuff and paper works for us. Get us ready for school. Went to the international student center, and found lots of resources there. Used internet in Kawauchi campus. Really glad to use internet especially when I haven't checked email for so long.
Oh, by the way, I was wrong again. For JYPE program, school starts tomorrow, Wednesday. Well, sort of, tomorrow is the placement test, and Thursday is the first day of actually classes. First day of classes meaning I am going to classes according to the JYPE schedule for the classes that I am going to get credit from. I think the normal Japanese students has their first day of school next Monday.
5 Apr 2005 6:15am
7 degree centigrade according to my little thermometer out of the window, 11 degrees centigrade according to morning news. Oh, I crashed last night. Tired and cold.
By the way, yesterday wasn't the first day of school. The first day of class is next Monday, today is Tuesday. First day throw out moeru (burnable) garbage. So today is JYPE orientation, tomorrow meet my research advisor.
It's so nice to have a microwave that works. I fix ramen, warm milk with microwave. You want a microwave especially in cold weather. I wonder when will the temperature picks up.
Yesterday when I was looking at cell phones, I had a plan. First @HOME people brought us to Yodobashi camera, the supposedly the best place to buy cell phone. Then I get a booklet with cell phone comparison chart. DoCoMo is way too expensive, so the choice is either AU or Vodaphone. For AU, AU has student discount, and the cheapest plan is 4000 x 50% = 2000 yens/month. Vodaphone about 3000 yens/month. I went off marking down all the cell phones that is either 1 yen or 10 yens. Also look for prices for other phones. I want a good camera phone that I will keep using without the talking function in the US. Turns out AU has one around 2000 yens phone, the best for AU and some free phones (1 yen or 10 yens), Vodaphone also has couple free phones. Oh, by the way, Shyam got an AU A-type phone, Fred got a AU W-type phone.
I compared the features, thinking the AU A-type phone Shyam got was the best. However, I remember Amanda has a Vodaphone that is much nicer (with TV) , and Amanda said her phone is free. So when I was filling out the application form for a cell, I backed off. (Oh, the backing off was so painful) I decided to hold back and ask Amanda for her cell first. Later when Shyam and I was on the bus back to Kaikan, Amanda and Catherine were on the same bus. "Hey, Amanda, what did you say about your cell phone again?" Amanda confirmed me that her phone is 1 yen with about 3000yens/month. "But I didn't see that in Yodobashi Camera." "You have to know where to look." Amanda replied. Amanda also promised to take me to get a cell phone on Wednesday too. Cool.
By the way, I also went to 2 other AU store, but turned Yodobashi camera cells are the cheapest. I also asked the EDGE service. EDGE service is a something like your 802.11(x) wireless, or Wi-Fi. The difference is EDGE is a lower 3G format, meaning you can use the cell phone network to go online. That is you can go online anywhere with EDGE. Someone from last year told me something like EDGE was 500 yens/month, with a card that is about 6000. Well, that sounds good, and I will be connected whenever. Anyway, it turned out the plans for EDGE was 5800 yens/month for pretty slow speed, and speeding up EDGE is another 315 yens. So again I didn't get the EDGE, because the EDGE plan was different than the plan I have heard. I will go back and ask my friend about the 500 yens/month plan again.
OK, time to read through the cell phone features again. I like reading cell phone features.
Ah, I would like to go online, so I can blog this articles with pictures hosting on Flickr.com. But ha-ha, I can't go online, and if I can't go online forever, then there will only be pictures in Yahoo Pictures.
The morning news is so nice, they have a big touch screen, that they move a virtual newspaper around on the big touch screen.
4 Apr 2005 7:20pm
MORI group and @HOME people took us to the Ward Office (Aoba Kuyakusho, I marked on the map) to get our alien registration card. Then with the temporary alien registration card, Fred, Shyam, Kim, Pete, and I opened a 77 bank account.
The the MORI group (4 people) treat everyone including the @HOME people, and 3 of us in the JYPE, 2 in DEEP (don't know what program DEEP is) and 3 of @HOME students, to a 1000 yens ($10) meal in sa-tei-byu- restaurant with excellent view of sendai. Sa-tei-byu- restaurant is on the 30th floor, you see the big status of kanno sama.
In the MORI group, met Atsuko san, Norihiko san, DEEP has Pete and Kim, @HOME has humie san, zusuki san, and kunni san. The @HOME group was with us all day, from 9am up to 6:23pm walking in this cold weather, and stood 2 hours when Fred, Shyam, and I need to pick cell phones. Fred got a free phone without the 50% student discount, Shyam got a 5000 yens ($50) phone with 50% student discount. Both are capable of taking pictures and videos.
However, my friend Amanda got a Vodaphone which can receive TV, take picture and video. And Amanda said her phone is 1 yens, but she paid 3000 yens ($30) per month. I want to get that phone and that plan. My cell phone plan in US is $35/month with only 300 free minutes, SMS fee is not included and Email fee is not included.
4 Apr 2005 7:26am to 8:30am
Waiting for everything to start. Wanted to play piano, but office is only open after 8:30am. I have to sign up to play piano. Oh yeah, they have a grand piano in the front door lobby, exciting isn't it?
Oh, the Natchan orange juice I saw in flickr.com has an advertisement with Tanaka Rena. I just saw the ads on TV. That's why Natchan orange juice is getting popular.
By the way, my room now has tons of maps. One from the Wang Family - the Sendai map, one from the 100 yens shop - the whole Japan map. In the arrival package I got from the 1 day in the dorm, I got a total of 13 maps. Map for near Kaikan, map for campus, map for downtown, nice computer one and hand-drawn ones. Hand drawn ones are nicer to read. I will start with bringing hand drawn maps anywhere I go to get the sense of north east south west. I will have one nice map in the bag, and 3 hand drawn maps in my pockets for these couple days.
I just found out why I have to stay in Musashi-sakai. This is because the ICU is close to Musashi-sakai, like 10 mins of bus. The Mets Hotel is right next to musashi-sakai station, but the hotel is $90/day. I am reading www.jpinn.com Yokoso Japan publication, and see the cheapest inn in Tokyo (out of all in the leaflet) to be $45/night, single, without bath. If you're confident enough to take the JR rail early in the morning, you don't have to stay in musashi-sakai hotel. If I have known about the hotel stuff, I would have go to a cheaper hotel myself instead of the Musashi-sakai Mets Hotel.
4 Apr 2005 at 6:16am
Today is Monday, the supposedly first day of school. Yesterday night was 8 degrees centigrade according to the little thermometer hanging out of the window, and this morning is 11 degrees centigrade according to the morning TV show. By the way, I stayed up till 1:30am yesterday night to read through the papers I received on the first day of arrival (Apr 1st), and prepared my school bag with maps and important documents. I couldn't fill out most of the forms, because the forms are heavily in Japanese. I set the alarm at 8am, but I woke up at 6am. Probably because I am not used to this room yet, or I am too excited about the first day of school.
I looked at today's schedule, nothing like a regular day of school. Today Group MORI is going to meet us at the front door lobby at 8:30am, and the new 3 guys (Fred, Shyam, and Me) are going to get alien registration card, apply for national health insurance and so forth.
Oh, I gotta take out the Japanese books I bought yesterday, because I am supposed to remember 10 sentences per day. Oh, I need to take out my old Japanese notes too. I forgot everything I have learned.
3 Apr 2005 at 10:50pm
The TV I bought today, works, but the wire was bad, so I spent 2 hours cutting the coaxial cable, and re-wiring the cable. Now the TV is Crystal Clear. The TV show is showing Kabuki-chyou in Shinjuku. That's exactly the place I was 5 days ago (Mar 30). The show is saying new laws are established, people in kabuki-chyou can't ask people on the street to go into their shop to spend money, can't touch passer-by's, and so and so. A new department established for this laws, and 36 people were arrested on April 1st around midnight. That's 2 days after I have been there.
Another funny thing just happened, there was an advertisement of the Apprentice. The Apprentice is the show I like, and I have been watching the Apprentice in America. Seeing my show in Japanese feels funny.
3 Apr 2005 at 4pm
It's now 3:41pm. I have to say this. Remember earlier today I said I was going to buy another coaxial cable for another US$10? Guess what? I went to the bulletin board, then called a "Japanese" advertisement.
I was going to buy the microwave oven they have, because the Japanese word of microwave is among the only words I know. I called the "Japanese" ads. The first thing the person asked is whether I speak Chinese. Oh yeah, of course, I was born in Hong Kong and fluent in mandarin. So I told the person on the phone what I want, and I went to the house to see the microwave.
The person selling me stuff is from the Wang family from northern China. Wangs are super friendly, and selling me stuff with insanely cheap price. I got a "like new" microwave, a "almost new" rice cooker, a "like new" color TV, and 7 Japanese books including JLPT level 2 passing guides, some hangers, 1 big plate, 1 big bowl, 2 bars of soups. FOR ONLY $60. Oh my god. Just the coaxial cable will cost me $10, but the Wang family is giving me a fully working color TV with the coaxial cable for $10. Oh my goddess. I tested the TV there in the Wang's house, and I tested the microwave too. The TV is much clearer than the one I got from the dumpster and with excellent sound quality, and the microwave is much cleaner than the microwave I got from the dumpster yesterday. By the way, as I said before, I got a microwave, a toaster, a TV, and a heater yesterday from the dumpster.
I am so thankful to the Wang family. Today is the best day of my life again. I hand-made an American quarter (25 cents) with my contact information, cut to the size of a name card, and wanted to give the card to the Wang's family so they can contact me after they move. When I went to give the hand-made name card to Wangs, the Wang family kindly give me some beautiful pins which you can pin stuff to the wall, and some plastic hangers. The Wang family is great. I wish them well forever.
So now I have 2 workable TV, 2 microwave (1 clean 1 dirty), 1 rice cooker, 1 fridge (provided), 2 heater (1 gas, provided. 1 electric, from dumpster.) 4 blankets (1 from America, 3 from dumpster). Oh yeah, the bed and the mattress is provided. And if you're thinking about taking blankets from dumpsters, prepare to do some thorough cleaning. Or if you pay for the bedding, then you can stop worrying about blankets.
By the way, I cleaned up the rugs, and my room floor is all with rugs except in the kitchen. The bed is set, now with nice thick blankets. These all gave me the roomy feeling. It feels good to have microwave and TV. TV and Microwave is like all you need for food and entertainment. Ok, now got to get through stuff for tomorrow's school.
3 Apr 2005 at 12pm
Yesterday I bought 27 dollars of stuff from 100 yens shop again. Olen bought $31, Shyam 16 dollar, and Fred $6.
Went to Shibahara (don't remember the name) camera to get water filter, the mitsubishi one, the cheapest 2 model works for the dorm with size A 16mm tube. about $31 or $32, but 2 refill for the filter costs $37. Glad I won't need a refill before I leave.
Totally love my room in A-120. In the morning, the room is bright with sunlight, then afternoon when the temperature picks up, the room gets dark. On the 1st floor, no need to climb stairs everyday. I am so lucky.
I got a mailbox of my own, and I made a name tag for my door too. It's nice to have a room of my own. Shyam said my room cost less than $200/month. Really? I don't remember how much, but getting a room with a kitchen, and the size is this big, I am willing to pay $500 or more. Consumer Surplus seems to be high in this case.
Oh yeah, I got an old national TV from the dumpster that works. Shyam got one too. Shyam got the first microwave, the microwave works. Shyam then tested the first TV, the TV works. Such lucky guy. I tested 2 microwave until one that works, and I tested 3 old TVs (super bulky one) until I found one that works. Got a coaxial cable to get clearer signals. Without coaxial cable or antenna, there are 2 channels. However my coaxial cable doesn't fit, got to spend another $10 to get another coaxial cable.
On top of the TV, I got a microwave, an old computer from which I am going to take the DC power supply for my circuit, and the mother board for my capacitors. I also got a toaster, and a electric heater. All of them from the dumpster right outside. Olen said electric heater is better because electricity is cheaper than gas. However, the electric heater I got doesn't fan the heat out, kind of useless even with 800W. By the way, don't overload the socket with 1200W.
Still can't get the Japanese computer keyboard to work, went through all settings in control panels, and language settings. My computer is windows XP with Japanese as non-Unicode option. I got all the extension support already. I typed Japanese with roman words for quite some time, now I want to use the special keys in a Japanese keyboard. Oh, got a pair of speakers and a PS/2 mouse from the dumpster too.
Today is Sunday, 12:36pm now. Spent the morning tidying up the room. Now the room is floored with "cleaned" rugs, and 3 "cleaned" blankets with my electric blanket. Oh I bought air-freshener, because in the 1 day, the room kind of smells. The smell is gone now, weird.
Let me briefly run through what I got in the 100 yens store. I won't do the math for the money table. I got a japanese-to-english, english-to-japanese mini dictionary, Japanese set phrase book, one child manga to learn colloquial Japanese. 2 sockets, 5 extension cables, name card holder, a spatula, little tea pot, cutter, scissors, transparent tape, plastic wrap, word note card (a stack of little cards tied with a ring, for noting new words, 3 in a pack), hand towel, air freshener, lunch pal, tool kit for screws, things to hang clothes with (I heard the dryer costs $1 for 30 minutes, looks like better off hanging clothes in the room), nail clippers, and bike lock (weak one, will get a U-lock too, I will use both). Maybe I missed mentioning a couple of stuff, but here are the main stuff I bought. Of course, these 2 days, I fed myself out of beards from stores. I just got the water filter to work, now ready to make hot noodles. I need to start cooking soon. Olen said he will take us to the store where we can buy cheap fruit, and only cheap fruit. Yet, I need fruit, my diet becomes very irregular these few days, better gets some fruit before I get sick. Oh, according to the thermometer, for which I hanged out of the window now, 12:54pm is 17 degree centigrade.
Got to hurry to prepare for school tomorrow. First day of school. Need to get alien registration card, cell phone, and meet research advisor tomorrow also.
Table 1. Arrival Spending Chronological Table - 30 Mar to 1 Apr
2 Apr 2005
Fred spent US$10+, Shyam spent US$20+, Bill (me) spent US$30+, and Olen spent US$ 40+ in the 100 yens store in downtown Sendai Yesterday.
At 8am today, went to the dumpster to pick up something to put in my room. I didn't take the bedding service, because I brought my electric blanket. So I got couple thick blankets in the dumpster. Need to clean those things. There is a vacuum cleaner on this floor, if you ask, someone will tell you. By the way, I am making carpets to my floors, because there are many old blankets. Again lots of cleaning.
There are three guys coming in for Spring, and here are the table of names I got from Tokyo Study Center staffs.
9 degrees centigrade today according to the new little thermometer I bought. Bright sunny day both today and yester. Sky is blue and bright, and the window is huge. Excellent. The room is quite when you close the door and the window, and you have a single big room. Like 2 times the size of my old room with 2 desks, one table lamp, lots of drawers and selves, 1 bed with mattress, 1 heater, 1 kitchen, 1 computer chair and 1 hard chair. See my Yahoo Pictures for details.
Oh, by the way, I uploaded pictures to Yahoo album with Olen's DSL. I would like to post some to Flickr.com so I can blog the pictures here, but I don't have internet access yet. The DSL internet here is slow to logon to US websites. You notice the speed difference. I suppose is super fast to logon to Japanese website I guess. A more technical test of internet speed later.
Table 2. Names List of JYPE Students provided by Tokyo Study Center
1 Apr 2005
Fool's Day. Nothing happened today that's related to fool's day at all, but anyway. Oh yeah. Today I arrived at the Tohoku Dorm. Bought lots of stuff.
So far I have been spending half an hour a day to write a "dairy" (Oh, it's more than half an hour today), but I believe I won't be doing diary like this everyday I am in Japan. This is because I rather spend time with other Japanese people instead of tapping my computer. Sorry, if you're the guy going to Tohoku JYPE program during Spring 2006. I wouldn't be satisfied sitting in front of the computer for so long, typing, while I am in Japan. I will refuse to type this introduction to JYPE even if a thousand students are going to read this article. So sorry. Oh, if you're the guy going to Tohoku in Spring 2006, email me and say, "hey, congratulation." Because I am graduating this semester. Just call, say "congrat!", then hang up. I will know why.
Oh, back to the important stuff. Today started off with another orientation from 9am to 11am, then go to sendai from 11am to 2pm. Checked out places like post office, family mart convenient store, 100 yens store in downtown Sendai, and all. I love Sendai. I can say this on my first day just by going to downtown Sendai. Sendai was better than my expectation. I am so happy. This is one of the best day of my life.
Ok, back to track, the important stuff. John and Takahashi san from Tokyo study centered showed up at exactly 9am or earlier. So back, I checked out at 8:45am, and went to get the free breakfast that was included in the hotel fee. Shyam (the other JYPE guy) and I were eating breakfast, and didn't realize the time was 9:05am. Then I went to the lobby and check. John, Takahashi, and Fred (the other JYPE guy) are all there waiting. Oops. Stuff the food in my mouth, go.
Then John and Takahashi san took us to a restaurant out of the hotel, Takahashi san offered us a free drink. I didn't take the drink because I just had breakfast 10 mins ago. The "seminar" in the cafe talked about academic stuff, like if you don't submit your course forms on time, you will get dismissed from your home university, in my case, UC Berkeley.
So far, the two-day orientation was good, and I actually got time around Tokyo metropolis area. Went to some famous places with Shyam and Fred (Table 1). I know Tom Allan, the guy who was in Tohoku from UC Berkeley 2004, hated the orientation because the hotel is US$90/day. Well. I think the money is worth it. The Shinkansen ticket cost like US$111, I wouldn't want to go to Sendai and come back to Tokyo every weekend.
By the way, a side track story, when I was in Berkeley. For some reasons, I went to the EAP orientation for people coming to Berkeley to do EAP. The one thing I remember about that orientation is, the guy speaking mentioned things like, "You guys are the best, that's why you're here, so don't worry about this." The Berkeley speaker said that couple times. In contrast, the speaker, John, in the orientation in Japan, mentioned things like, "It's not the result that is important, it's the process." I don't think I can quite understand the "not result, but process" thinking, but I certainly gets the point. The difference between the two cases is, American University like Berkeley is like doing business. Berkeley attracts good and smart people, so the University is good. Japanese University is like, I don't care if you're the smartest guy in the world, and I don't care if you get perfect scores in all the tests. If you don't come to class, you are not passing the class, because you didn't go through the "learning process".
Needs to submit important form on April 18, and May 2. All I remember from the orientation right now.
Inside Shinkanshen, Slept. Didn't know the sky has fallen to the ground.
After arrived in Sendai, Saiko san and Hazagawa san, from the GROUP MORI, greeted us in the Sendai Shinkanshen station. Saiko san's English is pretty good, because she works for an American company. Saiko san and Hazagawa san rented a mini-van, and took us to the dorm, they even paid for the mini-van trip, so nice. Then showed us the room, the 24/7 convenience store that I can get food, the 77 bank. Then Olen, a guy in the year-long JYPE program, showed us the post office, the 100 yens store in downtown and all. Got another short orientation, with Shibasaki and Hiroko, to confirm our names in Japanese, and the stuff Shyam, Fred and I need to do in this couple days. Today is Friday, School starts on Monday. And Monday I need to 1)go to class, 2)meet the research advisor, 3) get alien registration card, like the Japanese DMV driver's license, 4) open a cell phone, 5) open a Japanese bank account. Oh man, all these "homework" were assigned within the first hour of arriving in Tohoku was like, oh, I don't know what's going on. Anyway, I will get all of those done as soon as possible.
Then from 10pm to midnight had party in Olen's room. Olen was looking at the bulletin board to buy an old TV earlier today, and he just got one TV for free. Olen's friend got the TV and gave the TV to Olen. So cool, they are like 6 or 7 people in Olen's room playing Halo. Olen said he's going to make pancake party, because he loved the pancake so badly. Olen is fun, he kept pointing to grocery store stuff and said, oh I love it, this is so cool, oh you gotta try this, this is good. Fun guy. Met Amanda, Catherine, Stephen, Daniel, and some other guys in Olen's party. I have trouble remembering these names, because I just got to know these guys. All sounds intelligent and fun people, really cool to hang out with.
Olen, from Colorado, was great. I bought some milk and then realized the fridge in the room is far away from the socket. I needed a extension cable. Olen just say, just take mine. Then later Olen realized he was using the extension cable. Olen just apologize and let me use his fridge for now. Totally cool. Olen is definitely someone I will keep in touch after EAP.
Got couple garbage bags for separating garbage. From the GROUP MORI volunteer arrival bag. The bag has a cup, a plate, a towel, a bar of soup, 2 bag of tissue, two bags each for burnable and non-burnable garbage. Very nice welcome gift.
That's it, then I called home, to have my parents send me a cashier check. This is because I am running out of cash. I couldn't pay the Shinkanshen ticket because I didn't know the ticket costs $111. I used credit card for the Shinkanshen ticket, but keep in mind, most places don't accept credit card. Oh, forget there is a thing called "Checks". There's simply no checks in Japan. John, from UC Berkeley and now works for Tokyo Study Center, said he never used a check to pay anyone in Japan, only to US people. The ATM check card with VISA from Wells Fargo works at the ATM in the bank next to the International house. The transfer fee is like US$3 for a max withdraw of US$100. I was trying to say, forget that, a cashier's check cost like US$6 only, and I can have much more than US$100. So I was trying to have my parents send me money instead of using ATM to get money. However, later Olen told me, I will get US$250 on Monday, right there, because of the JASSO scholarship. Olen also told me the $250 is enough for me to survive till the next installment. So I said cool, and told my parents not to send me a cashier's check.
Things Bill Didn't Buy
31 Mar 2005
The weather on 30th Mar was 7 degree centigrade according to the Yahoo! Weather. 31st is about 11degree centigrade.
Had a meeting in International Christian University (ICU), met people in the Tokyo Study Center. People there are cool, and the orientation was pretty informative. Johnny Lo, Takahashi, Reiko, Kasumi were there. Plus several volunteers were presented. The volunteers were mainly for the ICU program.
Moeru is burnable. There are 2 to 7 kinds of garbage separation. Garbage collection of different garbage can be on different days. If you don't separate your garbage properly, the garbage collector will not take your garbage. Garbage separation is definitely something needs to be learned.
Things Bill Didn't Buys in Akihabara
30 Mar 2005
First day in Japan. Got lost from time to time. Asked locals for ways to go. So far don't need the help of the survival kit or the dictionary.
Sayaka, Takahashi, and one more girl I didn't have a chance to ask that girl's name are all from International Christian University (ICU). These three girls waited for all the EAP students from UCs.
Annie who is on the ICU program went on the same train with me. Annie and I parted at Shinjuku station. Annie went the train of the Keioo Line, while I went for the Chuo Line. Ah, Annie told me she was originally from Taiwan. Annie had a Chinese Tokyo guide with her.
Met Fred and Sean when I opened by Hotel room 507. Fred seems to be well prepared.
Things Bill didn't Buy