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:: My Urban Eyes ::

All that I see, and then some.
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:: Friday, September 30, 2005 ::

Fun, Fun!



So much stuff going on! It looks like from now on I'm going to shoot for an entry once a week, a second if I can manage. First, some pictures!

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Went to Namba last weekend--Namba is a neighborhood of Osaka. What a crazy hopping place! I went with a bunch of guy friends, so we didn't shop much (booo), but we did see the sights. This picture is part of a mall in Namba. Like most buildings in Japan, its footprint is small, but the building has quite a few floors. This is an inner courtyard of sorts.

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And here's the bottom--a fogging fountain! Very cool, I thought.

Gotta run to class... have a good weekend everyone!

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 12:50 PM [+] ::
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Some pics of you too!!!
 
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:: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 ::

In Search Of



This is for my techy friends... are you guys still reading this blog? -_^

ISO: a program that I can use to record from a mic directly into mp3. Must be lightweight--I'm going to try to use it in a school computer lab. (These computers aren't very locked up by American standards, so in *theory* I can install stuff, but the less the better.) Being able to control bitrate a plus, but not necessary. If by some chance there is something webbased that would be awesome, but does that even exist? Oh, and free, hehe. Or "free". ~wink wink~

The reasoning? I'd like to get my podcast up and running again. A comment left has gotten the fire in me going again... I'm going to repost it here because I can't find the original post he put it on, hehe.

I've only listened to your last/latest podcast and wanted to recommend it to my students of English as a Second/Foreign Language.
Then I saw that the date of it was April 29th 2005 and seached your blog to see if there were any others.
It would be great if you continued podcasting. I think my students, who must be around your age, would find listening to you an inspiration for what they should be trying to be able to say!

Chris Fry
Barcelona


First of all, thanks for your kind words! As a second language learner myself, I know what your students are going through. I'm also very flattered--this means I'm understandable! ~wink~ This has gotten me thinking again... I'm working on it. ^_^ I have a three day weekend coming up, but next week I'm going to see what I can make happen. If I can do it without buying a mic, awesome. Even if I do have to buy a mic... I'm in Japan, electronics are king here, hehe. No promises, but I'm going to see what I can do!

On a similar note--I owe a huge apology to Van, who wrote me a kind email oh so long ago. I have totally read it and everything--thanks for all your kind words! I just want to apologize for not getting back to you in a timely manner.

So, if anyone has some tips for me, please leave a comment or drop me a line at the email addy at left. And Chris, if you're reading this, e-mail me so we can keep in touch! ^_^ And Van, feel free to pester me again. ^_^

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 2:42 PM [+] ::
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Pictures!



I totally want to show you guys some of the stuff I've been doing. ^_^

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Kuzuha Mall is two stops away from my University. It's a little small and only seems to have clothing, but it's a nice diversion. There are bigger and better shopping malls and streets to be found, I'm sure I'll have pictures of them before too long. ^_^

Kuzuha Mall is owned by the same people that own the train line that I ride everyday. They also have a chain of department stores. It's like its own little... I don't know, Disney or something, with their hand in everything.

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In front of the mall there's a little fountain thing for kids to play in. Japan is very careful to save things like water, so the fountain isn't too big or anything. The cute part is that one spout or the other will turn on and off at different times, so the kids run and squeal going from one to the other. Very cute.

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One day I met this meccha kawaii [insanely cute] girl on the train. Some Japanese kids are shy talking to gaijin like me, but she was pretty fearless. Her mom told me that her dad does lots of business in the United States and flies over often. I always carry a greenback on me so I asked, "Have you ever seen American money?". When she saw the picture of George Washington she asked, "Is he dead?" Sooooo cute. Noriko, my speaking partner, took this pic. Hopefully a pic of her next time ^_^

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One day I as I was leaving school I saw some birds sitting on a power line. As I snapped this shot they took off. Pretty, ne? ^_^

That's it for now... but always more to come! ^_^

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 7:28 AM [+] ::
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Comments:
Wonderful pictures. Keep them up. WE WANT MORE!!!!! Hope you are having a blast.
 
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:: Monday, September 12, 2005 ::

A Couple of Awaited Answers



Josh--a company that you know very very very very well. I don't even think you'll need the hint: OOO. /me grins

Karri--good question! Travelling around is always fun. The Keihan train line runs from Osaka to Kyoto, and my entire life seems to run along it. It's the train I take to get to and from school, and it provides a lot of fun adventures as well. During orientation week we took a trip to Kyoto which was a lot of fun. The school matched up international students like me with native Japanese students. I even have some pictures! ^_^

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Fun before the trip even starts! I wish I could remember their names, but I can't. >_<

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We took the Keihan line to Kyoto and had some time to kill at the station. Group picture time! In Japan "tall people in the back!" means "foreigners in the back!", hehe. I feel pretty tall here, especially when surrounded by Japanese people. At almost 5'8" I'm taller than just about every Japanese woman and as tall as half the men. Even at this wimpy height I have to duck doors sometimes--I wonder how my 6'5" friend deals with it everyday.

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The main attraction of our trip was a shrine. This picture is actually from the front gate, looking back out onto the street.

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And here is *part* of the inside of the shrine. Easily the most green I've seen in Japan in one place. Suppossedly in fall (which isn't September--it's still in the high 80s here) the entire place goes red and gold. I'm hoping to return for more photos. ^_^ It was really quiet and peaceful inside--another world.

And before I go, I have a note from my mom! Here it is verbatim:

Tell all I am soooooooo happy for you!!!! To be able to do this is a once in life time event and I am sooooooooo proud of you!!!! I am fine, I do not know why people keep asking that.


So there you go, for all of you wondering how my mom is holding up, hehe.

I have ceramics class in just a few minutes, so off I go! Take care, everyone!

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 9:44 AM [+] ::
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Comments:
OK, I am not a game person and am excited by the news, but, what company?!?!?! :)

Great pics! Nice to see some!
 
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:: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 ::

Happy Rambling!



First, answering questions! ^_^

Thanks for all your questions, Karri! Ask, and you shall be answered! ~big wink~ Jet lag going *to* Japan isn't overly bad, actually. The first week I was waking up at 5 am or so... I think because that's dinnertime back in the states. After that I've been fine. This week I've been really tired, but that's because I've been staying up late to study--my own fault. :P

I'm sure Mom misses me a lot, but she does a good job hiding it in her e-mails. ~wink~ (I love and miss you, Mom!)

Okay, now onto some personal news and things!

My boyfriend Mark graduated college (or "University" as they say in Canada) recently, and he already has a kick butt job! It's with an online gaming company that currently has a massive multiplayer online game and a couple of other projects in the works. If you couldn't tell he's a programmer that can't get enough of games. -_^ It's a really great gig for him, and I'm so proud ^_^ It does require a cross-country international move--from Ontario, Canada to San Fran, California. Which is actually a few hours closer to Japan, now that I think about it... hehe... anyway, congrats love!

Well, a couple of days ago it looked like typhoon number 14 was baring down on Japan, ready to pack a huge wallop. But then it slowed down... and turned North, away from Hirakata City, where I am right now. Some of the international students don't want a typhoon to come, but I think about half of us were excited. We're in Japan to experience Japanese things! And what is a typhoon if not a Japanese thing? It's also a day off from school, which is always appreciated. ^_^ We still have some time left in the typhoon season, though, so we'll see what happens. For those who don't know, typhoons are Asia's version of hurricanes. They aren't as bad as hurricanes though, and just pack some wind and a lot of water. Small islands and coastal areas get hit the most, obviously. Typhoon 14 did cause some flooding and such, but it's nothing like a hurricane. Plus, they spin the other way ~wink~.

Yesterday a new friend and I went to a ramen restaurant across the street for lunch. It was cheap. *Really* cheap--I got a huge bowl of ramen and gyoza (dumplings) for 360 yen... about $3.50 US. The entrees start at 180 yen, or under two bucks American. The on campus cafeteria is really cheap as well. I can get a full lunch for two to four dollars. Awesome.

Bread in Japan is really really sweet. I think they add a lot of sugar to it... I can't tell for sure since I can't read all the small print on the package yet. -_^ Also, snacks that say "hot!" on them with little chili peppers are a high mild, at best. Japanese don't seem to have the same taste for hot food that Americans or, say, Indians have. So while there is curry in Japan, it's a sweet curry, not a hot Indian curry.

Okay, little tidbits over--time to run to class. Hopefully soon I'll remember to bring my camera's cord so I can show you guys more pictures! ^_^ Take care, everyone!

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 12:33 PM [+] ::
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Comments:
You have me hanging on the edge of my seat everyday! I can't wait to get to work and read what you've got to share!

Now that you've been over there for a couple of weeks, what are some of you favorite experiences thus far?
 
Now waaaait a minute! What gaming company is your BF working for???
 
Ooo, rings three!

-Dan!
 
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:: Friday, September 02, 2005 ::

Friday, yea!



Gotta love the end of the week, ne. I'm really tired, though, I"m ready to go home and just *crash*. I have a three hour break today... pretty annoying. Especially considering that it's now just after 2 am on the East Coast and there aren't that many people to talk with. Oh well.

Currently trying to figure out how to get music *off* of my ipod without itunes. Fourth generation... if anyone can point me to a site or something, I'd be much appreciative. :)

edit: I think I've figured it out, yeaaa! Simply a hidden folder. Bah.

To answer Karri's questions, albeit quickly (sorry!):

My commute is a five minute walk from my homestay house to Kayashima Station, 20 minutes on a train, and then twenty minutes' walk from Gotenyama Station to Kansai Gaidai University. So just about 45 minutes, which is an average commute, it seems. Very few people have a shorter commute, and some travel up to an hour and a half one way.

As for my classes and understanding professors: my afternoon class is taught in English by an expat, so he's really easy to understand. My ceramics teacher is Japanese but his English is really really good, so he's perfectly understandable. If we know Japanese he wants us to speak to him in Japanese for practice, but he always says the important stuff in English so it's understood.

My other two classes are in Japanese language and are taught in Japanese by Japanese. My language level is high enough to manage this, and they do talk down to us slightly, I think. But everything is understandable. And once again, if you're trying to say something in Japanese but can't, you ask "Eigo o tsukaite mo ii desu ka?"--"May I use English?". So understanding isn't a problem. ^_^

As for assignments being hard--the Japanese language classes are quite hard. They really really push you. School started on Tuesday (it's Friday now) and I've already had two vocab tests. The first was for speaking class with about 40 words. The second was for reading and writing Japanese and covered 60 words and 30 new kanji, i.e. written characters. I had two days so study for each. >_<

But! To compensate the afternoon classes are very very very easy. Do the readings, show up and get an A easy. My afternoon class in English is also boring, but I'll deal with that, I think. -_^ Ceramics is a class where you just put your time in and you're fine. Yesterday I got to use the wheel for the first time! It's just as hard as it looks. -_^

And as for American food... there's a McDonalds right here on campus. American style food is easily found in stores and convenience stores. When we went to Kyoto we stopped at a Starbucks for a drink... they really *are* everywhere. -_^

Well, I have to run off to class now. -_- I'm getting a cell phone this weekend, and I may be able to post to my blog from the phone! We'll see, hehe. Until then, take care!

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:: Kazen @ Always Doing 12:38 PM [+] ::
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Comments:
Tell us how you are dealing with the lag time, meaning, the change of time for you. Hence, your comment about it being 2 AM here and you were waiting for your next class. I found in Germany it was very hard the first few days, but I felt myself gradually turning around, and I know Sean when he would come back after two weeks, took some time for him to get back to our time. How are you doing now you've been there going on two weeks.

Tell me how much your Mom misses you! :)
 
So glad to hear that you're getting in the groove. Sounds like you've been there for years. I am so enjoying reading of your adventures. Enjoy Japan as much as you can!! I love you
 
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