A look into the world of Golden Eggs

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Watch this, please.

You know know quite a bit about Japan.

Japanese Christmas = Illuminations + Parties

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Japan may not have got the Jesus Christmas, but they definitely got the Coca Cola Christmas (Why Coca Cola? Look up the origins of modern Santa Claus…). As such, Christmas is weirdly, a time for couples, and other random stuff. Most companies in Japan don’t even give Christmas/Christmas Eve as a day off. Rather than get into how completely the point was missed, I think I’ll just describe what I did with my Christmasy-time.

Me and some friends went to see some illuminations (I was against it all the way until we were at the gate, at which point, I continued to be against having come until we left… though it was a little bit of fun. Only a little.). You might remember these as the things that are up on your neighbor’s houses on Christmas, maybe done specifically well on some streets or in some parks. Here, it’s been made into almost a attraction all on it’s own. It’s very couple themed, but I went in a group, so I was fine, I guess.

Illuminations are what you think they are. Lights. Also, there were real photographers there with things like tripods and really expensive cameras and lenses… I’m still a hobbyist, so I did my best, but I don’t think most of these pictures are very good. I also am not too intensely interested in static light shows.

With that sentiment, I’ll start the picture roll…

These lights were not at the illuminations, per say, but they were definitely there on the way to the official illuminations site.

Here's a pyramid that was lit up... Or should I say, illuminated?

Some pyramids we saw, that were there....

Red Pyramid... Pretty much as you see here.

A beautifully lit walkway that we were walking along while we were there watching the other beautifully lit stuff.

It's a fountain. Regular fountain, no chocolate/cheese or anything. Just statues.

Tried to take an artsy picture of one of the decorations we could actually get close to...

Try number 2... Or was it number 1?

A pretty wide view of the illuminated floor portion of the park... There were a lot of lights on the grass...

I don't know where this road leads, but I want to go there.

And of course, there were tons of shops (one from which I brought an ice cream cone), some of them even seling turkey legs that were markedly smaller than those at disney land/world, but still look AWESOME.

Don't know what these things were supposd to be, but I just assumed they were some sort of light wombs...

Some more illuminationscape.

because you haven't gotten a good enough idea of just how many lights were on the floor...

Kind of unrelated, but this a popular restaurant chain in Tokyo... As you can see, the name is Jonathans... I do not know Jonathan, but he has a very nice restaurant.

And to end it all, some more pyramids.

In addition to watching lit pyramids, The University threw us a Christmas function, including a real choir (well… maybe not the choir some might be used to, I won’t say any more than that) — and Alcohol. I have never in my life been to a school function that went ahead and assumed that all people involved were over-age, AND if that wasn’t enough, found that it was OK to drink while celebrating whatever needed to be celebrated.

Japan is indeed a different place from the US. Maybe I just haven’t been to enough university functions, but the trust here is outstanding. Needless to say there might have been some minors that drank. I guess it’s all in good fun, because the event was certainly a lot of fun.

As is customary for any Japanese celebration (or so I have heard and witnessed), there were speeches to start off the night, after the choir sang some songs.

The afore-mentioned alcohol that was there.

We played a huge group game that was about doing things that others could not... One of the groups decided that a human pyramid was a good idea. I took pictures of it.

SUPER UNRELATED, but that is the guy from men in black, and he's a spokesman for a coffee named BOSS. Is that not awesome?

The usual BOSS Logo

As the year comes to an end, I look out my window and snap pictures. Wrote a haiku right after ths one.

Good picture, maybe?

And with that… The year pretty much came to an end. What an awesome year, filled with fabulous people, a great study abroad experience, and all that jazz (there’s many more things I’m grateful for, they just would take a long time to put into words). Japanese Christmas was great (well, minus the lack of actual meaning to the holiday)!

BBMIJing on TV, and going to Akiba (Akibahara)

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So, exactly as the title implied, some random Saturday in 2010, I was on TV in Japan, then I went to Akihabara.

I’ll just get right into it. Basically, the show was a comparison between foreigners and Japanese in terms of manners….
Many “countries” were represented, with me representing the US, a friend of mine the UK, someone from France, Africa (actually, he’s from the same country I am… I just happened to be representing America), Italy, and China.

So, we were basically led to a lady holding a relatively big looking box. The test actually started from right that moment. We were told that she was going to lead us to the meeting place, so we were supposed to follow her. To get a 100% on the test, I (or any test taker) had to have taken the box from her (helped her with it) from the get go… I didn’t do that, but I’ll explain why later. If you didn’t take the box, you get a second chance later, because someone from her company runs up and gives her some more bags. There is about the 50% mark. From then on, all you do is walk up the stairs, and the cameras are called.

Some things to note:

1) When you take anything from her, or don’t take anything till the end, she blows a whistle, and you see cameras – This was very disconcerting to me, but I managed to not freak out.

2) The results were surprisingly even on both the Japanese and foreign side… Which worked out great.

3) I did not see this coming, though some others did, right away.

Well, anyway, as far as how I did on the test, I picked up on helping at the bags… Some got boxes (about 3 on each team), some got it at the bags (2 on each team), and some didn’t do anything (1 on each team). The test was nowhere near scientific (ok, maybe a little bit), as the conditions/situation changed a little bit every time, but it definitely made me feel bad to only help at the bags. But let me explain why:

1) There was a lot of RANDOM STUFF in that box. Vegetables (that looked fake), teddy bears, random household items were all in there. I had no idea why a corporate worker would be carrying these on the way to a meeting. I thought maybe I shouldn’t bother as they might be related to the test, and maybe I shouldn’t even be seeing them. Which made me wonder more about the test.

2) I was definitely more concerned about being able to introduce myself properly in Japanese, and hear her name properly. I wouldn’t say I was flirting, more like I was just making sure I heard what she said… But others have said otherwise.

Anyway, That’s how it was, I got a 50%, essentially, and showed up on TV for a total of probably 2~3 seconds… I guess I can check that off my list of to-dos…

Took this picture after my test, here's the lady waiting... With her box of random stuff.

Another contestant on his way to getting interviewed (he got it at the bags)

That same contestant getting interviewed...

And that interview is actually the one that got the most airtime…

Another contestant taking a shot at the challenge!

One of the contestants who got it at the box (Italy?), getting interviewed.

Got bored, took some shots of the buildings... This seems to happen really often.

Took one of those looking up buildingscapes... Turned out well, I think

So after that, me and a friend watched some of the Japanese guys give it a go, had no idea it would be dead even at that point… Then we headed to Akibahara (referred to as “Akiba” for short by actual Japanese people), for some random-ish sightseeing. Maybe we had a goal there that day… I don’t remember.

For those of you who don’t know about Akihabara, it’s basically the hub for everything Anime (Japanese Animation)/ Manga (Japanese Comics)/Otaku Culture (Japanese fanatics – figurines, drawing, etc). There is a LOT of technology in Akiba, a LOT of games, a LOT of maids, a LOT of maid cafes, and a LOT of people. It’s a lot to take in, but is definitely a must-visit place in Japan.

After arriving in Akiba, I saw this poster on the train platform. I had truly arrived in Akiba.

Why is this picture significant? Those people who know this series know that it’s famous for it’s horrible endings (I mean horrible like gruesome), so you should really be wondering why it’s being advertised with such a happy-go-lucky feel. I know I was.

It's a Gundam Cafe. Still haven't been inside yet. Regret is building.

Welcoming us into Akiba was the Yodobashi Camera electronic store in Akiba. I sware it has to have it's own zip code, it is HUGE.

We also went to the Anime Center, in some convention building… Unfortunately, I have no idea where it is or what it’s actually called other than an “Anime Center”.

Some posters that were on the outside of the Anime Center... There is of course far more than one anime center... I was just at one.

I have no idea in the world what they are doing, but I just wrote this off in my mind as an Akiba thing.

I'm guessing this picture is fine to show since you can't see his face...

Some pretty large posters of a pretty good Anime I've seen: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Name is ridiculous, yes).

These figures are definitely life size. That having been said, they're pretty short. Or maybe I am too tall...

Some other posters for series that I do not quite recognize...

I thought it was weird that they would have figurines on display... Maybe they are super rare?

One of these figures is NOT LIFE SIZE. See if you can figure out which one it is. Hint: It's red.

Some merchandise that was for sale all around the store. Surprisingly, all the prices were actually decent! I feel like I might start some sort of online ebay business....

Some more merchandise... Thought that Gundam 00 shirt was awesome.

Some posters that took up literally 4 or more panes of window glass outside the Anime Center... Never seen the series before though.

A shot of Akiba, as we were walking around it.

It also seems like while we were at that convention center, there was some sort of new/young technology expo… Here’s something I saw in a window display that I thought was interesting, and could definitely spread the bad effects of looking at too many computer screens in one’s day:

Youtube in your oven.

Fripside (I really think they meant flipside when they started their band) is a group that makes music (technoish?) in Japan... They evidently had some sort of event coming up, so there was a huge bus with screens and stuff advertising for them. Kind of awesome.

I don't know what taking this picture makes me (maybe a little Akiba rubbed off on me), but those are the ever-present christmas-ly dressed girls one sees in animes during christmas plot arcs. I have told on myself far too much with this picture and caption.

If you look really realy carefully, there's a ton of people in this picture. Just kidding, the focus of this pciture is the maid. Another questionable picture.

There's a maid in this picture too. They're ALL OVER Akiba. They usually try to draw in customers for different maid cafes... It is really weird to see.

As the sun sets on our day, it shares it's final rays with the ginormous Yodobashi camera store.

What a full saturday that was. And a long time ago… Hope you enjoyed my TV debut, as well as a view of Akiba. I do have video of me on TV, but it’s trapped on Facebook. I’ll get it off sometime, and post it up.

Late Thanksgiving!

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So, I might be a little late, but here’s how thanksgiving in Japan went for me:

Well, thanksgiving isn’t heavily celebrated at all in Japan, as one could have guessed, but being involved in various Gaijin (Foreigner, in Japanese) oriented organizations/social groups, I definitely celebrated it multiple times.

With my don’t-show-faces-of-people-who-don’t-know-they-are-on-a-blog-post rule (it’s a tongue twister, I know), what I can post is quite limited, but I hope you can at least get the idea of how things went down, and how much of an awesome day I had.

First off, the dorm I’m living at, which is composed of both foreigners and regular Japanese people (as opposed to non-regular ones), threw together a celebration for Thanksgiving. Dorm’s called DK House Warabi, for those that care, it’s pretty good, but maybe I’ll submit a full review after I’ve moved out… Though there weren’t any American-Indians present, there were a bunch of Americans. And no smallpox blankets were exchanged.

Here are the pictures!

The most important part of the meal... CAUTION: Not a turkey.

Can you have Thanksgiving without a turkey? I guess so….

As you can see, there is some proof I did not buy all this food myself and eat it alone... Actually, I didn't buy much of the food at all...

Aaaaaand that was quick.

So, Pictures are definitely lacking, and that’s because I tried to not show any faces… Internet privacy and all. Maybe I’ll repeal that rule later but for now, since this post should come with like 4 following it describing all the things I did since I was super late… I hope everyone will be content with text (as if).

Well, back to my Thanksgiving celebrations; I also celebrated thanksgiving with a circle (pronounced saakuru in Japanese) called SISEC. They’re like a foreigner meet japanese dating site, minus the dating part. They held a kind of party I don’t think I’ve ever been to before: A Cooking Party. Basically, some people organized what would be made from ideas submitted, and they got recipes together, and ingredients, and everyone tried to make the dishes that were proposed. A really great idea, though a bit troublesome probably, for planners (I was not one of them, but I know one that was, and it looked pretty stressful…).

Everyone starting to get into the mood of Thanksgiving by showing up...

A street shot from the closest station. Why is this in here? I don't know.

And to match the street shot, here's a shot of the buildings opposite of the room we used to make things!

We made a ton of different foods at the cooking party, some of which were treats like desert cookies... Here are some fo the ingredients we used (No wine was consumed at this party... That is a makeshift rolling pin)

Pastry Slug?

We made many stars and shapes and stuff out of the doubh, all the cookies also came out pretty tasty. What an awesome experience. Yes, those could maybe be considers ninja stars.

More of our wonderful stars and pastries!

Yeah, this is a picture of some people melting butter.

Some dishes, in their finished state.

OK, so, you are probably expecting more images. Well, I took my camera there on 20% battery… and all the battery ran out…

You’re probably more worried about whether we could find Turkeys for thanksgiving, to properly demonstrate how to celebrate thanksgiving to the Japanese present. Well, we did, and they were DELICIOUS. However, I took pictures of them with someone else’s camera (Sony Alpha, was pretty awesome), and soooooooo…

This post is a disappointment, but at least, my Thanksgiving in Japan wasn’t!