BBMIJ On A Beach.

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As I go through some of the left over pictures from my trip to Japan, I came across a humongous batch of pictures from my trip to the sea with a club I was heavily involved with in my second semester at Sophia (called SISEC, basically a foreigners-meet-Japanese people club). The beach we went to certainly wasn’t a Sandals resort, but it was a lot of fun. We did some pretty stereotypical Japanese things on that beach (if you watch any Anime by any chance, or Japanese TV, you may know what I’m talking about).

We went to Enoshima beach (not to be confused with Hiroshima beach… which I have never been to and am not sure exists), and had a day full of fun and enjoyment safe for all ages (translation: there was no alcohol involved).

Here are some examples (shamelessly stolen from other websites/Google images):

This is a skill all Japanese children hone early.

Hello Kitty & Watermelon

Yeah, Hello Kitty's in on it too.

Slowly getting off track...

But anyway, you get the idea. There was a lot of stuff like this going on. Luckily I hid all my watermelons before going. Anyway, on to the picture roll:

This... Is a Japanese Beach.

The sand there was not white.

Not sure if this was the lifeguard's board... That or somebody has somehow lost their huge yellow longboard.

Took those shots as soon as I got there, trying to get a picture of what beaches were like, since I was relatively sure I hadn’t been there since I was less than 7 years old. The sea and I do not mix, as is possibly (but not necessarily true) of all black people everywhere, except that guy that swam with Phelps at the Olympics.

Aaaand since most of the pictures of what happened that day are inappropriate for posting on the Interwebs (just joking, they’re actually completely appropriate — 😦 ), I’m going to exclude ’em. BUT We did go explore Enoshima after the trip to the beach, and had some SUSHI (imagine that, sushi, near the ocean, in Japan…), and I got some great pictures. /nodisappoint

DRAGON!

Framing is terrible, but that is a pretty statue of a dragon... attacking a building?

So, the sun was setting, and it was pretty.

This guy is a boss of something. He has to be. He is making this picture.

This guy is not as boss as the last guy, but there's another cool statue in the background to help him out.

This is a bridge... To an island. Pretty islandy-looking island.

Some more sunset pictures!

The other side of the bridge... City life

Thats... A toothpick holder... So beautiful.

Real Japanese Sushi everybody!! Sorry for the slight blur

Better picture of just a quarter of what we ate at that sushi restaurant. So delicious. And possibly healthy?

Fireworks!

And of course, to round the night out, we set off fireworks. All in all an awesome ending to an awesome day. If you look closely, I’m actually in the last picture, off to the right.

Just kidding. I’m not. Or am I? BBMIJ super power #31, night-time invisibility.

BBMIJ

Where is BBMIJ?

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I’m still here. In Japan.

Basically, a lot of stuff has happened, and I’m way busier than I ever was when school was going, so I haven’t made a post yet, but posting is right up there next to sleeping, so I’ll get to it soon!

Over the last week, I have taken over 2,000 photographs. That’s how busy I’ve been. Events have been piling up (bye bye parties, something called Gasshuku which is something like a club camping trip that I’ll talk about later, etc etc), and I have been swamped in all of it.

Of course, this is nothing new, as I’m sure my excuses are wasted on the usuals, but for those of you who don’t yet know how slow I am to update sometimes… an update will come soon?

Either way, in the mean time, chew on some artsy (?) pictures I took recently.

I took a picture of this because although I'm not bald... It looks like me.

Friend of mine's bag... Saying is pretty interesting, and also pretty typical of Japanesey (British) english.. but it made for a nice picture!

Sunglasses, in focus.

This curry was delicious. Someone else ate it though.

BTW at Sophia University they serve curry everyday of the week. Japanese people love curry. Fact.

Smash Bros: N64.

This semester I joined (I say joined… but I should say actively participated in, since I joined last semester too) a club called SISEC (Sophia International Students Events Committee or something?), and I had a lot of fun with them. They made my second semester WAY better than my first, and some of it had to do with how much time I spent in the club room.

In Japan, there are two types of clubs: “club” clubs, and “circle” clubs. Circles,サークル(“saa-ku-ru”), are usually a little more laid back than clubs, and SISEC falls into that category. At Japanese universities, clubs can rent (I wonder if they paid for the rooms… I think they might have…?) rooms on campus, for members to hang out in. It’s an awesome system, and I visited my club room very often.

That’s all for now, really short update, I know, but right now I’m going through all the pictures I took, and I thought I found some I could upload so I did! I still have a ton waiting to be written on, like my adventures in Kyoto and Nara, as well as all the stuff that’s happened before school ended (little sneak peak: school was not a priority this semester), as well as all the stuff that has happened after, but for now, I venture to the world of dreams.

Random activities in April/May (Photodump?)

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So, there are 2 places let in the Travel Features, but I’m going to take a little break to dump some photos from what my life has been like the last month or so…

So, school started up again, and I’m doing that… And there have also been a slew of birthday parties, outings, and whatever else you can imagine regular people do (though calling myself “regular” in Japan might be a stretch). I have some pictures, so I’ll post them.

Yeah, that’s about all the explanation I have… I guess I’ll jump right in:

A friend of a friend came to visit Japan (right before and during the earthquake), so we went to do some sight seeing… These pictures came of that trip:

It's a temple... Still pretty much done with seeing these for the rest of my life but thought others might want to see it.

A pretty awesome angle I shot of a temple in Asakusa.

...Pagoda?

The infamous Tokyo Sky Tree... Definitely does not look like a tree.

As I've previously said, my fascination with Japanese temples is just about gone...

Saw this primo-looking Civic after leaving the temple area, which happens to be right inside a bustling city.

I am sure the owners were nervous or curious as to why I was taking pictures, but I took another anyway

Oh, and this guy was also there. He was wearing a texan-like cowboy getup. No idea why, but I absolutely had to get a picture to prove he really existed, right then and there.

Yeah, he's wearing a cowboy hat.

Fast Forward to day xx of month… xx? And me and some friends travel to a restaurant in Kichijouji (a suburb of Tokyo), to a sort of anime/otaku themed restaurant… They had pictures and figurines of a ton of anime/manga/live action series everywhere. Evangelion, Dragon ball, Kamen Rider (like power rangers), you name it. At the entrance, they also had a huge display of a ton of figurines:

This restaurant had a really huge figurine selection... Wonder how they fared during the earthquake...

Aaand upon closer inspection:

.....

I sure hope that was the bad guys shelf.

Fast forward to some day of the same month (possibly?) and I am at Hanami (Lit: “Flower Viewing”) with some friends, and I take some shots. I unfortunately didn’t take many pictures, because I saw too many emerging on certain social websites that all looked just about the same, didn’t want to join that crowd too much.

We spent ALOT of time walking around this park. Way past my park walking comfort zone.

The most open space I've ever seen in japan.

They even had a Magic Garden... Japan spares no expense in making it's parks.

Cherry Blossom trees near a bridge... Pretty average picture.. Maybe even below average

Another view of the walking areas of the park, very colorful.

I guess a river used to be here, now it's empty, and I took a picture of that.

This picture made it into my favorites folder, and I still like it quite a bit.

No idea what these flowers are called, but they're pretty pretty.

Aaaand here is the kind of picture I did not want to take, super super average picture of a sakura tree.

A road made of flowers. Definitely not fit for walking on though.

I really could not take enough pictures of the flowers... I doubt that I have seen such a beautiful array of flowers before in my life

Once again, no idea what these are called, but they sure are pretty.

And to finish off the day, took some closeup shots of my backpack.

And if we go back in time to slightly before the earthquake, we have this:

At some point in the middle of everything that happened, I cooked myself what I thought was an outrageously delicious meal.

Back in the time machine, set the destination for last week, and we can visit the time when I went to Kichijouji for a weekend of hang-out walk-around drop-dead fun.

These handlebars are WAY TOO HIGH. Or just right, for an orangutan

Saw some mobile stores (?) that had some vehicles that looked like volkswagens, but were most likely not real volkswagens.

Got a pretty artsy picture in, at a restaurant we visited while we were in Kichijouji

Saw a Porsche, took a picture on instinct...

Went to starbucks, saw some glasses, took some pictures of those glasses.

I can’t say I’m the Starbucks “type”, but I guess I was hanging out with some.

And because I love repetition....

And that’s the end of my super random April/May adventures. Still have a ton of pictures to go through, as usual, for some of the more useful adventures (travel features), but who knows when those will be up.

For now, I’ve got to focus on work, school, and fun, and my hands are full with the last one alone.

Maybe I should start using some sort of closeout line like: “BBMIJ Out”. Nah.

BBMIJ Travel Series 2011: Osaka

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Despite how poor I was (and still am), I went on a trip around Japan with some friends of mine in March. In usual BBMIJ fashion, the posting of the pictures and experience are several months late, though this time, I think I might have some sort of excuse, with the whole earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown thing that happened and is still ongoing in Japan, as well as me starting up school again.

To get to our first destination, Osaka, we took a night bus (for around $30, pretty cheap) from Shinjuku station. As you can guess, me and Japanese buses don’t mix. However, luckily, for the trip there, I was sitting next to a friend of mine, so we just sat slanted the whole way there. As you have by now guessed, it was probably the same size if not smaller than coach on the smallest airliner you’ve ever been on. The part of the seat that was supposed to be behind my head was at the top of my shoulder. Though I’m sure it won’t be the worst ride I’ve ever been on (I know my future is full of all sorts of possibilities), it wasn’t very comfortable… For an 8 hour bus ride.

Because I jump at any opportunity to work on my camera skills, I also took pictures DURING the bus ride (More accurately, at a rest stop, also, didn’t see any hookers, if you were going to ask):

Took some random picture of some random sign at a random rest stop.

A better view of the whole rest stop we got to visit. For all your rest-stop lovers.

Upon arriving from the bus trip (we were literally stopped on some street corner… no idea where we were or what to do next), this was this first thing my friends and I saw:

Japan is nothing without electronics stores that are far too big.

Nice to know that though we were lost, we could easily buy the technology to get us found if we needed to.

Along the way, we found a patch of Chu-hi plants (Chu-hi are Japan’s alternative to beer, it’s kind of like a Smirnoff Ice):

Japanese technology is superb.

of course, I also made sure to take a picture of my important traveling companion: my scarf.

In actuality, this scarf was obtained from a friend.

Luckily, a friend of mine was also a fantastic ketchup artist, so we were never bored while we waited for the next adventure to start:

Not a waste of time, at all.

That particular day, my merry band of travelers and I visited a friend’s apartment, and got a good look at the rainy scenery of Osaka, for a total of 1 minute before proceeding to play Playstation.

A rainy day in Osaka.

Though I have tons of pictures (I took over 300 in Osaka alone, and it was just the beginning of our trip), I think the ones from Universal Studios Japan (USJ) are the most interesting, so here they are:

It all started with a trip to Cyberdyne systems, for the Terminator 3D Ride, which I thought was surprisingly well done.

Cyberdyne.... Building is pretty well-kept, not as big as I thought it would be.

Then my friends and I tried to ride this ride… but I could not, due to one of the Bs in BBMIJ. I’ll leave it to you to guess which it was.

I was too big for this ride. No joke.

Fortunately (?), this gave me a lot of time to wander the park alone and get great pictures of the rides and attractions. I was able to walk almost the entire park while my friends were on that hollywood whatever ride.

From the hollywood whatever ride... The roller coaster went right through the park

Woody the woodpecker was there... In statue form

Woody's wife was also present, alone... For some reason

Some penguin character I may never have known the name of...

Hard Rock Cafe, near the entrance to USJ

The boardwalk at USJ... Though I'm no longer sure what a boardwalk is...

Right after we left the turnstiles.

Interrupting real life, as well as movie introductions, it's the Universal Globe!

The unofficial creepy camera guy of USJ. This guy was way too excited to be there... He was also definitely creeping out this lady clown that was there

Afore mentioned lady clown, escaping.

And in my absolutely random random street wandering set of pictures:

This picture was quite literally named: random street shot. For good reason.

This was the street corner that led into the part of the park that seemed to be fashioned like 30s New York... No idea why it was there

Some random cool looking retro store fronts...

What could the purpose of this building possibly be.

A shot of the various widly colored streets and buildings at USJ

Another random street shot...

The last random street shot that was actually named accordingly.

Also, for some reason, there was some sort of Americana inspired diner in the middle of the park. Maybe this is normal for Universal Studios parks, but this was the first one I’d been to, so I didn’t quite understand. Was also a super weird sight to see in Japan…

Seems to have no association with the baseball team. Though the Mets do still suck.

Yellow Hot Rod, with extra hot.

A closeup of the tire of the hotrod, though I don't think that's what I meant to focus in on.

Also saw this white classic car... Pretty ashamed to say I have no idea what it is... Looks like it handles like a boat though.

Another car parked outside the diner... Beautiful.

The parade of classic cars never ends... Each one more amusing than the last?

Just in case you haven't had enough classic car pictures.

Low angle shot, just to make sure you've absolutely had enough.

After going by that diner, I took a stroll along the park and took some scenic shots:

A waterside view of USJ

Wide angle view of the water front at the park

Sigh, I take so many similar pictures but never want to delete any of them...

Time travel back to before I entered the park, and this is what I saw

Second shot of the skyline before I entered. Screw continuity.

A randomly placed pier at USJ... I really don't know what theme they were going for... Made for a good picture, though.

Some USJ Performing group... Marching toward the stage, and drumming up interest, though a picture was enough for me.

Another ride I couldn't ride because I was too Big. Go figure. Sounds lame anyway

A lot of the park was also themed or various movies (as is probably painfully obvious to people who have been there before… but was new to me) first was Jaws:

Nice truck? And really thorough-looking recreation of the set!

The Jaws picture area, complete with huge shark and retro pickup

This sign looks just like an American road traffic sign! Well done, USJ.

Jaws shop...

I want a statue just like this made of me. Though I do not want to fight a shark to do it.

Were there that many boats in the movie?

Aaand completely unrelated to Jaws...

Kind of related to Jaws, but this should be the office of a loan shark...

The entrance to the Jurassic Park themed area of the park

The car from Jurassic Park... well, it looks like it. Not 100% accurate

Jurassic Park Ride...

And since I’ve just about reached my limit for trying to organize the pictures in this post, I’m going to just start posting them at random.

That sign is for a japanese beer maker, but it's the US themed area...

Not sure if the park staff were cleaning or making art or goofing off. Either way, I got a picture

Snoopy Backlot...

A shop based on the Pink Panther? Cool in theory...

Movie Theatre... Way over the top

Louies. Maybe I should recognize it, but I definitely do not

No better way to end or begin than the delorean.

Evidently, Japan is going to be just fine.

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Despite the enormous losses so many people in Japan have experienced and all the families that are in danger now just as much as 4 days ago, check out what I just saw on TV.

Yeah, that's a tea bag. And a tea cup. And a guy dressed in a monkey suit.

What is even supposed to go in this caption that will make this make sense?

Gosh watching this made me feel so much better about the flurry of natural disasters I just lived through.

Japan is just extraordinary. In every meaning of the word.

First 3 months of 2011?

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I’ll try and do this in the future, but this sentence is here to warn you that the following post contains rougly 80-90% Text and 20%-10% images. For those who are squeamish with paragraphs and long explanations and all around badly written/conveyed thoughts, please scroll as quickly as possible to the bottom, where there are pictures, which although being worth more words, are somewhat better than reading.

So, I’ve been on break from school for about 1 month solid now, and have finally returned to doing things that seem to possibly bear a passing semblance to productivity.

As such, I’m updating the Blog.

So, in February, after New Years (in which I DIDN’T do any shrine visits on the days after… too tired/uninterested/poor?), school started back up again like it always does, and we were all of a sudden in the closing days towards finals. I’ve tried to block out this part of my semester from my brain, not because it contained a particular amount of studying (I’ve always considered finals a blissful time, mostly because of the large amount of free time schools often give students under the guise of “studying for finals”). I try and block it out because it was peppered with the sentiments of people who were leaving Japan soon.

Many of the friends I have made in Japan were 1 semester students, and seeing them leave was pretty sad. There wasn’t a big touching departure scene where all parties cried and rain fell, but there were possibly a lot of man-tears choked back on both sides.

And then, the sweet release of spring break. Though I’m unsure if it’s just my university, they start school here in Japan in April, and there is a break from around the end of beginning of february until then. As soon as break started, though I had to keep up with some part-time jobs I do, I was pretty free to do anything I wanted… So I have. Until now. Sorry.

Either way, something huge also happened in February – I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine, with the intention of fully bringing the house party to Japan. Though I might not have stated this before, Japanese people don’t really party inside their homes very often. Small gatherings? maybe. Spirited board-game nights and tea ceremonies? Probably. But full on parties don’t happen very often. Also, the vast majority of them have never heard of certain party games that are a must for college students to at least know of. We set out to right this wrong, and liberate the Japanese people.

We managed to find a relatively cheap and spacious apartment (yeah, I know it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s close to true), and spent most of February moving in and getting settled. Due to moving, I was seriously busy and couldn’t really do much in terms of other things, but it was definitely an eventful month.

And on to march, the current month. I spent the first 5 days of month on a trip to Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto, 3 parts of Japan that people often say to make sure to visit before I leave. With this, I am definitely done with all traveling that I plan to do in Japan. I’m not one for sight seeing (I like Google Maps though), but I wanted to go on at least one trip, to avoid incurring the wrath of certain influential people/relatives.

While I’d love to post all the pictures right on here, there are 841 of them. No joke, I took 841 pictures over the course of 4/5 days. That’s somewhere around 200+ images a day. I have been literally avoiding post-editing/cropping/doing ANYTHING with the pictures for the last 2 days, and I’d love to keep up the streak. So for now, I’ll share all the built up pictures that I’ve had stored for blog posts.

It will be random. It will be pointless. There won’t be enough. Enjoy.

(On a serious note, most of the pictures have a theme, so they’ll be coming in later posts…)

So I finally got around to making some more impulse buys that aren't edible, and here are some of the things I snagged. Some are awesome, some are less awesome but still awesome, and one is just headphones.

Let me some words about stores in Japan. They’re weird. They’re awesome and weird.

I bought all the stuff pictured above from a store called Village Vanguard, it’s a “variety” store in Japan (other famous ones include one called Don Quixote, if you can wrap your mind around that). They have a lot of stuff, much of it weird, much of it cool, but very undeniably japan.

For example:

Yeah, the english is just about right.

Shouldn’t have to say any more.

Well, other things:

I bought a tiny Gundam that I saw at the convenience store for like 400 Yen ($4.80ish USD), had to buy it. I am no Gundam maniac (yet?), but I thought this was a nice little doodad. Yeah, I said doodad.

And finally, outside… Though I’m no longer sure how representative this is of February in Japan:

It's the outside world through my old room!

There’s a lot more to come so stay tuned!

New Years in Japan 2011 (Super Super Late)

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So, I’m currently on spring break from school. With the way the Japanese college semester works at my university, we are in school from September (October, really) till late January/Early February. Needless to say, I’ve been in full do-nothing mode, as college is one of the few times after high school where people have things like “Spring break”. Though I spoke to a colleague of mine and she reminded me that adults have breaks too, and they last as long as you want, they’re just called something else; “Layoffs”.

That aside, I want to try and dig up/recall everything that happened for my New Years in Japan. I take pictures for this very purpose, and while I can’t say I had such a crazy new years as to need these pictures to remember anything that happened, they are certainly very helpful for me.

In stark opposition to many other foreigners in Japan who try and experience a very-ultra-japanese new years, I ended up spending my new years surrounded by the largest amount of foreigners I’ve ever seen in japan.

Here’s the scene — Me and some friends (and by some I mean like maybe 7), spend our 2010-2011 New Years in the (widely regarded) “sketchiest” place in Tokyo, Roppongi. Home to a lot of bars and clubs, it’s the kind of place where a wallet or two might get stolen. Not “rival-gang territory” area bad (for those who can identify? I can’t but I thought I should be considerate of others), but just a little on the sketchy side, as is often the case with places that have a lot of leisure/pleasure focused businesses.

Roppongi also happens to be where Gaijin (foreigners) probably most often go to party. And on New Years, there was NOTHING but Gaijin. I say nothing but, and of course, it’s an exaggeration, but there was probably about 3 Gaijin to every 1 Japanese person. This might not seem like much, but I should mention that in my everyday life, it’s about 10 Japanese to every 1 Gaijin, and that’s not even in crowded areas like trains or downtown. It was insane.

But I digress, me and some friends went out to a club, and partied the night away. As I didn’t want to destroy my camera, it didn’t see much use after we left a friend of mine’s dorm (since it was much safer there), so I only have a couple pictures, but maybe if you want a more detailed explanation, you could go watch “The Hangover”, a great movie that might perfectly capture what my night was like (minus pet tiger, mike tyson, drugs, car, wedding, and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten).

Either way, enough talky-talky, more pictures.

A Manga that I read in the US. It is really old, yet pretty popular in Japan, and it was weird to see it in book form (I usually find it online....)

Why was I taking pictures of books at a new year’s party? Good question. I think the party hadn’t quite started at that point…

A parked subbie I saw on the way to the party, had to stop and shoot a quick picture of it.

Some friends of mine walking towards the party. I think I might have previously hated how good I am at night-shooting.

As expected, multiple friends had parties and gatherings... At one of them, they were making a traditional japanese dish called Nabe. This is essentially what it looks like before it's cooked... I think it is called 'Hot Pot' in englishy translation speak.

A closeup of the most important part of the afore-mentioned dish. Hint: It is not the tofu.

This. Looks. Delicious.

So what about all the pictures of this epic party I said I have? There’s one. I’ll leave the rest to your imaginations and that movie I mentioned.

I wonder if what's in that water bottle is water...

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