~Skammie~

Archive for the ‘Japan Goodness’ Category

I took my grad photos on Wednesday…

But I have to retake them again!!! >< The reason? They gave me the wrong sash (colour and style) for the graduation gown outfit. This means:

1) I have to rebook a timeslot, and they are SUPER filled already (except for the mornings)
2) I wasted my money for professional make-up last time…well, “half wasted”, since half of my pics were not taken with the gown

My friends all tell me I should argue with Artona until they give me some kind of compensation…ie. tell them to give me money for my make-up AND hair again (although my mom did my hair last time…haha). I’m also wishing to take ALL the shots again, including the ones of me wearing the dress instead of the gown, and then I hope to be able to choose from ALL of those shots taken in the 2 sessions! If they agree to do this, this retake of photos can be a good thing afterall!~ But I really suck at confrontations like this…ugh, I feel horrible to be mad at the person, but I really really want something of value to make up for it, especially when Artona photos are SO expensive already. 😦

Anyway, on a happier note, I finally mailed in my JET application!!! 😀 Now all I can do is wait: first for the confirmation that they’ve received my documents, then for the good news *fingers crossed* that I qualify for an interview! I will update you guys with the news when it comes! But that may not be for another month or two…

When I was filling out my JET application, I got to give a few preferences of where I want to go in Japan. Having this important decision to make (although there are no guarantees of placement), I did my best to research on the different geographies of Japan. Now that I look back, this took waay too long and I feel very nerdy having done this in such detail. 😛 Call me picky, but there are sooo many factors to keep in mind, including (in relatively ranked order):

1. Dialect:
= I want to learn/improve on “standard” Japanese instead of a Japanese dialect, and apparently, there are many different “-ben” in Japan (eg. Kansai ben)
= Kantou region (including Tokyo) is where standard Japanese is based on
= avoid Okinawa, south Kyuushuu region (including Kagoshima), and Touhoku region for sure

2. Urban vs. Rural:
= I want the best of both worlds, so I chose “Semi-urban (Small city/town)” as opposed to “Urban (Large city/designated city)” and “Rural (Small town/village/island) on the application
= I don’t want to live on a rice farm or small towns where I’d get bored within a few weeks
= I don’t want to live in a TOO tourisy or noisy place either
= It’s super hard to end up being placed in the big cities with JET, since most people ONLY know of the big cities and there are more rural areas than urban areas available
= also see next 3 points below

3. Ease of befriending locals:
= I really want to make local Japanese friends more so than fellow exchange workers from all over the world
= the smaller the town, the more the people can get to know you intimately
= I heard Osaka/Kansai people are friendlier than Tokyo/Kantou people

4. Living expenses:
= I hope to save some money if possible
= obviously, big cities in Japan are quite expensive with everything
= the costs outside big cities drop considerably lower

5. Convenience to big(ger) cities:
= Japan is world-known for its big busy cities along with the hotsprings, sakura, and many other things, so being able to visit them again and again (without the travel costs sky-rocketing) is pretty important…and of course, it’s for watching CONCERTS too!!! 😀 😀
= I’m sure you know the major cities already–Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka…

6. Specialties:
= Anything note-worthy to see (nature, landmarks, buildings, historical stuff), to do (festivals, hot springs), and to eat. This is SUPER hard to make comparisons between different prefectures and cities cuz each is unique…
= I think I’m more of a Kansai food (okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon) girl than a Kantou food (soba, natto) girl, although I do love sushi too, which is from Kantou
= I also like tonkatsu, gyouza, and miso ^^ (of course, for all these foods, i’ve only had the western samples of it, so I can’t make my final judgment until I try it for myself in Japan!)
= I’m not big on seafood >< (haha, this has turned into a food section instead 😛 )

7. Climate:
= I prefer a place with a different weather as Vancouver, but i’m not sure how successful this will be
= Okinawa is BEAUTIFUL with all those tropical sunny days! But during certain months, it can have crazy typhoons 😦
= Hokkaidou is too cold and has too much snow (although I do love snow, especially for snowboarding, but seeing it for such long periods is not so fun)

8. Ease of meeting up with friends & family:
= I have a couple of friends living in Tokyo and Kyoto right now. It’d be cool to visit them, plus it’ll probably help to break the barrier for making local Japanese friends!
= My parents may come visit me, so somewhere more convenient to get to would be nice~

There are more points for considerations that I can’t quite put a finger on right now (but I can tell you, I did think a bit about the birthplaces of some of the JE boys ^^).

And now for the wonderful websites that fed me information until 4:00 am a few nights because I was super hooked!
1) Wikipedia:
Japanese Dialect
Japanese Prefectures, scroll down to see also the list of Regions and Prefectures, and the MANY links you can go from there! YAY! 😀
Japanese Cuisine, scroll down to see also Regional Cuisine

2) Wikitravel:
Extremely helpful (and rather fun to read ^^) site for planning your next travel to Japan, including TONS of practical tips for everything from transportations to accommodations to restaurants and to sight-seeing locations!
– Click on the links to the Regions to narrow it down to the Prefectures and then to the specific cities! YAY! 🙂
Hitchhiking in Japan…not that I’d really recommend it…

3) Japan-guide:
Homepage, this may look a little overwhelming with info at first, but you can use the top navigations buttons to search around
Japan Geography (zoom into specific locations on the left bar)
Japan Travel, Japan Living, Japan A-Z, and Forum (Dive deeper into the sub-categories of each because they are FILLED with practical and useful info for everything related to going to Japan…although I still haven’t worked through most of it!)

It’s pretty much impossible to read through absolutely EVERYTHING on these sites, but hopefully you get a kick out of the ones I posted! Have fun reading and I hope you learn lots!! I know I sure did~ 😀 Let me know too if any particular pages stick out at you as totally worthy to be read!!

By the way, if you are interested, the location preferences I chose [after MUCH attempts with difficulties to balance out all the factors of considerations] are 1) Chiba Prefecture 2) Chiba City and 3) Saitama Prefecture
If you didn’t know already, Aiba Masaki (Arashi), Yamapi (NewS) and Tanaka Koki (KAT-TUN) are all JE boys from Chiba Prefecture~ ^_^

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After 3 or 4 months of deciding that I really want to spend a year in Japan after graduation come May 2008, I have FINALLY done something about it!~ *gives myself a giant pat on the back 😀 *

Just looking back, I’m not quite sure what started all this craze to go live in Japan. I’m sure it being Takkiland played a part, but probably a more important reason is that I really wanted to practice and use my Japanese skills somehow, and living in Vancouver doesn’t give me justice. And I realized how obsessive my I-need-to-go-live-in-Japan mentality has become when today, I watched a short video clip about the JET program (more on this later) and just seeing people being in Japan and living in Japan (yes, even just regular daily lives) makes me all excited and ドキドキ. I think it’s a sign that I’m border-lining insanity when my eyes lit up even from watching such documentary clips. Back in hs, I’d seen MANY clips like these, but they were always so boring and such a drag.

理由は何?!

  • To improve my Japanese (hopefully pass JLPT level 2 at least)
  • To experience the Japanese culture (traditional and pop cultures) hands-on
  • To train myself to be independent and able to live on my own (1st time away from home for that long!)
  • To get away from school for a bit
  • Maybe to try out missions in Japan
  • To make new friends
  • To go bf hunting 😛 (joking!….or am i?)
  • To be closer to my beloved Johnnys (Family Clubs, concerts, magazines, releases…all within reach without the suckiness of being an overseas fan~YAY!) ^_^
  • To give myself a challenge and experience of a lifetime!

Everyone tells me that after getting my 1st degree would be the perfect time to do this, since I’m not tied down by work and I’m (relatively) mature enough to take on the challenges of living on my own in a foreign country. I’m SO convinced! ウャ~ 楽しみ!!

So in the past week, I’ve emailed/messaged/asked some friends for information. Some of them are in fact in Japan right now! They are all so willing to help~ Thanks a bunch, Crystal, Hannah, Bernice, Renita, and anyone else I may have missed (sorry!). To make a long story short, I’ve basically come across these possible opportunities:

  • The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET)
    The largest, most well-known and established organization that I’ve found so far. They send people to be Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) to help teach English in public school systems. I just went to their info-session today and I’m super pumped right now! 😀
    [Status = info-session attended, starting to get my application together]
  • NOVA
    Apparently a private tutoring company that is really going downhill. I’ve heard that they are even struggling with paying the tutors :S
    [Status = no progress]
  • Peppy Kids
    A private company that hire teachers to teach young kids
    [Status = no progress]
  • Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF)
    A Christian organization that sends people to do missionary work, which ranges from English-teaching, to church-planting, to internship, to I don’t know what else
    [Status = email sent, no reply yet]
  • Pioneers
    Another Christian missionary organization like OMF
    [Status = email sent, reply received, still need to follow up and explore my options]
  • A Christian organization that teaches English from a church in Japan
    A friend of Crystal has been involved with this in the past 3 years
    [Status = email sent, no reply yet]
  • Private tutoring ONCE I get to Japan
    Sorta risky, but still a suggestion from Bern’s friend nonetheless
    [Status = awaiting Bernice to contact friend, so I can ask her directly myself afterwards]
  • Working at MacDonald’s
    HAHA, just because Richard apparently knows a friend who is the manager of a Japanese MacDonald’s
    [Status = very VERY last thing I’ll do, so no progress (and let’s keep it that way!)]

Wow! I feel accomplished~ But there is still SOOO much more to do *argh* Oh well, I will be updating my blog of my Japan trip planning process as I gradually make progress. Of course, if anybody has any experiences living in Japan and has advice to share, I’d love you for it! Anything at all, I’d really appreciate it~ ^_^ YOSH! Let’s turn this dream into a reality! 😀

Admit it. We all do it to some point…I’m sure.

Before school starts again, I wanted to sort through my mind and jot down my list of nominees for both groups and individuals of Johnny’s World. Do note that this is based entirely on MY OPINIONS (I think I’m putting a lot on the line here as a Tackey fan), so do not attempt to hunt me down and stone me for it! *runs* Of course, you are more than welcome to voice your views too, but please be respectful and considerate and refrain from any trashing talk, ok? ^^

Groups:
[1st place] = Tackey & Tsubasa
– for being the most natural, down-to-earth, genuine, hardworking, and humblest group of all…in other words, just being themselves!
– for the closeness of the duo, which is like no other
– for having the BEST fandom/fangirls around! “All you need is [T&T] love” ^^

[2nd place] = NEWS
– for singing the best jpop songs…a lot of my fav songs are sung by them
– for being the group with the best vocals overall
– for their cute & happy image ^^

[3rd place] = KAT-TUN
– for being the sexy JE group with slutty moves (which i must admit is actually kinda hot :P)
– not exactly loving many of their songs with a rockish side though…

[4th place] = Arashi
– for their typical upbeat, happy songs (though they don’t have the best voices around)
– for being the group having the most choreographed boy band dances…i think
– I don’t know enough about them to rank them higher, but I’m working on it! And they have potential to overtake KAT-TUN someday in my ranking…

I don’t have much interest or knowledge about the other groups to make reliable comments about them…yet 😛

Individuals (nominations within their groups) [only top 2 favorites ranked]:
Tackey & Tsubasa:
– #1 = Takizawa Hideaki 滝沢秀明
> for having the best mix of hotness, cuteness, dorkiness, and seriousness
> for his incredible acting skills
> for being the respected senpai that everybody loves (and he no doubt earned it too!)
– #2 = Tsubasa Imai 今井翼
> for having such awesome vocals *melts*
> for his ever-so-smooth dance skills…that’s why he is one of the JE dance kings, desho?
> for being Tackey’s partner since childhood and bringing out the best in him 🙂

NEWS:
– #1 = Masuda Takahisa 増田 貴久
> for that CUTE CUTE face that is always smiling! ^^
> for his unique deep sexy voice, whether talking or singing *drool*
> for his built body *hot*!
– #2 = Koyama Keiichiro 小山 慶一郎
> for his sense of humour that ALWAYS crack me up…over and over again! (eg. watch this)
> for writing my fav jwebs (his “Member Love”, which are always so interesting and funny to read)
> for having quite a nice singing voice, but not exactly the best looking guy though…
– Best vocal/Baby face = Tegoshi Yuya 手越 祐也
– Prettiest smile & Brightest eyes = Kato Shigeaki 加藤 成亮
– Drama king/Mr. Popular = Yamashita Tomohisa 山下 智久
– Mr. (too) Cool = Nishikido Ryo 錦戸亮 (least fav vocal)

KAT-TUN:
– #1 = Kamenashi Kazuya 亀梨和也
> for being down-to-earth and genuine
> for being such a hard worker (and the real leader of KT *runs*)
> for being a cutie overall ^^
– #2 = Akanishi Jin 赤西仁
> for his hotness that goes so well with his pretty face
> for his abnormally slutty sexy hip-swaying abilities
> for having one of the best (if not the best already) vocals in KT
– Most talented (he can beatbox AND has a nice singing voice) = Nakamaru Yuichi 中丸雄一
– Most innocent/Mr. Smiley/Mr. Acrobat = Taguchi Junnosuke 田口淳之介 (least fav vocal)
– Most gangster/Raptor dinosaur sound-alike (Don’t ask me why his rapping voice reminds me of a raptor, but I mean this in the nicest way possible!) = Tanaka Koki 田中聖
– Girliest/Most withdrawn = Ueda Tatsuya 上田竜也

Arashi:
– #1 = Aiba Masaki 相葉雅紀
> for his love and care towards both kids and animals that makes you go “awww”
> for being a lovable cutie/dork (eg. his engrish and must watch this!)
> for his exceptionally whacked out experiments in A no Arashi
(> least fav vocal)
– #2 = Ninomiya Kazunari 二宮和也
> for his boyish good looks
> for making the big screen and being on the red carpet
– Drama King/Closest to being Italian = Matsumoto Jun 松本潤
– Prettiest smile/Mr. Rap = Sakurai Sho
櫻井翔
– Leader = Ohno Satoshi 大野智 (least interesting guy)

And just for fun, I’ll throw in a personality test that some of the Johnny’s did before. I’m glad I got the same result as Takki! ^^

Shimura Zoo

Posted on: July 22/07

Let me say this straight out first: I love YouTube. It is my key to discovering many all things I would not have known otherwise, from random to actually educational! Without it, I would be utterly hopeless in catching up with the Japanese culture that I find absolutely fascinating and which I love so dearly right now. Ahh, if only the video quality was better…

But when YouTube has closed down you account for the 2nd time due to uploading “copyrighted material”, it is really no fun at all *humph*! All those favorited videos that I saved!! ALL GONE! 😡 Should I get another acct to save up those vids again (and not upload anything)? Hm…maybe that’s what I’ll end up doing. I’ll see…

Anyway, today I had one heck of a good time watching videos off YouTube!
Presenting my new favorite show:
天才!志村どうぶつ園 (Genius! Shimura Zoo)
Exotic animals + Celebrities + Japanese = AN AWESOME SHOW!!!

From the episodes I’ve seen so far, it seems like the basic idea is that a celeb is sent to a house, where an animal (or animals) awaits them. They then have to take care of them for an entire day. It seems like they do not previously know what kind of animal they will encounter either. That added up with the unexpected things that animals do, which result in even more unexpected things that the Japanese celebs will do, makes this such a funny and cute show at the same time!! Aiba-chan from Arashi is one of the hosts too, though he’s not featured during the VTR parts, which are the part I’ve been watching. Check them out yourself because I can’t squeal over them enough! It makes me want some of these as pets~ 😀

I’ve posted here the part 1 links to these videos. I hope you can find the other parts yourself! If not, leave me a msg and I’ll post those links up too ^^
Becky & Koala
Becky & Panda
Becky & Beaver
Izumi Mori & Cheetah
Takki & Monkey (actually, i’m not sure if this clip is from part of this show, but it seems to fit in very nicely~)
Aiba in South Africa (not part of the “animal-at-home” series; it is just him visiting an African zoo. But watching Aiba-chan speak Engrish is SOOO HILARIOUS *think of the Jr. Disneyland clip where Takki goes “I-I-I don’t cry” and Aiba asks the lady “Do you speak English?”* except this is even more of that! XD)

Those are the ones I’ve watched so far; I will definitely be digging up more of these later on~ Tanoshimini! 😀

= edit: July 23 =
More clips worth sharing!
Aiba in the Phillipines
Aiba’s 1st Task
Aiba’s Engrish (compilation of the many clips where he speaks Engrish, mostly from this show) <– I couldn’t stop laughing!!!

Aiba-chan~ You are too cute!! My love for you has grown so much in the past 2 days ^_^

Drama Time!

Posted on: June 30/07

This is more for my own reference than anything else…but here are the Jdoramas I have lined up for this summer (and the months to come)!~
*note: subject to updates ^.~*

Completed:
– Strawberry on the Shortcake (SOS)
– Boku Dake no Madonna
– Hana Yori Dango 1 & 2
– Majo no Jouken (Forbidden Love)
– Nobuta wo Produce
– News no Onna
– 1 Litre no Namida (1 Liter of Tears)

Ready to be watched: ie. discs available or downloaded already
– Taiyou wa Shizumanai (The Sun Never Sets) (note to self: try to translate for Michelle to sub!) (1/11) <– CURRENTLY WATCHING
– Taiyou no Kisetsu (Seasons of the Sun)
– Antique
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
– Gokusen 1 & 2
– Proposal Daisakusen

Future musts: ie. find a way to get it or start d/ling soon!
– Yoshitusne
– Kurosagi
– Hana Yori Dango 3
– more to come…

Future interests: ie. will decide when the above are finished
– My Boss My Hero
– Summer Snow
– Stand Up
– Dandori
– Sapuri
– Tatta Hitotsu no Koi
– Anego
– Any other suggestions?

(See how much I love Johnny boys and Oguri Shun? 😉 There is at least 1 in each drama! *LOL*)


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