Shuin-chou / Heian Shrine

Friday, November 5th, 2010 by Rintaun | Shuin-chou | 2 Comments

Anybody that has known me for more than a short period of time knows that my hobby, when you look at my life in general, is having a lot of hobbies. To be entirely honest, I’ve had so many hobbies that I can’t even begin to remember them all. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had a real hobby, but I’ve finally stumbled upon something new that I’ve become pretty interested in. It is, as the title of this post suggests, my Shuin-chou. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything to the large majority of the world, so I doubt that many people reading this blog (if any) will know what it is.

Written in Japanese, it’s 朱印帳 (shu-in-chou). “Chou” means book, and “shuin” are red seals. So it’s a book of red seals. Okay, so I should probably explain it in more detail than that. First, though, some background. In Japan, there are two primary religions: Buddhism and Shinto. Buddhism is prevalent all over Asia, and recently, the world, but Shinto is unique to Japan. In the past, Shinto and Buddhism mixed rather often, but from the 1600s on, due to anti-Buddhist sentiments and various other causes, rigid separation between Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples was put into place. All over Japan, there are temples (which are buddhist) and shrines (which are Shinto).

So getting back to the point: what exactly is a “shuin” and why do you need a book for it? Well, when you go to a larger shrine or temple, you can, for a small fee (usually 300 yen — about $3), have them sign a book and place their red seal on it. It usually includes the date and the name of the temple or shrine, but sometimes also has other things written. I first learned of them when we went on a class trip to Kyoto. One of the teachers, Nakabayashi-sensei, had started her Shuin-chou in January, and the other teacher, Watanabe-sensei, saw it, thought it was cool, and started her own. I saw theirs and thought they looked cool, too, so I asked them and learned what they were. Of course, I then bought one immediately and got my own started. It was at Heian Shrine, in Kyoto, which was built in 1895 for the 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Kyoto. It was designed after the Kyoto imperial palace, on a 3:5 scale — but even so, it’s rather large.

It’s a really cool shrine; it’s probably one of my favorites. Of course, it was also the last of the shrines and temples we visited on our Kyoto trip, but I guess that means I just have to go back to Kyoto eventually to get the shuin from all the other places, too. Anyway, that’s all for now. I am planning on posting a bit about each shrine or temple I visit, so stay tuned!

And again I depart…

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I leave in just over twelve hours to return to Japan. Just thought I’d let anyone that still checks this website know. Hopefully, I’ll continue to blog throughout the six months I’ll be in Japan. No promises, though.

~Matthew

“Hi, I’m not a good enough teacher, so I’m going to artificially inflate your grades!”

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

This annoyed me.

A good study guide: a 3-5 page summary of the material that has been covered
A bad study guide: a copy of the (multiple-choice) test with ten extra questions mixed in that won’t actually appear.

Can you be anymore blatant with your intentions?

Sigh.

SnOMG!

Sunday, February 7th, 2010 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | No Comments

My power was out all morning, so I didn’t bother taking any pictures. It’s back on, now, so here you go! :D

I hope you can tell the scale of things in these pictures…

Snowpocalypse!

Saturday, February 6th, 2010 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | No Comments

“Well, this is certainly odd!” I’m sure you’re thinking. “He’s posted again after so many months! There must have been a disaster, or something!” Well, okay, I’m actually pretty sure you’re not thinking this, because I’m pretty sure that you (i.e. a person reading this blog) don’t exist.

Well, anyway, as the entire world (yes, the entire world) is covered in miles (yes, miles) of snow, I find myself more and more readily accepting my fate. I’m not much a fan of snow, admittedly, but in immensely large quantities, I think it’s fun. And awesome.

That aside, I took some cool pictures, and thought I’d post them, so that even when the world is covered with snow, and nobody can ever get anywhere again, and we all die (this is clearly where this storm is headed, and you know it). I just want to note that as I typed that last sentence, my power flickered. Yeah, the world’s going to end, no doubt about it. Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. I took some sweet pictures, and wanted to post them online before the end of the world so that when aliens come and excavate the results of their crazy snowstorm generator beta test (that’s what this is. It’s true; Spore told me so.) they can see some pictures from the common man’s perspective.

Or something like that. I’m not even sure what I just said, or what I was talking about. Anyway, have some pictures!

Oh yeah, also, I’m going back to Japan in September. Just thought I’d get that out there. You know, before the world ends.
kk, bye

It’s been too long, I know…

Saturday, August 1st, 2009 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

…but, I guess there’s nothing I can do about it now. I leave to come back to the States in 5 days. It’s crazy. Before I get to what I actually want to post about, let me make excuses just a little bit. This second semester in Japan was very, very difficult. If I thought the first semester was hectic, I didn’t know what hectic was. But that’s not what this is about, so I’ll move on.

In stark contrast to the last 3 months or so, today was the best day I’ve had in a very long time. Remember my homestay family from way back in November? I may also have mentioned that I visited them again around the beginning of March. Well I spent the entire day with them, today, and it was wonderful. It really brought an awesome end to my time in Japan, I think.

To sum up my day, hmm… it was like being with family. It was relaxing and fun and I had a blast. I’m really, really beat though so I’m going to rush through it a bit.

The day started off bright and early at 7:30am. I got up, at breakfast, and then chilled around the dorm until I caught the bus to the train station, and then the train to Tajimi City. All in all I was on the train for about 15 minutes; I was surprised because by car it takes so much longer… I arrived at Tajimi Station as planned just before 9:30am; Father and Daughter were waiting outside to pick me up.

From the station we went back to the granparents’ house. We talked for a bit and then I (by popular demand) again showed my repertoire of simple card tricks. Everyone was a little bit nervous and awkward at first, of course myself included, by as time went by everyone (again including me) opened up as we had done twice before.

The rest of the day was so much fun that I can’t properly remember what order it happened in, but I’m *pretty sure* that it happened like I’m about to describe it.

After some time playing various different games (including a couple involving Shogi, or Japanese Chess, pieces), we went to a ramen shop for lunch. It’s been a while since I’ve gone to one, and it was pretty good. From there we went to the movie theater. I really wanted to pay for myself, but I’m just about 100% sure they wouldn’t have let me. At the movie theater we saw Disney’s new(ish?) movie, Bolt. It’s about a dog with the same name, and it was rather good. Of course, it was all in Japanese, so I only understood about 90% of it, but it was good.

After the movie we went back to the grandparents’ house and hung out in the barn/shed/playroom/workroom (lol) for the next couple hours. It was fun. We played tag and hide and seek (though it was too small to really play to our heart’s desire, and it was raining outside), and we played in the hammock that hangs in the barn. This isn’t just any hammock, either, it’s a large, square hammock that could hold about 3 adults. If I threw my weight around a little bit on it, I could send the kids flying in the air. It was fun. XD

After that we went to dinner at a place called Meshi-ya (literally, “Fooder” in the sense of “Baker” or “Butcher” or “Food House”). It was a kind of cafeteria-style family restaurant and it was pretty good.

The original plan was to go to the Tajimi City fireworks festival, but it either got canceled by the rain and rescheduled to Wednesday, or was always scheduled for Wednesday to begin with. I missed which it was. But in any case, we couldn’t go, so after we got back from dinner, we set off our own fireworks — in the rain. It went surprisingly well. I think we only had 2 duds, and that might not even have been because of the rain.

After the fireworks were over, we went back inside and sat around eating watermelon and melon for a bit, then finally they drove me home. Unlike the last time, the kids came too. After all, this time I’m going home for good. It was a nice car ride, and it was nice to be able to talk to them the entire way home. It was really like I had three younger siblings all day.

Thank you so much, Maeda family!

That’s all for now. I don’t think I’m going to have time to write again before I get back to the States, so I will say it now: see you soon. :)
Hopefully once I get back, I will have the chance to tell you of my as-yet unchronicled adventures in Japan.

Until then, sayonara!

Weighted Random in iTunes 8.1

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Let me start off by saying that this post isn’t about Japan, really, so if you’re not interested in iTunes or iPods, or my hobbies (:p), you can stop reading after this first paragraph. I am planning on writing up a post on my trip to Nara last weekend, but I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. Anyway, moving on.

As you may or may not know, I have had an iPod for a while now… and frankly, while I do feel overall satisfied with the level of quality that the iPod and iTunes provide, I’ve long had quite a few issues with how certain things are handled. I won’t get into most of them today, becuase they aren’t really relevant. Unlike most of my problems, which are differences between the iPod and iTunes itself (such as differences in sorting), this is an issue that I have with iTunes alone: weighted random in the iTunes DJ (Party Shuffle) feature.

› Continue reading

So yeah, I know, it’s been a while…

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

But I haven’t forgotten about my blog. To keep a long, boring, rather repetitive story short, I’ve basically been extremely busy with class. In between all of that, I’ve been studying (and playing) Go. I haven’t really done anything that interesting since my mom back in March. Today I participated in a Go ranking tournament at the Japanese Go Association in Nagoya, but I lost both of the first two rounds so I didn’t pass. Oh well. Next month I’ll pass.

Moving on, there are now under 100 days until I return to the States. Which of course means I’m planning for next school year, since registration starts in like 2 weeks. It is going to be an extremely hectic year. I had originally planned on staying an extra quarter into the 2010-2011 school year to finish up some random requirements, but honestly, I’ve gotten to the point where I just want to be done — unless all else fails, anyway.

So I figured out how I can graduate in 1 year, but it’s going to be a lot of work. Fall quarter, 21 credits. Winter quarter, 19 credits. Spring quarter, 19 credits. And then I’ll graduate, assuming I pass them all. (Which I probably will with flying colors, but that may just be my ego talking ;) ).

Anyway, my schedule for fall quarter is going to look something like the picture below (at least, I hope so, because any other combination of those classes has overlaps in class times, and I absolutely need THOSE classes).

Yeah, this doesn't look very fun...

Yeah, this doesn't look very fun...

With Spring comes… broken things?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well, it’s finally Spring, and everybody knows that that means a time of rebirth. Flowers are blooming (if you haven’t yet, take a look at the sakura pictures in the previous post), trees are getting their leaves back, and apparently, since it’s a time of rebirth and all, all my stuff seems to have decided that it needs to die so that it can be reborn.

My camera’s been dying for a long time, so I guess I had that one coming, but it finally happened definitively right before my mom came to Japan. Being Spring and all, I decided to splurge and buy a new one. I was kind of expecting to have to since December or so, anyway, so I was prepared for this one.

However, I wasn’t prepared for my laptop dying right after my mom left. It didn’t seem to care that I wasn’t prepared and just up and went on me anyway… at least, more or less. I’ve been having problems with my laptop for a long time now (so many that I’ll probably never buy a Gateway again), but most of them were relatively trivial to fix. This time, my battery is completely dead (from full charge to zero takes about ten minutes) and I’ve now gone through my sixth AC adapter. I decided it was probably just best to put it to its final rest, because I really don’t like having exposed wires out on my desk because its really not safe and it doesn’t work half the time even with them.

So as you may infer from the previous paragraph, I’ve now purchased a new laptop, and am currently posting from it. It’s pretty nice, and was relatively inexpensive, to boot. More than I wanted to pay ($0), I suppose, but you have to get back up and start going again even if you fall down, right?

One thing that I didn’t think about, though, when I purchased the laptop, was that, buying a Japanese model, it would have a Japanese keyboard. Well, it does. Luckily Japanese keyboards also have the English alphabet on them (in the same places, too!) or I would be pretty far up the creek. But in addition to the English letters, it also has Japanese characters on each key, with several additional keys for switching between the different Japanese input methods. Also, symbols are used differently in Japanese, so they’ve reordered them accordingly. Quotation marks and apostrophes aren’t used very often in Japanese, if at all, so they got relocated. The double quote is shift+2 (which you’ll notice is @ for you — that has its own key on my keyboard), and the single quote/apostrophe is shift+7 (which should be &, which is shift+6 for me). I had to look pretty hard for the + sign when writing that last bit, too.

So anyway, I’m planning on posting pictures of the new laptop here in a little bit, but I also need to finish setting it up, so I may not get around to it immediately. See you later!

Sakura Viewing

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 by Rintaun | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well, it’s the beginning of Spring, and in Japan that means pretty much one thing to the Japanese people: sakura. Sakura, if you aren’t aware, are Japanese flowering cherry trees, and they are generally in full bloom for a period of about two weeks in late March/early April. Unfortunately, my mom missed it all by about a week. She caught the very beginning of it, but it’s really most impressive right after the trees hit full bloom. Here’s an example from a picture I took out my window the other day!

Sakura tree outside my window

Sakura tree outside my window

I don’t really know what else to say about this, so instead I’ll just go ahead and link, for your viewing pleasure, to the photo gallery of the pictures I’ve taken of the sakura. Without further ado, here’s the link: http://gallery.rintaun.net/thumbnails.php?album=4

Enjoy!

Note: Right before this, I finally finished posting my mom’s emails that she sent out while she was in Japan, and I don’t want you to miss them just because I put this up, too. So check them out!

 

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