Archive for September, 2008

Okonomiyaki

Saturday, September 27th, 2008 | Food | 5 Comments

I just got home from dinner. Me and Mike met with our friend Koutarou and his two friends, a chinese guy named Ding (who Koutarou called Dragon) and another (I think) Japanese guy from Osaka whose name I didn’t catch.

We wanted to try Okonomiyaki, a popular Japanese dish. The name literally translates to something like “cook what you like”. Basically when you order, you get a bowl of the stuff you ordered (ours had bacon, shellfish, shrimp, eggs, and various other things in it — it was a bit expensive at about ¥1100).

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Energy Conservation

Friday, September 26th, 2008 | Lifestyle | 1 Comment

Here in Japan, energy costs are very high, so Japanese people are very big on energy conservation. For example, the master AC and heating for our dorm are set to 28C (82.4F) and 22C (71.6F) respectively. Yeah, that seems a bit backwards, but those numbers are right.

Of course, each dorm room has its own individual air conditioning control, also, and students are strongly encouraged to use the numbers above and turn the unit off when they leave the room. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but after a long day sweating in the heat and carrying a heavy bag full of textbooks around, I want to come back to a room that’s cool. However, I’m told by the nice people in the Center for International Programs that the dorm managers, Mr. and Mrs. Gotoh, have come to them with the electric bill before and complained that people are using too much power. Of course, I’m sure our computers being on about 24/7 doesn’t help, either.

Another place you can see energy conservation in Japan is in the cars they drive. Students often drive these’s little motor-scooter-like vehicles that get great gas mileage, but max at about 35mph or so. Everyone else in Japan seems to drive these tiny little toy-like cars, SUVs, and trucks. It’s pretty ridiculous, actually. However, gas prices here are about 165¥ per liter, which is about equal to $6.00/gallon, so they need vehicles that get better gas mileage. Going smaller and lighter… is certainly one way to go about that.

Now, this is all well and good, but there’s a problem hiding in all of this. Of course, I’m referring to the blatant, rampant waste of energy all over Japan. Chubu University is in Kasugai, which is a little town near Nagoya… and even here, pretty much every restaurant, car dealership, supermarket, and convenience store has not only super-ultra-bright lights inside the store which blind you as you go in, but no… they also have FLASHING LIGHTS out by the street just in case people weren’t aware from the blinding light coming through the windows that there’s some kind of shop there.

You think that this is an exaggeration… well, unfortunately I don’t have any pictures (I would’ve taken some today, but it was raining), but here’s an example (I know there are more out there… I’ll post them when I find them):

You may think this would only be in big cities... but no, there are several buildings like this even in Kasugai.

You may think this would only be in big cities... but no, there are several buildings like this even in Kasugai.

So yeah… energy conservation seems to be a dirty lie. That or the entire reason that energy is so expensive is because of all this waste. Who knows…

Cellphones

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | General | No Comments

So yesterday did not go at all as planned. Well, at least according to my plan. I’m sure it went right according to plan for some people. In any case, this, of course, means that I’m not going to be writing about food like I said I was going to be, but instead I’m going to write about something that took way too much time and was extremely exhausting: getting a cellphone.

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Yookiso

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 | Culture | No Comments

So classes started today. Everything went well. Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, so there aren’t classes (Japan is awesome for having that as a holiday). Anyway, nothing really out of the ordinary happened today… we’re going to Softbank tomorrow to try to get phones, so I’ll update everyone on how that’s going tomorrow evening. As of now, it looks pretty messed up. All the cell phone companies started charging high cancellation fees, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Anyway, going back to yesterday! To start off the day, we met the people from CUPS (Chubu University Peer Support), a group of Japanese students who help us crazy gaijin out with daily life on and around campus. They met us outside the dorm at 9:00am, and after that we walked to the school bus stop, paid our 200¥, and rode to the train station. From there, we got on the train at Jinryou Station and rode to Chikusa. This cost another 230¥. We then switched over to the subway from Chikusa to Kakuouzan, which cost ANOTHER 200¥. From the Kakuouzan subway station, we walked maybe ten minutes to get to the Yookiso Villa, where this multi-cultural event was happening.

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Yookiso Multi-Cultural Event

Sunday, September 21st, 2008 | Culture, Food | No Comments

Today we went to a multi-cultural event in Nagoya at a place called Yookiso. It was a good time, but I’m going to have to write about it tomorrow… I’m like dead tired right now, and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it without falling asleep at my desk. Instead, I’ve uploaded the pictures I took on the trip (60 total) for your enjoyment. Of course, these will receive explanation when I write the actual article about Yookiso. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

Yookiso TripYookiso Trip60 picturesSep 20, 2008

As a side note, there’s a nice, small ramen shop which isn’t too far away called Dosan-hime. Me and Mike ate there tonight, and it was quite good. I had shouyu ramen, and Mike had miso ramen, then afterward we shared a plate of (rather freaking good) gyoza. Suffice it to say, it’s the kind of place we could get used to going to.

Japanese Vending Machines & Gomame-ya Ramen

Sunday, September 21st, 2008 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Since I’ve been in Japan, I’ve seen about a billion vending machines. I’ve yet to confirm the rumors that you can get anything out of vending machines in Japan, but so far they usually seem to hold three things: tea, coffee, and several varieties of flavored water. Oh yeah, and every once in a while, jelly in a can…

In any case, I’ve been slowly making my way through all the drinks in the vending machine in the cafeteria on the 2nd floor. So far I have enjoyed almost all of the different types of flavored water I’ve tasted. I say flavored water, but honestly, they’re probably just weakly flavored drinks, which in my opinion is absolutely no different. :p The one type of tea I tasted was a bit too bitter and earthy for my tastes. The tea we have with pretty much every meal, though, is growing on me. I have yet to try any of the coffee drinks, as I’m still clinging to the last threads of my anti-caffeine beliefs.

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So I promised…

Friday, September 19th, 2008 | Food, General | No Comments

So I promised to take pictures of my food, and I finally remembered to actually do so. For breakfast this morning we had scrambled eggs (they put ketchup on MINE for some reason…), some kind of rice, miso soup, a couple little side things, and, you guessed it… cabbage salad. Anyway, here’s the picture:

Well, that’s one promise down. My other was that this post would be about the people we’ve met. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of them, so I can’t really fulfill that one quite yet. Instead, here are a couple pictures from yesterday. The first one is me on my way to the welcoming ceremony. The other is a “fun” picture taken of all the study abroad students after the ceremony. I’m in the top right, and you can’t really see me because I’m behind a couple other people… :/

Pictures

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | General | No Comments

So I’ve been requested to explain the unexplained pictures that I posted the other day… so here goes!

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Breakfast & Dinner

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 | Food | No Comments

I think I’ve said before, but the food here is wonderful. In our dorm, there are 4 floors. The 1st floor is all male exchange students, the 2nd and 3rd floors are Japanese freshmen, and the 4th floor is all female exchange students. On the 2nd floor is the cafeteria and lounge. The cafeteria serves breakfast and dinner Monday – Friday and breakfast on Saturday.

For lunch we generally eat at one of the many places around campus… I think I’ve already mentioned that the food at the student cafeterias is very, very good. So far we’ve only eaten at Cafeteria #2 (there are 5); it’s right next door to the Center for International Programs, which is where most of our orientation-related stuff has been so far.

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My First Full Day…

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 | Lifestyle | No Comments

So, my first full day in Japan was completed successfully. Everything went well. The placement test went well, the campus tour went well, the fingerprint registration for the dorm went well… heck, even walking all around town for hours and destroying my feet went well. So well that I think I might never be able to walk again… New shoes + tons of walking = pain.

Other than that, though, I’m having a good time so far. Since it’s late (not actually, but I’m a bit jet lagged), I don’t feel like writing anymore. Instead, have some unexplained pictures!

 

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