1/17/2008

My First.......... Snow Fall












This is the garden plot next to my apartment just covered in SNOW!!!




I woke up in the morning and found white stuff every where. This happened in the middle of the work week. I was completely surprised by it. It was a shock and wonder to see it!!! The picture above is my car covered in snow.





This is the house across the street from me. It was a striking image to see how pure white everything was and how it just illuminates the whole area brightly. What a joy!!!






Whats crazy about this picture above is that my bike is one of the lucky ones with no snow on the seat, which is good news since this is my daily commuter vehicle. Can you take a guess which one is mine????

Below is a short video on my ride to work. I was a little worried about the street conditions but as you can see for your self it was just wet and slushy.










The days before were quite quite cold and this snowy day was actually warmer, so my bike commute wasn't too bad. The snow only lasted a couple days, so I was lucky to grab the camera and shoot as much as I could.

What a winter so far......... especially in Japan.

Thanks for visiting my site, there is so much more in 2007 that was done, that I am trying to push out on this web blog quickly , before I get too deep into the new year of 2008.
jjc

1/16/2008

Visitor from the West to the East ==> Fall 2007


A great buddy of mine Rich came down to visit in Japan. It was his first time in the country and as of the time of his visit I knew enough to be dangerous as a tour guide. With just a few months behind me in a country that I knew very little about especially not having family and friends as close (physically) to me like before made his visit all the more better, to hang out with a familiar face.





Sofmap operates as many as 16 shops in the Akihabara area including multiple branches, which specialize in used computers. The stores are numbered from 1 to 14 plus the main store and the Kakuta branch.





No Tour is complete with out a striking view of my local train station in Katsuta as shown in the background. Notice the cars in the background very futuristic and the consoles in them are definately high tech, which come standard in this country (dvd, cd, tv, and gps). After a 2 cent tour of my neighborhood and surrounding area of my new home, we were onward to the big city lights of Tokyo!!!
Please note the name of the train.......... Hitachi Express.


One of the temples in Tokyo City. Also a better known area that was also seen was the Asakusa Temple.



Of course my favorite area in Japan is Akihabara in Tokyo city which is a place for tech heads and computer geeks and last but not least, the home of Japanese anime. Hundreds of electronics shops of various sizes can be found around Akihabara Station and along Chuo Dori (Chuo Avenue). They offer everything from the newest computers, cameras, televisions, mobile phones and home appliances to second-hand goods and electronic junk



Two colorful girls were in costume from head to toe of one of their favorite anime characters!!!







Anime and fuzzy cute characters that are adorned in this part of Tokyo. This store was selling these mushroom characters by the dozens.....



As usual Tokyo city is hustle and bustle, the time we visited Tokyo was so busy that they closed the street down for pedestrians. The rest of the time was spent partying up till the sun came out. Although the trip was just a weekend getaway for him, it was a blast!!!!

I think my tour guide skills deemed good since his impression of Japan was very positive.




It was great having him drop into the counrtry and visit me. Of course if it hasn't been said before I will definately say it again that anyone who can come to Japan please do!!!!!

Thanks for visiting my site, there is so much more in 2007 that was done, that I am trying to push out on this web blog quickly , before I get too deep into the new year of 2008.

jjc

1/15/2008

Otsukimi: Moon Gazing Festival ==> Fall of 2007

Otsukimi is the custom to appreciate the full moon called chushu no megetsu. Introduced from China, the custom spread through Japan in the Heian period(794-1192). Dango, a kind of dumplings, together with crops from fields, were offered to the moon. Japanese pampas grass are decorated, while people sit and appreciate the beauty of the moon. In some regions people are allowed to steal the offerings.

I was pleasured by the presence of two great friends one being a co-worker of mine at NAC, to invite me to a Moon Festival that was taking place in Mito City. The day was fun and as viewed in the video's was a great experience to learn about.



A traditional Japanase Tea ceremony. With an authentic green tea that was whipped up (literally) in the teapot shown below. We were to sit as pictured in video with a certain posture during the whole cermony.


This woman is chinese.............enjoying the celebration by wearing a traditional garment.




She is real Japanese, performing the actual ceremony.

The tea is pure and does not contain anything additional, (which means it was very bitter and strong) so some sweet snacks are served only to be eaten immediately preceeding the actual serving of tea. I wasnt able to capture the actual cermony for it went for a while and would be rude to do so.

I tell ya my legs were hurting after sitting in that position for about an hour.....

Time for some sports..........


There were a lot of old fashioned Japanese games that were on demonstration at the festival. This one is just one of the many very tricky, it had taken me a while but I did it!!!!


Sorry the video was taken side ways, but it shows just the first of several styles to the game.



In fact once I got it, the instructor challenged me to other tricks he had up his sleeve. I suceeded and the instructor was so amazed how quickly I learned all of them that I recieved a certificate of completion and was very eager to have his picture taken with me. So I made him a deal....... he can have a picture of me on his cellular and I get to have one on my camera...... he agreed!!!!!!

There was also signing of the symbol which indicates this festival .



What a day it was!!!! After the festival we adjourned to a cofee shop in downtown Mito City. Just to relax and talk about how great the festival was.





Thanks for visiting my site, there is so much more in 2007 that was done, that I am trying to push out on this web blog quickly , before I get too deep into the new year of 2008.


jjc

1/14/2008

Visitor from the West to the East ==> Summer 2007


A great buddy of mine Luis came down to visit in Japan from big bad Cali. It was his first time in the country and as of the time of his visit I didnt know enough to be dangerous as a tour guide. With just one month behind me in a new country that I knew very little about especially not having family and friends as close (physically) to me like before made his visit all the more better, to hang out with a familiar face. It was the dead of summer and hot and steamy it was quite a bit to get used to especially coming form the cool Pacific coast of California.


There was no place closer and better to hang out then in Tokyo City. Just an hour train ride from the airport, we were ready to get our feet wet in the city. In the picture above you can see a human taxi. It was quite interesting to see and surprisingly they managed to get through traffic better than the cars did!!!
After window shopping and touring the city a bit by using the Yamanote Train line the next stop was a very popular destination for many tourist.

Sensoji (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, the center of the shitamachi (lit. "low town").
The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built there for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple.

The temple had hords of people getting around the campgrounds proved challenging but it was fun. There was a line of out door shops that lined the path way all the way up to the temple itself. We couldnt resist getting our hands on some memorabilia of the temple and souveneirs of Japan here.

The temple is massive if you look at the people leading up to the temple, the place is huge. Unfortuneately no shots of the inside can be taken since this place is considered a religous house, but the walls and ceilings had beautiful murals of the Goddess Kannon and Bhudda preserved in its original glory.
Before entering the temple our hands and bodies needed to be cleansed of any bad luck and to wash away any unlucky spirits by the blessed water in this fountain pictured above.
A local Tokyo buddy was also with us and couldnt resist putting his finger on the lens of my camera........classic!!!!

A Japanese garden area lies beside the temple which had a stream and several small Bhudda statues. For as hot as it was every bush and tree were a deep beautiful green color.

With all the busy tourists around we manage to snag one to take a group shot in front of the Pagoda.
The rest of his trip was great by hanging out in the Roppongi area and other major popular parts of Tokyo. I know he had as much of a culture shock as I did being in Japan but I was very happy to offer a glimpse of an eastern country and the culture and heritage that Japanese people have here.
Thanks for visiting my site, there is so much more in 2007 that was done, that I am trying to push out on this web blog quickly , before I get too deep into the new year of 2008.

jjc

1/13/2008

Checking in ..........


Winter in Japan is quit chilly and have come across a special event like nothing I experienced before until now. I wont give up that secret yet, but just wanted to post an update on how things are going on with me. Keeping busy as usual with work......hhmmm....long hours.....winter break came and went like the wind but I managed to get a lot of stuff around the house done which needed organizing and attention. During the break I had taken a special road trip out to one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan which happen to be not too far from me, stay tuned on this 2008 posting and brought in the new year in Tokyo, classic I know but couldnt resist the big city lights since the tallest structure in my town is only 5 floors high!!!

I will be posting a surge of posts very soon to catch up to today.....heeeheeee, there is still so much I want to share from 2007....... especially one of my biggest trips next to Mt. Fuji which which was taking a three day trip to Kyoto one of the oldest established cities in the country rich in history, heritage and culture.....

I appreciate all of you who have kept an ongoing interest in checking out this site off and on, keeping up with a web blog is high maintenance I tell ya!!!! Its been about six months now and for you who keeps checking up on me through this site especially my love to you!!!!

jjc

Reflections of 2007

I've lived in Japan for about 6 months now!! WOW! I really can't believe it. For me the months have flown past. I'm actually shocked at how quickly time is going for me. I don't feel like I've done enough, learned enough, seen enough! I definitely have so much more I want to do before that infamous one way ticket back to the U.S.A. I get crazy sometimes and think about the state of my life (yes I know sometimes I get too deep) and just wonder if this was the right thing to do? Or if I am at a good age to do such things granted this year is the BIG 30, and in Japan no less.......hhhhmmmm....... BUT THEN I THINK THIS:How many people get the opportunity at "this age" to live overseas? I'm experiencing so much and learning so much and living life so much. I like what I'm doing. So what is wrong with what I'm doing???? NOTHING!! As you can see, I've had some "deep thoughts" lately!! But I flip-flop, even though I'm sure its just all in my head?!?



And finally, a few things I've learned these past 6 months in Japan:

13) Don't ask "why" in Japan- it is what it is for no reason what so ever!

12) You think you've adjusted and people in the neighborhood have gotten used to you, but then you go to a new grocery store and they still drop their bread and eggs and their jaws and stare at you!!

11) If you want to meet a gaijin (foreigner), go to Starbucks! It's true- gaijin love Starbucks!

10) Alcohol- the great equalizer

9) Japanese TV dramas are, in a word?, AWESOME and reminds me of Telemundo!!!







8) It's HOT, like living on the sun hot, in August!!

7) Overalls are back in fashion

6) Natto- just say NO!

Natto is fermented soy beans. The beans are boiled, wrapped in straw and left to ferment for several days. They have vitamins, fiber and protein and thus are a good source of nutrition.
Natto dates back at least 1000 years and eventually became a favorite of people living in Edo, the capital city of Japan at that time.
People sold natto basically door-to-door. Some people added it to miso, others added minced onions and soy sauce and then poured the entire sum over some hot rice. It's cheap and has a rather strong odor.
Natto is sometimes used as a breakfast food, mixed with beaten raw egg and soy sauce, then poured over steaming hot rice. Natto is definitely not a favorite of non-Japanese, though, and even many Japanese do not care for it.



5) I don't like earthquakes or typhoons

I have experienced more of these events in Japan than I have ever did.

4) Living abroad challenges everything you thought you knew about yourself

3) The world is a lot smaller than you think

2) Japanese people are in a word "interesting"

1) You are never "too old" to try something completely "out of the box"!!!!

jjc

1/04/2008

!!! Bonenkai !!! Dinner Party




A b┼Źnenkai party "forget the year gathering" is a Japanese drinking party that takes place at the end of the year, and is generally held among groups of co-workers or friends. The purpose of the party, as its name implies, is to forget the woes and troubles of the past year, usually by consumption of large amounts of alcohol. A b┼Źnenkai does not take place on any specific day, but they are usually held in December.






The dinner party was actually quite fabulous. I was surprised that the dinner was held in a very nice hall in a semi-upper scale hotel in Mito City. The entire applications department showed up from all around the country. There were quite a few foks I didnt know.




As you can see the drinks were flowing before the food did! The picture above shows the table I was sitting at with namely my bosses' bosses' boss, so of course I smiled and been a good boy......




There was a show and dancing and a magician and the best of all a raffle!!!!! But, on to the video clips........,.....


click below to see more:

It turns out that the ones below are all new employees who are required to put on a show...... hmmm that must mean I am next!!!






























OKay Okay I know what you are thinking. They are booing. It turns out the magician had the wrong card. But I couldnt tape the last part because he actually did if you look carefully, the umbrella has the correct card printed on it. How he did it? I have no clue but the show was great!!!



The Bonenkai was great, I had a great meal, and great time watching some of my co-workers perform. But the kicker is the last part of the party. Like I said they always save the best for last. If you notice I won 3rd prize, I was so happy (kind of initially). I was modest and decided to go for the smallest prize. So you know, no big deal, I was thinking in my head it is probably some cheezy like a back rub or something........ but I was wrong!!!!!!







I won two tickets to Tokyo Disneyland!!!! I was shocked and became instantly poplular with everyone. Like I said before gossip runs like wildfire around here!!! What a way to begin the new year!!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's


JJC

1/02/2008

Happy New Years!!!!! 2008

Wow what a year it has been for me. I went to Tokyo to bring the new year..... it was great and a new and endearing experience. Just wanted to post out to you guys and gals out there and say Happy New Year!!!!!

Best wishes to all of you for the coming year lets make it a good one.

I didnt make any new resolutions for the year but I think this video below couldnt have put it in better words for me.......enjoy!!!



Best wishes to a new and brighter 2008!!!

JJC