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Japan Blog: 2006 archive

December 12, 2006 (2006年12月12日)
December Big Update #1
(Updated March 1, 2007)

I'm long overdue on giving updates on what I've been doing here in Japan. So, I'm going to try to do that tonight. Note that not all of the pages may be up immediately; if you get an error saying a page isn't found, well, I just haven't got around to finishing that page yet. Check back in a day or so.

Before I continue with the new stuff, a note: I redid the page with all the photos from the festival in Himeji. The page now has thumbnail previews of all the images, so dial-up users can decide which photos they want to spend 5 minutes downloading. Unfortunately the videos have not been redone, and I really don't plan to do so since there was nothing absolutely spectacular to see. Some of the videos were cool, but if you're on dial-up I'd say you're okay skipping them.

So, what HAVE I been up to? Let's see here:

...PHEW! So, I guess that although on a day-to-basis I'm not really busy, I have indeed been doing some things over on this side of the pond. So, where to begin... Kobe!

I went to Kobe to visit a pen pal of mine who was visiting from Kochi prefecture. We mainly just did a little sightseeing: we stopped by some stores, we went to see the Port Tower (Kobe's landmark), we went through Kobe's Chinatown (yes; even Japan has Chinatowns, and that doesn't mean the entirety of Japan, either!), we saw the Kobe Peace Wall, we saw the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, and then we parted ways. Not a bad little outing, really. For pictures and video, check the Kobe page.

It was during the Kobe trip that I found out my camera phone is capable of recording really long videos, after I equipped it with a decent memory card. So, I started taking a few pictures and stuff around Himeji. Most of it is only mildly interesting, but the gem in my mind is the photos I took of a Japanese restroom - specifically, the toilet paper VENDING MACHINE. That's right; at the train station in Himeji you have to pay 100 yen (about $1) in order to have something to wipe your butt with. ...Kinda makes you wonder about some fast food restaurants in Japan, if they don't supply toilet paper: "Free TP with purchase of value meal!" Okay, haven't seen that, but the thought is amusing. Anyway, for pics and video, check the Himeji page.

Oh, as a special bonus on the Himeji page: there's a couple of photos taken in Takasago, the city where my school is. If you're into anime at all, check out the One Piece minivan!

So, I've -started- to do some basic cooking here in Japan. As in, beyond ramen and beyond microwavable foodstuffs, I can cook ONE thing, and that's gyoza (Japanese potstickers, I guess you could say). I've just been cooking them in a frying pan with water, but the result isn't bad; not too high in calories and they taste fine, even if they're only a little crunchy. For pics, check the cooking page.

On November 3rd, I got to go check out the Osaka Kaiyukan, which may be the largest aquarium in Japan. Whether it is or not, the place is huge! Honestly I'm not overly big on gawking at different stuff in a zoo or aquarium-type setting, but I still enjoyed seeing the different creatures that this aquarium had to offer. Going to an aquarium in Japan is a unique experience; it's one of the few places in the world where you can hear the people around you say "Oishii sou!", which roughly translates into "they look so delicious!" Anyway, for pics and vids, here's the aquarium page.

Okay, it's true I'm still into playing games at the arcade. I still do DDR, although I do it a lot less often due to boredom with the offerings here in Japan. I have been playing some other games, and also just have been observing some of the stuff they have here in Japan that you don't see in the states. Check the arcade gaming page. So far I only have one noteworthy image: when the server for a large multiplayer arcade game goes down, it really sucks. Check it out =)

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- Vultaire

October 20, 2006 (2006年10月20日)
Quick Update

Just posting a quick update. I still need to resize some pics for the dial-up users out there. However, I did happen to get a new pic from the teacher who took me to the matsuri. Here it is:

Vultaire at a Japanese matsuri

- Vultaire

October 8, 2006 (2006年10月8日)
Matsuri in Himeji

Today I have some real Japan content for anyone out there. Today I got a real taste of Japanese culture when I attended a festival (祭, matsuri) in Himeji. People from several different villages within Himeji came together for this event. Each village brought its own portable shrine (御輿, mikoshi), which they then took to the top of a hill, then back down, and did a bunch of maneuvers and such together with the mikoshi teams from the other villages. Definitely an interesting and uniquely Japanese experience.

The middle of the festival did seem a little drawn out since I'm not fluent in Japanese and wasn't partaking of the abundant alcohol served at the event, however the ending portion made up for this. Around 5 or 6pm, when it started to get dark, the mikoshi were lit up. All the mikoshi were strung up with white Christmas lights or something similar, and as it got darker, the mikoshi were more and more a sight to see.

The teacher who brought me to this event was hoping I could help carry the mikoshi for the village. At the main matsuri event this was not allowed for various reasons, however when the mikoshi returned to the village later that night I got a chance to help carry it.

I've been informed that a mikoshi weighs over 1 ton. Now, I'm not very strong, but I'm not particularly weak, either. I can do a fairly impressive leg press thanks to my dance gaming. However, even with about 40 other people helping to share the load, the mikoshi is UNBELIEVABLY HEAVY.

So, I guess there's maybe a Japanese philosophical point or something to be made about this. This is what I think it is: when you try to carry the mikoshi, you find that your individual efforts have very little effect and that you are easily overwhelmed and thrown about by the sheer weight of the thing. However, the combined efforts of you plus the other 40 or so people there with you, does not make the task easy by any means, but it does make the otherwise impossible, possible.

Enough chat. Today I have some videos and some photos to share. My digital camera sucks, and it especially shows on the glitchy videos. However, the pictures are clear enough and should give you an idea of some of the great stuff I saw today.

Temporary link: click here for access to all my videos and pictures. WARNING: I have not compressed or resized any of this stuff, so unless you have high speed Internet, I advise that you wait until I have time to filter through this stuff and compress some of it.

- Vultaire

October 5, 2006 (2006年10月5日)
Still alive and ticking in Himeji

For anyone still waiting for a good update, well... at least here's an update ^^; I've postponed working on the site for a little while because of technical issues and from being bored as of late. However, my programming and web stuff seems to have become my source of entertainment for the last couple of days, so here I am.

Been brushing up on my PHP a little and know enough to where I can start rolling out a basic site. Now, I was going to have this all database driven, but I've concluded that doing that is really kind of overkill at this point in time. It's more important for me to just get content out to the people out there who are curious on what's happening in my life, and if the database is going to stand in the way of that, then screw the database.

So, what's new? Not a whole lot. Been doing a lot of coding, and plan to do a lot more, so expect to see a lot of changes on this web site both in content and in appearance. The Japan Blog will continue pretty much as it is. Joining it will be the Programming Corner and/or Computer School, which will respectively cover my programming projects and some tutorials about how to use computers (intended for my parents and several others whom may appreciate something on the subject written by me).

One last note: I do have some video and pics to upload to the site. I need to sort through all the stuff I've done so far, so I wouldn't expect to see a bunch of multimedia as of tomorrow or anything crazy like that. However, it IS coming; I promise.

- Vultaire

September 18, 2006 (2006年9月18日)
TMST - Too Much Spare Time

I get the feeling like I need to find something better to do with my free time here in Japan. Frankly I'm getting awfully bored.

Today was 敬老の日 (Keirou no Hi, or Elder's Day). What did I do? Nothing much. I woke up, ironed some clothes, went to an arcade in the River City mall in Shikama, went to an arcade in downtown Himeji, got some dinner at a ramen shop, got a frappuchino at Starbucks as dessert, and headed home, grabbing some junk food en route. Once I got home, I first tried to play some Starcraft, but the time zone diff means very few English language games on the US West gateway. ...You'd think all the Koreans would play on the Asia gateway, but whatever... So I logged onto Aardwolf to grind away a level and do some quests, and while spam-killing 3 or 4 mobs and waiting for that to finish (which takes like 2-3 minutes), I decide to open FileZilla and do a couple of web site updates.

I had more whining which I wrote not long ago, but I accidentally deleted it. Catastrophic loss that was, of course. Anywho, I'll skip repeating it since I need to go to bed.

As a last note, I expect a lot of changes to this web site in the near future. I plan to get the MySQL backend up and running and I plan to rewrite this page and the index as proper PHP. We'll see how long that keeps me entertained. :P

- Vultaire

September 17, 2006 (2006年9月17日)
First Entry

So, yes, I'm alive. If anyone's out there, checking to see if "Vultaire in Japan" has started yet... well, I guess this is a start. Impressed? Heh, didn't think so.

This is just kind of a placeholder page right now. I'm waiting to get either really inspired or really bored, and then I'm gonna code up some goodness here and maybe have a halfway decent blogging site. Might even have some forums or something, too.

Anyway, gotta get going for now. Double experience just started on Aardwolf, the mud I frequent. Gotta go grind for 10 minutes =)

- Vultaire