29 December 2006

Weird Ghibli Installation

Today I was wandering around Shiodome (on the way back from Comiket!) and I ran into this totally bizarre installation which was from Studio Ghibli. It's a little bit of Ghibli-esque old-style mecha design... in the middle of a skyscraper district!

From Ghibli at Shi...

Check out my album for more photos!

26 December 2006


Well, there's nothing like writing holiday cards for training you how to write your address. Although most of the cards I sent have my return address in English, eventually I just buckled down and learned the Kanji.

It's a lot easier to write the name of the neighborhood as 元赤坂 than as Motoakasaka. Also, both my work and home addresses have the name of the neighborhood twice, once in the building name and once in the address itself. So, with Kanji, my entire home address is

but in English it's
107-0051 Tokyo-bu Minato-ku 1-7-4 Motoakasaka Leito Court Motoakasaka #603

Don't worry, this is only a temporary apartment, so it's OK that it's on the Internet ;-)

25 December 2006

I'm legal!

Woo-hoo! I went to the "Foreigner Management Bureau" (aka Immigration) today and picked up my Working Visa. I can now be paid!

Tomorrow morning I'm going to go to Minato-ku building and try to get my Gaikokujin Tourokusho (Alien Registration Card), which is the gateway to lots of things, like getting a bank account, renting an apartment, and (the most prized of all) getting a real Japanese cellphone (I still haven't decided whether to go DoCoMo, au, or Softbank yet though -- anybody out there with Japanese cellphone experience?).

18 December 2006

I had to do it

So, I tried Tokyo Mexican tonight at a place called "La Jolla" in Hiro-o. The truth is... it wasn't bad. The tortillas (the thing I was most worried about) were fine, and the green tomatillo salsa was actually really good, tart and fresh. The red salsa... well... tasted more like Bolognese sauce. But overall it was OK, and they even had a real selection of Mexican beers (Carta Blanca, Negro Modelo, Tecate...).

17 December 2006

Do they have these in the U.S.?

I was wandering around in Kamakura today, and the surfers all have these on their bikes so they can carry a surfboard to and from the beach. I've never seen 'em in the U.S., do they exist there?

16 December 2006

Japanese Grocery prices

I was wandering through a grocery store tonight and saw some amazing examples of the Japanese predeliction for beautifully packaged, expensive food. Here's the extreme version: a single abalone for $27.

As you can see, especially when it comes to seafood, Japanese are quite aware where their food comes from.

Check my picasaweb for more examples (scroll to the bottom).

13 December 2006

Second Life

Nicely summarized. Thank you, Joystiq.


12 December 2006

Wow, they have Engrish in Japanese too

Tonight's TV program: Japonica Logos. These guys run around Japan looking for examples of badly written Japanese. Then, they make fun of it on the air! Some examples from the recent show were "Do not go into the batting cage alone" (a typo, meant to say "do not enter together"), a sign on a faucet that says, "do not drink this bottled water," and a sign on a door that said, "do not enter while standing." Of course, all these examples of Japanese Engrish are accompanied by ludicrously over-dramatized music and three trash-talking hosts - this IS the country that gave us Iron Chef, after all.

09 December 2006

Flash vids

http://www.joshuaheld.com/ -- Teletransport

http://badaboo.free.fr/merryxmas.swf -- Shouldn't be watchable... but somehow...

04 December 2006

Yay! The Japanese government likes me

I got my Japanese Certificate of Eligibility today... It means I'm almost ready to work in Japan! (I just have to change from my visitor's visa to a working visa, which hopefully I can do without returning to the U.S.). In the meantime I have a *very* official-looking document to my name. Like virtually all Japanese pieces of bureaucracy, it has my picture embedded in it and everything ;-)

This is very exciting because it leads down the road to... lots of stuff. Once I get my working visa, I can apply for the Alien Registration Card, which will let me rent an apartment of my own, get a cellphone under my own name, buy furniture... you know, everything! :-)

02 December 2006

Cool comic


Far away, and yet...

I was eating breakfast today at one of the local cafes (it's a Tokyo branch of Seattle's Zoka coffee roasters, http://www.zokacoffee.com/), which always has jazz playing (they have live jazz every so often, in fact). I was studying there so I settled in for awhile and eventually noticed that there was a commercial completely in English coming over the radio.

After listening a few more minutes, I realized Zoka's in Tokyo was playing... KKSF from San Francisco. Those English commercials were for local San Francisco businesses. Heh.

For the benefit of non-Kanji-readers...

...here are a few words you will encounter on Japanese laundry machines:

普段ふだんfudannormal, or everyday (often the default wash cycle is labelled this way)
注水ちゅうすいchuusuiflood, or filling-with-water
行程こうていkouteidistance. This is often used in combination with chuusui to indicate how much to fill the tub.
毛布もうふmoufublanket (these have special washing instructions)
洗濯石けんせんたくいしけんsentakuishikenlaundry detergent