Saturday, November 29, 2008

Last Weekend.

My Internet came back for a day and went out again. According to the manager it should be fixed on Monday. Anyway, here's an account of what last weekend was like, since I didn't have time until now to blog about it.

Friday: Shinjuku, explored Kabukicho and observed hosts as part of my research.
Saturday: Harajuku, purikura with Kelley and Kenisha, then went to a restaurant in Shibuya. Karaoke afterwards--I sang READY STEADY GO by L'Arc~en~Ciel, Coast to Coast by Bonnie Pink, and Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.
Sunday: Did laundry, homework, took a nap, cooked, and straightened my hair.

Saturday morning was the highlight of my weekend. For the first time, I bought a ticket to a concert in Japan.
First, Internet has been down on my floor since Thursday night. Tickets went on sale Saturday morning at 10, so I had to go downstairs to use the public computers to try and order a ticket.

Buying tickets is somewhat similar to the process in America, except for a few more options. Like Ticketmaster in the U.S., Japan has a few places to order tickets for various performances. Ticket Pia and Lawson Ticket are just two of the sites that do this type of service. A few weeks ago I got an account on Ticket Pia to prepare for two concerts, JACK IN THE BOX 2008 and Peace and Smile Carnival.

So Saturday morning, around 6 a.m., I went downstairs to use the computer to check the time for ticket sales for Peace and Smile Carnival. Ticket Pia was doing server maintenance, so that's when I got an account on Lawson Ticket. I went back upstairs and then went down again around 9:30 to wait for sales to open.

Lawson Ticket was being difficult with me while I was trying to buy a ticket. When my credit card (check card, actually) finally got through, tickets were sold out.

It was only 6 or 7 minutes after 10:00.

Ticket Pia gave me trouble even before 10, not loading the page for the concert. This may have been because everyone might have been visiting at once. After refreshing several times, the page finally loaded and I saw that tickets were still available. As quickly as I could, I filled in all the info and submitted it. Then came my confirmation page! I got a ticket!

So now I'm officially going to Peace and Smile Carnival. JACK IN THE BOX 2008 tickets go on sale tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get a ticket for that too, since that's the concert I was planning to attend before I even came to Japan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Internet at the dorm was working for about a day, and then it stopped working again last night. So, while I'm here at the media library, and while it's still Thursday in the United States, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am very thankful to have so many people supporting me while I am abroad, and I really miss all of you.

When my Internet comes back for good, I'll write more about my past weekend and some other things that have been on my mind. Right now I'm just catching up on my e-mail and trying to get some work done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I think I'm in...

Fangirldom? It's not love...not that serious, lol.




So on Sunday I went with Kenisha to watch 容疑者Xの献身 (Yougisha X no Kenshin; 'The Devotion of Suspect X' is how I translated it). There was only one reason why I wanted to watch this movie, and it was because of this guy:



Fukuyama Masaharu, 39 (still within my 20-year limit for fangirling, as I turn 20 this year), Japanese actor, musician and photographer!

Though he IS good looking, that's not what got my attention at first. It was actually from watching a preview of the movie on TV--I thought his acting was brilliant and unique, perhaps because of the type of character that he portrays. Yougisha X no Kenshin is actually a spin-off of the popular Japanese drama ガリレオ (Galileo), in which he plays Yukawa Manabu, a genius physics professor that helps a rookie police detective solve crimes. I've yet to see the drama, but it wasn't necessary to enjoy the movie.

I wasn't really that interested in seeing the movie at first, but then I kept seeing this guy on TV and I became curious. He's in a number of TV commercials, his ads for Kirin FIRE are everywhere, and he had performed in some anniversary concert for some music variety show a few weeks ago (I forget the name of it). I was thinking, "Just who IS this guy? He seems really popular!" Then Kenisha told me she had gone to see the movie with her friends at school, so I just HAD to see it for myself.

Seeing this movie was a test of sorts as far as listening comprehension. The storyline was pretty easy to follow, though; in fact, I think almost anyone could get the idea of what was going on without listening to the dialogue. I found that if I consciously tried to translate what the characters were saying, it was much harder to follow. This might be because I don't really know the English meaning upon translation, or because translating along the way distracted me from what I was currently watching. Anyway, it's a good movie, and if going to the movies wasn't so expensive I might have considered seeing it again just for Fuku-chan (just one of his adorable nicknames given by his fans--another one is 'Masha', so kawaii!!). I hope someone fansubs it when it comes out on DVD.

I've been wondering why I find older Japanese guys more attractive compared to the younger ones. tetsu is only a few months younger than Masha, and Nao is the oldest member of the band alice nine. at 27 years of age. I think that, not only am I immune to rabid fangirlism (especially when it comes to VK and Johnny's boys...EW), I also tend to admire more realistic and more mature guys. But although my age limit for...'celebrity admiration,' if you will, is 20 (actually 19 and 364 days), my age limit for marriage is possibly lower--it depends on the person, I guess. I think celebrities like Masha appeal to a range of age groups for a reason, and that's because they know how to connect and attract fans in such a way that does not discriminate or alienate. Masha may be 39 and famous, but he doesn't act like a famous star and he still has a somewhat youthful appearance (hair, clothes, etc.).

For those of you who remember my mention of Eiji Wentz...I kinda bumped him down to some rank that isn't #1 on my list of 'admired' Japanese men, for obvious reasons...and because I think he's gay. And by 'gay' I mean FLAMING. He's still cute and funny though, so it's cool.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Peanut Cream is not Peanut Butter, and Other Shopping Tales.

This is not a case of 'not reading the label'. I read the label.

"So if you read the label, of course you should know the two are different."

Not necessarily. Because there are plenty of things in the food realm that have slightly different names when translated from Japanese to English, and vice versa.

So when I read "peanut cream" on the container, I figured, "Oh, this must be what Japanese people call peanut butter," because peanut butter doesn't really have butter in it.

WRONG.

Japan has peanut butter too, and then there's this stuff:



It's like peanut sauce, except more of a solid consistency and not hot. It didn't taste bad...but it's not peanut butter, which I wanted for my sandwich.

I'm sad. Because what this also means is that the 'real' peanut butter that I saw at Seiyu really is unavoidably expensive. This peanut cream only cost me 88 yen, and I'm not hesitant to throw it out since I know I'll never use it. In fact, I did just now.

Grocery shopping (or any shopping) in Japan makes me appreciate shopping in the United States a lot more. I see a bag of 24 individually wrapped cookies for 300 yen here, and realize that in the United States, I can get twice that amount for 3 or 4 dollars.

Produce is somewhat cheap, except for tomatoes and other fruits. Beef is ridiculously expensive if it's home grown, so I wait until the local grocery store at Fujimidai has imported beef on sale.

I know by now that a place like Japan really isn't for the kind of person who wants to find bargains, because it's hard. I wanted to find a bag for school to replace the one I'm using now, which is a few years old and cost only 5 bucks at this shop in Beltway Plaza. I've searched Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Nerima, and bags of the same size and even smaller can be very expensive. Not only that, but I'm very picky when it comes to design and quality, which makes shopping even more difficult. Maybe I need to lighten my load when I go to school, but I feel I've lightened it as much as I possibly could, so a smaller bag just won't do.

Oh well. The search continues...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The World Ends With...well, maybe not this time.

Finally, I went to Shibuya on Saturday.

I know I know, it wasn't my first time there; I mentioned being there a few weeks ago for clubbing. But this time I went for myself.

I bought nothing there. For me--a plain and poor gaijin college student--Shibuya is a bit...well, it's not my style. But I have yet to discover everything this treasure has to offer, since I had a few other things on my agenda that evening.

Shibuya is a mix of high class and youth culture, though for me it was all the same--everything is expensive and thus I had little interest in shopping as opposed to simply observing. And the observing was especially enjoyable for me, thanks to a Nintendo DS game called "すばらしいこのせかい," or in English, "The World Ends With You."

No, I can't read people's thoughts with my Player Pin. And there are tons of brands of clothing, and I don't think any particular brand is matched up with any particular area, only to change to a different brand within minutes. But, as TWEWY is based in Shibuya, the map in the game does resemble the real thing.

I came out of one of the station exits, looking out towards "Scramble Crossing," or at least that's what it's called in the game.



Yeah, there's HMV (known as AMV in the game) and Seibu (Shibu Dept. Store). Walking around Shibuya is just like walking around in TWEWY.

Here's the famous statue of Hachiko, which was near the station entrance:



The story of Hachiko is very famous, and numerous references are made about this dog in Japanese pop culture (I first learned of it from the NANA anime). Hachiko is known for loyally waiting for his master at the station as he returned from work every day. You can read the rest of the story here.

From my first visit to Shibuya coming out from a different station exit, I had recalled seeing another landmark but couldn't remember how to get to it. I turned on my Nintendo DS and loaded TWEWY to figure out where it was in relation to Hachiko. Just like in the game, I made a turn at the West Bus Station Terminal, and around the corner was what I had been looking for:



I don't know if there's any story to this. I know it's called the Moyai Statue. As you can probably tell by now, this post is mostly revolving around the real Shibuya in comparison to TWEWY.



Tower Records even looks like TWEWY's "Towa Records"!

I could've taken endless pictures showing TWEWY fans the resemblance, but it was pretty crowded; after all, it was a Saturday evening.

I must also note that, from my first visit to Shibuya, the club we all went to (was it 'Club Adam' or something?) was surrounded by love hotels. Kenisha told me during our second visit that this particular area on Dougenzaka is called "Love Hotel Hill." Go figure.