Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sickness Has Struck Again

There's been a bunch I've been wanting to write about, but I've gotten so sick! It all started during Monday morning during school for me. As such, Monday was a pretty terrible day for us. On top of falling sick, I also got the rejection letter from the job I applied to. Unfortunate, but I guess the reasons were that I was so nervous I wasn't really charismatic or enthusiastic. Maybe too quiet with my Japanese too. I guess I'm really quiet than I think I am when I speak Japanese.

I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to take a shot or two of liquid courage when I go around handing in resumes and for the interview.

Tuesday was my last day of classes, so now all that's left are the two essays I have due in a week and my Japanese finals on Friday and Monday. I've been so sick though that I haven't been making much progress with the essays. I've been making flashcards for my finals, but haven't really had the energy to study them. I'm not sure if what I have studied has even stuck much.

The last time I was sick was shortly after the Nogal trip to harvest rice in Akita and right before Daniel went on his trip to see the Gundam. Now sickness has struck again right before he gets to go to Kyoto and places over there, so maybe since I haven't done anything awesome recently this will balance out my karma so I can find an awesome job? I've been studying up like crazy every day on the internet about what to do and it seems like appearances and that super-duper genki attitude are everything. Tomorrow I think I'll buy some more resumes and apply for any convenience stores I can find too.

I really wish I had some new shorts though. And a new hair cut. And a job. Sigh.

I also wish that my cough would go away. It's just non-stop and painful. Cough drops don't really help anymore although ginger tea seems to have some good effects. However, since it's tea and tea=caffeine, I don't dare to drink it after 3pm. I wish I could buy some medicine, but it's just so expensive...

It's funny though since it appears that there's been an increase in people wearing masks recently. I guess we've all just caught the same thing.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Last Friday (January 14) my religion class visited the National Noh Theater to watch a Noh play. In my class we read a lot of Noh scripts, so this was a chance to get to see one for real. We had studied this specific play right before we saw it so I already knew the way the story goes, but I was very surprised to see that the back of every seat had TV screens that could be turned on to display the subtitles in both English and Japanese. You can see the screens on the back of every seat in the picture above. I thought the stage was very lovely, but unfortunately we were not directly in front of the play. The front actually faces to the right. I was a bit surprising that many ladies came dressed in kimono to watch.

When you go to see a Noh play, they are always accompanied by another play called a 'Kyogen.' I guess the Kyogen is more the comedy piece, compared to the serious and religious nature of Noh plays. I really enjoyed the Kyogen, but it was unfortunately really short. After a 20 minute intermission, which involved me and a classmate seeking out a convenience store since I hadn't eaten before I got there, the actual play begun.

We saw Yamanba (The Mountain Crone). It's a play about a dancer who is famous for a song and dance called Yamanba. She decides to make a pilgrimage to a temple and travels through the mountains when told that Amida Buddha also traveled through them as well, so to travel the mountains would be to follow in the Buddha's footsteps and therefore bring you to enlightenment. Along the way she meets the real Yamanba, who begs her to show her the dance so that she may be relieved of her clinging in the world. The dancer agrees, and it appears that the two become one during the dance since the actor for Yamanba is the one performing the dance, not the dancer herself. After the dance, Yamanba disappears and the play ends.

Now, the script is only about 14 pages, but it takes two hours to perform. I tried to follow the play in Japanese at first, but the script is written in classical Japanese so I ended up switching it back to English because I just don't remember enough classical Japanese anymore. The English translation was a lot different from the one we read in class and even cut some portions of the play out. I think if I hadn't studied the text previously I might have been confused at some points because they didn't tell you what was going on until after.

As far as the play itself though, I honestly thought it would never end. I must have started falling asleep about half way to two-thirds through. Apparently I must have hid it well though since my classmate thought I had been nodding as if I understood the feeling and meaning of what was going on. The rhythm of the drums they were beating and the-I don't know what it's called, shouting? chanting?-just became so soothing it put me to sleep. I wasn't the only one though, since I saw many, many people sleeping through the entire thing. It makes you wonder why they all came to watch it in the first place. To get a good nap?

Noh is known for the elaborate masks the actors wear. I was sitting directly in front of where the dancer had been sitting during the play. The more I looked at the dancer's mask, the more I kept feeling like it was piercing into my soul...

If invited to see another Noh play, I'm not sure I would be very enthusiastic about it. Although my classmate says she slept through the whole thing during the first play she saw, but since it was her second time she was able to stay awake, so maybe the same could apply to me?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Hello Kitty Bus

Today I left school later than I usually do because I had to meet with one of my professors. As I was exiting the gates of my school, I spotted this:
A Hello Kitty bus...!?
There were only two passengers and a huge Hello Kitty plush doll sitting in one of the window seats, which you can kind of see in the picture above.

I wonder if it's a tour bus? If so, I want to find out how to take a Hello Kitty tour of Tokyo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My First Interview

Today was my first Japanese interview for a part-time job. I was so nervous, I had trouble sleeping last night. After much deliberation and critical thinking, this is what I came up with for my outfit:
Layered dress: Gilfy
Inner tanktop: Uniqlo
Tights: WC
I was also wearing my Disney Couture locket necklace and Micky Mouse scarf, but I had taken them off by the time I took that picture.

Speaking of which, I was kind of dreading going out in this cold weather in tights. I see Japanese girls wearing them all winter, and yet I just couldn't understand how they do it. Since I wore a dress today though, I figured I had no choice but to wear tights as well and decided I would give the new tights I got over Christmas a shot. Boy was I surprised! I think these tights are warmer than my skinny jeans. I really need to get myself more Japanese tights.

Right before the actual interview itself, I started to freak out a bit. Luckily I managed to get myself to Shinjuku and up to the second floor for the interview. I was there about 5-10 minutes early, though I'm not sure if that's actually considered a bad thing or not here in Japan.

I'm drained now that it's all over and done with, but I don't think the interview went too badly. We ended up going to the roof of the building, which I was pretty surprised about. My interviewer seemed to be pretty cold though I wasn't too badly off. However, I guess that meant I didn't need to put so much thought into my clothing since we went outside and I ended up being zipped up in a coat the whole time!

When my interviewer read over my resume he was impressed with my kanji, but probably because he wouldn't have expected it of me. He mostly asked me things like my past work experience, transportation to Shinjuku, school, and interests. He also asked me what kind of magazines I read and where I shop at, along with what I want to become in the future, which I answered translator. Come to find out though, you're only allowed to wear heels at their store! No flat shoes.

All in all, I managed to understand everything and answer everything. I hope I portrayed enough genki-ness which would be required of the job. My interviewer said there's five other candidates applying (I noticed they had taken down their help wanted sign), so I'll find out whether I'm hired or not by Monday or Tuesday of next week.

After my second class, when I came home I discovered that Mister Donut had a booth opened in the station. I wouldn't have cared, but I just couldn't pass up on buying cheap donuts that came in such a cute Rilakkuma box!!
And I guess I earned some donuts after I went through that, right?

Now all I can do is wait until next week.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Bit of Traditional Japan

Earlier last week, I went to the bookstore and spotted this store, a hakama rental shop. A hakama is a traditional style of dress that was originally only worn by men, but now is worn by both men and women. In particular, a lot of girls wear them for their graduation ceremony. I'm sure the aim of this shop is to get graduating students to rent from them. Some of the patterns are just so beautiful, I'm a bit jealous that they get to wear such lovely clothing during their graduation ceremonies. A part of me wants to rent one just for fun, but that would probably be a bit expensive.
Speaking of traditional uniforms, a member of my club recently came to the club dressed in her archery club uniform. Looking at it kind of makes me wish I had also joined a traditional Japanese sport.
But then I think of the work and practice that would be involved and maybe it's not worth it after all...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First Resume

It took me a while, but I finally did it! I finished my resume and I handed it into the store today. I had to include a picture with it though, and I didn't really like the way it came out. Unfortunately the booths only allow for two tries so if you don't like either than you're screwed. I brought scissors with me to the train station so I could specifically cut the photo out and paste it to my resume. Many thanks to everyone who answered my questions about the resume while I was trying to figure it all out!

When I handed it in though it was a bit awkward. I couldn't find the guy I had consulted before and the manager of the store was busy with a client, so I handed it to the second girl working there. I tried to think up the keigo way to say "Is it all right if I give this to you?" but I couldn't remember it so I just used normal polite. But it seemed to be okay because after she confirmed I was really actually handing her a legitimate resume, she went and gave it to the guy. I really wish I knew his name, since he'll probably be the one interviewing me. We set up my interview for Monday at noon. I hope I can do well! I mustn't forget my visa though, just in case.

I asked him what kind of clothing I should wear, and he said that "normal" clothing is fine. Well of course this is Tokyo and everyone in Tokyo's "normal" wear is a bit dressed up, especially for a store like the one I applied to.
I bought myself these new eyelashes before I left. I've been wanting these for a while now!

Dolly Wink Nail Polish

I started a shopping service recently, and I've finally shipped off my first order just last Thursday! So, I decided I'd buy myself some new nail polish. I decided to go with lavender from Dolly Wink's line.
Unfortunately, I have to say I'm not really a fan. I found the nail polish to be super thick and it took me forever to put on and smoothing it out was near impossible! Speaking of impossible, it seems my camera is incapable of taking pictures of purple things. They all come out the picture above isn't really accurate of the color that came out.

The above is the actual color. So, my nail color came out a bit darker than that.

In any case, don't think I'll be buying Dolly Wink nail polishes again.

UPDATE (two days later): My nails are already chipping even though I added more topcoat. I am disappoint.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yakiimo & Chicken

Video courteous of Daniel. You know you are in Japan when, similar to the fashion in which the ice cream truck drives by with its own music, a truck with a man singing about yakiimo (baked sweet potatoes) drives by in your neighborhood. They drive at a crawl, and you can hear the song for quite a while as they go through your little section of town. Just like little kids go running for the ice cream truck in the United States, people here make frantic dashes for the yakiimo truck.

In other news, I've taken quite a leap of faith today in my dinner tonight.
It looks like chicken in ketchup? You can never be so sure when you're me whether it'll be safe to eat or not.
So I got myself a chocolate donut just in case I didn't like the chicken part and only ate the rice. It tasted surprisingly good. Which is good, since I managed to finish eating it. The donut was okay for a packaged donut.

I'm so glad that chopstick packages come with toothpicks though. So handy whenever food gets stuck in your teeth. Even in restaurants they have cups filled with toothpicks at every table. Too bad American restaurants don't do this too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Recently I've begun the steps for getting a part-time job that is something other than teaching English. The first step is getting what is called a 履歴書 (rirekisho), or a resume. Writing a resume here is completely different from in the states. Every job and company uses the same format and you don't need a cover letter. You can find resume forms at any convenience store or book store, and get a pack of four or so for less than a few dollars. Natsumi, a member from the same club as me, was kind enough to help me go buy one at the book store at my school last Friday (January 7). But first, we took a bit of a detour to a nearby place that is famous for their taiyaki.

The place is called Wakaba. It's a 5-10 minute walk from my school. However, because the road to Wakaba is lined with tall buildings blocking out the sun, we were very, very cold! Yet despite the temperature, there were a lot of people lining up waiting to buy warm and freshly handmade taiyaki. As such, it was a kind of a long wait, so I took a couple of photos of the surrounding area. The whole time the smell of waffles filled the air.
The display case in front of the store.
A cat sitting in front of a real estate agent's office.

Then it was finally our turn.
A plate of taiyaki. I had just eaten a couple of onigiri (rice balls) for lunch, so I wasn't that hungry and opted out of trying them. I'm also not that much of a fan of the flavor of the sweet bean paste they put it inside the waffle. If only it were filled with chocolate...! 
In the corner of the store, they had this on display. All shops display this for good fortune and wealth during the new year. This one's a lot more elaborate than I've seen at other restaurants, but I guess the lobster is common for stores that deal with food. People display a similar thing in front of their houses as well, but it's just pine and bamboo.
Once my club mates finished their taiyaki, we saw that there was writing on the plate. It says, "May the tails of your taiyaki always be filled with bean paste." I thought this was peculiar and asked my club mates if in the past they didn't put the bean paste in the tail, but I guess that wasn't the case. All the same, it's kind of cute.
Speaking of cats, I saw this one on my way home from school. Perched on top of the place where everyone throws their trash bags on the appointed days, it felt like it was piercing into my soul...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's a bit late, but Happy New Year!

On New Year's Eve we went to Zojoji Temple.
Zojoji Temple is right next to the famous Tokyo Tower. It was so close we felt like we could touch it! My goodness it was so crowded, but even more surprising was the amount of foreigners there. There were food vendors all over the place together with really long lines. We went inside the temple as you can see in the picture above first.
Inside was a gorgeous gold Buddhist display along with a long offering box in front of it. Many people were throwing coins in and praying.
Outside and around the back of the temple, I managed to snap a picture of myself in front of Tokyo Tower.

Back behind the temple we found some pretty interesting things. The sign above includes a poem about cherry blossoms.
In a second temple they had another similar display along with souvenirs to be bought.
Why did we choose Zojoji Temple? To see them release 3,000 balloons at midnight! Unfortunately we didn't notice the line soon enough, so we couldn't get a chance to get one of the balloons to release. I suppose that's not such a bad thing though, considering by the time we were done exploring the temple grounds we decided we were both tired and had headaches and it would be better to went home early since we still had at least three hours before midnight. We stopped by Gusto for dinner since we were starving and dying to eat something warm. I got 'chicken Cesar salad' and different kinds of hot dogs and sausages.

At home we ended up watching this enka and singing competition on TV. The New Year programs weren't quite like the ones we're used to in America. No ball dropping, no fireworks, no seeing what other people were doing around the world. Then again, we were one of the first places to welcome the new year. It was a bit disappointing. We were hoping they would show the balloon display on TV, but they didn't have that either.

Now I'm already back at school, which started back up on Thursday (the 6th). Just a month left to go before the fall semester finishes! Can't wait for spring vacation to start.