Monday, January 31, 2011

Royal Wedding Condoms

Royal Wedding Condoms
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

One of the professors at my uni is taking her seminar (or "zemi") students to the UK for Spring Vacation (haru yasumi or 春休み).

I've been joking with them that they have to bring back great souvenirs (omiyage or お土産) for me, their favorite Media Center helper. (One of my jobs at the school is to staff the Language Learning Support Room (LLSR) when I'm not teaching - so the LLSR has become my de facto office and a great place for the students to come to get help or just chat in English)

They will be in England at the height of the preparations for the big Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine. So I thought they should get me something to commemorate this event, but I think this souvenir of the wedding is perhaps going a little too far... LOL


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Visiting Nara with Paul - Part One

Hello Everyone,

January sure went by fast, didn't it?

I just posted a video I made from footage I shot back in late December, when my younger brother, Paul, visited Japan for the holidays.

We spent a day in Nara - one of my favorite places in Japan.

You can watch the two videos below.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Japanese Girl Explains Titanic

Another fun video I saw today on YouTube.

I love watching random videos on YT. :)


The Values We All Stand For

Vid from YouTube I saw today and thought I would share.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar noms

The nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards were announced this week.

Unfortunately, living in Japan can make it difficult to see the nominated films and performances in a timely manner. We often have to wait months here for a film to be released after it debuts in the States, and I've often seen the DVD available for a film on the American Amazon site before it has even played theatrically in Japan.

Here are the ten (yes, 10 - the Academy changed it from 5 last year to include more popular films in the competition) films nominated for Best Picture of 2010.
(I've seen four of the ten so far - I've bolded those titles)

* “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
* “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
* “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
* “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
* “The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
* “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
* “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
* “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
* “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
* “Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Which movies have you seen? There are at least 3 more on that list I really want to see.
Out of the movies I did manage to see in 2010, I'll have to give it some thought and post my own Top Ten in a few days.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Where I sleep

futon 3
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I just posted 6 pics of my Japanese tatami bedroom - click on this pic to be taken to my Flickr site to see the other 5 pictures, which all have descriptions.

Description for this picture:
You can see the triple layering of the futon here, and the double pillows. Finding a good pillow in Japan can be difficult - so many of them are made with an indentation where your head is supposed to go, but I don't like that style.

You can see the electric space heater sitting on top of my mini ironing board, which I use a lot since I have no clothes dryer and my stuff gets pretty wrinkled just air drying in the cold winter air.

On the small table is my alarm clock, cell phone and iPod, as well as the wireless house phone (which I never answer). Under the small table is reading material like magazines and whatever current novel I'm reading, which at the moment is "Norwegian Wood" by Murakami.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nanba-kun (ナンバ君、"Mr. Number")

Today I learned something new.

I was doing some research on Japanese passports online and I came across this blog called ShiShi Girl.

She talks about sending postcards using Post Crossing, which is a pretty cool website that connects you with other people who like to send and receive postcards.
One of the professors here at my school uses this site in one of her classes and she has all her students send postcards all over the world. She has them use her return address here at our university to ensure some privacy for the students. It's a really good idea and she's gotten back some really wonderful postcards.

Anyway - while one her site I was reading about kamon, a type of family crest symbol used in Japan, one of which appears on the cover of the Japanese passport.
After that I clicked around and learned about this character I didn't know about:

Do you see a strange little face symbol? That's the Japanese post's Nanba-kun (ナンバ君、 "Mr. Number" ) character, essentially the J-version of Mr. Zip.
Who's Mr. Zip you ask?
Go here to find out. :)

Ahh the wonders of Google and Wikipedia. How did we survive 10 years ago without them?? :D


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Superhero movies - by the numbers

I really enjoy American Comic Books, and I also enjoy many of the superhero movies made from DC and Marvel comics.

Here is an interesting info-graphic made about Superhero Movies.

Friday, January 14, 2011

せんぱい こうはい

I don't hear these two terms as much at my new job at a university as I did when I worked mainly at a Jr High School, but you do still sometimes hear it.

Very useful vocab if you plan to spend time in Japan.

(info from The Japan Forum.)

せんぱい 先ぱい (senpai) Someone in a higher academic level or more advanced / superior position than you in a given discipline or pursuit. Someone who entered the school, university, or place of employment before you did. This term is widely used in clubs and other areas of Japanese junior high and high school life. The term senpai is used to mean seniors in general, but it is also used to refer to individuals with the person's name -- usually their surname but sometimes their first name -- plus "senpai," as in "Tamura-senpai" or "Yuki-senpai." The corresponding word for students / people in lower grades / positions is こうはい 後はい koohai , though this is not used in conjunction with surnames or other names to refer to those people.

Jason again... :)
The concept of having to show respect and deference to those "above" you is an important concept in Japanese daily life and should be closely observed and respected by those foreigners wishing to spend any length of time in Japan.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The January Grand Sumo Tournament

The Hatsu Basho, or New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, has begun in Tokyo and will run through Sunday, January 23rd.

I watch every day when I get home from work and on the weekends too.

I usually film the last few matches of each day and throw in some of my own commentary and play-by-play.

I then post these videos on my All-Sumo YouTube channel.

Here is the first video I did for this January tournament, explaining where the wrestlers are ranked and what to expect over the next two weeks.

Feel free to go to my channel for daily Sumo updates.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comig of Age day video with English explanation

Cool vid by a Tokyo vlogger (who is half Japanese) about attending his Coming of Age ceremony this past weekend.

I might go to my local one next year, since I'll know many of the students by then, or maybe I'll make my way back to Izumo to see many of my former students who are now 20.

Enjoy the vid.

Monday, January 10, 2011

First vlog of 2011

This is my first video at my main YouTube channel - myargonauts - for this new year. But I started vlogging about SUMO yesterday at my All-Sumo channel - JasonsinJapan. (Links are also on the right side menu)

Thanks for watching!

Coming of Age Day

Congrats to all my current 2nen sei students (Sophomores) at my university - most will be celebrating their Coming-of-Age Day today. My local town actually had the official ceremony yesterday - my guess is to allow parties to take place afterwards and give the students and their families the Monday national holiday to recover. :)

Here is some more info from Wikipedia:

Coming of Age Day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old (二十歳 hatachi) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults. Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (成人式 seijin-shiki) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties amongst family and friends.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Year traditions in Japan

Here are some things Japanese people and a few of us Westerners living in Japan do to celebrate the New Year holiday:

Hatsumōde (初詣) is the first shrine visit of the New Year in Japan. Some people visit a Buddhist temple instead. Many visit on the first, second, or third day of the year as most are off work on those days. Generally, wishes for the new year are made, new o-mamori (charms or amulets) are bought, and the old ones are returned to the shrine so they can be burned. There are often long lines at major shrines throughout Japan.

Most Japanese are off work from December 29 until January 3. It is during this time that the house is cleaned, debts are paid, friends and family are visited and gifts are exchanged. It would be customary to spend the early morning of New Year's Day in domestic worship, followed by sake—often containing edible gold flakes—and special celebration food. During the hatsumōde, it is common for men to wear a full kimono—one of the rare chances to see them doing so across a year. The act of worship is generally quite brief and individual and may involve queuing at popular shrines. The o-mamori vary substantially in price.

Some shrines and temples have millions of visitors over the three days. Meiji Shrine in Harajuku for example had 3.45 million visitors in 1998.

A common custom during hatsumōde is to buy a written oracle called omikuji. If your omikuji predicts bad luck you can tie it onto a tree on the shrine grounds, in the hope that its prediction will not come true. The omikuji goes into detail, and tells you how you will do in various areas in your life, such and business and love, for that year. Often a good-luck charm comes with the omikuji when you buy it, that will summon good luck and money your way.

(Info from Wikipedia)

I used to visit my local shrine, IzumoTaisha, every year while I lived in Taisha town. It was always super crowded, but a great atmosphere permeated the area.

This year I didn't go - I live too far away now, and it was really snowy over the New Year holiday. I haven't found a nice shrine I like in my local area yet, but I have to look around some more.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Great review of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

One of my favorite long-form reviewers is back with another detailed look at a failed film - this time the 3rd of the Star Wars prequels - Revenge of the Sith.

It's the best 100 minutes you'll spend in front of your computer monitor this year.

Go HERE to see the review split up into three 30+ minute segments.

After watching his take down of the first prequel - The Phantom Menace, I was eager to see more.

And yes, I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but I have to agree with most of his review about how awful the prequel films are, and he gives good reasons why they're so bad.

And part three, where he compares Revenge of the Sith to Orson Welles' Citizen Kane is particularly funny and insightful about the art of cinema.

Sit back and enjoy!

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Pete Postlethwaite, the British character actor who appeared in three films in 2010 alone, has died at the age of 64, following a long fight against cancer.

I read this news on one of my Cinema sites yesterday and was a little stunned.

Not only was Pete relatively young, but he seemed to show up in film after film.

I first noticed him as a character named Kobayashi in one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Usual Suspects."

Since then he's had many memorable roles, and I always enjoyed seeing him appear in a film. From Alien3 to Lost World to Inception, Pete always turned in a good performance. One of his sweetest movie roles was in "Brassed Off" which was set in his native England.

Mr. Postlethwaite will be missed.