Monday, October 31, 2011

Rilakkuma Bentou

This was just the cutest thing I ever did see, today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two a Day for 200 days: A GRE Wordlist (and I might as well learn the Japanese word as well)

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Aberrant (adj) deviating from the norm
常軌を逸した [じょうきをいっした] 
deviating from proper course.

Sample sentences:

People with aberrant personalities are often scrutinized, or worse, ignored.

Lady Gaga's aberrant sense of fashion gets her a lot of attention.

Many still consider homosexuality an aberrant lifestyle "choice".

Michael Jackson's aberrant methods of beauty treatments often made him the subject of ridicule.

Your aberrant choice in keitai straps has made me a little hungry.

Abeyance (noun) temporary suspension or inactivity

Sample sentences:
The abeyance of my gym attendance provokes my aberrant body weight.

Although many Japanese don't want to express aberrant views against the government's decision to continue with nuclear energy, many protesters are demanding an abeyance of nuclear power usage.

This train line's abeyance has caused a lot of people to be late for work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monkeying around the Izu

On one October morning, we woke up early and headed down into the Izu for some research adventure. Chu and I have decided to go exploring as much as possible in order to research awesome places when people come to visit, as well as refine our adventure skills.

The theme of our day trip was "MELLO YELLOW", the name of a citrus-y soda, which I found in a vending machine that morning.

The weather was quite nice, and I enjoyed the scenery along the ride without seeing any "Must Stop and Sees", which are attention-grabbing things that appear on signboards in easy kanji, hiragana or English. When I see something awesome, I jump around in the passenger seat and say "let's stop here, let's stop here." Our first stop was at this point in the map.

There was a sign on the side of the road that read "Hot Spring shoots water 30 meters into the air". Behind the gates and main building, I could see billowing clouds of steam rising from an unknown source. The sign, combined with this mysterious steam spurred one of those "let's stop here" moments.

Breakfast and Hot Spring Foot Bath

We were able to enter without having to pay any fee, which pleased me greatly. I approached a wooden structure where the steam seemed to be coming from, and read how almost 80 years ago, workers had found some hot spring water while digging. They built a long pump down into the earth, and used it to get to the source of the hot spring water. Every couple of hours, the pressure releases and shoots into the air. They've got it all calculated as to when it'll blow, to where there are even buses that arrive 30 mins before, allowing a foot bath and an onsen egg in preparation.

Here you can buy 2 raw eggs for 100 yen and put them into the hot onsen water, where they become hard-boiled.

Through some kind of inky magic, the eggs don't lose their stamp after 15 minutes in the hot spring water.

Yum yum, what a delicious breakfast, cooked by nature.

After getting back into the car, we drove down to Shimoda, where we found the Perry Museum, which chronicals the events of when Matthew Perry visited Japan with Monica and Joey.
Hah, just playin'. The other Matthew Perry was some bitchy American dude who came looking for a base to rest and stock up on food and supplies while whaling in the Pacific waters. He and his crew strong-armed Japan into opening up their ports to foreign traders. Personally, I don't recommend this museum as a tourist site. You'd be much happier spending your time staring at beautiful beaches. The museum is old, cheesy, and I strongly doubt that any of the artifacts on display are authentic. If you don't believe me, feel free to spend 1000 yen and see for yourself.

The Perry Museum

There were a few things that caught my interest. For example, this is what Perry looked like.

And here are some Japanese renditions of him by artists of the day. Awww, how sweet!

Though I'm 90% sure these are in no way authentic, I thought about how cool it would actually be to flip through a self-made English to Japanese dictionary of the first foreigners to come to Japan. I'd love to check out that kind of artifact.

Have you ever wondered who that dude on the 10,000 yen bill is? It's this guy, Mr. Fukazawa.
He was one of the first Japanese to go overseas and study about the outside world. He brought back a lot of technology to Japan.

This book fascinated me. I'd love to "borrow" the book from the case. It's Perry's journal of what he encountered during his time here. The book was close enough to the glass display case to read the page it was opened to. It described how the Japanese were extremely secretive about describing their ways and customs to him, and blamed the governmental rule at the time, that it was a crime to disclose any personal or cultural information. Perry goes on to say that despite this, many people were constantly asking questions about what the world was like outside of Japan, and demanded answers about everything. Close to the end of the page, he says that the locals were much friendly and easier to get along with than the officials that he dealt with more regularly.

This is a painting of a tsunami that hit Shimoda during that time. Scarrrrry! Beware of the Tokai!

And finally, the awaiting destination, THE MONKEYS

Here are the prices.

Here's a close-up of some groomin'. This park is pretty special in that it's not quite a zoo. In fact, these monkeys are not fenced in at all. Around 50 years ago, the local inhabitants of the beach began feeding the monkeys, and they liked the area, formed a community and have stayed ever since. After my initial excitement of being around hundreds of monkeys subsided, I realized how relaxed the atmosphere is. The monkeys don't seem phased by human visitors and they just go on with their normal schedule, and pretty much ignore you....

....Well, that is until they get hungry. Monkeys of ever generation will eventually make their way to the feeding area, which is a barred wall which houses the main office and building in the monkey park. Monkeys aren't allowed inside, and the visitors are encouraged to do any feeding through these bars. The monkeys may become aggressive if you're holding food outside of the feeding area.

Chu getting personal with one of the monkeys. She began to bond with the monkeys as she helped them search for seeds on the grounds after feeding time. When a monkey catches a glimpse of Chu on the floor, they quickly come and see what she's looking at.

They live on a beautiful beach! This is the view from their playground.

This little guy came to see if I had any peanuts for him.

The monkeys have a boss, and here's a news article about when one of the monkey bosses was overthrown by a more popular monkey.

As I was trying to get a close up of one of the bigger adult male monkeys, he startled me by yelling at me to quit taking his picture. However, I had already accidentally pressed the capture button, and came away with this picture.

The sunset


This restaurant has a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea, and serves seafood that has just been taken out from the aquarium.

The servers bring out all the ingredients, pieces of fish, vegetables, shrimp, squid, and you cook it yourself on a little hibachi wood-burning stove at your table.

The ebi were HUGE, and creepy to watch as they went from gray to pink.

Here's the bird's eye view of the the dinner we had to end our day trip around the Izu.
Can't wait for the next one, I feel like there's so much more to see and explore!

Thursday, October 06, 2011


I got back from class and gave my computer mouse a little wiggle to wake it back up, only to find a friend's status update, RIP Steve Jobs. I never believe anything from just one source, so I scrolled down, then googled his name only to find out that it was indeed true. Though I had heard of his worsening health, I didn't think he was in death's danger zone. I felt sad, but didn't add to the pile of RIP stati hanging down my newsfeed. Mostly because I was annoyed by people. Just yesterday, everybody was complaining about how Apple failed to release the G5, and instead came out with an inferior upgrade 4GS. Yesterday, I was deviously glad to hear that Apple-ites were disappointed with the 4GS, people waiting up until odd hours, waiting to see what Macintosh had in store for them. It's like the modern day, adult version of the selfish children in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, aware of only their own wishes, and unaware that Mr. Wonka has problems of his own.

Macintosh impressed me ever since I was an elementary school child, when my 3rd grade class would get 1 hour to go into the plasterboard annexed classroom built on the cement lot of of Rowland Elementary, which we referred to as the computer lab. It was the first time I ever had a password, though I wasn't able to choose my own. I had it memorized, though, before I even knew what a social security number was. That shit's ingrained in experience and has traveled with me through the years to nowadays, when I have nightmares that I've soaked my iPhone in a murky lake. The reliance on technology is seen as a pitiful thing, however, the pleasure we've gotten from these fidgety devices is immeasurable.

Besides what "things" Steve Jobs has brought into the world, his death goes beyond the commodities, and breaks into ideas, philosophy. Chu statused that he was one of her heros, and she's not kidding or posting to jump on any bandwagons. When she'd go out for movies, and I'm at home hoping for a dumbed-down romantic comedy, she comes home with a documentary style movie about the early days of the personal computer, when Steve and Bill used to be friends, partners. No, she really liked him, we all did, because he was a self-proclaimed dreamer who just so happened had talent in technology and business strategy.

I know I just recently posted this video a few posts ago, but watch it again. Watch and see how rare it really is to be that kind of visionary, yet at the same time, how simple and accessible it is. First, take a look at that, then feel free to watch some great speeches he's made.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action--A Ted Talk

2005 Stanford commencement speech where Steve shares three powerful stories, including one eerily about the brevity of life.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

秋味ーあきあじーThe tastes of Autumn

I just wanted to make a personal list to myself of all the tastes of Autumn, so that I don't miss anything.


Since I'm going through a couple of sober months during this season, I'm not getting to enjoy these delicious beers. I'll have to stock up on a case, because after October, they disappear off of the store shelves until next year. Oh yes, and don't be fooled by the two different kinds of AkiAji! Kirin is superior to Suntory.

KURI, Chestnut Flavored Everything

Personally, I don't really like the flavor very much, however Chu does, and she loves when I bring cakes, candies, or other goods with chestnuts baked into it.

GINKO NUTS (3 stages)
First you got the nut, then you gotta crack it. A slippery little yellow-green nut comes out.
Then you can roast them in the baking area of your stove.
Then eat.


Oh, the first time I encountered a Matsutake! Chu brought them home and I looked inside the thin clear bag, and the smell is what caught me first. Those matsutake not only looked like a slimy, dirty penis, but it also smelled like one. She didn't like when I made that comparison. I wanted nothing to do with them.
However, she cleaned them, chopped them up and added them to the dry rice in the rice cooker. After the 20-30 minutes it takes for a ricecooker to cook up some rice, which was composed of 1/4 brown rice (genmai) and 3/4 white rice, it was ready to stir and eat.
When I opened the rice cooker, the usual gust of steam fled the scene. The smell was delectable! I took a little taste before it even had a chance to cool, and I fell in love with these mushrooms. After cooked, their peni-like ways melt away into pure deliciousness.

I'm okay with Japanese sweet potatoes. When they are prepared correctly, they can be quite delicious. You can sneak these guys into almost any food. It's fun to try. Just google Satsuma Imo, and look how many way you can incorporate it into your cooking.

KAKI (persimmon)
It took me 2 season of kaki before I gave them a chance. The reason, is because I have a slight allergy to the ones found in California. They make my mouth feel very dry and suddenly the back of my throat will start to itch. However, after being forced to taste one, I'm glad I did, because the Japanese ones don't have the same effect on me. Yum, I love when their harder. If they get too gooey, they become too overly sweet for my taste.

You'll probably start seeing these slim, long, silver fish chilling in icy water in supermarkets. These don't have to be prepared. You just brush on some soy sauce and stick it in the fish cooker on your stove. Personally though, I don't like to eat these sanma. It's not that I don't like the taste, it's just that if you eat this brownish, blackish part of the fish under white parts, you'll get this super nasty bitter taste in your mouth. It grossed me out far too many times to continue eating them. But if you're a fish-lover and you're careful, check it out.

Last but not least, it's now about time to start making nabe! That'll probably be the next food thing I write about. I'm very passionate about nabes.