Monthly Archives: July 2011

The semi-regular “Coming Soon” post

I call this my procrastination post.  I have plenty more pictures to post, and should get one done this weekend.  But for those of you who wonder what’s coming up, here’s what to expect:

I will first get caught up with Exploring Japan (and others), with the following:

  • Samukawa Shrine
  • Kamakura Festival 2010
  • Sky Tree and Ryogoku
  • Tokeiji
  • My giant 35km walk from Kamakura to Jogashima (Kamakura, Zushi, Hayama, Yokosuka, Miura)
  • Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden
  • Enoshima (this is a big one)
  • Ofuna (artistic photos)
  • Meigetsuin
  • Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park
  • Odaiba – Miraikan
  • Kamakura temples (3 featured temples)
  • Yuigahama Beach (again)
  • Kurihama and Perry Park
  • Teien Art Museum
  • My big 26km Kamakura to Oiso walk (Kamakura, Fujisawa, Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Oiso)

After that, I will finally get to work on Japan by Train, as well as Flashback.  I still have many photos from 2005-2009 to post, including Atami, Odawara, Kamakura, many from Tokyo, Yokohama, hiking photos, museums, and mountain climbing, including Mt Fuji, Takaosan and Oyama.  So much to do!  On top of that, I’ll be doing my other new blog.

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Foreign Dad in Japan

I’ve just started a new blog!  Please check it out!  It’s called Foreign Dad in Japan.  It’s about my adventures of becoming a dad in Japan, and hopefully will be enjoyed by many of my regular readers.  It won’t affect this blog, which I will continue to update regularly.  So, please check out the new blog!

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Studying Japanese: Should you do it?

I’ve been in Japan for more than 6 years, and while my Japanese isn’t conversational, I can get by doing some essential things.  However, I cannot describe symptoms to a doctor, nor can I understand the financial terms used in banks.  Amanda at “Whoa…I’m in Japan?” made a post recently about being discouraged from studying Japanese.  What’s the reason?  Because it’s impossible for foreigners to learn Japanese.  What makes Japanese impossible to learn?  Well, in reality, nothing.  It is entirely possible to learn Japanese well.  I’ve heard that what’s impossible to learn is keigo, which is the skill of communicating in different formal situations.  I wouldn’t say that’s impossible, either, just difficult.  And I’m sure many Japanese people don’t even have a good grasp on keigo.

My reasons for studying Japanese are personal.  It’s not for business (although it will be useful in the future for me), it’s for being able to communicate with those around me.  My fiancee is Japanese, and we’re expecting a baby in January.  Our baby will grow up to be bilingual.  I will speak English, my fiancee will speak Japanese, and when we speak with each other, it’ll mainly be in English.  However, even though I’ll be able to speak to my child in English, I can’t do the same with my fiancee’s family.  Her parents, sister, grandparents, most of her cousins, aunts and uncles can’t speak English.  Most of her friends can’t speak English, either.  I need to be able to speak with them in Japanese if I’m ever going to communicate with them.  I can’t rely on my fiancee to translate everything.  It’s important for me to learn Japanese.

There’s another situation that many Japanese speaking foreigners encounter.  When ordering food at a restaurant, the foreigner orders in Japanese, and the waiter/waitress looks at the Japanese people with the foreigner to confirm that he/she is actually ordering that.  When I eat out with my fiancee, I get the same thing.  I say my order, and the server doesn’t say anything.  My fiancee repeats what I said and the server confirms with her, as if he/she was completely ignoring what I said.  When I order food alone when I’m by myself, I have no problems, though.  It’s when I order food while I’m with Japanese people that they always confirm with the Japanese people that I really ordered what I said.  It’s quite annoying.  I ordered in correct Japanese, yet they behave like I was speaking English.

Have you had annoying encounters with people while speaking Japanese?

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Congratulations to Japan’s World Cup winners!

I’m not a soccer fan, but I am very happy Japan won the Women’s World Cup. This should be a huge morale boost for Japan, which is still feeling the effects of the earthquake and tsunami. What I am disgusted about is how many Americans on Twitter and elsewhere have been badmouthing Japan with comments about Pearl Harbor and racial slurs. Honestly, grow up and take the loss like an adult who doesn’t dwell on the past. It’s a great thing for Japan to have this win.

On a related note, I wasn’t upset and insulting Americans when the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. Boston deserved the win. Japan deserved this win.

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Exploring Japan: Engakuji in Spring – March 26, 2010

This was my third stop in my Spring in Kamakura walk.  Engakuji is located near Kita-Kamakura station, and is easy to get to.  It’s not as large as Kenchoji, but it is still quite large.  It was founded in 1282, and is one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in Japan.  Hojo Tokimune, a once ruler of Japan, is buried here.  Enjoy the spring pictures!

Barely blooming cherry blossoms in front of Engakuji's Sanmon.

Cherry tree and temple buildings.

This is a great tree. Notice the caves in the cliff behind it?

Another collection of temple buildings. Engakuji is a large complex.

At the back of the temple complex, there's a garden with plenty of flowers.

A closeup of some of the flowers.

Engakuji is a very green temple. Plenty of trees surrounded by the hills of the Kamakura Alps.

As I said, Engakuji is very easy to get to.  I used to be able to walk there from my old apartment in Ofuna within 15 minutes.  Here’s a map:

 

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Exploring Japan: Spring at Kenchoji – March 26, 2010

This is part 2 of 3 of my Springtime in Kamakura set of photos.  After Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, I visited Kenchoji.  Kenchoji is the most important Zen training monasteries in Japan, and is also quite old.  It was started in 1253.  These photos are not a guide to Kenchoji, as I only feature flowers and the temple’s Main Gate, or Sanmon.  Enjoy the photos.

With cherry trees beginning to bloom, here is the Sanmon (Main Gate) of Kenchoji, which was built in 1754.

The Sanmon is hiding behind some blossoms.

There aren't many cherry blossoms yet.

Here's a great tree.

A close-up of some blossoms that have yet to bloom.

There are other flowers at Kenchoji, too.

To find Kenchoji, check out this map.  It can be accessed by walking south from Kita-Kamakura Station or walking north from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.

 

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