Monthly Archives: January 2010

New Year Resolutions

I have a few goals this year.  I’ve lived in Japan for nearly 5 years, and there are so many things I haven’t done or seen.  I’d like to do some of those things this year.  Here are my goals:

  • Study Japanese every day and practice speaking with Japanese friends.  It’ll take a while, but I eventually want to pass JLPT 1.  And to my students, I won’t speak Japanese to you at the school.  That’s an English only zone for me.
  • Travel to another part of Japan.  Right now, I’m thinking about visiting Osaka.
  • Visit a new place at least twice a month.
  • Attend some festivals.  Yesterday, I went to my first festival.  Yes, that’s right, I’ve never attended a festival in Japan before.  I’ve seen them through my classroom window, but never attended.
  • Watch sumo live!  I might even do this next Monday.
  • Cook in my apartment occasionally.  It’s cheaper.  And I think it’s more delicious than conbini bento.
  • Get a table and chairs so I can use my computer at a table instead of the kotatsu.  I want to use my kotatsu for heat.
  • Get a microwave oven.  Very important!
  • Exercise and eat less.
  • And of course, update this blog more often and keep it up-to-date.  I’m a few months behind in photos.

Here’s a wish list, but not essential:

  • Get a Nintendo Wii, but not the Japanese version.  There’s no English language support on those.  I’ll check duty-free shops in Akihabara.
  • Get a bookshelf.  I have so many books, but nowhere to put them.

So much to do this year!

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Misconceptions about Japan

Living in Japan, I get to see what Japan is really like.  People who live in other countries and have never visited Japan often have some preconceptions about Japan that are incorrect.  When I was in Edmonton for the winter holidays, I was asked some things about Japan.  I had to tell them they were completely wrong about what they thought about Japan.  Here are some common misconceptions about Japan that I’ve heard:

1. Japan is a poor country

Really?  Some people seem to think that since Japan is in Asia, it is poor.  Many people confuse Japan with China.  They are completely different countries.  Japan is one of the most highly advanced countries in the world technologically, and one of the richest.  The standard of living in Japan is among the top 10 in the world.

2. Can you speak Chinese?

Why?  I live in Japan, not China.  Japanese people speak Japanese.  It’s amazing how many people think Japan = China.  The languages are different, the food is different, the cultures are different.  They are almost complete opposites.  No, I don’t speak Chinese.  I speak bad Japanese.

3. Japanese people always eat raw fish.

Sashimi is raw fish.  Sushi is rice with vinegar and a topping that is usually raw fish (but not always).  These dishes are delicacies and not an everyday meal.  They are usually eaten at special occasions.  They can be quite expensive!  I usually eat it once a week, though.  It is quite delicious.

4. Japanese people all watch anime.

Many watch things like Sazae-san or Meitantei Conan, but really, most people don’t care about anime.  I’ve told people in Canada who are anime fans (they even call themselves otaku, which is not a nice thing to call yourself in Japan) that people in Japan like anime in the same way that North Americans like Saturday morning cartoons.  Kids love it, adults don’t care.  There are exceptions, such as Studio Ghibli movies, which are almost universally loved.

5. Where can I see samurai, ninja and geisha?  They’re everywhere!

Sorry, you’ll be very disappointed.  There are no samurai anymore.  You can only see them on TV or in movies.  Ninja are the same.  You won’t find them, although people can still study the martial art ninjutsu.  Geisha are still around, but you’re most likely going to find them in Kyoto.  They are not at all common.

6. Japanese people are good at math.

Not really.  They’re about as good at math as people in any other country.  There is a big stereotype that Japanese people love math, and I’ve found it to be very wrong.  Many people hate math.  What I have found is that Japanese schools seem to teach math better (or at least put students through drills a large amount).

7. Japanese people are all short.

This may have been true in the past, but not so much now.  Older people tend to be shorter, and while it may have something to do with genetics, it also has to do with diet.  Milk and dairy products are known to help childhood growth.  But also people today are eating more western food.  Young people are often tall.  I know junior high school students who are almost as tall as me.  When I walk around, I find that I’m probably slightly above average height.  I don’t tower over people.

Feel free to add some more misconceptions.

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Blogging from Vancouver

Here are some pictures from Vancouver international airport!

From my gate in Vancouver International Airport, I could see the mountains north of the city.

More mountain pictures. That jet isn't for my flight. I was on Japan Airlines.

If you can see it in this picture, there is a nice snow-peaked mountain.

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A visit to West Edmonton Mall

Today, I went to West Edmonton Mall to see the movie “Avatar” in the theatre. We saw it in 3D, but not in Imax. I’ll make another post about the movie another time, but I’ll just say that it was very good. Anyway, here are some final pictures of Edmonton and the mall. I’ll be going to the airport in 4 hours to return to Japan.

We're going down the Whitemud Freeway to West Edmonton Mall to see "Avatar" in 3D!

This is one of the many ravines in Edmonton. This one has a ski hill.

We're now coming to the river valley. It sure is snowy.

We're driving across the bridge over the river valley. In the distance, you can see downtown Edmonton.

We've arrived at West Edmonton Mall!

Here is the outside of World Waterpark. It's really big inside. More pictures below.

That's Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall. It's a theme hotel.

This is a robotic dragon hanging from the ceiling in the theatre at the mall. Every 30 minutes or so, it starts moving and breathes fire.

There's a big lake in the mall, and this is a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship.

That's a submarine in the lake. It travels around on a track, and people can take a ride to see fish and other things.

Inside World Waterpark. There are a lot of big waterslides here! Looks like fun.

This is the wave pool in World Waterpark. I believe it is the world's largest indoor wave pool.

You can jump on a trampoline here. They put a harness on you with bungee cords, so you can flip while you jump.

West Edmonton Mall has a few areas that are themed. This area is Chinatown, including Chinese restaurants, a garden and Asian supermarket.

Another themed area is Bourbon Street, which has a New Orleans theme. This is at the entrance.

Haichu! I saw this in the Asian supermarket. It's imported from Japan.

Nice Lamborghini. Too expensive for me!

The woman is holding a two-toed sloth. There are some animals in the mall, including the sloths, lemurs, fish, sharks, seals and penguins.

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Winter is the season for accidents

A couple days ago, I saw an accident. Here are the pictures.

What's this? A fire truck? There must have been an accident.

There's an ambulance there, too. It looks like a truck and car were involved in an accident.

The front end of the car is smashed up.

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Filed under Alberta, Canada, Edmonton