My “Japanese” name…haha

So the other day my friend was trying to come up with ways to write my name in kanji. He came up with with following:

冷児 (cold child)

霊寺 (ghost temple)

麗児 (pretty child)

So each of these mean “reiji,” but since I can’t write the character for “pretty,” and neither could my friend without the help of his cellphone, I am just gonna combine them into 霊児 (ghost child). Yep. I’m a ghost. Booyah.

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Just some cellphone pics of Shinjuku

These were all taken from the top of my hotel (the Keio Plaza)

And a few days in…

PIKACHU AIRPLANE

So I know you can’t see it well, but that right there is a yellow Pokemon airplane. And we flew in the Gundam plane! (or, at least, I think so. there was some debate over this, as we could not see the ACTUAL plane from where we were sitting).

I’ve been here for a few days now, and I must say the people are extremely nice. Sometimes a little TOO nice…But to be honest, I already miss the city. I desperately want to get back there, and I don’t know when that will happen. I’ll do my best to job hunt while I am here, and if all else fails, I can either renew another year or enter language school!

I’ll take pictures once the car is fixed and I can actually get to a place to buy a charger for my camera’s batteries….

First Impressions of Taiki-Cho…

Tokyo Orientation lasted 3 days, and on the last day I was hit hard with jetlag. It really sucked, because I was supposed to go out and do something for one last “hoo-rah” in Tokyo.

In order to get to Taiki-cho (located about 40 minutes to 1 hour south of Obihiro, Hokkaido) from Chitose Airport (about 1 hour south of Sapporo), I had to get in a car with my supervisor and drive for 4 hours along the coastline. If I wasn’t so zoned out due to jetlag, I would have taken some pictures because it is GORGEOUS here. The Tokachi Plains remind me of Pennsylvania quite a bit, what with farms and cows and such, but drive an hour south and it’s nothing but fishing villages.

The first thing I had to do when I arrived was greet everyone at the office. I only remember two people’s names…this is a problem. And then I had to go out to the welcome dinner, which was yakiniku. I forgot how much Japanese people can eat, because they ordered SO MUCH food, it was ridiculous. I tapped out after about an hour. Immediately after that, I was driven to the nearest 7-11 and bought breakfast, then was taken to my apartment for the first time.

It’s big. It might be too big. And I so need to buy new towels and air out the blankets because they smell musty. And buy new detergent, because the stuff Aaron (my predecessor) left irritates my nose…I might just buy some Clorox from FBC and go from there…

Today I see the government officials (including the mayor) and my teaching coworkers. At some point I will hand out the omiyage, though they really don’t seem to care about it…Will update tonight with pictures and, hopefully, a better idea as to what is going on!

JET Orientation, Tokyo

So I have just finished my JET Programme orientation in Tokyo, and I have a few things to say about it:

  • I realize every placement is different. As such, STOP GENERALIZING.
  • Jet lag makes people skip.
  • Tokyo being Tokyo makes people skip.
  • Does everyone really have to wake up by 7 for breakfast?
  • How did some of these people get on the program?
  • Stop generalizing situations.
  • I want to do Karaoke, so make time for Karaoke.
  • Why do we have to check our bags the night BEFORE we leave for our placements?

Ignoring that, it seems that I have managed to find a drummer and a guitarist for the band. However, it is under the condition that it is done for fun. I can live with that for a while, but if I end up moving to Kansai, that won’t really work for me, will it…? Will keep you posted!

Leaving the States on a New Adventure…

I leave tomorrow for Japan. I haven’t updated in all this time because life has been insane, but I promise I will do better from the moment I settle in on!

I bought a new DSLR, so hopefully the pictures will be better than the ones with my point-and-shoot. I didn’t have the money for it, as only my grandmother gave me money at the farewell party, but I suppose I will pay it off a little when I finally get the money paypal has been withholding. I sold a bunch of magic cards (and made about 200 dollars on them), but two sold for a lot more than the rest, so paypal is holding about 90 dollars from me. Sadness…

In other news, I am now not JUST a JET. I am a columnist at MadHatterMagazine with the monthly “State of Play” and other occasional contributions. It is an internship, but experience in any capacity is much needed right now. I also managed to wrangle a translation job at HearJapan in which I get paid about 300 per unit (it’s a little complex, but it is, essentially, a unit-oriented job). I may have found another translation job as well, but I am waiting for the details on that. Hopefully, with this extra money from the translation job, I can directly pay off quite a bit of my leftover loans from college without having to transfer too much money from my Japanese bank account to my American one. If you know of any other freelance jobs or translation gigs, please let me know! I am willing to work for free for a set period of time to prove my worth ^_~

What I will miss most about America:

Awate showing up on my doorstep unannounced with a look of sheer insanity on his face. Salute the Admiral!

Talking to Jasmin online in #hashtag format, just because we can. Oh, and getting cupcakes.

Linh being…Linh. Best roommate ever? Quite possibly so! Just keep holding that cup of water, Linh…Just keep holding it.

Being random with Leslie, who is definitely certifiably insane.

Shocking Chris (and various family members) into silence at my inane and off-the-wall comments.

Will and his awesome back rubs and kick-ass personality.

Lisa and Julie…well, what can I say? We grew up together.

Kevin and the pics of the lab. Or, more specifically, what he DOES in the lab when he is bored.

Joelle, her amazing singing voice, and her outrageous stories about her mom.

Repka and his uber-nerd-ness, which never ceases to make me laugh. And he doesn’t deny it, either!

Late-night chats with Mike about anything and everything.

My cousin Mike being a dumbass.

What I am heading to:

Kazuki. Complete with random conversations about people in a language they don’t speak right in front of their face in a coffee shop.

Azusa, my little birthday soulmate!

Coral= LOVE YOU

Ryuta, the most ADHD of all Japanese males.

Natsuko and Mio, because they come in a set.

Nozomi, the girl who spent many a late night helping me out on the closing shift of the cafe.

Non-chan, photographer extraordinaire!

Shiori, at least until she goes back to Pittsburgh.

My host family and host dogs!

Yusuke and shabushabu.

Toru and Kobe beef.

Visual Kei.

A mystery individual whom I do not/can not say too much about.

A new life.

じゃぁ、日本へ来ま~~す!ちょっと待って!

A&D-Revolution Music

A&DWhile I was studying in Kobe for a year, I blindly bought a ticket to a visual kei concert that was showing approximately 7 bands. The ticket was cheap, about 2,500 yen including the drink fee, and it was on a day when I had no class and could hang out in Shinsaibashi beforehand. I wasn’t expecting anything thrilling, just a nice night listening to music to try and find a new band to follow.

That night I saw A&D, Deluhi, Aicle., xTriPx and Velgreed. To this day I follow them all, and despite their vastly different styles, they bring quite a lot to the visual kei table. A&D, however, stood out more to me than the rest. Ska-inspired visual kei music? What?

That is exactly what they are. Their songs have this playful sense to them and melodies that remind me a great deal of the repetitive nature of ska. But it is the layout of their mini-albums and singles that fascinates me. Namely in that, interspersed with the ska-like happy-go-lucky tunes, there are some serious metal rifts going on. When I first saw A&D, they had just released their first mini-album, Aquarium, and the show was about one month after their formation. In other words, they were incredibly new. And yet their music had a confidence to it that most other bands strive to achieve for the duration of their careers.

Aquarium consists of six songs. No->Eternity opens with a gorgeous piano tune before breaking into melodic guitar rifts and vocals. Though the music itself is relatively slow, the vocals are upbeat. Title track Aquarium follows, and is much slower than the opener. It, for some reason, reminds me of the relaxing bubbles of an aquarium, making it an aptly-titled piece. The third track, Revolution Music, was the song they opened with the day I saw them. It’s the reason I am hooked on them. The bass line is stereotypical ska, but the whole thing is interspersed with catchy rock rifts and vocalizations. To this day, it is my favorite song by them. Go To My Way Go should be the background music to a road-trip scene. It’s light, upbeat, and again hold true to the undertones of ska while just being a fun jam piece. Breaker, a dramatic departure from the other songs on the mini-album, shows the band’s musical prowess and grasp of other genres, fully evidenced later on their follow-up single, Quill. There are strong elements of metal in Breaker, and is more of a mosh piece than the rest of the mini-album. Nanairo Sky rounds out the mini-album, with an upbeat tune much like Revolution Music. It’s a fan favorite, and keeps true to the overall theme of the album.

This is an excellent album, not just in the visual kei genre but in regards to music in general. They put on amazing live performances, and actually promote selling higher-quality merchandise in an effort to give back to the fans as much as the fans give them (just ask the manager and Yuki, the leader of A&D!). A&D adds a lot to the visual kei scene, and I recommend them to all my friends, whether said friends participate in the scene or not. Everyone has loved them so far, so I believe that means they are more than worthy of a chance.

Their website is: http://www.air-dignity.com/ and the members are Shizeru (v), Yuki (g), Saki (g) and Kage (b). This particular album might already be sold out on online stores, but I hope they will appear on a download website sometime in the future. Or you can look on ebay or yahoo auctions. Sorry I can’t be much help in this regard to fans outside of Japan. For those in Japan, there are definitely copies floating around, especially in used shops. They are also embarking on a one-man tour this summer, so people in Japan: GO SEE THEM!

Yes, he says OH MY GOD. And Youtube killed this video, but it’s a great example of their high-energy lives and the sound is excellent. If you can’t stand the video, here’s the recording:

Japanese Concert DVDS

So I own quite a few concert DVDs that I bought in Japan, and I noticed something the other day: I can play my region 2 DVD of Suicide Ali on my computer without having to switch regions. This got me thinking: If I could play this DVD on a standard Toshiba I bought in America a few months ago, does that mean other DVDs will play as well?

I grabbed a small portion of my collection of VK DVDs when I was home:

  • Versailles-History of the Other Side
  • シリアルNUMBER-クリップ集2 (which I bought for 5 dollars at Tower Records, brand new)
  • Psycho le Cemu-理想郷旅行Z at Zepp Tokyo
  • Vidoll-リマインドストーリー
  • Suicide Ali – Stitch Doll comment DVD

Of all the DVDs I tested, the only time I was asked to switch regions was with the シリアルNumber DVD. Even the comment DVD worked, though it made me want to smack Goshi because he talks with his hand in front of his face. And Kozi needs to open his mouth more when he speaks. And Hisashi definitely mumbles which is why I can’t hear him on my interview recording. Hiroshi is solid. I’m done ranting.

Basically, I am writing this to let people know that they CAN buy and play a lot of concert DVDs from Japan WITHOUT having to switch the region/buy a region-free DVD player/do some crazy ripping to make the media work.

Not everyone realizes this, and even I didn’t know the extent of how this works. I have yet to try the DVDs that come with the CD/DVD combo sets, but since the Vidoll one worked (though it was a live recording CD/DVD combo) I will assume it will work for most others.

Stitch Doll: Now that I can ACTUALLY hear it!

ボーとして(zoning out)

So the latest single from Suicide Ali, Stitch Doll, came in the mail this past weekend. The single has two new songs and two versions of older songs.

Stitch Doll and Traitor are the newest songs, with Traitor being much more heavy on the screamo vocals.  Stitch Doll, as I said in my previous post, reminds me much more of Revandish Ring in that there is more singing-songy-melodic stuff going on.

What I really want to get to are the new version of Chainsaw and the remix of 誘拐ごっこ (Yuukai Gokko). This new version of Chainsaw is somewhat different from the original version most are familiar with (the following being the original version):

The new version is considerably clearer in regards to vocals and being able to hear individual instruments. Overall, I like it.

誘拐ごっこ has been remixed by DJ Manik (of HimemaniK, a group you should totally listen to if you dig female vocals and gothic-industrial music). The original version is much slower (I cannot find it on Youtube…) but the new one I can totally picture being played in clubs. It’s pretty upbeat, and DJ Manik has a way with mixing beats that just make you want to dance.

The CD is on sale on Darkest Labyrinth, and there is a regular version and a special package version that includes pictures, a comment DVD and autographs. You may have to email the company if you can’t find the latter listed on the shop page.

This is a clip of the DVD, by the way.

I found my old Japanese cell phone pics!

Incredibly random as it may sound, I just found almost all of the cellphone pictures I took while I was abroad in Kobe. Everything from Purikura to my host family’s dogs…These are the best ones, not all. I used my camera to record landmarks and things I needed to buy, like a visual list, so I excluded those pictures. My cellphone was a softbank one with 7megapixel camera.

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