Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Blog

Hello everyone!

I have decided to make a new blog and preserve this one as a shrine of my one year experience in Japan. My new blog can be located at:

http://timinhouston.blogspot.com/

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cell Phones・ 携帯

前の日記はすごく良好な反応があったので、これから英語と日本語で書くことにしました。質問があれば、是非聞いてね。

一年間日本に住んでいましたから、日本の携帯電話を持っていました。でも日本の携帯とアメリカの携帯はすごく違います。まず、外国人にとって日本の携帯はすごく高いです。AU/KDDIと一年間の契約を結んで、月額は9000円 (90ドル)ぐらいでした。解約料は3万円ぐらいでした。結局一年間の契約は10万円くらいでした。アメリカで、月額は40ドルぐらいです。そして解約料は100ドルぐらいです。

でも日本で携帯は必需品です。アメリカでは電話の方が多いけど、日本ではメールを送るほうが多いです。彼女がいた時、5分に一回にメールを送りました。

それに、日本のエモーティコンはすごく面白いと思います!日本のエモーティコンはすごく可愛くて複雑ですが、アメリカのは簡単です。たまに意味がわかりませんでした。

m(_ _) m - おじぎ
(^▽^) - 嬉しい
♪ - 上機嫌

D: しかめ面
:-) ほほ笑み
;-) まばたき

携帯のハードウェアにおいては日本の方が勝ります。私の日本の携帯は前文ができました:インターネットとかスイカとかテレビのリモコンとか赤外線があるんです。私のアメリカ携帯はすごく簡単です。そして機能が強力ではありません。

English:
Since I got such a positive response from my last English post, I have decided to write my diary in English and Japanese from now on. If anybody ever has a question, please feel free to message me.

Since I lived in Japan for a year I owned a Japanese cell phone. Japanese cell phones are a lot different than American cell phones. First off, especially for foreigners, Japanese cell phones are a lot more expensive. I had a one year contract with AU/KDDI and was paying about 9000yen ($90) a month. When I canceled, I had to pay about 30,000yen ($300). I must have spend about 100,000yen ($1000) for about a year of service. In the USA, an individual contract will cost about $40 a month with a $100 cancellation fee.

Although in Japan, owning a cell phone was almost essential. In America we tend to make more phone calls, however whenever I lived in Japan I found myself sending mails a lot more. Especially when I was dating a girl, I would receive a text once every five minutes it seems.

Another thing that I find interesting are the emoticons that people use. In Japan, the emoticons were really cute and elaborate. However, in America our emoticons are very simple. Sometimes I didn't even understand the meaning.

m(_ _) m - Bowing
(^▽^) - Happy
♪ - Good Mood

D: Frowning
:-) Smiley Face
;-) Winking

As far as the actual cell phone, I would have to say Japan wins. My cell phone in Japan did everything... internet, Suica, TV Remote, IR transfer. My American phone is really simplistic and does not have any of the features my Japanese cell phone did.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sabino Canyon

It is Winter Break and I am staying at my parents' house in Tucson for one week. Tucson is surrounded by mountains and desert and tends to be a very good temperature all-year round. I went with my mom and dad to Sabino Canyon. It is very scenic and there are tons of little hiking trails that go all throughout the desert.

Me in front of the desert


There are many wild cats around and also many signs warning about the danger.

Since it is the desert, there are many huge cactus.



With my mom in front of a mountain landscape


Picture of the landscape with the moon in the background


There are many other nice trails in Tucson that I want to go on. I go back to Lubbock in a few days so hopefully I will be able to see a little bit more.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hibachi and Cricket's

The other day I went out with Chiaki, Mayo, Yuki, Stephanie, and Larry to Yamagata's Japanese Steak House. In America, by far the most popular sort of Japanese restaurant is teppanyaki. This is funny as it is not popular at all in Japan and is actually pretty rare. My language exchange, Kumiko, actually works at this restaurant so we were treated to free karage and free California rolls. It was pretty nice in the sense that it was bring your own beer. We bought a bunch of beer at the supermarket and then brought it to the restaurant. I also got a very generous portion of Hibachi Scallops.


Afterwards we went to Cricket's (a local bar) and had a few pitchers of beer.


Chiaki, Yuki, and Mayo are returning to Japan on Saturday so it is likely to get a lot more quiet in a bit. Today was the last day of classes and now all I have left is to study for finals.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yum!

One thing that America trumps any other country on is BBQ. Texas has the best beef BBQ and Tennessee has the best pork BBQ.


This huge sandwich, some slaw, and a big beer for $9. What a country!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tennessee Vacation

For Thanksgiving Break I am visiting some family that I have in Tennessee.


Tennessee is a fairly rural state that has a bunch or beautiful hills and nice country roads. A lot of my family grew up in Tennessee so I though I would visit it for the few days that I get off from university. I have been spending the last couple of days at my Grandma's house in Columbia, TN. It is about an hour away from Nashville and is a very quiet country town.

The other day I went to my uncle's house to have some steaks. He lives in a very very small town called Santa Fe, TN. He has a huge yard and also a very nice house. The lot where his house is on is about 17 acres (~70 sq meters) and seems like a very quiet and relaxing place.

We grilled up some steaks and had a nice dinner with sweet corn from Amish Country and green beans.

The next day I went to the Jack Daniel's whiskey distillery. Jack Daniel's is popular all over the world and every drop of it is made in a small town called Lynchburg, TN. It was really interesting to see the distilling processes. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take pictures of the distilling process, but I could take pictures outside.



I will post some more pictures once I get back to Lubbock. I have been hanging out with the Japanese exchange students lately and have really been enjoying myself. I sent off all of the application material for a few different Japan programs, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a reply. :-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

End of the Year Party

On Saturday we had the annual end of the year party (忘年会) for my Japanese class. Living for a year in Japan and working at a company at the year I knew all about how parties should be. To be perfectly honest this party was a little disappointing.

The first problem is where the party took place... Hayashi Japanese Grill. When I was going through the earlier classes (before I went to Japan) we held the party at a place called Yamagata. It was by far more authentic. The owners are Japanese and they always made a special menu just for the sake of our party. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and we usually go the entire restaurant to ourselves. Hayashi, however, is a hibachi type restaurant (鉄板焼き). Speaking from experience, I can say that despite how popular this type of restaurant is in the USA, it is actually quite rare in Japan. It would be appropriate to say that it is "Americanized" Japanese food.

Location aside, the price paid was also pretty steep. $14 got us two sushi rolls, a small bowl of rice and miso soup, a meager portion of hibachi, and also a small bowl of edamame. Novelty aside, I am sure if I went to Yamagata I could get all of this for around $5. Thank god Hayashi had a bar though.


That leads me to my next gripe... there was no alcohol. Anyone that has been to Japan (and isn't a complete social recluse), will tell you that alcohol is a very important part of the culture. An end of the year party or company party without some form of alcohol is unheard of. Now I know I am complaining about impossible stuff here. This is America and it was a party of mainly college students. Of course the instructors can't officially endorse drinking due to the fact that we live in a backwards country where the drinking age is absurdly high. Do you know what everyone did though that was of legal age? They started a tab at the bar. Before the party I went to my friend's house with a few of the other Japanese students and we played drinking games.





To demonstrate how "authentic" Hayashi was, we spoke Chinese to the chefs. Still it was a nice show though.

I have enough to gripe about with how the Japanese program is run at Texas Tech to warrant another blog post so I won't go into that here. All of the setbacks aside, I did enjoy talking with the Japanese people at the party. Kumiko, my language exchange, came and we talked quite a bit.


Like I said at this point I am nitpicking. It was really fun and I think that the instructors made the most of the situation. Part of the reason was that my Japanese had far surpassed 95% of the people in the Japanese program. Whenever the instructors spoke they always used dumbed down textbook Japanese. I did have a few good conversations with the other Japanese people though.

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