Sunday, September 13, 2009

New camera filter.

I got a new filter for my camera.

Can you guess what it does?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2 years in Japan/my new toy.

I have officially been in Japan for two years now. In those two years, I've made friends, lost friends, traveled, had good times and bad times, but mostly good times. I became a university graduate and I got myself an awesome job. I've moved 3 times, which is pretty low for a 2 year period for me.

I wasn't sure if I would stay once I got here. It turns out that I do like it here and I'm going to stick around for a while.

On an unrelated note, I got myself a new toy. It's an Acer Aspire One micro laptop, and it's a lot of fun. I got it cheap from a store that's going out of business. I really want a computer I can do video editing on, but this is a nice little toy that I can take anywhere. When I get a bigger place to live (move #4) and more money in the bank, I'll get a nice non-laptop for business reasons, but for now this tiny little device is enough to keep me going until then.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What I've been up to...

As I mentioned, I got a job here in Japan. I guess I should show off what I've been doing.

First, videos that I didn't make, but I added finishing touches on ...

I really can't take much credit at all for these, but I did a few minutes work and upload them.

these videos I did SOME work on, but mostly wasn't my work...

The last 3 I offered creative input, but I didn't really do anything. The first one I changed in some ways, but I can't take much credit for.

The next one I did everything other than filming and basic timing.

Actually, the majority of what I've done isn't public yet.

Last night I went to a fireworks festival in Ome, which is pretty much the edge of the edge of Tokyo city. It was actually a blast.

Besides the fireworks, Ome (which is a really cute town) turns out to be the home of cro-magnum man. I've been in Japan for almost 2 years, and I have NEVER seen people act like they did in Ome. It's a bit difficult to explain, but think "New Jersey". I literally stepped over 3 Smirnoff Ice bottles while avoiding this large group of people with a large bottle of sake and ended up getting yelled at by the police because there was a bus slowly heading my way maybe 50 feet away.

Anyways, I've been busy, but it's fun.

Next week, I'm going to Summer Sonic (a big music festival) and I'm pumped.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Night picnic

I had a lovely night picnic in the park. It was the second one this month.

There were tons of bats flying around. Well, maybe not tons, but at least two and they were constantly flying overhead. It was quite surreal and lovely.

I didn't get any pictures because it was too dark.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Graduation day!

So, today's the big day. Today's my graduation ceremony. As of tonight, I will officially become a college graduate. I honestly was dreading this day before I got my job, but now I'm quite excited. My whole family is here too, and that's pretty exciting in its own right.

So, of course this means after today, I will be done with Temple University Japan for good (probably) which is both exciting and sad. I had great times at TUJ, but all things must come to an end. Now I'm excited about my life at work.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BIG news!

Sorry for the lack of posts. I just can't seem to find the time anymore. Maybe I'll devise a better posting schedule.

But for now, I have BIG news...

As you may or may not know, I am technically done with school. All my classes are over and I graduate next week. The big questions is 'Are you going back to America now? and the answer is...


I have recently found a really good job. I am doing video editing work at a language learning company. The company is Innovative Language, and if you are studying Japanese, you might have heard of some of their products.

I had been doing job hunting for the last semester, and I got a whole lot of 'no's and no responses. I was really pleased to finally get a yes. For the last two and a half weeks, I have been doing an 'internship' where essentially I was doing what will be my regular job, but for legal and other reasons, I wasn't actually an employee.

Now, as of yesterday, my internship is over and I have been formally offered a job. It starts June 15th, which is after graduation and after my family leaves. They offered VISA sponsorship, which is a big deal of course.

I was afraid that I would have to be an English teacher to stay. Not that there's anything about being an English teacher, but I have no passion for the English language and while I wouldn't mind teaching, I have little to no desire to teach English. My job now is actually what I studied in school and what I want to do, so I am quite pleased.

So, I shall remain here for some time, and as of now I have no intention of leaving the country.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Osaka was a party. I have a deep affection for this town. This is partly because Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto) was the first place in Japan that I visited, partly because I've got a good friend there, and partly because Osaka exudes this charm that other places in Japan don't have.

The thing about Osaka is it has some really nice places and some REALLY bad places. I don't mean "bad for Japan", I mean "Bad in general" but I'll get to that later. Even the nice places of Osaka have a little grime on them, and it's not like "Eww, that's dirty! Stay away!" It's just part of life there. People accept it and move on.

And speaking of people, Kansai people are WAY more energetic, noisier, and livelier than Tokyo people. For such an exciting city, Tokyo people are a tad dull.

Anyways, back to Osaka. Our hotel was a mere 7 minutes walk to Dotonbori, probably the most famous place in the city. If not the most famous, one of the busiest and most exciting.

It doesn't look too exciting in the day, but at night, this place is crazy.

And what do we do in Osaka? Eat okonomyaki! I met up with a friend and she took us to her favorite place in town.

Normally okonomyaki is cooked on a hot iron skillet in front of you and most of the time, you do the cooking, but at this place, the staff took over. And this guy was PICKY! He made sure everything was just right and when to eat. I ordered the yakisoba and okonomyaki combo (with a 'lunch beer'. Osaka is great.) and when my cohorts were waiting for their food, my yakisoba was done. Being the polite guy, when he told me to eat, I wanted to wait for my friends. Two minutes later he came back and told me to eat again. I asked him which was better for the okonomyaki, the sweet (normal) sauce, or the unsweetened (Osaka style, I guess) sauce. I asked him what he recommended, he paused for a second, and said with confidence and a coky look in his eyes "unsweet". He wasn't wrong.

I'm not sure if it was the BEST okonomyaki I've had in my life, but it certainly ranks on my top 5, no question. I miss that unsweet sauce.

The place was right around Dotonbori, so we went there when we were done. Here's the picture that everyone knows.

And actually, a few blocks from there is a kabuki theater. I had no idea.

The thing about this part of Osaka is there is a REALLY long underground tunnel. It links (and this is a bit confusing) Namba station, JR Namba station, and Osaka Namba station. That's right, 3 stations called "Namba". And while they can be accessed by an underground tunnel, they are probably a good 10 minute walk apart. There's another odd thing, but I'll get to that later.

Inside the underground passage are a lot of shops. There was also some nice new year's decorations.

Another example of some of the fine people of Osaka. I should also mention at this point that the whole underground mall is playing nonstop Para Para music.

Just leanin' against a whale. Without a care in the world.

After enjoying some Namba time, we headed over to Umeda, specifically Umeda Sky Building. Last time I was in Osaka, I was out in front of there for new year's, but I never went to the top. This time I got the chance.

It was quite a view.

One thing I noticed about Osaka is that the whole town is rather brown.

Not everything is brown, but there is a LOT of brown in Osaka. Lots of wood, dry grass, rusted metal, dirt, and just brown buildings. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than the bland grey of Tokyo, but that's the way it is.

Umeda sky building has these really odd escalators that take you to the observation deck. They look strange, but they're a lot of fun to ride.

Here's an odd out of place building. Note the orange train, a lot like the old Chuo trains that I ride occasionally.

And here's a building that has a road through it. If you look in the center, you can see it there. I first heard about it here, but it was nice to see it in real life.

Inside the top of the Umeda Sky Building was this odd little 'game,' I guess, where you had these chairs with plastic bubbles and the more you jumped and the more bubbles you put your weight on, the more it reacts to your movement with different colors, shapes and sounds.

It sounds odd, but it was a lot of fun.

Anyways, it was time to leave and I took a shot of that odd escalator. Those were actually quite great. It would be nice to take an escalator like this every day instead of a boring one inside.

So, after the ultra modern city, we headed to Osaka Castle. Here's a shot from inside a train station.

Near the castle, we were greeted by a friendly cow.

And there's the castle!

Apparently, a lot of the stones for the walls and base were 'donated' by neighboring regions' leaders and a lot still have markings on them indicating where they came from. You can't really see them in these pictures, though.

Osaka Castle was pretty damned big.

The inside was kind of strange. It seemed like the whole castle had been gutted and replaced with a museum. Well, it's been a long time since someone has ruled from it, so I guess it's better than letting it go to waste.

Here are some shots from the top of the castle.

After we left, we were a little hungry, so this being Osaka, we went to a takoyaki stand. I couldn't help but notice this precocious feline.

We headed back to Umeda station and I couldn't help but notice the lights.

These odd neon chandeliers were both tacky and classy at the same time. Kind of like Osaka.

From Osaka Castle, we headed towards another famous landmark, Tsutenkaku.

This tower was originally built in 1912, then torn down due to the war. In 1956, it was re-built and it's still there today. This tower is also near a REALLY bad neighborhood. But first, how about some T&A?


I saw this building in the distance. I wasn't quite sure what it was, so I asked my friend.

Most neon lights like this in Japan are either love hotels or pachinko places. This was actually a grocery store.

My friends told me that it was a chain of super super super cheap grocery stores, and most people know to stay away from their meat and non pre-packaged items. A friend even got some pudding there that was bad. Later we went in one and it was quite depressing. Really bright lights, tons of security cameras, and just an overall creepy feel. There was also a large selection of cheap alcohol. I feel bad for people in this neighborhood who don't have another alternative but to shop there.

Anyways, back to the tower. The neighborhood around the tower must have been awesome in the 50's, but it's not the 50's anymore. It wasn't bad, but a bit more run down than most. Even the sign for the main shopping street was a bit broken.

Despite the grime, this was actually a pretty fun place. I could see myself going back there to hang out if I lived in Osaka.

Here's a close up of the tower.

To the right is the kushiage restaurant we went to. Kushiage is essentially deep fried anything on a stick, and another Osaka specality. It was GREAT!

You can see the tower from where I was sitting. Man, that place was good. I want to go back.

After our bellies were full, we headed back to the station a different way.

This time we headed through spa land. It's a giant building filled with hot bath spas, apparentlly from around the world. They love spas in Japan, but honestly I've never been to one. The idea of getting naked with a bunch of strangers is one I'v never really warmed up to.

Here's the front (HDR image). Apparently, it's open 24/7.

On the way back, we saw this work wear shop. Just another indicatior of the class of the neighborhood. Their local clothing stores are open late at night and are aimed squarely at the market for construction workers.

All and all, it was an interesting experience. If I was to spend some real time in Osaka, I'd check out this neighborhood during the day.

We headed back to the hotel, which like I said was near Namba. Here was a peculiar sign for the JR-Namba station.

The reason it's odd, to me at least, is JR is the company (Japan Railways), and normally it's written just as "JR" in signs, even if everything else is in Japanese. Here it's written as じぇあーる which is "Jae Aru", which is the closest pronunciation in Japanese. The strange thing is, Japanese language has a set of charcters for foreign words (Katakana) and since "Railways" is an English word and even the word "Japan" didn't originate in Japan, one would guess that they would use the katakana, which would look like ジェアール, but they didn't. Why? It just seemed strange.

Another thing I liked was the artwork in the giant tunnel connecting JR Namba to Namba station. Apparently it was all reproductions of pieces from a museum in Chicago.

But seriously, why the chain? I guess to just remind people not to touch.

After we got out of the staion, I saw the new Hello! Project building, called "H!PS", or "HIPS". Not sure which. If you know what Hello! Project is, than I'm sorry. If you don't, then you're better off. Sadly, I was quite overly excited to see the "H!PS" building.

I kinda wanted to ride the mini roller coaster inside, but after a LONG day of walking, I just wanted to go to sleep. But not after some more pictures.

It sure did seem super exciting.

I kinda wanted to go back on Saturday just to see what would happen.

But, I never did. Here are some more pictures of Dotonburi at night. I know it's touristy, but hey, I was a tourist.

Osaka: one giant crab, a million bicycles.

So, that was Osaka. I miss it severely.

I can't quite describe it in picures or even words, but there's this sense of Osaka that people are truly ALIVE! The excitement in the air is very tangible and it can be felt everywhere. It's most ceartinly not the nicest city ever (but it has some really nice parts), but it just feels great. I hope I can go back, as it is one of my favorite places in the world. One day was not enough to spend there.