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Archive for May, 2008


In the swing of things

Posted by Leith in News,Play

This week started off a bit oddly. I tried to meet up at Hachiko in Shibuya with some people from the HOME organisation (a group that supports foreign students at the University of Tokyo) for a drinking party, but couldn’t find anyone. Ah well. I wandered around shibuya for a while, and eventually ran into an Outback restaurant, which I thought was pretty hilarious. Outback is an Australian-themed restaurant chain that was started in Florida, and I’ve been to some of the ones in Florida. Given that this was a little too hilarious to pass up, I decided to have dinner and drinks there myself. Very reminiscent of the Florida version, yet different at the same time. Amusingly, despite advertising “bloomin’ onion” flavor and sauce, the actual bloomin’ onion is called a “typhoon bloom” and is presented differently. I ate and stayed for a couple of drinks, then took my leftovers back to the dorm – had a great Moscow Mule, but the Alice Springs chicken was a little too cheesy.

While I was there I was very overcome with a sense of loneliness and missing Anastasia and absent friends at the table. In a sense, this is the closest I can get to gethem right now. I talked to waitress a little, she’s been to NZ before and briefly to Seattle – go figure. Apparently other Outbacks in Japan actually do have the bloomin’ onion. It was worth noting that it’s somewhere that accepts credit cards, but is definitely an expensive outing. Also amusingly, the prices on the menus don’t include tax and the final bill has a 10% service charge! The American trend continues.

On Tuesday this week I took a trip to Asakusa with Carla from my language class. After getting my train pass at Meijijingumae, off we went to see what we could see at Asakusa. We ate some dango (little dumpling things, sweet and sticky, very tasty), saw the shrine and wandered around a little. It was a little frustrating in some senses, because we didn’t really know what was going on around us. That said, we could certainly still appreciate the beauty of the place.

This week classes progressed pretty well, learning a bunch of new stuff. Sometimes the class feels like it’s going at the right pace for me, other times it feels like it’s a bit slow, although that might just be that I’m focusing almost entirely on my Japanese, rather than working on doing any research. Lunches with my classmates continue as well, which is rather nice – it makes it feel far more familiar, somehow. This week we also had a “conversation challenge” in which we had to go have a predetermined conversation and be recorded while we were… then watch the whole class doing them later. Man was I nervous… I’m definitely not used to be recorded for critiquing, that’s for sure!

On Friday I managed to get to a guest lecture being given by a bigwig from Pixar on their attitudes to research, animation and all kinds of stuff. The whole thing was really interesting, and I would be interested in somehow doing some research in the animation area, although I have no idea what that would really amount to or even be, specifically. Something to look into, I suppose. The funny part actually came after the lecture, when I was standing around talking with Takashi (from my lab) and some others about what I thought of the lecture and some points from it – in the middle of this, there were some people taking pictures of us talking for a University of Tokyo brochure! Very amusing, given that I’m not really a full student yet… I don’t know if the photos will actually get used or not, but it was pretty funny nonetheless.

I spent a good deal of time talking with Anastasia this week, which has been good. Being able to talk a lot makes the distance feel a bit less, somehow.

Other random things for the week: I saw Eastern Promises, which I rather enjoyed; the train on Thursday was repeatedly delayed due to the earthquakes the previous night and needing to check the tracks; I sorted out my NZ taxes; and I bought some cognac, you know, for… medicinal purposes. ^^

Final note, it’s Mother’s Day back in NZ, so Happy Mother’s Day to my Mum!

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One month in: officially an alien

Posted by Leith in News,Play

This week was fairly routine in a lot of ways: going to class, going to the lab, attending a lab seminar, doing my usual stuff. Some different and interesting stuff also happened, though, and it’s always the different things that feel like they’re worth writing about. Sleep continues to be a problem.

This week I did some digital colouring for the first time in a long time. I took some line-art that Anastasia had given me and coloured it for her according to another reference picture. This actually took a lot longer than I thought it would, because I needed to change the line-art a bit, and add in some mesh clothing, which was a bit of a pain. The final result is ok, but not great… looks like I’m going to need a bit more practice if I’m planning on getting back into doing some of this.

I also went to the city office again to pick up my alien registration card. That’s right, I’m officially a legal alien in Japan. Hilarious! On the way to the city office I talked to a little old lady on the bus named Tareko, who spoke no English. It was really hard, but a lot of fun trying to stretch my Japanese that I’ve been learning in class to an actual self-introduction situation. ^^

I’m finding that I’m running into some of my classmates who live at my dorm quite a lot in the mornings, so I suspect I’ll be travelling with them quite regularly. This week it was Ignacio (Mexico) and Tariq (Bangladesh). It certainly is novel having such an international class! Everyone really joins in the discussions and contributes to the class, so it’s a lot of fun.

Speaking of transportation, this week on the way to university I did see someone with pink hair on the train, then immediately after leaving the train saw a little old lady with blue hair. Only in anime my ass.

I also spent a bit of time in the lab this week looking at the lab’s webserver, trying to figure out if I could install PHP on it (since it just has Perl at the moment). Now, I’ve made a bunch of websites, but I’ve never really got into the server side of things… I left that up to other people who were actually interested in that sort of thing. Ultimately, I think I could probably do it, but I don’t know if I would be able to restore things from a backup if I completely screwed up, so I might be stuck with basic pages for a while. Sigh.

I’ve been badgering Takeshi, one of my labmates, this week into making arrangements to give me (and anyone else in the lab who wants to) a tour of Akihabara, a famous district here in Tokyo. It’s kind of like the Mecca of anime, manga, electronics and the culture that surround them. Takeshi is an anime fan as well, so I’m looking forward to him being able to show me around a bit.

Yesterday I went with a bunch of my friends from language class to Shimokitazawa, which is a district quite close to my dorm. We wandered around looking in on shops and generally getting acquainted with the place. It has a lot of little shops (some with fantastic Engrish), but also a bunch of bars and things as well. The general vibe of the place is that it is full of young people and was kinda fun. I’m sure I’ll be going back there a few times during my stay at the dorm.

Oh, and this week I saw the new Naruto movie and Shoot ‘Em Up. I think both of them fall into the category of movies that don’t require terribly much thinking, but are fun anyway.

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