Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Two Business Seminars!

I'm really really believing that the old adage "it never rains but pours" is true. One week, I'm having a nice, quiet, completely un-blog worthy life, and the next, I get a new phone, go for a few seminars and have family coming to visit.

So, by my count, I want to share about switching phone (and telcos), the business seminars that I've been too, and when my cousin comes, my trip with her.

And since I just came back from the second seminar that I've been to this week, I think this post should be about the seminars.

Basically, Kyudai offered us students a chance to go to this seminar held by Nishi Nippon City Bank in honour of Kyudai's 100 year anniversary. I've had a few teachers tell me about it, and since two of the moderators were teachers that had taught/are teaching me, I thought it would be interesting to go. The topics are: the future of the ASEAN Economic Community, East Asian economics and expansion of Kyushu companies and Innovation and environmental concerns.

The seminar was held at New Otani hotel, and it was way more posh than I  expected.

Or maybe it's just the decorations
And I have no idea if that's normal, but they had glasses of ice-water and print outs at each seat.

My seat says I'm related to Kyushu University :D 
All three sessions were supposed to be a panel discussion, with each professor/invited guest giving a short presentation about the topic first. Weirdly, they were collecting questions for the panel to answer before the presentations. So obviously, I had no questions to raise.

But, since many of the guests were teachers, and they had powerpoint slides, they all went beyond the time limit (even most of them ended up finishing their presentation before its intended ending, or skipping a bunch of slides). Still, it was interesting to get three mini lectures in a row, before the moderator starts to read out questions/gives his own questions because no one had anything to say.

Now, let's skip back to Monday. I was given a ticket to attend a seminar in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the SMEs in Fukuoka (福岡県中小企業経営者協会連合会). I had lessons before that, and then I went to meet Ms. Makino, but I managed to make it for the second talk, and the panel discussion.
The hall wasn't as fancy (it was opposite Hotel New Otani), but I think
there were more people. 
The second talk (first for me) was really interesting. The speaker was talking about 三方良し (sanpouyoshi). Sanpouyoshi is a traditional Japanese concept meaning that a business must benefit all three sides - the seller, buyer and society. According to Mr. Yunus Mohammad, this is why Japan had the original concept of "social business".

Anyway, the focus of the talk was that the focus on pleasing the shareholders leads to unsustainable business practices. Instead, (Japanese) businesses should focus on giving value to the customer (and society), and when they do that, the profits will come.

One example he gave was of a laundry service that is willing to pick up and deliver laundry outside of normal working hours (like say, 11pm). This is very useful to workers living alone, and by helping that niche, the business earns loyal customers. Or (and this made a bigger impact on me), an electrical shop that delivers a 100 yen lightbulb to an elderly customer and helps him/her install it for free. It might not make financial sense now, but as the word spreads and more of the elderly visit the store, some of them will want to buy fridges or televisions, and the store they're going to buy from will be the store that delivered and installed a 100 yen lightbulb for free.

After that was the panel discussion. I showed the list of panelists to Ms. Makino before I left, and apparently, two out of the three are really famous. One is a designer, one is the founder of a very large real-estate company, and the third is the guy that directed Japan's 2020 Olympic campaign video.

Presentation by the designer lady. 
And, those on Google+ already know, but I forgot-then-remembered-in-time that I was supposed to teach after the seminar! My heels were killing me, but I managed to make it there. Then take the train and walk very very slowly home.

I'm tired and there's no way I can hide that.
(By the way, the blue sticker indicates the ticket I was given. It was blue!
There was another, red, ticket)
Both seminars were really interesting, but I think I enjoyed Monday's one more. It wasn't as fancy, but the contents really caught my attention and wormed into my brain.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Beware the Line Scam!

You always think that scams are something that don't happen to you. But in an amazing coincidence, a scammer tried to part my money and I using the exact same scam that I read about yesterday.

If you haven't heard, this is the LINE scam that's making its way around Singapore and Japan recently (click on the links to read a newspaper article and funny ways 'victims' have responded. Ok, here's one more.)

Oh, and he tried to scam a few of my family members at the same time. What he/she (I'm just going to go with "he" from now on) didn't know is that we actually have a Whatsapp group, so we figured out what this guy was up to almost instantaneously.

Actually, I don't think it's a human. The English is too terrible, and the Japanese versions are awkward Japanese. Awkward enough that even I think it's terrible. Or maybe just someone who's native language isn't English or Japanese.

So, I wanted to try and see if I cook make the guy angry, but I failed. I think. The guy left the convo then deleted my cousin's account. And because I can't take screenshots on my phone (I cannot wait to switch to an iPhone. Good thing I will do that soon), I had to take them with my camera.

Scammers - stop following the same pattern. REACT TO ME. 
On hindsight, I should have done the cat-facts stuff from the start.

Most disinterested scammer ever. Seriously. Make an effort. 
Or you know, go "I didn't know you owned any Apple products!" 

He didn't even give me a chance to send a photo! 
On the other hand, my cousin had some awesome responses (shared with permission).
He is obviously following a script. RESPOND. 
Don't you just love cats? CAT FACTS!


But seriously speaking, this has caused a lot of trouble to my cousin. He has been locked out of his account, it's giving him stress, and he really doesn't know what to do.

And for everyone, please stay on the alert. Even if your friends message you for money, make sure it's them. Ask for a photo of them, ask them a question that involves something only the two of you know, contact them on other apps (Whatsapp, Facebook Message, Google+ message, email, etc).

Monday, 20 October 2014

Nokonoshima Cosmos Flower Lightup

Nokonoshima, that beautiful island near my place, had a Cosmos light up recently! Well, the last day was yesterday (and it was only on weekends). One of my classmates, who had actually gone there, told me it was beautiful, so yesterday, I went there in the evening with a new friend from Church.

And woah. It was my first time going to Nokonoshima in the evening, and it is beautiful!

For proof, here are some pictures from the boat ride to the island:

Marinoa City

Everything looks good in the sunset!


As we arrived at the island.
I was really hoping to be able to get a shot of the flowers with the sunset in the background, but sadly, it seems like that wasn't really possible. This is one of the better shots:


And this, was the view that my new friend really liked! It's her first visit to Nokonoshima, so I'm glad that she enjoyed it! (And that there are actually flowers. For my mom and sisters, there weren't many flowers blooming when they came).

Oh, and the island park is already in the halloween spirit. We saw loads of Jack-O-Lanterns, and even a huge pumpkin:

Ok, it wasn't a real pumpkin. But still! 

Trust me, these things were EVERYWHERE. 
The actual light-up wasn't as impressive as the sunset. Sure, there were pretty flowers, but after seeing the Huis Ten Bosch Kingdom of Light (like this post and this other post) and the Fukuoka Castle Sakura Light Up, this was nothing.

Can't remember what these flowers are called, but they're so pretty! Reminds me of Lavender, but red.


Ok, buildings like this look cool in the dark. 
The bus ride to the dock was really nice too! For starters, our bus was wooden! And the driver was really nice, and he stopped (and turned off the lights) at the most scenic spots, so we could see the night view of Fukuoka city.

Wooden!!

And of course, because we need a little unexpected problems in our lives, the queue for the boat was so long that we ended going home almost an hour later than planned (it didn't help that we got on the wrong bus too)
And then it continued and curved around. There must have been
close to 300 people in that queue!

But overall, it was a really fun trip! I'm so glad I managed to catch the light up before it ended.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

My experience with house-cleaning services in Japan

I'm going to be upfront with all those of you who've never met me in person - I am terrible at cleaning. I mean terrible. Even after I try my best to clean, my house still looks like a pigsty. It comes with having too many books and not enough space. (Hi Nic! Feel free to chime in here XD). It wasn't much of a problem in Tokyo, because I moved out after a year, but after a year and a half here, the mess really starts to accumulate.

But normally, I can live with it. Normally.

However, this time, I came back from Singapore to layer of dust on my floor, and a feeling of dirt that didn't disappear even after I cleaned the floor 3 times, I was pretty much near breaking point. A cockroach sighting was the straw that broke the camels back and I called a cleaning service I was looking at right away.

Thankfully, they answered even though it was past 10p.m. They're called Soyokaze, and I was first thinking of getting their 2 hour "clean as much as possible" service. But, after considering the state of my house, I decided to just get them to clean and tidy up everything.

The cleaning people came yesterday, and apparently, it took 4 people 6 hours to get my house in order. But, I'm super pleased with the results!

Before:

I'm kinda ashamed *covers face*
 After (same area):

Sooo much neater! 
And the floor feels so clean! Despite the cold, I was walking around barefoot yesterday, enjoying the feel of a waxed floor.

LOOK THERE IS A REFLECTION! 

Much much neater. Take my word for it. 
They cleaned my windows, my very dirty balcony (where even my mom didn't dare to touch and I don't step out on), the bathrooms and tidied up the whole house up (they bought boxes and stuff). Now, all I have to do is to maintain the cleanliness, which doesn't seem too difficult (yet).

So the big question: Is it worth it?

Well, I paid 40 000 yen before taxes so my pockets are hurting a lot now. Even if you compare that to Singapore, it's very very expensive. But, my house is way cleaner than what I could have possibly done.

So what if you're a student and you really really need to clean your house before your parents/extended family/friends come? Ask yourselves this questions:

How much longer will I be staying in this house? I stayed in my place for a year and a half already, and I plan to stay until I graduate. In that case, I consider the expenses worth it. However, if you're about to move out, don't bother.

And of course, make sure you have the savings for it before you lift up the phone.

The sootballs approve of the house now. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

It's Typhoon Season in Japan!

In the past week, two major typhoons have hit Japan. What are the odds?

Living in Fukuoka, I hardly ever experience a typhoon. It always seems to skip me, which is good. But today's typhoon VongFong? Woah. I'm never underestimating typhoons again.

As you can see, Fukuoka isn't in the direct path, but is in the affected area.
Photo from JMA
A bit about Typhoon VongFong (aka Typhoon no. 19): It's said to be the strongest typhoon since Typhoon Haiyan, which caused major destruction in the Philippines. Worrying right? When I first checked the Japan Meterological Agency (JMA), the typhoon strength was 猛烈 (mouretsu - intense), meaning wind speeds of above 54m/s; and incidentally, is the highest rating with regard to wind speed. Thankfully, it had reduced by the time it hit Kyushu. If you want to read more about the classification the JMA uses, go to this page (Japanese).

But, even though the typhoon has reduced its intensity, what I've heard is that it's slow speed makes it very dangerous. Dangers include landslides, and being washed away by waves. Channel News Asia did an article on how terrible it is.

In fact, my cousin in Osaka received an evacuation notice! Osaka is currently in the "Danger" area, and is totally red. When I checked at 3 something in the afternoon, Fukuoka was also on high alert, but somehow, I didn't get any evacuation notice (perhaps something's wrong with my phone).

Look at all that red! Photo from JMA
Right now (8pm in Japan), most of the red area is yellow (caution advised), except for costal areas. It'll probably have left Fukuoka by tomorrow, so I guess the worst is over. However, all you in Kansai - Tokyo - Anywhere east of Fukuoka, take care!

Personal story time~

I was actually foolish enough to go out today. I had to meet a friend to get something. She works in Meinohama, so I thought that the walk to the station, then a one-stop ride would be easy.

Well, one umbrella was culled from the herd. It went out as a normal umbrella, and came back bent and ready to be thrown away.


And this was a good ending. I saw two umbrellas flip inside out. That's why most people eventually gave up and just walked/cycled through the rain without any umbrellas.
It can't even close
The worst part was walking over Muromi river. I normally love living next to a large body of water that connects to the ocean, but not now. My umbrella died there because the wind was so strong (The wind is normally stronger there). And it's a good thing I put on weight because I don't need to be blown away :p

As far as typhoon stories go, it's not very exciting (I didn't evacuate or anything), but this is one of those times where not-exciting = good. Safe is good, even if the story isn't as interesting.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Back to School Update!

School has finally started, and my life is settling down into a school-baito-sleep routine. Oh and golf. I've got the air in my bicycle tires refilled, so life is at the peaceful phase before I start loading it up with activities.

Since this is the second semester of my second year, I'm now at the Hakozaki Campus (instead of Ito)!

Remember this campus? 
It's so much more convenient and cheaper for me to go to Hakozaki. Although, I pass by the shopping areas on my way there and back, so my expenses might still end up increasing :p

My classes this semester are pretty interesting too. Most of my teachers seem fun, and I'm taking Bahasa Indonesia II. I'm so excited for that class! No other languages though - I'm done with Chinese, and this sem contains the last English module I'll have to take.

I haven't planned any blogworthy trips yet (though my cousin is coming at the end of this month so....), so expect a quiet few weeks. I shall enjoy the calm before the frenzy.

Friday, 3 October 2014

My Studio Ghibli Themed 21st Birthday Party! (Part 2)

When I got back to Japan, I started writing about my 21st birthday party. And due to my tendency to be verbose, the post eventually turned into two parts. This is part two, and you can read part one here (Part 1 is a guide on how I got the various Ghibli-themed elements to create a party).

Now, my main goal in having a party was to make sure people had fun. Which is why I made cards, and why I hosted a costume contest. To be honest, I was very worried about whether people would dress up, but enough people pulled through to make it very fun.

I basically spent my party running around taking photos, apologising for not talking much, and writing cards. I didn't actually eat, and ended up losing my voice (remember, I had a throat infection). So rather than give you a blow by blow account of what went on, here are some of the best cosplays.

Of course, when I say "some", I mean "most". Almost all of them were awesome!

First up are 3 of my cousins and their boyfriends/girlfriend. They all came in together, so they made the second biggest entrance.

Let's play a game. Which of you can guess who these next 6 characters are? (I'll even give you the movie titles, so you have no excuse to make a mistake)

First up... the PRINCESS MONOKE COUPLE
 

Along with the WHISPER OF THE HEART peeps! Aren't they adorable? (I was so hoping someone would cosplay this - it's one of my favourite Ghibli movies)


*sings* Ponyo, ponyo, ponyo sakana no ko *finishes singing* PONYO!

Ponyo and the guy who likes Ponyo - My running gag on my future-cousin in law
(he insists on the actual name)
Making the biggest entrance was No-face! My dad actually ran in calling me to come out. No one would tell me what was going on until I saw for myself. It took me quite a while to guess who it is though.


And what's a No-face without a Chihiro? One of my cousins came (without consulting No-Face) as Chihiro/Sen! 

The clothes! <3 
Obviously, we had to act out a movie scene. (No-face was very prepared)
Can you guess what scene it is?
My princess Mononoke cousin was very into the whole thing. They were doing lots of poses throughout the whole party - so cool!
Ladies and gentlemen, meet my coolest/scariest cousin (if
any of the other cousins are there, um, you're all cool equally!)
Alright, the next photo features two of my closest friends doing stealth cosplay. If you can give me the correct character names, I will send you a card (Hi Micha! You totally get a card regardless of anything! I just need to buy envelopes)

Hint: think colour scheme and hats. 
For the costume contest, I had my classmates judge them (since they are the "Japan representatives"). So, here are the results.

In third place... No-face and Chihiro!

No-face was being sweet and let my bro wear his costume, hence the
sudden decrease in height. The original No-face is still in the photo though.
 And second place, Ponyo and Sosuke!

Personally, my dad was rooting for them. Because my cousin came in a wig.
And first... The Mononoke couple! I'm really happy for them, because they went all out for first place.


Here's me with the arrow from Princess Mononoke!

I like this photo!
 Incidentally, can anyone guess which character I came as? Cards for them too!

Group photo of all the people who came as characters. 
One last shoutout to my AC family, who took time from their busy busy schedules (I know there's at least one med student, one Yale-NUS student in this group photo) to come and celebrate with me. You know I love (philia love) you all right? <3
If there was ever a time for hashtags in a blogpost: #acpride
After the party, my friends and I sneaked off to have some ice-cream, and for me to finally eat something. It was fun just being able to chat with everyone, so here are more photos!


The real purpose was to meet Happy, who couldn't make it to the party. You're a true friend ^^

Ok, last picture. For real.
#notevenmyphone <- That isn't a valid hashtag right? I'm very out-of-touch
Photo credits go to my sisters, my cousins, and for the last three photos, the awesome Dinh!