New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Kyushu University Lessons: Bahasa Indonesia I (入門インドネシア語I)

Hari ini ujian Bahasa Indonesia!

Today was my Bahasa Indonesia exam! So I figured that I'll use today to talk about the class while it's still fresh in my memory.

So, why did I take Bahasa Indonesia? Well, I have a lot of Indonesian friends, so it's always been one of the lessons that I want to learn. And I'm so glad that I took the class this semester.

Unlike a lot of other language classes, which focus on translation, this class focuses on speaking Indonesian. In fact, our final exam is as follows:

a. Speech (we had to prepare it beforehand - anyone interested in hearing it?)
b. Answer questions about Speech
c. Read a passage
d. Answer questions about the passage
e. Shiritori game (Basically, if given a word like "nama", the next work must start with the last letter, so something like "adalah" and so on).

And yes, the whole thing was done in Bahasa Indonesia. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself, since I managed to pass the test!

The teacher is Ibu Fabiola, and since she's from Indonesian, you know that you're learning the correct pronunciation. While every class starts off with a test, I found it to be a great way to keep on learning, and I think for this semester, this is the class that I learnt the most in.

Plus, the lessons are really fun. Every now and then, we digress, and I have learnt about things like: toilets in Indonesia, things that you can buy from your house (apparently, the tukang odong-odong is a portable merry-go-round man), what to do when you catch a cold, etc.

We even got Kueh Lapis once! 
And after our final exam, it's apparently customary to go out for a meal together! Since there are no good Indonesian restaurants around (there is one, but it's really expensive and the portions are small), we went to a Thai restaurant in Tenjin. Take a look at the food:

Lychi and Mangosteen! Oh how I've missed the fruit
Again, no photos of people that I can upload, since I forgot to ask permission.

First course. Then I was too busy to take any more photos. 
So, how strongly do you recommend this class? 

If you have an interest in Bahasa Indonesia, you should definitely take this class! I'm planning to take the second class in the next semester if I can!

Details and other Misc. stuff:

The class syllabus can be found here
And I created a memrise course for this class (it helped immensely when it came to memorising the words) which you can find here.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Yukata Time!

So last Sunday, I was invited to wear Yukata and eat Kakikoori (Japanese shaved ice) by the Kimono shop. Since I don't have a chance to wear my Yukatas very often (and I'm pretty terrible at putting them on myself), I jumped at the chance.

"Dark" photo
This time, I chose to wear the Yukata that I got from someone at Church! I haven't worn it before, and the obi is new as well, so I was really curious as to whether it'd suit me. After all, I do tend to choose bright colours like white and pink, so dark blue is a fairly unusual choice for me.

After I got my hair and face done, and the Yukata put on, it was time for photographs! This time, I had the presence of mind to bring my camera along and as the photographer to take a few pictures of me.

"Light" photo
Unfortunately, the pictures were either too dark or too light (the background was too bright). I've tried to do what I could with them though :D

Oh, and of course, I uploaded some to Google+, and they got auto-awesomed into a mosaic!

After the photo-taking session, it was time to eat! There weren't many people there (there were about 4 people at any given time), but there was quite a lot of food. 

 Apart from the platter, there was also onigiri, and of course, the Kaki-koori machine!

I got to try my hand at making them, and even though I was pretty full from the platter + onigiri + soumen, I still found room. Goes to show that I have a separate stomach for deserts.

And how much did all the food, make-up, 着付け (kitsuke - helping me put on the kimono) cost? 500 yen! I consider that to be very worth it, since make-up and kitsuke alone normally costs at least a few thousand yen.

It was a really fun few hours, and I'm so happy I got to try on this Yukata!

Now, it's time to study. I have exams in a little over a week (actually my Bahasa Indonesia exam is this Thursday), so blog posts will be little to none for the next two weeks. I'm actually really worried about them, because of subjects like macro-economics and accounting (this time the accounting is on the theory of accounting. I'm doomed. I can do calculations, but not theory. Certainly not in Japanese). Wish me presence of mind during the exams, and if you pray, please include a prayer for me! (And if you need prayer, let me know and I'll be happy to pray for you too)

After exams, I'll be going back to Singapore, but don't worry, I'm planning on something Japan-related to blog about! Stay tuned for more information!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Rilakkuma Chocolate Making Set (Review. Sorta)

I was going to post about the Yukata thing today, but then I was looking through my photos and realised that I never blogged about the Rilakkuma chocolate! I bought (and made them) a while back, while they were on sale. Let me show you the box, which was way adorable.

*high pitched squealing*
While I'm not that big a fan of Rilakkuma, my sister and Rena are, so I can't but be slightly influenced by them. This is what the kit contains:

They are:

  • Chocolate mold
  • White and Milk chocoate
  • Pink chocolate (the pink tube)
  • Small bags with bag ties

The picture of deliciousness
 There was actually quite a lot of chocolate left over. I even had enough to make one special chocolate to my friend, in order to apologise for sleeping in and missing the movie (we planned to watch the latest Detective Conan movie together) ._.

I think it turned out sell. At least the words held their shape. 
The chocolates themselves turned out pretty well too!

And they were really simple to make too! Here are the instructions:

1. Melt the chocolate. The thing to note here is to be sure to melt the pink chocolate thoroughly. It took me quite some effort to squeeze it out at first. It's a bit hard to guauge whether it's melted, but the best test is to squeeze some chocolate out. If it comes out easily, it's melted.

2. Fill in the molds. Start with the details (pink) then add in the rest (either white or milk chocolate)

3. Resist the urge to drink melted chocolate. Just wait for it to cool.

4. EAT.
Eat meeeeee
 I think both white and milk chocolate look pretty with pink details.

And the poses are really cute too.

Just chillaxing here. 
 If you plan on giving them away, the little packets are enough for one or two chocolates.

But me being me, I managed to cram in 4 chocolates. There wasn't much space at the top though :p

Would I make this again? Absolutely. I'd love to buy it back to Singapore, but I don't think it's sold anymore. I'll have to go supermarket hunting again ><

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kimono Baito

Last week, I posted this photo and asked you guys to guess what baito (part time job) I went to:

And, +Whitney Yee got it right! Dingdingding *throws confetti*

By the way, this is an excellent time to circle me on Google+. I share loads of things there, not just about Japan, but also about reading, writing, cooking etc. Ok, self-promo part is over. 

So this story starts with Meinohama station. I was at Meinohama station waiting for the train one day when I spotted this poster.

Poster not taken at Meinohama Station. 
So after doing some due diligence about the company, I went to apply for the modeling baito. And yay, I got it! I was so so excited!

How the selection process went:

1. Apply online. By the way, this this their website.
2. Get a phone call and make a date for the interview.
3. Interview - The interview was mostly questions like "why do you want this job" and "how do you find Japan", like the website says, it's really just a chat.
4. Wait.

Oh, and I know they have stores in Yokohama and Fukuoka. I think the main branch is in Yokohama. But it seems like there's none in the kansai area, since my cousin tried to apply too, but was asked to go to Yokohama.

So on the day itself, I went back to the shop, got my hair and face done, was dressed in a furisode and photos were taken. It took less than 2 hours, which was much shorter than I expected.

The place. 
By the way, I read online that you weren't allowed to choose what you wanted to wear, but this wasn't the case for me. I got to choose between a furisode and houmongi, as well as the pattern of the furisode that I wanted to wear. 

My camera was kept with my other belongings, so I didn't get to take many photos. But someone took a picture of me after the event, so here I am with makeup and hair in (relatively) pristine state.

I really wanted to get the catalog to show you guys, but apparently it's not for external circulation. I'm guessing it's like those catalogs they use when they show you the kimonos as you sit in the office wondering which one to get.

But, they did give me all the shots (printed copy), and I can choose prints if I want. But my mom says my face looks very round in the photos, so I guess I'm not getting any.

The first photo was basically me holding a whiteboard with my name and date. The rest were posted photos, with multiple shots of the same pose. But apparently, I blink a lot or something, so they weren't very nice. Here are the best two (from 3 sheets of paper!) 

Does my head really look big? ><
I'm guessing everyone would rather see a full body shot, since most of the pattern is in the bottom half:

I love the pattern of this furisode! 
This was a really unusual, and fun baito. I'll be blogging about my regular baito sometime in the future, so do keep watch for it. I've also got pictures from last Sunday, when I went back to the kimono place to wear a Yukata, take photos and eat, but that's another story for another post.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Social Business Forum Asia 2014

I can't believe how many things happened this weekend! If I were to combine them all in one post, it would be way too long and then I won't have anything left for the rest of the week. So let me go chronologically, with what happened on Friday.

Social Business Forum Asia 2014
Friday was the Social Business Forum Asia 2014, organised by the Yunus Social Business Club (YSBC). I am technically a member of the YSBC, but this is the first event of theirs that I've attended. Whoops, I'm such a terrible member haha.

The Social Business Forum Asia (I'm just going to shorten it to SBFA from now on) was held at Hakozaki. I was supposed to reach there at 11am to help set up, but uh, due to me oversleeping (and then falling asleep in class due to medication), ended reaching there about 12 plus, when everyone was finished and taking a break. Double whoops.

Since it was my first time at the YSBC, I got to meet lots of people!

Look, people! 
I would post lots more photos, but I forgot to ask for permission, so I won't post any photos that show faces clearly.

My job at the SBFA was to hand out the simultaneous translators and collect them afterward. It's actually a pretty easy job, because the main thing was to make sure that none of the translators got taken home after the event.

The transmittors! 
Because most of my job took place before and after the event, I got to sit up front for the first half and listen to Mr. Yunus speak. (Sorry, there are no photos of the event, cameras were prohibited because some star that I didn't recognise was there).

His speech is truly inspiring. I recently read his book Creating a World Without Poverty (click on the link to read my review!) and it was really inspiring. He is just as, actually more, inspiring in person. He talked about how we should see ourselves not as job-takers, but as job creators. Considering that the norm in Japan is to look for a job even before we graduate, his advice to start our own business is really radical.

Apart from Professor Yunus, we also heard from Mr. Hans, who is his creative advisor, about the work that they're doing in Colombia. They're starting a social business to help potato farmers!

From Japan, there was this star that's starting a social business. After all three guests spoke, there was a panel discussion, and they introduced some of the activities of the YSBC.

The whole event was extremely inspiring. The only thing was that I was in heels and a dress, and well, I was sitting down without a chair. So when the YSBC members were asked to stand, my right leg was so numb that I almost twisted my ankle and fell. I grabbed the hand of the guy standing next to me (we just met today) just to stop myself from falling. Let's see whether my new acquaintance will continue talking to me the next time he talks to me.

After the event, there was an after-party, and guess who I got to talk to?

Yes, Professor Yunus himself! 
He is such a nice person! I was actually stationed outside the door to collect translators, and we had a short exchange (he thought I was handing out things). When I spoke to him at the after party, he recognised me and I was like whoaaaa. *fangirl*

And he answered all my questions as well! So all my doubts that I raised in my book review was basically answered by him.

Mr. Hans and I
I also had a really fruitful conversation with Mr. Hans. I told him (and Professor Yunus) about Amberbrook, and he gave me his namecard because he might because to introduce us to the guy from the World Toilet Day. I hope he replies, because we really do need guidance right now.

This was a really great event. I learnt a lot of things, and met a lot of awesome people. Another perk of going to Kyushu University ^^

AFFILIATE LINK: Buy Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism from Amazon. The book is inspiring and I highly recommend it! If you click on that link to buy, I get a small cut, while you don't need to pay anything extra to be inspired. Win-win for all of us.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Nihonjijyou Outing 2014: Escape Game and Moomin Cafe (脱出ゲームとムーミンカフェ)

Anyone remember my nihonjijyou class? I talked about it before, even blogged about last year's outing to Shiroito no Taki. This is the last year I can take the class, and for our final report outing, we decided to play an escape room game and then have dinner at the Moomin cafe at Canal City!

It was really hard to get a date where everyone was free, so we ended up going yesterday. We have to thank our Takamatsu sensei for letting us use class time to go out :D

Oh, and although I brought out my DSLR, I forgot my SD card so... All photos were taken by my iPad.

First up, the Escape Game at Canal City. It's located on the top floor, next to the entrance to the Ramen Stadium.

It costs 500 yen (at least, for the Spy themed one I went for) and the time limit is 10 minutes.

The theme was to stop Lady Butterfly from destroying the world. But before we played the game, we had to wait a little while. One of the things we did was to try and solve this puzzle.

Actually, only Kimchi managed to solve it. The rest of us had to get hints from him to solve it OTL.

If you want the answer, let me know and I'll message you or something :D 

And of course, we had to take a selfie. 

The game itself was incredibly fast-paced and fun. We were each given clipboards, and we had to find three tokens that matched the picture on the clipboard:

Can you see that blue animal thing? And the black thing below is for the tokens. 

Then, we received a card we had to fill out.

I actually took the longest to find my tokens, so I accomplished the least. Oh well, it was fun (And of course, I was busy taking photos :p)

After that, we went to the Moomin cafe on the ground floor, next to Baskin Robins. 

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I adore the Moomin cafe! It actually made international headlines lately because of the stuff toys they placed beside single diners. But actually, they place stuff toys beside all the diners, not just those dining alone. 

We had two "guests" - a Kangeroo like character, and I think Moomin's dad? 

Guys group photo(;

New best friend?

Apart from the characters, Moomin cafe has really good food and an excellent パン食べ放題 (all you can eat bread). The bread has many different flavours and the cream cheese spread is so good! I think I at six helpings yesterday, in addition to my Finnish Platter (which was also really good!)

We also received some sweets (for all seven of us!) just for taking a photo wearing the Moomin hats. 

And, the obligatory selfie with the sweets!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the photo spam of food:

First up, the Moomin Omelet Rice. Isn't the pattern cute? 

And then, the grilled chicken. I had one bite, and it was awesome. Really tender and juicy.

My dinner, the Finnish plate - all of the food awesome. I wonder how authentic it is though.

And of course, dessert.

The Moomin character wants some too. 
This is one of the cutest cheesecakes I've ever seen!

I had two bites, tasted pretty good too! 
 And a parfait:

I had a really awesome time! It was a really good chance to get to know my group mates better, and I found out that they're even more awesome than they appear! I'm really glad that I was placed in this group with them <3

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Yamakasa Oiyamanarashi (山笠追い山ならし)

This post is for +Whitney Yee, who requested that I write something about Yamakasa. 

So today marks the end of Hakata Gion Yamakasa. It actually has this really early sunrise march, but after yesterday's match (YAY GERMANY WON), I really needed the sleep.

But, I did go to one of the earlier events on Saturday - the Yamakasa oiyamanarashi.

Look, something happening! 
Basically, this is a rehearsal for the real thing, and it's held at a much saner time with less people involved. For me, that pretty much means it's the preferable event.

By the way, have you noticed their outfits? Let me tell you, it made for some awkward shots. I tried snapping all these photos without making eye contact with anyone.

Actually, I'd rather take photos of the cute kids in their outfits:

But, I guess what you guys want to see are photos of the actual event. I actually meant to edit them (I always meant to edit my photos), but I haven't even transferred it to my iPad, much less edit them.

My main impression was: Loud. Loud and rather smelly. I think it's the stink of sweat, and I don't blame them.

It actually started raining just before the race started, but everyone sill carried on. And these people were actually running. Loads of respect for that.

And since I went to Tenjin and Nakatsukawabata, I managed to see some of the Kazariyama floats as well.

These floats were originally carried(!) but nowadays, they're only used for decoration. Or so I'm told.

 What I found interesting was the the front and back of the floats were completely different. Take a look at the picture above - looks serious and traditional right? Now look at the picture below (same float, opposite side):

Anpan Man!
Yup, that's Anpan Man, a really famous anime here in Japan.

And speaking of anime, I'm sure most of you know about Doraemon. Do you wanna see the Doraemon float? It was on the road leading to Canal city.

Blocking the path of everyone.
Isn't it adorable!

Lots of kids were so happy to see the float. Not just kids, adults too. Well, even I was happy to see Doraemon!

And of course, the back of the float was really serious.

I heard that there are floats all over Fukuoka, though most are concentrated in the Tenjin-Nakatsukawabata-Hakata area. Anyone want to come to Kyudai, and then go around looking at floats with me next year?

And next year. Next year, there won't be any World Cup matches, so I'll try my best to wake up for the main event. And jostle with the crowds for shots. And take pictures in the darkness. Someone remember to prod me to go(;

Extra Information:
Fukuoka Now has a really good Introduction to Yamakasa in English. Wondering about those costumes? They have an illustrated guide!
They also visited the all the kazariyama, so if you want pictures of them all, go take a look!