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!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Manga*Anime*Games from Japan Exhibition

Hey! I've been having exams this whole week, and finally got a break. So obviously, I remembered that in my last post, I forgot something. (With any luck, my memory was fine during the actual exams.)

Basically, if you're in Tokyo anytime from now to the end of August, you have to check out the Manga*Anime*Games exhibition (ニッポンのマンガ*アニメ*ゲーム). I went there on the last day, and it was fantastic.

The exhibition is being held at The National Art Centre, Tokyo. The closest station is Nogizaka Station (乃木坂) on the Chiyoda line. Entrance fee is 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for university students.

The English page on their site is actually really comprehensive, with a detailed outline of the exhibition and the English PDF of their guidebook.

Sadly, no photos allowed inside the exhibition.

The only photo I managed to take. Conan!!
I went with a friend, and it was so much fun. I knew a few of the manga/anime/games, but not all. My friend knew way more, but not all either. And at the end, I ended up with 9 more series to start. Too bad I went just before my exams - if I have time during the summer, you'll know what I'm doing!

Guidebook (English and Japanese), plus list of exhibits
I just remembered, thanks to Nic, I actually have a few more photos - of the gift shop. I wanted to get her something, since she always randomly sends me cute stuff and letters, and this was the perfect opportunity. 

So many books that I wanted to get! I'll have to go haunt BookOff soon. 
 There was actually a lot of senbonzakura (千本桜) stuff over there, and it was really pretty! A lot of Gacha machines too. And of course, a lot of books. I was thinking of getting the exhibition book (lots of details about the various manga/anime/games and their backgrounds), but they didn't have an English edition. I heard they're planning to put one out though! I can only hope they sell it on Amazon as well if that happens.

In the end, Nic gets a file and a cute little mirror thing. Too bad it wasn't a badge.

Hi Nic! *waves* The blue one is yours :D 
So, if you're a fan of anime, manga or games and you happen to be in Tokyo, hurry up and get to the exhibition. You definitely won't regret it! 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Aomori - Tokyo Zemi Trip: Part 3 (Tokyo)

Ok, I was planning to make this two posts, but exam season starts tomorrow, so who knows when I'll blog (or conversely, if I procrastinate enough, you may see more posts :p). Anyway, after getting to Aomori, we took a shinkansen all the way down to Tokyo for two things: the NTT History Center of Technologies and ICPC.

The NTT History Center of Technologies is basically a museum about the history of telecommunications in Japan. It's only two days a week (Thursdays and Fridays), from 1pm to 5pm. I wasn't sure what quite to expect from this.

So despite the fact we made really last minute reservations, the staff there were really nice and gave us the student tour, which meant we got to watch a video about how NTT envisions the future of telecommunications will be like, and a guided tour by a OB supporter. An OB supporter is basically a worker from NTT who has retired, and thus, has a lot of insider knowledge about how things work.

Starting point
 Since my Japanese is not the best, especially when technical terms are involved, I was pretty worried whether I could understand anything. When it came to the tour, I understood most, but not all of what was going on. When it came to the exhibitions, I was so glad there were English explanations!

 One exhibit we made sure to go to was to see the ADSL donated by COARA, a company deeply involved in Japan's internet history. The company president had come to give us a talk, and I think my teacher was involved in the donation, so yeah, we made sure to find it.

If you can read Japanese, here's more information about it.

The next day, we went to ICPC at Musashi University.

Basically, we listened to three panels: One on privacy, one on drones, and one on internet and the culture of cities. For some reason, I found the first speakers of the first two panels to be speaking really fast, and didn't really catch what they said.

In between panels, someone flew a drone!

The drone was really noisy though, and it seemed hard to control.

So, that's about it I guess. It felt like a pretty long trip, and we definitely crammed a lot of activities into it. And now, to study!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Aomori - Tokyo Zemi Trip: Part 2 (Aomori Public University)

Alright, time for Part 2 of my Aomori-Tokyo Trip. I'm going to do a one event per post thing, so they'll be four parts total. And today, I'm continuing my Aomori adventure, with a presentation at Aomori Public University.

I'm totally digressing here, but I made so many mistakes with Aomori Public University's name. It's 青森公立大学 (Aomori Kouritsu Daigaku), but on Facebook, I had it as 青森大学(Aomori Daigaku). Apparently, there is an Aomori Daigaku, so.... whoops. Huge mistake. And to make things worse, I was uploading photos for the official zemi page.

Anyway, we had a joint study session with Kogure sensei's zemi, and I must say, all their topics sounded more fun then ours. They're subject is 地域みらい (the future of the region), so quite a few of their presentations were about Aomori prefecture and how tourism can be boosted.  Since I didn't actually get to tour Aomori, I guess this was a sort of virtual tour? Another topic they covered was how technology can be taught to the elderly and handicapped - and they didn't just present, they actually went and helped teach a class. Respect. On the other hand, my zemi is about Information Technology, so our topics were "MVNO", "Netflix and other SVOD" and "Industrie 4.0" (That one's mine).

The schedule for the day went something like this: Presentations, break for a tour of the school, and then more presentations, and end with a BBQ! My presentation was in the later half, so let's start with a few pictures of the school!

First up, my room for the night! I was housed in this really awesome room, and apparently, it only cost 3000 yen!

It feels bigger than my apartment. 
And there was a proper toilet too!

My teacher's room was washitsu, but equally awesome. When he saw it, he was all "Maybe we should do this every week." If it was more convenient, I would totally be up for it.

The guys were in 2 "apartments", each a 2LDK. I even saw something from the Nebuta festival near their rooms!

This is where our study session/BBQ/rooms are.

It's so beautiful!
I think this is the outside of my room.

So one thing I noticed about Aomori University is that it's really in the middle of nature. That, and the buildings are really beautiful (the ones I saw, anyway)

If I remember correctly, this is the art centre. 
 They even had artwork lying about.

Please don't ask me what this means though. 
After a quick tour of the school, we went to see the teacher's office. And he has so many cool phones! (This is his area of speciality - he actually gets asked about the history of phones in patent cases)

There was a Doraemon phone:

One that looked like a toy car:

And a lot more! And not only were there phones, there were tons of cool gadgets, like Nekomimi:

Sadly, not batteries could be found. 
 And this cute little robot that's supposed to be educational:

It was such a fun room!

After the tour, it was time for presentations! I was way nervous, and didn't have enough time, so... you can imagine what happened.

Me: Speaking way too fast
If you're curious, my friend presented about the basics of Industrie 4.0, and how Japan is adapting to it. My part was about Singapore's Industrie 4.0, and China's version, called "Made in China 2025", and was just released recently. After a slow start, I'm starting to enjoy the topic, but it doesn't mean it becomes easier to explain ><

The last item of the day was the BBQ, which was fun. I had a good time talking to the students at Aomori university. It turns out that they choose their zemi in year one! Just goes to show how different public universities can be(:

Oh, and if you're wondering how the BBQ went, here's a photo:

Perhaps the grill knew we needed light? 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Aomori - Tokyo Zemi Trip: Part 1 (Getting to Aomori)

So, my zemi trip is finally over, and I arrived back in Fukuoka yesterday. I also started throwing up yesterday, so yeah, I came back with an extra "present" :/ So yeah, short post today (I was going to split it into 2, but now I'm guessing 3 or more posts)

Anyway, I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier (Maybe I did, maybe I didn't), but I had to go on a trip to Aomori, and then to Tokyo. Unfortunately, since I wasn't in charge of zemi trips, I have no idea how much it costs, so this isn't that good for a travel reference. But hey, I might as well share about Aomori Public University, right? And because of privacy concerns, there probably won't be that many photos (if my classmates/other people are inside, it's a no-go).

Getting to Aomori

Normally, I'd be taking the plane, but in the interest of keeping costs low (this was about 12000 yen for a one way trip, not counting the cost of the train), we took a plane to Narita, and then a night bus from Shinjuku to Aomori. So that meant in order to arrive in Aomori by Thursday, we had to leave on Wednesday.

So, my first trip with this zemi. Again, I'm the only girl in my year (there's a girl senior, so that's better than being the only girl in the entire zemi), and hence, the only one in my trip. On the bright side, my luggage was not the biggest, because suits take up a lot of space.

We met at Fukuoka airport at around 2, and arrived in Narita, around 6, I think. From there, we had to make our way to Shinjuku. I'm not sure how, but the route we took wasn't the usual one that I take, so we had to change a few times. I did get to see this awesome view though.

So dinner, blah blah blah, we then we killed time till the bus. Nothing much, to be honest.

I was very amused by the bus though, probably more than I should have. It was my first time taking the Night Bus, and we took a bus by Willer. The seats were way more comfortable than that of the plane, and they had a hood!

It's actually a really smart idea, since it blocks the light. I actually managed to sleep a little. Since it was my first time on the bus, I really, really wanted to take loads of photos, but my friends were there, and it would awkward. Perhaps next time - I wouldn't mind taking an overnight bus to Osaka or something.

We arrived in Aomori around 9 the next day, and it was so cool there! I think it was below 25 degrees, which felt so good! But we were all tired and I really needed to freshen up before the presentations in the afternoon. Thankfully, my friends found an onsen within Aomori city.

It might be because I was tired, but the onsen felt really good, even if I couldn't spend that long in there. Felt better and bigger than the one in Beppu too. Anyway, we were all hungry after that, so we had Nokkedon (のっけ丼) at Aomori Ichiba (Site in Japanese)

Basically, you buy tickets (5 for 540, or 10 for 1080), and use that to make your own donburi. Trust me, you'll want to 10 ticket one. Actually, if I knew better, I'd probably have gotten 15 tickets. Rice is 1 ticket (2, if you want extra), soup is 1 ticket, and the rest depends. Eggs/Salmon are 1 ticket, Ikura, Crab and Prawn were 2 tickets. Basically, the recommendation was to make one round the different stalls before deciding.

Add caption
 Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures of the stalls, as I was too busy choosing my food. It's really a normal market, but with an extra addition that lets you build your own meal.

My breakfast!
After breakfast, we found a place to study for a while, then off to Aomori Public University!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

就活 (Shuukatsu): Buying a Suit

As part of my 就活 (Shuukatsu; job hunting), I decided to buy a suit.

Wait, I should probably start with "I decided that I'm going to go job-hunting in Japan", right?

Yeah, probably. So, I decided, since I'm in Japan, and because I want to practice business Japanese, that I should try to get a job in Japan. So, job hunting.

As an aside, Shuukatsu is shortened from 就職活動 (shuushokukatsudo), but the first time I saw this, I had no idea what it mean, and basically asked "why are people trying to live?" (In Chinese, 就活 means "To live"). Well, at least someone explained it to me :p

Anyway, as far as I know, Shuukatsu isn't supposed to start from year 3, but it does anyway. Third year students like me try to get internships, which are supposed to help you get an offer of employment. Sites like Rikunavi (リクナビ) are used, but before I even go for interviews, I need a suit. (Well, I did an internship last year, and went without a suit the whole time, but it was for international students, so I think they were more relaxed with me)

So I asked around, and found out just how strict Japanese standards are. The length of the skirt (and when to wear a skirt - and when to wear pants), the height of the pumps, the colour of the suits, it's all in the unwritten rules. Tofugu had a pretty good article about it, but I'm really not here to debate about whether I should or should not get one. The rules aren't going to change for me, and anyway, I'm not going to assume that I should get special treatment just because I'm a foreigner. So off to get a suit I go.

When I asked around, the shop that most people recommended was Aoyama (青山), not to be confused with the place in Tokyo. It's a chain selling clothes, and as far as I could see, mostly clothes for office wear. I was told if I got a cheap suit, it should be a little over 30,000 yen. As it was, I spent quite a bit more than that.

I went to the Tenjin branch, and I think in one or two minutes of me walking into the ladies section, the staff was here. The first thing they had me do was put on this white shirt:

And off we went to look at suits!

The first suit I looked at was the most popular suit, and really expensive. 41000 yen for a three piece set (blazer, skirt and pants).

Skirt on first, which actually felt pretty comfortable
This suit basically has a skirt and a pants, and I actually liked it the best. Here are the photos so you can see for yourself:


Pants. I was making this weird face by accident, so Baymax is now my face
The second suit was the cheapest. The suit, without pants (so, skirt and blazer), but with a white shirt, bag, shoes, and stocking was 28000 yen. So around what my senior was telling me, price-wise. Unfortunately, it didn't feel really comfortable, and it didn't really flatter me.

Maybe it was after comparison with the first suit, but yeah, I didn't like it so much.

The last suit was 32000 for the blazer, skirt and pants, and ok, price was in the middle, but it was my second choice too.

Now that I've tried on all three suits, it was time to decide! The salesgirl helped me crunch some numbers, and then, it was time for me to call my family and talk about my budget.

Looking at information and thinking
According to the information from Aoyama, what a lady needs is:

  • 2 suits (2 blazers, 2 skirts and a pair of pants)
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 3-5 white shirts
  • 1 bag
  • Stockings (multiple)
  • 1 belt (for the pants) 
And possibly some other stuff. Anyway, if I got all the recommended items, even with 50% off the second suit, it would have come to 76000 plus. Way too much. For the record, my senior recommended:

  • 1 suit (1 blazer, but 2 skirts and 1 pair of pants)
  • A few shirts
  • 1 pair of shoes (I think?)
  • 1 bag
It's entirely possible she assumed I knew I'd need a belt and didn't say it. 

In the end, I bought 1 suit (the 32000 yen one), and added a 14000 4 piece set consisting of 1 shirt, 1 bag, 1 pair of shoes, and 1 set of stockings. The total cost was about 46700 yen, including tax and alterations.  

My purchases ended up being a pretty huge bag

And if you're wondering, here's the bag and shoes I chose (I was given a "budget" for each, which was slightly higher than the 28000 suit+set one). The shoes were supposed to be about 5cm, and it's a good thing I didn't pick them myself, because they felt much lower to me. So yeah, going to the shop that sells the right things was a good call for me.

Aoyama also has student discounts (10%), and a student card, with I think 20% discount on single piece items and 10% on set items. There are two cards, a free one, and another that costs 1250 yen a year from the second year onwards (but you get a 3000 yen voucher each year, apparently). I took the free one because the second one came with a credit card function and I did not want that.

So there you have it, my suit buying experience. I'll be blogging about the rest of my shuukatsu experience as I go through it. I think the next shuukatsu post will be about internship hunting(:

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Food, Translation Work and Presentations

So, Nic and Bekah convinced me that rather than leaving this blog fallow, I could just blog about my life. Like how blogging was originally intended. (blog is shorted from "weblog", which apparently started off as an online diary) Yes, I am a bit dense at times.

Anyway, I've been in school, which is very much of the same-old same-old. Highlights from my week include:

Handing in the International Business group report! We were supposed to report on a foreign company we thought succeeded in Japan, and my group chose Aflac. I didn't know most of the members, so working together was a pretty fun experience.

Dinner with a new friend!

I was in the canteen last week when someone asked me "Excuse me, are you Singaporean?" After I got over the shock (because I've basically been speaking in Japanese the whole day and the question was in English), I started chatting, and became friends with Ben, an exchange student from NUS. Basically, I was wearing my MGS shirt and forgot it. I wonder what will happen if I wear an AC shirt to school - I've still got Jame's "Just did IB" shirt.

And since Kouta (one of my zemi friends) works at an Izakaya, we decided to go there for dinner on Thursday. It was really fun, and delicious. Ben got his Yukata (for really, really cheap), and I got to spend some time not studying.

Because well, exam time is here.

Well, not really. Exams are end of this month, but I've already started studying. Lots of tough (but interesting) subjects this term. On the bright side, I don't have any end of semester exams for 外国書購読(英語経済), which is supposed to be reading in English, but is more of a Japanese class for me. YAY.

Apart from studying, I've also been busy with the translation baito that Charmaine got for me. She finally got the company to give us the exact amount of money we're getting. Otsukare~

The bad news is that they want the first 50 pages ASAP. And we both have our end of semester exams. For me, I'm sharing the book (we're translating guide books) with one more person, so it's not too bad, but Charmaine's doing hers all by herself. It's gonna be really tough. This is also why today, instead of going to Nokonoshima for half a day like I wanted to, I stayed home to study and do translation stuff. And ok, it's also because I looked at my wallet and thought the better of it.

I also had a special lecture from a IT journalist yesterday.

He talked about drones, IoT (apparently, people are conflating IoT with networked devices), wearable technology, deep learning and a whole host of other stuff. It was all really fascinating, if heavy.

And since he's a zemi guest speaker, we had a nomikai after. As you may know, I'm not very good at nomikai's. But I talked to people yesterday, which I think is an achievement. The first half was mostly me talking to my classmate from my year, but after a while, I started talking to a 5th year senior. He just came back from a year's exchange in America (hence, year 5), so we were speaking in English. It was pretty fun. And I talked with one of the OBs that came last night, and two of the year 4 seniors. I was like "wheeee, I'm talking to people" (of course, this was all done inwardly. I was speaking normally on the outside).

Those are basically the highlights of my week. Next week, or more accurately, from tomorrow onwards, I will be:

Buying a suit. My teacher says that when we do presentations at Aomori University, we have to wear something with a collar. And since I have to do shuukatsu anyway, I should get a proper suit. Hmm... that's a blogpost topic. Assuming that I have enough things to say. I'll see tomorrow, because I hear you can get suits for reasonable prices at Tenjin.

Prepare presentation slides and a report (on top of regular prepare for classes and study for exams). The slides are due tomorrow, and I still have to do a lot more reading in Chinese. Well, I guess it's good China is working on Industry 4.0, since it means I have something to present about. And I have the report on the lecture by the IT journalist due on Wednesday, which is also the same day I'm going to Aomori. I'll probably try to get it done tomorrow or Monday.

Aomori-Tokyo trip. From Wednesday onwards, I'll be on a zemi trip to Aomori, then Tokyo. We'll be doing a joint zemi class with Aomori University students, and then heading to Tokyo for some conference. I'm super nervous about this, but it'll be an interesting experience.

That's about it, I think. Now, back to work!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Awesome Sunset - Edited vs No Filter photos

I have no idea what's been going on with the weather this week, but there were two days with absolutely unbelievable sunsets. I'd be sitting at the computer, checking my email when I look up, and through the spaces between my laundry, spy a pink sky.

Obviously, when you see something like that, you have to run out and walk around the neighbourhood to get the best view for photos. Oddly enough, I forgot my DSLR the first time, and only had iPhone photos.

(Another odd thing: the two sentences in my first paragraph both start with "I", and the second both start with "O". I didn't plan that, promise.)

And while the iPhone camera is way better than my previous phone, it still couldn't capture the awesomeness of the sunset. So I edited it before uploading to Instagram and Google+ and sending it to my family. And since one of my cousins is in art, she saw through the edits really easily (until then, there was one who asked if it was a #nofilter. Sadly, my skills aren't that good).

So I figured, why not share the before and after photos with everyone?

Photo #1

No filter, which is really subdued compared to real life. 

Filter/edited version

Photo #2

No filter, and the sky is already pretty awesome. 

Filtered (although the difference isn't as great as the first photo, I think)
Photo #3 (that hasn't been uploaded anywhere)

No filter, so the only thing you can see is the sunset. 

This is so obviously edited. 
So there you have it, the before and after for my photos. In case you're wondering, the app I use is Snapseed, and I think it's already integrated into Google photos (at least it is on the web, I'm not sure about the app).