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!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Exam Period Has Started

So, exams started today. This means that I'll probably be cutting down on the blogging (besides, I don't think people want to read about me studying :p). I do, however, have this nagging feeling that there were certain topics that I wanted to blog about, but have forgotten, so if I remember what they are, I'll probably pop up and write a post or something.

(PSA over, you can go click away now)

And if anyone's interested, today's exam was on 産業技術 (sangyougijutsu), or in English: Industrial Technology. It's basically on how the development of technology has impacted the way things are made and the way people work.

We were allowed to bring our notes in, but we were all not expecting the questions that we got. Somehow, everyone was under the impression that the questions didn't change much for the previous years, so we prepared for that (which, to be honest, is basically preparing according to the different chapters/topics). But, the questions were extremely creative, with one on robotic pets, and one on Industrie 4.0

No prizes if you guess what question I answered.

I'm pretty worried, though, because the question was on refuting the Nth Industrial Revolution theory, but I ended up writing an essay on what Industrie 4.0 was, and why I didn't think it should be considered the fourth industrial revolution. One of my friends says it's pretty off, so I'm really just hoping that I get a passing grade (and because I really couldn't do any of the other questions).

Short update, but I will be back soon! (hopefully)

Oh and by the way, I made a tart and some cookies in baking class on Sunday:

Sunday, 24 July 2016

留学生ランチ (Ryugakusei Lunch)

Last Wednesday, us foreign students had a lunch meeting with the teachers. Despite the fact that I'm a fourth year student, this was actually my first meeting. Yes, I am that uninvolved :p In fact, if my teacher didn't put my name down, I probably wouldn't have gone.

I got to the room right on time and...

No one was there! 
So I ended up helping to get the bentos ready, get the tea ready, etc. The picture above is my 'handiwork'.

In the end, nearly everyone was late, so the teacher-in-charge didn't get to talk to us beforehand like she wanted. But at least we weren't late for the actual lunch itself. The lunch was about our opinions as foreign students and what could be improved.

To be honest, I'm probably the worst person to ask this. Like, I believe that one should adapt to the host country (when reasonable), not expect the host country to change to suit your needs. And that is why I don't really have a high opinion of the all-English language programmes.

Like, if you're here for a semester or two, then it's reasonable to have your lessons in English, but if you're planning to get your bachelor/master/doctorate here, then I really think that you should be studying in Japanese. Even if that means you have to take a language year.

Because for example, there's a scholarship (not MEXT) available, which has the aim of them understanding Japanese business culture by the end. So it includes a six month internship and stuff like that. But, Japanese ability is not compulsory. One of the students was saying that it was very hard for them to find jobs because they couldn't write/read/speak well, and I couldn't help thinking that the scholarship failed them. I mean, how are they supposed to understand the business mindset if they cannot communicate in the language everyone operates in? If they go to an English-speaking company, that does solve the problem, I don't know how representative of Japan and Japanese companies it's gonna be.

Not to mention the making friends stuff. One of the teachers was saying that Japanese ability should not be a factor in whether you can make Japanese friends, which to me is problematic. While I agree with the sentiment (that if you can try hard enough you can probably overcome barriers), I think that in real life, if you want to have deep conversations with people, you're gonna need to be fluent in the language (or they fluent in yours).

And on a more practical level, if you can't speak Japanese, then you can't take a lot of the regular classes. That reduces your opportunity to meet people and make friends. Most of the friends I have, I made in class. So if you can only take English classes (where there are very few Japanese), then it goes to reason that you won't meet as many Japanese, and hence may not have as many Japanese friends.

^And this is why I really shouldn't be giving my opinion. It's too depressing to others.

But I am very excited about the different programs that the econs department is going to introduce. I won't be able to take part in any, but it should be able to help the next batch of foreign students.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Pokemon Go Comes to Japan

Pokemon Go has finally come to Japan! Ordinarily, I wouldn't be very hyped up, but we're studying/analysing Pokemon Go in one of my zemi's, so I actually caved and downloaded the app. (Although my teacher told us that becoming trainers was not the main goal. He's not going to stop us though... And when he plays Pokemon Go, it's called 'research').

The FIRST THING I see (although I hear that it was there from the start)

And I wasn't even the first. When I got to school, I saw a classmate standing outside. When I asked why, his reply was "there's supposed to be a Pokemon here"

And my first catch!

Tada! So cute, right? But after I caught the Charmander, my friend told me that there was a hack to make Pikachu your first catch. Basically, just walk away from the three pokemon a few times, and Pikachu will appear.

By the way, I had a lot of problems deciding on the name. I'm probably too uncreative, because in the end, I just combined two of my nicknames. Which means I'm now "TacoYuu". Most of my friends just added numbers to their names haha

A random pokestop. I've been swiping every time I pass one. My senpai went out, rode his bicycle for one hour plus, and he found twelve pokemon! And mastered the art of visiting pokestops without actually stopping the bicycle.

I found a lot more Pokemon around my house though. There weren't many in school, but perhaps it's because there are more players in school?

Oh, and since we're analysing it for zemi, we talked about Pokemon Go today. Some topics we discussed include:

How is Nintendo making money from this? (We still can't figure this out.) To ask another, similar, question: how is Niantic making money from Pokemon Go (Nintendo owns part of Niantic and The Pokemon Company), but how does Niantic plan to monetise Pokemon Go?

- Early investigation suggests that while in-app purchases form a part of it, sponsored locations might be what they're considering. Not to mention hardware sales or related games.

- Speaking of sponsored locations, MacDonalds is the first partner, and all MacDonald shops are gonna be either gyms or pokestops (apparently). It will be interesting to see if this helps MacD's bottom line, though anecdotal evidence suggests that Pokemon Go could be good for businesses depending on foot traffic.

- And for the game itself, how does the Pokemon appear? Lure modules appear for all players, but at other times, it seems player specific. For example, two Pokemon appeared in Sensei's office, and it's not a pokestop or anything. Any there was a time when a Pokemon appeared for me, but not for sensei, even though he was standing right next to me. And a few minutes before that, a Weedle appeared to my Senpai, but not to me, even though I was seated right beside

- How long will Pokemon Go last? (Is it a fad or not?) Why is it so popular? (We started debating if it's nostalgia or something, and if Pokemon is even popular in the States).

- Data privacy concerns: Like the 'mistake' that gave Pokemon Go nearly all access to a user's Google Account. Not to mention the T&C which lets them share data to third parties.

So now you get an idea of some of the stuff we discuss in Zemi. It's definitely an interesting topic, since it's unfolding in real time :D

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Gudetama Pudding

So, if you've been to a Japanese supermarket lately, you might have seen this in the candy/children's candy section: 

 I tried it out recently, and I figured that I might as well share the instructions/pics about the process, because it's all in Japanese (and I plan to bring this back for my family to try, so if I don't make it with them in time, they can look at this).

Things you'll need (apart from what comes in the packet):
- 2 cups (or 1, if you're willing to wash it)
- 2 spoons (ibid)
- 1 toothpick

First, you're going to make Gudetama, so take the egg yolk packet:

And measure out two portions of milk. One portion is one rectangle, but according to the packet, it's 35ml for one portion. It's probably safer to measure it this way though:

Mix well, microwave at 500w for one minute and then mix it again. When it's mixed (for the second time), fill the moulds. I thought there wouldn't be enough, but there was, so yay!

Leave it in the fridge for two or three hours. When it's firm, use a toothpick to separate the pudding from the mould (I used a spoon), and then turn the mould over and place the pudding on a plate.


I am so lonely
After this, you'll need to make the egg white, so that Gudetama doesn't get lonely. For that, just mix one portion of milk with the egg white packet. It smells kinda like yogurt, but it just tastes sweet.

This is when I realise that it's hard to take photos of shiny objects. 
 The pudding isn't fantastic, but it's pretty decent, and it's cute:

It's definitely worth a shot if you're a big fan of Gudetama. Plus, they're pretty inexpensive as well (I can't remember the exact price, but it's cheap). If you do try it, let me know how it goes!! :D

Monday, 18 July 2016

愛宕神社夏祭り (Atago Jinja Natsumatsuri)

Atago jinja, which is pretty near my house, had a summer festival yesterday and today! I looked up the festival online, and saw that yesterday had a Yukata festival, so I decided to take a look.

I did not imagine that so many steps were involved though:

And this wasn't even the half of it. Maybe a quarter or a fifth. 
 And soon, I was led along some pretty unfamiliar paths

Through a few gates

Until I started to question if I was really still in Fukuoka. I mean, I live in an area full of buildings. This looks... rural. And I could hear chickens and other animals.

But finally, I arrived at Atago Jinja.

There were a few stalls, but I didn't get anything, because I ate before I came.

But I did drink in the view, which was absolutely gorgeous!

 And another shot of the place:

Anyway, the main reason I was here was the Yukata festival, and I arrived about 15 minutes before it started! Apparently, this is the 17th year that it's being held! No wonder loads of people brought their kids here to take part.

I took so many photos it was embarassing. Plus, I took photos using my DSLR AND my phone (and to make things more embarassing, all my photos here are phone photos. I imported my DSLR photos to the iPad, but they all looked so blurry that I got disheartened and didn't finish editing them)

But I'll spare you all the agony of going through tons of photos of little kids wearing yukata's and just post one photo:

This little girl (black Yukata dress) was the first place winner! All participants received prizes, but the top three received something extra!

By the time it was over, the sun was beginning to set.

And I found an observation deck, so up I went.

Also, this "let's make it a story-telling style by using minimal words" is really not working for me. But I don't have much to say either, and like... both are bad, I guess? I should perhaps try to write more, or use less photos.

Anyway, there were some kids chilling at the observation deck, so I grabbed this photo and left. I realise that one reason why I like my phone photos is because I can make panoramas very easily with them. Or at least, much more easily than having to stitch everything together.

Although I really should be using my DSLR more. All the photos seem to turn out blurry! I don't know if it's the lens or just me being really lousy with photographs.

Anyway, this has gone on for a bit too long hahaha. And my rambling isn't even related to the post at hand. But I hope you enjoyed the photos(:

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Japan-Related MOOCs

Hello everyone! I was reading RocketNews24 recently, and I saw an article about this really interesting MOOC. Obviously, I signed up for it, though I have no idea if I can finish it because it's going to be exam season. But, I thought that you guys might be interested in taking it, so here it is:

Sounds cool, right? You can sign up at this link

If you want to know more, this is part of the course description: 
Learn about bookbinding styles and their influence on Japanese literature  
In the first week of the course, you will be introduced to the main bookbinding methods used in traditional Asia, and to the practice of rebinding books. We will also discuss the influence of Chinese bookbinding methods on early Japanese books in all their various shapes and forms. 
Explore old Japanese manuscripts and illustrated books in high-resolution images and videos

In the second week of the course, we will focus primarily on the different types of manuscripts and illustrated books that were used for waka (classical Japanese poetry) and prose tales (monogatari) from the 9th century through the 17th century. High quality images and video recordings of materials in Keio University’s book collection and beyond will give you a real sense of the look and feel of these precious objects.

Discover the role of book publishing in the development of Japanese literature and scholarship

In the final week of this course, we will look at how the introduction of movable-type and woodblock printing in the 17th and 18th centuries helped books spread widely across social classes, and how this democratization of books affected Edo culture and learning.
The course is in English, and it's an introductory course, so even know you know nothing about Japanese literature, you should be able to follow along. It starts in two days, and it's supposed to take 3 hours a week, lasting for three weeks.

I also looked around the site, and I also found this course!

You can find it at this link.

From the course description:

Thanks to the impact of ‘globalisation’ people in the West are growing more and more interested in voices from East Asian culture. But familiarity with Western philosophy doesn’t always mean an accurate understanding of its Asian counterpart.

So what does the “Asian counterpart” of Western philosophy actually refer to? Confucianism? Daoism? Different schools of Buddhism like Theravada Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism? And how do we understand each of them? This course will help you answer some of these questions.

Get an easy introduction to East Asian philosophy

Although English material on Asian perspectives can be easily found in the West, readers are often immediately frustrated by difficult terminology borrowed from classical Chinese/Sanskrit, along with the lack of explicit argument. So - is there any shortcut for accessing Asian philosophy without the burden of studying sinology or Indology? The answer is: yes. Contemporary Japanese philosophy offers such a shortcut.

Compared with Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophical texts are more analytically organised, allowing for them to be more easily interpreted in terms of Anglophone philosophy.

In fact contemporary Japanese philosophers like Nishida Kitarō, Kuki Shuzō and Wastuji Tetsurō systematically introduced Western philosophical terminologies into their own theoretical work, so their works are more readable for a Western audience than classical Asian texts like The Book of Change.

Understand Japanese philosophical problems

This course is designed to help a largely Western audience explore philosophical problems through a Japanese lens, without needing to know Japanese or any Japanese philosophers. Throughout the course you’ll will become acquainted with the Japanese way of doing philosophy and you’ll unpack Asian ways of thinking.

Many of the philosophical problems addressed in this course are actually widely discussed in the Western tradition of philosophy, so a basic sense of what Western philosophy is can be useful as these are problems that are often re-introduced in the context of Japanese culture.

In addition, this course will also offer you a chance to re-evaluate your own philosophical assumptions by comparing them with their Japanese counterparts. Using these comparisons you’ll widen your own theoretical horizon when considering fundamental problems in philosophy.

Get an insight into Asian Culture

Japanese culture is, by its nature, a hybrid of nearly all Asian cultures outside Japan. This means the study of Japanese culture in some ways offers a ‘package solution’ to the study of Asian culture in a more general sense. This course will offer you an taste of this culture as well as insight into Japanese philosophy.

It's supposed to start sometime this year, so hopefully I'll be able to take it. It's also supposed to be accessible to beginners, so definitely sign up if you have an interest!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


Yamakasa (山笠) is on the 15th, but they had the 山笠集団山見せ (Yamakasa shudan yamamise) today, which is a like a pre-Yamakasa event. Since I was in Tenjin to meet a friend anyway, we decided to go and take a look.

We arrived about 30 minutes before the first float was supposed to reach, so we managed to get a good spot! Perfect for taking photos/videos.

There were policemen all around, and they were basically concerned with making sure people did not step onto the road because "your feet may be trampled". Yuka and I were very careful to stay on the curb after that.

The first procession! In total, there were about seven groups, I think? I didn't really keep count :p

Each group was led by little kids, and they were really adorable!

Most kids ran with someone older

Although the very littlest ones got to be carried. (Isn't it amazing that they're starting the traditions so early? I guess that's why the Yamakasa is still going strong)

And this is one of the floats:

And another one. If I remember correctly, the Fukuoka Museum mentioned that the floats used to be much taller and could be seen from a really far distance (don't want to commit to a number because I don't remember). Of course, in those days, there weren't high rise buildings either.

The buckets are for throwing water, I guess to cool down the participants. In fact, before the Yamakasa participants came, volunteers were pouring water on the road. I guess they were trying to cool it down or something (I guess the heavy rain in the morning was beneficial after all)

Right now, Yamakasa is like a race, hence the running, but apparently when it first started, it was just visiting the various temples. But one year, while one float was having a lunch break, another float ran past them, and since there was some rivalry going on (or something like that), it became a race.

And look, another kid!

These kids probably have way more stamina than me.

If the photos aren't enough, I managed to take a video of one of the floats! It's about a minute long, but it should give you a sense of what it's like (gave me a sense too, because Yamakasa takes place in the very early morning, which I probably will not be waking up for). Hope you enjoy it:

Monday, 11 July 2016

Tanabata 2016

I don't really talk about Tanabata here, because it's not a very big festival, but I did go and see the illumination at Fukuoka Tower, so I wanted to share that!

But first, the Tanabata-themed wagashi that I bought:

Cute, but extremely sweet. I'm not done with it yet ><
 I did here that there was a mini "matsuri" at Fukuoka tower, but it's just some food stalls and two game stalls. Oh, and a band. Since I ate before I left, I didn't bother getting anything.

Instead, I went to the beach just behind the tower to look at the sunset.

The sky quickly changed to a lovely orange:

I walked back, saw the reflection of the clouds in the tower, and rushed back to the beach.

It was even more stunning in person, but I didn't think I could edit this picture and do it justice, so here it is, as it is.

Anyway, I'm sure you're all more interested in the photos of the tower. First, there was the regular "bridge of stars" thing:

To be honest, the bridge couldn't be seen until it got really dark. When it first lighted up, it was unimpressive. But once the sun had fully set, it was beautiful.

Then there was the special Tanabata heart one:

This was actually part of a illumination show thing, and I managed to record parts of it (my camera turned itself off after a while, I have no idea why :p) Hope you enjoy watching cupid though(:

And that was my Tanabata. It wasn't terribly exciting, but I wanted to share these photos with all of you(: