Archive for May, 2008

Pictures up

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

I’ve been falling behind on some work. Not the work you get paid for, but the work that keeps this blog interresting. The text of this entry won’t bring that. I will merely point you on the way

Archery contest pictures

Trip with parents pictures*

Canada holiday 200 . . . something

* will write about still.

==============================================================

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away

– Too many credited

“So how do you feel?”

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I got asked this the other day.

“About what?”

“You know, life”

In the history of vague and broad questions. Questions that require several days to elaborate on, this one ranks high.

I suppose he could have meant my life. But in translation this was lost and I couldn’t help but wander down the thoughtpath that I will write down here.

Life, certainly my life, is good.
Or is it. Within my own life I can point out what ails. My current concussion foremost, though, that’s a temporary inconvenience at most. Or at least, lets hope so, the after effects can be quite extensive and they get more likely if you’ve had more. Certainly, if you are on Concussion #10 one should start taking more care than usual.
Life in Japan, certainly it is exciting and great to see so much newness. And you won’t actively hear me complaining about it. Heck, I can easily detach myself far enough to see how lucky I am to be here. Yet, I miss my friends. I have not succeeded in making any true friends here. Just some people I hang out with from time to time whose name I remember. Vaguely(As a side note i should mention I’m in Japan, noone here called John. Watanabe just doesn’t quite stick in there by itself. And seriously, is every girl here named something-ko?).
Haven’t graduated yet. That’s starting to be annoying. Not nearly as annoying as working from 9-5 I am finding out. But still . . . Don’t suppose there’s a third option. Well, I have the rest of “not being graduated” to work on that.

So my life is good. If I can only list minor annoyances of what is wrong with my life. . . Well, great. Making a mental list just now the good things about my life far outweigh those minor things. Although, I suppose I should mention 1 other annoyance. Seriously, does my girlfriend HAVE to live that far away. Geez.

So, what could it be he was refering to. Life in General? Life for others? Life on this earth? Geez, there’s so much to contemplate.

Life on this earth is pretty much fucked up I have to say. There is so much more wrong with it than a mere concussion. Even if considered in combination with being far away from friends.

Wars, famine, natural disaster, stupidity, global warming, inflation, racial and religious violence. The list is endless.
And then on a more personal level, One can have: Job stress, skin problems, relationship problems, obesity, supermarket being out of your fav cookies, aging, your future, life, the universe, everything. Again, a fairly long list.
It was at this point, my brain diving further into each of these options that I broke off the thought. The entire process had taken 0.2 seconds.

I’m quite sure he was only asking how I was. And I’m quite sure I don’t want to think about life in terms of what is wrong with it. I want to think about the good things.

So

How do you feel?
about life?

Hello Kitty is named Japan tourism ambassador

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Hello Kitty, Japan’s ubiquitous ambassador of cute, has built up an impressive resume over the years. Global marketing phenom. Fashion diva. Pop culture icon.

art.hello.kitty.ap.jpg

Tourism Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, center, poses with South Korean singer Younha and kimono-clad Hello Kitty.

Now the moonfaced feline can add “government envoy” to the list.

Japan’s tourism ministry on Monday named Hello Kitty as its choice to represent the country in China and Hong Kong, two places where she is wildly popular among kids and young women.

Officials hope tapping into that fan base will lead to a bigger flow of tourists into Japan and push the country closer to the goal of attracting 10 million overseas visitors every year under the “Visit Japan” campaign.

Last year the number of foreign tourists traveling to Japan hit a record high of 8.35 million, up 60 percent since the government began the marketing effort in 2003.

Arrivals from China and Hong Kong, who accounted for 16.5 percent of visitors to Japan last year, are poised this year to become the second-largest group of tourists after South Koreans.

At a press conference, Sanrio Co. President Shintaro Tsuji, whose company created the toy cat, called Hello Kitty’s new appointment “an honor” and pledged the feline would “work hard to attract many visitors.”

Japan’s other goodwill tourism ambassadors include Korean singer Younha, Japanese actress Yoshino Kimura and Japanese pop/rock duo Puffy AmiYumi.

Although this is the first time the tourism ministry has tapped a fictional character for the role, the foreign ministry in March inaugurated blue robo-cat Doraemon as Japan’s “anime ambassador.”

Designed in 1974 by Sanrio, Hello Kitty first appeared on a plastic coin purse. Her image today has become one of the most powerful brands in the world, adorning some 50,000 products in 60 countries.

Hello Kitty — one of mascot-obsessed Japan’s biggest hits as a toy character — is often seen on lunch boxes, jewelry and many other accessories.

In China, Kitty-fever has already broken out.

A multi-million-dollar musical featuring Hello Kitty opened earlier this year in Beijing and is in the midst of a national tour. “Hello Kitty’s Dream Light Fantasy” is then scheduled to travel to Malaysia, Singapore and the United States over its three-year run

Read article here

———————————————————————–

Quote of the day:

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

– Wally

Tweede ouderlijke post vanuit Japan

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Hoi allemaal,

Even een update uit Japan. Frans is vandaag heel gelukkig. We slapen in een business hotel, dus op echte bedden. Ik moet toegeven, dat ik me heel bewust ben geworden van alle botten die het matras raken. We slapen goed, maar zijn het slapen op de grond niet gewend. Vanavond hebben we ook europees gegeten, wat voornamelijk inhoud zonder stokjes.
Het is even wennen aan drie warme maaltijden per dag, maar ik moet zeggen, dat je er wel langer op functioneert dan op de broodjes die we soms noodgedwongen moeten eten al ontbijt.
Japan is een wonderlijk land. Iedereen heeft wel werk (op een enkele uitzondering na) maar doet soms ook volkomen onnodig werk. De efficientie is soms ver te zoeken.
De mensen zijn erg vriendelijk en behulpzaam, maar soms levert dat situaties op die een glimlach opleveren, zoals een maaltijd voor je neus terwijl je nog bezig bent met het oncijferen van de kaart. Of de wijn die je bestelt komt niet, zoals vanavond en ik krijg zwarte i.p.v. groene thee, want engels is niet echt een taal die hier goed beheerst wordt.
Wij zijn al 2 keer geinterviewd door schoolkinderen die 2 jaar engels hebben gehad en op engelstaligen af worden gestuurd met een vragenlijst. De vragen kunnen ze oplezen, maar bij het antwoorden gaat het mis, tenzij je je beperkt tot 1 woord antwoorden. What do you like about Japanes food? Fish. En op de vraag hoe we heten, kunnen ze niets met mijn naam dan in verwarring naar de leraar kijken, want mijn naam is een plaatsnaam. Daarom wordt de naam van Frans opgeschreven.

Toen we nog in Tokyo waren had ik het idee dat er een korte aardbeving was, maar omdat Frans niets gevoeld had, deden we het af als onzin. Maar Wouter, heerlijk hem weer te zien en als gids te hebben, zegt dat er regelmatig dat soort bevingen zijn, vaak maar een kort moment, of bijv. in de streek waar Raphaelle woont sterkere en vaker. Ook de typhoon is te gast geweest een van de dagen dat we met zijn 3en aan de kunst waren, maar gelukkig bleef hij op onze hoogte op zee, zodat wij alleen wat wind en regen ervan meekregen.
Het was heerlijk om met Wouter op stap te zijn, natuurlijk om bij te praten en te zien dat hij er goed uitziet, al heeft hij nog last van hersenschudding nr 10. Ons tempo gaat van doorgaan we moeten alles zien, naar een heerlijk relaxed tempo. Gelukkig want we komen erachter erachter, dat deze stijl van vakantie houden niet echt bij ons past. Een dag gewoon niksen doen we hier niet. We krijgen voortdurend nieuwe indrukken te verwerken, maar na 10 tempels kunnen we nr 11 wel overslaan en gewoon lekker lang van een waterval genieten en daar wat rondlopen, of heerlijk lopen en klauteren over en op de kliffen van de kust. Het is goed te merken dat Wouter toch beduidend jonger is dan wij, hij loopt en springt soepeler van rots naar rots dan wij en soms moeten wij omkeren omdat wij de plek te eng vinden.
Mensen vinden het leuk dat hij Japans spreekt en wij bestaan dan niet meer. Het is leuk om te zien hoe er op zijn lengte wordt gereageerd. Een mannetje tiky op mijn arm en vraagt: Son 2 mtr hai? Antwoord Yes. Het mannetje gniffelt en gebaard dat het belachelijk is of er komen mensen in de buurt zitten, die hem van top tot teen bekijken vol afkeuring en als ze uitgekeken zijn ergens anders gaan zitten. Volgens Wouter gebeurt dit redelijk vaak.
Frans en ik hebben trouwens ook een Japanse man man gezien van ongeveer die lengte, een soort reus in kabouterland.
Bij bus en treinhaltes is zijn Japans heel makkelijk of bij het lezen van een menu, zodat we ongeveer weten wat we bestellen, want als er geen engels menu is, of een menu met plaatjes en je op goed geluk maar iets moet aanwijzen kan het eten soms wat tegenvallen.
We hebben het dus naar ons zin. Morgenavond gaan we naar Wouters flatje en daarna nog een keer met hem eten om dan weer voor de laatste maanden afschein van hem te nemen.

Als we terug zijn in Alphen komt er nog een laatste verslagje.

Groetjes,
Frans en Ina

Als de kat van huis is

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Fikken de muizen het zooitje af.

Brand verwoest gebouw TU Delft

ANP
gepubliceerd op 13 mei 2008 10:45, bijgewerkt op 13 mei 2008 22:50

DELFT – Een felle brand heeft dinsdag het gebouw van de faculteit Bouwkunde van de Technische Universiteit in Delft verwoest. Een deel van het complex is ingestort. Niemand raakte gewond. Het werk van de studenten dat op de computerservers van de universiteit was opgeslagen, bleef bewaard.

Alle twee- tot driehonderd mensen die bij het uitbreken van de brand in het gebouw waren, konden tijdig vertrekken maar moesten veelal wel hun spullen achterlaten. Om de brand te bestrijden werden 185 brandweerlieden met vijftig wagens van drie verschillende korpsen ingezet.

De oorzaak van de vuurzee was kortsluiting. De decaan van de faculteit, Wytze Patijn, zei dat een waterleiding op de zevende verdieping van het pand aan de Berlageweg vroeg in de ochtend sprong, waarna het water rond kwart over negen kortsluiting veroorzaakte bij een koffieautomaat een verdieping lager.

Collecties
Bouwkundestudenten waren tot diep in de avond bezig foto’s van de brand te maken. ‘Het is maar goed dat niet scheikunde in de fik is gegaan’, merkte een van hen op. Veel klein behuisde studenten hadden studiemateriaal, zoals maquettes, in het gebouw opgeslagen.

In de bibliotheek van de faculteit bevinden zich zeldzame collecties architectuurboeken, -tijdschriften en -tekeningen van Nederland. Het is onduidelijk of al dat erfgoed als verloren moet worden beschouwd. Ook over het lot van de uitgebreide meubelcollectie, waaronder honderden stoelen, bestaat nog geen zekerheid. De collectie, ontworpen door beroemde internationale architecten, is ruim vijftig jaar oud.

Volgens studenten zou donderdag in het pand een tentoonstelling van beroemde architecten worden geopend. Tekeningen en andere stukken van beroemde bouwkundigen als Le Corbusier en Frank Lloyd Wright lagen in het gebouw.

Ontruimd
Een studentenflat tegenover het pand werd ontruimd en bewoners van de wijken Voorhof, Buitenhof en Tanthof kregen het advies deuren en ramen gesloten te houden, omdat mogelijk asbestdampen zouden kunnen vrijkomen. De brandweer nam echter geen grote concentraties gevaarlijke stoffen waar.

Of course, if you can read this, you were probably aware of this. For everyone else: Babelfish FTW

And for relevence: That is my university and the building to the right is the burned down building while the oval on the left is my home

The Golden Week

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Nono, it’s a real thing. Not something I made up because the week was so great.OK, the week was also great. Which is another reason why I don’t mind keeping it as a title.

I’ll start with the beginning shall I? Most great writers won’t . . . but I’m not a great writer so screw them.
Actually, I’ll start before the beginning. Because I can.

One week before the Golden Week (DUN DUN Duuuuuuuuuuuh)

I hit my head.
Hard
I hit my head so hard I now have 10 Concussions on my list of injuries. Or maybe less, it’s kinda hard to recollect something that induces memory loss. YEEH 10, worthy of celebration don’t ya think?
A cerebral concussion is the after effects of a severe brain shake up. Similar to a contuision of the brain. It’s effects include memory loss, impaired coordination, easily exhausted, nausia(yeeh, not to sure how that works), headaches (Ohhhhh, the headaches) and many many more.
One other worthy of specific mention is a drop in awareness of . . . stuff.

So I went to work the next day. I had woken up feeling mostly fine and I wasn’t really aware of . . . . stuff. So all seemed to be right. And a day which is right includes going to work. At least, it does in fridays.
I . . . . mostly remember friday. I remember it mostly for the mistake of going to work. Friday was not a good day for me.

Insert 4 days of low light, low sound and low every other stimuli.

Then the Golden Week was here.
I felt recovered. But I hadn’t really done anything, and you tend to feel fine untill you do stuff.
We had paid for the transportation to kyushu already and there would not be another chance to see this place so I gritted my teeth and went off to Fukuoka.

The plan was to go to Beppu (an onsen town) first. Sitting in Onsens is not what I consider strenuous activity, so I reckoned we could just stay put there if I didn’t feel up to anything else.
Then we’d be off to Yakushima
After that Sakurajima
1 day somewhere as of yet undecided
Kobe and work

I would arrive in Fukuoka at 06:00 with the nightbus. (Being dutch and betting on not having a concussion I had gone with the cheap-o option) and Raph would arrive somewhere around 13:00 at the airport. This gave me some time to lounge about Fukuoka, see a nice park and the canal district. Oh and nightbus sleep was interupted for a bridge.

Upon meeting up with Raph (after huggs and cuddles were exchanged) I soon found out I had gotten things backwards.

First we’d go to yakushima, then sakurajima and then beppu.

“We would?”
“Yes, we would. We changed schedules weeks ago”
“We did?”
“We did. BEFORE your concussion I might add”

But only barely before my concussion, so I felt within my right to get it backwards. Off to Kagoshima we went, to catch the early Hydrofoil to Yakushima.

Yakushima is hands down. One of the most amazingly beautifull places I’ve been. In the last 2 months a multiple groups of friends have seen Fraser Island, and unless that place has changed a great deal in the last 7 years. You’ve seen what I compare things to.

Oh, it didn’t look much when we got there. A small shipping port and a bus-time-table that didn’t take into consideration boats that arrive. We had to take a bus to our “Hotel”. We had booked a night in the Rider’s House, which came with the description “rough and ready”. What they meant was . . . well, it’s a biker’s hang out. I forgot to take pictures of the beds, but they had built a shelving system and people just slept on those. Shelf, walls on either side and a curtain to close the open bits. Rough and ready indeed.

It also meant it was full of nice people. We arrived, got assigned a shelf and asked what we wanted to see.

“Here’s two bikers, get on the back with them and enjoy.”

Eh? We got assigned 1 guide each and were ready for a roadtrip 6 minutes after walking in.

This was where I first got hit by the beauty of the island and it was only after a good 15 km or so that I remembered to take out my mobile and take some pictures. They didn’t come out too well, but I didn’t want to use my actual camera from the back of a motorcycle.

We were taken at first to a private little hideaway off the road on the west coast of the island. There grew a “tree” of some interrest. I put the tree in “s while actualy the a should be in “s. I’ll explain, or rather, I’ll let this explain. If someone would name this tree, we could get the wikipedia link to it put it appears that it can start independant shoots and incorperate other shoots into itself. That it does this with vertical shoots I can understand. But we saw horizontal ones aswell. Anyway, It kept us busy goofing around for a bit and presented some nice photographic oppertunities.

Next was one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan.

Oh no wait. Next was this. The bike broke down and we were out of luck. They arranged for a pick-up by a couple also staying in the Rider’s House who had rented a car who picked us up and took us back to the “Hotel” by ways of an onsen. Hmmmmm, onsen.

The next day was spent hiking in the woods of mononoke hime. For those of you that are familiar with that anime.
We start with a little stretching. Can’t go off hiking without stretching properly.

And the rest . . . well, just watch the pictures.

Later on that day we headed back to Kyushu. Had we not paid for some tickets already we would have cancelled all reservations and stayed on this island for the rest of the holiday. It was THAT GOOD.

Sakurajima was next on the schedule. We asume Sakurajima is named after all the sakuras that (once?) stood there. We know jima stood for the fact that it was once an island. Since the 18XX eruption of sakurajima (the vulcano, not the island) it is a rather misnomer. No island AND no sakura trees.

It is very pretty though. Though due to the tourist bus being quite stuffed already and us being a combination of lazy and sick . . . we head to an onsen instead of exploring the island. Very nice outdoo, mixed onsen. Where you have to wear a yukata while bathing. Very odd after the shared nudity of the past 8 months.

Next is Beppu. Beppu is famous for it’s Onsens. In a country that has shown us a considerable amount already, and some of them very good, this is something to look forward to. Not all Onsens in Beppu are suited for humans though.

The “Hells”, as they were called, were mostly good for 2 things. Smoke and stink. Of course, they had some practical use aswell. And of course there was a Zoo. Because . . . well, can’t have a place called “Hell” without a zoo right?
And what is Hell without Shin Chan.

Oh there was more. There was good food, better scenery I didn’t think to take pictures off, funny Japanese people, Funny us which I do have pictures of but I’m not showing you :P. But after Beppu, all that was left was going home.

As I write this now I have already spent 3 days at the office. My concussion was nearly over, but reading small print and working my brain did not have good results. If this ache is still here tomorrow I will definitely go see a doctor. Eugh. Slightly sad end to a truely marvelous Week.

========================================================================

Professional sumo wrestlers are required to be 173 cm tall. Some aspiring sumo athletes have silicon implants added to the tops of their heads to reach the necessary height.

– Japanese National Health board on National Average Height