Thursday, February 25, 2010


This morning, I woke up very early (5:30am). After getting ready, Melody and I headed out to Makino Station. We got tickets to another station, switched to an express (and less crowded) train, met up with Nikki and J.C. and went to Kamishichiken. After a crowded train experience, we experienced an even more crowded local bus! IT WAS SO CROWDED... that I was pressed up against a handrail and I was sweating. I never sweat! (Not to that extent.) It was weirding me out. When we finally got to the Tenmangu shrine, we immediately saw all of the Plum blossoms. They smelled so beautiful and were very pretty. I seemed to be the only person who was smelling them though. (I will admit, I have a very keen sense of smell and taste). I think it is a very potent flower, given that when I spotted some on my way home, I smelled it first.

The Tea Ceremony didn't start until 10:00am, so we bought our tickets and took some pictures of the flowers. I even got a sneak peek of the Geiko and Maiko as they were getting prepared.
A local train that generally takes us to Kyoto. I will probably use it a lot.
The first Plum Blossoms we encountered at the shrine. Very beautiful. Smelled wonderful.
My 1500¥ ticket for some tea, a sweet and a chance to see Geiko and Maiko.
Here is Nikki, Me, and Melody waiting in line. Nikki and Melody totally skipped class. (Worth it). I ended up skipping my Japanese class because we arrived back at the school too late. I bought Melody lunch and we ate outside instead. :p
Plum blossoms from the line.
J.C.'s head. How asymmetrical of him.
I really like the white ones. *^^*
A place to pray.
Dark pink blossoms too.
Getting closer!
What could possibly be behind this wall?
Do you see what I see!?
My very first real life Geiko sighting! (F.Y.I., Geisha are called Geiko in Kyoto).
All of the Geiko and Maiko come out of this purple tent to come and serve you green tea that they have whipped up themselves. (I've learned how to do this, supposedly ^^, but I dare not compare). First, it seems like a geiko is kneeling, a Senior Maiko comes out, and various girls inside the tent.
Ah. SO many people were there to take pictures and have tea. It was very difficult for someone like me (yeah, short) to take decent photos. ;-; Here a Geiko mixes tea.
See? Pretty crowded.
Probably the best photo I had taken. This girl was popular for her online blog of her maiko experience. I wish she had never stopped. She didn't post much anyway. Blogging is not for the busy! (As I can see). The ladies without make-up may be Senior Geiko. It is said that once you are matured, you no longer really wear any make-up except for special occasions. I don't know, I would consider this a special occasion, but I suppose it's a bit relaxed as well. I honestly thought they were the Okaa-san and Obaa-san. But, I can't say without knowing who they are.

I'm becoming desperate. . .
A funny face! Hehe.
Bleh. More crowd.
Beautiful kimono. I was very happy to see their hair and wigs upclose! (Yep, Geiko wear wigs. Maiko have to deal with the pain of getting their hair done).
I wanted to capture how elegantly this maiko sits. I think I was a bit late or early, though. It just hurts my legs looking at this mid-action photo. Haha.
After having our tea and sweet, we looked at the blossoms for a moment. I'm being silly.
Here is a pretty little box with an interesting gift inside. I have NO idea what it is. There was a little folded paper with what seems like a couple of grains of rice. I also am thinking that they may be Plum Blossom seeds? (I really hope so). There are also two flower-shaped mystery things inside. Supposedly, they may be treats, but they taste absolutely awful. Kind of like wood and flour. Yeah.
On the way back to Hirakata, I spotted this poster on the wall and about died from laughter.
Melody had also taken some photos. Unfortunately, my camera had died right when the girls were coming so close to me. (Close enough to observe their hair). I was unbelievably depressed about it, but I took a fresh and deep breath of the flower-flavored air and just tried to enjoy the process itself instead of worrying about photos. I did get a video as well. Let's see if this works:
I may have missed my Japanese class, but I'm not worried about it. They learned Humble form, which I already have learned and just need to review. I know that there is a vocab test tomorrow because it's on the syllabus. (Yip! for syllabus'). I attended the "Interrogation" activity for my Body Comm class and it was a blast. The funny thing is, there were a lot of strange things that happened in this activity. One boy got so overly nervous that he practically gave away certain words and motions that proved he was guilty, but he wasn't! It was so much fun. I ended up guessing who the guilty person was too. So I was happy about that.
Until next time, my sweets.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something Different

Well, not much has been going on due to having constant classes and homework. For once, and probably the only time, I am taking more credits than Miss Melody Brown! *gasp*! I'll chat a bit about my classes.

In my "body comm" class, we have been learning about behavioral gestures that help determine whether the body is under stress or not. This includes studying the normal patterns of a person, and then using them against the person under interrogation. It's very interesting. Tomorrow, we're going to watch as some students are interrogated about whether or not they are guilty or innocent of a crime, and one of them is supposed to lie about being guilty. The audience has to try and observe the entire scene and look for those certain body gestures that give away the lie.

In Film class, we're going over the term "Japonisme" and how artists of the west, such as Van Gogh were inspired by eastern art techniques, specifically from Japan, and how they applied these ideas. We're also going to watch scenes from Mikado, the comic opera. It's interesting how they specifically just used the images of Japan and incorporated nothing of the culture. It's kind of insulting, if you ask me, but I guess that adds the humor to it. (Maybe).

On a side note, I have no homework today. ^_^ Very nice! Tomorrow I'm going to wake up super early so that Melody and I can catch the train at Makino Station and meet up with Nikki. We're going to Kamishichiken to see the Geisha perform a tea ceremony for the Plum Festival. I'm very excited. Hopefully we're back in time for class by noon. If not, oh well. I'll catch up. I'm sure we'll be back in time for the interrogation. (If I missed that, that would be terrible). Also, the weather here has been amazing. It's actually gotten quite warm out. I've eaten lunch outside two or three times! (And I'm always cold. . .) Commence the jealousy now.

I've noticed that I've gone back to my old ways of entertaining myself. I have an old (and rare, i.m.o) hobby. I spent countless hours on it. While I was continuing this hobby of mine, I thought about some of things I had learned in a class at Mount. First of all, this hobby of mine I call "pixel art." It is exactly what it sounds like. A person creates an image by placing certain colors of pixels in an arrangement until there is a larger creation. (Of course, you zoom in a lot. Not zooming in would be quite tedious)! Here are some examples of my own works:
Here is a work in progress that I started last semester. I kind have been putting it off. ;x
I just finished this last weekend. It took a couple hours.
Generally, it's nice to work with a pallet, this way you're not overwhelmed by the many choices of colors available to you. I don't always stick to a pallet though. This one is my most common used pallet. Usually, I make things in MSpaint. ALWAYS save them as a .png. This preserves every single pixel you created, instead of blurring the overall picture.
Sailor Moon's "Moon Twilight Flash!" I actually made this for a game a friend is supposedly working on. But that's a secret. :) Shh. I'm probably not supposed to show this, but they also aren't showing any progress on the game. So Bleeh. ;p
You might be thinking: "What is the point of this?"
Well, art like this, so far as I know is popularly used in video games. For example: Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest, Super Mario Bros., etc. With new games coming out on the DS system, sprites are popular again! Yey!

The reason I brought this up was because while I was continuing "spriting," I thought about what people have been talking about on the topic of Zen. I thought of my East Asian Art History class and how there was sudden enlightenment through simple focused tasks. (Za zen?) Maybe pixel art counts too? :)

That's all for now. Just thought I'd share my hobby.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My First Intimidating Food Experience

So, today, as I was eating my favorite combo from the cafeteria known as the "kurabu ranchi" (Club Lunch. . . only 380 yen too) I had a very interesting experience. Usually, the club lunch comes with two types (or one type) of fried meat, some lettus/cabbage and some noodles. It also comes with a bowl of rice and miso soup, or if you're like me and you hate miso soup you can substitute it for a tiny cup of Melon Soda. (Delicious). Today, there were many delicious things on display, but most of them were sold out by 14:00, so I got my regular club lunch. It was fish and octopus today. (You can tell because it's purple). Unfortunately, as I was eating my second bite of the octopus, I noticed the inside and I saw the tentacles. :( BIG PROBLEM. It really got to me and I ended up spitting out my food. I like octopus, but I can't do the tiny tentacles. Then I started to wonder if it was octopus or squid, and if the latter were true, I could look forward to a night of food poisoning. But I'm fine, (except for the nasty thought of crunching into tiny tentacles). . .

This Sunday there is an event in Kobe about the Chinese New Year. I suppose Melody and I will tag along. New adventure. Also, Nikki and Sarah want to skip classes Thursday to go have Kamogawa Geisha serve them tea at a tea ceremony. This is something I can not miss out on. I don't have to skip any classes because, on Thursdays, (for me) class does not start until noon! Lucky~!

That's about it for my agenda. Tomorrow I have a small vocab test and I finish attempting to paint orchids in Sumi-e. I really should put up some pictures of it. (I'm not very good though. . .)

Here is a fun thing to do: One of these things is not like the other
Hint: Can you find the octopus?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


After a late night of walking all the way to downtown Hirakata, going to Karaoke, then walking all the way back home, and six hours of sleep, today was another adventure. The crew and I made our way to Den Den Town (Nipponbashi) a.k.a the Akihibara of the west. (More like a younger sister, I suppose). We woke up early and met Pat at Makino station, rode to Hirakatashi Station and then met up with Sarah as well. (Melody has a new friend named Sarah. They are quite similar in their tastes). We rode two more trains and arrived at Den Den Town. Basically, you go up and down a single street that is filled with Anime/Manga/Electronic stores. Here are some photos:
Here is a map of some of the trains that run in the area. If you zoom in, there's an orange circle. That is the station you are at. We followed the brown subway to get to Nipponbashi.

Ebisucho is the subway station directly linked to Den Den Town.

Some pictures of Den Den Town. It is called Den Den town because it used to be that the streets sold mainly high tech stuff, but now the comic scene is a little more present, and the electronics aren't so spiffy, but there are some normal things like tv's, ipods, computers, and game systems. And yes, that is a two level Gundam store, and I went in. I found no haros that I could buy. :(
These are the "purikura" that are all the rage in Japan. Almost all girls have them in their wallets. (Assumption).
A pink toilet! Besides that, Japan's toilets are pretty wonderful. Sometimes the seat is very warm, and there are controls on the side (this one's pretty basic) for washing and so forth.
While visiting one of the stores, I saw a Lupin III toy dispenser. I put in two or three dollars and something wonderful happened~ I got Jigen! I was so pumped that I went and bought Lupin and Fujiko to go with him!

Jigen, Lupin, and Fujiko.
Fujiko - Front
Fujiko - Back
Jigen - Awesome
Lupin is trying to steal some of my jewels!
Lupin doesn't like it when you call out "Dorobou!" (Thief!)
Tiny Kirby chain.
As you can see, I love kirby.
What could this possibly be!?

A slime!
I also bought a slime phone charm. I didn't notice that they had letters on them though. Therefor, L stands for Love! And yes, I drank a grape fanta today. :p
After a while, I started to become a bit depressed. "WHERE IS ALL THE SAILOR MOON STUFF?!" I was saying. . . and then just when all hope was lost, we entered a store and the first thing I spotted was a sailor moon toy dispenser! I peeked into it, and it was empty!! T_T!! BUT---! There was one more! So I put in two or three dollars and out popped a toy! MUCH to my happiness, it turned out to be this:

Eternal Sailor Moon! I'm so lucky!!
After I found that, I was on a mission! I eventually found a small area of little sailor moon toys!! Of course, I probably spent an hour going through them. . .
Well, I just revealed Sailor Moon's secret identity to you all. . .
Usagi in her middle school uniform doing what she does best. I'm actually on a mission to go back to shinsaibachi and buy this uniform. It was super cheap there. ^_^
Makoto is too sweet like this. I had to buy her! She wants to share her self-made bentou (lunch) with you!
Super Chibi Moon was only about $2 as well! She even came with Diana. A really good find! I've taken a liking to her.
She even came with some stickers! Ahhh! Where do I put them!?
... yeah. I went a little crazy. I'm not a big fan of PGSM (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, The live-action version of Sailor Moon that was released a few years ago). Unfortunately, they didn't have Jupiter. Technically, it would make more sense if Venus wasn't here. . . (Oohhh! snap. Only people who have watched it would understand)!

"I will punish you!" - Sailor Moon
Sailor Mars! A hot tempered Miko (Shinto priestess) who burns with the passion of mars fire.
Venus and Mercury - Venus fights with light and her heart chain whip. Mercury fights with water, she's also the "girl genius."
I feel like I was lucky to find these BOTH. Either one seems rare.
This little girl isn't from Sailor Moon! She is Kotoko. She's actually a mini persocom. (Personal Computer) from a series done by Clamp called Chobits. It's a really cute and interesting story between man and Technology. All you tech-geeks should watch or read it. (The Manga (Japanese Comic) is only 8 books long, I don't know how many episodes the series is. But that's not much at all!)
Last but not least, Pretty Sammy! (From Tenchi Muyo). Now I sit here and wait for Crystal Davis to freak out. (But she'd be even more thrilled if it was Ryoko, huh)?
Whenever one walks to Makino Station, there is a loooong pathway you take that is next to some water. This sign is posted here and there on the path, and it's so funny. "Abunai" translates to "Be Careful!"