VerveEarth


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lunch with Yuki

Hello, everyone~!


This time, I would like to talk about my summer vacation. On Aug 12th, I finally could meet Yuki (from AGU2006) in Harajuku to have lunch together! Though we've talked about having lunch or dinner together sometime soon, each of us had been busy taking exams and doing what we needed to do such as part-time jobs and practicing an instrument. (Yuki belongs to Aoyama Gakuin's orchestra, remember?)

We got together in Harajuku. Do you remember the post I talked about this place just a little while ago? As I mentioned, it's famous for fashion and the birth place of youth culture. And the picture on the right side is the entrance of Takeshita street. (You can see the name board of Yoshinoya on your right. It's a restaurant that serves beef bowls, and they have restaurants in the US! ) It's a must-visit place when you visit Harajuku. You can visit clothing stores, accessory shops, fast food restaurants, and so on. As you can see by looking at the photograph, many people were there because it was midst of summer vacation! People from all parts of Tokyo and throughout the world came here. Yuki and I hasn't been here for ages, so we felt really old. Hahaha.

After going through the street, we found the restaurant called "SHANTI". What they serve is soup curry. Soup curry was born in Sapporo, Northern part in Japan, and it's influenced by cuisines of South Asia and South-east Asia. I tried it when I visited Sapporo and I told Yuki that I really liked it. After that, she told me that she knew the restaurant where we could enjoy soup curry in Tokyo! We did enjoy eating soup curry so much that I completely forgot to take a picture of it! :( If you want to know more about soup curry, please google it!) And we talked about what each of us has been up to lately, the boy bands that I've been into, and girl talk! We realized that we kept talking for about 3 hours! Wooow. I felt fast, though. It's always fun to talk with girl friends, especially about guys! Hehehe.

Also... we enjoyed the dessert as well! When you go out for lunch or dinner, don't you feel like eating something sweet after having lunch or dinner? (If you are a girl, you might be able to understand what I mean! I really hope so. I think that's why we have a saying "There is room for dessert".) So, we started walking to look for something sweet and yummy. After looking through several shops, we decided to have Harajuku roll crape. As you can see from the picture, it's not an ordinary crape that you think of. It's covered with crispy and thin pancake. Inside of it, fruits and cream were covered with thin pancake. So, you don't have to worry about spilling out while eating. Mine was chocolate and bananas! Hmmm.... yum-yum!

Oh my gosh... have I gone too far?
That's all for today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Chat with AGU2008

Hello, everyone~! ^^

On Aug 13th, I enjoyed chatting with the members of AGU2008 at Tapped In! As I expected, the chat room was really crowded. But I'm really glad to be able to talk to you guys! (virtually, though.) Thank you so much for letting me join the chat! I hope I'll see you guys in Japan. :)

Some of you thought you did well on the chat and others thought you could have done it better, but don't worry! It's natural that you would feel overwhelmed or you think that it's hard to follow the conversation. It depends on how well you can type or how much you get used to chatting on the Internet. If you think that it's a bit hard, I'm sure you'll gradually improve. :) Chatting at Tapped In and Doing IM(instant messaging) with mentors have helped me improve and sustain my skills of writing in English and typing! Additionally, you will be able to keep in touch with the people in Maryland by doing them! So, let's keep trying. :)

As many of AGU 2008ers mentioned that the program is about to end, I'm feeling sad as well... We do know that things always have an end and nothing lasts forever, but reading posts that you guys don't want to go back to Japan reminds me of the feeling I had when I was there in 2006. Hmmm.... honestly it still makes me a bit sad.

Anyway, I hope all of you keep having fun until the program finishes completely! (Actually, the end of the program is the beginning. That's what I talked about when I was at the airport, waiting for boarding.)

That's all for today! See you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Welcome Back!

Hello, everyone~!

As I've said on the previous post, I'm going to talk about what I've done lately. I've done several things, so I don't know where to begin.... But the first thing that came to my mind was about the reunion of AGU '06 & '07 in Tokyo!

As some of you know already, Laura has come to Japan as a member of the JET program. Before she went to the place she would work, she stayed in Tokyo to receive a training for several days. So, Ai arranged the reunion at Shinjuku on August 5th! (Thanks a lot! :) )

Though I was the only one from AGU 2006, I was glad to meet Laura and the members from AGU 2007! We enjoyed eating and talking each other about what each of us has been up to. Laura showed me the handouts of the training and I was surprised to know that there literally was a lot to remember!

After that, we headed out to a "must-visit" place for us. Yes, Karaoke! As always, we were fascinated by Laura's voice and we all enjoyed singing! ^^

I enjoyed being there so much that I forgot to take pictures! (Sorry about that!) But, Ai took pictures! So, please visit Ai's blog if you're interested.

Okay, that's all for today!

Monday, August 11, 2008

AGU2008 has started!

Hello, everyone~!
It's been a little while since I've updated this blog several weeks ago.... how have you been?

I've done several things since the vacation began, so I'll talk about them one by one soon! But before doing so, I'm happy that AGU 2008 has started finally and to be able to see the members update blogs! ^^

Though I won't be able to join physically, leaving comments on the blogs makes me feel as if I were a part of them. (I almost forgot to tell you about myself when I left comments, I'm sorry!)

Also, reading what you guys did during the trip really reminds me of the wonderful time that I had two years ago. I'm still surprised to know that two years have passed since I visited the UM, but I do remember it as though it were yesterday! (Speaking of AGU2006, I talked with Ji Won several days ago. ^^)

Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy the trip as much as possible and learn something from this experience that you've had in a different culture. And if I could say a thing or two, it would be... please sleep well every day! I'm sure you've got a lot to get through in terms of classes and activities, right? When I was there, I got tired almost each day because of the classes and activities and it made me go to bed early! (I did enjoy going out for Karaoke sometimes, though.) Looking back, the tight schedule worked really fine for me to sleep well at night! Hahaha.

Lastly, I'm looking forward to talking to you in Tapped In! ^^

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I'm now 22 years old!

Hello, everyone~!
As I came back here again from yesterday to update this blog, I realize gradually that it's really nice for me to be here as a blogger because I've enjoyed doing so. It helps me maintain my writing skill in English, of course!

Anyway...Today is my birthday! As the title of today's post says, I'm now 22 years old. I'm glad that my friends celebrate my birthday and I'm really happy about that, but when it comes to the fact that I turned 22 years old, I just feel nothing! I even started to wonder if it's important to see myself by counting the years I've lived. Hmmmm.... what do you think?

Moreover, I just can't wait to see AGU 2008 begin! After I visited Maryland as a participant of AGU 2006, I do think back of what I had at the time every time this season comes! I really do. (Such as... Karaoke nights, how some of us became shopholics, and how I enjoyed making waffles every morning and eating it! Hahaha.) As I said on the yesterday's post, the memory remains the same like it happens just yesterday! So, I really hope that this year's participants will also enjoy the program as much as I did! (Before that, should I hope that they will have a good flight and get over jet lag? Right?)

That's all for today!

Lastly, though it has nothing to do with what I've said above, I put the picture I took the other day. I took this picture when I went shopping to Harajuku after my part-time job. The place I work is located in Shibuya and it just takes 10-15 minutes to go to Harajuku. Some of you might be familiar with Harajuku already, because I think it's famous for young people throughout the world. (Especially in the US??) It definitely is the city for fashionistas or shopholics, and that's what it's famous for. When I felt tired a bit after shopping and looked up to the sky, I found this beautiful sunset! I hope you enjoy! :)

See you soon~

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's been a while...

Hello, everyone~!
I'm sorry that I haven't updated for a while. As you might guess already, there was one thing that I should worry about before the summer vacation began. Yes, EXAMS! It's finished finally. So, I'm now ready for the vacation. Yaaaaay! On the other hand, I just can't believe that this vacation will be my last summer vacation during my school days.

Also... I turned over a calender today and realized that August would begin.

Hmmmm...... it means.....

I will be 22 years old on August 2nd.....!!!!!

Ahhhhh! Time flies! My body clock feels like I'm still 18 or so, but it's undeniable. But I guess it's not that bad to get older.(Too early to understand?)

Also...

Members of AGU 2008 depart finally!

I still feel that the time we had happened just yesterday, and thinking of what I did two years ago makes me want to listen to the songs I'd enjoyed listening to at the time. It really makes me feel closer to the days I enjoyed with AGU 2006 members! Though I won't participate the program as a participants, I will do my best as a blogger in Japan! Hahaha. :)

These are the songs I'd enjoyed listening to at the time.
Do you remember?


"Gallery" by Mario Vazquez


"Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol


"Ain't No Other Man" by Christina Aguilera


"Tell Me Baby" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

It shows that I watched the morning shows on MTV almost everyday in the hotel room! That was how I woke up at the time. (And making waffles! Hahaha.)

There's more!

Laura will be arriving soon!

I just can't wait to see her again!!! She will stay in Tokyo before she goes to the place she will work. Have a nice flight, Laura! ^^

That's all for now. I actually have a lot to talk about, so I will do it little by little. Please look forward to it!

See you soon~

Friday, July 04, 2008

Should I Buy....or Not?

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I'll be talking about a thing that I've been thinking about lately.

It's about.... whether or not I should buy iPhone, which arrives in Japan soon.

I downloaded a keynote address by Steve Jobs, a CEO of Apple, from iTunes when I heard that he finally announced the debut of iPhone. At the time, I almost fell in love with functions it got and imagined what it would be like to have mine.

After waiting for almost one year, it'll come out finally in Japan! But I didn't get excited very much somehow when the news about iPhone's debut in Japan was released. It's just because I've never been able to be so passionate about iPhone or it's just too late. In addtion to that, I've heard about negative things about iPhone. I do understand nothing is perfect in this world, but hearing the things like that let me down and I just can't make a decision!

My father said he would definitely change his cell phone to iPhone when it comes out, because a deal its company offers is cheeper than now and having iPhone mesmerizes him.

What about myself? Hmmm.... I think I can stick to Docomo. (Docomo is a big telecom company in Japan) But once I take a glimpse of iPhone, I cannot but keep looking at it!

It's important to be cool when you buy something, but usability is also crutial at the same time. Don't you think? So, if you have your own iPhone or friends who have iPhone, would you please tell me your opinion?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Getting My Nails Done

Hello, everyone~!

I just can't believe that July has already started! I feel time fly faster and faster as I get older... I guess that's the feeling that tells me that I'm moving on to "Obachang" stage? Hahaha! I've thought of things like this because I have only a month left to be 21 years old finally! I'm not saying that I want to be 21 years old forever, but becoming older makes me a bit sad somehow. (I do understand age is nothing but a number, though.)

Well, the fact that I have only a month left to be 21 years old means that summer is just around the corner! Wondering if the rainy season has finished yet, I met Eriko and Yuiko yesterday when I attended a class that we all have taken for this semester.

After the class, Eriko told me that she brought a bottle of nail polish with her because she said that she only finished wearing a manicure for only one hand. And she said she wanted to get my nails done as well. I once said no because I thought it might take some time and she had to get ready for her next class. But she insisted and was eager to paint my nails, so I finally gave in! Hahaha... :)

Getting my nails done is one of my favorite things to do in terms of cosmetic things. Though I enjoyed doing it so many times last year, I haven't done it for a while because I couldn't have time to do so. But after Eriko painted my nails beautifully, I thought that I might try to do it again. :) It's just my self-satisfaction, but it's always nice to see my nails be painted in colors that I like. I hope I'll have time to do so! :)

That's it for today!
See you soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I watched the movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". I've been trying to watch as many movies as I can in my spare time since I've started to work as a part-timer. Before I did that, I was likely to pass in going to movies because because I figured I would have time to see them later. But now, when I think about doing something, I'll just do it right away. My seminar teacher once told me that it would not necessarily be the case that people who have much time would do something better than those who are busy. That's so true, I guess. Sometimes, being busy doing a lot of things encourages you to think about how to spend time efficiently and cleverly, and a way to find a fraction of time that you would have missed before, such as when you are on a train to school. But at the same time, you have to be careful because being busy sometimes makes you confused or overwhelmed, especially when you can't prioritize what you have to do.

Oh, I guess I got off the track. Let's move on to the topic I would like to talk mainly about today. It was the first time for me to watch "Indiana Jones" series. Though I already knew the theme song, which I even played when I was an elementary student, I had no idea what to expect. But the fact that I liked the movie "National Treasure" (It seems to me that this movie was inspired by "Indiana Jones" series.) helped me decide to give it a try.

Hmmm..... whether I can say I like it or not depends on how I enjoyed the movie. If I focus on thrilling action scenes, it was awesome. (Sometimes, I thought of the scene as unbelievable because they did things that seemed to be impossible to happen in the real world! Hahaha. They survived after they fell into waterfalls three times, for example. It can't be!) But when I think about the story, I guess I should never try to take it seriously, even once! If you start to think about the story carefully, you might be disappointed. I don't really like how it ended, actually. Anyway, as long as you follow the story without thinking seriously, you can really enjoy the movie! The fact that it's back means a lot for the people who have waited for years, right?

Though I talked a lot about how I think of the movie, I think it was not that bad for the beginning of summer-vacation movies season! I just can't wait to watch movies this summer. :)

But before that, there's a thing I need to go through....EXAMS!
Hopefully, everything's gonna be alright!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

luxurious toilet

Hello, everyone~!

In the last week's chat, Nina introduced mean article from Washington Post. The article is called "In Energy-Stingy Japan, an Extravagant Indulgence: Posh Privies". I finally had time to check it out.

Before I start to mention the detail of the article, I was surprised to see the Japanese toilet get focused on a news paper published in the US. I have heard that, one of the famous companies that make luxurious toilets, TOTO, had once struggled in the US market because almost no one cared about experiences in bathroom. Several years later, the people in the US seem to understand what luxurious toilets truly are.

I sometimes come across these toilets in department stores at the center of Tokyo. In Japan, how well-equipped public toilets are is really important for customers. It can also be said for supermarkets, and even for schools. I once heard that employees of a certain supermarket were asked to clean restrooms there when a brand-new chief executive officer came into office. My university is trying hard to turn ordinary toilets into advanced toilets, literally! The other day, Eriko told me that the restroom where I hated to go before because it looked out of date had been updated completely. I was surprised to find it so much that it took a little time for me to accept the fact! Hahaha....

It makes me remember the moment I changed impressions for stores I visited. Though I am satisfied with a store itself, restrooms sometimes disappoint me. But now, almost every toilet I use when I go outside is well-equipped just like the toilet you can see on the article.

Moreover, it was fascinating for me to learn about how the Japanese habits for toilets have influenced on the environment. I am glad to see attention being paid to the Japanese toilets, but it is a little bit sad to know that it might keep Japan away from being green.

That's it for today!
See you soon. :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hana Yori Dango Final

Hello, everyone~!

On Monday, I watched the movie "Hana Yori Dango Final". Well, do you still remember me talking about it last summer? I enjoyed watching the rerun of the drama while I was on vacation at the time. When I thought about going to the theater and watching it, I thought I was a bit tired. But when I was seated in the theater waiting for the movie to begin, I got really excited.

"Hana Yori Dango" series have got a huge popularity as the story between Doumyouji Tsukasa and Makino Tsukushi moved forward. The story was basically based on the comics version, but this time, another story was written for the movie.

"Hana Yori Dango" (We call it "Hana-Dan" Yeah, abbreviation! We are really good at it. :) ) is very famous in Asian countries, as well as the rest of the world. Thanks to websites such as YouTube and DailyMotion, where you can see as many videos you want, more and more people watched the drama ever before. Some even uploaded videos with subtitles in English so that people who are not familiar with Japanese can enjoy!

As I said on the previous post, I can watch this without being worried about someone would get hurt or feel sad. At the same time, it can be said that it is easy to foresee what will happen. But I could still enjoy watching them becuase it is always nice to see them. And it made me realize that, though I know almost exactly what will happen in the movie, I actually have been waiting for them to come back. Yeah, I missed them somehow.

I will not talk about how it ended for those who have waited like me for them to come back. But it's obvious, you know? For fans like me, just imagining how Doumyouji and Tsukushi get married happily is amazingly fun, I guess.


This is the trailer of the movie. I hope you'll enjoy!


And... one thing you can't miss! The movie's theme song is performed by Arashi. You know what I mean. Hahaha. I hope you'll have fun watching it! It's called "One Love".

That's it for now!
See you soon. :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm addicted to.....

Hello, everyone~!

I talked about my favorite boys bands previously, and now I just can't get enough of them! Hahaha~. Though I have things to do for school, videos I can watch on YouTube literally makes me stay in front of my computer! As Monday is coming, and it actually is Monday already here, it's time to take control of myself.

They're seductive and addictive, however. And the fact that I'm going to Hokkaido by plane to go to Arashi's concert next week really makes me excited already! Now I also think about going to Kat-Tun's concert, but I think it's almost impossible to get a ticket for that because they're so famous and many people think about the same thing as me!

Right now, I would be able to talk about them almost forever.... I guess I would fulfill conditions for Johnny's geek perfectly! (In Japanese, we say it "Jani-ota". It's an abbreviation for "Johnny's Otaku") Ahhhhh, I just can't believe how I've been mesmerized by them because I once was the one who hated to watch them on any media. But now, I'm eager to go to their concerts!

I've also tried to make my friends like them! I might look like an evangelist! Yuiko and Eriko liked Arashi's latest album, Dream "A" live. And surprisingly, it turned out that my friend at my workplace likes Arashi so much that I now enjoy talking with her very much. Though I and she go to the same university and actually belong to the same seminar, I didn't know much about her. After finding out the fact that she also likes Arashi, we suddenly get really closer! I'm really happy to have a friend like her, and every time we meet each other at the workplace or our university, we can't stop talking about Arashi!

Hmmm.... as I said, it does remind me of the days I was literally into the US boys bands such as 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys! There's always some people who hate the bands like them, but it's impossible for people like me not to pay attention to them. I can't help but be drawn to the people like them.

All right, I'll talk about my visit to Hokkaido after Arashi's concert. (It's going to be held on July 6th.) I just can't wait to see them~.

See you soon~!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lunch with My Mom and My Grandma

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I enjoyed eating lunch with my mom and my grandma. I woke up at about 11am today, so it was brunch for me! Hahaha...

We chose to eat the Japanese foods such as sushi, tempura, and so on. It's our favorite actually! If I could complain one thing or two, I would say that I always eat too much when I go there. Hahaha!

Well, though we've lived differently across generations, it's always nice to do girl talk! :) I also talked about what I do as a part-time job, when to get a driver license, and so on. My grandma always makes me and my mom laugh because it seems that she has nothing to be afraid of now. She's most experienced among us in terms of age, so it's a kind of interesting to listen to her because it makes me imagine how she's lived till today. She also encourages me to see things in a way that I don't usually realize, and remember something that is important. I guess the differences between what she experienced and what I experienced enabled me to do so.

Well, we really had a good time and enjoyed talking so much that I forgot to take pictures. Sorry about that! Please look forward to it next time.

That's all for today!
See you soon. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Akanishi Kun

Hello, everyone~!

Last year, I talked about the Japanese boys band called Arashi on this blog when I went to their concert. Since then, they've been one of my favorite artists. When my friend who had already liked them at the time asked me if I would like to go to their concert, I didn't think that I would be really into them at all. Lately, listening to their music literally relieves my fatigue. (How I've chased them on TV, magazines, and so on really reminds me of the days I liked the American boys band, Backstreet Boys. To some degree, I still do.)

In addition to the fact that I've become addicted to Arashi more and more and I even introduce them to my friends, new boys band that debuted from the same office as Arashi has just been added to my favorite artists' list! Oh, I definitely have a tendency to be passionate about boys bands. Whatever! Hahaha. I'm sure it's an important part of my life that makes me happier and happier everyday.

It's "KAT-TUN". They are very very famous already in Japan, of course. And even in Asian countries. You might think that why the name of them is KAT-TUN(ka-toon), it actually derives from the initial letters of each members. They are Kamenashi Kazuya, Akanishi Jin, Taguchi Junnosuke, Tanaka Kouki, Ueda Tatsuya, Nakamaru Yuuichi. Now you see why? The name also has a message that people want to see more just like when you start turning pages of manga(cartoon), and the Japanese "勝運"(katsu-un), 勝 means winning and 運 means luck.

Well, I think they actually need no introduction. If you watch them, you'll see why. They all are good at dancing, and singing! They have different characters from those that the members of Arashi have. A video you can watch below is called "Don't U ever stop". I hope you'll enjoy! Fortunately, you can listen to it with English subtitle!



My favorite member is, as the title of this post says, Akanishi-kun. His dancing is amazingly awesome, and even sexy! He's also good at singing. I'm sure that he's talented from the beginning, but at the same time, he's worked really really hard to be where he is today because it seems to me that he understand almost exactly what he's good at, and what he should to please audiences. Some people say that he tries to be cool too much, but I think that he is looking at himself really critically and always thinks about how to improve his own performances. That's what every professional does, right?



This song is called "Pinky". I wasn't interested in Kat-tun at all until I found this video. I guess I easily become mesmerized when I watch someone dance really really well.

This song is performed by one of the members, Akanishi Jin, who seems to be the most popular among them. He actually went to the US, Los Angeles, for learning English at the moment when the band itself started gaining huge popularity. (I don't know if it was a good choice to visit Los Angeles, though. There's too many Japanese people, don't you think?) He's back now, and he writes songs in English thanks to the staying. Though his decision to visit the US was criticized as selfish, it seems to me that he's just trying to be himself and to bring the band to the next level. (He said that he doesn't want his band just to be famous in Japan, and he wants to be "global". I guess that's why he went to the US.)

I ended up buying their latest album today, and I literally enjoy listening to it. I hope you'll have fun watching videos!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Remember Me

Hello. everyone~!

On today's post, I would like to introduce Preston Gannaway, who has been a photojournalist for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire since 2003. She is the winner of the Pulitzer Prizes.

Actually, I happened to know that there's a lot of different categories for the Pulitzer Prizes when I read the Japanese magazine that basically focuses on articles from foreign newspapers and magazines, whose name is "COURRiER Japon". In the magazine, the editor in chief talked about the Pulitzer Prizes and felt a bit sad because the Japanese media just covered the category of "Breaking News Photography". Yes, it literally is really shocking and it has to be covered by the Japanese media because the person in the photo, who had been killed when he visited Myanmar to get a story about the demonstration on streets there. But still, there's a lot of great photographs and articles which are worth paying attention to, and reading.

One of them ,which also was introduced on the magazine, is from the category of "Feature Photography" and the work is called "Remember Me". It's a story about a woman who is close to death due to a terminal illness. After she realized it, she decided to live the rest of her life in a way that she wanted it to be. She wanted to be surrounded by her family when her time finally came, and the photographs not only captured the moments of her life, but also grasped the feelings that she and her family had at the time. Not only she She, but also her family, struggled. as a mother, was afraid that her youngest son would not remember her if she's gone. And her sons struggled to face with the fact that their mom would go and never see them again.

It is really sad. But at the same time, it made me realize that, as much as I've thought of how I live, it's really crucial and meaningful to think about how I would like to die. It sounds a bit negative and sad, but there might not be a lot of differences between living and dying. Even if it's wrong, I think there's definitely a strong connection between how we live and how we die.

Hmmm... it's a bit philosophical!

All right, that's all for today!
See you soon. ^^

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chat at Tapped In!

Hello, everyone~!

Today, as I mentioned previously, I enjoyed talking to some AGU people at Tapped In! For those who came there tonight(this morning), thank you! And those who couldn't make it today, I hope I'll see you next time!

This time, Hiro(Ojichang) made it! Though Hiro and I are in Japan, and actually go to the same university obviously, we haven't seen each other for a little while. So, it was really nice to talk about what he's been up to, and know that he has been writing a paper for the class he's attended in our graduate school.(Students in Aoyama Gakuin University can attend the classes in the graduate school, and we can even get credits.)

And also, I would like to check and read Confucius Lives Next Door, by T. R. Reid. In addition to that, I will also read the article that Nina introduced at the chat, In Energy-Stingy Japan, an Extravagant Indulgence: Posh Privies. It's interesting for me to know a little bit about Japan from a view of outsiders. It gives me another perspective for ourselves, and a way to make a comparison between how we are being looked at and how we look at ourselves, right?

There was some conversations in Japanese, English-mixed-Japanese, and Japanese-mixed-English when I, Hiro, and Ji Won talked about lots of different things such as Hiro's selection of graduate schools and their requirements for application, Ji Won's precious cars that had sadly gone away, summer movies, and so on.

It's always awesome to talk to AGU people even though we virtually meet online! But hopefully, I'll see you face to face! Hehehe.

That's all for today!
See you soon. ^^

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tokyo Next

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I got a call from Yuiko after I spent time at the library looking for what I've been working on for my graduation thesis. She actually called me because she thought she would encounter the commuter rush if she tried to go home now, and she wanted to spend some time to avoid that. And I guess she needed someone to talk to while waiting for the rush time to pass her by.

I got a call from her and I decided to go to where she was. She went to BAGEL&BAGEL, where you can enjoy lots of different kinds of bagels, she chose to go there because one of her favorite foods is bagel. She can even make it by herself!

There, we talked about how each of us is doing right now, and the things each of us has been interested in lately. One of the things that we both has kept an eye on is that, H&M, which is an European fashion retailer, is coming to Japan very soon. I just visited the store once when I went to New York several years ago, but I remembered enjoying to be there at the time. So, I'm kind of excited that it's actually coming to Japan finally.

Well, why "kind of"? Hmmm... I guess it's a little too late. The same can be said for another famous fashion brand, Abercrombie and Fitch, because it seems to me that A&F has been afraid of their image being damaged due to their trial to come to Japan. Of course, it definitely is a good thing for fashion brands from other countries to come to Japan because it's a kind of sign that a brand is being regarded as truly famous and valued at one of the centers of fashion throughout the world. But at the same time, it means that a brand might struggle because the Japanese people are usually said to be easily excited at first, and sooner or later, we will be sick of it because everyone starts to have "it". So, it's really hard to follow what's hot in Japan, especially in the areas such as Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and so on.

In the situation like this, H&M is now trying hard to promote their opening in Tokyo at their website. Last week, I was surprised to watch their podcast focus on fashionistas (people who have good taste for fashion) in Tokyo areas. Harajuku, Ginza, for example. I think the people who came up for this podcast are very very passionate about fashion. Though I go to Shibuya everyday and I think that fashion is a part of our daily lives, I just don't understand why some people are unbelievably crazy for fashion! But at the same time, it's fascinating to watch them because it somehow gives me new ways to look at clothes.

If you're interested to watch their podcast, CLICK HERE.

Alright, that's all for today!
I'm looking forward to seeing you at Tapped In!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stanford's Commencement Address '08

Hello, everyone~!

You might already know that I've been a frequent user of Podcast on iTunes. In terms of learning English, it's impossible to miss because it's totally free!

And if I could introduce my favorites, one of them would be annual commencement address at Stanford University. I found the program about a year ago and the very first one that I listened to at the time was the commencement address by Steve Jobs. He need no introduction literally. His charismatic character saved Apple.

This year, Oprah Winfrey talked at the commencement. Though she's very very famous in the US as one of extremely successful people, she's not so famous in Japan. So, people here don't react at all to the news that the most influential celebrity is Oprah Winfrey. But I'm sort of familiar with her because CNN covered the news about her efforts to build a school in Africa.

The fact that Steve Job's speech was awesome let my expectation for Oprah really high. But, anyway, her speech was also inspiring and there's so much to learn from the way she expressed her emotion, presented herself, and how she chose particular words for particular meaning.

So... enjoy!

You can also get the whole script by clicking here!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Ways to Improve My Writing in English

Hello, everyone~!

I planned to write a paper whose deadline is next Tuesday, but time has gone by.... Oops! There's too many temptations, especially this weekend. The qualification procedure of Formula 1 race in Paris was aired on TV, and now it's time to watch the soccer game of EURO 2008, Netherlands vs Russia. Awwww..... I can't help but become couch potato! Whatever! Hahaha.

So, I decided to practice writing a paper before I actually start writing. The theme is "What are ways to improve your writing in English for a paper?" It's simple, but at the same time, it makes me think because what I do here now is one of the reasons. Don't you think?

Alright, let me point out several points that I want to focus on the paper.

1. Acquire the basic style.--- When you do something, being creative is always important. But we also need to know how it's been done. So-called "outside the box thinking" only comes out when you know "inside the box thinking", and vice versa. So, the very first step to write better in English would be to acquire the basic style.

2. Do as much reading as you can and always remember that it's for outputs that you'll make.--- That's what I'm trying to do. Reading English books, developing the sense of lexical collocation, for example. Reading English books has taken fear and resignation for long articles in English away from me, and it helps me understand how I should use particular words for particular meanings.

3. Do "plan-do-check-act" process over and over again.--- Of course, you can't write perfectly at the beginning. Rather, what's important is, I think, to define what you can and what you can't, and think about what to do for each of problems and improvements. Sometimes, it's good to focus on what you can't but sometimes doing the opposite might work. So, keep trying and practicing to make a difference.

4. Ask others to see your writing.--- It's always good to get feedbacks from others because it definitely gives you perspectives that you don't have or haven't realized before. So, you can create your own blog like me, or ask your friends to see your writing. If your friends are good at English, that would be perfect! Being looked at by someone you know is a good way to keep your motivation and it makes you alert for grammar. Even if you don't have friends who are good at English, you can easily look for friends throughout the world online! In this "everyone's connected era", it's a choice you can't miss!

Okay, now I'm getting ready for writing them down for the paper. But I actually started to watch the soccer game! Ahhhh, I should probably write a paper to discuss how I should spend time better. Hahaha..!! Well, it definitely sounds like an excuse, but the soccer game is a "must-see" for me. And more importantly, it's held once in every four years!

If you have any comments, feel free to post!
Thank you.

That's all, see you soon!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blood Barrels

Hello, everyone~!

You already know that I now have part-time jobs and one of them is to work as an assistant at the school for the people who wish to be translators.

When I work there, teachers always choose materials that they use for each class. Materials are videos, cassettes, and articles from magazines. So, there's a lot of magazines written in English. Foreign Affairs, TIME, Newsweek, The New Yorker, and so on. It's interesting for me just to see the covers of them. And sometimes, I get chances to turn pages a little bit.

This week, one of the materials that the teacher I've assisted use was the article from the magazine "Foreign Affairs". The article was "Blood Barrels -Why Oil Wealth Fuels Conflict-" by Michel L. Ross from the University of California, Los Angeles. After making photocopies, I had a little time to read it. (If you jump to the link above, you can't read the whole article there, but you can read the summary.)

Basically, what's written was that how the oil-rich countries have struggled to manage revenues from oil and governments that control them, and what we should do to solve the problem. According to the article, so-called "oil-rich countries" such as Kazakhstan and Nigeria have spent their revenues from oil on building new capital cities, and failed to provide running water to many villages who need it.

At the same time, we also need to think about the way we live on a daily basis because the way we live is the reason why they produce oil aggressively. The author also said that we should solve this problem as we've done for the problem of blood diamonds. He suggested that oil-rich countries' governments are required to be transparent, and the rest of us also think about each of our lifestyle that depends on oil more than you think.

After reading it, I wondered which would be happier if a country doesn't have any resource such as oil, or a country do have a lot of resources. I thought of the same thing when I watched the movie "Blood Diamond". Though we are often likely to think that the haves are happier and the key to prosperity, it's not always true. The haves and the have-nots are actually struggling in different ways.

Alright, that's for today!
See you soon. ^^

Friday, June 20, 2008

JUNO

Hello, everyone~!


On Wednesday, I watched the movie "JUNO". I happened to know this movie when I visited the iTunes store for the US customers. I check theatrical trailers there regularly because it tells me what's happening in the US's box office, and I can watch trailers of movies that are unscreened in Japan much much earlier. It's really fun to watch and predict what to come. And hopefully, my English proficiency improves by watching them. I think it does because trailers I can get there are always without subtitles.

"JUNO" is one of them. I also see this movie's soundtrack climbed up the ranking of the iTunes. At the time, I was wondering why.

Though I always feel frustrated time lags of releasing between the US and Japan, it's finally come to Japan. The fact that the movie was made low-budget but it got really famous after all made my expectation high. And one of the reviewers that I heard of on TV said that the way Juno dealt with her pregnancy was fascinating and that's one of the points that he said you should check out.

Is that really so? That's what I thought and I'd been actually thinking of watching it as soon as possible.

For some of you who might not be familiar with the movie, I'll explain the story briefly. If I could explain very shortly, it's about "the girl who gets pregnant and how she and the people surrounding her deal with that". That's it. But what if the girl was 16 years old? What do you think she should do? That's what you'll think and enjoy, I guess.

At first, the girl, Juno, thought of getting pregnant as a simple thing. But her mother said it wasn't. So, she started thinking of abortion and visited the hospital. She ended up getting out of the hospital, however. And the decision she made finally was to give her child to someone who desperately needed.

In Japan, movies and dramas about teenage pregnancy have a negative image because though we should not quickly judge by the image or figures that all of teenage moms are not good, we can't say that it's a good choice to have a child at that age either. So, we usually end up making a conclusion that they should get abortion and sadly, the number of people who get abortion has been on the rise. These days, a kind of mailbox for children has been placed in several hospitals in Japan and mothers who they think can't afford to raise their children go there and put their children away. Some say it's irresponsible while others say it works because it makes sure that children are protected. It's very sad and hard to accept, but it's the reality in Japan. So, what the Japanese might think of when we hear the word "teenage pregnancy" or "abortion" would be things I mentioned above.

So, as I said, how Juno and the people surrounding her dealt with her pregnancy really fascinated me. And I found that her pregnancy brought a family connection that their family has lost for years. How Juno changed emotionally and physically through her pregnancy is also interesting to watch!

If you have time, why don't you give it a try?
I hope you'll like it! ^^

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Last Friends" finished finally...!

Hello, everyone~!

My favorite drama in this spring-summer season, "Last Friends", finally finished today. Though an additional episode will be aired next week thanks to the increase of viewers, it now officially finished... I've missed the day I couldn't wait for every Thursday to come since the moment when the very last episode finished.

As much as I'm feeling sad that the drama finished, I was actually happy to see the story move forward. (You know what I mean if you had favorite shows now or before.) If you recorded the last episode and you haven't seen it, please just skip what's written below.

In the last episode, Sousuke, the one who becomes violent when things don't go the way he wants them to, committed suicide because he finally figured out that Michiru (his girlfriend) could never smile if he was with her and realized that she no longer belonged to the place in their heart where Sousuke and Michiru once were together happily.

After Michiru figured out that he committed suicide and found the letter written by Sousuke, she went to where she was born. And she began working at the Japanese style hotel. But suddenly, she felt sick and she happened to know that she was pregnant. Before Sousuke passed away, Michiru was actually sexually abused by him. The fact that she was pregnant literally broke her heart, but she decided to bring up her child by herself even though her mother said that it would be tough.

In the meantime, Ruka and Takeru, who still live in their share house, found out that Sousuke committed suicide when Michiru's mother made a call to know where Michiru would be. They decided to look for Michiru by going to the places where they thought Michiru would be. And they finally could meet Michiru!

Lastly, Michiru, Takeru, and Ruka decided to bring the child together happily.

As the story went on more and more, I just couldn't foresee what would happen. So, I even thought that the ending would be really sad such as someone killed someone. At least, that case didn't happen. But I got confused that Sousuke ended up committing suicide. I can understand he had complicated background and it can't be said that it was all his fault, but violence would never be justified. Right?

So, if I were to watch it whole new episodes, I would want it to change. Because it seems to me that the drama says the problem about Sousuke's violence can't be helped. If there's a solution, Michiru might not have lost him and the consequence would be different. But in the drama, Sousuke just escaped from the reality by killing himself. Maybe, that's how the director of the drama want to provoke our discussions or that's the true perception of domestic violence? I don't know....

But anyway, "Last Friends" is one of the interesting, thought-provoking, and moving dramas I've ever seen. So, if you have a chance to see it, why don't you give it a try?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CHANEL MOBILE ART

Hello,everyone~!

Today, I went to Harajuku to visit "CHANEL MOBILE ART in TOKYO."

I happened to know about this when I watched a news show on TV, and it literaly drew my attention! In addition to it, it turned out that the event would be held near Harajuku station, which takes less than 5 minutes to be there from Shibuya! Though going to Shibuya for school is a bit tough because it's always crowded, but this time, I couldn't help but be thankful for the location of my university! Yaaaay!

Do you remember the post in 2006 that I talked about Utada Hikaru's concert? "Mobile Art" opens at the same place as the concert, Yoyogi National Gymnasium. I hope the link for Google Map helps you imagine where it would be.

大きな地図で見る

"CHANEL MOBILE ART" is a project by the international luxury brand, CHANEL, obviously. But what's new about it is that the museum travels around the world, such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, Moscow, and Paris. Usually, people travels around the world to visit so many different kinds of museums. But this time, the opposite happens. Sounds really fascinating, isn't it?

Though I was interested in visiting the museum, I just thought that it would be nice if what I would see was fascinating and would end up talking about it here. And I wasn't sure what to expect actually, because I have never been familiar with the brand itself. (Anyway, I felt lucky because I was able to get the ticket!(It was free, actually! But I needed to make a reservation by obtaining the ticket.) This event has become so popular that the tickets have gone.)But when I went there, these worries just went away! There was a really unique and beautiful construction, and it stood where I've visited and seen many times. The construction let me see the place that I've thought was ordinary in a different way from yesterday. And I even thought that I'll remember the construction being there every time I visit here from now on.

This is the construction by the architect Zaha Hadid. Since I haven't been familiar with the contemporary art or architecture, I have to admit that I just have no idea who she is and why she's so famous right now. But the truth is, the construction has gotten me interested and definitely drew my attention! I think that this is the perfect example of how people judge the beauty of something. You know what beautiful things are without being mentioned about who creates it or how it was made.

I'm going to talk about just a little bit more detail of the museum now. (But I couldn't take pictures inside...unfortunately.) So, please just skip if you're planning to visit there because it'll contain the things you don't want to know before the visit. If you really are interested in what's inside, you'll be able to take a glimpse of it by looking at the blog by Verbal from m-flo.

After entering the museum, the first thing I did was that a headphone and an mp3 player was loaned. And after the staff helped me arrange the setting for the player, the music began and I began walking when the voice that said "Now, please stand up." came to my ears. You might be wondering the typical type of voice guides at museums, but it's totally different. It even told me where to see, where to turn, and how many steps that I should take. So, though how I should see or feel or capture each of installation wasn't suggested, I automatically paid much attention to what she said while I was walking. And in a result, the sense that I don't use usually had been heightened. Concentrating on listening to what she said was as important as concentrating on seeing what was in front of me.

It took about 50 minutes to see all of the installations there with the mysterious audio guidance. After that, I got the booklet about "MOBILE ART."(Surprisingly, it's free and everyone can get it as long as you're a visitor.)

And one of the postcards in the bottom of the picture said the idiom "empty your bag", and I was fascinated by the episode of why this idiom was born. According to the postcard I got, "In bygone days, in the legal world, case files were just simple sheets of paper rolled up and carried in leather bags. Each lawyer had his own, and took his scrolls our one by one in from of the judge in order to read his defense speech. In other words, he "emptied his bag". To "empty one's bag" has become an idiomatic expression in French, "vider son sac: dire ce qu'on a sur le coueur", used when someone reveals something that was kept secret for a long time." It even made me want to say Wow!

Alright, I definitely have gone too far this time!
Anyway, I want you to know that it's worth visiting!
And more importantly, it's free!
(Also, I found the article about this and if you read it---CLICK HERE)

See you soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Speech

Hello, everyone~!

After I came home and eat dinner, I looked for something that interested me. That was Hillary Clinton's concession speech. I actually read the quote of her on the Japanese edition of NEWSWEEK, and that was "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it. "

I've heard about the term "glass ceiling" many times before, and though it was one of the ways she expressed herself in the speech I was surprised to hear that even the person like her felt glass ceiling standing in front of her and couldn't break it this time. I'll keep some of the speech here just for me to remember.


Now, on a personal note – when I was asked what it means to be a woman running for President, I always gave the same answer: that I was proud to be running as a woman but I was running because I thought I'd be the best President. But I am a woman, and like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious.

I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us.

I ran as a daughter who benefited from opportunities my mother never dreamed of. I ran as a mother who worries about my daughter's future and a mother who wants to lead all children to brighter tomorrows. To build that future I see, we must make sure that women and men alike understand the struggles of their grandmothers and mothers, and that women enjoy equal opportunities, equal pay, and equal respect. Let us resolve and work toward achieving some very simple propositions: There are no acceptable limits and there are no acceptable prejudices in the twenty-first century.
(From npr)

As a reader of her book "Living History", the fact that she ended up suspending her campaign disappointed me a little bit because she's been so passionate about the current situation in the US and has worked as much as she can to make every one's voice heard. Though people criticize her sometimes, I respect her because she has been capable of turning her ideas into actions. There's a lot difference between people who say something actively but don't act, and those who say something and act at the same time.

In addition to what she says, I learned a lot from the way she did speech. I don't do speeches in front of so many people like her, but sometimes I have to do presentations in English. So, it gave me tips for how to make people listen by taking a moment sometimes, how I should keep being paid attention to, and how I should choose words to make what I want to say sticky or easy to remember.

If you want more detail or listen to her speech,
Go to npr.org.

Alright, that's all for today!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Convenience Store

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I read the article that the governor of Kanagawa prefecture has been considering about issuing regulations for the opening hours of convenience stores in the prefecture.

The reason that he came up with the idea like that was he wanted the prefecture to be energy efficient, and eco-friendly. Other than limiting the opening hours, what he suggested was to reconsider logistics and operations at stores.

I looked up the Wikipedia to search how many convenience stores exist in Japan. In a result, there are about 50000 stores throughout this country! I've felt that there's been too many stores, but I was surprised at the number of stores when I finally fount it! And now, it's not unusual that two stores are located at almost the same place, and what makes them different is whether or not you have to cross the street. But unfortunately, a store doesn't exist where I want it to be. Hmmm.....

I'm not sure how many of the stores I mentioned above exist in Kanagawa prefecture, but I assume there are many stores there. As a frequent user, the suggestion that the governor of Kanagawa prefecture gave us is a little bit confusing. I can imagine limiting the opening hours would be a good solution for environmental problems, but when I think about roles that convenience stores I often go play, it's not the problem that we can solve just by saying yes or no. There's good and bad things for it.

Good things are, obviously, by doing that the prefecture can be a leader or role model for eco-friendly city. People pay attention to the city thanks to that, and respect. But at the same time, there's bad things as well. I think that our taken-for-granted assumption that there's a convenience store at midnight somehow makes me relieved when I come home after hanging out with my friends. And also, the lightness, though some say it makes the clock of human being go wrong, keeps cities safe and peace.

It might be the time to change the way we spend time, see the world, perceive the situation right now? But it's hard to say goodbye to what we take for granted!

I don't know how the argument would turn out, but I really hope that a solution everyone can agree on would come up! ^^

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sophia in Japan!

Hello, everyone~!

I just came back home from Shibuya, at about 0:30am. It's already June 16th, but I still feel like it's Sunday! Well, you're now wondering what I did today?

Yes! I finally could meet Sophia and the members of AGU2007 face to face, not virtually, I mean. We hung out in Shibuya for eating dinner together. I was a bit nervous to meet them because I haven't met them before and I wasn't so sure that they've recognized me as a person who left comments on each of their blogs. But the fact that I've known about them somehow from their blogs encouraged me to send an e-mail to Kana(Y), and asked her if it would be okay for the members of AGU2006 to join the AGU2007 reunion with Sophia. And she said okay! Yaaaay!

I went there with Eriko, and I really had a good time eating Asian cuisines. I enjoyed talking to them about the lectures that I once attended in the Fuchinobe campus and how I passed them, which is techniques from seniority students! Hahaha!! But that's definitely something we've had in common, and it made me remember the days I had in Fuchinobe.

After eating dinner, we visited an amusement center to play "purikura". You can make photo stickers by playing it, and you can even write something on photographs and print it out! It's really famous for young girls in Japan, and it seemed that Sophia was interested in it. So, we tried really hard to put all the people in pictures! To take pictures, we had to go into the small room covered with a curtain and get ready for "3,2,1...smile" calls from the machine! Looking at the picture on the left, you'll probably be able to imagine how hard it would be just to make everyone be taken! But at the same time, it was really funny, and I guess we did really great!

In addition to having a lot of fun creating "purikura", we decided to do our favorite thing, Karaoke!! Though I met them for the first time, I was the very first person to sing! I had no idea what to sing, but I chose to sing "Sk8er boi" by Avril Lavigne. I also sang this song when I stayed in Maryland, so it did remind me of the late night karaoke we enjoyed at the time! Hahaha. I also enjoyed singing Utada Hikaru's song ("HEART STATION", you can listen to it from the window below.)



On the way to home, I and Ai got on the same train and I found out that where Ai lives is close! That's why we happened to get on the same train, and I really enjoyed talking to her about the day she had in Maryland last year, and talking about the things like that reminded both of us of a little bit exhausting schedule we had in Maryland, which finally turned out to be awesome!

I literally enjoyed being with them because they welcomed me as if I were a member of AGU2007 as well! I hope I can meet them again face to face, or online! And also, I'm looking forward to seeing other mentors in Japan!

Anyway, I hope Sophia will have a really good time for the rest of her stay!
That's all for today! See you soon!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fukutoshin Subway

Hello, everyone~!

Today, 7.2 magnitude earthquake has hit in northern Japan at about 8:43 am. (Iwate prefecture and Miyagi prefecture, specifically.) I heard from the news that a tremor hit Tokyo as well in the morning, and the elevator in Roppongi (One of the popular places in Tokyo) stopped for a while. At the time, I was sleeping and I didn't feel anything at all.

Meanwhile, the Fukutoshin Subway, which said to be the last subway built in Tokyo area debuted Today! The line connects through Saitama prefecture to the subcenter of Tokyo.(Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinjuku) The word "fuku" means sub, and "toshin" means center. So, as you can imagine, "fukutoshin" means sub center. I don't know who defined it, but Tokyo can be divided into "toshin" and "fukutoshin." And the places that belong to "toshin" group are Otemachi and Tokyo, Chuo Ward, Minato Ward and Chiyoda Ward. And "fukutoshin" districts are Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. (But these play a very important role in terms of the current Japanese young culture, definitely!) The fact that the name of the line is "fukutoshin" implies Tokyo's subways have been concentrated in "toshin" districts. And the subway company expect it to be the trigger for the new movement of the people in Tokyo. The places that once are considered far away is going to be much closer because of the stations of Fukutoshin Subway. (By the way, the picture on the right side is rail toys.)

In fact, there's a station of Fukutoshin Subway in Shibuya! So, I'll go there and take some pictures very soon. I'm looking forward to visiting there because the design of the station was done by, one of the Japanese famous designers, Tadao Ando. And he created the station just like a space ship. It's called "地宙船" in Japanese, and it means a space ship in underground. Sounds fascinating, isn't it?

Alright, that's all for today!

Friday, June 13, 2008

After Watching "Last Friends"...

Hello, everyone~!

On Thursday, as I've said previously, I enjoyed watching the drama "Last Friends." As the story has gotten deeper, it seems it's out of control. No matter how things will go, the time everyone in the drama is happy would never come. Usually, relationships in fictional dramas focus on bright sides of them, and it ends up being together happily.

But "Last Friends" does the opposite. I even think that it's too much! In this week's episode, after hurting Michiru again and again and many lies being told, Sousuke committed suicide at the end of the episode. I somehow imagined that it would happen at some point in the drama, and I felt it coming. But watching as it happened overwhelmed me, and I've been wondering how Michiru would respond to it in the next week's episode. Though he has battered her, she once thought surely that he was definitely the one and loved each other. It's a contradictory feeling, and it fits in with the drama's key words "The more you try to separate, the closer and stronger a relationship becomes."(ほどこうとする度に、離れられなくなっていく)

Hmmmm..... things become so complicated that I just can't predict what will happen! And I can't wait to see it! But at the same time, I'm a bit sad to accept the fact that the drama will end very soon.

Airight, that's all for today!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Last Friends

Hello, everyone~!

I'm now waiting for a TV show to air very soon. It's the Japanese drama called "Last Friends." (The link will bring you to the official website, which is created in Japanese.) I haven't been into dramas for years because I felt that stories of the Japanese dramas really got boring. Instead, I've been watching the dramas such as "24" and "Prison Break", which are the American dramas.

But I happened to watch "Last Friends" because one of my favorite artists, Utada Hikaru, sings the theme song for it. (It's "Prisoner of Love", which I've introduced to you on the previous post.)


I hope the trailer helps you imagine what it's like.

Basically, it's about young people who live in a house together(which they call "share house"), who are going through the problems that each of them has. Though they seemingly happy, the problems they have are overwhelming and it's not hard to imagine how difficult it would be to come out.

The main characters on the show are...

*Michiru Aida (by Masami Nagasawa): She works as an assistant of a beauty specialist as a beauty salon. She is always smiling, but a bit indecisive. Since she grew up in a single-mother household, she's dreamed of creating a happy family. She has a boyfriend and now lives together. It sounds really happy, but in fact she's a victim of domestic violence. She is battered by her boyfriend, Sosuke.

*Ruka Kishimoto (by Juri Ueno): She tends to pretend to be strong, but she is actually vulnerble. She is practicing to be a professional motocross rider. It looks like she is an ordinary woman, but she has a secret that she can't tell to anyone. She has difficulty in accepting the fact that she has been regarded as female.

*Takeru Mizushima (by Eita): He is working hard to be a hair and make up artist. He doesn't look like a man very much because he has an androgynous look. But because of his experience in his childhood, he's afraid to have sex.

*Sousuke Oikawa (by Ryo Nishikido): He is Michiru's boyfriend, and the one who becomes violent when things don't go the way he wants them to be. It seems that he likes her so much that he loses his mind when he becomes violent. But in public, he is really kind to others and he works for the city government. Obviously, there's some contradiction here.

*Eri Takigawa (by Asami Mizukawa): She works as a flight attendant, and as you might easily imagine, she is kind to everyone even though what she says is too honest sometimes. And she gets along with almost everyone. But inside her mind, she feels lonely and she can't be No.1 for anyone. Though she feels alone, it's really hard to tell someone because almost automatically she pretends to be happy.

At first, the story began when Ruka came across Michiru. And when Michiru found out that her boyfriend, Sousuke, got violent and hurt her for the first time, Michiru escaped from Sousuke's house to where Ruka lives(share house). At the time, it seems that they're living happily together. But things got really complicated when each of their problems that they kept away have been discovered. After it happened, almost everything each of them did out of goodwill turned out to be the trigger to get things even worse...

But more and more people watch this because what it deals with is really thought-provoking and it even makes you think about how I would do if I were one of the characters in the drama. Many of my friends, including Yuiko and Eriko, are also into this drama and we often talk about the episodes.

Actually, the last episode will be aired next week!
I just can't wait!!!

Alright, that's all for today!
See you soon. ^^

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

microtrends

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I would like to talk about the book called "Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes" by Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne.

I happened to know this book when I watched the TV show whose story was about a popular economic analyst who has spent so much money on purchasing books, and of course reading them. In the show, she went to visit her favorite book store and looked around the shelves. She picked up the books she's interested while she's pondering something. Looking at how she made decisions about books, it seemed to me that she has never had difficulty making decisions what to buy. In fact, it looked so because she buys when she can't decide! Anyway, one of the books that she chose was the Japanese edition of this book. Actually, I've paid attention to it because the cover of the book fascinated me somehow and made me want to read the inside. But I just didn't have a chance to take it at the store. After watching the show on TV, the fact that she might have read it encouraged me to go further. Yeah, I finally got mine. It's the English edition, though.

To tell the truth, I wasn't sure if I would finish it at all because there's 520 pages!! But I tried to remember the time I read the book "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman because it also had almost the same number of pages. All I can do was just to convince myself that I could finish! Hahaha. So, I made up my mind and had a goal that hopefully I would read 50 pages a day.

And... I did it! At first, it was a bit tough. But once I got used to it, it became as much fun as I have when I read in Japanese.

The book explains many different kinds of phenomena happening in the US society and the world. One of the authors, Mark Penn, worked for President Clinton's 1996 election campaign, and is good at numbers. The authors looked at figures and tried to put them into context. Each of them is relatively small and the people who are involved in these can been seen as minority. But, as the authors mentioned, the small ideas trigger large changes in the society. For those who are interested in the book, I'll pick some of them for you to share.

*Social Geeks: Geeks have been thought as unsociable. But for some of them, the situation is reversed now. Some people are even more sociable than others!

*Long Attention Spanners: More and more people are eager to read longer articles, longer speeches, and so on. As the Internet has come to our society, and many people seem to value time more than ever. So, it makes us think that we should everything quickly. But in fact, that's not always true.

*Numbers Junkies: The number of children who like studying math and science has decreased, but the TV shows and movies that deal with numbers do really well.

*Extreme Commuters: The number of couples who live separately and even have houses for each in on the rise. Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton do so for years. Mentioning that, it might make you think that it's about couples who earn a lot of money. That's wrong. As more and more women can pursue their careers, they don't move with their husbands.

*Vegan Children: More and more children in the US choose to be a vegan or vegetarian. Several years ago, it was rare to see children who have the eating style like that. But many parents today cherish their children's independence, and for them choosing to be a vegan or vegetarian seems to be one of choices that they make as a citizen.

In the English edition, there are 75 kinds of "microtrends." It gives you a brand new way to see the world and it would be interesting to think about how you can put these into context. In addition, the authors not only analyzes the figures but also makes comments and thoughts for each of microtrends, such as how we should make the voices of these people heard, how we unite as a society in the world where we appreciate individualism, and what needs to be done for the future.

Alright, I hope you'll read the book and hopefully share thoughts with you!
See you soon. ^^

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fujio Cho

Hello, everyone~!

Today, Fujio Cho came to AGU to give us a lecture. Some of you already know about him. First of all, however, let me introduce him for those who are not familiar with him. He is serving as Chairman and Representative Director of Toyota. In 2004, he was chosen as one of 100 most influential people in TIME magazine. There were almost 500 people in the audience.

To tell the truth, I also was the one who didn't know much about him until I've started reading the book called "ZOOM." In the book, he is mentioned as one of the members who created the Toyota Way which has been created when the company went abroad for business.

What he mainly talked about was that how he's worked for years, and what companies want for university students when it comes to a business person. There are several points that he mentioned in the lecture. So, I'll write them down just to remember.

*In Toyota, no matter who you are, you're expected to act and get a result from it.

*「出会い」(de-a-i) "meeting people" is really important. Even if you don't think about the future at all, the people you meet in the right time at the right time would lead you to the place you need to be.

*Theories and practices become meaningful when they can bring a balance. And practices enable you to learn more than you think.

*Just face with facts, and be humble about them.

*Trying to be better little by little everyday, and at some point, you'll be higher place.

*Don't think that you'll succeed by trying just once. And even if you fail, don't think the situation gets worse than now.

One of his mentions, "Just face with facts, and be humble about them." reminded me of the mention by Marissa Mayer who is the Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google, "Don't politic, use data."

It was the first time for me to see him, of course. And I was surprised that he was really humble. Actually, one of the students out there asked the question "How come you're so humble while you're in high position?" Many people laughed, but I guess everyone actually thought that for sure! He talked as if he were talking to his friend. That's why he's inspired so many people, maybe?

Well, I hope you'll find the mentions meaningful or interesting! ^^

That's all for today!
See you soon.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grace is Gone

Hello, everyone~!

Before I started writing today's post, I was wondering what to write about. But don't worry! I ended up coming up with a story, which is about the movie I've seen lately.

The movie is called "Grace is Gone." As you can see on the poster, John Cusack stars in the film.

The story itself is very simple, but it's thought-provoking as well. It's a movie about a young father whose wife has gone to the war, and he was told that his wife was killed in Iraq. For him, the fact that she's gone meant he needed to tell his daughters what happened to their mom. For him, his wife's death was very hard to accept. But even in the situation like that, he still had a thing to do. He somehow needed to make his daughters understand their mom's death.

I've been interested in this film even before the movie company in Japan began paying attention to it due to the fact that the movie won the Sundance Film Festival 2007. But I wasn't sure about if it would be released in Japan. So, I was really glad when I heard about the news that it could be seen in Japan! ^^

What interested me was the story is based on the family whose mom has gone to war. In Japan, we simply can watch the news footage about the war in Iraq, but when it comes to each of the people who have been deployed in Iraq, it's very rare. And the news about the people out there is on the air, it's usually about the men. So, the movie gave me a point of view that I couldn't get from the media I've seen or read previously. The number of women in the military reflects the current situation of how much women in uniform are featured on the TV news shows. But as more and more women join the army, I think the need for the coverage of women in uniform would increase because the more we know about their situation the more we can think about actions that needs to be done for themselves and families.

And as a student who studies International Politics, it definitely made me realize how much time we would need to understand the meaning of war and I felt a bit frustrated at the fact that just learning how the world works surely has a limit and even makes me confused sometimes. According to what I've learned, the war itself is a phenomenon and a view like this rarely pays attention to the people who are involved. After watching the movie, I thought about how the family would have gone through the loss they've experienced. Hmmm.... once I started to think about it, it easily becomes complicated. But the one thing that's true is, the pain that the family like the one on this movie has would never heal.

If you have a chance to see the movie, why don't you give it a try?
You can watch the trailer here!


Alright, that's all for today!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Price We Pay

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I indulged myself in sleep especially because I was tired from yesterday's watching of the football match.

After I woke up, I checked my e-mail and websites that I visit everyday for news and the information that I'm interested. And I found the very very saddening news happened in Tokyo, Akihabara.

In this Sunday afternoon, a man suddenly stabbed the people there at random at Akihabara and it results 7 innocent people killed, 10 people wounded. At the moment I heard the news, I just didn't know what to say. It's beyond my imaginings.

When I was an elementary student, I often went there with my father to buy computer goods because my father has been familiar with computer since then. After 10 years or so, I went there for the event of job-hunting. I couldn't but realize how much the atmosphere of Akihabara has changed. It made me remember those days I and my father had there, and I came to think that the change is not always a bad thing because more and more people are attracted by Akihabara's features such as an electronics quarter, maid cafe, and the culture of Otaku. But suddenly, these things got overtaken by the incident happened today.

According to the police, the suspect did this because he was "tired of life and sick of everything." It seems he works as a temporary employee. Of course, he's really really bad. But at the same time, I think we need to think about the society in Japan that made him commit the crime like this. After I criticized him for what he did, I became confused because I thought that the Japanese society itself has done something unknowingly to make him do this. And it makes me wonder how we, as a society, can help others be a good citizen by doing the right thing.

In Japan, the situation of temporary employees has gotten worse so much that the gap between rich and poor is widening more than ever. Some say they are responsible for what they are, and they don't do enough independent efforts. And the people who have opinions like this usually don't try to look at the situation that they don't want to face with. So, the voices of the people who are stuck in the situation I mentioned above probably won't be heard or be lost because many people think it's their problem.

But if we think about it carefully, we might gradually realize that the burden they've got is definitely ours. The incident like this lets us realize the inconvenient fact. And the more we pretend to be ignorant about this fact, the more we have to pay the price which is ultimate.

As a citizen, however, I just can do very little things such as casting a vote, talking about it on the blog, and so on. It's a bit frustrating, but I guess I'll do as much as I can because we can't afford to leave the society like this for the younger generation, right?

Anyway, for now, I pray for the victims of the incident.

If you look for more detail of the news, you can go to the link below.
"7 dead in stabbing spree in downtown Tokyo"
(The fact that the article of the incident comes to the top of Yahoo! News(US) is really disturbing, and really really sad....)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

TAKE ACTION: FOOTBALL MATCH

Hello, everyone~!

Today, I went to Kanagawa prefecture to watch the charity football match hosted by Hidetoshi Nakata. If you're familiar with football, you might have heard about him. As of now, he no longer plays football professionally. After he announced his retirement, he's taken trips to the places he's wanted to visit such as Africa, Asia, and so on to see what's really happening. To his surprise, what he's seen was so different from what he thought previously that he came up with the idea that, by using his popularity and talent, he can invite football players and have some fun! At the same time, everyone who gets involved the match can contribute to the issues around the globe.

He named it "TAKE ACTION!+1." The name stresses the importance of action. Also, in Japan, contributing to others in need has been thought as a difficult task, and that fact has kept many people away from contributing. But as more and more people is getting accesses to the information around the world, many people in Japan, the young in particular, started to realize we can do something. One of fruits developed from these thoughts is today's football match.


The match was taken place at Nissan Stadium. Many people already showed up when I arrived there. One of the things that I was pleased to look at was smiling children were everywhere! At the time I didn't know much about the
situation in Europe, the fact that people are safe when they are watching a game sounds ordinary to me. But as I've heard about how the players who came from other countries and play in Japan felt about the safety at a stadium on magazines, and I saw my favorite player (Kaka, who plays in Italy) mention that he hopes everyone in a studium to be safe and he wants families to come to a game because that's how he started dreaming about being a professional football player, I started to realize how great it has been for us to gather no matter who you are.

After entering the gate, I got a bag. Brouchures were inside. In addition to them, "ACTION SHEET" was there as well.


What you can do by being a part of this match is written on the sheet.

*ACTION 1: First of all, please take a time to read this sheet. It's the very first step for you.
*ACTION 2: Let's hold up this sheet when the players are introduced, and cover the stadium in green.
*ACTION 3: By purchasing the raffle, let's contribute to the people in ruined areas. (Burma and China)
*ACTION 4: Be a sender of the message from Hidetoshi Nakata, and spread through your friends.

Can you see almost everyone holds up the sheets, and spectators' seats becomes green! By looking at my blog reporting how much green the environment of the match was, you might wonder the match itself was exciting. Though it was an exhibition match, it was really exciting! It was Japan Stars vs World Stars, so I could enjoy comparing each of their playing styles. Moreover, I was so glad to be able to see Jose Mourinho, who was the head coach of Chelsea(one of the clubs in the England's Premier League) and now joined the Italian football club, Inter Milan as a head coach. He is one of my favorite head coaches, because he's always confident and literally passionate about the team. Moreover, I really like his attitude toward football.

I guess I definitely have gone too far......!!

Alright, that's all for today! ^^
See you!