Saturday, January 31, 2009

January highlights: Shinnenkai (New Year's Party) at Marie's (part 2)

Mandy brought some Taiwanese pastries for us to munch on after dinner

The wine Zhao brought was impossible to uncork. It took the three of us nearly 5 minutes and a lot of struggling to achieve the feat.

Marie's mom is just amazing. She made three different flavors of cakes - chocolate, chocolate and banana, and cheese - all from scratch! We even got to take the leftover cake slices back home in a cake box. Everything looked store bought! I'm seriously missing the cakes now... :P

Atsushi and Marie :D

Thanks for the wonderful meal and the pleasant company!

January highlights: January 20 - Shinnenkai (New Year's Party) at Marie's (part 1)

In Japan, people go to yearend parties (忘年会, bonenkai) at the end of the year, and New Year parties (新年会, shinnnenkai) at the beginning of the year. The common Japanese is said to go to a number of bonenkais and shinnenkais every year; but as non-Japanese, we don't really get a chance to take part in such gatherings.
So, I'm lucky enough to score
bonenkai: 1
shinnenkai: 1
This post is about our shinnenkai at Marie's house
We met at Starbucks near Chuo station because none of us knew where Marie's house was

We started off with hot pot. It was seriously so delicious that it was hard to stop eating. Marie's mom (standing up) is a genius (find out why later)

This was when we were playing a game where we whisper phrases in people's ears and see whether the last person would be able to recognize what the original phrase was supposed to be. Since the nine of us (Marie, Atsushi, Mandy, Trisha, Faiz, Donican, Tienchi, Zhao, and me) didn't share a common lingua franca, the game turned out to be really interesting. We tried passing around phrases in English, Chinese, and Japanese, but the funniest was when

温故知新 (onkochishin, learning from the past) became onkukushin
normative shift became no man in shore

If laughing could burn calories, we probably burned some serious calories that day :D

Here's a shot of Donican (you're in the shot anyway so you should've just joined in :P), Mandy (Trisha's friend who's visiting from Taiwan), and Trisha (I forgot why you're holding your cellphone under your chin...)

Here, we are unwinding after dinner and preparing to fill our 別バラ (betsubara, literally "separate stomach") with sweets

Friday, January 30, 2009

January highlights: January 17 - Mini sendoff at Shiori's (group pics)

Here's Minnie Trisha and Mickey Faiz and their baby piggy

This is Ryoutaro, he's really shy and barely spoke two words during the gathering

Here's Faiz and Youichi doing some serious bonding :P

Group pic!

the sisters

We enjoyed a nice quiet evening that day. The goal wasn't to create a lot of noise and funfare but to sit down with friends and just enjoy a pleasant night together amongst cheerful conversation.

It was definitely a night to remember. The food was really good and the company pleasant.

January highlights: January 17 - Mini sendoff at Shiori's (the food)

Shiori wasn't able to make it to Faiz's farewell party so she hosted a mini sendoff at her place.
As usual, we enjoyed her awesome cooking and Faiz also contributed his creation (the beef dish in the first picture)

January highlights: January 10 - Speech contest and Faiz's birthday bash

I woke up this day to a message telling me that it is snowing right that very moment. It was all that I needed to get me out of bed.

The picture above shows the small farm I always pass through covered in snow.

Here's me and Gan Lin (from China) getting ready for our turn at the podium for the speech contest.

Thanks Trisha, Mike, Faiz, Zhao, and Tienchi for coming to support me!

After the speech contest we went to a pasta restaurant at Amu to celebrate Faiz's birthday, which was actually the day after. He ran a marathon on his birthday so we moved the birthday lunch a day earlier.

(I got some of these pictures from Trisha's blog, so thanks Trisha!)

We had a blast talking and eating. Donican at one point forgot which language she should speak in, and we were asking for pizza (it was all you can eat) so frequently from the wait staff that they were dumping heaps into our plates just to keep up quiet in the end.

LOL... it was a lot of fun. :)

January highlights

January has been really busy, what with the semester coming to an end and many of my friends either graduating or finishing up their stay in Kagoshima. It's been one event after another, leaving little room to think and making it seem like the month just zapped by in a second.

In the following posts, I will revisit these gatherings and look back at the great time that we shared. Sad as parting is, I'm really glad I got to know everyone and had such a grand time with all of you!

More print club...

Here's another batch of print club photo stickers we took after lunch at Marie's

This time it's all girls :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Interesting find at the local store...

Went to a store called Kaldi, a store that sells products imported from other countries, a few days ago and saw this on the shelf:

Baguio Oil

(lol) funny how Baguio Oil would pop up in Japan :D

Baguio is the place where I was born btw :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nice shot

I was sifting through my photos last night and came across this picture. I took it during a parade for the Asian Kagoshima event last October.

I particularly liked this shot because:
1. the shot out came out very nicely
2. there's a Philippine flag in the background (hehe)
3. instead of the usual pictures focusing on the events (in this case, the parade), this shot focuses on the spectators instead
4. it captures a moment in the life of the everyday Japanese: the
ordinary salaryman after a day of work :D

Monday, January 19, 2009

Four months

Four months in Kagoshima and...

- I can no longer smell the distinct smell of Kagoshima I used to sense when I first arrived (don't worry, it's a good smell)
- I can find my way around Tenmonkan (downtown) by instinct (okay, just sometimes)
- I no longer find the prices ridiculously expensive (now that's scary)
- some of my friends are coming towards the end of their stay (sniff)
- I now have four students!
- I can now understand announcements (on trains, etc.)... although not completely
- I've finally seen snow!
- I still don't understand why the father (Otosan) in the Softbank commercial is a dog
- I'm starting to write more about what I feel instead of what I see (things don't stand out like they used to)
- the email inbox on my phone has reached capacity several times and I had to delete some of the older emails (I sent the emails to my gmail for backup before I deleted them)
- I am starting to dread leaving Japan (which is about six months away)
- I am starting to dread having to go back to a life without email on my phone :P
- I still can't pluck up the courage to apply for a Japanese-speaking job
- I'm starting to slurp my noodles (hehe)
- I've tried natto (fermented beans) and don't like it
- I'm starting to miss food in Taiwan and the Philippines :(
- I now drink alcohol (don't worry, I'm not becoming an alcoholic)
- I now have a favorite drink: Kahlua and milk!
- I'm missing Crunchyroll (a site where one can watch free movies and TV shows) cuz the site is blocked in Japan... T_T
- I now know that "Kagoshima is warm" is a myth
- I now cook my meals instead of eating out (most of the time)
- I'm starting to think that the food I cook is pretty tasty
- pulling all-nighters no longer feel impossible (either for Karaoke or work)
- I have several more publications under my belt
- I have a better understanding of what a haiku is
- I've been to izakayas (Japanese taverns) several times
- I now have countless print club photo stickers
- I have ran out of poses when taking pictures at the print club (photo sticker booth)
- I have stopped keeping tabs on how much money I spend each day (sad but true)
- I still forget sometimes that cars drive on the left
- I think Canada should grant me a citizenship because I'm now a permanent fixture with the Canada Project (just kidding, hehe)
- I now wear skirts!
- I now have around 50 names in my address book (on my phone)
- paying for the rent doesn't hurt as much as it did when I first arrived
- this is the most socially active I've been in all my life
- we are now finishing up the semester at IUK
- I no longer feel that the classes here are slow-paced
- I'm getting used to 1.5-hour class periods (instead of the 3-hour class periods we have at NTNU)
- Sorting the trash is no longer such a stressful chore
- my Leo Palace apartment is starting to feel like home
- I'm getting used to living alone in such a spacious setting
- I've met the Kagoshima city mayor face to face twice
- I still haven't been to Sakurajima (Kagoshima's very own active volcano)
- I now understand the fun of going out in large groups
- having three children no longer look so scary
- the clouds and the night sky in Kagoshima continue to look really beautiful
- I no longer yearn so much for city life
- my Japanese is still just halfway ok
- I wanna be as well-rounded as many of the Japanese friends I met :D
- I now have over 100 entries on my blog
- I joined my first Japanese speech contest (and lost...)
- I've done my first volunteer work and enjoyed it!

I'm sure I missed a lot of stuff, but there you go, a sum of the four months I've been here.
I'm looking forward to the rest of my stay and hope that time would stop passing by so quickly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Japanese jury system

As many of you know, I am teaching private English lessons to adult Japanese in Kagoshima.

Recently, I started teaching a new student with a very impressive background. He graduated from the University of Tokyo School of Law and is now working as an associate judge at the Kagoshima District Court. Although I'm the one teaching him English, I too learned a lot about Japan from him.

For instance, today we were talking about the Japanese legal system and the upcoming introduction of the jury system in the country in June.

Here's how the system works:
Nationals over 20 will be summoned for jury duty (and will be paid at most 10,000 yen per day for their service). Six individuals for every case. In Japan, there are three judges in every court, and along with the six jury members, the group will decide on the type and length of punishment that will be given to the offender. Each individual's vote carries equal weight.

Cool. I learned something today :P

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snow! In Kagoshima!

So I woke up today at 8 and got a message on my phone saying that it was snowing.
First thing I did was took my camera and took photos (lol)
It was seriously freezing but now I've got pictures and videos to record my snow experience!

Things to do with a "Softbank dog"

Just having some fun with "photography"

If you don't what the Softbank dog is, the following clips can either help you understand what it is better or leave you even more clueless (lol):

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Japanese speech contest

I'm joining my first ever speech contest in Japan
Wish me luck!

Hello, everyone. I am Jenny Ang Lu and I am an exchange student to the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at the International University of Kagoshima.
My topic for today is "Identity."

My grandparents immigrated to the Philippines from China
I was born in a city called Baguio in the Philippines.
I lived there until I moved to Taiwan when I was 16. I've been living in Taiwan right until I came to Japan.
This is why I can speak Filipino, English, Chinese and Japanese.

I'm often asked such questions as:
So, are you from Taiwan or from the Philippines?
Then, what's your nationality?
What is your mother tongue?

Let me answer these questions today.

First of all, even though my ancestors were from China, I am not Chinese.
I've never been to China and I can't stand Chinese medicine.
What's more, I'm not very good with Chinese set phrases nor am I familiar with Chinese history, geography and such.

Also, even though I was raised in the Philippines, I am not Filipino.
I don't look Filipino, and my skin color is also different.
What's more I don't use the polite affix "po" so much, nor am I habitually late for appointments or events.

And though I'd lived in Taiwan for around a decade, I am not Taiwanese.
I don't have any relatives there.
Moreover, I don't enjoy Chinese medicine in my food and I don't own a motorbike.

However, I wonder if everyone thinks the same way that I do.
I believe that the places one lived in and the cultures one is exposed to greatly influences a person's identity.

My ancestors were from China.
And my family continues to uphold customs and virtues that originate from China.
I am Chinese.

My middle name is my mother's maiden name.
I enjoy eating with my hands, and I think raw (green) mango with vinegar and bread dipped in coffee is delicious.
I am Filipino.

I know the streets of Taipei better than many Taiwanese.
I'm proficient in Chinese to the point that people think it's my mother tongue and people around me forget that I'm not Taiwanese.
I am Taiwanese.


Additionally, although I've never been to the States, I do most of my listening, speaking, reading and writing in English. This is why English is my dominant language. Because of this cultural influence, I have gradually turned into an American. When I set my mind on doing something, I do it even if no one's doing it with me. I also started living on my own at 18, took care of my own expenses and day to day living, and became financially independent since then.


I've been in Japan for three months now.
I'm using such set phrases as "Otsukaresama desu" more and more.
I'm getting used to bowing to people and I'm starting to make slurping sounds when I eat ramen.
I'm slowly becoming Japanese.

I'm Jenny Ang Lu. I am an international citizen.
Thank you everyone for listening to my speech today.
Have a nice day.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Let this be a tribute to one of my all time favorite sites, Crunchyroll ( I've enjoyed hundreds of hours watching movies and dramas from all over Asia on this site. The quality of the videos are impeccable and the subtitles are pretty good, too.

Sadly, the site is blocked in Japan.

Somebody help me... T_T
I haven't had my Crunchyroll fix in three months...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today's weather

"Feels like -6C", it says bet...

Happy New Year!

So we made plans to go to a beach to catch the first rays of the year
but we didn't make the train LOL
so we made the most of the situation and decided to go somewhere near (hint: university campus :D)

The first sign of the sun appeared at about 6:40 am local time

Here's Zhao and Faiz
... it was raining, by the way
...friggin cold...

The clouds made us really worried that we might missed the first sunrise of the year...

But look! There it is!
It's not much but it IS the first sunrise of the year :P

And... I finally saw some snow!!!
It just snowed for a few minutes and it melted as soon as it hit the ground but I'm still happy! :D

It was kinda hard getting it on film, though...

Happy New Year everyone!
Make a new year's resolution!
(I'll try to stick to mine :P)