Visa

Well, it wasn’t the smoothest of visits, but the good news is that my visa was renewed for 3 years, which makes me really happy. I got a big shock getting there as I took my number and saw that there were 67 people waiting ahead of me! Never go to an immigration office on Friday afternoon. I got a bigger shock when my time came (2 hours later, but I didn’t stay there the whole time) and they told me that I had gotten the wrong ticket, and that I needed to take another one for the other counter. I explained that I had been waiting for 2 hours (something that had no effect 4 years ago at another immigration office) and they were kind enough to take care of me.

While I was in Shibuya, I picked up a couple of free papers at Tower Records, one of which is some sort of design magazine called SAL that also has a website. Since it was such a nice day, I walked to Harajuku, passing through Yoyogi park, and then came back home. Now I’m taking a break from studying kanji. I’m taping one of my favorite shows, GuruGuru NaiNai, to watch later with Yuko when she gets back from the university.

Visa Day

Today I have the day off, and it’s off again to Shibuya to pick up my new visa. I have my fingers crossed, hoping that it’s going to be for more than a year this time. It’s a nice sunny day today, so it’s also a good excuse to go out and take come pics. Today’s picture (030228) is of a window that I can see from the back of my apartment. The blue window from the other day is right next to it.

Yesterday I had to give some demonstration classes, which is when I give a class to potential students, with all their mothers present. You have to sell the product (the language school I work for), so there is a bit of pressure to do well, and it’s usually not something I really enjoy doing. But for some reason, the two classes I gave yesterday ended up being really fun, and the mothers also seemed to be enjoying themselves. The first class had kids from 3 (2 years and 10 months to be exact) to 5, and they were great.

THE TWO TOWERS finally started playing in Japan last weekend, and I was simply blown away. Wow. Great entertainement. Can’t wait to have the DVD to watch over and over again.

Still listening a lot to all those new albums that were released this week. Of the three, Sketch Show’s TRONICA has become my favorite. I absolutely love Sketch Show’s sound, and it’s something that not many people are doing right now (or at least not that I’m aware of).

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been studying at least 2 hours a day of Japanese. I’m still going strong. I’m about to finish my first kanji textbook, and so I’ll probably buy the second one today. Gotta keep going at this pace if I want to see a noticeable improvement in my Japanese sometime soon. I want to pass the level 2 Japanese proficiency test by the end of the year (level 1 is the highest grade). Wish me luck.

Great Music Week

This has been an excellent week for music releases in Japan, with 3 albums that are now in constant rotation on my iPod and iMac.

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Fantastic Plastic Machine – TOO – A new album by Tanaka-san, which continues in the same style he’s been using since the release of BEAUTIFUL. I still prefer the FPM of old (the first two albums), but this is still fun music, and has a good beat for when you’re walking to work.

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Sweet Robots Against the Machine – RE: TOWA TEI – This is a remix album of the TOWA TEI album, and offers some interesting alternates of the tracks. Still haven’t listened to it much, but I like a lot of what I’ve heard (even though I’m pretty sure I prefer all the original versions).

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Sketch Show – TRONICA – A new EP by two ex-members of of the seminal group YMO (whose third member was Ryuchi Sakamoto). This is such a great little CD, and includes two tracks produced by Cornelius. If you haven’t sampled Sketch Show yet, do yourself a favor and check out their full-length AUDIO SPONGE album. A nice mix of smooth electronicism and breezy melodies.

Sapp Time!

782Bob Sapp is a fighter who has taken Japan by storm. An ex-football player (I think he played in the NFL, as well as the NFL’s European league), he came to Japan and started fighting in various disciplines, like the incredibly popular K-1 and PRIDE tournaments, and has become the most recognized face in Japan because of his embracing the wacky world of Japanese entertainement. You’ll now see him almost once a night on a show, and he’s also taking over the commercials you see between the programs. The picture up top is the cover of his new album, SAPP TIME!, which bares a striking resemblance to a certain gloved one’s seminal album.

Butt Skirts

A bunch of pics have been doing the rounds lately, you’ve probably seen them, of Japanese women supposedly wearing skirts that have prints of their behinds in underwear. The following site debunks the whole thing.

Also of interest in the blog entry is a link to a page with examples of all the wacky vending machines you can find in Japan. Here’s a direct link to it.

Kahimi Karie

940The new Kahimi Karie album that was released last week, TRAPEZISTE, is absolutely terrific. It has a very crazy and cool jazz feel to it. I haven’t been too fond of the last few things she has released (her stuff done with Momus being my favorite), especially the MY SUITOR EP, but this new album is amazing. Can’t stop listening to it.

Kanji

Kanji are the Chinese characters that the Japanese use in their written language. They’re a bitch to learn. I spent close to 4 hours today studying them. I will be able to read manga by this Summer. I will. Goddamn it.