Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wendy's birthday and welcome party for Juan and Marco

It has been more than a month but I finally managed to upload photos for the night of Wendy's birthday and Juan and Marco's welcome party.

This year was special to me because I have lived in three different countries and made good friends. Even in Japan, the last four months have been great time because of friends I made here. My friends, let's also fill the next year with a lot of unforgettable and joyful memory.

Tomorrow, I will be gone on a 9-nights-10-days trip to Kansai and Chugoku region of Japan. Everyone, happy new year..!

Nov 11, 2007, Yokohama(横浜)

This was the day when we used to blame the Japanese weather because it used to have been sunny throughout weekdays and suddenly become cloudy and rainy during weekends. That weekend was not an exception; Bert, Loic and I were supposed to head out to Nikko, but because of the rainy weather, we had to change the plan at 5 am. Why 5 am? Because we woke up that time to take the earliest train to go to Nikko. After a debate, we changed our plan to Yokohama. Then we went back to sleep, and I woke up at 12pm. Then afternoon we went to Yokohama.

I like Yokohama's atmosphere. The streets were wider than Tokyo, and the buildings were not positioned so tight to each other. The city looked more like North America's than Japan's, and this reminded me of Toronto.

There I finally understood why Yokohama is so-called "Couple Republic". You can see couples everywhere. Yokohama is a very romantic place for dating, not to mention that we were three of guys walking through them snickering them.

and I kept taking that kind of weird pictures of mine. After looking around the bay area and the red brick house we headed to China town.

As far as I can tell Yokohama China town was not that impressive. I already saw San Francisco's China town and compared to that one Yokohama's did not really impress me much. Maybe I should visit China to regain my satisfaction.

After looking around China town we walked towards Minato-Mirai.

Here comes a quote from Mr. Loic Nigay refering to that bridge:
"If a guy crosses that bridge without a girl, he will become a gay". (No offence to people with homosexuality)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Camera Phone

This is the picture of the camera phone while having lunch with Randy during one of those days...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Nov 3, 2007, Tokai University Festival (東海大学建学祭)

Yesterday I went to Tokai University festival with Boy, Kinya-san, Pedro, Ryan, and Hunglun. I haven't been in Japanese University before and I was curious of the college festival as well, so I gave it a shot yesterday to visit Tokai University annual festival.

Just like any other festival, it started with an abundant amount of food and people. One thing that made this college festival different from normal Japanese festivals is, however, that since there are a variety of nationalities among students, I was able to see more food from other nations than Japanese. the nationalities varied from Japan, Korea, China, Thai, Germany, etc. And students were selling the food of their nations.

...not sure what nationalities they were, but there were a group of power rangers crossing the middle of the market.
Anyways, after filling our stomach, we started looking around more.

Inside the buildings were many open-houses from various college clubs. We tried many open-houses, but we spent the most of time on English-speaking society club. The rules were that every conversation must be in English. And people there were very open to foreigners, eager to talk with us. So it was not so hard to spend an hour there with them.
When we left the building, it was already dark. But the festival was not over; in fact, people were prepared to serve dinner food and beer, which I had been wondering why I could not see any beer during the day in college festival. We bought something to eat and a cup of beer, and watched the concert from a band invited from outside the college for this festival.

We did not spend there too long. After a couple of songs, we left the school and returned home. It was good to see how Japanese students enjoy the University festival.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Language Translation

I now have been for a little more than 2 months in Japan. So far I have been amused, fascinated, shocked, and surprised by various aspects of Japanese culture for the last two months, and one of them is Japanese language. I was especially surprised at how similar Korean and Japanese languages are to each other in terms of grammar and words. The grammar structures in both languages are very similar; if I read kanji in Korean pronunciation, that is exactly the Korean word; even some idioms and the expression forms are also very similar. I think Korean and Japanese languages resembles each other in many ways.
So, I have been wondering, if grammars, words, and even idioms are similar, then this would be the area where the machine learning could sneak into and work really well. As everyone knows by their experiences, the machine translation so far has basically sucked. Even if it works well, the expression might sound awkward that you would rather not use in daily conversation. This is currently the status of the machine translation. But if we tweak and apply machine learning into translation between two similar languages, then it could hopefully solve awkwardness of expressions because the computer might be able to "learn" new idioms and slangs and express the same feeling through another language if they are really close to each other.
Of course the translation between Korean to English or Japanese to English would not work well because the language structures are completely different. But I think we can somehow make a 100% perfect translation technology at least between Korean and Japanese; or any other similar languages such as German and English, French and English, Portuguese and Spanish, etc. Right now I am envisioning Korean and Japanese people having non-awkward online conversation using their own languages, or Korean people reading Japanese websites that would have been perfectly translated into Korean without awkwardness, and vice-versa, if this technology becomes true.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween parties

This Wednesday is the Halloween day. Well, the concept of Halloween as a party culture has arrived at Japan in recent years, and it was not hard to find the ads targeting the Halloween day since few weeks ago. I am not sure whether or not there will be kids asking around "trick or treat" at Wednesday night, but at least on the last weekend there were quite some parties and I went to the Gugenheim mafia Halloween party with Asahi-Kasei people. Gugenheim mafia is just the name of the bar. Most people there were all dressed up with costumes, except us from Asahi-Kasei. :P Well, at least I brought a mask.

I am the guy with a mask :) The party was really fun. I met some new people, had a chance to talk to other asahi-kasei people as well. We stayed there until 3:30AM, and went back home and blacked out.

Question: Who are non-Japanese people in this picture? Hint: There are 5 non-Japanese. It is not hard to find three white guys there. If you can find me there, then the real question is to find one more non-Japanese person unless you know Bert. :)

Next day I was supposed to go to Yamanote Halloween party with other people. Yamanote Halloween party was in Ikebukuro station in Tokyo. So, I had to take a train to go to the party. But because of the typhoon, we had to cancel the plan and decided to have a common room party instead with some horror movies, which were Evil Dead 1 and 3. For the sake of Halloween, those who had Halloween costumes were encouraged to wear them in our party. So the atmosphere looked somewhat like below:

It would not be hard to find me in this picture. :)

Anyways, so this weekend was quite fun because of Halloween.

Oct 20, 2007, Kawagoe festival (川越祭り)

I went to Kawagoe festival in Saitama ken with Kinya-san and Hunglun. Saitama ken is Kinya-san's hometown, so he took us around and showed us interesting things that I might not have been able to see had I gone by myself.

In this festival, just like other traditional festivals in Japan, I ate many different kinds of food, including ttuk-bok-gi (떡볶이), spicy rice cakes. It is the second picture above. ttuk-bok-gi is the popular Korean snack you can find anywhere in Korea. In Japan I did not expect it as spicy and hot as in Korea because of Japanese preference of less-spicy taste here. Well, at least the ttuk-bok-gi I had there was almost as spicy as in Korea. Kinya-san found it really spicy. The last picture was called kobe beef. The food is made of beef from Kobe region. I heard that Kobe beef steak is famous for its taste. I should try it when I go there. :)
According to Kinya-san, this festival could be seen as a large festival in terms of the number of visitors. About 500,000 people came to see this festival. No wonder it was so crowded.

How I liked this festival can be summarized with this one photo below. :) 美味しい〜〜

Oct 14, 2007, Miyagase Dam (宮ヶ瀬ダム)

The next morning after coming back from Tsukiji market, I was again on another trip with Randy, Hunglun, and Junko to Miyagase Dam. Miyagase dam is located nearby Atsugi city, and we decided to go there by bike. So, the point of this trip is about biking, and enjoying the nature and scenery along the way. It sounds fun, so even though I was a bit tired from tsukiji market trip, I decided to go with them to Miyagase dam.

But I should have realized earlier that I completely underestimated this trip; first of all, Randy said the road would get steeper and we would have to bike about 15 ~ 20km. Here I was mistaken that I thought he meant a little bump on the way, which in fact, was totally wrong. Second, I did not take into consideration the condition of my bicycle. My bicycle is only tolerable enough to go back and forth between the company and home, and between the convenience store and home. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if my bike collapses had I gone with this condition. Last, I did not eat at all.
Anyways, I did not know all these at first, so we took off and started heading towards the dam.

Sooner or later our way became steeper and I discovered myself struggling to climb up the hill; I felt something was wrong with my bike and was getting behind and behind the group while I was also getting exhausted as I put more efforts to catch up my friends in front.

When we discovered that my bike went flat, we had gone 5km and we still had to go 10km more. I needed to pump up tires in my bike. We knocked some random Japanese house and fortunately were able to borrow a air pump from a kind Japanese man and pumped up the tires.

The bike was fixed, fortunately there was no hole in tires. We returned the pump to the Japanese man, and started pedaling again. At least I thought I was able to pedal like a superman;; But I was too exhausted by biking all the way up to that point with flat tire. And since I hadn't eaten at all, I was completely wiped out. So, yeah, I was still behind people. But this time Hunglun was also left behind. So it was not so boring at all, and we just gave up cycling and walked like two losers.

Also along the way we passed by a huge lake. I took a picture of a fisherman on the lake shore.

We also passed by a park. Since not only I but also everyone was hungry, we all agreed to have lunch at a restaurant in the park. There I was too hungry that I ordered a 파르페(do not know how to spell in English nor in Japanese) in addition to yakiniku.

After stuffing our stomach, we started pedaling again towards the dam. This time biking was a lot easier because of nutrition-refill. :)

Finally we arrived at the dam. We looked around it, but soon after it was already getting dark, we had to leave there soon. Returning road was mostly a downhill road, so it was not as hard as going uphill. But, returning was much more dangerous because it was already dark, raining, I did not have a headlight in my bike, and we had to bike on the mountain driveway. This trip was quite an adventure, but it was a good thing that everyone safely returned home. :) And the scenary along the way was awesome.
Below is a photo taken at the dam. Randy, Hunglun, Junko, and me.