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Three days in Tokyo

I arrived in Tokyo just a few days ago and after tomorrow I will be heading for Nagano.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am taking video and a ton of pictures.

Most of the time I have spent has been with friends and going to restaurants, but I did get to go see the new Sky Tree building. I’ll put up pics when I get back.

Today I went to a wedding in Roppongi hills and am now sitting in my hotel’s lobby writing this post on my iPhone. It’s the only place I can get wifi.

I have four more days left before going back to Okinawa, so lots more video and pictures to take. I also have a few gifts I will be giving away when I get back.

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Taiko (Japanese Drumming) in Miyakojima, Japan

Have a short video here for of some Taiko (Japanese Drumming) and dancing of a very cool song. The video was taken this last weekend from an event I attended near my home. The performance was lead by a professional taiko team, but also had participants from all age groups including adults and very young children.

I hope you like the video. If you would like me to post more stuff like this, let me know in the comments!


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Having a Birthday in Japan

This post is gonna be real short. I just had a birthday about a week ago and two of my friends were kind enough to make this video for me. There’s not much cuter than a couple of Japanese girls and a kitten.



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Japanese Folk Song on the Sanshin (家庭和合)

Background - an ancient volumetric Japanese re...

Over the last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time preparing for an sanshin performance. For those who don’t know, the sanshin is an traditional three-stringed instrument popular in Okinawa. I started playing earlier this year and ended up joining a サークル (club) in my area.

Last week, the サークル (myself not included) performed at a traditional Miyakojima folk song (宮古民謡、みやこみんよう)concert. My camera unfortunately broke a few weeks ago, but I did manage to capture it with my iphone.

*If you don’t understand any of it, please don’t worry. It is sung in the Miyako dialect which bares very little resemblance to Japanese. The hardest part of learning hasn’t been the sanshin, but remembering the words in Miyakogo!

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Intial D’s AE86 (hachi roku)?

initial d

I’m a huge car enthusiast, so when my brother started telling about an anime he was really enjoying about cars it certainly caught my attention. Now to be honest, I don’t really watch a lot of anime. I have seen pretty much all of the Miyazaki films and most of dragon ball, but that’s about it. But once I started watching Initial D I couldn’t stop.

The cars and racing were interesting and it was good practice for listening in Japanese. When I studied abroad in Tokyo, I started reading the Manga as well. It was great because I knew most of the stories which made reading it was much easier.  I would also occasionally play the Initial D arcade game when I came across it.

When I lived in Tokyo it was actually pretty common to see ハチロクs (hachiroku). In fact, there was a tuned one that was parked in the same neighborhood I lived in. Since I saw rare cars all the time, I never really worried about taking pictures. However, now that I have moved to the smaller island of Miyakojima, seeing any kind of sports car is much rarer. Especially older models like the ハチロク.

So the other day when I came across a ハチロク, and just happened to have my camera, I took a few shots. It looks like they were going for the look of Takumi’s car after the modifications (for those of you who have seen the anime).

86 front

86 corner

86 back

For those who would like to see a real ハチロク in action, this is one of my favorite videos, putting two ハチロクs against a Nissan GTR. The video is all in Japanese, so it should give you a little bit of Japanese language practice (though there isn’t much talking).

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How to Use Trains in Tokyo


Riding a train or subway in a city like Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming a little confusing. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it quickly. This article contains information and Japanese words and phrases that should help you get around Tokyo easier.

If you are planning to use a train in Japan, you should definitely get a copy of train map. You can download one here. Tokyo train lines basically consist of two groups. The Tokyo Metro which consists of the subway lines (地下鉄, Chikatetsu) and JR lines which usually run above the ground. If you are staying in Tokyo for a while, I highly recommend that you get a returnable prepaid fare card (SUICA or PASMO) which is available at most of stations with 500yen deposit. This makes traveling using the train much easier because you don’t need to figure out the right ticket to purchase. Wherever you go, the fare will be automatically withdrawn from your card at the entrance gate and exit gate(改札、Kaisatu) of each station.

If you have a IPhone or any other mobile devices, you can also download an application for transfer (乗り換え、Norikae).  It will usually tell you a couple of the fastest and cheapest options to get to where you want to go. All you have to do is enter the starting and ending stations. Even Japanese people use their cellphones on daily basis to check train times and find the best routes.

When you transfer from one train to another there will be a number of signs with colors.  Each line has its own color, so find your line’s color and follow the signs.

For those who never used train or subway, these are the things you need to do. 😉

1. Buy a ticket to the station you want to go to, or charge your PASMO or SUICA. 切符を買うか、カードをチャージする。

2. Find where the entrance to the line you want to use is. 改札を見つける。

3. Put your ticket in the electronic gate or scan your charged PASMO or SUICA on it, then go through the gate. 改札を通る。

4. Go to the platform. Make sure you are at the right one because there are usually trains go different directions. 何番線かを確かめる。

5. Get on the train.電車に乗る。

6. Get off the train at your station. If you need to transfer, go to the different platform.  電車を降り、乗り換える。

7. Go through the gate to get out of the line. 改札を出る。

8. Once you are there, find the exit that’s desirably close to where you want to go to. 出口を見つける。

There are usually several exits for each station, especially for a big one like 東京駅(Tokyo eki)、新宿駅(Shinjyuku eki)、or 池袋駅(Ikebukuro eki). If you are meeting someone at a station, make sure which exit or gate you going. If you are lost, find a station attendant(駅員さん、ekiinsan)and ask for help.

Here are some useful Japanese phrases you can use at a station.

  • ○○駅に行きたいのですが、行き方を教えて下さい。(○○eki ni ikitainodesuga, ikikata wo oshietekudasai.) I would like to go to ○○station. Will you tell me how to get there?
  • どこで乗り換えたらいいですか?(Doko de norikaetara iidesuka?) Where should I transfer?
  • 何線に乗ればいいですか?(Nanisen ni noreba iidesuka?) Which line should I take?
  • 何番線に行けばいいですか?(Nanbansen ni ikeba iidesuka?) Which platform should I go to?
  • ○○に行きたいのですが、一番近い出口はどこですか?(○○ni ikitainodesuga, ichiban chikai deguchi wa dokodesuka?) I would like to go to ○○. Please tell me the closest exit.
  • ○○はどこですか?(○○ha dokodesuka?) Where is ○○?

Japanese Words

電車(でんしゃ, Densha) – train

駅(えき, Eki) – station

地下鉄(ちかてつ, Chikatetsu) – subway

JR線(ジェーアールせん, JR sen) – JR Line

改札(かいさつ, Kaisatsu) – an entrance or exit gate

出口(でぐち, Deguchi) – an exit

乗り換え(のりかえ, Norikae) – to transfer line

切符(きっぷ, Kippu) – fare ticket

駅員,駅員さん(えきいん, Ekiin/えきいんさん, Ekiin san) – a train station attendant

ホーム(ほーむ, Hoomu) – platform

快速(かいそく, Kaisoku) – rapid train

準急(じゅんきゅう, Jyunkyuu) – sub rapid train

各駅停車(かくえきていしゃ, Kakueki teisha) – train that stops every station

○○線(○○せん, ○○sen) – line of train

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