Monkey Pictures



Its been a while since I posted just some pictures. These are just a few samples of some more pictures that you can check out from my set called August 2007 – Miyajima over on Flickr. There are many more from other areas we went to during this summer’s touring of Japan, including Hiroshima, Nikko, various places around Tokyo, Mount Fuji, and more. Its been taking me forever in order to get everything posted, but I’m working away at it slowly but steadily.

New podcast this weekend? I sure hope so!

Second Life – Japan

As if actually being in Japan weren’t enough, today I ventured into Second Life today to see what I could find that was Japan related and perhaps find a venue for some more in-depth language practice. This was also to do some research for an upcoming video episode that I wanted to do. More on that later…


I first found this sign on “Help Island”. Pretty encouraging to see the use of Japanese even in the introduction section. This area is like a sandbox and full of just random things.


But I was able to find Japan city pretty easily. I only explored one area since the area I wanted to go to was not available at the time. Notice the grid map over my left shoulder which shows all of the land areas for Japan City. This is my “I am the master of Japanese Text” pose.


In Japan city, I quickly met some people. The person all the way on the right then proceeded to give me some items that I was able to keep – including a maid-cafe thing that follows you around. When you double-click on it, it brings you to a maid-cafe. I could have sworn I saw this guy at Tokyo Game Show. Something fishy here.

Snapshot_004.jpegAhh, but certainly like real life. It all goes downhill real quick. This Mr. Slick turned into Ms. Lush and proceeded to drink large beers and stumble around wildly. Though it sounds immature, all interactions were in Japanese so it did have at least some education aspect for me.

Overall, I think Second Life has some potential for learning another language. Japanese support within the program is great and definitely has some advantage to your helping your reading skills. Also, since the last time I have checked out Second Life, there is also voicechat, which makes conversing with people in their language that much easier.

I want to explore some more as I get some free time, but at least for now I’ve gotten myself situated and can find some other areas to practice Japanese in. Now, if I can only find that maid cafe in Akiba… (^_-)/

Episode 38 – Deer of Miyajima


Man and beast collide… well not really. But we did get to hang out with some deer. Enjoy the sites of us interacting with some deer on the island of Miyajima during our vacation in this quick 3 minute video, complete with mellow music for your deer-viewing enjoyment.

Notice he goes right for the star in that photo!


Episode 36 – Movies and Mt Fuji


Alex joins in for the conversation about our Mt. Fuji experiences. We get sidetracked a little bit first with a few random topics: movie theaters in Asakusa, and the saga of our washing machine. I originally thought this would be a multi-topic episode including the review of the Nintendo DS dictionary and Ubercaster, but alas it wouldn’t fit – we’ll save that for episode 37.

Picture above is for SanNakji: “Yes those are vending machines”. Alex and I hope you enjoy this nearly hour long episode!

Show Notes:

  • Intro
  • Movie Theaters in Asakusa
  • Washing Machine Troubles
  • Mount Fuji
    • Getting to Mount Fuji
    • Stations
    • Descent
    • Wrap Up

Episode 34 – Tanabata Festival In Asakusa


This is a short slideshow of some sights and sounds captured in Asakusa during the Tanabata festival. The history and meaning behind the Tanabata festival is quite romantic and really quite interesting. Check out some more info here on Wikipedia.

Enjoy the mellow music and shades of blue as I walk you through Asakusa to Ueno taking in the sights and sounds of the festival. This is a larger frame size file but the download should be very short, only about 4MB or so. Make sure you download and view it. Viewing it here on the website will not let it display in its full size.
If you like this format, please let me know. I would love to get some feedback on it. This type of video podcast is very fun to put together and doesn’t take much time. I’m using what I’ve learned from Stuart Isset’s piece I featured back in April.


Episode 14 – Riding the Tokyo Monorail

Tokyo Monorail

(Photo used with Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 License – Original)

A few days ago, I had to head down to the Tokyo Regional Immigration bureau. What fun!! However, there was one redeeming result of the trip: I was able to ride the Tokyo Monorail. I’m fairly familiar with most of Tokyo’s transportation systems, but I had never ridden this particular line. It was a great experience. If you visit Tokyo, I recommend you make it a point to ride this line, second to the Shinkansen of course.

What is different about the Tokyo Monorail from other lines is it is completely above ground. Sure, most of the JR lines are as well, but the Monorail soars above neighborhoods and between buildings – a feat that the JR lines do not accomplish. When you ride JR, you see track and rocks as you ride in an area specifically laid out for train travel. When you ride the Tokyo Monorail, you literally fly past buildings and over people as they tend to their daily lives.

I hope you enjoy this short video. I had to use a little different method to put it together since it came primarily off my cell phone.


Podcast Archives


On the last post, people had left some comments which made me dig into the reason why iTunes was not showing all of the episodes. Turns out, WordPress limits the amount of posts per page by default to 10 so Feedburner was only picking up the last 10. Well, no more. I fixed the problem and I think both the Feedburner feed and the iTunes store should have all of the episodes listed after I post the next podcast.

Can’t wait? Then get them all by visiting the page for now. I can’t promise they will be anything of interest, but it does include videos from my first trip to Japan. Cheers!

A Productive Day


It has been nearly 20 days in Japan and I’m finally, finally feeling settled in. Today I took care of another major hurdle in the chain of bureaucratic events that must occur if you are moving to Japan – the dreaded, yet much needed bank account.

On my way over to Ginza, to find one of the very few Citibank banks in the city, I met up with Scott Lockman from Tokyo Calling. If you are interested in Japan and haven’t visited his blog or podcast, please do. Scott is a great guy and every bit as articulate as I thought he might be after listening to his podcasts. We did a short interview with two mics and I captured some audio from my limited setup as well. We chatted about what its like to be in Japan, the future of podcasting, the point of Twitter, and the dangers of giving too much information out in your podcast. Look for some of that in a future episode.


After a nice chat and some coffee, I headed over to Ginza, walking through the emperor’s palace a different way this time. I stopped to take a few photos with my new phone and played with my GPS and moving map functions while I sat under the sakura trees. I really had no particular time I needed to be at the bank so I took my time heading on over there.

Working with Citibank in Japan was a breeze. They spoke English very well, and when they found out I spoke a little Japanese, they were delighted and began telling me about all the places I needed to go – Sumo wrestling in Sumida-ku (where I live), Kamakura, and more. Just more to add to the list. I am going to create a big list and hopefully I can visit these places on the weekend. The account took very little time to set up once I had my alien card. However, depositing what remaining cash I had took nearly a 1/2 hour at the teller.

It’s so bizarre, some things are so convenient in Japan while others take a very long time and are very procedural. I waited the typical 10 minutes for a free teller, I brought my slip and money up. She took and and told me to take a seat. Fifteen minutes later I returned for my receipt. I’m still trying to figure out why I takes 15 minutes to count money and deposit it. I guess perhaps, they want to be sure it was put in the safe or something. I’ll never know because I don’t think the cop sitting there would have let me see what was going on behind the scenes.

I then took my time home and did my monthly ritual of going through my finances. Banking online makes living a dual life in American and Japan very convenient. In that regard, thank you Citibank. I have some free time tonight so I am off to study a little more grammar. I will post another episode soon this week, please continue to leave comments and suggestions as always. Take care.

Episode 5 – Meiji-jingu Video


I’m constantly posting from the past it seems. This weekend was busy with hanami activities (and subsequent recovery). I will be posting some video and audio from that as well. However, as promised, here is the Meiji-jingu video from last week.

I shot most of this footage from that day. Meiji-jingu is my favorite place to visit when I need some peace and quiet. Right in the heart of Yoyogi park, it never ceases to have a calming and quieting effect on me. Enjoy!

Alternative video link (Google Video)