Blog - December 2006 Archives
December 2006 Archives
.31 Toshikoshi kanji
.31 Governmental buildings
.29 Crazy Ken Band show!
.24 Merry Christmas!
.22 Shinjuku Southern Terrace
.21 Project X
.19 b6 complex
.12 Shimura history
.11 A record hunter's collection
.11 Sofa Free
.04 Ina Bauer and Bibendum
.04 After JLPT
.01 JLPT this weekend
December 31, 2006
You might better not write these on test papers, but here are some funny kanji I found out about lately.
I first learned about a kanji for "20", 「廿」, which I found in dates of some old documents at a museum recently. My curiosity made me also look up "30" which can be written similarly as 「丗」 or also 「卅」. Then there's also "40" shown on this page, and also a compound of two 「百」 side-to-side ([百百]) for "200". These last two are so uncommon that they aren't within the JIS character sets.
I wish these could be put into use without being too weird. :)
While on the topic of weird kanji, check out this other page showing kanji with the largest numbers of strokes. The ones at the bottom are truly scary (79 and 84 strokes) with such compounds as 「龍」 (dragon) and something similar to 「敵」 (enemy)! I wouldn't want to run into someone with a name like that. :)
Before seeing these, the one I knew with the most strokes was the first mentioned on that page, 「驫」 (3 horses, 30 strokes, reads todoroki).
Less than 6 hours to go before the New Year!
Update: More out-of-this-world freaky but supposedly real kanji.
Today is 大晦日 (Ōmisoka), the last day of the year. The weather was quite good, so we walked down to Shinjuku for some typical last minute department store shopping. There were quite a lot of people lining up at tenpura shops especially. Of course tonight we're having toshikoshi soba (long buckwheat noodles symbolizing longevity).
On our way I took these photos of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings (tochō).
December 29, 2006
Crazy Ken Band show!
Today I had a happy surprise in the mail! I had completely forgotten that I had participated in a contest to get tickets for a Crazy Ken Band show a few months ago, but I won!! :)
The rules were that you had to buy for ¥500+tx of selected chocolate at a New Days conbini and send in your receipt stuck on a postcard. I'm always buying chocolate anyway so just meant that I had to buy a week's worth at this specific conbini.
I used what remained of the postcard to write 「チョコとCKBってイイネ！！」 ("Choco and CKB, that's ii ne!!") with some colorful markers. Silly, but it worked! :)
So I'll be seeing Crazy Ken Band for the first time on February 9, it's a special show for Valentine's Day. ii ne!!!!!
December 28, 2006
Since Christmas we have a Wii in the house (thanks to Santa-san!) and it's been a lot of fun getting used to this new style of game play!
For starters we've got Wii Sports and hajimete no Wii ("Wii Play") which should keep us busy for a little while. I had read a lot of "so-so" reviews regarding hajimete no Wii, and got it anyway for the extra controller, but I found it to include some really fun games. I especially find "ushi Race" ("Charge!"), "Billiards" and "Shooting" addicting. As for Wii Sports, so far I really like the tennis and bowling!
Nintendo have been offering free new safer straps to those who got the Wii early. I had filled-in the form last week and received two new straps today.
The package included a prepaid return envelope to send back the unsafe straps, and I realized the one that came with "hajimete no Wii" was of the safe type so I'm only sending back the other one that came with the Wii itself.
I also got a USB wireless LAN adapter for my PC which can be used as an access point, the GW-US54Mini-G (or "Game Link X") by Planex, mainly to use with the Wii. It was cheap at ¥2500 at Amazon and works on more platforms than Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection (which is XP-only). It's packaged to look like it's for games only (they even only document PSP and DS), but it's really a full-featured access point. Good stuff!
December 24, 2006
It's almost time! Merry Christmas!!!
Here's a peek in how we're enjoying ours...
December 22, 2006
Shinjuku Southern Terrace
This week I dropped by Southern Terrace three times just to check if the first Krispy Kreme in Japan would maybe have a queue short enough so that I could pick up some donuts back home. No such luck, there are always over a hundred people lined up in front of the store and up the bridge that leads to Takashimaya. Crazy!
Tonight I took a minute to take these photos of decorated trees on Southern Terrace.
December 21, 2006
This week I watched an interesting documentary from the Project X series, about Japan's pioneer computer inventor Ikeda Toshio of Fujitsu. This is not about computers like those that sit on a desk today, but rather ones that took a whole room of space.
For a while, to his bosses, he was a real problem employee being always late to work and disappearing around noon, but it turned out he was a genius writing detailed schemas of his ideas while at home and at his favorite tonkatsu restaurant. It's when he once gave his boss the exact reason of a tough problem no one could figure out, that he finally gained a bit of credibility.
Later, after IBM released its first commercial scientific computer, Ikeda was given the challenge of building Japan's first computer, which he accepted with interest. There was about no budget though, and he only had two other people in his small team. Once again he became a slacker and never met his partners, always being off to the onsen. It's only after many months that they decided to spy on him at night and found out that he had been writing out tons of schemas of his to-be computer. The computer was built and matched IBM's specs, but right then IBM released a faster machine.
This race to catch up with IBM would continue on and on, but at some point IBM's computer genius Gene Amdahl quit to create his own company, and came to Japan where he became friends with Ikeda. They then started to work together on more powerful systems.
They got very close to the completion of a satisfactory one that would beat anything else on the market, aside from some serious heat problems (some components would reach 200°C and could not be easily cooled down to a viable level). However in 1974, at age 51, Ikeda collapsed suddenly from overwork when about to meet a client at the airport. He never saw the completion of the the computer he had been working on, but it was successful which was later released and even bought by the NASA.
One impressive thing about the documentary is that it shows the FACOM 128B (1958) in operation, which is thought to be the oldest computer in the world that still works! It's apparently still sitting somewhere in a memorial room at Fujitsu. On the show they feed it the math instruction "1x2x3x4x5x6x7x8x9x10" and a few seconds later, after a lot of rumbling, it spits out the answer. Quite a sight (for a geek like me)!
Some interesting links:
Miwa Osamu's personal site (who worked at Fujitsu with Ikeda Toshio all along) (in Japanese) and his galleries of old computers
Information Processing Society of Japan's Computer Museum with lots of info in English and photos
December 19, 2006
Last week I got Rodion's new 12", "Alata Ride EP" in the mail, and it rocks! I also got a bunch of radiodd stickers, and all of that in a very cool Rodion envelope.
On Sunday I dropped by the b6 in Harajuku, a new shopping complex. I didn't have much to do there, except that I was curious about checking out its odd design, and also the Café de Nodame currently being held at a café named Tribeca in there.
Café de Nodame recreates the messy bedroom of the heroine of "Nodame Cantabile", a manga by Ninomiya Tomoko turned into a hit TV series that I've been enjoying lately. It's about kids taking part in an orchestra, or main character Nodame's love story for successful pianist and conductor Chiaki. Sadly next week is the last, I'm looking forward to what will happen.
Needless to say, Café de Nodame was full and had a queue (though not one as bad as the one over at Krispy Kreme) so I couldn't peek inside.
You might not be able to see but, on the last two shots below, they were blowing fake snow inside the building as if it was coming from the woods of Meiji-jingū. They do that every hour for the time being, but it was no big deal.
December 12, 2006
This weekend there was some TV program on which someone walked some 50km from somewhere to the center of Tokyo, passing right through places I'm familiar with in Shimura, Itabashi-ku. They showed some sort of historical places, which I then looked up, and today I headed around there.
First I went up 清水坂 (Shimizu-zaka) and found its stone on which the name is written. A bit further was a sign where, in 1792, used to stand one reading 「大山道 ねりま川こへ（川越）みち」 ("Ōyama road - Nerima - Kawagoe") and later in 1860 「是ヨリ富士山大山道 練馬江一里 柳沢江四里 府中江七里」 ("From here Fuji-san/Ōyama road, 1ri to Nerima, 4ri to Yanagisawa, 7ri to Fuchū", gotta love a katakana "yori" and "江" instead of the hiragana "へ"). Now just stands an explicative sign that was placed in 2005.
The 里 ("ri") in the directions is an old obsolete measurement that's equal to 3.9272km or 2.44 miles (Google can count 里's: impressive!). Further up hill, just by the south exit of Shimura-sakaue station, is a place marking the 3里 mark from Nihonbashi (the official center of Tokyo). There's also some stone with an inscription saying it's one of the ten wonders(?) of Itabashi-ku.
Back down the hill, this time using 志村坂 (Shimura-zaka) I think (this one doesn't seem to be marked with a name stone), I found 薬師の泉庭園 (Yakushi no Izumi Teien, the Healing Buddha spring garden(?)), some peaceful garden with a pond and a small statue.
By the pond is a sign saying "Warning: Carp herpes! Don't put or remove carps from this lake! (But carp herpes is not dangerous for humans.)". No matter if carp herpes is safe for humans, I wouldn't try drinking that greenish water.
All of this far from being big attractions, some locals must have thought I'm some famous foreign historian taking photos of all that stuff... or maybe not. :)
December 11, 2006
A record hunter's collection
My friend Markus in Germany has recently started a site that contains all data (down to track lists and times, and including all cover artwork!) of his impressive record and CD collection, which contains a lot of Japanese and non-Japanese techno-pop and new wave, and a bit of everything else.
As a bonus, the site has reviews of rare or essential pieces from the collection. Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) being one of Markus' favorites, a lot might revolve around there.
I love the Flickr group Sofa Free that features all kinds of abandoned sofa. In Japan you have to pay to throw a sofa to the trash, so it's rather rare to find one in the wild, but this one seems to have been camping out there for a few weeks at least.
Last seen in Hatagaya, Shibuya-ku
December 4, 2006
Ina Bauer and Bibendum
Yesterday I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, as planned, and it went alright, I think!
I should get at least 70% in the writing/vocabulary section, and about 90% in listening. The reading section went by fast though and I nearly didn't have enough time to complete (I was glad I kept the long texts for the end!), so I couldn't manage to make predictions on this one. Considering my predictions on the two first sections, I would only need 40% in reading to pass the whole test, and I'm hoping that I'm at least around 60%.
Now begins the long wait until February when the results will be sent out.
December 1, 2006
JLPT this weekend
December already! This Sunday is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Time sure went by fast since when it was still a few months away!
I'll be taking the level 2 test at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies campus located in Tama, located a bit far west in Fuchu-shi.
All I have left to do is cross my fingers and try to do my best. Also I must remember to skip the text reading part and get back to it after grammar, because last time I ran out of time because of that long part that's not worth so many points.
I've put back up some random notes about some tough grammar rules that show up in level 2. If interested, have a look.