Monday, July 30, 2007

Godzillas Birthday Party

Every now and then in Tokyo I come across a speciality store that only sells one kind of product. Occasionally its a type of food, or a shop that has every imaginable type of firework. But then other times its a shop that only sells balloons.

And you might wonder how you can full an entire shop only with balloons? Well they don't just stock regular party balloons. The one in the photo is a 90cm diameter one I brought to try out. Unless you've seen one of these in person you have no idea how fun they are, or how hard they are to blow up!

But the best thing is, 90cm isn't as big as they have. They go up to 160cm in diameter! I don't want to consider blowing one of those up without a pump...

So next time anyone is thinking about filling someone's office with balloons, let me know. With these it should only take 7 or 8 to fill a reasonable size office.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The shortest 6 months of my life

I just finished my Japanese Language course, which was actually pretty good. I can read and speak a lot better than when I first came, and a lot better than if I had only been studying on my own for the last few months. As part of the course I had to give a 10 minute presentation in Japanese on a topic of my choice, mine involved semantics with reference to a cat shaped robot from the future. The one really surprising thing about the course though, was that in just over 3 months they managed to complete the promised 6 months of Japanese language training that I was supposed to be given as part of my scholarship. Japanese efficiency...

Oh I should probably mention that I have decided that I will probably not being doing my masters degree here. I've learnt a lot more about the Japanese system since getting here and I don't really think the masters degree would be worth it. One of the biggest points is the time it would take, if I was still in NZ I would finish by the end of this year, but here I wouldn't even start until next April and it would take two years after that. I would have to spend a few months studying for the entrance exams, which are in areas completely unrelated to what I want to study and which have no bearing on what I've studied until now in New Zealand. Add to that rumours that the exams and courses require as much rote learning as actual understanding and it doesn't seem like my sort of thing.

So my current plan is to stick around until next year at least and decide whether I want to try and get into a Phd program here, while spending my time on my own research and hopefully get a paper or two published. If I decide not to stay I will look at getting another scholarship and moving on to Europe to do my Phd there. Of course during my time here there are a lot of people I can learn a fair bit from, and I will of course be able to improve my Japanese. Plus to be honest, the lifestyle here is enjoyable enough that I'm not in any hurry to leave.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vending Machines at the Top of the World

This week I climbed mount Fuji. Its not an impressive accomplishment once you realise the number of retired people who reach the summit everyday, but it was still good fun. I climbed it with a couple of my foreign friends who I often go hiking with here. We started climbing at about 9pm so we would reach the summit at sunrise. Yes, yes, its very Japanese climbing a mount for a photo opportunity, but I have to say climbing a fog covered mountain by torch light is one of the most surreal experiences I can imagine.

It was foggy when we started so pretty much all you could see was the beam of your flash light fading into the middle distance. But once we got above the fog the view was excellent. Stars, so many stars, including 23 shooting ones. It was a nice change from the Tokyo sky where I've never seen more than 6 stars at any one time...

The climb isn't actually too bad, a well marked trail and to be honest, restaurants every 500 meters or so. We stopped at about 3000m for a bowl of noodles in a restaurant that didn't really look a lot different than the ones where I normally eat dinner. Got to the top at about 3.30am, and watched a reasonably unimpressive sunrise. Once the sun was up however the view was magnificent, like the cloud layer seen from an air plane, except there was a mount rising up from it under your feet.

Oh and I cant remember who it was I joked to about there being vending machines everywhere in Japan, and suggested there was probably even a few on the way up mount Fuji. I was wrong, they are not on the way up, they are at the summit! (oh and a bottle of coke costs about $6)

This page has been responsible for distracting Free Counters people since 18/11/2007.