Arriving in the office yesterday was a pleasant surprise. I was greeted by our shipment of Masane Amaha (Witchblade), in all her 1/7 glory. For some unknown reason, I felt thirsty... very thirsty. In the middle of a cold rainy winter, she brings a welcome ray of hope for a lovely summer.
Sitting next to Masane was Mio Akiyama (1/8, Movic) from the venerable K-ON! series. It looks like she's got some nice absolute territory going on.
Both figures are now in stock, and ready to order.Get yours before they're gone.
While starring at my computer yesterday, the TV was tuned to NHK for some reason. I heard some familiar whistling tune, and looked up to find one of my favorite programs PythagoraSwitch. I'm sure you've all seen that famous Honda commercial titled "The Cog" that was shown in the UK, and then spread across the internet, so if you think that's cool, you'll certainly enjoy the short "Rube Goldberg" machine segments like the ones below:
Are you looking for quality video content on the interwebs suitable for the whole family? You can thank NHK, aka Japan Broadcasting Corporation, because they've created a virtual goldmine of quality content from their video library. This morning while reading this blog (Japanese), I came across a post about NHK's Creative Library, and spent the rest of the morning browsing it.
While NHK's Creative Library content is not shared under the Creative Commons licenses, their copyright rules very much mimic Creative Commons'. I have not read through the whole agreement yet, but basically you're allowed to download, copy, and share with friends or via the web through homepages, blogs, etc. Video is downloadable in MPEG4 (*.mp4) format at 640x360 resolution. Yay, widescreen. Boo, no high-res!
While the page is entirely in Japanese, navigation can be done using the neato icons:
(Click on the image for a readable image) Starting from the top we have:
Living Things (land animals, aquatic animals, airborne animals, plants/fungi, and insects
Scenes of Japan (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Japan towns/living)
Scenes of the World (Asia, Europe, North America, Central/South America, Africa, Oceania, the Poles)
Most interesting to me is the color concept. If you chose blue for example, you get different videos of water, sky, dusk or early morning, etc... it's pretty interesting. If you like quality source video, NHK provides some of the best. They're not high-res but they're free to view and share. Yet another way to travel the world from your desk.
I'm sure some innovative hackers programmers out there will come up with some great applications for these videos. I wouldn't mind having a these videos randomly streamed to a media interface like XBMC or something to act as a screensaver. That would be pretty sweet. Enjoy!
I believe I've written about this before, but the first manga that I started reading was Dragonball. Luckily a friend had the entire series, so I'd end up borrowing several tankobon a week, and it became part of my Japanese reading practice. Although, the dialog was quite simple, I was able to learn quite a few words: 突撃だ～！was one of my favorites. Thinking back, it was actually a really great way to learn the language:
It was fun.
It was an interesting topic for me.
The words were repetitious.
That final point is the most important in remembering vocabulary. Not only was the context usually clear, but the main words would occur in cycles, kinda like the spaced-repetition learning systems that are all the rage today.
Anyway, after Dragonball (or maybe it was during a break from DB), I read Video Girl Ai, Yaiba, Detective Conan, and Lemon Heart, among others. As most people now realize, there are manga on every subject and interest imaginable, which makes manga (in Japanese) a great supplement for learning the language.
After a hiatus of about 10 years from manga, thanks to working here at beNippon, my interest has come back. First I started reading Yotsuba&! up to volume 6, with vol. 9 out, I need to pick up the latest three. My most recent acquisitions have been several of the Bamboo Blade series. I read volume 1, finished volume 2 yesterday, and I'll be starting on 3 today.
I became interested in this series when I first came across this Tamaki Kawazoe (sold out) figure sitting on our shelves. Then after watching this video on YouTube, I was hooked.
I'm pretty much a sucker for this type of story: a quiet, weak looking person is really powerful, and just kicks ass. Add martial arts, crazy characters, and some humor, and you get a pretty entertaining manga, IMO. In a nutshell, Bamboo Blade is the story of one messed up teacher/kendo coach trying to get his kendo club to beat his sempai's girls' kendo team to win a year's worth of sushi, hilarity ensues.
From a Japanese learner's standpoint, the dialog is not very difficult if you're familiar with daily conversation, but provides enough of a challenge that you'll actually find yourself learning something. Do you have any manga recommendations? I'd love to hear them, so please leave a comment below.
One thing I always look forward to around the turn of the year is the show Kasou Taishou (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の全日本仮装大賞), currently hosted by Kinichi Hagimoto and Shingo Katori. Kasou (仮装) means costume and taishou (大賞) is the grand prize. Even if you don't know the title of the show, most peeps on the internets are sure to have seen the Matrix Ping-Pong vid on the YouTubes:
The 83rd edition of the bi-annual show aired on Sunday evening here in J-land. For some reason, there seemed to be quite a few kids this year, possibly more than in previous years. While all of the performances were cute, fun, and for the most part solid, I did not see anything truly outstanding as in years past. I think the judges were in agreement as well, and it showed in their scores. Only two contestants failed to pass, and there was only one perfect score (20 points), for Surfing (サーフィン):
This large group of kids managed to pull the top prize of ¥1,000,000 (a couple bones less than $11,000 US). They said they'd use the prize money to buy an air conditioner for their dance studio.
For those of you who watched, did you have any favorite performances? Aside from Surfing, the Ping Pong Racket was probably my favorite, second would be the Alice in Wonderland one. You can check out most of the performances here.
New Year's in Japan is a time most celebrate with family. For this reason, the time around New Year's (nen-matsu nen-shi, 年末年始) are some of the busiest of the year. As the majority of the population center around cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, at the end of the year they head back to their hometowns in the "country" (furusato, ふるさと) to visit parents and relatives.
The "U" comes into play, when they all "turn around" and return to the city, hence U-Turn Rush (written: Uターンラッシュ in katakana). Basically, all methods of transportation become hell-on-earth from the traffic on the highways to the floods of people at the airport. When traveling on the Shinkansen (新幹線), all of the reserved seats fill up (even the first class Green Car seats) and you'll find people standing in-between cars and in the aisles of the non-reserved cars.
I've never been one to travel during peek season, so I've always been able to avoid the mess. Even this year, I made sure we were back home early to avoid the rush. Arriving back in Kanazawa on a rapid train, we were the only people left in our car.
Hopefully, your New Year's was as good as mine. Now, it's back to work!
This is the common greeting in the new year, and reads:
"akemashite omedeto gozaimasu"
"kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu"
Or if you're a ギャル (gyaru), maybe you'd say: akeome, kotoyoro.
I'm in Hiroshima right now, drinking some champagne at the moment. Tomorrow, I'll be heading to Kyoto for some New Year's festivities. When I get back into the office, I'll be sure to share some of the photo love.
Hope everyone is having a festive and safe New Year. Happy 2010!!