I thought I'd make a post to explain a little bit about karaoke in Japan. As you've probably heard, karaoke is really popular here. In Hikone alone I've already been to three karaoke places, and i know of a least five more I've seen. Karaoke is a really popular thing to do for young people, but it's different from karaoke bars like we have in the States. At all the karaoke places I've been to so far, you go with your friends and rent out one of the many small rooms in the building. Like the one above, the actual room has a booth with a table in the middle and a tv on one side. You use a remote control to pick songs that you or your friends want to sing, then the lyrics show up on the screen with some interesting stock footage in the background. The good thing about these kinds of places is you don't have to make a fool out of yourself in front of strangers(not fun), just your friends (fun). You get two microphones so you never feel like you're in the spotlight (unless you want to be of course). Also, you can use the phone in the room (to the left of the guy's head in the third picture) to order drinks and food to the room.

I like Japanese karaoke a lot more than its American counterpart. There are probably this type of places somewhere in the US, but so far I've only seen karaoke bars in America. I just thought this would be useful information for anyone who wonders why karaoke is so popular in Japan.


Hello all,

So it's been quite a while since I've posted anything. Things are still really busy and I doubt they'll slow down any time soon. But I've got some new pics that I want to share so here goes.

So the picture on the left is a kaitenzushi restaurant. The sushi come out on a convey belt and goes around by all the tables. If you want a plate, you just pick it up. When you're done, the waitress comes and counts your plates and gives you a bill. This place is 105 yen per plate, and most plates have onigiri. Sushi here is so much cheaper and so much better than the states, it still surprises me.

The pic on the right is an osake vending machine. I had heard of them, but there is one right on the street in Hikone. As you can see, they have a good selection of Japanese beer (Yebisu is my favorite so far), some chuhai (something like smirnoff ice or mike's hard lemonade) and I think cups of shochu (flavored distilled liquor ~30% alcohol). All alcohol is much cheaper here than in the U.S., even imported stuff like Jose Cuervo and Smirnoff.

Well I've got to go now, a friend of mine is cooking up some gyoza so I'm gonna go snag a few. Thanks for reading and leave comments or questions!


So it's been a pretty eventful few days here in Hikone. This is Lake Biwa, on a nice cloudy day. It's rained or been cloudy every day so far, but it's still hot enough to work up a sweat on your bike. But enough about the weather.

It's been really busy with placement tests, required meetings, and things just getting oriented. After that was over with it was off to class. Honestly, the first day of class I understood barely any of what the teach was saying. It was 100% Japanese, spoken really fast, and to make it worst, I've never had a male teach and rarely heard a male even speak Japanese. It's slowed down some now so it's much better during class. But I wish I would have listened to more movies/television before I got here, just to get used to hearing different accents and tones of voice. If everyone hear sounded like Cook-sensei I would have been fine, but I guess you can't hope for that.

So other than just going to class, I've been shopping, talking, and generally loitering around Hikone.

That pic on the left is my roommate, Adam, on one of the first days we were here, getting rained on while exploring. Now we have bikes though, so it's much more convenient to get around. It is pretty easy to spot each other because we're required to wear matching helmets. Supposedly it's for the sake of safety, but I personally things it's so people can quickly identify us and get to the other side of the road.


made it!

So, I guess from the fact you're reading this you can tell I made it to Hikone intact. The only casualty so far is my ankles, which are really swollen from the twelve hour plane ride. The plane ride itself was pretty uneventful. The only weird thing was it was daylight outside for the entire flight. After I got to the airport, there was a two hour bus ride and now I'm in Hikone. I'll upload some pics when I get the USB cord for my camera. I had to ship my luggage here from the airport so it should come in tomorrow.

But for now, first impressions: It is supremely clean everywhere I've been. We stopped at an all-night truck stop for a bathroom break. Probably cleaner than the majority of the public toilets anywhere in the U.S. Oh and there was a water garden in the bathroom with a fountain and lily pads.

Also, I see a lot of signs, but I read too slow to comprehend them. There is a lot of English writing, and some of it, like the name of a bank (Softbank) and a garage (Up Garage) don't really make sense. But I'm sure we misuse Japanese all the time in the U.S. too.

Time to go to a meeting.


Goodbye Tokyo, Hello Hikone

Something am going to infer about Japan without even going, just from the application process at Nihon Daigaku in Tokyo, is that in Japan when they say due by April they mean due by February. As you can tell from the dates on the entries, I didn't go to Tokyo this summer. While I had my application in by the deadline for the summer (by a month), apparently everyone else had theirs in by at least three months, so I did not get to go. I had a great summer anyway, and now once again ramping up to go, but this time to Hikone instead of Tokyo. A very large difference in the sizes of these two cities, so it looks like I'll be riding along on a bike instead of crowding onto a subway everyday. Either way, I'm really excited and now I can start the blogging again. More posts to come while I get ready to roll!


getting ready

So I'm in the process of getting this ready for this summer, and also wrapping up this semester. All the normal stuff like finishing projects, reports, getting ready for finals, and now storing my furniture, finding out what to do with my cell phone and car, and all the other things it's really getting hectic. That was a run on sentence (I think) but that's how it goes these days.

I read somewhere that my debit card won't work many places in Japan. But I talked to a guy at Compass and supposedly it will work, but I need to authorize it by calling the number on the back.

Oh something cool I ran across the other day.. http://wakan.manga.cz. That's a free offline Chinese/Japanese dictionary. Fairly powerful, very free. Check it.


first post

Well here is my first post as an example of what I can do with this blog.

Woohoo! Mt. Fuji!

Thanks for checking my blog!