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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nara Okashi

Video of a store in Nara making Japanese traditional sweet, mochi.

I am not sure how or why, but for some reason this video (which is mine) got featured on google video! anyway, if you go to video.google.com and then under the search bar click on "google picks" there is this video (as of 1.14.07)!

Yoyogi Park Japanese Dancers

There is a 50's and 60's interest group that gathers in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo and Japan and dances. You gotta see it to truly appreciate the uniqueness of these people.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Genbikei and Geibikei

Geibikei Gorge Iwate

Genbikei and Geibikei are two famous gorges in Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku Region of Japan, with Geibikei being the more famous of the two. I went there this past weekend to see the fall leaves and take photos. Actually, Genbikei might be most famous for it’s “Flying Dango” than for the actually scenery. Dango is a sticky riceball that comes in various favors such as seaseme (goma), red bean paste (an), or my personal favorite (the one with light brown sauce on the right), soy sauce (mitarashi). Genbikei has “Flying Dango” because a restaurant on one side of the gorge sends it to the other side of the gorge via rope and basket.

Genbikei Gorge Iwate Flying Dango

Genbikei Gorge Iwate Flying Dango

Genbikei Gorge Iwate

Geibikei’s main appeal is that you take a boat ride down a shallow river that runs between cliffs as tall as 100 meters (about 328 feet). Round trip the boat ride takes about 90 minutes and at the half way point you can get off the boat and walk around some before coming back. The boat ride and scenery is very beautiful and relaxing, though as you might imagine, the 100 meter cliffs can make for some difficult lighting situations if you are trying to take photographs.
Geibikei Gorge Iwate

Geibikei Gorge Iwate Geibikei Gorge Iwate

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Naruko is perhaps the most famous place in Miyagi Prefecture to see fall leaves. I recently went there and I think I went just a little too early and maybe it will be very nice next week, but since the weather was very nice yesterday and I wasn't sure what it would be like next weekend, I went anyway. There really isn't too much to write about so I will let the photos do the talking. If you want to see more photos check them out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More updates coming...

I realize I have had less and less updates as of late, but if you have been checking my other blog, http://babibubebo.com you would notice that I have been fairly busy there. Below is a graphic that displays the last few posts on my site.

Photographer's Guide to Japan

Since I started it back in July (OK, so last day of June), it has grown considerably. There are many ways to track how a website's popularity is growing (google rank, page hits, unique visitors etc.) but the one I like the best is that I can check ow many people have added my site to their favorites. To me this shows they like my site enough to want to come back again (duh) so it means I am doing something right. Anyway, here are the % of people that have added my site to their favorites:
  • July was 2% (I barely had anything on the site at this point)
  • August was 10%
  • September was 18%
  • October (so far) is 44%
So like I said before, I guess I am doing something right! Now I am just trying to find ways to make it grow even more and one of those ways is that I am looking for more contributors so if you or if you know somebody that might be interested in helping out or submitting photos or writing about places in Japan send them my way!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Speech Contest

This past Friday I was able to take the day off from work to go to a speech contest that 6 of my students were taking part in (4 from boys school and 2 from girls school). Since August I have been occasionally meeting with these 6 students to help them prepare and since September I have been meeting with at least one of them almost everyday. I enjoyed helping them bc was nice to have some interaction outside the classroom with students who really wanted to learn/practice English; however, I am somewhat glad it is over bc it was preventing me do any other things like basketball club or photography club.

There were 2 different sections: recitation and speech. If the students did the recitation then basically they picked on of 5 pre-written speeches and the speech was suppose to be a self written speech (the students were allowed to write in Japanese and have somebody else translate it, so They wrote it in Japanese, one of my Japanese teachers translated it into English, and then I made more natural English). Anyway, to make a long post short, I thought all of my students did a great job and one of my boys got 3rd place in the speech section and one of my girls got 3rd place in the recitation section! Yeah I know it is not 1st but considering that the girl student was not allowed to get first bc of the type of school she goes to and the boy student use to be a bad English student I am very, very, excited for them!

The boy student (in the middle in the above photograph--sorry for poor quality photo, I only had my cell phone that day) even thanked me and said it was his best memory of high school! Let me tell you a little about this student. Hearing this made me really happy mainly bc I finally feel like I have def had an impact on some students. Maybe I have reached some students already but with only meeting students at most once a week, it is sometimes hard to really help the students out and influence them. I mean not to toot my own horn, but from where this kid started, there is no way he could have placed without the help of a native speaker or at least a Japanese English teacher...it just happened that I was here at the right time for me to be the one that helped him. Not to take anything away from him bc he is a really hard worker and def worked the hardest out of the 6 students, but when we first started his Japanese accent was very very strong so he did need some outside help, and he recognized this and thanked me many times. Now he has a plaque and certificate that says he got third place in this contest and nobody can take that away from him, this coming for a kid who told me in middle school his average English test scores were below 30. Needless to say, I am very proud of him and the rest of my students who all memorized about 3 minutes worth of English and participated in this contest, but I couldn't be happier for my students who got 3rd place!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Tokyo Game Show

I recently took a break from the calm streets of Shiogama and took a relaxing trip to the busy streets of Tokyo. I was able to stay with my host family and eat some really good home cooking and other food that I just cannot find here. It was really good to go back to Tokyo and see old friends!

I was also lucky because I was able to go to the Tokyo Game Show which was the same weekend. I am not going to lie, I like video games but I am not obsessed with them like some of my friends and while I am glad I went, I most likely will never go again. Part of the reason why was just because it was SO crowded! Above is a demonstration of Nintendo's next generation console called Wii. What makes this special is the remote controll acts like a motion sensor so instead of pressing a button to swing a baseball bat, you swing your arm.

The venue where it was held was huge but around anything worth while it was like being in a Tokyo subway during rush hour. Above is close to Sony's new Play Station 3. I got close to one but I did not have so much time so I didn't wanna wait in a really long line to play it. I will say the videos of the games I saw were really impressive!

Finally what would any major event in Japan be without costumes (known as cosplay--costume play). Anyone who is even the slightest gamer should be able to tell who the above people are.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Japanese TV is wierd

Here is a clip from a Japanese TV show. Basically the rule is you can't laugh or else you get beat with a stick... Pretty interesting and sometimes funny if you are a little immature like me. :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

SC is coming to town for Christmas!

No not Santa Clause, the other SC, Souvik Chatterjee. Many of you probably know him, either personally or through word of mouth by me, as I am very likely to have talked about him. Souvik was the my first Indian friend that was when I met him in 2nd grade, I saw his name tag next to my seat before he came to school and I thought bc of his (ad the time) strage name that he was a girl. I am pretty sure we became good friends almost as soon as I realized that he wasn't a girl. Anyway I have known for about 16 years or roughly 2/3 of my life and in that time he has introduced me to such fine things as Butter Chicken (or Chicken Mahkini in some places), Naan, Super Nintendo and the Ball Game (think about if only two goalies played soccer in a room where you are sitting on the ground and cant kick the ball but instead try and roll it passed the other goalie...that is the Ball Game). Anyway, it is still a couple months til December but while I have had my family visit already, this is the first friend who will come to visit me and I can't wait to show one of my best friends around Japan!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Roving Eye

What is RovingEye? It is another website where you can find my photos, but this time my photos are being sold as stock photos for a new company from Australia. How did this happen? Well, the director happened to be browsing sportsshooter.com where I have some photos of Japan as well and sent me an email inviting me to join RovingEye.com. After checking with some people who have been in the business about the percentage cut, the contract and the company to make sure it was legit, I decided I would join. So if you want to buy some stock images or know somebody who does, put in a good word for me and forward them to RovingEye.com!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hokkaido: Furano and Biei

After Lake Toya it was back to Sapporo to watch FIBA World Basketball Championships, which I already posted about. At this point the weather was suppose to be cloudy/rainy the rest of the week. I had planned on going up to Rebun and Rishiri (the two most northern islands of Japan) but since it was a 6 hour train rain and then a two hour ferry both ways, I decided I didnt wanna do all that just to sit in the rain....so of course, after the I cancelled my reservations and after basketbal finished, wouldn't wouldn't you know it the weather changed.

So instead of going to Rebun and Rishiri, I went to Furano and Biei, areas famous for the flowers and rolling hills. So famous that I am pretty sure if you have seen flower photos from Japan, it was most likely from one of these two places. Anyway, I was a little sad I didn't make it up north but I ended up getting some good shots here.

To see all the photos from Furano and Biei go here.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hokkaido: Toyako

After Hakodate it was off to Lake Toya to enjoy some more cloudy weather!! *sigh* Lake Toya is a really cool lake with some neat hills/mountains in the middle. Also it is really famous for hot springs...which since I don't really like REALLY hot water, especially in the summer, I was really disapointed that the cloudy weather continued.... Anyway, in the summer every night they have a small festival like thing where people dance, sing, and play the drums and then they have fireworks. Like most places in Hokkaido it would have been easier to get around had I rented a car, but I didn't, so that is that.

Anyway, check out all the photos.

Hokkaido: Hakodate

Next it was off to Hakodate, the 3rd largest city in Hokkaido. It is at the southern tip of Japan’s largest island, about 3 hours by train from Sapporo. Hakodate is most famous for the spectacular nightview it has to offer of the city and Tsugaru Strait from Mount Hakodate (334 meters). I was there for two days but only one night and my luck with weather had yet to change, so at night it was too cloudy to see anything from the mountain, above is the view during the day time when it was still a little cloudy and below is the ropeway I took to get to the top.

Besides the view it is also famous for some old western style buildings. To me they are not that interesting because, well, I am from the west, but maybe you are more interested in them than I am. I was told before I went that sometimes Hakodate feels a little like a ghost town and while I wouldn’t go as far to agree with that, I can understand why one might get that impression as there didn’t seem to be much going on when I was there. Also if you are a fan of seafood, Hakodate’s Morning Market is a great place to enjoy fresh fish and seafood in the morning. Below are some of the western style buildings.

Check out all of them here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Site overhaul!

Sorry I have not written more about Hokkaido yet, I promise there is more coming tomorrow, but it came to my attention that my photography travel website (japanphotoguide.com) for Japan has not been performing well in Internet Explorer at all, so I had to make some changes. I am not done fine tuning it yet, but overall I am really happy with the way it is now and seems to be much mroe stable than my previous version. If you notice something strange, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hokkaido: Onuma Koen

Onuma Koen is a Quasi National Park. I wasn't exactly sure what a "Quasi" National Park is, but apparently it is just a nature area that has kind of been turned into a tourist attraction.

When I went there the weather was very cloudy which was very disappointing bc one of the best parts about Onuma Koen is being able to see Mount Komagatake.

If the weather is nice I can see this place being really beautiful and also it is a place where a car or at least renting a bike would be really convenient.

If you wanna see more photos, go here.