Archive for July, 2012


Pictures to come later, as Huong took them all and she’s currently on the bus.
So because it’s the last night for a great many people, I decided to set off sparklers in honor of the end of a tough semester. So I invited everyone I could think of and we set up a candle behind AP House 2. There’s a giant patio for the smoking area out there that was perfect for fireworks.

Unfortunately, the wind wouldn’t cooperate. Those sparklers that did light, didn’t stay lit for very long. So we got through about eighty of them (they only last fifteen seconds even when they’re lit properly–dollar store fireworks, whaddaya expect? :P) and then Lee said “Hey, there’s less wind out in front of AP House, let’s go there.”

Now, get this. We’d been lighting sparklers for a full forty minutes out BEHIND AP House 2 and not one person said anything. Not even five minutes after we’d lit the sparklers in FRONT of AP House, though, a little woman in a suit came bustling out and said quite firmly, “DAME YO!” (THAT’S BAD!) “You can’t do that here!” So Lee asks, “Doko ga ii desu ka?” (Where is good?) and she turned to face him and just went with quite an attitude “Do you WANT to go to office?” In English. I think she may have thought he was being sarcastic, as he has a heavy accent when he uses Japanese. “You can’t use those here or anywhere around here.”

“I didn’t see a rule about that.” I mentioned casually, because I am a nerd and had perused the rules beforehand, “Only about fire indoors.”

“No! It is a rule. You cannot use them. Only fire is allowed in smoking areas, but even there you cannot use those.”

Fun-killers. You know what I think? I think it wasn’t so much the dangerous sparks or open flames that pissed them off: it was the fact that we didn’t have a sign-in sheet or sixteen seals from the Security Office. 😛

Anyway, we got a good ninety of ’em or so lit, so I’m happy. Here’s to the end of a wonderful semester!

Credit for this image goes to whoever originally took it; I just wandered through Google until I found one I liked. And there’s no link that isn’t sixteen million characters long, so…

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So today has now more or less ended, and the semester is practically over. I just have final exams on Thursday, Friday, and Monday and then… I go to Tokyo. It’s hard to believe how fast it’s gone, really. I know everyone told me it would, and I know that trips always seem to speed by in retrospect, but I swear this trip went by faster than light. So, to commemorate it and to look back, here’s a review of my favorite pictures and places in Japan that I’ve been to, and the people I’ve met:

 

 

This is far from an exhaustive collection, but it’s got a bit of everything. Even GASP pictures of me. I know right?

 

I will never forget this place or these people. Thank you, APU.

I know, I know, le GASP. Today was the Kokura Field Trip run by AP House. As before, allow me to borrow a map for you to see:

The trip takes about two and a half hours by bus, counting a fifteen minute stop in the middle of the trip. AP House runs these trips twice or three times a semester, and offers extreme discounts to residents. For this one, the full price just for the bus fare and lunch would have been over 7000 yen–residents of AP House only pay 3000.

We were supposed to go visit a natural national landmark, an ancient cave, but because of typhoon season it flooded and we had to change plans. So, we went to one of the largest shopping centers in Kokura, also the home of the popular broadcast station for NHK Kyushu (Japan’s leading news and entertainment channels). Have a look:

We also stopped by Kokura Castle and its various surrounding monuments, temples, and to’rii (red gates).

After that, we went and had lunch at a hotel buffet, which was delicious. They had foods from all over the world. America’s? Fries and chicken tenders, of course. 😛 They also had a chocolate fountain, pizza (which was NOT pizza, though it almost could fool someone who wasn’t, well, raised in the pizza capital of the world), and roast pork. And many other types of food from Europe and South America; surprisingly, very little in the way of Japanese food (though of course rice was present and miso soup).

This is only one of two counters. The other one was too crowded for me to get a picture, though that was the one with all of the hot foods.

Finally, the best part of the trip had come. Travel to Mojiko Historic District in Kokura. There are many historic buildings in Kokura, but the Moji district is the largest collection of various Meiji-era structures. For those who don’t know, the Meiji era of Japan took place in the early 20th century and was marked by Japan’s sudden obsession with Westernization. Here are some of the many, many pictures I took of this district:

To end our little tale, how about a bit of a funny story? When the bus pulled over to drop us all off, everyone started heading towards the ferry. Even though it was pouring rain and I could tell just looking at this thing that the rough waves and rain would make it impossible to see anything at all. So, I decided to screw ‘mandatory’ boat rides and go wandering around Moji. I got some amazing photographs, went to the top of the observation tower (31 stories up!), and got so completely soaked that I squelched when I walked.

Anyway, that was great buuut *dun dun DUUUUN* I was found in one of the gift stores (dripping wet and grinning my head off at ‘fugu (blowfish) cookies’) and lectured soundly for not going on the mandatory ferry trip. So I shrugged and apologized and then launched into everything I did during the ferry trip… and instead of getting angrier or lecturing me more, she just went, “Man. We couldn’t see anything from the ferry! You probably made a good choice.” Then looked horrified that she’d *GASP* advocated rule breaking!

This was a good day.

America’s Birthday!

So I meant to update this on the actual fourth of July and it ended up slipping my mind. Oh well. The party was awesome! Everyone brought such good food and we had about fifteen people or so (we rented the AP House 2 Kitchen; it’s stocked with all sorts of expensive equipment). I also found sparklers (at The Daiso, of all places–I KNOW you can’t buy fireworks at most American dollar stores).

We had a true “American” meal–cheeseburgers, popcorn, nachos, chicken soup, candy bars, freedom fries, grilled cheese, and chocolate-dipped Oreos–and we all got /so sick/ but it was worth it. Word to the wise: if you’ve been eating wholesome healthy Japanese food for two months, don’t all of a sudden eat nothing but junk for three hours. Your body doesn’t appreciate it. xD

Photo taken by Sanna Zhao: http://kurozone.wordpress.com/

 

 

When I woke up this morning the only thing I was concerned about was getting to my two midterms on time. The first one went off without a hitch, even though it was eight in the morning and everyone was kind of blearily wandering around the corridors mumbling “Who in the nine hells planned an exam at this hour??” (this is college–any hour before eleven is ungodly)

But I should have known better. Of course the entire nation of Japan would conspire to laugh hilariously at whatever plans I’d made to celebrate a non-national holiday. For you see, today was the group shopping trip to Hirose for the Fourth of July Party.

I say was. This is because there has been a LANDSLIDE over the ONLY road leading off this godforsaken mountain! This is because it’s typhoon season and it’s been raining nonstop for days. Because of this, classes were canceled from third period onwards (Many APU students live in Beppu and so wouldn’t be able to come up to the school).

So okay, there’s more than one road leading off the mountain–the other one is just much more wandering and kinda loops around Beppu rather than going straight into the city. Here’s the strange, kind of unbelievable thing: Oita Kotsu has apologized, easily SIX TIMES, for the inconvenience and is offering free bus passes to anyone needing to get back to Beppu today (though, only to limited stops, and of course the trip takes a LOT longer than it usually would). I mean, hullo? Act of God, anyone?

If you don’t live in Beppu you’re not supposed to use the bus. So I guess unless they get this landslide cleared up soon, I’m going to just have to go to Hirose tomorrow and hope I get back in time.

Laugh away, Japan. Laugh away. PATRIOTISM SHALL NOT BE THWARTED! xD

In any case, after hearing that news, I then proceeded to learn that my air conditioning is broken and that I still have to present on Thursday even though my class was canceled. -Sigh-