Liou's quiet little life...or is it?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More pictures

I have just added some more b&w pictures to my flckr account. Some taken in the Transsiberian, others in Paris. Enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Some pictures Russia

I managed to scan some of my old-fashioned black & white pictures that I took in Russia, most of them in the Transsiberian. You can see them here in my flckr-account. Unfortunately, the scanner was quite dirty, which really make the pictures lose quality. Anyway, I hope you might enjoy some of them.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sushi customs

Here is a great video of two Japanese comics (called "The Ramen" I believe) showing the 'proper' customs of eating at a sushi restaurant. A little bit weird, but quite funny. According to my colleagues half of it is true.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cool online radio - Pandora

I am probably quite late to report about it, but my colleagues taught me about a cool interactive radio: Pandora (link). It decides what to play based on your favourite artists and tracks. You can add as many as you want, but I recommend you to use about 5 specific songs you like. Otherwise the resulting broadcast selection will be too diverse and inconsistent. The cool thing is that it really chooses music you likes. Apparently, the makers have been classifying 60 years of music according an enormous set of parameters such as melodic key, use of instruments, mood, genre, type of vocals, etc. So it tries to find common parameters between the artists and songs you provide, and matches these with songs in the database. A cool concept!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Radish & furiitaa

Two bbcnews articles, indicating some aspects of Japanese culture, but don't take this as to be representative of the whole please!
A picture of my room about two weeks ago when the snow hit my town. It has been snowing incidentally since then, but nothing as serious as in the northern part of Japan.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Finally, an update!

I haven't been writing for quite some while, my apologies for this, especially to those who check my blog on a regular basis. Since I still don't have a computer and internet at home, it is quite difficult to combine writing entries and emails with work. But yesterday I made an order for a new VAIO laptop (F-type). It will arrieve in about 2 weeks (it is custom-made), so combined with an internet account I will be able to update my blog more often by then!

The work environment is getting more and more familiar fortunately. I can't tell too much about my work content, but let's say I am working more on documentation than actual programming. I just can't help to be reminded of 'The Office' series, but in a kind of strange, Japanese form.
There is a clear distinction between the foreign trainees and the rest of the staff, all Japanese for except for two or three foreigners coordinating the trainees. Of course, trainees work for a limited amount of time, whereas most of the employees have been working for more years. But the biggest problem is the language barrier, since most of the staff doesn't speak English. As I am gettting more proficient in Japanese (but still far from fluent) I start to speak with more people, but it remains an obstacle.

A couple of days ago, I experienced my first earthquake! About 5 on the Richter-scale in the region of Tokyo (article), and 4,8 around Atsugi! It has been most of the unsettling things I have ever come against in my life. Your whole body and mind is used to ground being stable, in contrast with vehicles for example. So when things started moving (I was at Mos Burger eating my dinner at that time) I first didn't understand what was going. After maybe 1 or 2 second I realized it was an earthquake and got quite scared. Fortunately it faded away after only a couple of seconds. The Japanese in the restaurant were looking quite calm during the whole thing, but maybe they cope with such situations in a complete different way.

On a more brighter note, I have started taking salsa lessons, therefore achieving one of my New Year's resolutions. It is quite expensive, but definitely worth it. I have the feeling it is not as popular as in Amsterdam, but still I was amazed by the high level of my fellow students. I really had to reconsider my skills. Yesterday I went out with some of my colleagues and friends to Roppongi. This is the centre of bars for Japanese-searching foreigners and foreigner-searching Japanese, in all its possible forms, from seedy to friendly. The two bars we went to (La Rumba & Cafe Latino) were quite small and somewhat cramped, but with a great atmosphere. Unfortunately, when we go out, there is always the decision of leaving early (23.00) or early in the morning (5.00), since there is no public transport in between. An early night this time, but probably better for the legs.

I'll have to spare them, since we will be going on a ski-trip next weekend with most of the foreign trainees and employees and some japanese of my floor. It will be the first time I will move myself on snow with something else than my feet, so I hope I will come back home in one piece!

Btw, here are some pictures:

My cousin Kyoko and me after a Woody Allen-movie at Yebisu. I hadn't seen her since she visited me in Amsterdam three years ago, so it was really cool to meet her.

Asakusa alley, probably one of the most touristic spots in Tokyo. It leads up to the Asukusa temple where people purify themselves with the smoke of incense (2nd picture).

This is kind of a tease of my 'love hotel' explanation which I should write in one of my future entries. I guess everybody understands that "rest" is something of an understatement.

Near Asukusa is a road (can't remember the name now) filled with shops with kitchen products, both for consumers and restaurants. In look for the perfect Japanese knife I stumbled on this incredible shop. Pretty expensive compared to its competitors with the mininum price about 80$ (whereas others start with 40$).

A street in the middle of Yokohama's Chinatown during Chinese New Year. This Chinatown is the opposite of many Japanese restaurants outside Japan. In the first most of the restaurants are run by Japanese, wherease in the latter they are run by Chinese.