Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Japanese Language

A lot of people have asked me if I have learned Japanese yet and the answer is NO. Why you might ask, well I will explain in this blog. First of all japananes has 3 different alphabets!!! Which are all used together!!! Who came up with that? I don't know but he or she deserves a beating. There is: Hiragena (http://www.learn-Japanese-kanji-hiragana-katakana.com/Hiragana_46Chart.htm) Katakana (http://www.learn-Japanese-kanji-hiragana-katakana.com/Katakana_46Chart.htm)
& Kanji (http://www.learn-japanese.info/kanjifirst.html).
As you can see if you clicked on the links a person needs an art degree to be able to write all these correctly. If you have even seen me write you will know that this is not an easy task for me and my super sloppy hand writing. To make it all worse there are over 3,000 Kanji characters!!!! Here is one of the easy ones I'm studying.

This is the symbol for rest called yasumi in Japanese. I find it very funny because resting is equal to a man sitting by a tree!! Thanks to that I don't forget it. The tricky part is that 1 symbol means the same but can be pronounced 2 or 3 different ways according to he meaning, just my luck. They have more funny kanji since they have to adjust old symbols to modern things. For example the kanji for parking is equal to the kanji for horse plus stop, so parking is technically horse stop (with the lack of parking everywhere in the city it should just be called buy a bicycle immediately).

The hardest part about trying to speak in Japanese is that there is no intonation or accents in any word, as a result a sentence sounds like one big word. In order to add to the mess they write everything together also, so I have a bunch of lines separating words in my Japanese book. Another tricky aspect of this language is that they talk like Yoda with the verb at the end. My favorite is the expression for smart which is "atama ga ii des" = head good is - in English. You would assume the Japanese would have a word for smart but I have realized that not everything is what it seams. Now you know why we just point at the pretty pictures in restaurants. I truly believe that if Orlando or I would be allergic to anything we would be in serious trouble since 99% of the time we have no idea what condiments are being used to prepare the food. It's amazing what a person can accomplish my saying yes, no, thanks and excuse me in a foreign country, the trick is to smile as much as possible.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ninoshima Island

Today a few friends and I went to Ninoshima Island which is just a short 30 minute ferry ride from Hiroshima Port. We really did not know what to expect since we just randomly picked it from a list of things to do around Hiroshima. The day started out good, we did take the right street car to the port (all right!!!) and managed to find the right ferry to the island. Once we got to the island we "borrowed" some bikes we just happened to "find" next to the ferry port. We figured it would be fine since a crazy lady told us that we could use them (at least that's what we could figure out she was saying, it could have been don't touch these but we will never know). To the right is a picture of all the "culprits" in this situation (sometimes it's good to be the one always taking the pictures).
Once we figured out the old bikes we decided to go around the island and check it out. The road that cirlced the island was right next to the coast. The views were really great which you can see from the picture on the left. It was quite peaceful and fun just ridding around in our bikes.
We did get to see some typical rural architecture which we never see in the city, as you can see from the picture on the right. The island itself was very scenic but there werent any people around so my friend named it "Zombie Island". This is my second attempt at an artsy picture, last time I got 1 good comment so let's see if I improve.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Plan B for the weekend

The plan for this weekend was very simple, go camping to the beach with a group of foreigners, but we had a small problem as you can see (refer to weather map below):

There was a typhoon right on top of our camping site!!! GREAT!! I had spend all week preparing for this trip. I had bought all the camping gear necessary since we had left all of that stuff in storage. I had even packed the car and was dressed ready to go on Friday night. Needless to say I was very disappointed not to go, but who wants to be cold, wet and trapped in a tent for 2 nights and 3 days? I don't, so we decided not to go.

We soon realized that everyone else who was supposed to go camping stayed home and then we came up with plan B. Camping at our apartment. Our friends already had food ready to go so we borrowed the neighbors BBQ and called everyone up. Here is Lance making some Kabobs (pinchos in Spanish) with his little helper Anna (yes Anna with 2 n's it's in German not in Spanish). Everyone brought all their camping food and drinks and we all ate it under a nice comfortable roof!!!! The good thing was we finally used our new dining room table!!! Very exiting. If the picture below looks like it was taken by a nine year old, your right!! I think it turned out really good and shows the diversity of the non-Japanese community here. There was people from the United Kingdom, Argentina, Germany, American (with Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese heritage) and Puerto Rico off course.

Monday, September 11, 2006


On Thursday I went to Iwakuni City about 1 hour away from Hiroshima with a group of friends for the day. There we where able to see the famous Kintai Bridge. This bridge is made completely of wood, without nails. The Kintai Bridge was first constructed in 1673, but has been rebuilt due to typhoon and flood damage several times over the centuries. The current bridge is a recreation of the original and was built using traditional techniques. Its five arches are a symbol of western Honshu. (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iwakuni,_Yamaguchi). Here is picture of the bridge:

The view from the bridge was absolutely mesmerizing. Here is my attempt at an artsy picture. All you art critics out there can write me a comment if you want.

Here I am in the bridge being my usual styling self (hey it's my blog and I can write whatever).

The picture above was taken by my friend Nuria who is from the Catalan region of Spain. I'm practicing how to actually pronounce all the words in Spanish like all those Z's that magically turn into S's in Puerto Rico. Here we are in the picture on the left in front of a huge water fountain in the middle of a park. I'm in the middle of the picture to the right with my friends Therese (from Ireland) and Vicky (from England). Needless to say I'm learning allot about the world here just by talking to everyone and asking my usual 10,000 questions.

Iwakuni is also famous for its white snakes (basically albino snakes). These snakes are found only in Iwakuni, and have been designated as special national treasures by the Japanese government. The white snake is a symbol of Benten, the Japanese goddess of wealth. The white snake is considered a sign of good luck in Japan. (reference: www.wikipedia.com) Here they are in all their splendor:

Overall the day turned out very well and we took all the right trains and buses, which is always good since you can't actully read anything. I love public transportation, maybe that's why we filled the car's tank today only for the second time in 2 months!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Apartment Stuff

We got our apartment furniture today and I am the happiest person in the world. All this time we have been living with some ugly borrowed furniture. I would have taken a picture of all the stuff but I'm trying to forget that it ever existed. The worst thing was a white plether (fake leather) couch that would separate every time you sat on it. I realized today, when they took an hour to get my couch up to the 8th floor, that it had so many pieces in order for it to fit in the elevator. This is a good a idea but it does not take from the fact that sitting on the grass was more comfortable than that couch.
The only thing that I was sad to see go was my one and only frying pan. Since we did not get a microwave I had to defrost everything the old fashion way (waiting) and reheat everything in that pan. I have never appreciated the quick heat and defrost function on a microwave more than these past 2 months. Please take care of your microwaves, in the words of Janet Jackson: "you don't know what you had til it's gone". The good news is that I did receive a new microwave along with some kitchen appliances (see picture to the right). The bad news is that it's all in Japanese....great. I had already figured out all the borrowed appliances and now I have to start from scratch. I can only hope that these have less or at least different beeps than the last ones.

We got some other cool things.
Here is our new bed with a nice comfortable (Yes!!) chair to watch TV. My favorite part of the furniture is the dining room table. Now I need some friends
to fill up all those
chairs, so let me
know who is first.

Orlando's favorite part is (of course) the big TV and sound system. He is in Michigan for business this week, so if your reading this you are actually seeing it first.

I actually had to step really back to take this picture. A few of you might be wondering what is that in the TV, it's like dominos Japanese style. I have not been able to figure it out yet but it does have about 3 times the amount of dominos than the ones we are used to. Maybe knowing what they are saying would help but ohh well, it keeps my imagination sharp.


Finally we where able to play golf after about 3 months of not touching a golf course. Here we are in front of the 4 person golf cart (what a great idea).

The course was on top of a mountain and it had spectacular views like I have never seen before. Even getting there was interesting. We had to go up a very narrow road with cliffs all over the place but I just pretended I was going to my Mom's work in Maricao which is basically the same thing but different sides of the road. Here I am with my friend Erin posing for the camera in the tee box of a par 3 hole.

Here is Orlando about to hit another really good shot:

One of the funniest parts of the golf course came at the end when it came time to clean my golf shoes. I was looking for the little rugs you wipe your golf shoes in order to get the grass out but to me surprise I just found an air gun to blow away all the dirt from my shoes. Once again a very good idea.

We had a really good time except I missed the girl in the golf cart driving around with refreshments and munchies but you can't have it all.