30 May 2012

Sankeien Garden, Yokohama

If the University of the Philippines' Diliman Campus has a "Sunken Garden," Yokohama, Japan has "Sankeien Garden." It would have probably been best to come here during fall or during sakura season. We didn't have time though to go around the whole place because we were still going somewhere that might be closing early (see the next episode's video). Entrance fee: 500 yen.

26 May 2012


I had a couple of friends visit over from Singapore and the original plan was to visit Hakone to get a good view of Mt. Fuji. We bought the Hakone Free Pass so that we can go around the Hakone area freely.

We first made a pitstop though at the Odawara Castle. And then we went on the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi (also known as Hakone Lake), the Hakone Ropeway (i.e. cable car / cable-suspended gondolas similar to the one connecting mainland Singapore and Sentosa), and Hakone Tozan Cable Car (i.e. train being pulled by cables, like San Francisco's cable cars or the Peak Tram going to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong).

Finally, we went out of our way to the Gotemba Premium Outlets in Gotemba, only to find the best views of Fuji-san for this day trip. From Gotemba Premium Outlets, it took us 3.5 hours to get home inclusive of all the waiting for the infrequent night time trains. Had I known earlier, we could've gotten home an hour and a half earlier if only we had spent around 500 yen more each and used a different route. But anyway, we had a blast.

22 May 2012

Sanja Matsuri (Three Temples Festival), Asakusa, Tokyo

I went to Asakusa in Tokyo to meet some friends, and what do you know, there was a festival going on! I looked it up and apparently it's called the Sanja Matsuri (literally Three Temples Festival). Incidentally, it is three days long, starting on a Friday and ending on the 3rd Sunday of May. They say this is one of the most attended festivals attracting over 1 million locals and tourists over its three-day course.

NOTE: The video was "enhanced" using tools provided by YouTube.

20 May 2012

How to Cook Ramen

Check out this article from MustLoveJapan.com about how to cook ramen. I've always only eaten ramen that has been prepared in restaurants, cafeteria, or instantly. I wonder how it is to actually make ramen at home.

By the way, new Nihongo word for you: "Tonkotsu." Pork bone broth. Yummy.

13 May 2012

Japanese researchers invent "Shiri" robot

Image from Express Chemist.
Where "shiri," by the way, is Japanese for buttocks. Read this article and watch the video on Kotaku. Of course, apparently the same Japanese researchers have also invented The Hug Machine and The Kiss Machine, all in the name of science and medicine, ladies and gentlemen, mind you.

Talking about "Shiri," here are some Japan-related tidbits that might be interesting:

1. "Shiri" is usually prefixed by "o" as in "oshiri," or as in "ocha" where "cha" means tea, or "ofuro" were "furo" means bath tub, or "okane" where "kane" means money, and so on. I think people would say the "o" makes it more polite, but I don't know if that makes sense.

2. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4S with its voice-controlled assistant feature named "Siri," Japanese tweeters were laughing all around Twitter about it having a name that means buttocks. In Japanese pronunciation, they do not have a "si" sound, instead they use "shi," and thus "Siri" is pronounced like "Shiri" in Japanese, just as they say "Ey Bee She" for "A, B, C."

3. I don't know what the Roswell sci-fi TV series actress portraying the character Liz ParkerShiri Appleby, would say about all this.

06 May 2012

Why "Japan! Japan!"?

Japan, Japan: natural and cultural wonders
Happy Holidays! Golden Week holidays, that is, for those of us in Japan. And Labor Day Holiday Weekend, that is, for folks in the Philippines.

Some of you probably wondered, why "Japan! Japan!" for a blog name. Well it's three things.

First, before I embarked on my (2nd) journey here in Japan, that's how my very good friends wished me well.  They greeted me "Japan! Japan!" And by Japan, they actually meant J.A.P.A.N. - Just Always Pray At Night.

Secondly, it was my second sojourn in Japan, so it wasn't gonna be just a simple Japan blog like last time that was easily (attempted to be) copied by other people months later. So this time around, it was going to be a Japan! Japan! blog. While in my Japan 2005 blog, I was a little bit "diplomatic," as where the people I met were, since I was only a visitor for two months, in the current "Japan! Japan!" blog series, I'm in a more hostile situation and so I have had to be a little bit more fierce, like that dragon in the photo accompanying this article.

Thirdly, it's catchy and unique. I haven't found other Japan-related blogs named like so. I've so far only found one movie entitled "Japan Japan" - note the absence of exclamation points - which I strongly don't recommend to watch, by the way. It is an indie film but it would probably be a for-Adults-only movie. And then there's this Vimeo also entitled "Japan Japan," showing a video of a couple singing a song because they ♥ Japan.

I could think of a number of other justifications and what not for "Japan! Japan!," but you know what, those three are my only real reasons. And actually, I did not name it "Japan! Japan!" until after I started video blogging and some nut already got japanjapan.blogspot.com. But that's not as cool as japan.ronjie.com because I can tell my friends or put in my videos something like, "Visit Japan! ...dot ronjie dot com." :-D