Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Secrets of Zen - Japanese Chill Out Vol. 1

Secrets of Zen
Japanese Chill Out Vol. 1

Track List:
  1. Miyagi - Kyoto Garden
  2. Yoshi-San - Saru
  3. Dakini Mandarava - The Flow
  4. Shamindra - Stilling Of The Waters
  5. Gifuto-Chekku - Yasui
  6. Miyagi - Jange Sekiang Morning
  7. Sato - Koritsu
  8. Mandrave & Miyagi - Asian Lights
  9. Tiger Tanaka - Aki
  10. Dakini Mandarava - Ching (Sexual Energy)
  11. Shamindra - Breath Of Life
  12. Miyagi - Mantra Rhythm
  13. Ringo Orenji - Mikan
  14. Booby Tamari - Tokyo Silence

Listen to some samples:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moon: Living Abroad in Japan

Today I bought myself a copy of the book Moon: Living Abroad in Japan by Ruthy Kanagy. I had first seen this book at Fully Booked last week and was about to buy it at Php958, but then I decided to check out other bookstores first. I am so glad that I did, because I found it at National Bookstore priced at Php785... and with a 50% discount because they're on sale! So I spent only Php392.50 instead of Php958. I'm so happy! I can't wait to get started on reading it.

"Engaging, honest, and packed with information... the Moon Living Abroad series provides well-rounded insight into the country and its culture, and then gives you the real scoop on how to make the best move." - Transitions Abroad

Monday, August 9, 2010

Local Cuisine of Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido has a rich variety of fresh fish and seafood such as crab, scallops, sea urchins, salmon roe, salmon, herring, flounder, cod, arabesque greenlings, squid, octopus, shrimp, abalone, surf clams and kelp which are harvested from the northern seas of Japan and are rated among the best of their type for their exquisite taste and flavor. The crab in particular is exceptional.

Ishikari-nabe is a typical dish of Hokkaido made from chunks of salmon which are stewed with vegetables, tofu and konnyaku (devil's tongue) in kelp stock flavored with miso. Locally produced potatoes and cabbage are also added to the delicious flavor of this hearty dish which utilizes fresh salmon from head to tail.

Genghis Khan nabe
The Genghis Khan nabe, a dish in which thinly sliced mutton and vegetables (bean sprouts, cabbage and pumpkin) are basted and roasted, is renowned for its hearty taste and unique rustic flavor. Many restaurants around Hokkaido specialize in Genghis Khan nabe. The dish is also very popular in large beer parlors.

Photos courtesy of Japan National Tourism Organization.

Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido

These are the major facilities at Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Photos, from top to bottom, are:

  • Forest of Cherry Trees
  • Moere Beach
  • Play Mountain
  • Tetra Mound
  • Music Shell 
  • Aqua Plaza
  • Sea Fountain 
  • Glass Pyramid "Hidamari"
  • Mt. Moere 

Photos courtesy of Moerenuma Park.

Forest of Cherry Trees

Moere Beach
Play Mountain
Tetra Mound
Music Shell
Aqua Plaza
Sea Fountain
Glass Pyramid "Hidamari"
Mt. Moere

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Useful Videos of Japan

Stay at a Japanese inn

Enjoy the foods of the Edo era

Arrival in Tokyo

Wander around Akihabara

Inspiring Videos of Japan

Beautiful Japan

Cool Japan

Delightful Japan

Soulful Japan

Saturday, July 31, 2010

An Overview of the Prefectures of Japan

Do you know what a prefecture is? I have to admit that I hadn't heard about it until I started watching anime. I learned from Wikipedia that "Prefectures are governmental bodies larger than cities, towns, and villages." And in order to get a clearer picture of Japan, I wanted to familiarize myself with its prefectures. Luckily, I found this diagram on Wiki as well:

I know that Hokkaido is where Japan's famous hot springs are. So if I want to go to the hot springs, I'd have to travel to the northern tip of Japan. Okinawa, known for its beaches, is at the southern tip. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is in the central part of the country. Knowing the relative location of the prefectures and its surrounding cities has given me a much clearer picture of how I should plan my trip. My next step is to research about each prefecture to see which one best matches the experience that I am looking for.

Learning Nihongo, The Japanese Language

The desire to speak Japanese is something that slowly developed as I watched my very first anime Rurouni Kenshin (a.k.a. Samurai X) more than ten years ago. I remember buying three books as a result of wanting to watch Rurouni Kenshin in its original language without subtitles:

  • Speak Japanese Today: A Self-Study Program for Learning Everyday Japanese
  • Learn to Speak Nippongo the Easy Way
  • Basic Japanese

Sadly, I didn't get very far with the books as it soon proved too difficult to actually learn the correct pronunciation of the words by just reading them. And I tucked away the books and contented myself with watching anime English-dubbed.

Then about a year ago, I went through a "revival phase". As I watched more and more anime, I began to feel the sparks of interest in Japan once more. This time, I wanted to actually travel to Japan and experience the Japanese life that I saw so often in anime. And before I knew it, I was all fired up to learn Japanese again. I did some research and discovered the Pimsleur approach to learning Japanese which consists of the following comprehensive courses:

  • Pimsleur Japanese, Comprehensive Level I for Beginners
  • Pimsleur Japanese, Comprehensive Level II for Intermediate Learners
  • Pimsleur Japanese, Comprehensive Level III for Advanced Learners

Each level has 30 lessons, and you are supposed to tackle one lesson each day, but you're also not supposed to proceed to the next lesson until you've mastered at least 80% of the previous one. I started the first course for beginners some time last year. My progress was very slow during the first several lessons. There were times when I had to repeat a single lesson for more than two weeks. I began to get frustrated, and I reached the point of giving up.

Luckily, I decided to give it another try after a long hiatus. To my surprise, I still remembered my past lessons. And the lesson that had been giving me so much trouble actually seemed easy this time! (The wonder of the human brain!) My mind began to slowly grasp the nuances of the Japanese language, and the succeeding lessons became easier to understand.

I am currently on lesson 19 of Pimsleur Japanese Level I, and I am very excited about what I have learned so far. I also like that it's in audio format so I can actually get to hear the correct pronunciation of the words, and I can simply listen to it on my mp3 player while doing something else. No textbooks, no written drills, no hassle. In the future, I will be posting notes on the lessons that I have already mastered as part of my review.

I believe that learning Japanese will add value to my experience in Japan. Being able to communicate with the Japanese people will be a great learning experience indeed.

My Pursuit of Japan Begins

And so my Pursuit of Japan begins. Or more accurately, it begins in earnest. It has been one of my dreams for quite some time now, but I've never really gotten around to doing much about it. Now I am ready to follow my imagination. (The slogan of Yokoso! Japan, Japan's tourism campaign for 2010 is Follow Your Imagination.) And I have decided to slowly and steadily take steps to achieve this dream I have of Japan.

I have divided the process into five stages:

The Game Plan

Stage 1.
Nihongo, The Japanese Language
Prefectures of Japan, Places to Visit

Stage 2.
Japanese Yen, The Budget
The "Japan Fund", Monetary Preparations

Stage 3.
Japanese Lodgings, Where to Stay
Japanese Food, What to Eat
Japanese Culture, How to Behave
Japanese Transportation, Getting From Place to Place
Japanese Weather, What to Bring

Stage 4.
Embassy of Japan, Visa Application

Stage 5.
Japan Travel Itinerary
Flights to Japan, Airline Schedules, Promotions and Booking
 Accommodations and Other Necessary Arrangements
Final Arrangements

There will be no time frame for each stage. I will allow things to happen at their natural pace, keeping myself open to opportunities and possibilities. And I will be blogging about each stage as my pursuit of Japan continues. Now let's have some fun. :)