Archive for September, 2007

Moon Watching

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Tonight is the Mid-Autumn Festival, an event celebrated in many Asian countries and known as Tsukimi here in Japan. It is usually held on the full moon of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, and is an opportunity for Japanese people to show their gratitude for good harvests. Many Japanese people make an arrangement of wild autumn plants and flowers, and along with a plate of dango leave it on a window sill, from which the full moon is visible. Unfortunately, it is a tradition that is slowly disappearing, as parents tend not to teach it to their children…

Interestingly enough, the Japanese don’t see a “Man in the moon”, but rather a rabbit making mochi.

Respect for the Aged Day

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Today is Respect for the Aged Day, a national holiday in Japan. Why with 13 days of work in a row (not to mention a two hour meeting yesterday for the PTA newspaper), this holiday is more than welcome. So today, I sipped my coffee real slow, blogged a bit, and the rest of the day will be spent exercising, studying kanji, and after a couple of hours at the sentou, watching Ainori, of course… :-)

Hachiman Shrine’s Reitaisai

Monday, September 17th, 2007

dsc03220.jpg

Yesterday I went to see the Hachiman Shrine’s Reitaisai. It is a yearly festival, and the most important one for any Shinto shrine in Japan. I made an album showing the procession, and I uploaded clips on YouTube showing people carrying the famous “Mikoshi“, and performing the equally famous “Suzume Odori”(Sparrow Dance). Enjoy.

Ainori #374

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).


Ex-participants’ blogs
(Japanese only)

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on youtube.com.


Ainori #374

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

This week, a conversation between the girls revealed a side of Kuu’s character which could be interpreted either in a good or a bad way. It also became clear in this episode that Moriken had reciprocal feelings towards Kuu, although he has yet to voice it aloud. This episode brought them closer than ever, although a minor incident triggered a series of seemingly innocent events, which led Chaba to fall for Moriken, eventually giving rise to a new love triangle.

CURRENT SITUATION
participants20070910.jpg

Chaba.jpgKuuNeko

The girls were hanging out in their room, when Chaba took out a book about palm reading. She started reading Kuu’s hand, and told her she was popular with men, and that she must have had plenty of boys around her from the time she was a student, which Kuu confirmed (duh, would a cute girl like that be unpopular?). When Chaba told Neko she didn’t have that trait, Neko said that Kuu was like an enchantress. To “prove” her point, they showed us flashbacks showing Kuu offering Teppei some rice and curry, telling Gurasan he was cool, and giving a hand massage to Moriken. Kuu admitted that it might have looked that way at the time, but that she did it naturally, and that it was just the way she was. Neko then said that such a habit was scary, and that if she were a man, she wouldn’t have her as a girlfriend. Chaba added that Kuu was the last one she would have as a romantic rival. Later, Kuu admitted to the staff that she had indeed some sort of antennas, and that she was being attentive to men around her, but that she was only responding naturally.

kuuisalittlewitch.jpg
Little Demon – Kuu

Sure, they were all joking about Kuu’s kindness, but I think they were mildly overreacting. She’s nice, so what? I don’t think offering Teppei some food or telling Gurasan he was cool was so remarkable. Granted, the hand massage to Moriken actually involved physical contact, but she’s been clearly interested in him from the beginning. I think Neko might have said that out of jealousy, and I didn’t approve of the way the producers attempted to twist reality to show Kuu was indeed trying to put a spell on men around her, and even went as far as to label her picture with the caption “Little Demon”. When she said she was being thoughtful towards men, the show hosts got all worked up, which again I think was overreacting. Until there’s some sort of evidence that she’s being manipulative, I don’t think it’s even worth mentioning. This is just another “engineered plot device“, to spice up the emerging love triangle. Sigh!


Kuu
Moriken Chaba

Oh yeah! Kuu and Moriken are in business. Kuu and Moriken got together and were talking about the fact that Moriken wasn’t the type to compliment girls, as he found it embarrassing. He explained to Kuu that it didn’t come easy to him, as had gone to a boys’ high school, had been in karate club with boys only, and that there weren’t many girls at his technical college, either. Kuu was trying to show him how it was pleasant to be complimented, and started saying how he was social, cheerful, responsible and reliable. However, the ambiguity of the Japanese language (e.g. dropping subjects, lack of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person inflection) led Moriken to believe Kuu was actually talking about herself up to that point, and when he pointed out how self-confident she was to be saying that, she started laughing and told Moriken she could never talk about herself like that, that in fact she was describing about him. He asked her to continue, and she finished by saying how kind he was, and that she loved his smile. Although he said he was embarrassed, Moriken also admitted he was glad. And thus, Kuu made her point about the importance of compliments.

kuucasuallytouchingmoriken.jpg
She’s casually touching him

Wow! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was no less than a kokuhaku (love declaration in Japanese), only without the tickets. And all the while, Kuu had her hand on Moriken’s knee, which added to the intensity of the whole situation. She’s on fire, people, and he didn’t seem to hate it, either.

That night (or the next one), the group was treated to a nice meal comprising traditional Tuvalu food, and some homemade alcohol. As the group was eating and drinking, the driver was insisting that they eat more, and Kuu started eating from Moriken’s plate. That didn’t go unnoticed to Chaba, who still thought she wouldn’t like to have Kuu as a rival, as she was sure she would lose to her if they were to be compared.

kuuisnotagoodrival.jpg
“Kuu is the one I wouldn’t like to have as my rival”

And then the first domino fell. Moriken inadvertently spilled some alcohol on the mat they were sitting on, and Chaba passed him a towel (many Japanese like to carry a towel around) she had to clean his mess. As he was apologizing to her, she told him he didn’t have to, as she could simply wash it. So Moriken told her he would wash it himself and give it back to her. And here’s the thing: in Japanese culture, keeping one’s word is extremely important, even for trivial things such as cleaning a towel before giving it back. A westerner forgetting to do so would probably go: “Oh dear, I forgot, sorry” and that would be the end of it. But not here in Japan…

morikenpromisingkuutowashhertowel.jpg
“I’ll wash it and give it back to you”
“Seriously? Thanks”

No doubt Moriken spilled the alcohol because he was a bit drunk, and no doubt he was even drunker when they left later, so it’s not surprising that he completely forgot about the towel. So naturally, when Chaba found the towel and had to wash it herself, she was offended. She told the staff that she was shocked at such behavior, and that men, who have a habit of being unfaithful (?), should make more effort to be trusted.

chabashockedatmoriken.jpg
“I was shocked. What kind of a person is he?”

Although this was shown only later, it appears the staff made a point to call Moriken to their room and remind him he had left the towel behind. Moriken, horrified at his own “unspeakable act” (don’t forget, you don’t break a promise so lightly in Japan), was obviously disturbed.

morikenishorrible.jpg
“It’s horrible…”

So the next morning, he got together with Chaba, and apologized for forgetting all about the towel. So in an apologetic gesture, he gave tied a misanga around Chaba’s wrist, and she suddenly went from “What kind of a human being are you?” mode to “I’m the happiest girl on Earth” mode. He told her she could throw it out if she took it off, something she said she could never do. Later, she told the staff how exciting Moriken was, giving her butterflies in her stomach, and how she loved his being straightforward.

chabafallingformoriken.jpg
Chaba was already in love with Moriken

So the next day, she decided to give him something back for the misanga, and went to get a banana leaf (?) on which she wrote a message telling him she wanted their friendship to grow. She then asked to meet him that night, and gave him the present, and then went to the staff’s room. She told them how she bashfully gave him the gift, and how Moriken’s eyes were so bright it made her melt.

chabaismelting.jpg
“I’m totally melting, he, he, he”

I knew she was nuts, but I can’t believe the flip she made in that instant she received the misanga. In her mind, he went from horrible to exciting in a split second, which is kind of sudden, don’t you think? And as far as Moriken is concerned, I’m sure he is completely unaware of what’s going on. The misanga was strictly meant as an apology, and the gift Chaba gave him in return probably means to him exactly what it said, i.e. let’s be friends.

Right after he met with Chaba, Moriken and Kuu got together, as apparently she had promised him she would give him a haircut when they were still back in Taiwan. So she started cutting his hair, and he pointed out how sexy her shorts were. He then started talking about gym class, when he could see the girls’ bras through their white t-shirts. She then said that it must be tough for men, as they are “ready” anytime, anywhere. He agreed, and continued by saying that after gym class, if girls met some guys who seemed unwilling to greet them, it was probably because they still had a hard-on, and he suddenly stopped, saying: “No, no, what am I talking about?”. But Kuu didn’t seem to dislike the topic, as she continued by saying that it must be surprising for men to wake up in the morning with a full erection. He agreed, but then added it was proof for men they were healthy, to which Kuu replied that being that healthy for a long time was desirable. Then the conversation shifted to how Kuu would like to be told the same thing Yuukun had told Riko (Yuukun and Riko, two ex-participants, became a couple in Tunisia, Ainori’s 55th country – aaah, the good old “Hide” era), i.e. “No matter how many times I joined Ainori, I would still fall in love with you”. He thanked her for the haircut, which apparently made him look like Golgo 13

kuuandmorikenforgotabouttime.jpg
The two of them had forgotten the time

Hello? When boy meets girl and girl starts talking about the benefits of being able to get a morning erection for a long time, it does raise some red poles eeerrr, flags (no pun intended). Your shorts are sexy? It must be surprising to wake up with a boner in the morning? Why, they were almost talking about sex. Better not leave those two alone out of camera range, he, he, he.

Anyway, it seems they really had a good time, because apparently, Moriken had been completely oblivious of the time. When the staff later asked him how much time he thought he had spent with Kuu, he was surprised to learn that it wasn’t the 40 minutes he had thought, but indeed one hour and 40 minutes! But hey, I would probably forget the time too, if I were to talk about sexy shorts, bras and erections with a cute girl like Kuu giving me a haircut. ;-)

anhourandfortyminutes.jpg
“One hour and forty minutes!?”
“Yeah”

The next day, Chaba wasn’t feeling well, so she stayed behind when the group went for a boat ride. Unfortunately (or not), it started raining really hard, and after a while, Kuu told Moriken to close the umbrella he was holding for them, as it was obviously ineffective. So she took the opportunity to stretch the towel she had around her shoulders to include Moriken, too, and oh, surprise, he discovered that she was wearing a white t-shirt through which her bra was showing.

morikenlookingatkuusbra.jpg

Later, Moriken admitted that although it was embarrassing, he was very excited and couldn’t help peeking at her breasts, and really noticed how sexy she was, not wearing any make-up and being all wet like that.

morikenthinkskuuissexy.jpg
“I thought she was sexy!”

At this point, I have to wonder whether Kuu jumped on the opportunity to get Moriken’s attention with the semi-transparent t-shirt or if it was simply a coincidence. She probably couldn’t predict the weather, but that improvised wet t-shirt contest sure caught Moriken’s eye, and although he hasn’t said it in so many words, it’s obvious he’s very attracted to her. I’m telling you people, I can’t wait to see a kokuhaku on one of those kick-ass beaches. But with Chaba now getting in the way, anything can happen!

kuumorikenchabalovetriangle.jpg
This love triangle will develop in an unpredictable way!!

Next week, there will be a special Ainori episode dedicated to global warming, which is apparently directly responsible for the Tuvalu peninsula’s slowly disappearing into the sea.

NEXT ON AINORI


13 Days…

Sunday, September 9th, 2007


Today was one of many information days at my school, in order to recruit students for next year. Yep, since I usually work on Saturdays, too, Sunday is my only day off. But not today… 13 days in a row is a pretty rough start after the summer holidays. Fortunately, there will be two consecutive long weekends this week month (uh-oh, me tired?), and I sure am looking forward to them.