Friday, November 29, 2013


[Just came back from the kitchen to write, and on the way one of my dorm neighbors gave me a tezukuri cookie.]

I couldn't have had a better post-midterm celebratory fest this week. After Monday, my last day of exam, I had an impulse to compensate for all the days I spent locked in my broom closet of a room, buried under incomprehensible handouts. I have to admit this was one of the most excruciating studying periods I've had since entering university for 4 identifiable reasons. 

[1.] My credits are maxed out.
[2.] Nothing is anything I'm naturally good at: Stats, Japanese, Economics...
[3.] I'm old, and the deterioration is very apparent.
And [4.] despite it all, I still give a damn.
[Permitted] Stats cheat sheet & brand new GIANT eraser because I screw up a lot. 
So the last thing I wanted to do after classes on Monday was retreat back to my room even though I probably needed to catch up on sleep. Initially, I had planned to gather up 2 friends to go to a very specific cafe in Shibuya, but since it didn't work out with all 3 of us, I'm going to save that story for after it does happen. Nevertheless, I ending up having such a memorable evening with Gabriel and Jammy, Thai food (with free desserts thanks to yours truly!), endless kitchen rants, and "Somewhere", a movie I've wanted to watch for years because of Phoenix music and Elle Fanning but never got around to.

Gabe & Jamz, "Ti Nung" nearby Thai restaurant, and free desserts because the owners liked me.
(Jammy is totally killing it.)

It was a bit of a struggle to wake up the next day, but I had another reward waiting for me in the evening: I had signed up for a visit to Nippon Television Station, located at Shimbashi.  My biased definition of Nippon TV for you is that it's the television company responsible for broadcasting Ghibli films. In fact, the NTV mascot, "Nandaro", was designed by Hayao Miyazaki. 
From the Internet
I got a lot more than I expected from this little tour. First of all, I met a lot of delightful and incredibly welcoming people. Both fellow visitors (who happened to all be Waseda international graduate students) and the people at NTV. We got to meet and greet 2 NTV weather celebrities, Kihara San and SORAJIRO, watch a live broadcast in production - the skills and coordination that go into it - and chat with people in the industry over dinner, which was both very enjoyable and educational. But the winning moment for me was getting to look upon the NTV newsroom from a platform. I can't get over how exact the reality is to what I've been imagining. The newsroom really is on its feet 24/7, with teamwork, collaboration, and communication as its holy trinity. Even the placement of tables, chairs, screens, and the 200 or so people in that huge, column-less room was designed to enhance efficiency. It was such a beautiful [and reassuring] sight.
And now we arrive at present times. Yes, it is 3-crossing-over-to-4 days since the end of my midterms, but I'm not nearly done celebrating. Today, I needed to splurge $$$. Hisashiburi ni. And to do that somewhat healthily, the first thing I did was stock up on the food department because you can't go wrong with spending on groceries. Then, I went to an old camera shop at Takadanobaba to finally do something about my DSLR's multiple issues. This was actually a shining moment for me because I was able to communicate my needs so clearly in Japanese to the shopkeeper, and all my problems were solved for very low cost. Then with that boost, I went to the nearby department store and just let it draw me in. Not going to bore you with all the things I bought but I CAN'T NOT show you this must-have:

Shiba Dog Traditional-Styled Japanese Coin Purse = PERFECTION
Lastly, there were some rewards in this week that were unanticipated and out of my hands. To be concise and put it simply, these rewards are the people I meet in my daily life here. Off the top of my head, I love the people in my Japanese classes. I always arrive to class tired and leave feeling brightened. Yesterday, I also met a very cool person at the gym and found a potential music buddy in one of my classes, which to me is equivalent to finding a unicorn. And just to finally get to sit down and type these words here, edit, format, and upload...  is another great reward in itself. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Maybe There Weren't Peanuts And Cracker Jacks, But I Made It To A Ballgame!

          I went to my first baseball game ever on Sunday: the last game of this season's Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League Championship and the always most anticipated "Sōkeisen", Waseda VS. Keio match. I'm pretty sure you can already guess that I was excited and soaking up every second of the experience, but just for the sake of cool euphemisms I would like to say that I liked it better than Pirates of Penzance. (← If you got that reference, I am amazed and you get 20 golden stars.)

          Baseball was one of the more difficult things of Japanese culture to become acquainted with, growing up in Thailand, but I still somehow managed to inherit a very ethnic love for the sport. I don't understand why either, but I could never get into the sports endemic to my geographic culture. The only direct encounter I had had with baseball previously was from P.E. in high school, and a testament to how fond I was of baseball then, I was down for taking P.E. 3 years just to triple the opportunity of getting to play the sport. (Okay, maybe it wasn't all for baseball - I do love basketball, American football, and fitness in general - but baseball was definitely a major component in the calculus of signing up for extra P.E.) Other than that, I only have early memories of my grandparents extolling the Hanshin Tigers and my own fangirling over Suzuki Ichiro in my teen-years. Sometimes I wonder if I would have turned out a baseball fanatic had I grown up in Japan. (Or Boston!) 

          I only realized after I was already inside the stadium on Sunday, looking out onto the stunning ballpark, the significance of where I finally was. It was such an elevated experience. 
Jingu Stadium, so grand in the most unpretentious way. There is something about the classic image of baseball, it's refusal to change with the times, that I love so much. Sunday was also my first time actively participating in university team spirit at an actual sports game.  Even though technically I have nothing to compare the experience to, I am positive that Japanese sportsmanship is unique. It was quite moving when the leaders of each side's ōendan (cheer squad) bowed to their counterpart from across the baseball diamond. Once before the game, and once more at the end. I had never seen such ceremonial exchange of salute and goodwill between rivals.

My favorite shot of the day. A Waseda ooendan.
Players bow to the audience too. 
Oh, and we won, by the way. 9-2.