Monday, April 18, 2011

Shibata in the Spring

Spring has finally come! This is the first time I have actually been able to see cherry blossoms in Japan--they are the unofficial national flower/symbol of the country.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shibata in the Winter

Lots of's March now and the snow has finally started to disappear--which means I can ride my bike again, hazzah! This picture was taken right outside my apartment complex. I also threw in a picture of the Sea of Japan as a bonus...not the friendliest bit of water I've ever come across; it tried to swallow my friend and I on our first visit.

The New Year in Niigata

Here are some photos of Hatsumoude, the first shrine visit of the new year, in this case from Niigata City. Lots of people and food; more like a festival than anything else.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Niigata A-Go-Go

Here are some shots of Shibata's more rural side, along with the first couple pictures I took in Niigata City, which is the largest (and capital) city of my prefecture. There are many more pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where I Work

Here's a shot of a little bronze owl; every Japanese town has one. Next there's a picture of the view from my little classroom and then the classroom itself, complete with mysterious purple glow (every Japanese town has one).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back in J-land

Hello "everyone," I'm back in Japan! This time as an English's an experience.

Anyway, here are some photos I took with my new iPhone 4 (!) of my town, Shibata, including the castle near its center. Thanks to this castle, Shibata is one confusing mess of streets; way back in the day the maze-like roads were designed to confound enemy invaders--now it's just for confounding poor innocent English teachers. The first picture shows where I work now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Japanese Music

Anyone who knows me well knows that most of my music listening revolves around classic rock from the 60's and 70's...mostly from British bands like The Beatles, The Who, and Pink Floyd. That certainly hasn't changed with time, but I feel since this is a Japan-themed blog, I should take a little time to introduce some music from Japan that I enjoy.

The Yoshida Brothers:

These guys specialize mostly in instrumental music involving traditional Japanese instruments called shamisen, which is kinda like a 3-stringed guitar with its own distinct sound. Both of the Yoshida Brothers are very skilled at playing shamisen and like to mix their playing with other styles of music, including rock. As far as I know they are quite popular in Japan, as well they should be.

The Pillows:

J-rock at its finest. These guys know how to rock, and not just by being loud. I liked The Pillows way before I started learning Japanese thanks to a 6-episode Japanese animated series called Fooly Cooly, which featured The Pillows' music exclusively as its soundtrack. The sad thing is, almost every Japanese person who I have talked to about music seems to know nothing about these guys! Such a pity, but I'm sure the band is getting along just fine all the same.

Puffy AmiYumi:

Okay, so maybe this is considered pop music...but I feel like these girls have really got a good thing going on. Unlike most Japanese pop music that I have heard, which mostly involves singing in cutesy voices and features catchy choruses (not unlike pop music in the states), Puffy's music has soul and is about the music itself. Sure Puffy have a lot of catchy songs, but much of their work feels like more than just saccharine pop melodies, and sometimes they manage to sound more like a rock band than anything else.

I think that'll do it for now. There's certainly more Japanese music out there that I enjoy, but I tire of typing it all out! Ciao.