Monday, January 01, 2007

other Yamasa Blogs

Another Blogger compiled a list of folks who went to Yamasa and had Blogs. If you read through these Blogs, you can found out a lot about going to Yamasa and what it is like to live in Japan. To see the list, go to

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Yamasan's Blog

One of the guys who was at the school at the same time I was has a Blog at His posts from October through the beginning of this year are related to Yamasa. I didn't make it in any of the photos, but I know many of the people in his photos and was on the first soccer game trip with him.

They have a video they made at Thanksgiving. Seemed to be a bit alcohol induced, but humorous none-the-less. From Google Videos - click to watch: Thanksgiving 2005 Okazaki, Japan.

Monday, November 28, 2005

One last post - video from Nara

I was reviewing my photos and find myself watching one video clip over and over again. It is of a pair of guys making mochi at a streetside store in Nara. They are so fast. And it looks so dangerous.
最後の日記だ。 写真を見た時、奈良の店でお餅を作っているビデオは何回も見た。すごい速い、ね。そして危なそうだ。 (3.5 megabytes Quicktime movie)

Edit: here's the video on Youtube...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

My last week in Japan

{Edited on Nov. 21 - added Japanese version to end}

I am home now. Spent the last week in Japan without computer access, so wasn't able to make any updates. So will make one large update here covering the entire week.

I met my girlfriend at the Nagoya airport on Thursday, then headed to Kyoto. Was all a bit rushed - I even had to rush out right after classes ended and didn't have a chance to say good bye to many of the other students (sorry everyone).

First day was Kyoto. Kiomizudera, Kinkakuji (golden pavilion), kaiseki ryouri (multi course meal) for lunch at a tea house in Gion, drinks and finger foods at a Izakaya in Pontocho. Both of the meals were great - the kaiseki ryouri was very tasty, presentation was amazing (they used leaves as part of the presentation), and wasn't all that expensive (about US$35 per person). At the Pontocho bar, the food and drink) was good and we had fun talking with one guy behind the bar - he was very friendly and wanted to practice his English, so we chatted a bit and tried many different foods and drinks (some of which he didn't charge us for).

Second day we went down to Nara, visited the major sites, fed the deer, and ate some kakinoha zushi, chagayu (tea and rice gruel), and narazuke pickles (all local specialties). We made it back early, so went to the Arashiyama part of Kyoto and walked around the Momiji (fall leaf color) festival and went up to a monkey park.

Third day was Himeji castle, where we met up with a friend of mine (I met him at Yamasa 3 years ago, and he now works in Kobe). This was his first time to see the castle, even though he lives about a half hour away. After that, we headed back to Kobe for a Kobe Beef dinner. Expensive (about US$50 per person), but very tasty.

Next day was Osaka. Visited America Mura, which felt like a Japanese version of Haight Ashbury because there were lots of funky stores and interestingly-dressed people walking around. We also rode the Ferris Wheel above Osaka Station, but unfortunately the sky was a little hazy so the view wasn't that great.

After this, we headed down to Hiroshima. The train took a little while, so we only got there in time for a late lunch and then some sightseeing. Visited the A-bomb museum and dome (very touching), Shukkeien Garden (which was Ok - guess the fall is not the best time to visit Japanese gardens), and walked around the Hiroshima Castle at night. Had kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) for dinner in the basement of the Sogo department store - very tasty, yet also very affordable (less than US$30 for the two of us, and we weren't holding back on what we ordered).

Next day was Miyajima, which is where the gate in the water is located (pictures of this gate are used in just about every visit Japan advertisement made). Started with a walk through the shrine and then a hike to the top of the mountain for a view of the area. Back down to the shrine and out to the torii in the water (tide was out, so we could walk out to it at that point). Then lunch and a bit of shopping before heading back. That evening, the woman who ran the Ryokan we stayed at arranged for us to do a tea ceremony. Very interesting. Then we had Hiroshima style okonomiyaki for dinner.

The rest of the trip was in Nagoya. Visited Sakae at night. Then had a soy-themed meal (11 courses - all based on soy or tofu) for dinner at the restaurant floors above the train station. Then the Tokugawa Museum and park the next day, before heading to the airport.

This is likely the last post on this Blog. After this, it is more likely that I will be posting on my regular Blog.



セントレア空港に彼女に会って、京都へ行った。 忙しかった。 授業の後、今すぐ出てしまった。

まず京都に行った。氷魚水寺へ行って、祇園で会席料理を食べて、金閣寺へ行って、買い物して、先斗町の居酒屋で食べた。りょうほうの食事はすごいよかった。会席料理は美味しくて高くなかった (一人3500円ごらい)。居酒屋で美味しい食べ物を食べて、面白いバーテンダーに会いました。



次の日、大阪へ行った。 アメリカ村へ行った。ヘイト・アシュベリーみたいと思った。大阪駅の近くの観覧車に乗った。でも天気はちょっとので、よく見えなかった。

次の日広島へ行った。昼に着いた。原爆ドームと広島平和記念資料館としゅっけいえん公園を見て、夜に広島城を散歩した。 晩ご飯はそごデパートの地階の回転寿司を食べた。美味しくて安かった (たくさん食べたのに二人3000円以下)。



多分この日記は最後のStudying in Japan 2005の日記だ。その後、他のブログで書く

Advice for future Yamasa students


Class is over now. Chances are I will not be going back to Yamasa for any more schooling - the 18 weeks I have done there is probably enough.

Some advice to anyone else who may be going to Yamasa in the future:

- if you can, get a homestay. You will miss out on some of the social life related to meeting other students, but will gain a lot towards learning about Japan and Japanese customs.

- If you live in the Student Village dorms - don't spend all your free time there. The dorms are good in that there are so many other foreigners for you to meet, and this has its benefits (I have made some very good friends of various dorm mates from when I was there). One bad thing is that it is way too easy to hang with other foreigners and not meet Japanese people. So get out and meet Japanese people.

- Even if you are not in the dorms, meeting Japanese people can be a major challenge. One place I found that was good to meet Japanese people was a western style bar called Izakaya Ja Nai, located on the other side of town. For the price of a beer (or three), you can hang out there. Generally the Japanese people who go there are open to talking to foreigners (and often they go there just for that). Note - if you do go with other students from Yamasa, make sure you are willing to split off from them. You won't practice your Japanese much if you sit at a table of 4 foreigners...

- Don't worry about if you don't do well in class - I have found that the grades on your tests are not really an indication of how good you are at communicating. One of the downsides to any Japanese language program I have seen (not just Yamasa) is that they often are looking for specific grammar forms in answers, and even if you communicated the answer Ok, you get points off. What matters is how you do on the street when you talk to regular Japanese people, and this should be how you judge your skills. Each time I have gone to study at Yamasa, I also allowed a few days for some travel after the classes, and during these times I found out how well my skills has improved.

- If you are going for just a few weeks, and have a choice on when to go, try to avoid the summer. Because colleges are out in the west, and many students use this as a time to go for a short term study in Japan, the program at Yamasa fills up. This makes for crowded dorms and classes. Summer classes are often like 15 students per class, where the times I was there often had numbers of less than half of this.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pizza / ピザ


my pizzaA Canadian guy and a Taiwanese girl in the dorms wanted to get pizza for dinner tonight, so I joined them. I was wondering what was popular on Japanese pizza, so decided to ask the people at the Pizza Store what the most popular pizza was, and get that. I figured it would be something interesting - for example, when I lived in Korea, it seemed that most pizzas came with slices of potatoes on them.

When I asked what the most popular pizza was, he said teriyaki chicken. So I ordered a small of that one for dinner. No tomato sauce on it - just teriyaki sauce, chicken, lettuce, etc. on a pizza dough. Kind of sweet tasting.

curry pizzaThe others ordered a curry pizza - came with a crust on the bottom and top, with a curry between the two. Interesting.

Both came with little tubs of mayonnaise which you could dunk you pizza in to.

They did have many other flavors, such as corn and sausage (whole little finger sausages). And you could get sausage or cheese rolled into the crust (kind of like stuffed crust in America).

These are my last few days at the school. On Thursday, my girlfriend comes and we travel around Japan for a week. It is likely I won;t have a chance to post any updates then, but will post a lot when I get back to America.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hacho Miso

I went to the Hacho Miso factory today to do a tour. When I arrived there, there wasn't anyone else to do the tour with me, so it was just me and a very nice tour guide (pictured). He spoke very little English, so we did it in Japanese. I guess my skills have improved some, as I was able to understand most of what was said (though we did use a dictionary more than once).

Hacho is a very old factory. He said the year they started, but I didn't catch the exact date. But it was something like 1350, so they have been in business some 700 years. Wow!

The picture below shows the process they use. Basically, they take either rice, barley, or soy beans (Hacho uses soybeans) with some water, sea salt, and koji (aspergillus oryzae), process it (grinding, cooking, etc.) and then let it ferment for over 3 years.

The name Hacho comes from the factory's location in relation to Okazaki Castle. Written in Kanji, the name means 8 blocks, which comes from the factory being 8 blocks from the castle.

今朝ハ丁味噌の会社のツアーへ行った。着いたとき、私だけツアーが行きたかった。だから私だけツアーした。 とても親切なガイドだった。ガイドは少しい英語が話せると、日本語でした。たいていの言葉が分かったので、日本語がだんだん上手になっている。




Friday, November 04, 2005

Yuyaonsen (part 2)

When I studied in Okazaki 3 years ago, I went with some friends for a hike starting at the town of Yuyaonsen, a 2 hour train ride from Okazaki (Blog entry from that hike is here). I went back again with a friend today. We hoped to see the trees Turning colors, but turned out to be a little early. We did find a few trees that had changed colors, but these were rather rare.

We did have a good hike. Started at town, and climbed to Horaiji temple (though it seems to have the same name as the one in nara, it is not the same temple). This time we climbed past the temple and up to the ridge, for an extra 5 kilometers or so. Then went back to the town, had lunch, and found an onsen we could go into (but for some reason, decided not to - we really should have).

Did find an interesting vending machine on our way back. Japan is know for having vending machines for most everything. Close to our school is a liquor store that has 3 vending machines outside that sell beer and sake. Hotels often have machines that sell underwear, ties, and various toiletries. Today we found one that sells onsen water for about a dollar per 100 liters (bring your own container).


岡崎で3年前の勉強のとき、友だちと湯谷温泉町から山歩きした。(この経験の日記を書いた-英語だけ)。 今日ほかの友だちとそこに行った。紅葉狩りしたい、けどちょっと早いだ。少ない木を見つけた。もう少し2、3週間と思う。

山歩きはよかった。町からほらじのお寺まで行った。そしてお寺から山の頂まで行った。 今年は10キロメートルごらいだ(3年前は10キロメートルごらいだけ)。その後、湯谷温泉町へ行って、昼ごはんを食べて、温泉を見つれた。でもはっきりしない理由で入らなかった。 どうしてか、分からない。馬鹿だったと思う。