Archive for August, 2008
Unlike many people around the world, Olympic fever has hardly gripped me. The UK’s charge to 3rd (well, 4th) in the medals table hasn’t thrust me into some sort of patriotic fervor, despite the BBC’s best attempts. One reason I’ve been unimpressed with the Olympics is because in Japan coverage is broadcast on NHK meaning a break in their regular programming and thus a break for the greatest TV show on the box, Eigo De Shabera Naito.
So now that the Olympics has finished Eigo De Shabera Naito (英語でしゃべらナイト) has made it’s glorious return tonight. It’s a cute little concept for TV show. The presenters learn English over the course of the series and test themselves by conducting English Language interviews with celebrities and people around Japan (and the world) who use English in there everyday lives.
Everything is very light hearted, all the way down to the title. The title is extremely puntastic. It is a shortened down version of the phrase “Eigo de shaberanai to ikenai (dame desu)” which means “You should speak English”. The “naito” part is written in katakana and is how they would render the English word “night” in Japanese, it is written like this because the show airs at night. Ok, it’s not the best pun, maybe it’s lost in translation.
Currently there are 4 regular hosts of the show Aoi Minoru, Norito Yashima, Moe Oshikiri and Patrick Harlan. I’m not sure what else Aoi does apart from this show but I he is perhaps the only man in the world I would describe as “sweet”. Norito is an actor, quite an explosive character and great fun along with his catchphrase “I’m FIGHT”. Moe is the eye candy of the show, a glamour model and a face I seem to notice everywhere. Patrick is an American ex-pat who has quite a glittering comedy career here as part of the double act Pakkun Makkun (which I’ve yet to expirience). The presenters aren’t just pretty faces though, all of their English has noticeably improved over the course I have been here, except maybe Patrick, whose English perhaps has gotten worse.
A special mention has to be given to the narrator, Jon Kabira, who is perhaps the greatest man alive and has the best voice in mass media.
Other than the celebrity interviews another regular feature is Pakkun Eiken, which is a quiz where Patrick Harlan defines a certain word in English, after which contestants must produce the word in question. The other hosts plus the guests take part and I always root for Norito, cos he’s ace.
My ramblings really can’t do this programme justice, so here is a wee clip, please watch at least a couple of minutes of it to get a proper feel for the style the show is presented in.
AND for those reading this who live in Japan, remember to tune into NHK 1 at 23:00 on Mondays, you won’t want to miss it!
August is festival season in Japan. Every weekend in villages, towns and cities up and down the country men and women don yukatas and well, watch people dance.
Two weeks ago it was Higashi Rinkan’s turn for a festival. Suddenly my sleepy little town was just chock full of people. They lined the main street watching all sort of funky dances.
Such as this one:
There were many groups of dancers slowly moving round the town, people of all ages were taking part. Interestingly, while each group had their own little dances, they all seemed to be playing the same song. Luckily I found that song strangely appealing.
Other than the dancing there were plenty of food stalls, as to be expected at these type of events no matter were they are in the world, selling all manner of Japanese food such as okonomiyaki, ramen and hot dogs. There was also a drink being sold called Ramune, which only seems to be available at festivals. It tastes very similar to Sprite so nothing special there but what does make it interesting is the bottle. It is sealed with a marble which is held in place by the pressure of the carbonated drink. The bottle is opened with a little tool found inside the cap, you push down on the marble and it is forced into the neck, where it bobbles around as you drink. The ingenious thing is that there are two little nodules which keep the marble from obstructing the flow of the liquid.
Unfortunately Higashi Rinkan’s festival was the only one I had the pleasure to going to this year, perhaps next year I will be able to see what kind of thing a bigger town can cook up.
Here are some photos from the event for your viewing pleasure:
Wow, this photo viewing thing is quite cool, I may have to use it again in the future. However the question needs to be asked: How many things can you embed into a website before you have too many things embedded in a website?
You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging so much recently. I was thinking about why a little while ago and I thought that maybe it was because I was getting used to my life in Japan. Maybe things just don’t seem so strange any more, maybe things that a few months ago would have caused me to pause for a minute and ponder no longer phase me. Maybe.
It could also be that I recently bought both Ridge Racer 6 (again) and Soul Calibur 4 for my XBox 360 and a lot of my veg time is spent drifting round corners “with some serious speed” or having my soul still burn.
I realised that my first theory must be incorrect yesterday during a trip to Ikebukaro’s Sunshine City (imagine London’s Trocadero but bigger and not rubbish). Sunshine City houses the only Burger King in Japan. I don’t understand why, Mc Donald’s, KFC and Starbucks are everywhere but I have only had one confirmed sighting of Burger King in all of Japan (I’ve heard rumours of others but so far they are unsubstantiated). So being in Ikebukaro I took the opportunity to go. As I sat down with my tasty teriyaki burger I noticed this scene on the table opposite:
I can’t believe the someone could ring up a FAST FOOD RESTAURANT to reserve a seat. Especially as there were plenty of seats still available. Also, that evening a pig flew, it rained fish and Newcastle United won a major trophy.