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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

101 Things About Tokyo (Pt. 1) by Chris S. '11

Another IAP. Another Country.

A belated happy new year!  (あけまして、おめでとうございます!)

So I’m in Japan this IAP!

Last IAP, I spent it in Madrid, with MIT’s IAP Spain program (which is being conducted right now again! hope they’re having fun =p)

Following the “tradition,” I’ve decided to spend this IAP in Tokyo, refining my Japanese skills.

Unfortunately, because MIT does not have a IAP Japan program (hinthintnudgenudge administration? =p) I had to do this on my own, so this isn’t *technically* related to MIT but I hope you (and the powers above) will forgive me for blogging about it. >”<

Last IAP, we had 3 hours of class everyday in the morning (10-1) with Profesor Gessa, and stayed with a Spanish family arranged by MIT. This IAP, I decided to follow the same format and seek out a language program (my current program meets 1:30-4:30) and a homestay as well.

Through some arranging and some rearranging, I’m now staying with an elderly Japanese couple who loves to travel (the grandmother, at 67 years, is embarking again on a cruise to the Carribbean next week). I go home for dinner and have most of the day (except class hours) to have fun in Tokyo!

It’s been really fun so far, exploring all of Tokyo’s neighborhoods – peering into ancient shrines sitting adjacent to quirky shops – trying to not stare too hard at “interestingly attired” young people in Harajuku – and getting to know Tokyo to a deeper level than I had ever before just traveling, but not living, here (Tokyo had been a frequent family vacation location when I was still going to school in Taiwan).

Also, I’m trying really hard to refine my Japanese ability (so I can keep up with the constant chatter that is around me – Japanese people speak so fast with so many contractions! =/ ), but it has been pretty rewarding so far. :)

Although I’m still not qualified to comment on what it’s like to spend IAP at MIT (I’m probably going to do this finally during my senior year) yet, I would however say that I’ve been really happy with my two IAPs so far and I think this is a really fun alternative way to spend IAP! (and Reason Why MIT is So Awesome #2103 – We have IAP while other college kids have school!!!)

(sorry – I just love traveling too much to stay in boston over IAP. I just renewed my passport last April, and I’ve filled up about 1/4 of it already =p)

(and, after all, since this blog is to introduce to you an other way to spend IAP, I don’t think I’m off the topic too much at all. =D)

=p without further ado:

101 Things You Didn’t Know About Tokyo

1. There is MATCHA (まっちゃ、抹茶)FRAPPUCINO in Japanese Starbucks!!!
2. Americans are so protective of their “personal space.” Pfft. Come to Japan and they’ll show you what the lack of personal space means during their rush hours.
3. Japanese Subways (now, the restaurant) cost twice as much as Boston Subways.
4. They like ~ (read: tildas) so much. They think it makes everything cuter. For example, kawaii-ne~ Um, that looks too American wannabe. Try it with kana: かわいいね〜
5. The Japanese cell phone is a fusion between a high-def digital camera, a mini-laptop, and an entertainment center. It’s rarely used in the method described by its given name.
6. Tokyo is full of crows. Perhaps the residents looked at the birds and started imitating them through their clothing.
7. It is weird given the Japanese love for cutesy, bright things (anime, Pokemon) – rush hour at the subway station looks like a huge funeral (because of the crow-like black clothing – suits).
8. The Japanese are pros at falling asleep in difficult positions. We introduce the “keeping-your-back-completely-straight-on-the-subway-with-two-strangers-beside-you,” the “let’s-take-a-nap-while-waiting-for-the-train-to-arrive-and-wake-up-right-when-the-train-comes,” and of course, the esoteric art of “standing-and-keeping-your-balance-without-holding-on-to-handles-or-leaning-on-people-while-sleeping-while-the-subway-is-still-running.”
9. I think the samurais perfected the art described in 8.
10. By the way, the kanji for samurai Ôºà‰æçÔºâis the same as “servant” in Chinese. Not many people know this.

11. Speaking of which, “koi” Ôºà„Åì„ÅÑÔºâ means both “love” (ÊÅãÔºâand “carp”„ÄÄ(ÈØâÔºâ in Japanese. “Koi no koi,”„ÄÄ(ÈØâ„ÅÆÊÅãÔºâ anyone?
12. Subway signs are misleading. When they say “transfer is available at this station,” sometimes the other transfer platform is 700 meters away (all underground!). Transferring at Park Street (Boston’s T) = a couple of steps?
13. Sorry for mentioning the subway so much – you can see that I think the subway is the best place to observe the people in its natural habitat.
14. When you watch businessman (salaryman („ǵ„É©„É™„Éû„É≥Ôºâin Japanese) eat in their popular lunch places (like Yoshinoya – they are famous for the gyuudon – beef rice in a big bowl, Áâõ‰∏º), you are reminded of the efficiency of a factory (they’re all wearing suits, they all order the same thing, they eat at the same pace, and they leave together).
15. Another sound-alike (ok I shall stop here – there’s a lot in Japanese): kuuki ÔºàÁ©∫Ê∞ó„ÄÅ„Åè„ÅÜ„ÅçÔºâis “air” in Japanese, but I think it sounds an awful lot like “coo-kee” (try saying cookie the kawaii way). When Japanese say “let the air in,” I keep on mentally translating it as “let the cookie in.” ^____^”
16. If you’re 5 minutes early, then you’re late.
17. I’m really suprised at the number of public toilets there are in Tokyo. Shame on you, NYC.
18. Japanese employees are remarkably efficent. Even if there is no one in the shop, they’ll still find something “productive” to do, such as sushi chefs arranging and rearranging the placement of the fish in the refrigerated containers or Starbucks employees incessantly putting the chairs in order and wiping the tables. “Standing around” doesn’t exist in Japan.
19. They smile at you really big and always make contact when you buy/order something at a store. I think it’s in their employee manuals.
20. Japanese eyeglass stores started offering free cleaning services for your glasses by placing cleaning machines (for those that haven’t seen them, it’s basically a water basin that sends out vibrations through the water and “knocks off” dust/oil particles stuck on your glasses) outside their doors.

21. When in doubt of what the clerks are staying to you in the restaurants/shops, just say “hai.” It’s usually right. When it’s not right, tilt your head 30 degrees to the left, say “e-to” (ay-tow), and smile awkwardly.
22. The (Double) Quarter Pounder is a huge deal in Japanese McDonald’s. I just discovered that the Quarter Pounder is actually a seasonal product (ie. comes and goes) in McDonald’s – maybe that’s why it’s so “popular.”
23. Japanese McDee’s burgers look cute. The bun is perfectly rounded and the insides don’t slop out like Whoppers in the states.
24. Even the French Fries are neatly cut and don’t leave grease trails on the tray paper.
25. If = there is a Pokemon store in the mall. Then = that store has 5 times as much customers as any other shop in the same mall.
26. Pokemon plushies are so cute. <3
27. Speaking of Pokemon, the Japanese are largely unaware of the Mudkip phenomenon which ran rampant on US internet.
28. Speaking of plushies, Tokyo is filled with arcade shops that abound in “claw machines”, which I think are so Asian. (the Japanese call them “UFO Catchers”)
29. Among the many claw machines now in Tokyo, Rilakkuma plushies are extremely popular.
30. This sentence from the Wikipedia article made me die a little on the inside: “It is speculated that Rilakkuma was created to promote a less stressful environment for the Japanese. It encourages the workforce in Japan to relax from over working.”

Tokyo Harbor from Odaiba – an artificial island in Tokyo Harbor. The bridge is Tokyo Bay Bridge, the tower in the back is Tokyo Tower (site of many, many Japanese dramas), and the Statue of Liberty is, well…the Statue of Liberty.

31. “The San-X company puts staff members under obligation to create one cute character per month.” ……wow.
32. Learning English is apparently very popular in Japan – you see English cram school advertisements everywhere. It’s ironic because a lot of these signs are written in English (to challenge the Japanese from deciphering the signs) and I’m here in Japan, trying to do the opposite. -____-”
33. Apparently, a gaijin (foreigner, 外人、がいじん) man marrying a Japanese woman is okay, but for a Japanese man to marry a gaijin woman is frowned upon.
34. I met a couple (the dad is Japanese, the mom is Spanish – their son speaks Japanese but looks Spanish) at Tokyo Tower – I initially noticed them because they were speaking Spanish. I found it very curious that their family embodies the two languages I’ve been so dedicated to learning. (it’s also relatively rare to see Spanish speaking people in Tokyo, so I thought it was cool).
35. Japanese vending machines carry both cold and warm (!) drinks. Warm green tea does wonders on a cold day near the harbor.
36. Japanese KFC has “Fried Chicken Coated With Garlic Soy Sauce and Chili Spices” (it’s very good).
37. The Japanese manga industry is incredibly impressive. Manga/anime sales aside, the industry has spiraled into action figures, games, DVDs, collector cards, keychains/small goods…etc. Special edition figurines can cost up to hundreds of thousands of yen.
38. As you may know, the three sentences above are nowhere doing the subject as a whole justice.
39. “Maid cafes” (predominantly found near Akihabara) feature waitresses dressed as anime/manga-style maids (the appeal is more cute than sexy most of the time) who address you as masters and follows your commands.
40. To satisfy the insatiable desire of popping bubble wrap, the Japanese had invented “Putiputi.” This is in shops everywhere! I wonder who came up with the idea. -____-

Yokohama harbor at sunset/moonrise a few days ago when it was full moon! :D „Åô„Åî„ÅÑ„Äú

41. Today (January 12) was Seijinnohi (national holiday in Japan to commemorate those turning 20, Êàê‰∫∫„ÅÆÊó•„ÄÅ„Åõ„ÅÑ„Åò„Çì„ÅÆ„Å≤). 20 is the legal age in Japan to do just about everything (vote, drink, smoke), so turning 20 is an important event that is celebrated with the family. On Seijinnohi, many muncipal governments host “coming-of-age ceremonies” for young people turning 20 in their precincts, reminding them to be responsible adults. Afterwards, the young people visit jinjas ÔºàÁ•ûÁ§æ„ÄÅ„Åò„Çì„Åò„ÇÉÔºâ(Shinto shrines) with friends/family to make wishes (oinori„ÄÅ„ÅäÁ•à„Çä„ÄÅ„Åä„ÅÑ„ÅÆ„Çä).
42. Young woman usually dress in very fashionable kimonos (着物、きもの) on this day to mark the celebration.
43. Putting the kimono on is a great deal of work – if your mom doesn’t know how to do it herself, then you usually visit a kimono shop, where the shopkeeper will help you put it on. Such a service usually costs $20,000 yen.
44. Notice that the sleeves on the kimonos are really long. Those signal singlehood. After marriage, the kimono sleeves are kept short.
45. This year’s festival commemorates everyone that turned 20 between January 14, 2008, and today, January 12, 2009. Which includes me! =p What did I do? I went to Meiji Jinja (the biggest shrine in Tokyo – along with the throngs of everyone else„ÄÅ„ÇÅ„ÅÑ„Åò„Åò„Çì„Åò„ÇÉ„ÄÅÊòéÊ≤ªÁ•ûÁ§æ) haha and afterwards drank a cup of sweet wine (amazake Ôºà„ÅÇ„Åæ„Åñ„Åë„ÄÅÁîòÈÖíÔºâ- which isn’t not wine at all since there’s virtually no alcohol content) to symbolically signify “coming of age.” I guess I’m an “adult” now. hahaha. =p
46. To prevent minors from purchasing tobacco products, Japanese vending machines that sell cigarettes now have a sensor that detects a “TASPO” card. The card basically verifies that you are of age to purchase cigarettes and can be obtained through applying. If you do not tap a TASPO card to the vending machine, you can’t buy cigarettes.
47. Marriage ceremonies (kekkonshiki, Áµê©öºè„ÄÅ„Åë„Å£„Åì„Çì„Åó„ÅçÔºâin Japan are often held in Shinto jinjas, under the auspices of the torii (the entrance to a Shinto shrine – usually red – often translated as “fairy gate” in English – „Å®„Çä„ÅÑ„ÄÅÈ≥•Â±Ö). However, funerals (osoushiki, „ÅäËë¨Âºè„ÄÅ„Åä„Åù„ÅÜ„Åó„ÅçÔºâ are most often conducted in the Buddhist fashion, with a monk chanting sutras to accompany the deceased.
48. The wood in the biggest torii at Meiji Jinja came from Taiwan! (when Meiji Jinja was built, Japan controlled Taiwan and shipped a lot of Taiwanese cedar wood out to Japan for their shrines and buildings)
49. I’m in Starbucks right now. Some Americans sitting next to me pointed at my Macbook and gave me a thumbs-up and proceeded to praising Macs (in Japanese).
50. Do I look Japanese? o____o

The Meiji Jinja Main Torii

The continuation to come with a lot about Japanese food! :)

ps. This is going to come up sometime in the comments, so I might as well answer it here.

I don’t have any money! How can I do something like this?

A language program + homestay during IAP for four weeks generally cost around $50-65 per day. It was like that last year with MIT Spain and this year, even when I did this Japan program myself, it’s about the same. 50-65 dollars sounds like a lot, especially when dorming is already included in your tuition for IAP and all, but this includes 2 meals, a place to stay, language school tuition (AND free language practice with host family!). In a location like Tokyo (where the living is expensive and hotels run up to $500 a night) or Madrid (with the Euro going strong against the Dollar), I don’t think this is unreasonable, given the benefits that you will reap in the end (touring opportunities, added language proficiency – seriously, you learn more than a semester’s worth of the language in just a month – and of course the ability to live in another country).

Of course, I still think this is entirely up to the person. I love traveling and going places, so for me, this is the ideal way to spend a month away from school (I just can’t bear to look at more calculus =p) but to each his own :D

37 responses to “101 Things About Tokyo (Pt. 1)”

  1. Marina says:

    tou xiang!!

    Great post

  2. Jilly says:

    There’s Matcha Frappucino in Taiwan too.

  3. Banerjee says:

    OMG, reading this post makes me so nostalgic. I used to live in Japan for 8 years. I went to Harajuku almost every weekend. I could see Mt.Fuji from my bedroom. I miss it so much, and thanks for posting pictures… nice to see those things again.

    By the way, I hate to ruin the style, but you spelt the Japanese thing wrong. Its: Akemashite Omedeto Kudasai. (You wrote “Agemashite.”) Sorry, I just had to point that out.

  4. Banerjee says:

    Sorry, even I wrote that wrong. Its actually:
    Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu.

  5. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Jilly –

    Uh-nuh, Matcha Frap at Taiwan is only seasonal. I had it once, but it was way back and sadly I never saw it again :( (but granted, I haven’t lived there for 2 years, and I didn’t see it last time I checked, which was last summer =p)

    @ Banerjee –

    Oh yeah yeah =p hahaha sorry I’ll fix it hehe. I inserted all the Japanese afterwards in a jiffy and there might have been some „Åës and „Åís that I overlooked smile

  6. Ivan says:

    Since there is no IAP in Japan yet, where are you staying?

    Do you have any Japanese friends helping you in any way or are you doing this all on your own?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “4. They like ~ (read: tildas) so much. They think it makes everything cuter. For example, kawaii-ne~ Um, that looks too American wannabe. Try it with kana: „Åã„Çè„ÅÑ„ÅÑ„Å≠„Äú”

    Okay, who DOESN’T know that? :p

  8. sepideh says:

    i have never been in japan, but tooooooo obsessed with it for years. i am very happy now i see i knew all these 50 ooops 101 things. thank you for the awesome post. i would be happy to hear more about it. btw if i get admitted i promise i will spend my first IAP in japan. sounds like a dream for me…admitance to MIT and visiting japan the same year.
    SORRY i got caught in my own dreams and wishes in the comment box :D

  9. Bridger '13 says:

    Loved the post! I am going to seriously consider something like this for my IAP.

    Also, there was a spelling errors that had funny results.
    “They smile at you really big and always make contact when …” Was that supposed to be eye contact?

  10. Wow, this is just too awesome! Hmm…if I go to MIT, I would definitely take one IAP to travel to another country!! Must visit Japan one day for those mangas, and everything else you listed above! lolz.

  11. Stacy says:

    Nice post. I’ve always been in love with Japan and hope to visit. Has it been easy transitioning? Is being called a ‘gaijin’ as opposed to ‘gaikokujin’ still seen as derogatory?

  12. Ngozi '13 says:

    Gah! You’re living the life I’d love to live!

    I have two random and seemingly unrelated questions:
    1.) I know from reading a blog entry of yours that you have that Sophomore Standing Thing going on for you. I understand how you obtained this, and understand that it’s a chance to get involved in your respective area of study a bit sooner–but does it give you, like, more free time? To do things like this? (Though I know your traveling takes place during IAP…)

    I guess what I’m asking is: will not having sophomore standing bar me from doing certain things at MIT?

    2.) I would love to be able to speak Manadrin, German, Spanish and Japanese one day. I understand that Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries there is–so do you stand out, being American/Taiwanese? I am African myself–would I stick out like a sore thumb if I tried to study Japanese in a similar way as you are?

  13. Jen says:

    sugoi ne! I’d love to be doing what you’re doing now! (haha can you start pestering MIT for a Japan IAP? Then I can take part if I get into MIT!)

  14. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Ivan –

    With a Japanese family? There are associations that arrange homestays for people who want to travel to somewhere for a month to three months. Homestays, IMO, are comparable to renting an apartment on your own in terms of cost (the Chinese students in my language school who stay in housing for university students say their rent+food equals approximately how much I’m paying for homestay. I think the best thing about homestays, though, is that there’s free language practice everyday during dinner. The most difficult part to learning a language is not the grammar and understanding written text, but actually being able to use it in speech form and understanding what native speakers are talking about (and this part is also the most difficult to pick up in the States – although I must commend MIT Foreign Language for placing such a heavy focus on listening/speaking).

    This last part is also the reason why I try to go abroad for these last two IAPs.

    Other than the association that arranged my homestay and found the language school, I didn’t get any other help from Japanese friends.

    @ Anonymous –

    =p that’s pretty self-explanatory, but I just find the excessive use of ~s amusing~~~ hahaha

    @ Bridger –

    Yeah it should be eye contact =/ hai maybe my english is deteriorating :[ i’m too lazy to fix it now :p lol just so that you know what it means wink

    @ Stacy –

    Transitioning is more or less okay, since Taiwan life and Japan life share many similarities. I LOVE Japanese food, so that part is definitely not a problem wink there’s minor differences in living habits (such as the whole family sharing the same tub of water for a bath) but those are easily overcome wink

    As for Gaijin/Gaikokujin – I’ve heard Gaijin thrown around a lot around here, and unless everyone’s been derogatory to me XP then I don’t think it’s the case. Gaikokujin I think is more formal/appropriate to someone that you don’t know well, but then Gaijin is quite often just used in everyday speech with a friend…w/e.

    @ Ngozi –

    Sophomore standing, to be very honest, has completely *not* affected my academic life in any way (with the possible exception of allowing me to have a 12 unit graded UROP in the spring rather than 9 unit). Most people don’t do things for credit during IAP, and even if you do things for credit, they’re not likely to be courses that count towards for graduation requirement so it’s basically also okay to completely do nothing and go home for all of IAP (which many of my friends are doing, actually).

    Only a small percentage of every class opt for sophomore standing (I think I remember a figure, but I don’t want to be incorrect and flamed for it =/), and of course, the vast majority of MIT students graduate without too many problems, so it’s not a big deal in the long run.

    (as for getting into your course of study earlier – you can get into your course of study early too, if you don’t take all GIRs in the spring term. For example, I know people that left physics and bio completely to junior/senior year and took 3 classes in their major their spring semester without getting sophomore standing. Getting sophomore standing just removes the credit cap, but there’s still a limit of how many courses you can reasonably take. For example, even without credit limit, I discovered I can’t handle 72 credits too well, so I’ve settled down for a more comfortable 60. Others do 48 (which is the “normal” load at MIT), and that’s perfectly fine too!

    I guess the moral of the story is, whether you do 72, 60, 48, or sometimes even 36 for certain terms – we’ll all be okay in the end. MIT courses are already structured so that I think you should be able to graduate from any major (provided you don’t fail classes) with only ever taking no more than 48 credits any term. Thus, anything you do extra will be…extra. There’s really no rush.

    ps. I don’t know the above claim (48 units per term to graduate from any major – but that’s what I would imagine, since that’s what is defined as a “regular” term in calculating sophomore standing) as a fact – just from what I’ve seen. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, current MIT student/alum.)

    As for your second question…

    Well I look Asian (I just have an American passport but I look nowhere white), so I guess I blend in pretty well. I don’t think I look Japanese, but apparently some Japanese can’t even tell (I think it’s about half-half: half can tell that I’m probably Chinese/Taiwanese and half can’t). But in a big crowd, then yeah, I don’t really stand out.

    As for being African, however, you’d be surprised at how many African people there are in Tokyo. A lot of the workers at McDonald’s, for example, are African. I’ve also seen them in hotels, business meetings in Starbucks…etc. all speaking fluent Japanese! Also, I don’t think Japanese have the tendency to stare hard at Africans (this is more the case with Taiwan), so you’ll be okay. wink

    @ Jen –

    Yeah seriously I’m going to go back and lobby for an IAP Japan program. (we already have MIT Japan – why not IAP Japan?)

    ps. For those that are just tuning in – MIT Japan provides internship opportunities in Japan over the semesters or the summer (these are usually 3+ months in nature). MIT Spain does the same likewise. IAP Spain, however, is just a language/homestay program that is taught by a MIT language teacher in Spain while you stay with a Spanish family (you also get 12 units of MIT credit for Spanish 2). I think there should likewise be IAP Japan. wink

    @ Little Peonies –

    Wow – that’s fascinating, lol. Tou Xiang is more of a Taiwanese statement, yeah.

    (btw, something that occurred to me after I posted that here on MIT blogs. The pinyin has the same transliteration as “surrender” in Chinese, so sometimes it’s like you all are “surrendering” on MIT blogs =p

    (in characters, the appropriate characters for “tou xiang” is, literally, “first incense” – alluding to the practice that being the first person to place a stick of incense in a incense pot at a temple festival brings good luck)

    “surrender” has different characters, but the same pinyin. =p)

    And I don’t know the Japanese equivalent for “first post!” I shall go inquire.

    @ Everyone –

    I highly recommend you to click on the “Putiputi” link.

  15. Question:
    How do they say “first post” in Japan?

    I just visited some Mainland Chinese forums and they used “Ê≤ôÂèë” (in English: sofa) for “first post”.

  16. One of the more interesting explanations from an online encyclopedia is this:
    Replying to the entry is akin to being hosted at the writer’s home. And so they visualize this: the first person to make a comment gets to sit on the sofa. The second has to make do with a wooden stool. The third sits on the carpet. The fourth, the bare floor.

  17. Ian says:

    IAP totemo tanoshii desu ne! When reading your list, I recognized a lot that I saw in doramas. Hope to go abroad to improve Spanish and Japanese like you did someday. Time shall tell (specifically, March)…

  18. Japan! Sugoi!

    I’m sorta trying to teach myself Japanese now, and I really want to visit Japan one day and maybe live there for a few years!

    Japan == love.

  19. Stacy says:

    Haha, that website’s awesome.

  20. Pan says:

    Jilly! Yess! “Green Tea” Frapp! at Taiwan~

    OMG this post makes me realise…I need to go back to Japan to take note of all these things! (I swear the tour i went on was called “temple tours of japan”) LOL

    Awesome post!

  21. Paulo says:

    You should try adding a tilde to your happy faces. =~P =~D =~p

    To be honest, it does looks cuter Haha~!!!

    Also, PutiPuti changed my perspective on Japanese Gaming =D oops! =~D

  22. lory says:


    i want to learn japanese too,,
    but,, its kinda hard to read the kanji..aaaaa
    i hope someday i could visit japan,,
    well,,good luck to you michelle!!
    gambate ne!!

  23. Narce says:

    I knew more than 51 of those facts, without ever technically going to Japan, so I’m happy ^.^

    But then again, I’m a complete otaku of all things Nippon… culture, language (the tilde thing is obvious if you just read the Japanese version of ONE CHAPTER of ONE MANGA, lol), even history. Even though the Japanese mostly use the word otaku for anime-related stuff nowadays “>_>

  24. Narce says:

    WOAH, WOAH, WOAH. That should read more than 41 of those facts.

    Holy crap. No, I do not know more facts than you posted. Sorry XD

  25. Banerjee says:

    When is Part 2 coming?

  26. Oasis '11 says:

    These “facts” are more like just random stuff that I jot down every night before going to sleep, lol. =p That’s why they’re more like “train of thought” than actual like guidebook observations lolol. =D

    @ CG –

    Yeah their burgers are really small! lol petite sized smile

    Um well the teriyaki burger is just a tad hard to make neat =p

    Oh yeah it should be the yen symbol sign haha I was too lazy to locate it on my keyboard >___~

    @ Banerjee –

    Um, in a week or so…I haven’t had taken enough pics! =p heh heh.

  27. Chris, how did you go about finding a reputable association to arrange your homestay in Japan? Can you tell us which one you used, for the benefit of someone who might want to do the same thing?

  28. Narce says:

    WOW, a parent who calls their kid an otaku. That is amazing. In a good way. Like, a really really amazing way.

  29. CG says:

    Did you think their burgers were smaller?
    I also thought their fries were larger…

    Did you get the Teriyaki Burger?
    I thought it looked horrible ^^;

    “$20,000 yen.” is very confusing.
    $20,000, yes, seems ridiculous, on the otherhand, ¥20,000 does not. XD

    Thanks for the interesting post!

  30. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Parent of Otaku –

    :p I agree with Narce.

    If you want details, please email me! (see email on banner).

    Thanks! smile

  31. Anonymous says:

    Wait, so are you taking Spanish AND Japanese as language courses?

    Oh my god, the Putiputi link had me laughing the whole time. I want one.

  32. Oasis '11 says:

    ^ Weeellll…I took Spanish 3 my frosh spring, then randomly decided to place into Japanese, and I placed into Japanese 3 for soph fall, and now I’m seriously considering doing Spanish 4 and Japanese 4 at the same time next term (soph spring).

    Yeah, I know, I know, it’s gonna be super confusing, but eh =/ Haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. I might just stick with Spanish 4 since I think all the Japanese I’m learning here will let me place out of Japanese 4 and enter Japanese 5 in the fall. =p

    But I really really want to be fluent at both languages! (as in native-speaker fluent) wink

    ps. if you can’t tell already, I love foreign language. I would learn French and/or Korean if MIT is a little bit more forgiving on courseload, but eh, I guess it’ll have to wait. :(

  33. Narce says:

    Japanese and Latin are the only foreign languages I’ve ever been interested in learning, and Japanese is the more practical of the two for an engineer, so I just stuck with that in high school and plan to massively enhance my knowledge of the Japanese language at MIT! ^.^ (since only 1 full year of it is offered at the university I dual enroll at, and 1 year of Japanese around here is at MOST one term of it at MIT)

  34. kee says:

    we have the matcha frapp in saskatoon (canada)!

  35. @Narce & Chris: Thanks for your kind comments!

    @Chris: I’ve just sent you an email.

    I’m looking forward to future blog entries about your linguistic adventures.

  36. Diedecrelia says:

    Greets, bad news today

    I just joined this forum and see that it is very active and full of people with great ideas. It seems like you all support each other well here too. I am looking for advice as I got laid off from my job 3 months ago and it looks like the mortgage company is going to foreclose on my home.

    Do any of you have any advice or are you in a similar position?

    I know this is a bit off topic for this forum so maybe you can please join me at and we can talk through what’s going on with me and the economy in the USA.