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Archive for the 'Tokyo Intern' Category

An Intern’s First Camtasia Video

Hi Everyone,

Today, I’m doing something a little bit different than usual. I’ve made a Camtasia video instead of my usual written blogs. Just press play!

I should probably mention that this is not my best work. It was my first time ever playing around with the program, so I sound a bit stressed and stiff and I’m reading from a script (I promise I am more fun than how I sound in this example!). You can also probably hear all of the hustle and bustle of the JPod101 office in the background. As always, we are busy busy busy.

Anyway, with that forewarning said, enjoy!

If you want to leave me any comments, please do.

Intern Video

Can You Hear me Now?

Moshi Moshi!

Today I did lessons 48 and 49 from JapanesePod101.com’s survival phrases and lessons 31 and 32 from SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese. The focus was all about cell phones.

Closed Cell Phone

Open Cell Phone

TV Cell Phone

These photos are of a typical cell phone here in Japan. Notice this one’s screen turns horizontally for the owner to watch TV. The little charms hanging on the side are very popular for both men and women. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

I have a cell phone here in Tokyo. It is a puripeido keitai denwa, or prepaid cell phone, from Soft Bank, one of the cell phone carriers here in Japan. It is a standard flip phone that has photo and video capabilities. For a prepaid phone, it’s actually pretty neat.

On my first day here, I went to Soft Bank to get it and they charged me for the phone and my first terehon kado, or prepaid telephone card, that was a gosen en kado, 5,000 yen card. 300 of those 5,000 yen were spent on unlimited text messaging service to last the entire month. Three US dollars for unlimited text messaging?! It was a steal!

I believe that of the remaining 4,700 yen, making calls costs 90 yen a minute; incoming calls are free. I paid a total of $110 USD for the keitai denwa and terehon kado. The phone comes with a charger, headphone/speaker, computer connection cable, manual, and screen cleaning charm. It was a bargain! I’m sure other companies also have deals like this, but if you don’t want to search them, this option is a good one.

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Tokyo Metro

Today I did all of the lessons related to a major part of Tokyo; none other than the metro system. These lessons go from 26-30 on JapanesePod101.com’s survival phrases and SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 23, 24, and 25.

Tokyo Metro Train 1

Tokyo Metro Train 2

These are some photos of the metro. Nothing too amazing by the looks of it, but incredible once inside. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

The Tokyo Metro system is like a living arterial network that zig zags and wraps itself across the entire area of what makes up Tokyo and beyond. It’s so weird to be walking through ancient shrines and beautiful gardens that have been in place since the 1600s, and think that there are probably three lines of trains at different depths passing underneath you all at once.

This is what makes Tokyo magnificent; its mix between tradition & history and high-tech modernity.

Here in Tokyo, there are 9 sen, or lines, each differentiated not only by name but also by color. (Click here for a link to the subway map and the names and colors that coincide with it. This link is part of the Tokyo Metro website.)

As a gaijin, or foreigner, I was excited to see that a new line, the Fukutoshin line, denoted by brown, opened just this week. We initially thought it’d be a big deal that there was a new line opening, but found that a lot of people didn’t even know about it. Clearly, new stops and lines are always being made to add to the convenience of public transportation in this city.

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“Kyo no Tenki wa do Desu ka?”

Welcome back survival phrase learners!

Our title today translates to, “how is the weather today?”

Kristen Joy Watts Umbrellas

Fortunately, it’s been sunny, so I’ve been unable to snap one of my own umbrella photos, but this is one I found online. [Photo by: Kristen Joy Watts - http://www.kristenjoywattsphotography.com/japan%20narratives.html]

Today I listened to the following lessons:
SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese 29 & 30
JapanesePod101.com Survival Phrases 23, 24, & 25

The most important section in my opinion from today is about weather! As you may or may not know, it is the rainy season here in Japan this month, and it feels like it rains every day. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and there have only been three sunny days!

It gets depressing waking up every morning to a cloudy sky, but that is the only thing that seems to be truly consistent with the tenki, or weather, at this time of year. Sometimes it is pouring and others a mere drizzle. Yesterday, even though it rained, it was so hot outside I felt like I could hardly breathe. Today, it is raining, but it is cold outside. The temperature seems to constantly vary here despite the consistent overcast sky and precipitation.

One thing I have noticed about Tokyo is that everyone uses kasa, or umbrellas. Every place of business has umbrella racks, including the JapanesePod101.com HQ! It seems as if it is rude to bring an umbrella inside of buildings. Some places have plastic umbrella wrappers to put your wet umbrella in, so that it does not drip.

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Foreign Convenience

Hello readers!

Thanks for coming back and checking out blog #9! Today I continued my studies of survival Japanese with SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 26, 27, and 28, and JapanesePod101.com survival phrase lessons 20, 21, and 22.

The lessons covered mainly directions and how to get different places. One Survival Phrase lesson however, expanded upon convenience stores, which is quite an adventure in itself. I thought I would blog a little bit about them today, since I have yet to try my hand at asking someone how to get somewhere (at this point, I think that it’s more fun to get lost in Tokyo, since there’s so many hidden treasures in this city).

Sunkus Convenience Store

Though it’s a plain photo, this is a picture of a common convenience store here in Tokyo. I was lucky to get a woman dressed in Kimono walking out! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Kon-bini, or convenience stores are all over the place. Recognizable to Americans are the 7-11s, but there is also a chain called Sunkus, and other places with signs written in Kanji that I cannot understand. The stores here, are much like any convenience store in any country. There are some basic grooming items and packaged snacks, refrigerators for a cool beverage, and current magazines and newspapers. It is the food and beverage offered that makes these stores interesting to a foreigner.

Right now, I’m drinking a carbonated pineapple drink made by Sapporo that I picked up earlier. Because I saw the name Sapporo on it, I realized that I was taking a risk. Was it a soda or an alcoholic beverage? Fortunately, it’s just a soft drink. What I’ve learned however is that Japanese beer companies like Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban have other products than just beer. This is not the case in America. I can’t imagine drinking a juice made by Heineken.

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The Wheels on the Bus…

Today I listened to a whole slew of lessons from talk about the internet to the bus stop. This included SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 20, 21, and 22, and JapanesePod101.com Survival Phrase lessons 17, 18, 19, 31 and 36.

Pasmo Bus

This is an example of one of the buses that stops right in front of the JPod101 HQ! It’s so fun and colorful! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

The first thing I want to touch on and reiterate is to not be worried about your safety in Japan. One of the lessons dealt with thieves and muggers. This is rare! I know I mentioned it in my last blog and will say it again; Japan is very safe, and I have yet to feel uncomfortable at all. I venture to say that the only reason you would need to make an emergency call to 110 would be if someone got hurt, not because someone was endangered by another.

Another lesson dealt with bus stops. I have yet to use the bus! Undoubtedly, the trains are the way to go around here, and I don’t foresee myself ever needing to use the bus here around Tokyo. The only bus I rode was from Narita Airport, or Japanese, “kokou“, into the city.

Narita is located just over an hour’s drive away from central Tokyo. It can be difficult taking the crowded trains into Tokyo if you have a lot of luggage, and a taxi is very expensive. I was told to take a basu, or bus. As soon as you walk out of customs, there are bus counters. We walked up to one and told them where we needed to be. The woman at the counter smiled and printed our kippu, or tickets. I believe it cost $30 USD, or 3,000 JPY.

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Show Me the Money…in Tokyo

Hey Podcasters,

Today I finished up lessons 15 and 16 in JapanesePod101.com’s Survival Phrases. I also did lessons 17, 18, and 19 in SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese. The lessons focused on banking and shopping/using prices here in Tokyo.

Harajuku weekend crowd

This is an example of a weekend crowd in Harajuku taken this past weekend. [Photo by Emily Carsch]

In case you missed it in the podcast, the easiest way to think about the “kokan reto“, exchange rate, to date between American dollars and Japanese yen is 1:100. If something costs 600 yen, it’s equivalent to $6 USD. 2500 JPY is $25 USD. You can just think about it by knocking off the two back numbers (usually zeros) put on the yen to get the dollar amount.

Because I will be in Tokyo for two months, I opened a Citibank account, since it is the only American ginko, bank, that is all over Tokyo. There is actually a Citibank right across from JapanesePod101.com, so it’s really easy to run over to the ATM and pull out some cash when I’m on the go. If you’re going to be here for an extended amount of time, I suggest you look into doing the same thing. It’s much easier than trying to find the “yubinkyoku“, post office, and hoping your card is one of the ones accepted there.

A really important note worth mentioning, if you don’t already know this about Tokyo, the entire city is very reliant on “genkin“, cash. In America, most people use credit and debit cards consistently. This is not the case in Tokyo. I have found that places like McDonalds do not even take credit cards. Cash is a necessity and it is safe to carry several hundred dollars in your wallet if that is what you end up doing. To function in this city, have cash on you at all times.

My apologies to those readers not from America for making my banking comparison comments specific to the United States. It’s what I know to make comparisons to.

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“Gochumon O Dozo”

Hello Readers!

The title means, “your order please”.

Today I completed JapanesePod101.com Survival Phrases lessons 12, 13, & 14, and SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 11 & 16. The bulk of the material was about fast food, which is what I want to expand upon today.

So far, the fasuto fudo (fast food) I have been to just happen to both be American chains; Subway and McDonalds.


McDonalds Sign

These are photos of a McDonalds located next to the JPod101 HQ. Can you understand the Kanji on the banner? [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Subway was fantastic! In America, we “eat fresh” with tuna, turkey, ham, and roast beef; just to name the staple items. At the restaurant here in Japan, you can order egg salad, shrimp and avocado, and veggie dogs for example. Instead of your standard condiments like mayonnaise and mustard, Subway offers toppings like basil, wasabi, and pepper sauce.

Want a combo meal? Here, instead of chips, you get potato wedges and you choose which flavor you want; regular, cheese, basil, or BBQ. As far as the beverage is concerned, that too is different than in the US. It seems that “free refills” is virtually unknown here. Want diet cola or a lemon-lime soft drink? You won’t find that here. The options at the Subway I went to were limited to Coke, Ginger Ale, tea, and “Melon Pop”.

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A Place to Rest Your Head

Have you ever heard of a capsule hotel?

I hadn’t until I starting reading up on Tokyo, and was reminded of it again this week in JapanesePod101.com’s Survival Phrase lessons 9, 10, and 11 and SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 9 and 10.

Weekly Mansion

This is a photograph of the entrance to where I’m staying. [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Kapuseru hoteru, or capsule hotel, is not like any hotel people are used to in America and many other western cultures. While I have yet to stay in one, I hear they’re quite the experience and am looking forward to the day I get to try it out.

Here in Tokyo, the metro system stops at midnight and starts again at five in the morning. Taxis are usually very expensive making the metro the overall transportation of choice here. Often, it is easy to find yourself out in one of the fun districts of Tokyo past the stroke of twelve. This is where a capsule hotel comes in.

Looking for a place to stay until the wee hours of the morning? Renting a capsule might be what you are looking for. I hear it’s merely a bed and television, and that there is not even enough room to stand, but it’s a place to hang your hat until the trains start again in the morning.

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Lost in Translation

Konbanwa nihongo speakers!

I’ve just finished lessons 6, 7, and 8 from both JapanesePod101.com’s Survival Phrases and SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese. The main focus of my day’s lessons were how to ask, “do you speak English?” and “how do you say this in English?” Respectively, these phrases are “Eigo ga hanasemasuka?” and “Kore wa eigo de nanto iimasuka?”

Metro Escalator

This is just a quick photo of an escalator in the subway that I mention. Notice the people standing on the left and scaling on the right. [Photo by Emily Carsch]

A lot of the talk was about the Japanese people’s ability to speak English, though they shy away from doing it. I, for one, did not realize just how much the Japanese are required to study English in school. I was shocked that most study English for at least six years.

In my teachings in the United States, I took at least six years of Spanish, or “supeingo”, and really feel today like I have a fairly good grasp of the language. With this said, it seems to me that the Japanese people would have at least some understanding of English like my experience with Spanish.

I have found that there are two types of people here in Japan when it comes to speaking English. There are the Japanese who are excited to practice their skills in English and will often start a conversation in English with you out of their own will. The second type of person is the one we heard about in the podcasts; the ones that are shy and a bit too intimidated to try their hand at English with a native English speaker.

Let me tell you about my experiences with each…

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