The Catch-up – Gaijinhan

The Catch-up

this is a lot of information so i’ll break them down to parts…

golden week

well, golden week has finally started for us although it officially started for most other japanese some 2 days ago. so we’re not gonna be having any lessons till wednesday and resume our class on thursday. was thinking of heading to hokkaido but i’ll probably be touring there myself and since a few other great friends are heading to nara and kyoto, i decided to join them!

i haven’t been to nara before so it’s gonna be great and as for kyoto, i wouldn’t have wanted to head there again but thanks to the ofuda i got during summer last year at kiyomizu temple with saori, i’d have to return the ofuda after 1 year. though it hasn’t actually been a year, but saori says that it’s ok to return earlier or later. so yes, i’m returning it this spring! come to think about it, the ofuda is really a blessing. if i hadn’t taken it, i might not have wanted to head there with this group of friends and end up wasting my GW not travelling anywhere.

nintendo DS

so, lots of things to catch up here. some 2 weeks ago, i decided not to get an electronic dictionary, and seeing 2 of my classmates using DS as a dictionary, i talked to sis over msn to ask if i could borrow hers so that i can save on the 20-over thousand yen. she readily agreed and sent it over as soon as she could without even asking me to pay for the shipping which came up to about $65.50. that included a jacket, towel and DS. i am deeply grateful for having a sis who at many times can be confrontational but when it comes to the time you really need her, she’ll be there without any complaints. as opposed to the kind who always helps you in small things but ditches you when you really need them, i prefer my sis.

the downside of having the DS though, is also that i’ve been playing mario kart quite a bit. it used to be in english and i had completed all the stages but i think sis removed it and got another one in japanese, which is why i am playing all over again and having fun! lol…

mobile phone (white plan)

some time last week, i practically spent an hour and a half at a softbank counter with a cute staff asking about the mobile plans and costs. no, the reason i spent that long with her wasn’t because she was cute, although that did help make things more enjoyable. i spent that long with her because my vocab sucked. she used some terms i didn’t understand and i was confused about the plans and costs. so i kept asking in different ways again and again and she very patiently explained everything to me time and again until i got it. i don’t really know if she was secretly cursing me under her breath but all was good.

coincidentally, that monday i went down was the day the promotion of “non-contractable plan” was ending. and i was at the shop at 18:30 till 20:00. they close at 8. i didn’t want to make an impulse purchase because so many times it has failed me so i decided not to succumb to the evil marketing strategies by declining to purchase on the spot.

the plan goes like this… for “white plan” at ¥980 per month. free incoming, free softbank-softbank calls from 1:00~21:00. so just don’t call your friends too late at night and it’s a good deal. messages and emails are at an additional ¥315 per month. text only. i don’t remember the other rates though but i think it’s like ¥42 per minute if you call phones under other service providers such as AU and DoCoMo. but as a student, you get 3 years off the ¥980, so yes, it’s ¥0. if you sign the student white plan, and include the messaging service, there’s further discount of the ¥980 you are waived. so free messaging after deducting the ¥315 off the discount, and you’re left with ¥665 for phone calls. so if you don’t expect to call more than 50 minutes a month, your bill can be as low as ¥8. if you’re expecting more, then get the double white plan which is an additional ¥980 per month.

the phone costs ¥23,520. you can opt to buy it in one payment or over 24 months at ¥980 per month. yes, 980’s the magic number. but that phone doesn’t have tv or dictionary function. you can, however, pay another price i don’t remember and be able to choose any phone they’ve got, with tv and dictionary. though i seem to have the memory that it costs less… mm…

if you’re not under contract, you just have to make sure you finish paying the cost of the phone. you can cancel it anytime you want to. but if you’re under contract, cancellation within 2 years would incur a ¥10,000 penalty. bear in mind that’s $140. singtel charges me $400 for cancellation. what the fuck?

because i don’t really know if i can land a job here, i didn’t want to pay so much for a phone which i could be only using for like the next 5 months. which i believe i wouldn’t use much either. so i decided to check other options.

mobile phone (pre-paid card)

frankly, pre-paid card is supposed to be illegal in japan due to terrorist activities. i don’t really understand why service providers are still able to sell it. but that’s not my main concern here.

i was told softbank pre-paid cards lasts for a year so you won’t be able to use it after one year though a classmate says he’s still using his after a year. you’ve got to top up the pre-paid card at least once every 2 months @ a mimimum of ¥3,000. that includes messaging and calling charges but you probably won’t use that much. i know i won’t. another singaporean friend says she uses them to call home because she doesn’t use it that much either although it comes in handy.

so the cheapest phone at okazaki costs around ¥15,000, of course no tv no dictionary. the classmate says you can get it cheaper on softbank website with tv and dictionary. but his idea of cheap may be entirely different because his electronic dictionary costs him ¥40,000. the regular ones costs just slightly over ¥20,000. you can get the sim card at no charge. there’s a good news though. which is that the sim card fits perfectly into your singapore phone so you can choose not to get a phone BUT! just purchasing the sim card would cost you ¥3,500. so do your math before you make your decision. i don’t know the pricing for AU and DoCoMo though. i’m not sure if AU offers pre-paid card but i know for sure DoCoMo does too.

for the record, DoCoMo holds the major market share here in japan. so AU and softbank works really hard to target students by offering really cheap subscription rates. that means DoCoMo is really expensive. pre-paid card wise, i only know that it’s the same when it comes to topping up the ¥3,000 every 2 months.

after all this information, if you still do not understand, go spend 1.5 hours at a counter. just make sure you get a cute girl.

electronic dictionary

so after the talk with the girl at softbank, i figured, just the phone alone without monthly charges would cost me almost ¥24,000. i won’t be able to use it after i return to singapore or travel anywhere else for that matter. i could get an electronic dictionary below that price and i can use it no matter when i am.

it was then, that i decided not to get a phone, an instead, get an electronic dictionary off kakaku.com. and it arrived just in time before GW!


i know the lighting’s not good but i don’t really care.

anyway, i got this at ¥22,900 + administrative charges as i opted for cash on delivery which came up to around ¥420. of course there are other payment methods available that do not incur additional charges but since i’m a first-time customer at kakaku, i figured i should pay the extra ¥420 to protect the potential loss of my ¥22,900.

this model XD-A3800WE is targetted at japanese secondary school students but i guess my standard’s not even close to theirs so this would come in handy.

a note on electronic dictionaries though. do note the kind of dictionary that are installed into the system. they’re not “all the same”. a search on the internet gave me quite a bit of information on the kind of dictionary i’m searching for. as such dictionaries are not exactly made for learners of japanese – rather, it’s made for japanese learners of english – some of the japanese examples may be difficult for us. the most common ones you can find around is known as koujien (広辞苑). these dictionaries give in-depth information on language use and example sentences do not necessarily begin with or have the most common usage.

next 2 less common ones are daijisen (大辞線) and daijirin (大辞林). these typically give example sentences that are most commonly used in the japanese’ daily lives. i’d prefer these but i have to maintain that if you’re an advanced learner of japanese and also depending on what you want, koujien could be better for you.

an ultra expensive but highly detailed dictionary is kenkyuusha (研究者). as you can probably tell from the name, it is expensive! for me at least. the classmate i mentioned before uses this kind of dictionary. which is why it costs over ¥40,000.

i’m not so concerned about the kind of english dictionary it uses but you could check it out too. oh, the one i have is a full touch panel with audio. most of the new ones have that too, so don’t miss out on these great functions.

hallelujah

a while ago as i was typing this, my doorbell rang and i went to answer it. a jamaican guy and a japanese girl were standing by the door and said they were here for volunteer work. i was thinking what it is that they could actually do for me so i decided to listen on though i kinda had my suspicion. 2-3 sentences into the conversation, i figured they were here for evangelistic purposes although the guy was smooth enough to avoid mentioning the big names of the game. he had this magazine in his hand that reads “Awake!”


looks like a science magazine to me


even more like a science magazine at one quick glance

so he mentioned something about science and didn’t go to disprove it. he just said that the scientists said that they created things out of observing the nature, “which means there is something that is intelligent-er out there.” at this point in time, i was just waiting to find out which christian denomination he’s from. for sure i know he’s not a catholic because i’ve yet met a catholic who’s as evangelistic. so he handed me a copy of the magazine at the end of the conversation and the back looks like this.


there you go!

religion sure is a thing that changes with time, a negotiated experience. the christians were so adamant against science in the past and now they’ve changed their strategy or interpretation by merging people’s beliefs into theirs. it kinda reminded me of how zen buddhism came about. created to suit the samurais’ lifestyle of constant war and fighting. but i digress.

the back of the magazine doesn’t exactly say where he’s from then i looked at the inner page again (refer to above), the left bottom paragraph reads, “What attracted me to Jehovah’s Witness.” Ah~ there’s my answer – Jehovah’s Witness, known for their active evangelism. it’s interesting though that whenever i see the word “Jehovah’s Witness”, i recall the Michael Jackson documentary i saw where his mother or someone said, “Michael used to be a Jehovah’s Witness.”

why “used to”?

Amazon.co.jp

having been a fan of kirino natsuo’s works, i’ve been wanting to try reading her book in the original japanese language. the school’s library has some small collection of her works but i was looking for 残虐記 which they do not have, so i decided to search amazon and found a 2nd hand copy that’s in a pretty new condition. let’s call it mint although that term can be thoroughly misleading.


and this is ¥340! freaking cheap!

random meals

below are some of the pictures of the meals i’ve had the past week or so though not all the pictures are here…


i don’t remember what that round thing is, but it sure doesn’t taste as good as it looks


a feeble attempt at making a japanese-styled bento by having a face


the most disgusting dinner to date. it was a full plate of rice + noodles on top of it (a little too much, a little too salty)


the thing on the right is a peeled banana in a plastic bag

the class people made a huge hoohaa out of my peeled banana because they found it weird for me to have removed the skin. i don’t see why it’s weird. it’s still clean anyway. i didn’t want to have the trouble of having to throw the skin away immediately after eating in class and also the skin’s gonna dirty my hands during peeling so i removed it at home before bringing it. they also thought it weird for me to put it in a plastic bag and then in a container. but the only reason i did that was because i didn’t want to have to wash the container and if i just placed the banana in my bag, it’s gonna get crushed. in spite of that, they still don’t understand… what’s so difficult to understand? do you think i’m weird?

i kinda think no one would find it a big deal if i were in singapore… right?

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