Tag Archives: Japan

Looking into a new hobby today

Lately I’ve been interested in getting into bonsai trees. I’ve always thought it was an intriguing practice and I recently saw a few kits for sale on Amazon and I almost bought one. However I didn’t want to just go in blindly, so I googled about getting started with bonsai and it turns out starting with one of those kits isn’t a wise idea. They come with a seed, a planter, a small pot, and tools, what they don’t tell you is it five years or so until that seed grow into a tree that is ready for training. In other words you’ll have to wait forever before you can actually use any of the tools it comes with.

Turns out a much better (and traditional) way to begin is to get a cutting at nursery, that way you won’t have to wait to long to train it. All of the sites I looked at also recommended getting involved with a local bonsai club to learn the best tree species for beginners in your area’s environment and the best nearby place to get a cutting. I found a club in my area and I’ll be leaving for the meeting in an hour.

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In Search of Lost Time

Taste and smell are closely linked to memory, though for me that only happens when I encounter something very specific that I hadn’t in years. When I grew up in Japan I remember when my mom would get goods from their bakeries. Japanese bakeries are excellent, even though they are obviously imitations of European ones (which admittedly I have not encountered). We returned to the US about sixteen years ago. Around two years ago I was in Seattle’s International District, one of the imminent centers of Japanese culture on the American mainland, and there just so happened to be one of those bakeries. We ate there and I encountered tastes my tongue had not had since I was six. For a brief moment it was as if I was projected back, only for reality to return.

Hard to believe such vague memories can be restored by an American recreation of Japanese imitations of European pastry shops.


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The Day After Tomorrow

Hey Strangers and Friends, I’m sorry for going over a week without posting anything. Last week some out of state relatives visited and we stayed in a beachouse that for some weird unadvertized reason didn’t have any internet access. They left on Saturday, and I haven’t posed until know because I am preparing the next big thing on my Summer agenda. More like the next big event in my life, really.

As some of you may recall, I will be going to Tanzania. Well I will be leaving, as the post’s title insinuates, the day after tomorrow. I have feel really fluttery right now as this is something I have been anticipating since December. For most of that time I was not particurally excited as I had more immediate matters of concern, but now it is right on the horizon. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness; the latter due largely to the fact I’m not a big fan of flying, let alone a twenty hour hour flight. We will have a two hour layover in Amsterdam, we won’t be able to set foot outside the airport (which from what I understand means we legally won’t enter the Netherlands). Originally we had planned to do a day trip to Zanzibar, but we scrapped that idea in light of a recent terrorist bombing.

This isn’t the first time I have been out of the US, I grew up in Japan and have been to Canada a couple times. Nor is it my first time out of the US away from my parents, I did that when I went to Costa Rica in 2012. However I will be gone for five weeks, and this is much further.

Internet access will be limited to dial-up on obsolete and unprotected computors if availible at all. I will try and post something while I’m there if I can, but don’t count on it. See you all on July 25th!


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“Tomorrow you’re going to be four!”

I remember my mom telling me that as she tucked me in bed one night. It’s the earliest discernable memory I have that I can put a date on. That must have occured on January 2nd, 1998. I have a few memories that are possibly earlier. I remember very clearly the first time I saw Pokemon, that may have occured as early as 1997. I turned on the TV in my room, and the themesong was playing, and I was enthralled from that moment. It was the episode where Ash competes against the kid who dressed like a samurai, and Pikachu wins a very narrow victory against Scyther. Yes, I remember it that clearly. This was when my family lived on base in Japan, I can still picture the layout of our house and what our neighborhood looked like. Another thing I remember was thinking that Japan didn’t look that different from America, except of course that people who lived off base didn’t speak English. I’m not sure why I thought that, maybe it was because US military bases there basicly are little American enclaves. Having no memories of before we moved there (I was still a baby), I did not think living there was a big deal at at all.

I also remember a commercial that had people riding jetpacks made of giant upside down beer cans. Yes, you read that correctly.



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The Life and Times of djgarcia94

First of all, let me make it clear that NOBODY (except for maybe some very kind friends and family) would want to watch a movie about my life. My life as I have had it so far, anyway; who knows what may happen down the road. I challenge you to find something that would be film worthy:

I lived in Japan until I was six, which was far too young for me to know the difference between there and America; living on a US Army base especially blurred that. I actually did some modeling for Japanese magazines as they have a big demand for gaijin children so readers will want to get these clothes because Americans supposedly wear them. The first few years following my family’s return to Washington is excrutiatingly dull. After then I was involved with Boy Scouts for several years. My original troop dissolved because my dad was the scoutmaster but he got deployed to Iraq and there was no one to replace him. That was followed by a few years where I was very lonely and depressed much of the time, most of my time was spent playing PC games. Then I joined another troop and while it was very rewarding it would make a horrible movie.

The last few years have been a bit more film worthy. My time at junior college was much like my time in the second troop I was in. I won far more accolades though. I have allready blogged quite a bit about my time in Costa Rica and Montana, so click on those catagories if you want to know more about all that. Here I am now, I have left my Theological literature class and am killing time until my African Civilization class. Every hour seems like a juggle between reading Boethius, Gogol, and the Epic of Sundiata.

If anyone could make a rough concept of adapting any of these events into a film I will be highly impressed.



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Film Review of Ugestu Monogatari

I have just finished viewing Ugetsu Monogatari, directed by Keji Mizoguchi. Japanese films have been an interest of mine for some time so I was really excited to see this one, which is considered to be rivaled only by Seven Samurai to be the greatest Japanese film; and it is also considered to be one of the greatest films period.

Ugetsu tells the tale of two potters living in the 16th century who leave their village. One wants to become a samurai, the other hopes to sell his pots hoping to make a larger than usual profits to conflict. The film is most remembered for its presence of ghosts but it is much deeper than an average ghost story. Rather it is a delicate fable with a message delivered very effectively. What I find enjoyable about watching Japanese movies is that they provide insight into another culture, one Westerners usually find very alien. However, Ugetsu does much more than that; the message is universal which I think make it timeless.

Visualy the film is equally compelling. The sets, costumes, and props are all very well designed. I’m not someone who prefers black and white, but I can tolerate it and I feel Ugetsu is perfectly fine in that format. Had it been originally filmed in color I’m sure it would have been some pukey technicolor that would have taken away from the film, and colorizing rare comes out very well. It is also fortunate that it is subtitled and not dubbed, for simililar reasons. Films like Ugetsu are perfect just the way they are, and any attempt to “fix” their technological shortcomings would be too risky.

Overall I would say Ugetsu Monogatori is an excellent film and I highly recommend it.


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There and back again

The furthest I’ve ever been from where I live now is Japan, however when I was there that was where my home was located. Had I been visiting it would have been very far from home georgaphically, and culturally it would have been a world away. Especially since I would not be living on a US military base as I did, the bases are pretty much miniture American towns that drive on the other side of the road.

The furthest I have been from home is Costa Rica; the physical distance from home is much greater than anywhere in the US, Maine, Florida, and Hawaii included. All of the other distances, cultural, economic, social, etc., are even more substantial. Costa Rica is a nation obsessed with putting on an image for the rest of the global community. That image is of a nation that is very beautiful, biodiverse, eco friendly (all true), and consequently a wonderful place for everyone who lives there. They claim to be the “Happiest Nation On Earth,” something with Guiness perpetrates. Most of the people I met where indeed happy, but the claim is still obscene. I saw what the tourist brochures don’t show you, slums, poverty, people just trying to get by with more or less basic necessities and not much more. 

Oh, and it is also a huge destination for human trafficking in Central America.

Out of fairness, Costa Rica (along with Panama) is much better off than the neighboring countries. There commitment to saving their environment is wonderful, but I wish that they were more commited to everyday people.

I’m sure most people who visit do NOT experience the same things I experienced. I went there on a mission trip with the specific goal of doing charitible work. Most everyone else goes to see the waterfalls and national parks and ziplines, none of which I had the opportunity to see. I think the most important element of travel is not where you go, but why you go.


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I’m Back

Just returned home a few hours ago. Disneyland was very nice, I’m glad I decided to go (I had had prior arrangements but those didn’t work out). I was sweating for much of the time even though the sun wasn’t too hot, but it was much hotter than I’m used to in Washington. Waiting in line wasn’t as bad as I thought, on the other hand I don’t do rollarcoasters so I didn’t have to wait for Splash Mountain which takes like an hour of waiting. The range of rides I can handle are limited, the fastest thing I could go on was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride which had two or three fast drops. I steered clear of the Tea Cups, I probably would have puked on the Mad Hatter. I went on them at Disneyland Tokyo when my family lived in Japan during the 90’s (no, I don’t speak Japanese), and I can still remember how sick I got. For the rest of the time I went on stuff like It’s A Small World Afterall and the Pinocchio ride. While on the former I played a game of “count the obsolete ethnic stereotypes” and lost track before leaving the first room; taking two Sociology courses makes you do stuff like that. The fez is so pre Mustafa Ataturk.

If there is one thing I am troubled by it is the increase of corporate oligopoly, and no where is it more blatant at Disneyland. For those of you who didn’t hear, Disney purchased LucasArts a couple of months ago, effectively annexing Star Wars and Indiana Jones into the Magic Kingdom. There was always the Star Tours attraction, but now Star Wars merchandising is everywhere and TomorrowLand may as well be called “Galaxy Far, Far Way.” Even more disturbing was a poster for Stark Industries from Iron Man, a quick web search revealed Disney also owns Marvel. But hey, I had a fun time with my family and it’s easy to see how Disney got so damn rich.

We didn’t land in LAX or go through Los Angeles, so we didn’t see that many interesting figures. One that I did see was a guy outside Disneyland with a sign rambling about “sexual perversion” and “corporate greed.” The latter makes perfect sense, but I’m not sure what sexual perversion would be associated with Disney. Most likely the picketeer was one of those people who can look hard enough and find phallic towers in the Little Mermaid and S E X written in the night sky on the Lion King. People will believe anything about Disney: http://www.snopes.com/disney/disney.asp

Overall I had a really good time and it was a great vacation. 

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