Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My changing Impression

JAPAN, what kind of impact has this country brought to me from my earliest impression of it till today?

Hmm.. Let's go through the 4 months of my life here. There were times I was amazed, I discovered a lot of new things and experienced a whole different culture. No words can describe how I felt through all the changing and receiving what this beautiful country has to offer. However, there were hard times as well. Trying to remember how different life was for me here and back home. Getting accustomed to the hot and cold weather of Japan. Seeing unpleasant sights of the hectic life style here. It was interesting and intriguing at the same time.

Japan has brought about a whole other level of experience for me. It has been fun and enjoyable, not to mention colouful as well. It's an experience that blows my mind and WALLET away. YES, my wallet as well. Everything in Japan is so expensive.
Yen, the Japanese currency is so small and yet so big at the same time. Looking from an economic point of view, living standards in this part of the world is exceptionally high. I would not want to live like that forever. As much as I love Japan, I would not want to live here. And that is probably the biggest change I felt towards this country. I had always wanted to migrate from Malaysia to somewhere else. Had my eyes set for Japan because Japan is also an Asian Country that shares a lot of similarities in terms of culture.

However, this trip to Japan changed my mind. I would and will come back for more sight seeing and holidays  but I could not see myself living the rest of my life here. Houses are small, cars are expensive, clothes and food are sky high prices. I have been too pampered with the life style I have back home. My house is not exceptionally big but It's also not as small as compared to the standard houses in Japan. And, I drive whenever I leave the house, food and clothes are much cheaper although not as fashionable, but I can live with that.

All and all, I love this country but it's just not my cup of tea.....(",)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010



That was me, happily smiling away a week ago when I went to Arashiyama for the autumn leaves viewing.
The scenery was spectacular and I had a wonderful time loving Japan and its colours.

However, after watching this 2 videos from the past 2 lessons in class. I just can't help wondering what really lies behind Japan. All that was portrayed and all that I've seen, was it all just a big white lie?
Was I ridicule by the things I see OR was I naive enough not to look into it deeper?

First of all, the meaningless lives of all this men and women. Spending thousands worth of money just to be entertained by several Uh-hum, Uh-hum, looking men. I just can't believe the government would even issue licence for them to work legally. It's totally absurd.

Then, there's another bloody documentary of unveiling the secrets behind the cove. People slaughtering Dolphine, with not much of a reason why they are doing so. As explained in the documentary, dolphine meat are poisonous and inedible. 

I've known for a fact that Japanese eats a lot of raw fish and different kinds of them. But mass slaughter of harmless creatures with no supporting reason behind it (besides money) is unethical . 
It's like there's a huge dark part of Japan the world knows nothing about.

On the other hand, some part of Japan portrays the most beautiful and breath taking scenery just like this picture I manage to capture when I was at Kiyomizu dera. I love the view and I admire the beauty of it. It's like living in a fairytale land where dreams come true. But to some extent, people think going to Host Club can make their dream come true. 

I don't know when I started having this mixed feelings for Japan. Part of me tells me Its such a beautiful and pure country, another part of me shows Japan as a weird and ruthless nation.

 Unlike this picture below, that shows a clear beautiful reflection of the lovely trees itself.
 Sometimes what you see is not always what you get. And what you can't see will always bring a certain surprise to your life.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Hello, Nice to Meet you...

Hello, Nice to Meet you... What is your name? Where are you from? What do you like about Japan? 
Excuse me!

Those were the little things elementary kids learnt in the English Camp organised by Kansai Gaidai University.
It was a 3 hour English Camp that I've recently participated 2 weeks ago. It was fun but STRESSFUL at the same time. Let me tell you why...

What is the first thing that comes to your mind whenever you hear that there will be a bunch of elementary children visiting your school ?? Sounds, giggling/laughing, fighting/crying.. いろいろな声(こえ)All sorts of sounds... But wait!! Look at the Japanese kids.... Quiet, Shy, Obedient, everything an average parents would dream of, and it exist in JAPAN.
I wonder how they were taught to be in such 'good manners' and I wonder is there some part of them that has this 'devil'  waiting to unleash its destructive powers and go all crazy and wild? Throughout the entire programme, elementary kids were taught a few important English phrases and played games that involves learning English. It is amazing to see how discipline those kids were. They do not voice until and unless they were asked to. 
Surprisingly, the children were very cooperative for the 3 long hours. Personally, I never like kids because I think they are noisy and sometimes a nuisance. But here, the children get to know one another and played quietly and peacefully. They even raised their hands when they have questions.
                     Aw.. Such angels. 
However, sometimes they were a little too reserved and quiet that It makes it difficult to communicate with them. That's why it's so stressful because when I asked a question, they won't answer.

Although there were children as young as 5 years old to as old as 10 years old. I'm surprise at how little English they know. In this century, English is the lingua franca. Japan and its people have come so far as to reach one of the top most over developed country but the people here don't speak much English, which is AMAZING. Furthermore, more and more foreigners are studying Japanese as their second, third, fourth language and what not, including myself.

I wonder at times....It might all start from the small little things like education, at home or at school. As the saying goes "It's the little things that matter that adds up in the end"
JAPAN, Never Cease to Amaze Me

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


アルバイト?(Part time job)

My topic for this week's blog is about Part Time Job in Japan. 
3 months has past since I arrived in Japan and started my new journey.
Living in Seminar House 4, I was given the great opportunity to meet many people, both foreigners and local Japanese and have come to be close friends with some.

The picture below is a Japanese friend who also studies in Kansai Gaidai University.
She, like many other Japanese students, work part time to earn a little extra, for living expenses.
Through a short interview with her, I found out that most Japanese Students, and almost 90% of her classmates does part time jobs.

 According to her and several other friends that I've asked, working part time has become part and partial of their lifes ever since High School. People in Japan try to earn the extra money for many reasons, such as paying their house rent, extra expenses and for rainy days..etc. Many people I've come across in Kansai Gaidai University works part time, even the Exchange Students. 

I am curious as why a student should work when they are suppose to focus on their studies instead. Why is everything in Japan so expensive that students here seem to survive off working several part time jobs? In Malaysia, students only work part time during the semester break. Never or rarely will you come across any student who works part time for reasons such as paying their house rent or to earn some pocket money. It is as though it has become a norm to work Part Time to support oneself in Japan. 
( I don't know how it's like in other parts of the world )

My friend, although she receives financial aid to support her education through the Japan Government, she mentioned it is still not adequate and some students
 To me, this situation is kind of sad. After we graduate, we will have to dedicate a few decades of our lives into working, but now we can't even enjoy life, studying and participating in more activities?
I'm not saying working Part Time is definitely a bad thing but I personally do not favour the idea.
Maybe The Japan Government should try and help these students by setting up more funds to support their tertiary educations. After all, this young children of the nations are going to be the Future Leaders.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Annie Leibovitz & James Natchway

This picture was sourced from google, click here.

When I first saw this picture, I was facinated! Not by Angeline Jolie's smile or the fact that her son, Maddox is so cute. But I was astouned by the first feeling I got from this picture. It was captured at such a perfect moment, LOVE and LIFE. And that exactly is the feeling Annie Leibovitz gives.. through her lenses.

You are the Man! That's what I would say. I am not much of a photographer myself, but through her pictures, I think I begun to understand how she choose to make her picture stay ALIVE. Trying to potrait life itself and letting her work do all the talking instead of thousands of alphabet crammed into a paragraph. Imagination run wild with the underline meaning clearly conveyed. I admire her work very much.

Click here.

Annie Leibovitz see things for what it is and beyond it. She dwells in the happiness and brings out the best in them! That is what I would like to learn from this famous photographer. Not to compare the quality of her work, but to learn to show ones true self through pictures. 

Now, Let's look at another famous photographer....
 James Natchway - war photographer.
 I admire this person for his courage and enthusiasm to go deep into business and pushing the limits.

I will not say that I like his style of bringing the live 'OUT' of the pictures. What I meant by bringing 'out' is... as though he has swiped away all my other senses and leaving only the gloomy part of me to examine them. There always seem to be a mysterious, unexplainable story behind each black and white photos.  But he has a lot of good work. World recognized and published and has gained awareness from the public. Sometimes, our eyes and ears might deceive us, but truth can be told through a lens, through his lens.
Click here.
I lost all my other senses whenever I come across pictures taken by James Natchway. It's as though he has printed the moment of fear, lost, pain, anger into the motionless frame. That's what I admire and would wish to learn. Instead of putting flashy image into the minds of the world, it is always excellent work to show the Truth and Nothing But the Truth.

Click here.
Can you feel the pain now?

All and all, I admire the background of this 2 famous photographer. Their work are miracle and have changed the world, though from a different perspective. Still, It's worth the effort they put in to make it work. Just a simple frame, a wordless piece of work, expressed things beyond our comprehension. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Japanese People (portrait)

Honestly, what is the first thing that crosses your mind every time you hear the word 'JAPANESE'?
Sophisticated Fashion? Friendly People? Breath taking Scenery?

Well, mine was neither the above. My first impression towards japanese, before coming to Japan was 'egoistic'. Some might wonder how the idea came about. It all started when my father had some business relationship with Japanese. He told me, 'It's so hard to communicate with Japanese, they speak only Japanese and refuses a translator.' Since young, I had instill the impression that in general, Japanese are egoistic and would not care less about others.

However, that impression began to change when I arrive in Japan a month ago for an Exhange Programme. I have since then made many Japanese friends and also other friends from different countries. Most importantly, the young lady in the picture below was introduce to me through the Home Visit Programme by Kansai Gaidai University and has then become a close friend who changed my view the most about JAPANESE and JAPAN.

A good friend, given nickname, Ms. A
Ms. A (not her real name due to privacy reasons) is hyper active and very kind. You probably might think it's such a cliche whenever someone says Japanese are kind. This friend of mine, has shown me a different kind of kindness that has helped me in many various situations.

Being the ONLY Malaysian exchange student, I felt somewhat left out of the big picture. People didn't really understand me and I felt like I was trying very hard to adapt into others instead of the vice versa. Combine with my pre-instill impression of Japanese. I was hoping for the worst. Moreover, language barrier has kept me wondering did I make the right choice opting to come to Japan. 'Maybe I should have choose an English Speaking Country...,' I thought to myself.

Knowing my out-of-place situation, Ms. A brought me to her old high school. She is working part time as an English Teacher tutoring her juniors. She invited me to help her in her class by being a 'special' guest and also to create an English speaking environment for her juniors. Her special attention to my needs made me realized I had been wrong about Japanese for the past 20 years of my life.

Since the first time I met Ms. A, she has welcomed me with nothing but her pure sincerity. Her GENKI-ness and hyper mode is always at its top. She even prepares bento for me for lunch once. It made me feel like home again.

Mother (left), grandmother and Ms. A
The thing that struck me the most was how open her family was towards people from other culture and background. They accepted me into the family almost instantly. The head scarf that they are wearing in the picture was actually a girft from Malaysia. In Malaysia, people wear head scarf just like that because it represents modesty and purity. The gift that I had got them could be worn any way in different style but they insisted that I teach them the 'right' way. The friendliness and openness towards my culture was really a shock and a relief. She and her family had planted a new seed in my heart which will slowly bloom into a beautiful flower, I believe.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Neighborhood Hirakata

Honestly, I never knew Hirakata Shi actually is THAT BIG. I had only took rides pass several streets to Lawsons and Kansai Gaidai University and occasionally the grocery shoppings at SANKO or Life.

Well, I will try to write about my neighborhood Hirakata. Just an introduction, I will write more on the daily life I've seen in Hirakata so far and not about the shops or izakaya because I hardly go there and I don't think I truly understand it as I just arrived in Japan 3 weeks ago.

The above picture is taken somewhere near the housing area of my seminar house. What I'd like to portray through this picture is how a normal residence in Hirakata is like. I had the number plat of the vehicle blurred out for privacy purpose. Also, I did not take a direct shot at the house to avoid any violation of human rights in Japan. Basically, I hope this is enough to show how a normal family lives. Judging by the fact that this family owns 2 cars, I think they are well to do or maybe slightly above average.

What really struck me when I first arrived in this small city was the roads. The picture above was taken in front of the house. The roads is as wide as it can get. For a family that is well to do, I couldn't understand why they would opt to stay in Hirakata. It seems to me, that a bigger city would be better because of the exposure you can get. Imagine 2 cars driving pass this alley. After snooping the area for some time, I realize it's the same regardless wherever I go.

So the question was, why Hirakata? I soon came to know of the answer. 
(based on my observations)

The picture above shows a group of children, possibly friends cycling through the narrow alley. They were chatting happily when they rode passed me. Their liveliness and GENKI-ness in them was no doubt, obvious. I had never done much riding in my country due to the dangerous wide roads where heavy vehicles often operates.

This is my favorite picture. Taken from afar, a father and his daughter at the river, playing or doing something together. This river is located besides the narrow street where I took my pictures. It was on the way to Makino. When I saw this moment of family bonding, I felt I had at least gotten the idea or a glimpse into the neighborhood here. Residence of Hirakata probably would think that this is the best place to raise a family as there are much more to do here. What I meant by much more is not the shinning bright lights of Shinjuku or Shinsaibashi, but everything a family needs is located near the area. School, college/ university, shopping mall and many more.  

I think growing up on this side of Japan is much healthier than it would be in a bigger city such as Tokyo. The pressure and stress there might be too overwhelming for some people.

The picture above was sourced from Google images. The red roof stretch of houses located on the right side of this picture is where I stay. The streets right outside my house are very dangerous.
*To link to the website, please click here.

This is the streets during the day. 
Nothing like Japan.
*Also sourced from Google Images, to link to the website, please click here.