Saturday, 12 July 2008
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Monday, 10 December 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Above, is a new style motor car from Citroen. The interior is somewhat interesting.
The new Nissan NV200. More information about Nissan at the Motor Show and the NV200 is available by clicking here.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Thursday, 20 September 2007
I just can not control my love for Apple products. At the moment I only own an iPod Nano™ but I hope to change that soon with the acquisition of some additional technology made by Apple.
Their latest release of the iPod line up including the new iPod Touch™ is just amazing! I do not listen to my iPod much to justify upgrading. It was kind of a novelty when I bought it and I only occasionally use it nowadays.
Apple do what they do so well. Their latest range of products are amazing and the design style is unprecedented. I can not wait to get my hands on the Apple iPhone™ when it hits Japan in 2008.
Check out the Apple website for yourself at www.apple.com. It is like porno for the techno geeks!
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Friday, 10 August 2007
Basically every year this group of university students have a three day summer event where they totally immerse themselves in the English language and go about having a whole lot of fun at a hotel far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They invite some foreigners along to give guidance and to help facilitate some of the activities.
Jacob, Brooke, Meagan and I set out on Wednesday morning with the group of 80 students in buses from Takasaki City in the Gumna Prefecture to Nagano which was about a three hour bus trip. We arrived mid-afternoon at the mountain hotel. The trip up into the mountains was simply amazing - Japanese don't build highways anywhere on the ground. If the highway is not on a bridge it's in a tunnel - standard rule it seems.
Through the event we played heaps of interesting games, some of which were uniquely Japanese and others we were very familiar with. There were competitions, challenges, study groups and general stuff aimed at promoting English communication.
What was interesting about this was it is the first time I have witnessed at length Japanese being Japanese but communicating in English. It was certainly interesting to see how they interact with each other and see them carry out their customs in the Queen's own language.
It was also interesting to fully realise the value of learning a language from a native speaking teacher. These university students hadn't and had developed their own unique style of English which was great amongst their group but for anyone external it was very difficult to understand. We were getting annoyed at them because they were so far off on their own tangent and they were getting annoyed at us because on occasion no matter how hard they tried we couldn't understand them. Us four foreigners would escape to our hotel room at night to consume beverages of the alcoholic variety to relieve our tensions.
By Friday morning we were pleased to be on our way. The event was fun but it was a strain on the patience. The students were staying at the hotel an extra night so we made our way by bus and train back to Nagano City where we spent part of the day sightseeing there before returning home on the Nagano Shinkansen Service later in the afternoon.
It was hard to believe that Nagano City hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1998. Apparently the city put on a good show for the games but returned to a modest state once the event was over. This was obvious. It was a very relaxed place.
Friday, 27 July 2007
I also visited The Hall of Remembrance in the Peace Park which you can read more about by
clicking here. This was a pretty moving experience.
Mazda factory. Mazda occupy a sub-city in coastal Hiroshima where they have their global headquarters and major factory. The tour was amazing and I learnt and saw so much but unfortunately no pictures were allowed. I am now wanting to visit the Toyota factory as that is apparently the supreme of all car plants. ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM - click YouTube Video for more...
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Near noon Jacob and I meet back at the hotel and boarded the Nozomi Superexpress Shinkansen Service bound for Hiroshima. We travelled again about 500 km in about 2 hours. We arrived in Hiroshima around 2.30 PM. We checked into the New Hiroden Hotel near Hiroshima Station.
Our major mission in Hiroshima was to visit the A-Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. We promptly got on our way using the Street Car service that covers the city. The A-Bomb Dome was simply amazing. I'd seen pictures before and read about it but it was more interesting that the books and pictures. It was a truly remarkable structure in so many ways. It had a very interesting feeling about it too.
As it was getting later in the day we had to be somewhat efficient and make our way through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to the Peace Museum before it closed. We spent about an hour and a half in the museum before closing time. The museum was an amazing place. I'm never usually much fussed about reading all the material in a museum and studying the displays in detail but this museum was an exception. The atomic bomb disaster was a very interesting thing to learn so much about. I strongly recommend the museum to everyone.
Once we were outside the museum we walked through the Peace Park again and took the Street Car service back to the hotel. As our stay at the museum was cut short by closing time I was determined to return in the morning to study the entire museum.
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
We arrived just prior to lunch and what was alarming when we arrived was the lack of people. Kyoto has a population of about 1.1 million but that is a small number compared to the 35 million which I am used to. Going to Kyoto was like a trip to Dannevirke in the Southern Hawke's Bay in New Zealand.
Once we'd checked into the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel we headed for the Golden Pavilion/Kinkaku-ji in the northwestern end of Kyoto. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can click on the hyperlink for more information but my opinion of it was pretty bland. It looks big in all the pictures you see but it was quite small and you couldn't get very close. The surrounding environs were quite nice though. I really like Japanese gardens.
Following Kinkaku-ji we went along the road to Ryoan-ji Temple which is a Zen Temple. Zen is quite a peaceful thing for me. When you first arrive and see the big Zen gardens you think what is this all about but after a while looking at it you kind of get a relaxed and peaceful feeling. We looked around quite a few other places in this district of Kyoto before heading back to the hotel.
I was wearing new sandals and my feet were blistered and near-on bleeding!
In the evening we headed further into the CBD from the hotel to the district of Gion. Gion is famous for Geisha which are "woman of art". You can pay over gazillions of yen to be entertained by these exclusive woman. They're pretty hard to see because they frequent areas which are hidden and reserved only for those who have money but we managed to spot a couple. They're done up in make-up and their faces a pearly white. I first thought they were the Japanese version of a prostitute but apparently they don't do that sort of entertaining - well it's not normal practice anyway.
Monday, 16 July 2007
I DO NOT live near the affected areas.
The earthquake struck the WEST coast of central Japan at 10:13 AM. The areas worst affected are about 250 km from Tokyo which is on the EAST coast of central Japan.
The earthquake registered 6.8 and tremors were felt by many here in the Tokyo Area. The tremor in Tokyo was during my first lesson of the day.
Thursday, 28 June 2007
I can't believe how the accident happened really. Level crossings here have barrier arms and bells well beyond what one would describe as sufficient. There would have to be something horribly wrong with you or a negligent act to find yourself in front of a train.
Anyway, I was sitting in my usual spot right up in the front of the train. We were cruising along between 85 and 100 km/h when I heard the driver in his cabin make a shouting sound as we came around a corner to the concealed crossing. I'm thinking it was the Japanese equivalent to "fuck" he shouted. Anyway there was a big crash and I could hear something bounce along under the carriages. The driver in a very professional and Japanese way gently applied the brakes and we came to a stop. I would have thought a sudden application of the strongest railway anchors would have been more appropriate but that would have equalled bad customer service! So gently it must be.
It was ages before I knew it was a human accident. In fact about half an hour or so had passed. The driver and conductor got out of the train and walked to the back. Being in search of information because I was late for work I walked to the back of the train to see what they were doing. They were out making sure the level crossing was okay and that the arms were up and traffic flowing. It was all very casual. I was starting to get shitty by this time as I was very late for work. I spoke to a Japanese man and said "too many meetings and not enough action" citing that the railway people who were standing around chatting. He translated that into Japanese and the other passengers in our area were roaring with laughter. The train staff must have a policy not to go searching for the "human accident" victim as death is almost a certainty.
After a while the rescue tender from the city fire department came and I saw them with a stretcher which then made everyone realise it was a "human accident". So by this time they had organised for us to evacuate the train and walk to the next station (bloody miles in 30+ degrees and humidity!).
You can see in the pictures below all the passengers sliding from the train. They took two of the long bench seats out and we all slid down them. It was interesting to say the least! Seats have Velvet upholstery so you slide nicely.
Trains vs humans are very clean. The body was cut up into many pieces and the bicycle was shredded. No blood splashes. Below are some pictures, although not so clear because of my camera phone. Nothing too gorry. What happens in these crashes is much of the body gets lodged up under the train carriage so it's a bit hard to see. Once we had all safely got off the train the rescue team were going to lift the train with some hydraulic equipment to get all the bits together.
One of the pictures, although not clearly, shows really the most visible bit of the deceased being one of their legs cleanly taken off at the hip. Don't worry, the mobile phone camera couldn't capture the details as well as my eyes could so it's safe viewing! Note, the blue tarpaulin in the pictures was not consistently held up and there was more but camera memory isn't so big!
If you look directly under the dangling hoses between the two carriages you can see the remains of the victims leg. It seems to have been torn from the abdomen at the hip region.
All the passengers being evacuated from the train by sliding down the seats with the help of the able people of the Saitama Fire Department.
Looking from the front of the train towards the back. You can see how far the mangled body was strewn under the train. Back to the second carriage.
Monday, 18 June 2007
Friday, 15 June 2007
So it's been a year today since I drove a car on a public road. Doesn't seem so long ago although I often wondered if I still knew what to do.