Sunday, March 28, 2010


I just got notification from the Immigrations Bureau of Saitama, telling me that my application for a visa extension for my stay here in Japan has been approved, I guess. I'll have to go there to get it done early next month.

Thank you God!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Just last week I got a new housemate. His name is Tim, and he's on a short-term trip here to Japan. And he's from a friend's church in Singapore (actually, I know three friends from that church but ok).

So anyway it's been pretty good so far. He's kinda quiet, I'm kinda quiet, so we're pretty chill most of the time. But I guess so far he's had a rather decent time. He's helped out in the Kids' Club, he's gone to help Steve do Bible Study, and he's also attended the housechurches. Here's the evidence:

Tim is the one on the extreme left side, next to JP.

Incidentally, that day during Shinagawa Kai, there were a grand total of 7 nationalities in that group (8 if you consider me to be American). You can see it in the picture above. I'll describe it from left to right.

So Tim is from Singapore, JP is from Brazil. Simon is from New Zealand, Sam is Swiss. Shion, and the guy next to him, Jun, are Japanese, as is Koji, who's on the extreme right. Yannick is German, and Kaede is from Hong Kong. Plus American photographer = 8.

So anyway, since I've been here a bit longer than Tim, usually I get to show him stuff like a senpai. But just because I've been here longer than him doesn't make me immune to making dumb gaijin mistakes, for example, this:

Japanese red packets sometimes make the ones I get for CNY look a little shabby. Not that I'm complaining though.

What we have here is a relatively standard Japanese red packet (Shugibukuro 「祝儀袋」), meant specifically for weddings. You know it's for wedding cos it's got pink and red and gold stuff all over. Very pretty. And it's for one of my friends, Motoka, who's dad met my dad when they were both in Wisconsin, and have been friends since then. She's getting married some time later this month, so I bought this on behalf of my family to give to her.

The problem, of course, is in the name on the front. No, it's not that it's wrong kanji. That really is her name in Japanese, 小山田基香 (though after the wedding, it probably won't be Oyamada anymore). The problem of course, is that as a foreigner, I automatically assumed that you write the recipient's name on the front of the letter. Thing is, you're supposed to write your own name on the front so the recipient (as if it could have gone to anyone else) would know who it's from.

Good thing they had spare slips inside for me to write another one. haha.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010


One thing really cool about Japanese is the amount of onomatopoeia that's found it's way into common language. I mean, in English, there is quite a lot of them too, from simple things like woof, to the bangs that have been popularized by the old Adam West Batman series, to even new netspeak like nom nom nom, but I think Japanese may have a lot more.

One of them is the above title, which is pronounced 'giri giri', if you can't read katakana. Not quite sure how it came about, but well, it basically means that you 'just made it'. What my BB officers used to refer to as 'making it by the skin of your teeth'. (Which of course, can raise up a whole discourse about how teeth do not really have skin etc.)

So for example, if I was running for a train, and I manage to make it just before the train door closes, that that'll be giri giri. Or if I needed to be in the 70th percentile to pass a test, and I was the 70th percent-ed person, that'll be giri giri.

If you imagine the guy as Indiana Jones, and remember that scene from the Temple of Doom, that's giri giri

Anyway, today, I was checking on how to go about booking a return flight to Singapore. See, last year in April, while preparing to come to Japan, I booked an open-ended ticket through a travel agency. The thing about open ended tickets though, is that they really aren't open-ended. You have to set a preliminary date of booking or something. Of course, I did not realize that, so I kept on trying to discover how to book a date through the website.

After a while, I gave up trying to use the website and called their customer service dept., since I really wasn't able to find out how to do things. So I gave them a call yesterday (2nd of March) and they told me that since a travel agent booked it, only they could do the changes necessary.

So I thought 'ah ok, that's not too bad, I still have the travel agent's email and stuff, can get back to her and ask her to help me book', so I sent an email, asking her if I could change the date.

This morning, I checked my mail, and this was in it:
"Hi Daniel,

You have a return flight booked for the 4th of March at 1130 AM. Would you like to change it?"
So I was all calm and stuff for about a 3 seconds: "Ah.. 4th of March... isn't that tomorrow?" before it hit me like: "AH!!!! 4th OF MARCH!!! ISN'T THAT TOMORROW?!!!"

While I was almost freaking out, I quickly sent a mail back to her requesting a change, but I was still kinda worried. What if she didn't get my mail? What if she was out of the office and only back later? What if she's on leave these few days? What if she can't change the timing? etc etc. So of course I had to turn to a source of stability, and so I said a short prayer.

And fortunately, the travel agent managed to change the booking for me to one that's a lot more suitable for my schedule. If I had waited just one more day, I would have missed my flight, and then I would have to buy another one-way ticket. Which is not cheap I can tell you.

And that, is giri giri.