||November 1, 2005
The week has flown by again, and it is already November. Halloween was rather uneventful, but I never expected much. At least classes were fun. GEOS does seasonal lessons for Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. Of the three, Halloween is my favorite seasonal lesson because so many kids come in costumes. But they're not the only ones; I wore my yukata for the week, which most of the parents and adult students seemed to really enjoy. I'm actually a little sad that I have to wear my suits starting this week. I've rather enjoyed being in a cotton kimono. It was also MUCH more comfortable. I wouldn't mind suits nearly as much if I didn't have to wear ties, but such is life.
In gaming news, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has been dominating my soul recently. I became almost instantly addicted to the game, and since it is portable, I've even been taking it to school to play on my breaks. I've even spent my breaks between classes attempting to capture an elusive soul for a weapon upgrade. The game is pure goodness, and it's the first game where I actually took the time to finish the Belmont mode. It truly is a lot of fun to play this extra mode. And now I am going through the game on hard mode with the intention of getting 100% completion. I plan to review this game later, but for fans of Castlevania that have a DS, I STRONGLY urge you to play this game. It improves upon the previous game in every way imaginable.
Since I'm actually a bit low on news, I'll explain this week's title. Omuraisu is a tasty Japanese dish that is pretty much a thin omelet over red rice. It's pretty simple to make. In fact, I'll give the recipe with amounts to make one omuraisu. You will need:
5 ounces of chicken breast, diced
1/6th of an onion, diced
1 cup cooked white rice
1 Tsp of Butter
1 Tbsp of Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
After cooking the rice, brown the chicken breast in a frying pan. Once the chicken is cooked, add in the onion and cook it until brown. Then add the rice to the frying pan and stir the meat and onion into it. Next, add ketchup slowly until the rice takes on a red color. Then add the butter and stir it in. Finally, season the rice with salt and pepper to taste then put it aside.
To make the omelet, break the two eggs in a bowl and add the milk. Whisk the eggs and milk together then pour them in a hot skillet. Try to make the omelet as large and thin as possible. When the omelet is done cooking, drape it over the rice and garnish with ketchup or most any sauce on top. The bento shop I go to frequently makes 'mixed' omuraisu with spaghetti sauce on half and a creamy mushroom sauce that resembles Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup on the other half.
The result is one of my favorite foods in Japan, and I have to say that I make the best omuraisu I've ever had. I only wish I had some nice fried shrimp or portabella mushrooms to toss on top too. I suppose the recipe could be made with a different meat or even no meat, but the traditional way to make it uses chicken. It's also a CHEAP way to eat. Eggs, rice, and chicken are some of the cheapest things you can eat. This whole meal cost under 200 yen, and that's not bad for a country where food can be outrageously priced sometimes.
That said, let's get this food-filled party started!
This chart this week is one of the worst ever despite having ten titles on it. Only two of those ten made the top 25, and none made it into single digits. Oddly enough, the big winner this week was Certain Victory Pachinko Capture Series Vol: 1 'CR New Century Evangelion.' I really don't see the draw of these games, but evidently the Japanese do. Pachinko is a wildly popular form of gambling, but it just seems lacking to do it with a controller instead of in person. But it IS better on your ears and lungs. Pachinko parlors are EXTREMELY loud and filled with smoke, and I don't see how people can sit there for hours on end playing. I suppose it's also potentially better for your wallet. You lose 5040 yen off the bat by buying it, but you can play all you like and never worry about losing any more of your hard-earned yen. Of course, it's also impossible to win anything either, but I get the feeling that people don't build big, expensive pachinko parlors all over Japan just to hand out free money. It's kinda sad, but it's not uncommon to see a pachinko parlor right next to another one.
The only good news this week is that one game managed to bounce back from the 56th spot to be back on the chart. Other than that, the other games slide further down the chart, and most never see the light of day once they surpass the 50 mark. There's always next week, but for now, let's see these less-than-impressive numbers.
We recently translated these Growlanser V: Generations scans, and many details about the game came to light. The game takes place in a world that was rampaged by civil wars until 20 years prior when a group of people stopped the wars by using a super-weapon called the "Admonisher." They called themselves the "Peacekeeper's Army," and they maintained a delicate peace since then. But it is becoming obvious that the peace will not last much longer. That's where Zeonshielt and his band step in; they embark on a quest to find a better way of keeping the peace. The story will be told in chapters with each told from the point of view of a different character, possibly resembling a Quentin Tarantino-style movie. Each chapter will build up one part of the story, and all of them will loosely revolve around the "main" story of Zeonshielt.
As for the game system, fans of the series will find many things similar to the previous games including helper-fairies for the characters and battles with goals other than simply defeating all the enemies. The battles will be in real time, and will feature a "seamless" transition; there is no shift between the world map and the battle screen. This also means that players can be attacked at any time or place from the wilderness to towns.
As previously mentioned, it will be the first of the series to feature 3D characters with pre-rendered backgrounds, and it will feature totally free camera movement. There has not been an announcement made regarding price, date, or whether the game will grace North American PS2s as well.
Sony announced that they will be turning the popular manga and anime series Bleach into an RPG titled Bleach: Hanatareshi Yabou. The game will feature a completely original story that follows Ichigo and crew as they attempt to stop an exiled soul reaper plotting revenge against the soul reaper world, "Soul Society." There will also be numerous sub-events that can be triggered after players find a certain item.
At this point, little is known about the battle system other than it will feature a "Freedom Gauge." Hitting the mark on on the gauge allows for characters to perform extra actions.
Bleach: Hanatareshi Yabou will hit stores near me on December 29 for 7140 yen. In the meantime, take a look at these screens.
Nippon Ichi has announced that Disgaea 2 will hit Japanese shelves on February 23 of next year. Since I am leaving Japan four days prior, it looks like I'll have to wait for the North American release like everybody else.
Square-Enix has updated their website for the upcoming Front Mission 5: Scars of the War. The game is slated for a North American release, so look to RPGamer's main index for all the details we can squeeze from the newly updated site.
A few new screens have trickled in for Konami's upcoming DS game Iron Feather. The game is based on a popular manga series and is set for release on January 19 of next year.
If these screens aren't enough to tide you over until then, you can also visit the game's official website where a short trailer can be found.
This week I got four nice shiny questions AND a comment about hanko. This makes me very happy. The more emails I get, the more I assume people read my column. It's good to have a nice variety of things to answer, and I'm glad that there is so much interest in Japan. It is a country that has fascinated me for most of my life, so I am glad that others share this interest. I'm even happier that I get to actively share it with others. Keep up the interest. I find that Japan can be a highly rewarding place to visit or live.
That said, let's get started!
Hi Jordan Sensei,
Can't figure myspace out, had so much trouble with it lately. So decided to send you the locations of the pics themselves directly.
That's great you hang out with your students. I've been following your adventure for some time, but even then I'm not sure what students you would be hanging out with because you have a wide variety of students from all ages and backgrounds. A refresher on the students you teach would be good for your newer readers.
Also with a new contract does that mean new students?
Thank you for the link to the pictures. You took some good ones, and I think my readers will enjoy them as much as I did.
As for my contract, I used to be on a regular full-time contract where I worked 40 hours per week. But it has recently come to light that eikaiwa teachers haven't been paying into Japan's social welfare system. Naturally, this is a problem, but the solution was actually quite simple. They changed our contracts. Now I am considered "semi-full-time" with a 29.5 hour workweek. The reasoning behind 29.5 hours is that people that work 30 hours or more must pay into the social welfare. My salary and paid vacations are the same, but now I am required to leave the school when I am not teaching. They wouldn't want me working more than 29.5 hours, so on Tuesday and Thursday, I get a nice five-hour paid break.
For those that are considering coming to Japan with an eikaiwa, now is a really nice time to do it. GEOS is simplifying a lot of what we used to do. There are a few innate problems with working in a large corporation, but this just makes the whole experience 10000 times better.
Thanks for writing and sharing the pictures!
Wow, I'm surprised that the Japanese are actually too shy to dress in
costumes. They do things there that we would never in a million years do
here in the states and they won't don a rubber mask? Heh, it's funny how the
Alright, this question might seem a bit odd, but I just had to ask: why does
it seem that Colonel Sanders is popular in Japan? Now for those who ask how
in the world did I come to the conclusion that the dear old Colonel was
popular there, it's a fairly long story.
It started when the Colonel had a cameo in an anime I flipped on to by
chance. Since said anime is rather... eccentric I wrote it off as just
another one of the shows quirks. That was until a few weeks later when I,
once again, flipped on to another channel that had a guy showing off his
eternally grinning Colonel Sanders figurines dressed in different costumes
(I remember quite clearly the gladiator Sanders). Curious I decided to look
around on the web for any more information and found that at lest ten
percent of the population goes and gets a KFC dinner for Christmas (and that
they don't serve mash potatoes) and that there's an actual "Curse of Colonel
Sanders" as any fan of the Hanshin Tigers will know.
Now that that's out of the way. Do you have any stories to add? I'm sure you
must have stumbled into one of the (many) KFC places there. Or perhaps
you've seen the Colonel's face on anything other than the buckets.
Come to think of it, I've seen the Colonel in a few anime too. I think he was referred to as 'The Chicken Man' or 'Mr. Chicken.' I wonder if the anime you're watching is Yumeria.
At any rate, KFC, or Kentucky as they call it here, is arguably the second most popular fast food chain behind McDonald's. Also, the Japanese LOVE to put product placements in anime that people will recognize, but they always change it slightly. This means that you'll commonly see red boxes of Rocky or the aforementioned Chicken Man.
As for why they'd recognize him, each and every restaurant has a statue of the man. Even the one in food court in a local grocery comes complete with a statue, but it is as you say. There are no mashed potatoes, and the food is REALLY expensive. Oh how I miss mashed potatoes. Thank God I'm good at making them myself...
Thanks for the email, and beware that curse!
I don't know if it's been asked before or whatever, but are Japanese
into writing/reading fanfics any more than we (americans) are? I once
saw an anime (translated Comic Party) where the main character went to
some big gathering of average manga artists - I don't know if it's real
I myself am wrote a collab fanfic
(if you want to read
it; caution, it's long but good) and I don't know if, say, I could
expect someone Japanese (if they understood it) to like it.
Of course it could just change from one person to another, but I was
just wondering. Thanks.
P.S. Life in Japan must rock! I went there the past summer - best
time in my life. Got Tales of Rebirth and trying to get Japanese PS2. Oh
well. Keep teaching and whatnot.
There is a pretty strong fan writing community. For those that are not familiar with it, they are called doujinshi. They come in many art styles and levels of um... "maturity." Many of these are for enjoyment of manga by fans for fans. It's an interesting community, and I'm sure that they do get together for conventions.
As for life in Japan, it has its ups and downs, but I've enjoyed the experience a lot. There are some definite pluses, but being unable to read beyond a grade-school level is kinda sad. I didn't work on my kanji NEARLY as much as I'd hoped. But I'm able to speak pretty well now. It's no paradise, but it's not a bad place to live at all. If they spoke English and had pizza and Mexican food, THEN we'd be in business.
Thanks for writing!
To the Saint of Culture Teaching,
The question of the transcription of common names came up recently in Culture Corner, which is, as you yourself said, an endlessly fascinating topic (especially when one takes a transhistorical approach, taking into account changing writing conventions and what have you), and, as a tangential extrapolation, hanko/inkan were mentioned. While I am far from being an expert on the development of the Japanese language, or a scholar in Chinese ideograph evolution, I thought I could shed a little light on what you puzzled over when it came to "official hanko," and what have you. Indeed, what is on those stamp seals on those forms you received from your local town office ( "gai-yakusho" where you are, perhaps? In Tokyo, such are designated as Ku-Yakusho, but since I doubt you are currently residing in an area with a ward-based system...) are indeed kanji, but written in an incredibly stylized manner and, in some cases, an exceptionally archaic one. As standardization comes late to any language, written or spoken, kanji have undergone numerous transformations with time, and individual kanji have had, and continue to have, many variants; as a result, there are many currently "non-standard" writings and systems of writing in existence for Chinese ideograms.
When I had my inkan made, I was given the option of having my last name converted to kanji, and, had I gone that route, I could have had it carved in any number of styles, from the mundane and recognizable to forms not seen since 3000 BC, completely indecipherable yet highly allusive. While I decided to simply have it done in katakana for convenience's sake, I do think fondly of how chic it would have been to sport something distinctly Xia Dynasty.
Oh, and since this isn't a question, I'm not looking to be published; I just thought I'd pass along some interesting information. I bear the terrible curse of being overly interested in language.
Keep it up,
I hope I translated the Japanese well. So much doesn't directly translate, so I'm not sure if I got the word you were looking for.
And thank you VERY much for that very thorough explanation of hanko and inkan. I figured that the square hanko were probably archaic forms of writing, but it's nice to get a more definitive answer. In my case, I opted for kanji. As tempting as it would be to go for a kanji 'jyoudan,' I don't think that would go over well. I use the kanji 'jyaku' meaning 'youthful' and 'son' meaning 'respectful' for mine. It took a while to pick out those kanji, but I am glad I did. I think they serve me well.
Thanks again for the email. I'm sure many people will appreciate your knowledge on the subject.
Everything alright? Thanks for answering my questions again! I have a few
things to comment, even though it's not very interesting. I haven't
watched Fushigi Yuugi (yet? I'm more into mecha) and I don't watch
Simpsons either (as most of the time I'm not home if the show is on). But
it seems you're quite a Simpsons-fan: I've noticed you quoted something
then knew exactly what season and episode#!
I'm wondering though, what does Manami mean, or what can it mean? I knew a
girl with that name, not nowhere Asian though.
Okay, this week's question is about Famitsu. I've always wondered why
Famitsu is the most-respected videogame-magazine in Japan. What makes it
better than, let's say, Arcadia? What it seems to me is that the
reviewing-system kinda sucks, at least, if I think what it is. It kinda
reminds me of EGM (even though it was quite a few years that I had a EGM
in my hands, so I don't know if it is still like this) - I never liked
that reviewing-system. For those who don't know, that was a system where 4
reviewers gave a rating of 1 to 10 for a game. But it seems that the 4
reviewers played each game that had to be reviewed (and there were quite a
lot of games), which kinda seems illogical, because nobody seems to have
that much time on their hands. And the reviews were about 3 sentences per
reviewer, so they couldn't say much about the game (like something about
the graphics, sound and whether it was fun or not). But please, correct me
if I'm missing the point about this reviewing-system!
So I was wondering if Famitsu was like that, or whether EGM got that
system from Famitsu or not? And maybe you could tell a bit more about the
selection of videogame magazines? Like, what's the difference between
Famitsu and Famitsu Weekly (news-only maybe?). Do the magazines cover the
same as in the Europe/USA, as mostly either one console, or all? Or are
there magazines that focus especially on RPG's or arcade games or shooters
or something like that?
Well that's it for today! Thanks in advance for answering my questions and
PS. You can send me some gashapon you have double! j/k
"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"
Sadly, I'm striking out on these questions. As for the anime bit, I also prefer mecha, especially gundam, but I also have a bit of shojou in there too. And while I DO enjoy the Simpsons, I'm not THAT big of a fan. You can thank Wikipedia for that bit of knowledge. I merely wanted the reference to the quote.
As for Manami, between my manager being away on training and me being away due to my new contract, I haven't had a chance to ask her. Gomen. Should I find out, I'll be sure to email you.
And finally the Famitsu question. From what I can gather, it seems that it is just the most widely distributed magazine on the subject. There are certainly others, but I've never read them. Since Famitsu is also online, you can view them somewhat like we view Gamespot or IGN. They are just one of the major sources for news.
And for why they picked THAT particular style of reviewing, I dunno. I prefer our method of reviewing, but I suppose if you find that you enjoy games that Reviewer X likes, then a number might be enough to satisfy you. With a wide variety of games scored like that, it becomes easy to find out each reviewer's tastes. Hopefully, each reader will resemble one of them and will be able to make choices based on that. It's not THAT bad a way, it's just a different approach. You just have to step back and view the whole picture, kind of like playing poker. You don't play the cards; you play the man. It's the same with these reviews.
Thanks for sending in another letter. Keep 'em coming!
And thus another column is behind me. It's amazing that I got to get anything done considering my addiction to Dawn of Sorrow. Also, for those that enjoy Homestarrunner and have seen The Big Lebowski, the newest Halloween cartoon made me giggle. It's one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. I recommend that people check it out.
Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!
Catch you on the flip,