Christine’s Tokyo Disney Blog!

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The Grocery Store Experience March 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 12:20 pm

There are 3 major differences about grocery shopping in Japan…

1.  EVERYTHING is SMALL (except for the grocery stores themselves)

2. 85% of the meat section is fish

3. Grocery store employees shout about sales/featured items in a song-like fashion!

At a Japanese supermarket, you cannot buy a gallon of milk or a half gallon of of ice cream.  A big bag of chips would qualify as a small bag in the U.S.  A large section of the store smells fishy since most of the meat is fish (sushi, octopus, salmon, tuna, etc).  If you don’t like fish….avoid the supermarket when visiting Japan.  In addition to fish, there is a small beef, pork and chicken section.  Most of the boneless chicken breast are not skinless.  Also, chicken is typically packaged as 1 or 2 boneless breast.  A package of wings might have 3 or 4 wings.  There are no United States style family packs of chicken!  Beef is sold in paper-thin strips, ready for a stir fry, soy soup or miso soup.  And, yes, yes, specials are heard in song.  Sales associates walk through the produce or meat section announcing featured grocery items.

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Sensoji Visit March 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 10:41 am

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Sensoji, aslo know as Asasuka Kannon Temple, is a Buddist temple dating back to 645.  It is Japan’s oldest temple, built to protect a gold statue of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kannon.  Two brothers fishing on the Sumida River caught the  statue of Kannon in 628.  They repeatidly returned the statue to the river but it kept resurfacing.  As a result of it’s continued reappearance, the fishermen brought the statue to the village chief.  The chief enshrined the statue and the temple was built.

Within the temple is Asakusa Jinja, a Shinto shrine that honors the two fishermen.  Outside of the temple is “Thunder Gate” (Kaminarimon).  Here a giant red lantern hangs surrounded by two statues of guardian gods.

As I entered the temple on Monday, many worshiping visitors surrounded an area where incense burned.  They waved the incense towards themeselves. Unfortunately, I am not aware of the significance of this gesture.  Just prior to entering, there is an area where a small offering can be tossed into a large rectangular metal box.  After throwing a coin, people can be seen showing respect/saying a prayer.  While visiting another Temple in Ueno Park, I was able to follow posted instructions about how to properly complete this moment of worship.  There were no instructions at Sensoji Temple.

Along the street leading towards Sensoji Temple, is a small shopping district/market called Nakamise.  This is a great place to purchase souvenirs and Buddist items.  There are lots of traditional Japanese trinkets,

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple

as well as snacks and sweets that are native to the Asakusa area.

 

Interesting Facts Continued March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 1:33 pm

1.  It is VERY common to find Japanese people sleeping on the trains and the subway.  (In fact, a man was snorning next to me today.  I was half expecting his head to drop onto my shoulder).

2.  It is very rare to see Japanese people cross the street without a walk signal.  This is true even if there are no cars coming in either direction.  Only the Gaigin (foreigners) are seen jay walking.

3.  Japanese books written in Kanji are bound on the right.  I was completely unaware of this fact.  Kanji is written in horizontal columns that are  read from right to left.  (This could be common knowledge, but I was surprised to see magazines bound on the right).

4.  Crepes are incredibly popular in Japan (both savory and sweet) and stands can be found virtually anywhere in Tokyo.  Of course, one of the popular sweet flavors always includes green tea ice cream and matcha.

There’s more where these fun facts came from, but that’s all for now!

 

Cape Cod Rehearsals March 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 2:25 pm

Day two (which went much more smoothly than day 1)  was a very fun and successful rehearsal.  We ran through all of our music.  I feel REALLY great about working with the band members.  The director made some music changes, but nothing too complicated.  Thank goodness for my translator, Yuko!  She is my lifeline during this rehearsal process.  Without her, I would be a little lost puppy dog, wide-eyed and confused.  Yuko tells me everything that is going on during rehearsal and gives me director feedback in English.  She has helped me to become integrated with my new Disney family.

After rehearsal, the band, my translator and I went to lunch together.  This was my first opportunity to spend time with the cast.  All the band members are incredible.  They are so friendly and amazingly talented.  For one of our songs, there is no sheet music.  All the band members learned the music by ear and they sound perfectly flawless!

There are six band members and their names are Hajime, Koji Koji, Hiro, Kouji, Yukiyo and Yuka.  Hajime speaks english well.  The other band members did their best to speak to me in broken english that they learned in grade school.  We were able to communicate with very little trouble.  The cast was fascinated by little things like the fact that I am half Irish and half Italian.  The band loves Irish music so they were really excited to hear that I am Irish.  I cannot wait to get to know them all better!

Hajime gave me a gift at our second rehearsal!  It is a book with important words and phrases in Japanese.  It is organized into sections such as “Words to Use at Work”.  I am very eager to learn as much of the language as possible.  The cast taught me to say Otsukaresama desu, meaning thank you for your good work.  At the end of a day at work, Japanese co-workers use this phrase in recognition of everyone’s efforts and a job well done.

Towards the end of our rehearsal period, the director is treating the cast to dinner.  The Japanese have been very generous and welcoming!  So far, I am very excited to be a part of Disney in Japan.

 

Karaoke! March 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 12:44 am

012I had my first Karaoke experience!  I’m sure this will be my first of many many karaoke nights.  It is  an absolute blast to hang out in a sound proof room with your friends singing karaoke.  I highly reccommed it to anyone traveling to Japan, especially since it is completely different from karaoke in the US.  You select your songs from a small, touch screen computer and they play on the tv in the order they were selected.  When you want to order more drinks, you pick up the phone in your karaoke room and place a drink order.

 

Today’s Lesson in Japanese Culture March 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 9:46 am

SO, I made a faux pas today….

As you may know, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering homes and certain rooms in Japan.  This part did not suprise  me, but a closely related custom did.

I arrived at the gym for my orientation.  The orientation director gave me a short tour of the building, including the ladies locker room.  Before entering the locker room, you are required to take off your shoes.  Once  we entered the locker room, the orientation director instructed me to put my belongings, including my outdoor shoes, into a locker.  She told me to carry my id card and my indoor shoes into the fitness room.  I looked at her bewildered.  My indoor shoes?  Do I even own indoor shoes (besides slippers)?  Needless to say, I did not have a second pair of sneakers to be worn indoors.  The gym staff seemed very suprised that I “forgot” my indoor shoes.  For today, they loaned me a pair.

Thank goodness that the Japanese have been nothing but kind and helpful since my arrival, even on occassions when I prove my ignorance.

 

Harajuku Girls

Filed under: Uncategorized — petrie1784 @ 3:26 am

This week, I ventured into downtown Tokyo.  My first stop was the famous shopping district of Harajuku.  A unique teenage style exists in Harajuku, as it is the hub of teenage fashion ranging from punk, rock, goth and other non-conformist styles.  The most notable of these fashions is the gothic lolita or the lolita style.  Teenage girls who adopt this style are sometimes refered to as Harajuku girls.  As seen in the photos below, lolita girls  gothic-lolita-fashion1dress to appear like porcelain Victorian dolls.  Their dresses are full of lace with Victorian style blouses.  They wear elaborate hats, hair ribbons or bows.  They often carry parasols or stuffed animals.  This goes without saying, but the Harajuku style is all about accessorizing!482836-lolita-style-harajuku-girl-01