spiderpig: (Default)
For any of you who might have stumbled upon this blog after searching for information about Waseda and/or the SILS programme, I'll be updating this blog with my adventures in Japan :) I'm from Singapore and will be taking part in the one year exchange that Waseda has, from September 2009 - August 2010.

However, this blog is still rather personal so most of my posts will go onto my weblog In Your Basment.


Jul. 6th, 2010 02:14 am
spiderpig: (Default)
Originally posted at my other blog

Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin, at the Benesse House beach.

Back in February, or was it March, I made a 10 day trip around Japan's middle kingdom. One of the stops, was Naoshima of Kagoshima Prefecture, famed for being an art-island.


One of the houses in the Art House project. I've packed away my Naoshima books (I bought so many!) so I can't refer to them to find the specific names. I know there's the internet, but somehow I'd like to flip through the catalogs and read up more information that way.

Another Art House project; this time James Turrell's (who also has an installation in the Chichu Art Museum) Darkside of the Moon. One of my favourite installations. I have a soft spot for art pieces involving shadows and darkness, as cliche as that sounds.



It was a cloudy day when I went, and for short periods of time, the rain decided to have sporadic bursts around the island, and it was a bit of an ordeal trudging about in the winter wind. But there was something very calming about the island, and the weather. It was full of people, but not crowded and never once did I feel that there were too many people in one place. Walking about the island and discovering places not on the map, visiting the Art Houses, tip-toeing through the two main museums, I felt that I could live here and that I'd love to live here. One day I'm going to come back (next year?) and spend a night or two. What's the island like at night? How would the outdoor installations feel in the darkening sky?

Sadly my film photos of the island are all gone! They got mixed up with my Miyajima photos so no lovely shots of the teabowl (I had to climb the pedestal -- shhhh! -- to get the shot I wanted!) or other secret photos!

The full set of photos is here.
spiderpig: (Default)


spiderpig: (opposable thumbs :: konata)
More like I wish it was a countdown to super stardom. Not sure what I'll achieve in my remaining six months here but I'm going to make the most of it. I realized that I can't keep living on the dreams and plans I made before I came here, I need to let go and just go forth! Soldier forward! With gattling gun in hand!

One more week of school, and one more essay left. I've just finished my Epic Fable (the ending needs to be redone if it's ever going to be Very Good; right now it's passable I think) and most of my exams and papers.

Spring Break in a week! I can't wait, honestly. I wish I really could have seen the ice floes and ice bergs in Hokkaido but unfortunately I don't have a magical pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow*. In fact, I haven't found my rainbow yet. So yes, back to the drawing board.

(*: I need to admit that most of my money has been going to concerts, concerts and more concerts. Am I living it up? Probably, most certainly, yes!)
spiderpig: (STALKER GEEK // ariake koichi)


Oct. 26th, 2009 09:26 pm
spiderpig: (speed of light // hoshi no koe)
It always starts like this: I wake up, with my own body clock ringing, get dressed at my own pace and head out for the station. From here on, the route differs depending on my mood. Sometimes I end up in a livehouse, other times I'm miles away on a rickety old train heading to a beach.

It's a lot different here, to be able to just jump on a train, or go on a walk in any direction. Back home it used to be only two directions I could go from: left or right. Here it's up down center right left diagonals criss-cross, so many ways I could change to, move from and into. To hell with the cliched feelings of 'belonging' and revelation that other people feel. It's simply not enough to say, "this is the place" or "I feel this". Fancy words don't cut it. You need to feel it in every bone, every pore, every muscle and sinew as you lift your leg to put it back down on the ground, moving forward ever constantly. Do I feel like this yet? Probably, I am nearly there. The sense of inertia is slowly coming off and while I know I will never speed forth into some dream-laced, figment of a future, I am plodding on at my own pace.

In many ways, I feel like Enoshima. Always patronized by tourists, predictably kitschy and quirky, but surprisingly exhilarating. I struggle to separate myself from the mainland, but even with the choppy strait between, I always have people crossing that damned bridge. Take cover, move out slow, there are always the cliffs to hide out in. The constant influx of tourists, tourists, tourists tires me out. They don't understand that I want to be left alone. Stop chattering, stop talking, stop touching me. I didn't invite you in: so stay out. But I'm like Enoshima. So they come, and I let them, sometimes (only sometimes), because of a freak of nature, they can't come in.

It is liberating, to be able to have fun and enjoy myself without anyone else. To know that I do not need anyone to make me feel something so intense -- it's the quiet sort of knowing as you lightly crack an egg and watch as the crack forms, breaks, and then white slowly dribbles out and then sizzles, as it hits the pan. You fumble as the egg white gets on your hand, but darn, it smells good. The egg's good just by itself. It doesn't need any other additives.

November's going to be rockin' for me. I was born in this month, and I will thrive in it. The air has gotten colder, and I find going out in sweats never enough now, but the biting cold speaks to me. I've got three live concerts waiting for me, and a few more on the way, when the tickets start to go on sale. Am I feeling down that I'm going to all of them alone? I have to be honest, yes. That is a miniscule part of me. Like the tiny drop of MSG cooks still put into their dishes and insist that it's "MSG-Free". But it is that subtle flavour that makes my day (and days) all the more better. People say "Oh you look like you had a wonderful time, can I join you next time?" to me, but they don't realize that I have such a good time because I am by myself. It's a strong statement to make, hence the strong coding (lulz html pun) but repeatedly I've been proven wrong that "the more the merrier".

So while things are bitter sometimes, fuck it!
spiderpig: (grumpy :: ariake koichi)
I should be more tolerant. Either that, or just stick to my own path more firmly and not deviate from it. Sometimes, accommodation doesn't work for me.

In anycase, I have 江ノ島 and 中目黒 waiting for me!
spiderpig: (speed of light // hoshi no koe)
it seems that going to Ueno Park every Saturday has become a weekly affair. I was here last Saturday, and I'm here again. Two weeks before, I was at another part of the shitamachi, but still very much smaller buildings and wide open spaces clustered together.

When I'm tired of life, tired of not having people listen to me when I'm not speaking, tired of the constant parade of decisions that dance before me, the old Taito-ku of Tokyo is where I can sit on a bench, by myself and just watch the world go by. I never saw the need in moving about in cumbersome pairs, triplets, quadruplets and it's afternoons (and bleary mornings) that make it true. How else can I go chasing after stray cats in the bushes, or spend fifteen minutes sitting in front of a barricaded entrance to the Zoo. There is no other way I can sit, by the yatai and talk to the old man and his spatula freely.

Today, after being turned away by the apologetic staff at the Tea House, I stood in front of the Honkan building of the Tokyo National Museum. The rain had stopped, it had rained all morning. As I snapped some shots of the imposing building, a pair of ladies asked me, in halting English, if I wanted to have my picture taken. I brought down the viewfinder from my face and hesitated. In the end I agreed and the enthusiastic pair made me teach them (or rather, one of them) how to use my camera.

It's when I'm alone with my shadow, that people come to me and share bits of their lives with me. Built upon hand gestures and slow sentences, I take a bite of real Japan and give back some illusionary, doused with exchange-student happiness to them.

Strangely enough, or perhaps even coincidentally enough, they are from a Buddhist organization. By now, I'm not surprised when I find out that the people who approach me the most are religiously guided. Still, they make for the best conversations and the friendliest smiles. One of them, the more forthcoming lady, has e-mailed me already.

After taking my picture (a few unsuccessful shots, because the Canon is unwieldy), they ask me the standard how-do-you-do-where-are-you-from; then, to my greatest surprise, they ask me if I'm studying photography. I chuckle and say no, it's a hobby. The conversation then takes a pretty sharp turn where they ask "Do you watch anime?" and not sure how to reply, I say that I sometimes do. What if they find out that I'm an otaku and beat me with a stick? Japan does it again as they whip out a pamphlet (I am a pamphlet magnet!) which has the Buddhist anime I've been seeing everytime I walk to Egg Farms. The world is that small.

"Please, come and watch!", passing me a complimentary ticket. I express my utmost gratitude and tell them that I'm writing a paper on Buddhism -- and this makes them deliriously happy. I mean, they gasped -- loudly -- in visible joy and immediately ruffled through their bags for some brochures about their organization.

Seriously kids, I have a face that says "Come talk to me about your religion". Two days ago I had a group of girls come up to me and try to convince me to join them in their lunch-time bible study class.

Back to the story; they tell me that I can go over to their organization's office any time I want if I need to use materials for my paper (wheeee!) and that if I have any questions to contact them.

In the museum, I talk to a lady around my mum's age, and she tries to explain to me the giant folding screen before us. It's a Japanese ink painting, influenced heavily by the old Chinese masters. I ask her the significance of the third panel and she replies, haltingly in English, that it's hard for young people to understand Zen. I agree and ask her to explain in Japanese. The other docents, most of them fairly old, are equally knowledgeable and warm.

Embarrassingly enough, I fall asleep during one of the talks at the side wing. I drift in and out as the speaker introduces to the small audience -- half of them leave within 10 minutes because they realize that everything is in Japanese -- the different periods and styles of Japanese art. For some odd reason, I understand nearly everything that's being said, and come out feeling a lot more informed than before. It makes sense, when you've walked through the exhibits and then have a talk like this that tells you more.

The thing I love the most about the people in the shitamachi is that they take the time to speak to you, to tell you things, to slow down their pace of understanding so that you too understand. I like how Japan leaves me alone with enough space to walk alone, to feel utterly comfortable eating by myself, and most importantly, that it's fine to leave your cellphone behind and go off on a weekend trip to nowhere. I don't owe anyone a living here, and I'm not obliged to anyone here. It's a refreshing sense of freedom that doesn't tie me down to hefty words and heavy feelings.
spiderpig: (moyashimon rabu)
School has officially started and I'm supposing I'll have even less time to blog now, what with classes every other day and my weekends scheduled for some hardcore fun.

Still, I feel the need to record the good and bad of my first day at Waseda:

As expected, non-Japanese Language (that is, grammar+vocab+etc Japanese classes) are a lot less demanding than classes at NUS. This probably has to do with the fact that they have to cater to students whose first language may not be English, and the fact that their lecturer's first language might not be English; but I think it's more for the problem that there are little to no classes that actually create a probably 'building block' for students to work upon. So students end up knowing a lot in terms of breadth, but lack depth. But that's not my problem.

Still, it was pretty much an academic culture shock, walking into my Comparative Culture Class and being blown away by the sheer simplicity of it all. It cannot possibly get worse, after the only other semblance of Hard Work (the group project) was cancelled because of the massive class size. Right now we only have 5 worksheets and a Final Exam. I'm betting that it's going to be well, less challenging that I think it's going to be. The impression that it left on be was enough to make me and Shahida go up to the professor to request if we could actually increase our workload. Yes believe or not, I actually requested for more work. It's a waste if I don't actually write a proper paper on Comparative Culture/Literature. The texts are wonderful and there is so much potential in the topic, and we aren't writing a paper. The class is also, too big to have any constructive discussion going on, so another minus point. Then again, I'm not here to mug.

Creative Writing is, well Creative Writing. I've had my fair share of CW workshops and classes, so frankly, I just need a place to throw my ideas around and get people to critique them, like how it was in the USP-Piper workshop. Man, that place was pretty awesome. The class seems pretty raring to go too. And Birnbaum! <3 I'm sorry, I must dedicate a friends-locked entry to fangirling about him. I loved what he did with Underground and Dance Dance Dance and to interact with him in person is nothing less than amazing. Imagine, I am one degree away from Murakami now.

Anyway, got my ticket to the Metric LIVE (eat your heart out boss!!!) and am very poor now!!

I got placed into the shittiest level 3 class for Japanese (you see kids, it doesn't pay to have a goldfish memory!) and it was a bit underwhelming today. It's a repeat of Japanese 2 in NUS all over again. I refuse to re-learn things FOR THE THIRD TIME. I don't mind re-learning them by myself but not in a class setting. I REFUSE TO. I did it at NUS the last time for the stupid reason that they didn't let me go to a higher class because even though I passed, I didn't get like 90 marks. :\ So I sucked it in. I REFUSE TO STAY IN THIS CLASS IF I QUALIFY FOR LEVEL FOUR (only confirmed tomorrow)!! D: I need to keep up and challenge myself! Not just slack off for Japanese!

Anyway, got to finish some paperwork. I headed off to Ningyocho after class today and wasted 15 minutes wandering around lost trying to find the train station. :\


Sep. 24th, 2009 02:25 am
spiderpig: (mmmmm. // ariake koichi)
After a failed trip to school, because I do not have enough common sense to realize that offices do not open on Citizen's Day no matter what, I scratched my plans to visit Nakameguro (that will wait for next week, tomorrow will be reserved for clearing up some things in my room) and headed to Asakusa instead, because I realized that the Shitachome Comedy Film Festival screening it's opening film at 6pm. Ticket sales started at 2pm and I left the dorm at 3pm because I was talking to my dad on Skype.

Quite obviously when I got there, the tickets were sold out, and apologetic "supporters" (volunteers) rushed in and out from the Public Hall to inform me that it was all sold out and "why don't you stay and watch the red carpet (procession)?" And so I did.

I squeezed myself into semblance of a second row against the barricade and watched the Shitachome band wheel itself from one end of the carpet to the other, the lead singer crooning tunes reminiscent of the Showa era. It was nostalgic in a way that I couldn't possibly be nostalgic about, having not been born then. Yet, there was something touching being surrounded by small aged ladies and their equally small husbands. The same small ladies who excitedly reached out to touch the hands of passing celebrities as their husbands benignly smiled on.

This is the Japan that I know and love, the same Japan that obediently puts away their cameras when the emcee announces that photography and video recordings of the event is prohibited, the same Japan that whips out its keitai camera when Aikawa Sho strolls past.

I only recognized Aikawa Sho because of his appearance in The Quiz Show and Kurosagi, and immediately there are ladies from behind pushing frantically. They reach out, and I can only see their hands stretching out, disembodied, from behind, as they struggle to touch him.

I mimick the crowd and shout "アニキ!" (Older brother, in a more rough manner) and stretch out my hand too. Very briefly, he smiles, and shakes my hand. "シンガポールから来た!" I continue to shout, and he nods and gives me a thumbs up. I am slightly stunned and increasingly overwhelmed.

The crowd abates for a while as lesser known stars walk past us. Then it's a mad rush as two お笑いさん, comedians, young comedians, walk past and they start shouting for them again. I briefly touch one of their hands as his brushes past mine to reach for an uchiwa to sign. Wow.

Finally all the red carpeteers disappear into the building and we're left with disgruntled Japanese people and empty barricades. I walk back to the main Asakusa compound and wander for a bit.

Besides the constant renovation that the main temple has been undergoing, Asakusa has never changed since I first came back in 2000. It's comforting, just like how much Japan changes, it's soul is still very much intact. Walking towards the omikuji booths, I remembered what it was like to be here with my dad, with L and E, with my family again, -- and now, by myself. I love the shitamachi. the down-town and dirtier areas of Tokyo. The sounds and smells, most importantly, of the shitamachi are what stick with me the most. Not only do they stay in my clothes and hair for hours after I leave, they tattoo their scent into my heart and brain so that whenever I'm in Ueno, or Asakusa, I think "Ah, I know this place."

So going to Sensoji has become a routine for me. 100 yen for the omikuji, get my fortune, pray at the main building (now heavily boarded up), and then circle the grounds before leaving. I like things that are constant, things and places that don't take you for granted.

Good night, Tokyo.


Sep. 24th, 2009 12:14 am
spiderpig: (Default)
All I need, is a firm heart and mind, and my family. That is all.

Because no one else understands me, or tries to understand me like my family. And because I don't need anyone else but my family to do so. No one else hugs my short-temperedness in a warm blanket, or rolls out my kinks with a pin dusted with flour-power. It is, a tacit consideration, a secret heartfelt handshake like how Yoshitsune trusts Benkei wholeheartedly enough with his life in the face of sharp danger.

It is enough, and I am more than content. I can live with and without everything else.
spiderpig: (literary criticism)
Drained, but content, I need to add.

I'll probably be blogging more on Basement than here because it's time consuming, but my private things will still go here.

In any case, I am safe and sound, if a little bit tired, and in my room at Nishiwaseda International Student House right now. If you want my mail address, leave a comment and I'll pass it to you via e-mail. :)

Anyway, I have my first album of photos up here. Nothing much yet, but I just headed to Akihabara and Harajuku for brief visits to pick up important things. So photos will be up tomorrow when my placement test is over. I want to explore so many places, but I need to blog and record everything down too. For my own bad memories' sake.

I am enjoying myself immensely in Japan. How can I not? It still hasn't sunk in that I'm going to be here for a year. Wow.

I've already started to try and be more outgoing, because being a wallflower is painful and painfully lonely. I'm fine being by myself but I do appreciate good company. I'm hoping to find some. But in anycase, I tried to be more "HI HOW ARE YOU? MY NAME IS ALICIA, I'M FROM SINGAPORE" at the Dorm Party just now. It seemed to work a bit, even if conversation was stilted.

Time to revise a little more, and back to the books for an hour before I sleep. Meeting a group of dormmates at 8:30am tomorrow.
spiderpig: (i have no idea :: house)
Less than a month. I cannot wait.

I cannot relate to the people who dread leaving, but applied to leave in the first place. I mean, hello what

I reconfigured my iTunes library to run off Nirvana and now my permissions is pretty screwed up. Oh well. I shall overcome it anyhow. I've learnt that its not advisable to shift my WHOLE iTunes folder to my external hard-disk (because that practically wipes out your entire library =A=;; ) but to just shift the iTunes Music folder over (where all the wtf nonsense is at). I stupidly did the former and have to reimport all my music back in. OH WELL.

I have Murakami as the second backup disc. It's a sleek WD 1TB desktop disk that will hopefully survive the flight to Japan, once I surround it with soft things. Coincidentally, it matches Nirvana, who is a 120GB WD portable exthdd. I should change its name. It's temporarily called Murakami because I lack a firm, sparkle-filled imagination. I might want to call it Nabokov because it's hefty. Maybe not.

I'm leaving in less than a month, and I can't wait to say goodbye!
spiderpig: (moyashimon rabu)
It's not a lot, but it can help pay for 3 months' rent or a trip to Iya Valley or a stay at a Kyoto machiya. :)

Dear Student

Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you have been awarded the NUS Awards for Study Abroad (NASA) (Exchange Awards) AY09/10.

Okay lah, my temperamental God is smiling upon me once again. My religion is so fickle!
spiderpig: (Default)
Things I need to do for Module Mapping

1. E-mail Prof Bishop about mapping -- courses not confirmed. I can send him the details/mapping forms when I get my classes confirmed in Waseda

2. E-mail Prof Lim to arrange a consultation re module mapping and possible double major planning! Waiting for her reply. Settled. Submitted forms. If there are any changes I'll e-mail her in Waseda. I really hope I can get the courses that she approved? Otherwise it's a whole new ball game of sigh, choosing and mapping. Still! It's done for now! :) Dr Lim is wonderfullllllyyyy nice and didn't bite me at all! :D I think I shall do my ISM with her? I mean, my ISM is probably going to be on magic-realism in Murakami or something (SOMETHING!) to do with him so she is a Good Person to Turn to. I can't think of anyone else who would be a good fit if I choose to do something on anime? :O

3. Visit the USP office next week to submit mapping forms and ask if they allow changes/e-mailing for new forms etc when I'm there. Yup. Submitted! Eric Ho will get back to me.

4. What is this "Study Plan" form I need to submit? (http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/undergrad/tocheck/sep_specific/sepbriefingnotes_ay0708s1.html) Can anyone clarify with me if I need to submit anything else? I know I need to submit my module mapping forms to the Departments but that's all right? 

Okay the main question, must I submit a copy of the Mapping Forms to the Dean's Office? (Then er, my EN modules will be messy because Prof Bishop advises me to only map them when I get the confirmed course list?!) [livejournal.com profile] proinnseas , do you have any advice for me?!?!? *panicky* I am kancheong spiderrrr....

E-mailed FASShelp for well, help. There was something I wanted to add, but I forgot. :\ Actually, I kind of want to do the manyoshu in Waseda. >__> 

spiderpig: (i have no idea :: house)
I stumbled upon this blog chronicling this guy's stay in Japan as a Waseda exchange student and I'm very much stoked (even though I'm supposed to be finishing Burmese Days andLady Audley's Secret - I'm very much screwed.)

I was always kind of psyched at getting Hoshien or the International Dorm (preferably Hoshien because most of the people I know have stayed there and have an a rockin' good time) but now I'm swinging more to the side of trying a homestay. For one, it'll be easier on the wallet. The only thing I'm afraid of is of getting an overbearing family (note: my own family's pretty liberal and we can come back as late as we want provided we give a call back like say, before 9pm and we're pretty much allowed to do whatever we want - Hey mom & dad, you rock!) that has impossible curfews (e.g. 10pm) or would balk at me bringing back figures occasionally. That means, no otaku-phobic family. Haha, I think I need Murakami as my host-dad. HAHA.

But yeah, I am slightly afraid of possible screw-ups I might make. I'm not the neatest person around, and I am - I admit - lazy. I do housework, clean up and all that but I do take my time to do it. (Like, 15 minutes of slacking before I decide that I should mop the floor.) But I do do things semi-efficiently. I don't know. I personally feel that homestays are the best way of experiencing the Japanese way of living but that might come at the expense of making other friends, international or Japanese.

If I stay in a dorm, I'd definitely get to make friends - mostly fellow SILS-er - but not as much Japanese interaction unless I put myself out there.

Homestays are a lot easier on the wallet too though. I dunno. I'll like, see how everything goes in May-June when I get stuff and have to send stuff out again. Both are different experiences, and both can go either way depending on my luck so hmm...

i have OCD

Nov. 30th, 2008 05:44 pm
spiderpig: (put me out of my misery! :: konata)

Evidence of how I'm super OCD about things. I made a FILE (I should be studying, really) to hold all my documents for the Waseda application and it's all compartmentalized with nice little checklists.

D: Because I am a scatterbrain and I forget things very easily. Sigh.
spiderpig: (moyashimon rabu)
:D Waseda, the ball's in your court now!

this time, my joy is hidden behind this friendly cut! )

I need to go and get this financial record thingum now. I can't accept the offer until I get it uploaded! Boo!


CONGRATS WANWEI (and the other people out there!!!!!!!!) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We shall deal with the horrendous (but worth it!) application paperwork together after teh exaaaaaaams~~~~~

(I mean okay, I shouldn't be too happy yet but this hurdle was probably one of the most ANNOYING to get over with because NUS is very weird and Unpredictable (with an unpredictable capital U) with SEP applications!!!

Man. Man.

In anycase, I am cancelling all (maybe saving ONE lah) my figure pre-orders for the upcoming months to save monehhhh for JAPAN. My heart hurts but my wallet will feel much better.
spiderpig: (!!!!!! :: persona 3)
Hi guys, I promise not to screw up your friends pages after this ONE TIME!





On a more "meh" note, I need to think of lecturers/tutors who can write my 2 letters of recommendation.

....I cannot think of anyone who would remember me. Maybe Dr. Ang. Yes. I'll like BE THICK-SKINNED AND ASK HER? O: Maybe not? Um. Dr Yeoh is out because he's never personally tutored me. Er..... KAM THIAM HUAT? But I think he hates me because I don't show up for every tutorial and I'm quiet?! EHHHHHH. WHO CAN I ASK.






Okay. I've calmed down. In any case, NUS has given the A-OK for applying to Waseda, it's just up to Waseda (oh generous, lovely university!) to accept me after I complete the applications and stuff.

Man, there's a lot of paperwork to be done. :\


spiderpig: (Default)
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