Sunday, December 11, 2005
very merry japanese weekend

Well, post-finals period of December is now here for me and I've been squeezing just about every last moment of fun out of it.

Wednesday and Thursday night, I put the finishing touches on some Christmas cards for Angela's Japanese kids, the kicker being that since they wrote letters to Santa, I got to do "roleplay" and impersonate the jolly old fatman. I originally started making pretty simplistic cards with an old watercolor set I had, but then my mom happened to walk by and decided to show up my shoddy illustrations with these super detailed cards she would spend like 10-15 minutes painting, while I'm trying to blaze through all 20, factory style. Hopefully the kids who got my cards don't feel shafted, haha.

Friday, Shiv took me for an early birthday lunch at Matsu Sushi up in Lynnwood, which is run by a Japanese family that goes to her church. I stuffed myself with a delicious tempura / sushi lunch special, along with a piece of the day's special kani koroke (crab croquettes). Once again, my conviction that chain restaurants can never match the taste and skill of a nice family-run joint was affirmed. We then went Christmas shopping at Alderwood Mall, the main goal being a visit to a branch of one of my favorite Japanese dollar stores, DAISO. Going there gave me Japan flashbacks.



The weather the past few weekends has been crappy, but I've been wanting to really go up and visit Vancouver since a friend from Japan, Mina, e-mailed me that she's up there studying English by herself.

Though my own experience living abroad in Japan was great overall, there are definitely times everyone goes through when the burden on your psyche can be heavy, especially when people back home don't really support you or you feel like you don't have any close friends in the place you're at.

Holidays, because it's such a family season, can be especially tough, but sometimes a visit from an understanding friend can make things less sad, at least helping you forget for a little while. I remembered how cool it was when Amy Nish came to visit Kobe all the way from Nara during then and how much it cheered me up, so I thought I'd pay it forward and do the same for my friend in Vancouver.

After a Saturday morning breakfast with my best friend and his wife, Shiv, Mel, Reg, and myself piled into Santa Maria (AKA my boat-like Acura Legend) to make the trip. Traffic wasn't too bad and it only took about a couple hours to get up there.

Some pics...

Mina and Mel eating Chinese noodle soup with fishballs and veggies at the Aberdeen center mall. The joint we got our lunch from was crazy busy, but it was easy to see why - the food was good and cheap ($3.50 Canadian for just a bowl).

Post-lunch video game battle between me, Mel, and Reg on this game called "Super Bishi Bashi Championship". There's only 3 buttons (red, green, blue) and it's a series of mini-game competitions requiring you to hit the buttons in certain sequences or according to a certain timing. Deceptively simple.

Karaoke! The song selection was lame, and I was un-whiskeyed, but it was actually a blast because everyone was so much fun. We actually sang for two hours!

I was dropped a lot as a baby.

No visit to Vancouver would be complete without FOOD. The group of us hit up the time-honored Shabusen for tabehodai Korean BBQ and sushi. The decor and the arrangement of the tables looked like it had been remodeled recently, but I don't think we paid much attention to the environment until after we had finishing scarfing down round after round of maguro-maki, unagi, sake-sashimi, kalbi, etc. For coffee / tea / dessert, we managed to stumble onto some tasty cakes at a joint called True Confections.

Obligatory group photo... thanks to my passengers who helped me navigate, manage iPod playlists, and pass stuff to me while I drove. Mina, Seattle ni hayai kita houga ii da! Mata au.


We left Vancouver late and got back into Seattle around 3:00ish... I blame the icy roads and the ridiculously fog, but thankfully, we avoided any accidents. Mel rode shotgun and we spoke / growled / laughed along to these elementary Cantonese practice lessons on my iPod that I had found for my jook sing, 4th generation ass. Talking and thinking along with the Cantonese was actually good at keeping me awake... I found myself recalling a lot of my college Mandarin in helping me figure out some of the grammar and syntax, though of course, the pronounciations are completely different.

The colonial subtext of some of the lessons is simultaneously hilarious and offensive to my Chinese-American sensibilities.

(Narrator): Pretend you are an American man meeting a Cantonese woman on the street. Follow along and listen to the conversation.

(Man): Siu-jeh, joh-san. Ne hou ma?
(Woman): Hou hou.
(Man): Ne hai-umm-hai Zhongguokyun ma?
(Woman): Hai. Ne sik-umm-sik tang Guangdongwa a?
(Man): Umm-hai hou tang. Ngoh sik tang yut di Guangdongwa.
(Woman): Ne hai-umm-hai Meiguokyun ma?
(Man): Hai. Ngoh hai Meiguokyun.
(Woman): Bai-bai!

The Gar-style American translation:

(Man): Morning, miss. How you doin'?
(Woman): I'm good.
(Man): Are you Chinese?
(Woman): Yeah. Can you understand Cantonese?
(Man): Not well. I can understand a little bit of Cantonese.
(Woman): Are you an American?
(Man): Yep. I am an American!
(Woman): Bye.

bwahahahahahaha. Am I the only one that thinks that's funny?


I'd say no. heh. But it does seem kind of like one of those Once Upon a Time in China movies where the foreign guy wants to marry Ji Fei Hung's girlfriend and the girl isn't interested.

I could imagine the text being familiar in my own life too. Heh.

"Umi de sakana ga takusan iru." (Note that makes no sense in Japanese.)
the last snippet of dialogue is hilarious.
yeah, that was a pretty abrupt end to the convo. haha
^ f
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



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