Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Kyoto and Video Games [Update]
I've discovered something on Japanese keyboards! There is a way to make it behave like an American keyboard! What I mean is that the keys change to the American counterparts, so even if a certain character/symbol is written on the Japanese key, it will type the American key. For example, the Japanese keyboard has a colon (:) where the apostrophe key is on the American keyboard. So normally, when I press this key with my right pinky finger, I type a colon. But when I do this trick, I get an apostrophe! The trick is pressing the following keystroke: Alt + Shift. This keystroke is normally used on American keyboards to change language inputs; it's what I use to switch between Japanese and English on my laptop and desktop computers in the US. Normally, there is a designated key to do that on Japanese keyboards, so pressing the key maintains the Japanese layout of characters and punctuation. But not with this keystroke trick! Bwahaha! I don't have to type Shift + 7 for apostrophes anymore!
So! This past week has been SUPER DUPER busy, which is why I haven't been able to post an update. It's unfortunate, because I wish I could recall all of the things that have happened since my last post (which itself was quickly written). I am currently typing this at the Yakuba, so I will update this post later with pictures.
First off, I'll mention this quick gaming news that blew my mind. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was announced!!! Click that link for the article and an epic trailer! This announcement helps fighting game fans like myself to envision the next two or so years of fighting games from Namco and Capcom. There's Marvel Versus Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and Tekken X Street Fighter. MVC2 and TTT are two of my favorite fighting games of all time, so hearing that both of their sequels are being planned/developed makes me very happy. ^_^ Also, the TTT2 announcement was made at Tokyo Game Show (TGS), which was this past weekend. I would have LOVED to go, and it's so cheap, too (Just ￥1200 per day or ￥1000 in advance; that's about $14.14 and $11.78, respectively, at the current exchange rate)! But I wasn't able to go because of something else more important:
I was in Kyoto this past weekend with my girlfriend! :-D I wasn't able to see her for two months prior; it was so wonderful to spend time with her again. I took an overnight bus from Sendai to Kyoto; it was an 11.5 hour ride. Not very comfortable; or rather, the seats were comfy compared to American buses; it was roomy, and the seats reclined pretty far back. And there was decent leg room. But there was no bathroom on the bus! The nice thing about that is that there is no foul smell that sometimes plagues the rear of American buses. But the problem is that the driver has to pull over every 3 hours to give people a 15 minute potty/smoking/stretching break. This wouldn't be such a big deal if he didn't turn on the lights whenever he stopped. So yeah, suffice it to say, but I didn't have restful sleep that night, even though I attempted to sleep for the entire duration of the ride. Another plus is that I was able to be in Kyoto by 7 in the morning, and the price was way cheaper than the Shinkansen (approx $82 vs $236).
Kyoto is amazing. I can easily see why it would be the "most favorite city in the world" for many of my friends. I'll definitely be taking more trips there; and it may become the same thing for me. The areas I went to were mostly suburban in feeling, even though it was in the city. There were lots of famous temples there: I went to see Ryouanji Temple with the famous rock garden, and Kinkajuji Temple, the famous golden temple. Very beautiful places.
We had lots of adventures in Kyoto. On the first day, we went to Ryouanji. It's kinda funny; when my girlfriend and I got there, we ran into some other students living in the same dorm, and when we walked into the temple grounds, we were greeted by a group of Japanese college students who wanted to give foreigners tours of the temple. We obliged and had enjoyable conversations in English and Japanese. It was funny because the Japanese people were speaking English, and we Americans would respond in Japanese. After the tour, we left the grounds, and found a dessert shop where they served green tea/vanilla twist soft ice cream! It was sooooooooooo good. After that, we found a conveyor belt sushi restaurant (kaitenzushi). I'm guessing that the ice cream filled us up a bit, because we only managed to eat 11 (or so?) little plates of sushi, one soup, and two drinks. All for just ￥1700 (like $20)! After that, we checked out her campus. It's a really nice campus; very localized. No need to travel far between classes like on Pitt's campus. But the catch is that housing is a little far (only a little).
In the evening of the first night, we met up with an old friend of mine with whom I studied Japanese back at Pitt. It was nice to see him again and meet his girlfriend, who had surprisingly good English (she studied abroad in the US for a year). I was happy that I had the opportunity to check out downtown. Now, if you know me, you would know that I love going to cities and exploring stores, arcades, malls, and busy areas like that. When we got off the bus to downtown, the closest place was a 6-floor Namco arcade! Unfortunately, we didn't have any time to check it out, but I'll definitely hit it up next time. Instead, we walked around the izakaya area, with lots of bars and restaurants, looking for a place to dine. We ended up finding a place, that strangely enough, played Black Eyed Peas the whole time we were there. Maybe they thought we were BEP. We kinda looked it. Anyway, the place had tiny booths with cave-like aesthetics. But the food and drink was good, and the company was better, so I was happy. Later, we went to an area under a bridge and next to a river. The place was bustling with people: foreigners and Japanese people; lots and lots of couples. That's apparently where my friend and his girlfriend had met. It's cute 'cause along the riverbank, couples are sitting side-by-side, evenly spaced.
The next day, we grabbed some ramen for lunch. MMMMMMMMM SOOOOOOOOO GOOD! I can still remember how good it was. The place was called Ramen Kyoto Tengu. And for just ￥700, you can get a delicious bowl of ramen that looks like this:
Kinkakuji was gorgeous. Just look at the pictures! Unfortunately, it started to rain when we arrived, so I couldn't get any shots of the temple's reflection in the water, but it was beautiful nonetheless. After seeing the temple, my girlfriend and I enjoyed a tea ceremony with a sweet snack. I'm not sure what to call the building we had the ceremony at, but it was one room with tatami mats and something like a shrine at one end and a kitchen in the corner at the other end. Afterward, we did some bell ringing, candle-lighting, and other luck/fortune-cultivating activities. I bought various keychains and omiyage at the gift shop nearby. When we left, we were looking for green tea ice cream (actually matcha ice cream), but the temple's gift shops had already closed the ice cream section. :-( So we left and found some at a nearby touristy shop. :-)
It was a three-day-weekend, so I was able to stay for two nights. I left on Monday, so I had to take the Shinkansen back. The ride was interesting; in fact, the entire commute was interesting. We walked from the dorm to the nearest train station, which took us directly to Kyoto Station. There, I bought tickets from Kyoto to Sendai, which requires a transfer at Tokyo Station. But before I left, my girlfriend and I grabbed a quick lunch at a local cold-udon/cold-soba place. Not as good as the ramen the other day, but still pretty decent. What was neat was that we paid for it using a vending-machine-like thing. After lunch, we had a tearful goodbye. I reminded her (and had to remind myself) that I'll see her again in a few weeks. We also broke the unspoken rule of "no public affection in Japan." Well, if PDA is illegal here, then call me a criminal.
I then headed to the platform where I looked for the unreserved seats, in cars 1-3. Sweet, I found it; but dammit, it's full! So full that a whole bunch of people were standing for the entire duration of the trip to Tokyo. Including me. The ride itself was a little over two hours (two and a half maybe? Something like that). Actually, correction; I got to sit down for the last fifteen minutes or so, when some people left at the stop before Tokyo Station. I sat next to a lady who was kind enough to show me where I would go to make my transfer to the Tohoku-bound trains. The second leg of my trip was much nicer; I managed to get my own seat, and when the guy left at the first stop, I had an entire bench to myself! Good deal. A friend of mine was picking me up, and he asked me to continue past Sendai into the next town, which required another transfer. It wasn't a problem and only cost about $8.
One thing I noticed while I was in Kyoto and on the Shinkansen: girls in Japan sure love moccasins. I don't know what the deal is with that. But Japanese girls can seem to make even the ugliest outfits look cute.
Oh, and lastly, I finally bought a Nintendo DSi! My best friend has been telling me to get a DS for the past five years. Better late than never! Hahaha
Word of the day: 自由席 「じゆうせき」 "jiyuuseki," which means "unreserved seat."