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Archive for the 'Tokyo Intern' Category

A Development for the Future

Konichiwa Readers!

Today I did a bunch of lessons from survival phrases and Japanese. Respectively, lessons covered 41-45 and lessons 39-43. The lessons while teaching new phrases and words, covered much of the same areas I’ve already blogged on (restaurants, shopping, etc.). One of the lessons that was different however was one about going to the movie theater.

Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills

Observation Floor Love Seats

At the top is a photo of Mori Tower, the center structure of the Roppongi Hills development. Below is an area on the observation deck, floor 53, of Mori Tower. The seats are able to detect how close you’re sitting to the person next to you. The closer, the warmer the color. The further away, the cooler the color. They really are love seats. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

Here in Tokyo, going to the movies is very expensive. I have not been yet, but have heard it is around 2000 yen just for a ticket. When I’ve inquired about it with locals, many say that they rarely go to the theaters for this reason. I can’t imagine how much concessions cost if a ticket is already 2000 yen. Needless to say, I have yet to attend a movie here in Japan.

Last night I walked by the movie theater in Roppongi Hills and saw that most of the movies playing were ones produced in the US. One of the current large features playing is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls (2008). Its release date here in Tokyo was June 21st. It opened in the United States on May 30th. This movie, that has a lot of international recognition, was released a month later here than in the US.

Ironman (2008 ) on the other hand, another summer blockbuster that was released in the US in early May, is not opening here in Tokyo until the end of September. Most all of the movies to my knowledge are shown in English and are given Japanese subtitles. With that said, I’m not sure what the deal with international release dates is; there is clearly a discrepancy between these two examples.

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“Nikai te wo Tataite”

Hello fellow Users!

Today’s title means, “clap your hands twice!” (thanks for your help with that Ben!) This is a reference to practices performed at a Buddhist jinja, or shrine. This should give you a hint for today’s topic.

Ueno Koen Shrine

Meiji Shrine

At the top is a photo of one of the many shrines found in Ueno Park. Below is a photo of the Meiji Shrine. The Honden is visible just through the large entryway. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

I did quite a few podcasts this morning! Covered in’s Survival Phrases were lessons 37-40 and in Japanese I covered lessons 35-38. While these podcasts touched on many subjects, the one I’m going to address today is shrines.

Here in Tokyo, there are shrines and temples everywhere! On my first day in Japan, I went to Harajuku to see the Meiji-Jinga, or Meiji Shrine. It’s a huge area filled with gardens, walkways, streams, and areas for different activities and events.

Because it was already close to night, I didn’t have much time to spend, so I went straight to the shrine itself. It was really beautiful and looked exactly like it was from a Japanese postcard or travel book. We walked around the perimeter a bit before actually approaching the main building of the shrine, or the honden.

The small group I had gone with approached with me. We were all cautious, not really knowing what to do, as none of us are Buddhist, or so I thought. One of the girls in my program started whispering to us exactly what was going on with the clapping and bowing. She told us she was Buddhist and taught us the entire premise of the actions we saw happening before us.

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Love of the Game

Hey Bloggers!

Today, I listened to podcasts 34 and 35 from Survival Phrases. I followed it up with lessons 33 and 34 from Japanese. In today’s blog, I’m going to touch on two different things, as the lessons were a bit scattered and touched on different things themselves.

The first thing to address is taking photographs. A couple weekends ago, I went to Ueno, an area of Tokyo full of museums, shrines, parks, and even a zoo. It’s more of a traditional area, but it’s lovely and a lot of fun. Walking along the sidewalk, there were huge hydrangeas in full bloom. It was gorgeous!


This is a photograph of the Hydrangeas I was talking about. How perfect are they?! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

I was there with one of the guys in the group that came to Japan with me. We wanted to take a picture of the two of us in front of the flowers, so we struggled to hold out our arms as far as we could and get a self-shot photo of the two of us. As you could guess, it really wasn’t working.

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An Intern’s First Camtasia Video

Hi Everyone,

Today, I’m doing something a little bit different than usual. I’ve made a Camtasia video instead of my usual written blogs. Just press play!

I should probably mention that this is not my best work. It was my first time ever playing around with the program, so I sound a bit stressed and stiff and I’m reading from a script (I promise I am more fun than how I sound in this example!). You can also probably hear all of the hustle and bustle of the JPod101 office in the background. As always, we are busy busy busy.

Anyway, with that forewarning said, enjoy!

If you want to leave me any comments, please do.

Intern Video

Can You Hear me Now?

Moshi Moshi!

Today I did lessons 48 and 49 from’s survival phrases and lessons 31 and 32 from Japanese. The focus was all about cell phones.

Closed Cell Phone

Open Cell Phone

TV Cell Phone

These photos are of a typical cell phone here in Japan. Notice this one’s screen turns horizontally for the owner to watch TV. The little charms hanging on the side are very popular for both men and women. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

I have a cell phone here in Tokyo. It is a puripeido keitai denwa, or prepaid cell phone, from Soft Bank, one of the cell phone carriers here in Japan. It is a standard flip phone that has photo and video capabilities. For a prepaid phone, it’s actually pretty neat.

On my first day here, I went to Soft Bank to get it and they charged me for the phone and my first terehon kado, or prepaid telephone card, that was a gosen en kado, 5,000 yen card. 300 of those 5,000 yen were spent on unlimited text messaging service to last the entire month. Three US dollars for unlimited text messaging?! It was a steal!

I believe that of the remaining 4,700 yen, making calls costs 90 yen a minute; incoming calls are free. I paid a total of $110 USD for the keitai denwa and terehon kado. The phone comes with a charger, headphone/speaker, computer connection cable, manual, and screen cleaning charm. It was a bargain! I’m sure other companies also have deals like this, but if you don’t want to search them, this option is a good one.

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Tokyo Metro

Today I did all of the lessons related to a major part of Tokyo; none other than the metro system. These lessons go from 26-30 on’s survival phrases and Japanese lessons 23, 24, and 25.

Tokyo Metro Train 1

Tokyo Metro Train 2

These are some photos of the metro. Nothing too amazing by the looks of it, but incredible once inside. [Photos by Emily Carsch]

The Tokyo Metro system is like a living arterial network that zig zags and wraps itself across the entire area of what makes up Tokyo and beyond. It’s so weird to be walking through ancient shrines and beautiful gardens that have been in place since the 1600s, and think that there are probably three lines of trains at different depths passing underneath you all at once.

This is what makes Tokyo magnificent; its mix between tradition & history and high-tech modernity.

Here in Tokyo, there are 9 sen, or lines, each differentiated not only by name but also by color. (Click here for a link to the subway map and the names and colors that coincide with it. This link is part of the Tokyo Metro website.)

As a gaijin, or foreigner, I was excited to see that a new line, the Fukutoshin line, denoted by brown, opened just this week. We initially thought it’d be a big deal that there was a new line opening, but found that a lot of people didn’t even know about it. Clearly, new stops and lines are always being made to add to the convenience of public transportation in this city.

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“Kyo no Tenki wa do Desu ka?”

Welcome back survival phrase learners!

Our title today translates to, “how is the weather today?”

Kristen Joy Watts Umbrellas

Fortunately, it’s been sunny, so I’ve been unable to snap one of my own umbrella photos, but this is one I found online. [Photo by: Kristen Joy Watts –]

Today I listened to the following lessons: Japanese 29 & 30 Survival Phrases 23, 24, & 25

The most important section in my opinion from today is about weather! As you may or may not know, it is the rainy season here in Japan this month, and it feels like it rains every day. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and there have only been three sunny days!

It gets depressing waking up every morning to a cloudy sky, but that is the only thing that seems to be truly consistent with the tenki, or weather, at this time of year. Sometimes it is pouring and others a mere drizzle. Yesterday, even though it rained, it was so hot outside I felt like I could hardly breathe. Today, it is raining, but it is cold outside. The temperature seems to constantly vary here despite the consistent overcast sky and precipitation.

One thing I have noticed about Tokyo is that everyone uses kasa, or umbrellas. Every place of business has umbrella racks, including the HQ! It seems as if it is rude to bring an umbrella inside of buildings. Some places have plastic umbrella wrappers to put your wet umbrella in, so that it does not drip.

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Foreign Convenience

Hello readers!

Thanks for coming back and checking out blog #9! Today I continued my studies of survival Japanese with Japanese lessons 26, 27, and 28, and survival phrase lessons 20, 21, and 22.

The lessons covered mainly directions and how to get different places. One Survival Phrase lesson however, expanded upon convenience stores, which is quite an adventure in itself. I thought I would blog a little bit about them today, since I have yet to try my hand at asking someone how to get somewhere (at this point, I think that it’s more fun to get lost in Tokyo, since there’s so many hidden treasures in this city).

Sunkus Convenience Store

Though it’s a plain photo, this is a picture of a common convenience store here in Tokyo. I was lucky to get a woman dressed in Kimono walking out! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Kon-bini, or convenience stores are all over the place. Recognizable to Americans are the 7-11s, but there is also a chain called Sunkus, and other places with signs written in Kanji that I cannot understand. The stores here, are much like any convenience store in any country. There are some basic grooming items and packaged snacks, refrigerators for a cool beverage, and current magazines and newspapers. It is the food and beverage offered that makes these stores interesting to a foreigner.

Right now, I’m drinking a carbonated pineapple drink made by Sapporo that I picked up earlier. Because I saw the name Sapporo on it, I realized that I was taking a risk. Was it a soda or an alcoholic beverage? Fortunately, it’s just a soft drink. What I’ve learned however is that Japanese beer companies like Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban have other products than just beer. This is not the case in America. I can’t imagine drinking a juice made by Heineken.

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The Wheels on the Bus…

Today I listened to a whole slew of lessons from talk about the internet to the bus stop. This included Japanese lessons 20, 21, and 22, and Survival Phrase lessons 17, 18, 19, 31 and 36.

Pasmo Bus

This is an example of one of the buses that stops right in front of the JPod101 HQ! It’s so fun and colorful! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

The first thing I want to touch on and reiterate is to not be worried about your safety in Japan. One of the lessons dealt with thieves and muggers. This is rare! I know I mentioned it in my last blog and will say it again; Japan is very safe, and I have yet to feel uncomfortable at all. I venture to say that the only reason you would need to make an emergency call to 110 would be if someone got hurt, not because someone was endangered by another.

Another lesson dealt with bus stops. I have yet to use the bus! Undoubtedly, the trains are the way to go around here, and I don’t foresee myself ever needing to use the bus here around Tokyo. The only bus I rode was from Narita Airport, or Japanese, “kokou“, into the city.

Narita is located just over an hour’s drive away from central Tokyo. It can be difficult taking the crowded trains into Tokyo if you have a lot of luggage, and a taxi is very expensive. I was told to take a basu, or bus. As soon as you walk out of customs, there are bus counters. We walked up to one and told them where we needed to be. The woman at the counter smiled and printed our kippu, or tickets. I believe it cost $30 USD, or 3,000 JPY.

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Show Me the Money…in Tokyo

Hey Podcasters,

Today I finished up lessons 15 and 16 in’s Survival Phrases. I also did lessons 17, 18, and 19 in Japanese. The lessons focused on banking and shopping/using prices here in Tokyo.

Harajuku weekend crowd

This is an example of a weekend crowd in Harajuku taken this past weekend. [Photo by Emily Carsch]

In case you missed it in the podcast, the easiest way to think about the “kokan reto“, exchange rate, to date between American dollars and Japanese yen is 1:100. If something costs 600 yen, it’s equivalent to $6 USD. 2500 JPY is $25 USD. You can just think about it by knocking off the two back numbers (usually zeros) put on the yen to get the dollar amount.

Because I will be in Tokyo for two months, I opened a Citibank account, since it is the only American ginko, bank, that is all over Tokyo. There is actually a Citibank right across from, so it’s really easy to run over to the ATM and pull out some cash when I’m on the go. If you’re going to be here for an extended amount of time, I suggest you look into doing the same thing. It’s much easier than trying to find the “yubinkyoku“, post office, and hoping your card is one of the ones accepted there.

A really important note worth mentioning, if you don’t already know this about Tokyo, the entire city is very reliant on “genkin“, cash. In America, most people use credit and debit cards consistently. This is not the case in Tokyo. I have found that places like McDonalds do not even take credit cards. Cash is a necessity and it is safe to carry several hundred dollars in your wallet if that is what you end up doing. To function in this city, have cash on you at all times.

My apologies to those readers not from America for making my banking comparison comments specific to the United States. It’s what I know to make comparisons to.

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