Thursday, September 30, 2010

Epic Journey of Summer 2010! Part 5 (Germany)

Sorry it took so long for me to post this! I just got the pictures so I'm ready to write. This will be the last part of my summer adventures, so thanks for sticking around!
After visiting Holland, we worked our way into Germany for a quick stop at a city that's very close to Belgium: Cologne (or Koln). This was the first time I'd been in Germany, and my first impression through this city was pretty good!

Cologne is Germany's fourth largest city and is known for (apparently) some crazy parties and celebrations, which we didn't get to experience, as well as this cathedral:

It was so big I couldn't even get a proper shot! As dirty and dark as it is, I still thought it was really awesome and beautiful. We first took a visit inside the church itself...

Some shots of the windows. I love stained-glass windows, they're so pretty to look at~

We decided then that we wanted to try to climb to the top of the cathedral, but first we took a quick walk around the surrounding area. One of the things that I think makes a city really beautiful is if it has a body of water. So going down to the river was really nice.

There were some pretty grass areas where you could have a picnic or hang around, and we saw this neat little rock structures that I found pretty.


There were all these pools of water with stepping stones, tiny streams and waterfalls. So quaint!

On our way back, we could see the cathedral poking out over the other buildings. Starting to get nervous about the walk up the tower...

Here's a shot of what I'm pretty sure was the train station! I enjoyed a lot of the architecture in Cologne.

We got back to the cathedral and it was finally time to climb that tower. Man was it rough. It wasn't the first time that I'd gone up hundred of stone steps in a tight, cramped twist of a space. But that doesn't make it any easier.

We made it to a large circular room that signaled to us that the worst part was over. The stone windows and whatnot were interesting (sorry that it was so hard to take pictures in there!) but that wasn't our final destination. We still had a metal set of staircase to go before reaching the top, but that was nothing at this point.

Looking up at the very point of the roof!

As rough as it was, the view did not disappoint. From so high up we could see so much of the city.

Definitely worth the climb!

Funny story on the way down, by the way. You don't feel the effort as much going down the stairs, so my pace was a little faster. Suddenly I notice that the tourists in front of me were speaking a very familiar language... They were Japanese tourists! This was the first time I'd ever seen Japanese people in Europe! They were these two guys, a little older than me, walking back down the stairs as well.

I wanted to talk to them and practice a little, but had no idea what to say and was too shy. I couldn't help but stay pretty close behind them, though, both excited to be able to hear the language and trying to come up with an excuse to talk to them. At one point, they stopped in the staircase fairly suddenly, and I accidentally sort of bumped into one of them. I reflexively excused myself in Japanese, and they both whipped around, looking at me and behind me in shock. They looked so intense that I was too embarrassed to say anything else haha (d'oh!) They probably thought they were hearing things because they just kept going...

I never got the courage to say anything else to them. But I was disappointed in myself for not just throwing myself out there and I learned my lesson - next time I noticed a Japanese person was near me, and forced myself to be courageous and trying talking to them. It went great, and I'm actually friends with them now!

Anyway, that's my small taste of Germany with the city of Cologne. And that ends my epic journey of summer 2010! I've actually been back in the states for over a month now, and so I quickly learned how hard it was to blog while abroad. But I'm glad I was able to take some pictures and share some of my experience for you guys.

Looking forward to new adventures! :D

Friday, September 17, 2010

Drama Review: Last Friends

Whoooaaa. This drama is inteeense. I hadn’t heard much about this previously, but from the little impression I had gotten, I didn’t think it was something I’d be interested in. A friend of mine was actually the one who really wanted to check it out, so I watched it with her. I ended up really loving this drama, even though it’s completely different from any other drama I’ve watched. There are pretty tough themes at hand: abuse, homosexual/transsexual identity, rape. While it is a very serious drama and it does have its crazy moments, however, generally I wouldn’t say it’s completely dark and depressing throughout. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of gasps, and it was an overall enjoyable watch.

Michiru (Nagasawa Masami) is a girl who has a rough home life with her mother and decides to move in with her beloved boyfriend, Sousuke (Nishikido Ryo). Around the same time, she runs into an old high school friend of hers, Ruka (Ueno Juri), a tomboyish girl who is living with her cheerful friend Eri (Mizukawa Asami) in a house together. Michiru’s move in with her boyfriend does not go as smoothly as she would have hoped, as he proves to be both mentally and physically abusive. Meanwhile, Takeru (Eita) enters into the picture, a kind and gentle – and seemingly homosexual – guy who has a dark past of his own. Through twists of circumstances, Takeru, Michiru, and Emi’s friend Ogurin (Yamazaki Shigenori), all end up living together with Ruka and Eri. But the drama isn’t over yet – Sousuke has not given up on Michiru, Ruka realizes that she is in love with Michiru, and overlapping love triangles arise in this emotionally intense story.

I was impressed by many of the actors, namely Ryo and Juri. They had tough characters to play, and they weren’t too dramatic with their personas while still being effective – in fact, I believe they were the only two who got acting awards for this drama, and I definitely agree, as their performances were great. The characters all had nice chemistry, which is very important as this drama is primarily about friendship (hence the name). The plot was very interesting and the storytelling was great and kept you hooked. The serious themes were a nice change of pace from other dramas I watch, and I liked the fact that there were also many happy moments in the series to balance it out.

Sometimes I couldn’t stomach the drama very well as it occasionally went overboard and became unnecessarily melodramatic. Michiru annoyed me a lot; not only was her character generally weak and irritating (the way she would let her boyfriend treat her at the beginning got ridiculous and wasn’t believable to me), but I didn’t find Masami’s portrayal of that particular character very good either.  I have nothing against her, and I do like her in other stuff, so I think it’s mostly the character of this particular role that was the problem. There were many exiting, tense scenes that were very effective, but sometimes it got so dramatic that I had trouble taking it seriously. Not all parts of the plot were played out to the end or explained fully, which always irks me, and while there were some aspects of the ending that I really liked, there were other aspects I wasn’t really satisfied with. While the negative aspects are a factor to consider, however, they didn’t really get too much in the way of my enjoyment of the series.

Ultimately, I feel this is a very particular drama that wouldn’t appeal to everyone but was very well made. The characters and plot were very good, the acting was solid, as were the visuals. I usually like happier or funnier dramas and thus I’d want the serious ones to be exceptional for me to enjoy them, and while Last Friends wasn’t perfect, I still feel it met the mark, and do recommend it if you enjoy its genre.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tweet Log 9 (April/May)

Continuing my story through tweets... start at the beginning here.

Go back to part 8.
Go forward to part 10.


I also successfully made croquettes (korokke) last night! Two new recipes in one day~ :D

Blog Post: Another way to view Japanese material

Finally watched the Kurosagi movie and thus finished the series!! It took, what, 2-3 years? O.o

Just finished watching Mr. Brain! I'm surprised by how much I liked it XD

Just started watching Sunao ni Narenakute (the drama that's about Twitter..?!) So far, I'm really intrigued! (And yay for Jae Joong <3)

School has definitely been piling up and exams are approaching, so it's been harder for me to be active online. Can't wait for summer!

I finally actually watched the last episode of Arashi no Shukudai kun. So sad ;_;

Watched the first episode of Kaibutsu kun and was pleasantly surprised! I thought it was really funny~

May Tweets

Just made pan-fried lemon chicken and Japanese-style stewed eggplants. I can't wait to write about all my cooking adventures! XD

You may have noticed already, but I'll probably be pretty inactive for a little while now - it's crunch time in college world!

Blog Post: Cooking Adventures - Croquettes (korokke)!

Haha, of course the day I say I'm too busy to do anything is the day I put up a new blog. I should go on hiatus more often!

Just finished (re)watching Minami kun no Koibito. Cute show~

College is on break and it gives me a little time to breathe! SRSing it up :D

I went down from a backlog of over 600 to less than 300 in just a couple of days. やった〜! ^o^

Getting back into learning new kanji. I really want to finish Heisig's first book this summer! Let's see if I can do this! :D

Also working on a new blog post. Expect it later today!

Blog Post: Drama Review of Yukan club!

Just finished Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge... what a weird show... XD

My sister's graduating today! Yaaaay! Busy busy~~

Backlog's GONE! Right now I'm at a pace of ten new kanji a day, hope to push that to twenty soon~