Monday, 28 May 2007

My name is Akiba... Yodobashi Akiba...

Spending 40minutes in trains to reach Akihabara is NEVER a waste. I always think of that while walking in the streets of Akiba, the technology capital of the whole world.

As always, on sundays no cars are allowed. People were walking in the middle of the streets visting shops here and there. You can imagine how big Akiba is when you look at the two pictures down. The buildings on each side of this wide street are ALL technology related and all to show and sell technology products.

Yet, this street only a part of Akihabara. If you go left or right from that street you will start to find shops all around you and they become more as you go deeper. Still, all that I mentioned is only a PART of Akihabara.

The other part is known for Yodobashi-Akiba. Now thats another tale by itself. It is a mall that shows ONLY technology related products. The mall is 8 floors, each floor is as wide as carefour's floors of Amman. But dont forget, ONLY technology prodcuts. No food and no clothes :)

Yodobashi-Akiba is arranged such that technology is separated by floors. Mobiles, laptops, computers, ipods, music and subwoofers, cameras, printers, games, home electronics. This is ofcourse all I can remember now. Ofcourse I wont forget the 103'' screen that I saw. Perfect screen is the only word to describe, picture below.

Yesterday, I spent from 3pm to 7pm just to check the first three floors. I went back only because I got very hungry and tired from walking and jumping from a corner to a corner...

Its totally the dream place for technology lover. You should probably "pay" a visit ;)

Friday, 25 May 2007

How am I studying Japanese in Tokyo?

I am totally amazed by how I am taught Japanese here. Teachers are really very good and know what to do due to a prior plan.

About 10 teachers teach me Japanese in my intensive course. Each day is about 3 to 5 hours of Japanese grammar, conversation and exercises. Each teacher has an hour and a half of class everyday, then teachers change to complete what has been done.

I study Structure, the Japanese grammar. This is the main focus in my course and they are totally doing it in a correct way. Because everyday we are learning 2 or 3 sets of grammar and new sentences that each open a whole new door of conversations for us.

In conversation classes, which we take almost everyday, is the most interesting part. We apply what we did learn in the grammar through out conversations, and ofcourse imagining a situation where we need to talk with Japanese only people. Conversation lessons are on three levels:
1. The students talk in pairs which each other to practice the pronunciation.
2. Then each student performs the required conversation with the teacher. By this all students watch and learn from other's mistakes.
3. Conversation Challenge: on which we have to go to the teachers room down the hall and apply the conversation with a random teacher from there.

The third part, the challenge, is the most interesting part. Because at the teachers room there is a video camera ready and they record all conversation. After we finish and return to class the teacher runs the video and starts saying notes on each of us. The notes include everything: grammar, pronunciation, reactions, how to start, how to end, body movements and even where to look while talking. This is totally helpful and makes us learn pretty fast.

Ofcourse, dont forget the laughing part!!! when we watch the video we laugh like crazy on our mistakes and pronunciations!!! it is very very funny and enjoyable which also makes Japanese language more fun.

We also have vocab lessons, Kanji, reading and further practices on grammar. With a test every week to sum everything we took.

I really like it and I am learning very fast. Japanese language is totally fun and I find it pretty easy..

SONY cannot be any more BLUE...

This picture is taken from Sakuraya in Shibuya. It is my first time to see a BlueRay player, and to be honest, they should give it much more credit. I have never seen a more clear picture on a TV in my life.

The BlueRay is priced for 278,000 yen if you want the 500GB player. This is around 1635JDs.

I think i am going to visit Akihabara this weekend to check the stuff again.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

WARNING: Dont mix linear algebra with Tokyo Metro!!

Ah yeah. Be careful...

It appeared to me that studying linear algebra to a very late hour will only result in you sleeping in the train of Tokyo Metro on your way back home next day...

I always see Japanese people sleeping in the trains, but this was the first time for me to actually sleep in there! I totally slept and missed my station, only to wake up at the end of my line. I took the train on the other side to go back.

Actually, it was a nice nap!!!

Friday, 18 May 2007

Oh, Taxi, Taxi...

I rode a taxi in Japan only once, when I first arrived. From Haneda airport to Komaba. But this only once experience is something ill never forget!!!

I was surprised first to discover that the door opens automatically when the driver pushes a button, and closes automatically too. Inside, I thought that I am in a nuclear lab!!!! The taxi has more than 3 LCD screens!! Once I rode the driver entered the address I am intending to go using a keyboard. He only entered the zip code number, and to my surprise one of the screens showed Tokyo map, from above, with a green line that shows the path the driver should go through!!!! Thats probably using the Wi-Max technology - which we will see in Amman in 5 years-.

The map showed our current position, our destination and the path we should take, which is the shortest path ofcourse. While driving, the green line gets shorter the closer we get to the destination. It also dynamically changes if you take another route than the designated on, to show you the shortest path again after the route you took.

We passed through something like a toll. Will the taxi stop, I thought? No it didnt. It just passed through the tall and something like a bill came out from a device inside the taxi. I concluded that it probably connected with it and that was the bill to pay, without even stopping.

The driver doesnt talk with the passenger. He doesnt need to. All what he has to do is to drive, while wearing the clean uniform. Also, smoking is not allowed!

Taxis are pretty expensive in here, I think you can all now understand why :)

Monday, 14 May 2007

FINAL-ly, its my FANTASY...

I couldnt believe my eyes when I was right in the middle of Makuhari Messe, where SquareEnix, the very popular Japanese video gaming compay, held its exhibition, showing Final Fantasy and many more other video games...

I couldnt believe that last year I was reading about gaming exhibitions and now I am watching with my own eyes...

I couldnt believe that last year when I was playing Final Fantasy, it was already written in fate that ill be LIVING my fantasy...

2 hours trip by train was the beginning of my journey, until I reached my destination. In my way I saw Disney Land and Careffour Tokyo. When I went inside I was surprised of the huge crowed all anxiously going around the exhibition. To my surprise, all of them were adults! I was probably the youngest among them!!! If such an exhibition was held in Jordan, probably only kids will show up, since most adults consider this "childish"!!!

Ill leave you with the pictures...

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Hakone: Electronics between the mountains.

And people wonder why Japanese achieve alot!

Since it is the start of the year in Japan, the professors, my lab mates & I went on a field trip to Hakone, a place 2 hours by bus outside Tokyo. The reason behind this trip was to do some relaxation accompanied with electronics discussions about the plan for next year's work.

I never saw a more beautiful place (seems ill be saying that sentence alot in Japan!). Huge mountains all covered with forests. The trees were so tall that I couldnt even see where they end. The green color ruled the scene and it was very relaxing.

Yet, I thought this is gonna be my only surprise. I found that we will be staying in a Japanese style hotel. Japanese from A to Z. Once I entered I had to take off my shoes, ofcourse. It was very neat & clean yet very simple. By entering my room I was amazed, this is the first time for me to be in a real Japanese bedroom. I looked through the window and god what a scene that was.

After we settled down, we went into the meeting room which looks like a class room. We started our meeting and we spent time talking about electronics. Using my Japanese language to the limits I could catch what they were talking about, yet I missed alot. There, looking around, I couldnt believe that this is actually happening. Talking about electronics in the most beautiful spot on earth..

After the meeting we had the Japanese dinner. Actually the crab in the middle was very delicious I liked it especially combined with some rice.

After dinner my lab mates went inside the Onsen, which is the japanese style bathroom. Well, I didnt go with them because out there you have to take all your clothes off while enjoying the hot water. (Why? I dont know. Why I didnt go? Its Haram).

Then we resumed our electronics discussion, each member talking about his plans for the following year of research. We stayed awake until late at night eating snacks and drinking. I appreciate that my professor and the rest accept that it is haram for me to drink alcohol, so I kept on drinking Pepsi, along with another muslim friend with us.

Next morning, It was my turn to talk. I talked for about 3 minutes in Japanese, then after they started asking me questions I switched back to english. It was a very nice experience.

My professors are very very nice, and also have strong knowledge in their fields. My lab mates are very nice and funny also.

I enjoyed my trip to Hakone, where science and nature were combined to produce two of the most beautiful days of my life..

Fuji-san, Hajimemashite..

Fuji-san, hajimemashite. I have read about you alot in Jordan, and I saw many pictures of you. and now, here I am, infront of you. Fuji-san, watching you this close means I can scratch another dream off my list. Yorushiku onegaishimasu.

Thursday, 10 May 2007


Hibiya is in the middle of Tokyo. The pictures will talk for themselves. I can only think one sentence: Its the perfect place for relaxation.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Tokyo Metro.. Flying underground...

To be honest, talking about Tokyo metro needs a separate blog spot, not a single blog post. Tokyo Metro is the main transportation method used in Tokyo. As you can see in the map below (which is actually a portion of the original map of the Metro), it is spread all over the city with some very complex lines to cover most of the areas.

I live within the area on the left, marked with the dark blue circle. My lab is in Nezu, marked with a red circle while my Japanese language class is in Yushima that has a light blue circle, one station before Nezu.

The trains
The trains move in a very organized way all over Tokyo. It has a precise timing and it never misses except in some very rare cases. As a result, you can check on this website, the time you need from a station to another & the ticket price. This incredible feature of calculating the shortest distance has made things easier on me! eh! and people ask me how I adapted so fast on life in Tokyo! They are so organized that it makes the transition from anywhere in the world to here much easier.

From Komaba-todaimae station, marked with the dark blue circle, I need about 23 minutes to arrive to my lab, in Nezu. As an experiment, I calculated my timings using my mobile's stop watch in this trip over one week (5 days). The results were (in minutes): 22 23 22 22 24!!!!! Ofcourse this is considering only the time travel for the train and waiting is not included.

Waiting?! They should remove this word from the metro's dictionary! Sometimes I wished I had to wait for the train. Everything goes so fast. The time between one train and another is about 1 minute in the morning and about 3 minutes afternoon. 3 minutes max people!!!! Sometimes I need to feel the "joy" of waiting for the train, but i just cant!

Getting in
Before getting into the train, you have to stand in a line. Oh what a line that is: It is so neat and organized. Each line is usually divided into two lines, just like how we used to stand in the elementary school before we go in to class. When the train arrives, the two lines standing infront of a train door are divided such that one line takes the right side of the door, and another takes the left side. Why? to give a chance for those who want to exit the train. After making sure nobody else is going out, people start going in quietly and in an organized fashion.

Inside the train
Once inside, if you find a seat, ull sit. Else, you can stand up which not very annoying. The train has air conditioning and actually standing up makes the trip more enjoyable. Each time I am inside the train I actually find it getting cleaner & being even newer! I cannot believe how they take care of such a public thing this clean! Before reaching each station, the train alerts you that you are about to arrive 2 minutes before. It calls the name of the station twice and thanks you for using Tokyo Metro. Each time I hear that I wish for ME to thank them even if for once and only once.

Getting out
Getting out is as organized as getting in. You have to prepare your magnetic card so that the reader reads it and charges you for the trip. Which is shown in the picture.

Each day the same story, each day the same road. But I never get bored of watching people in the train. Some are sleeping, some are reading, some are looking at me and some are looking at their feet!


Tokyo Metro is a story by itself, Ill keep posting about it from time to time :)

Friday, 4 May 2007

Kobayashi sensei, thank you so much...

Kobayashi sensei is my Japanese teacher who taught me Japanese language in Amman. Beside being a great teacher who knows how to deliver an info, she is very kind. In the picture, Kobayashi sensei is the one who is wearing the arabic woman's uniform.

The sensei has invited us to her house in Yokohama, 40minutes by train outside Tokyo. While we enjoyed the view during our train ride, we enjoyed Yokohama even more. Once we arrived she welcomed us wearing the traditional Jordanian dress with a big smile on her face. It was my first time entering a traditional Japanese house so I was looking everywhere around me to find that the house is very very neat & organized. Ofcourse, you have to take off your shoes before you enter, as this is the Japanese tradition.

We were shown a very warm welcome. There were the sensei, her mother & father, and some of her friends. She also has prepared LOTS of food we enjoyed. In the picture you can see what kind of food we ate.

The most incredible idea we faced, was that she prepared an icecream on za3tar flavor! yes guys, vanilla icecream with lots of za3tar on top. It was REALLY delicious!!!!

We had so much fun. I would remember this day for ever. Japanese people are so nice and welcoming.

We were 4 people from Jordan. Me, Ahmad-san, Taymoor-sensei & Othman-san.

Kobayashi sensei, thank you very much for one of the greatest days in my life.
- and thank you for allowing me to post the pictures in the blog - .

Can you guess where am I in the pic?!