Yes, this blog just got all 3d and shit. I’ve become one multimedia format mutha, I’m now having a party, and you’re all invited.
So douzo (please), watch the first episode of Sam’s Japan.
Excuse the excitement and the senseless words of the first sentences, but fudge me, editing this video took such a long time. I’ve watched it so many times that I hate it, then also I had to spend two days trying to buy LAMB for my mac because the editing kept crashing. Lamb, what? No… RAM, ‘ah LAMB?’, no, it’s called RAM. As you can imagine, trying to describe computer issues and obtain the correct and necessary parts is a bit of an ordeal during your first week in Japan.
But I did it. The first video is ready, though I’m unsure of what I think of it. I have had a cold since I arrived, and it’s varying intensity has had various affects on my nasal passages and hence voice. Therefore my voice keeps sounding different between narrative cuts, and in fact I often found myself trying to emulate a more bunged up voice while I was feeling better in order to keep things in synch.
Nobody ever comments on this blog, which I don’t mind, but given the effort I put into this last 5 minute piece, I’d really appreciate some feedback. Even if you hated it. Just let me know what you think about the move to the video realm. Then I can go back to the blackboard for the next time. Thanks.
I learned a lot from this video already though. About what kind of footage I need to be getting, what works, what doesn’t. But what I really learned is that I am a complete amateur who knows nothing about making films. I don’t know why I just thought I’d buy a camera and get some editing software and know everything. But having been learning languages for the last year, I get how you learn stuff now, and it always starts here… where here means being shit, really confused, and not seeing how you are ever going to arrive at your destination.
Anyway just because the blog has gone all video and I’m like a celebrity now doesn’t mean that the writtendown word shiz is over. Oh no no. The last post I wrote was very wrong. I assumed that video would replace words, but instead it only adds to them, as words add to video. Video killed the radiostar, but it didn’t kill Sam, it only made him stronger.
So that film was just a tester really, and more stuff will be coming up. Ideally the focus will be more on actual stuff here in Japan and less on me being on a plane. I’ll try and release a new video every week, on a different theme. In the meantime here is some highlights of my time so far in Japan…
I had a moment of true euphoria cycling down a Yokohama road in that vibrant darkness you only find in big cities. Especially Japanese ones, where the big lights protrude from every floor of the towering buildings that never seem to end. The colours of the lights are so bright and various, while the Japanese characters everywhere, instead of that boring ol English alphabet stuff, just add that extra element of cool. I’ve been studying the kanji a bit, but actually I think I kind of like not understanding them and might stop. This way these characters are just a bunch of crazy pictures everywhere, like some new wave of electric street artists have gone mad and decided to make rorschach-esuque designs on the top of every shop, stall and street corner.
I was on the street with my new friend Yoshi. I’d spent the night before at a karaoke bar til 5am speaking in only Japanese, and marvelling at drunk Japanese culture, no in fact all Japanese culture, just how differently they present themselves, hold themselves, do everything. The fun part of learning a language is that you then get to do it yourself a bit, and you at least get to start to understand it somewhat. It’s not that Japanese culture is so rich, but that it is so different, which means there is so far into it for one to delve. I cycled down the road under those lights shouting ‘haaiii inshotekkki da!’ (impressive!) in various different Japanese tones with Yoshi, and realised that this kind of discovery is something you can only do once. Under those lights, on those huge streets, in the middle of a new world, I was discovering, and the discovery is my favourite part. I was euphoric for the experience, but almost simultaneously sad from being aware of it’s eventual finality, that I won’t be able to do it again, that one day I’d just understand it and it wouldn’t be anything new. So understanding it’s rarity, I savoured that feeling all the way back. That feeling of just pure magic.
I think every place in Japan is a restaurant. It’s ridiculous. You walk down a street and each door is just another place to eat at. It’s almost depressing because it makes me feel that no matter how many different places I eat at, I never will have even made the slightest dent into trying out Yokohama’s restaurant scene. So I’m giving up before I’ve even begun my endeavour, and have just decided to eat at the same place everyday. And while I am a regular there, I’m not the only one. Varying staff from this same company keep coming too, and I always seem to end up sitting with them, and now it seems I know a whole Japanese company. They keep buying me osake too, and saying ‘nihon no bunka da, nonde!’ (this is japanese culture, drink it!), to which I then drink and say ‘ah nihon no bunka ha oishii yo’ (ah Japanese culture is delicious yo), to which they then laugh, and to which I now slightly frown because I’ve made that joke to everyone in their whole company now. However they all call the old lady who runs the place ‘okasan’, which means mum essentially, and they’ve got me doing it too, and I have to say I kind of enjoy coming in to the restaurant and asking mum to get me so some gyoza.
You know everyone goes to Japan and talks about the toilets, and I said to myself Sam, you are above that, you are not just going to go over there and do that like ‘oh Japan is so advanced even they’re toilets are amazing’ thing like a shmuck. Well turns out I’m a shmuck. THE TOILETS ARE AMAZING. No, not really, but the seat is preheated, which when it’s cold outside (which it is here) is the most pleasant surprise in the world. It’s the kind of thing that sounds like nothing, but you really need to try it to understand. Anyone who appreciates their toilet downtime will never be able to go back to the mediocrity of their current toilet life that they are so blissfully unaware of. I’m in another place over here, and until you heat my toilet back at home (/my visa runs out in 84 days), I ain’t coming back.
I know there are other things, but I’ve forgotten them. But in summary, I have three friends now somehow, and am always busy even though I have no job or idea what I am doing here. Which I still don’t understand. It might just be because doing something simple here takes me 5 times longer than it does at home. IE buy phone; in England I go to shop and buy phone. In Japan, I go to phone shop, women speaks really fast Japanese at me and I don’t know any phone terminology, I leave confused, I go around asking people if they speak English, find someone who does, ask him if he will come to a phoneshop with me and translate a conversation, go back with person, they tell me that phoneshop doesn’t have what I want, they tell me no phoneshop has pay as you go, I later find out on Skype that what I want actually exists, I go to different phoneshop, but have to go through same process, etc. Anyway, needless to say, I still don’t have a phone.
So welcome to the future of my blog. I hope you have enjoyed it.