Random pics S014

Bought Tomica Snoopy for nephew.

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More yoghurt and chocos

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Went for a midnight movie with friends. Kingsman was good. Think the director was inspired by GoPro action camera.DSC06271

Finally Malice was release in a cheaper version, saved about RM40 there. I still have about 30 pages to with Wild.DSC06273

This gecko has been lingering around my table today…keep seeing it appear from under my laptop cooler.DSC06277

Random pics S013

Bought a new pair of earphones. The Sony ones that I currently have is showing some deterioration so I guess it’s about time to replace it. You’ve served me well enough, Sony. 3 years I think?

Normally I avoid China Made brands because I have a bad impression on China overall since they produce lots of counterfeits and stuffs. But upon reading up reviews about this new brand, I think it shouldn’t be that bad. I was planning to the get the slightly cheaper Vsonic VSD3 but there’s no stock available so I topped up a bit for this, RM209. *Here’s to hoping it’ll last me another 3 years.

DSC06205Their tagline is a bit weird though lol
But anyways, I don’t expect China brands to come with correct grammar or anything like that.
I had some trouble fitting the smallest tips into the earphone but I finally managed today, thank god! My ears are small so it’s a bit annoying to find the right size. My right ear is slightly larger than my left too. The sound quality is definitely a step-up from my current Sony. While it lacks bass, I’m not a basshead so I’m fine with it. I’m more of a treble person. The sound is clear, especially female vocals, very forward and focuses on the mids.

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Random pics S012

This is all about food today. I’m going to start doing something from now, that is, to try all sorts of yogurt available in the market, which I can obtain locally of course. I’ll start with some cheap stuffs and move up the ladder to the more expensive ones. I used to hate yogurt. I used to hate how they taste like and Mum used to force them into me because I have a long history of constipation and it sucks tbh. I find papaya works the best for me personally. And it helps a lot that I love papaya. Bananas on the other hand seem to promote constipation for me so nope. I tend to avoid them like a plague and I don’t really like it either.

Now I did find yogurt to be quite helpful in my health case so I shall try to eat them on a maybe 2 days once basis.

DSC06157Nestle is probably one of the cheapest in the market currently, priced around RM 1.70 or so. They taste fine, now I’m not a pro in tasting so whatever I’m gonna write here is based on my own preference. However when compared to Yoplait (RM 3), you can actually see the significant difference, at least with the whole grapes in it instead of tiny little bits and pieces in Nestle. Yoplait’s also tastes more sour (and I like sour stuffs xD), it’s probably smoother as well. In this regard, I do prefer Yoplait.

DSC06175I will continue to post my Yogurt diary from time to time ^^

This was something I bought at a local mart, RM17-ish. It was a miracle I managed to chomp everything down my throat. But yeah, not advisable.

DSC06139Then, these are just some stuffs I prepared on my own. I love broccoli. Just an amateur attempt on a more healthy dinner.

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Didn’t last long though…

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These butter-egg fried bread may look messy but they tasted yum! I was a bit tired of eating with jam and whatnot so I thought why not fry it. Not very healthy but yeah, once in a while – cheat day. It was also a desperate attempt to not let the bread go to waste because they’ve reached the expiry date.

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Random pics S011

It’s been a while since the random pics series. So here goes another.

I love broccoli and so I thought of preparing a simple dinner for myself. Blanched the broccoli and carrots.

DSC06149Baked beans with fried eggs. I read that baked beans help to relieve/prevent constipation and since I have a long history with that problem, why not give it a shot.

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I’m currently addicted to Keigo Higashino’s novels so I’ve read Devotion of Suspect X and now onto his second one. I’ve watched the Galileo series (Japanese drama) but I’ve basically forgotten them. So reading this is sort of brings back some vague memories of the show.

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Hopes and Fears of Jpop in 2015

Since the year’s ending, I thought of writing something like this. Feel free to comment below and give your thoughts too.

What are your hopes and fears for Jpop in 2015?

HOPES

– indie bands get more exposure and continue to expand. We’ve seen a surge this year and that’s good.
– Japanese music industry to reduce blockage towards international fans, instead promote them further
– Solo artists like Namie Amuro to continue making great music
– Ayumi Hamasaki to take a much needed hiatus and reconsider her direction, then makes a comeback with a hit song, a legitimate one and not her Utada Hikaru cover.
– One or two male and female solo artist to make it big. As of now, we only have Namie Amuro making a name for herself. There are abundant of groups already so now I’m just craving for a solid solo artist who can compete with the idol groups.
– Speaking of idol groups, as much as I like them, I wish there aren’t so many of them that dominates the charts (yes, Oricon, looking at you). This gives a somewhat unbalanced view or perception to international listeners thinking that that’s all Japan has to offer. I’m not talking about the veteran Jpop fans, they know where to find their favorite genre already and seasoned enough to know there’s a huge variety in Jpop if you look deeper. But for a casual listener or someone who’s new to the scene, may have a look at the charts just to see who to listen to and all they get are the male and female idol groups dominating half of the chart, leaving the rest obscured. Seriously, there are gems if you do a bit of research. But how much time do you think these newbies would spend. This turns off most of them, in my opinion. There are quality idol songs out there, but let’s be honest, most of them are too generic and doesn’t quite measure to those underrated real artists. I’m not bashing on idol groups, I love Momusu (a huge fan indeed and do follow quite a few others as well, including AKB). As someone who views Jpop as a whole, I’m just worried about how the charts would give wrong signals globally. Then again, Japan can still survive without international support lol
-Oricon to create a separate chart system for Idol groups alone
– Appeal to more international fans as a whole, yes, I wish more people can actually appreciate the diversity Jpop can offer us

 FEARS
– Idol boom will continue, maybe even bigger, dominating Oricon
-My favorite artists stay stagnant and release mediocre singles/albums or none at all
– Japanese music company continue to block us international fans (Sony especially) and give us those short version PVs, and overall this again, turns off any hope for gaining new Jpop fans.
– Hearing any of the artists I’m following going into hiatus
– Hearing any artists who succumbed to any form of sickness/disease
– 48G expand again to other countries, I heard rumors of them planning to go Phillipines and Okinawa a while ago. Just no more, Aki-P. I don’t see the purpose of creating new groups in other countries when all they do is sing the exact same song (even if sung in their own language) and not getting as much attention as the flagship group itself. I mean, do the Japanese fans even care about those sister groups abroad? I don’t think so.

Not just your typical idol

 

I did say I wanted to dedicate a post for Michishige Sayumi, leader of Morning Musume ’14. Actually, ex-leader and ex-member of Momusu. I still find it a bit hard to accept that she’s no longer in MM. Anyways, to keep this short, I’ll make it brief.

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Last night was her graduation concert and I didn’t think it’d make me feel so depressed until I actually sat down and watched the stream. Or at least, tried to because it was lagging so terribly. I blame it on my slowpoke line. But the glimpses of what I could watch, I was in awe. The venue as we all know is Yokohoma Arena and it’s not the usual tight-spaced venues for MM. Budoukan was awesome of course but this was really on a whole different level of awesomeness. I can’t wait for the DVD to be out. The whole area was filled with sea of pink and fans chanting Sayumi’s name. It was overwhelming and when it finally kicked off, I felt an enormous sense of regret. Yes, REGRET.

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Why didn’t I make an effort to attend this? Well to be honest, Sayumi has never been my favorite member but I really like and respect her as a leader and an idol. She spent 12 years of her life in the group she loved so much and still does, of course even if she’s no longer a member. She joined not because she wanted to be famous, she’s not particularly good in singing or dancing either. She joined purely because she loves the group and wanted to be apart of it. By now you’d think what’s so special about her? Well, I normally prefer my favs to be at least good in singing or dancing. For example my favorite current member is Ishida Ayumi who’s really talented in dancing.

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So what about Sayumi? First of all, I respect her for being an idol for 12 years without any scandal. It’s not 5 or 8 years, but 12. That’s a long, long time. I think she really preserves the idol image the best way she can till the end of her graduation. It’s something I look up to. Sure, she had this ‘poison tongue’ image during Platinum Era but we all know that was for the sake of variety and also to promote not only herself but the group as a whole. It worked at least when people still remember her as the member from Morning Musume. Maybe that’s exactly what she wanted? Even if people hated her, people actually googled up Morning Musume so it worked nonetheless.

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Secondly, her being leader was probably the biggest thing that changed my perception towards her. I didn’t really care about her existence before but after she took over as Leader, with a bunch of new generations under her wings, that was when she showed her capabilities to the maximum. I only started following this group as a fan in the last 1 ½ years, so I did notice the amount of effort and struggle they had to go through to rise again. As Leader, she never gave up and persevered. Even though Reina (same gen member) graduated and she was the only senpai left, she stayed on to lead the rest. And in two years time, we witnessed how she pulled them up and I’m not just talking about sales or the 5th consecutive Oricon No.1s. Momusu was starting to get more and more exposure through her leadership (thanks also to Tsunku’s music production), the way she promoted the group and new members any opportunity she got. All in all, she showed a great leadership and the unity is strong in the group. You can just feel it.

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So from the smaller venues to bigger ones like Budoukan and finally Yokohama Arena. I’m truly happy she could make it to Yokohama Arena for her graduation concert. She deserved every bit of it. It was a magnificent sight to behold. My wish is the same as hers. She wants her juniors to be able to perform in big venues like this in the future on their own merit. She wants them to surpass her. That’s a great message. 1233978_10152603791170958_438896163742409853_n

As for the concert, she had a sudden leg cramp halfway through and I did see pain radiating from her face a couple of times. But what a trooper. She continued dancing, less vigorously, but still all smiles after changing to sneakers. This is the first time someone hurt her foot on their own graduation concert. But she was such a trooper till the very end. Kudos to her for all the hard work. Kudos to her juniors too, you can feel this really intense emotion from all of them. Since this was their first time performing in an arena, they really gave it their all. They were really good, all of them, even Haruna surprised me with her solo and of course, Sayumi probably gave her best performance ever in her career.

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Morning Musume without Sayumi is something I will have to get used to. I have no worries for the current 9 members in terms of stage performances because they really improved a lot and are like pros now. They have no problem in terms of lives. I am slightly worried though about the 12th gen members because they’re new and I just hope they do their best when performing later. It’d be interesting to see what kind of formations they come up with for 13 people, instead of 10.

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So that’s the end of an era. What will be in store for us curious minds in 2015?

Credits for some pics:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-front-link/en-morning-musume14-sayumi-michishige-sotsugyou-live-yokohama-arena/788028331256086

Things I love about Japanese culture

In the previous post, I’ve touched on the ‘godlike’ customer service I received in Japan. Here, I’ll write about the other random things I noticed about their culture.

  1. Cleanliness. I’ve been to Singapore although many many years ago but I still recalled just how clean it was. No rubbish on the streets, in fact there’s a hefty fine if anyone’s caught for littering. I recalled crossing the bridge and immigration into Singapore from Johor and the sky was as if it were cut into two. Heavily polluted in Johor and just fresh air in Singapore. Then, I went to Japan and all I can say is, I’ve not seen a single, not even a tiny rubbish on the streets. Not even in the back alleys. It reminded me of my experience in Singapore. Public toilets are exceptionally clean, no unpleasant smell, and their toilet bowl is really something. They’re mostly automated, and you can try the bidet to wash your butt if you want (I personally felt awkward using it so I didn’t). There’s also a touch sensor for the sanitary disposal which is great because it prevents us from touching the bin in any way at all.
  2. They’re probably taught to be thoughtful and civic-minded from young. Rush hour in Tokyo but no pushing. Just straight lines, two for each train door, on the sides. They also wait until most of the people inside the train already come out before entering. People are expected to use the left side of the escalator whereas the right ones are for those in hurry. It’s common sense but it’s not practiced in my country. I have been personally squashed like a sardine while taking the train to city. It was traumatic and when I think back, why did I even have to suffer like that? I can say for sure that our country is just not civilized enough. People just care about themselves, selfish and wouldn’t think of how they’re troubling others.
  3. Trains are very efficient in Japan. It’s so efficient that I didn’t even have time to snap pictures around the station while lining up. You can see it during rush hour. People are rushing to get to their offices or schools on time. But they’re not desperate till they push themselves inside the train. Often, I noticed that whenever the train seemed full, they’ll just wait for the next one. Afterall, within a minute, the next one will arrive. I’m not sure how many trains they have but they definitely have plenty and they’re trying their best to not let the customers wait or waste time. Time is precious. I often felt like I was wasting my time at train stations, just waiting for them in Malaysia. The trains are often not accurate and even if they’re late, they don’t seem very apologetic about it. They don’t show as much care and respect as they do for their customers compared to Japanese. Needless to say, I’m a very disappointed customer in Malaysia and I often avoid taking trains at all if I can.
  4. Roads are smooth as silk in Tokyo. I’ve not been to the suburbs or other areas. Since I’ve only focused my trip in Tokyo, I noticed that 99% of the roads and small streets are really smooth. Even the manholes are leveled with the roads. It’s not the case in Malaysia. I’d be happy enough to see the city roads to at least be clean of rubbish but even that doesn’t happen so I’m utterly disappointed with the road quality – holes, lots of them. Some roads will also be flooded and have puddles when it rains here, I don’t see that in Tokyo. Maybe when there’s typhoon it might flood but normal rains still keep the roads clean of any puddles.
  5. Crime rate is low in Japan. I think this is something everybody knows. I had one experience whereby I left my phone in the toilet in a departmental store one day. 30 minutes later I realized and went back to the toilet. It was gone but I tried not to panic. I’ve heard of how crime rates are low there so I was hoping someone kind would turn it over at the counter or something. And I was right. I was directed to the Information Counter and there it was, on the table. My phone. The staff lady asked politely whether it was mine, which I happily replied yes. I was beyond relieved. She asked me to fill up a form before handing it over to me while smiling. I guess people just don’t really steal there. I try to think if I left it in the public toilet in Malaysia, I’d be really lucky if it was handed in at Lost and Found but I think there’s 70% chance I might not see my phone ever again. Another case was when me and my friend arrived really late in Ikebukuro. By the time we arrived at the station, it was already midnight so imagine us, two girls walking on the streets past midnight, with luggage, looking for directions. Ikebukuro was still busy even past midnight so there are plenty of people around and there was also a police box nearby. The policeman was very helpful and pointed us to the right direction. To be honest, I won’t feel as safe as this if I were to walk at midnight in KL. But I just don’t feel danger lurking in Japan. Of course, it’s still better not to walk around during midnight anywhere. Another observation was how kids as young as 6-7 years old can be seen taking trains alone to schools (because they’re in uniforms). I mean, can you imagine doing that here in Malaysia? No way.
  1. Recycling can be seen everywhere in Japan. While it was kind of hard to find rubbish bins along the streets (I had trouble looking for one), you’ll most probably find them at stations or stores. And it’s not just one type. As most of you know already, Japan has a strict system of recycling whereby households need to separate their rubbish according to type. If they fail to do so, their rubbish would probably not be collected until they separate them properly. In public places, you’ll notice at least 4 types of rubbish bins, flammable, inflammable, PET bottles and other things. It’s a great practice.

I like how their culture works. It’s something I would love to see implemented in my own country, for example, cleanliness and civilized manner. Everything just seems much more orderly in Japan. People stick to rules and if one doesn’t, he or she gets the frown form others. So I think it creates a kind of fear of being an outcast, hence they try their best to abide by the rules created. And it’s good. I like things to be more systematic too. It makes things more efficient and less space for error. There’s a lot we can learn from them.