Fresh TV: Reimi Urara & Hoshino Anri

Now that I have more time to do the things that I want, which is more Japanese and more Takarazuka, I watched the Takarazuka “Futari OG Kai” on Fresh TV. To be able to watch the whole live streaming, you will need to be a paid member of the website, it costs 360 yen/month. Otherwise it will cut you off after the first five minutes or so. However, I think you are able to watch the whole show once the live streaming is over but for a limited time only.

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Yuuri looking so damn excited

This time it was Reimi Urara (former Soragumi member) and Hoshino Anri (former Yukigumi member), they are both from the 95th class so they were pretty much able to talk casually with one another. Just note that Urara’s nickname is Yuuri and Anri is Hiroko. There were tons of comments about how beautiful Yuuri is (I was one of them, I’d have to admit!).

Here’s some highlights:

In terms of choice of clothing/fashion, what changed from the time they were in Takarazuka and after graduation – Hiroko probably uses more monotone coloured clothes, more adult-like and she also cut her hair very short. Yuuri used to wear one-pieced dresses back then but now she goes for different top and skirts, that she can mix and match at the store.

I guess since they are musumeyakus, they wouldn’t have much changes as you would see for otokoyaku, obviously.

Takarazuka memories

Hiroko is from Fukuoka, so she had a bit of trouble trying to not let her Hakata dialect out, especially because the dialect would have a different intonation than standard Japanese. When she speaks casually with friends or classmates, it would appear unintentionally (she slipped once here lol). Both of them scribbled the correct intonation of their lines in the script. Hiroko would double check with Tsukishiro Kanato and Yuuri would check with Asao Ren on the proper intonation.

Next, when they were ken-2, they decided to take the Hankyu train and stopped at any station they felt like, and it was the Nagaoka Tenjin station in Kyoto.

In their first year at the school, they used to braid each other’s hair in the early morning. And they were also assigned to clean the same area of the school.

Simple Hairstyles Challenge

They both had to show how they style their hairs live on-air.

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This is Yuuri’s simple hairstyle
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Hiroko has short hair and this looks great

A person I look up to 

Hiroko said Audrey Hepburn because of the class and style that she has. They would also study her mannerisms from the movies and try to use it in their roles. Yuuri has a lot of people that she looks up to but naming one would be Hanafusa Mari, the embodiment of a Takarazuka musumeyaku.

Changes post-graduation

Yuuri was so busy when she was in Takarazuka and now that she has more time, she has started to cook. Just simple stuff as a start like soups and nikujaga. She would look up the recipes online. I and several others asked what her best dish is and she said hamburger

Hiroko talks about going on trips to different parts of the country either for work or leisure. When asked if she has gone on solo trips, she said she has been to Ishigaki on her own when she was still in Takarazuka.

Beauty Tips that they learned in Takarazuka

They learned a lot, particularly about wigs as musumeyakus wear it a lot. Yuuri is a tall musumeyaku so she had to style her hair down while Hiroko had to style it up to balance out the height difference.

Some products that they use:

Both use Shu Uemura cleansing oil (expensive stuff!). Yuuri uses Jo Malone’s Basil and Neroli fragrance and Hiroko uses Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt (still expensive, but okay).

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Finishing up

And that was that! Yuuri promotes her new upcoming appearance in a stage play with Ouki Kaname in February. Apparently there will be a live stream on Nico Live with Ouki Kaname and Reimi Urara on 23 Jan 2018 at 9.00pm.

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Not so surprised

11.11 was Singles’ Day, and all the stores were offering discounts and various promos. BFM radio mentioned this morning that the most bought item for the day was in fact…

Milo.

Anyway, not wanting to be left behind, I went on Lazada.com.my to check out what I’m missing.

Besides the 2-hourly discounts that they had, there were also “Surprise Boxes” on sale. True to its name, buyers won’t know what (kind of junk) they just bought. The only thing that they would know is the brand and the approximate value of the items inside the box. Boxes containing electronic goods by brands like Sandisk and Edifier were all sold out by that time.

On impulse, I decided to add more junk to my collection by buying things I don’t need. I purchased one of the “Surprise Boxes” from Carlo Rino priced at RM99. It claimed that the total value of the items were about RM300+.

And here it is:

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A small wallet, a fox thing thing, and a Lazada pin badge

So yeah, that was what I got. I’m not usually an impulsive buyer, I would think about buying something many times to assess if I really need it. But now I do have a strong urge to walk into Carlo Rino to see if these things actually costs as much as they said it was though XD

My brain on Japanese

Ok, here’s the thing. I’ve been learning Japanese for a few years, but I’m not a consistent learner so the outcome is not extraordinary. Coupled with the fact that I have never taken a formal class, I don’t even own a textbook (can you believe that?). Yes, I’m just lazy.

I do use online websites as learning tools, though. For example, I started this journey by signing up to the paid subscription of yesjapan.com. I found that it was very useful for beginners to learn the basics down pat and I finished the course within a year or so. Concurrently, I would watch a lot of Japanese TV, be it drama/movie or just plain ol’ TV programme. I also listen to podcasts in Japanese. Plainly speaking, I was just doing the whole immersion thing.

And my listening comprehension is pretty good.

But depending on your learning goals, learning a new language also requires you to be literate and being able to express yourself in that language.

On reading

There are a lot of methods to this. Hiragana and Katakana was not that hard, I picked it up quickly. Kanji on the other hand, is a different story. When I went to Japan, I couldn’t read a lot of things and it was frustrating. Currently, I’m using wanikani to learn and retain kanji.

On speaking

So I tried to make a few Japanese friends for this purpose. But the flip side to this is that unless you have a lot in common, it’s harder to maintain that friendship. That’s just my experience though. Almost a year ago, I found Masumi. And Masumi likes pretty much the same things I do, so I  should just practice with her, right? The thing is, Masumi’s English is better than my Japanese so it was easy for me to fall back to English.

I tried italki, a service that allows you to have language lessons online. I scheduled a lesson with a community tutor for some casual conversation practice. And I realised something…that my listening comprehension was not as good as I thought it was.

I think it was mainly due to the fact that when I’m having an actual conversation, I literally force myself to understand every single thing that my tutor is saying and at the same time, try to figure out a response to it. On the other hand, listening to podcasts or watching shows does not require me to understand everything and I don’t have to do any output.

I struggled a little bit but thank goodness the tutor understood what I was trying to say, and corrected my sentences when needed, which was something that Masumi wouldn’t do.

Language learning is a continuous process and while my progress is slow (because yes, laziness), as long as we keep at it, we’ll get better and better with time.

As the saying goes, 塵も積もれば、山となる: Even dust, when piled up will become a mountain.

 

Fallen Words

What an interesting experience! I went to see a rakugo in English by Diane Kichijitsu at the JCKL Charity Bazaar. I didn’t expect that I would enjoy it as much as I did. I mean, I can barely understand rakugo in Japanese unless I listen to it more than once and at times I need to look up the summary to see if I understood correctly. Besides that, comedy in one language may not translate very well in another language.

But firstly, maybe I need to briefly explain what rakugo is. Rakugo is a form of traditional Japanese storytelling done in a sitting position by a single storyteller. The stories are often comical in nature and can be very engaging because the performer acts out the scenes using dialogue and props. As Diane said, it’s all about imagination. I quite like how she started by explaining about the props that they use; the small cloth and the paper fan. For example, she would use the fan as chopsticks or a pair of scissors.

My first introduction to rakugo.

The first time I’ve ever considered listening to rakugo was when I saw Takarazuka’s Yarazu no Ame (Snow Troupe 2006). It was a compilation of different rakugo stories in one play. From there I started to look into rakugo more and more. When I listened to Tetekawa Shinosuke’s Shinigami, I was just glued onto my seat, it was so engaging. But even now, my Japanese isn’t so great to fully appreciate rakugo as a whole.

The Zoo and stuff

Diane did the “Doubutsuen” or simply translated as “Zoo” story. It’s one of those stories that can easily be understood by even non-Japanese. I think you can find various version of it in English on youtube. Here’s an example, by another rakugo performer.

At the end, she stood up and gave tips on just how to laugh, the laughter yoga, as she calls it, which I suppose must be done indoors unless you want people to look at you like you’ve lost your marbles.

All in all, I was glad that I decided to go out and come all the way to see it. I wish I had the opportunity to greet her after the show though. By the way, I always go to these kind of things alone so if anyone is interested, hit me up.

Job Interview

So things at work have not been going so well, and it’s not just because of my boss. I find myself becoming very disinterested in what I’m doing, I dread waking up to go to work, I make silly mistakes that could very well be avoided if I was more engaged.

I did try to talk to my boss about it, but it doesn’t work. So after 8 months of reporting to her, seeing my work-life balance and even productivity deteriorating, I’ve decided to look for another job.

Within days, the new company called me for an interview. Initially, it was supposed to be held at their office but on the day itself, the formal interview turned into an interview at the coffee shop. Instead of being interviewed by a bunch of people, doing tests etc. I met with the person who would be my supervisor, I guess.

So we sat down and talked for over an hour. She was just trying to set things clear about her expectations and the expectations of the client because working in a consulting firm will be different from working for a corporation. The only thing that I found daunting about this was that I would be working alone. I think it went quite well, I talked about my experience, showed samples of my work and asked plenty of relevant questions.

Then she asked me, “Are you willing to take up this challenge?”. I said yes. And now I have a second interview coming up which would consist of me doing a case study, and presenting to the senior partners.

Wish me luck!

It’s awkward when…

It’s awkward when a friend asks me to lend them some money. I mean, I know, nobody would be borrowing money unless they really need it. At least in my circle of friends, I believe they do.

It’s awkward because they don’t beat around the bush, out of the blue, they just text you and say, “Hey TM, do you have some spare cash that you can lend to me?”. Then they tell you how much they need. And that they’ll pay you back at a certain date, usually by their next paycheck.

And what can I say? They are my friends, they need cash, and while I’m not rich, I can spare a couple of hundred for a friend in need. This particular friend was unemployed for sometime and was just getting a new job. So I just replied, “OK”. And I transferred the money there and then. Then they reply, “Thanks, I owe you one. I’ll pay back at the end of the month”.

“Sure, no problem. I’m sure you’d do the same for me”, is what I say.

And the conversation ends, just like that.

It doesn’t happen once, but a few times. It’s just awkward, I don’t know what else to say. But I have asked for my money back because it’s been 5 months since. It’s not so much that I NEED it back, it’s more of a matter of trust. If they can’t pay me back now, just tell me instead of keeping quiet about it.

I have yet to get it back. Ugh, so awkward.

Surviving Hari Raya

Hari Raya means Eid. I used to love and look forward to it when I was a kid. As an adult, not so much. Worry not, I have survived the initial stage i.e. the day before and the first few days after. This is when the preparation is most intense, the crowds that come to visit our house is never-ending and the heat is unbearable.

Our family typically celebrates Raya at my grandparents’ house (the kampong).

Ever since I could remember, my Raya has always been at this house. I spent my first Raya away from home in 2007, when I was studying in the UK. My grandmother passed away in 2009, my parents kept it a secret from me because I was sitting for my finals. When I finally returned in 2011, we still celebrate in the kampong but it wasn’t the same.

My grandfather stays with us, and nobody really takes care of the kampong house. We would go there once a year for Raya. Can you imagine the amount of work that is required to bring it back to habitable, or almost habitable condition? After that, we had to cook a lot of food for our family members who are spending Raya there as well as for the relatives who would come to visit on the subsequent days.

There used to be trees growing outside of the house – Durian, Rambutan, Sapodilla, Jackfruit, Coconut. These trees somehow made the house a bit cooler at the peak of the day. Rambutan season was my favourite because we would spend almost every afternoon picking Rambutan fruit and eating it there and then. Now, the trees are gone leaving the outside of the house very bare.

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Kampong from the front.

Here’s how Raya went this year:

Day T-2: We went back to kampong, arrived at midnight, grateful that one of the uncles came a bit earlier to clean some parts of the house so that we could at least sleep.

Day T-1: Cleaning continues. We went to the wet market to get ingredients to cook and then the supermarket for other things. Cooking. More extended family members arrived. Everyone was busy cooking, eating and socializing until 1am.

Day 1: Woke up at 6.30am, got ready to go for Eid prayers. After that, came back home and changed. Gave Raya money to my parents, and my younger cousins. Relatives start coming and the house was so full. Some of us stayed in the kitchen to make sure the food and beverage supply are sufficient. It was so hot, coupled with the amount of people in that small house at one time, we were roasting. We tried to take a family photo. Some of us went out to visit the neighbour’s  house. Soon after, we saw an ambulance. Our grandfather was taken to the hospital because his speech was slurred. After a few tests, it turned out that he had a panic attack and was allowed to go home.

Day 2: I woke up 3 times during the night to go to the bathroom. I found out that all the people who went to the neighbour’s house yesterday had diarrhea. More relatives came. We managed to visit our grandaunt’s house. Some of us had to go home straight after due to diarrhea. We watched a horror movie before bed, and I always fall asleep right before the movie ends. Sorry, guys.

Day 3: We’re okay now! No more diarrhea! Relatives started coming at 10am and only stopped at 3pm. We were exhausted but we had to go home today. We packed everything and left.

So that’s just the first part. Raya lasts a month so…