Monday, August 24, 2009

My new apartment in Nagoya

During my first five months as a student of Nagoya University I have been living in the International Residence (check the views from it).

The residence is a great idea because at the beginning you get a very cheap place to stay until you get used to the new environment.

Unfortunately, this stay could only be extended for 6 months so I had to start looking for a new apartment to move out and I found one in the building above.

I decided that I wanted to be close to the University but also have shops around and live in a busy area. Fortunately, there was such a place, it's name was Irinaka. So I went to the Irinaka office of a famous state agency called Minimini. A very kind Japanese woman, Mami-san, showed me different apartments by car and it was very easy to find the one that I wanted. If you are looking for an apartment around Nagoya University I recommend you to contact with her (she can speak English very well): (tell them you saw the link in my site :D). *May 2012, she no longer works there.

I am very happy that my apartment in Irinaka, apart from being close to the University (around 10 min by bike or by subway), is very close to a Book-Off store (my favorite shops!).

In this zone, there is also a great bookshop and rental shop called Sanyoudou (三洋堂書点) which has several floors.

On the top floor there is a big Manga shop where I can buy materials for drawing comics. I have the intention of drawing new comics soon.

In the second floor I can rent movies, animation series and even mangas. It is a great way to read mangas for a very cheap price and not having to store them at home.

I pay around 36000 yen/month and I have a simple apartment with a bed, desk, small kitchen and bathroom. Just what I needed!.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

World Cospay Summit Parade, Nagoya Aug 1st, 2009

At the beginning of the month I went to see the World Cosplay Summit here in Nagoya. The word cosplay originates from COStume and rolePLAY and to summarize, it consists of people dressing up as their favorite characters.

Some days before the event I attended a conference by one of the organizers, Edmund Hoff (Vancouver, Canada). The conference was aimed at AGGN guides mainly and its title was "Popularity of Otaku Culture Abroad, what's good to see in Nagoya?". Edmund talked about manga and anime, shops in Nagoya and about the event itself.

The event was divided in two days and I went to see the first one which consisted of a parade around Osu Kannon (the manga district of Nagoya). The main temple in Osu Kannon was full of people waiting to see the outfits of the participants.

I took some videos in a crossing at Osu Kannon to show the parade. They all look like they were having lots of fun.

Naruto and its characters were very popular and I saw quite a few people dressing up like them.

There was also a great variety of participants, from young girls to more mature fans.Probably they had been working on their outfits for a long time before participating in the event.

Apart from the parade, there was an international contest with around 15 participating countries. It's amazing to know that they just came to Japan to participate in such an event!

Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament July 18th 2009

I had some more "Sumo" experiences that I would like to mention.

Some days after the Sumo chankokai party, I received a nice present from them consisting of a piece of good Japanese paper with my name written on it in Kanji (it reads "Dani") by a master of Japanese calligraphy (shodou 書道)

Some weeks later I attended another interesting event called Nagoya Rave 2009. During the event, which was near Nagoya Castle, there were lots of Sumo amateur fights, including foreign wrestlers that wanted to experience this Japanese sport.

Finally, some weeks later I attended a professional event, the grand sumo tournament where I took the video above. The Sumo stadium, called Nagoya Basho and very close to the castle, was full of people. I liked the fights very much and also the traditional rituals that were involved.

I had the luck to be guided by volunteer members of the AGGN (Aichi Goodwill Guides Network). They explained me the situation of the tournament, the names and characteristics of the wrestlers or details about the ceremony. Thank you very much for your help! :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Manga in Nagoya - 名古屋のマンガ店

Lately I have been visiting a lot of Manga shops here in Nagoya so I thought I should make a post about it.

There are Mangas everywhere! thousands of titles in the shelves! tens of magazines are published every week with new series! It's really a paradise for me and a great incentive for me to study Japanese even harder.

Inside Manga there are lots of genres but the main difference is the target audience they are written for. For example, recently I have become interested in Josei Mangas (also called ladies comics レディースコミック, check the sign). It is aimed at an adult female audience and they are about daily life stories and romances from a short of adult point of view.

Comics for girls between 10-18 (teenagers) are classified typically as shoujo (少女, check the sign on the shelf). They are mainly about cute girls having romances and sometimes they become quite cheesy (thanks Si for this word :D).

The equivalent of shoujo for boys is shounen (少年) manga. One of the main shounen magazines is probably the Weekly Shounen Jump (週刊少年ジャンプ). In the photo above the shelf has tankoubons from that magazine. In my laboratory, we buy this magazine and one of the most popular series that appears on it is Naruto.

Mangas for adult men (and I don't mean porno XD) are known as seinen (青年) Manga. In the shelves above they are classified depending on the name of the magazines where they first appeared in: Big Comic (ビッグコミック) and Young Magazine (ヤングマガジン).

Such a huge world to explore! It feels like when I found out about Internet which gave me the chance to get information about almost anything. I have bought several Mangas and Manga magazines and I can understand about 50% of the text. When I can't, I try to look the meaning up in the electronic dictionary. It's a good way to learn new words.

In Nagoya, the main place for Manga is Osu Kannon which concentrates several good shops. But this is not the only place, so I will make a list of the places I know:

1.- The BEST place to buy Manga (or a book or anime) in my opinion is in a BOOK-OFF shop. In Nagoya there are lots of book-off shops. For the moment, I have bought mangas in Ikeshita and Irinaka shops. The good point of these shops is that as the mangas are second-hand (although the quality is as if they were new!) they are very cheap (typically 105¥ per manga, although today there was an offer and I bought 3 mangas for 105¥ which is less than 1 euro!). Also, in these shops Mangas don't have a plastic wrap so you can take a look before buying. Actually there are lots of people literally reading them without paying (which is called in Japanese tachiyomi 立ち読み, meaning reading while standing up).

2.- The only problem of book-off is that they don't have all the mangas or new publications. If you want to stay up to date then you want to read manga magazines. The best place in my opinion is in one of the million convenient stores that are spread out throughout Japan. Most of them open 24h and you can do tachiyomi there to check that you like the drawings or the stories before buying it (or not! :D). You can also buy magazines in the next shops I will mention but they will be wrapped in a plastic bag most probably.

3.- In front of Irinaka's book-off there is a huge bookshop with several floors. In the second floor there are mangas that you can RENT as if it was a DVD (there are also DVDs to rent of course, with lots of anime). This way you can read the manga for a very cheap price and you don't have to store it in your home, just give it back. Also in this bookshop, they sell materials for drawing manga (paper, ink, color pens, etc). By the way, I think I would like to get an apartment around Irinaka hehe.

4.- Manga cafes, also known as mangakissa (kissaten means cafe or cafeteria), are a good option too. Basically you go there, have a coffee and read the mangas they may have. You pay for the time you stay there. There is a good list of Manga kissa in Nagoya here. From my experience i can recommend Mamboo meieki (Nagoya Station).

5.- And finally i will mention the main manga shops in Nagoya that i have visited:
  • Toranoana (in Sakae, near the TV tower): amazing shop with many floors including one floor for relaxing reading your mangas!
  • Wonder Goo (in Osu Kannon): very good shop, with several floors and very spacious.
  • Animate (in Nagoya station): very good shop, with several floors and it has all kind of materials for drawing. For example, they have books with reference photographs, a software that is used to make mangas called Comic Studio (there seems to be an English version, called Manga Studio), light tables, patterns, color pens, mannequins, etc. Also they have a big section with self-published mangas, called doujinshi.
  • Gamers (in Osu Kannon): good shop that is alway full of people. It's not as big as the previous ones but its very popular as well.
  • Mandarake (in Osu Kannon): it is famous but i didn't like as much as the previous ones. It has several floors but there is not too much space.
  • Sanseido bookshop (in Nagoya station, JR Takashimaya Department store, or in Nagoya Dome, Aeon Shopping Center)
  • K-books (in Osu Kannon): it's quite big but i didn't like it too much.
  • Rashinban (in Nagoya station): strange shop with two floors, one underground and other one in the 4th floor. They had lots of doujinshi also.
  • AEON shopping centre (in Nagoya Dome, in front of Dragons stadium): although it is a normal bookshop it has a very good amount of manga. In fact most of the pictures above were taken there.
  • Sanyodo and Tsutaya: these are bookshop franchises.
And I am pretty sure there are still much more that I have not seen! :)

PD: It seems that my friend Alberto Muriel is going to draw a comic as a professional, congratulations! :)

1seg TV - ワンセグテレビ

Recently, I made a post about my gadgets here in Japan. This time I will show you my new gadget to watch TV on my EeePC netbook anywhere.

My gadget is a 1seg TV tuner: IO-DATA GV-SC300. It is just a small USB stick with an antenna to tune the 1seg Japanese TV on the computer.

1seg is the name of a low quality digital TV broadcasting service that is mainly aimed at small handsets like mobile phones. The way it works reminded me of the SMS in the GSM mobile networks, in the sense that it makes use of some spare resource.

In Japan, digital TV is broadcast using the ISDB-T standard, which divides the UHF spectrum 470MHz ~ 770MHz in 50 channels of 6MHz. This channels are then divided in 13 segments (in the time domain) and 1seg uses 1 of these 13 segments (that's why it is called 1seg).

Good points:
  • I can watch the TV everywhere I take my EeePC (for example, in a trip or to the park).
  • A lot of programs also come with Japanese subtitles (transmitted with BML, a XML-based standard) so I can practice Japanese much better.
  • It's cheaper than a normal TV (in Big Camera it cost me 6000 yen) .
  • It doesn't occupy space like a normal TV, and I don't have to carry a TV when I change apartment.
Bad points:
  • If you move fast it loses synchronism easily so you can't watch it in the car, bus or train.
  • The quality is not very good, only 320x240 pixels coded with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (but in the EeePC I put it in fullscreen and the quality is acceptable for me)
  • I can only choose among around 5-6 different channels. So the programs I can see are limited. There is not too much Anime for example (but I watch it on the Internet instead, which is also mobile :D)