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The thoughts and experiences of a Hapa dude

Cool Bit of History Just Next Door

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By Robert Myers · July 23, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

So, for those of you that don't know, I'm secretly a history nerd. I really like learning about the past and old things and I have to admit that 'Pawn Stars' and 'American Pickers' on the History Channel are among my favorite shows right now. Anyways, I found out within the past year or so that my next door neighbor was in the Navy during WWII and was stationed in Japan for a while after the war ended. When he began his service he was driving armored vehicle transports from ships off the coast of Europe to the beaches to unload, but at some point he was transferred to a military base in Texas (I think) to learn Japanese to prepare for what the United States thought was the 'impending occupation of Japan' and was shipped out shortly after that.

Within the past two years, he discovered that I had taken an interest in studying Japanese. Being an avid reader, he had an incredible collection of books about Japan (and China, Korea, Russia, India, Germany, and literally any other country you can think of), most of which covered topics like economics, politics, and some history and cultural studies. At one point he offered to have me come over and look through a huge stack of books on Japan and told me I could have whatever I wanted. A lot of the books covering economics and politics were from the 70's and earlier, so they were a little out of date, and although they're probably interesting reads to see what people were thinking of the issues back then and then to compare their thoughts to how things actually played out, I decided to pass on those. I did however come across some really cool old Japanese novels that he had picked up while living in Japan, as well as a cool phrase book from 1951. I gathered about ten of his books up, thanked him, and was on my way.

   

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Sadly, my neighbor passed away recently, but my dad informed me soon after that he mentioned me in his will. He called me the "Japanese scholar" (haha...) and said that there were books and other materials relating to Japan that were more special to him that he didn't show me the first time around that I could now look through and have if I wanted them. So two days ago I went to go check them out and found some really cool stuff including this six volume set of Navy issued Japanese language learning text books and accompanying readers. My Japanese grandparents were forced out of their homes in California and moved to the internment camps during WWII, and because this had such a dramatic effect on that side of my family, I've always been fascinated with things haveing to do with the war. To find something like these text books from the early 1940's is really cool for that reason, but also because I've been studying Japanese for the past 3 years so it relates to two subjects that I'm really interested in.

   

Then, to add to the coolness of the day, my mom walked into my room with an old metal film reel box that was used to bring Japanese films from LA and San Francisco to the more suburban areas of California for the Japanese communities to watch. Apparently my grandpa on my Japanese side found it when a building was being demolished in the early 1960's, but we speculate that its origin is much older than that. If anyone can help me translate the writing on it, it would be greatly appreciated! I can read some of it, but there are some characters that I can't even find in a dictionary, but I could just be reading them wrong since I'm not that good at reading Japanese script!

 

New Songs!

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By Robert Myers · July 23, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Here are three new songs that I've been working on for the past few weeks!

The first is called "In the Chest (original mix)" and is a Dubstep/Dub-Hop/Glitch-Hop track, so by the nature of the genre it hits pretty hard. But unlike traditional Dubstep which is 140bpm (which is technically really fast, but all the instruments are played kind of like it was half speed, which makes it sound much slower than a lot of other electronic music), this track is 107bpm. I took the idea from the producer, Skrillex, after hearing him mess around with EDM (electronic dance music) tracks in the 90-110bpm range, which is really uncommon. Most EDM tracks tend to be around 128bpm. Anyways, I threw two verses of rapping over the top of the instrumental I made and then for the chorus (or 'drop' section, as it's referred to in EDM) I took a bunch of random vocal samples of myself and messed around with them to add some texture and intricacy to the instrumentation. The vocal samples here almost serve as another instrument since you can't really understand what I'm saying, haha. Everything in the song is my original work.

The next song is titled "Cali Sun" and is much more of a traditional west coast summertime Hip-Hop song. I got the instrumental from AaronBeats.com, which is a cool site because the producer's main focus is R&B instrumentals, so you can find a bunch of mellower beats there that you can't find too often on other more Hip-Hop-based beat sites. The lyrics in the song basically talk about a 'day in the life' when I was living down in Southern California enjoying the sun and having a party here and there (maybe more often than that).

Finally, the last track is titled "Cherish" and is meant to remind people to appreciate the little things in life and to just live with high spirits and not to let day to day stress and troubles get in the way since they're usually just temporary. I've been having fun recently making jazz- and classical-inspired Hip-Hop instrumentals and this track uses one of my favorites. It's nice because I've found that most modern pop music is barely musical, so being able to make a Hip-Hop track that I can rap over, but at the same time create melodies and really bring out the musicality of a track is a lot of fun. It feels good to get back to my roots in music too with classical piano. Everything in the song is my original work.

Hope you all enjoy! :D

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Starting Fresh!

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By Robert Myers · July 21, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

It's definitely been a while and over the past two years I toyed with the idea of making a new blog, but just figured, meh, this one already exists so why make things harder on myself? So here I am. Two years older, two years wiser (we all hope, at least), and ready to give this blog thing a try again.

So as some of you know - or can at least assume based on some of my most recent posts, which are two years old - I started this blog to document my study abroad experience in Japan from 2009-2010. That's all I viewed it as. But all of a sudden I feel like I'd like to just have a place to explain how I'm feeling, share the experiences I have and things I see, and whatever else there is. It might be because I just graduated from college that I feel like starting this up again, but the more I thought about it, I found what both blog start dates had in common: a completely new experience and, for lack of better words, being a little unsure of how I'll approach things going forward. When I was getting ready to study abroad, I was trying to prepare myself to head off and completely immerse myself in a society and culture that I knew very little about, which raised a lot of concerns, worries, and unknowns in my immediate future. Now that I'm leaving the comfort and structure of school - one of the largest factors that has dictated my schedule and life for the past 20-something years, I'm a little unsure of what the future holds, which brings about some nervousness, but that feeling is almost completely overridden by excitement. It's like deja vu.

Those are the two feelings (anxiousness and excitement/anticipation) that have always caused me to want to express myself, and I guess when you combine the two, it turns me into a blogger. Pretty ironically, I'm starting this up again just a few days before I'm heading to Japan for 2 months, although this time it's just to hang out and enjoy my last bit of freedom before I devote myself to work for the rest of my life. 

I think that's enough talking for now. I'll end it with this: 継続は力なり (Keizoku wa chikara nari)。Perserverance is strength. I just have to keep pushing no matter the uncertainties.

Life is exciting! Let's Goooooo!

My attempt at an epic 'life' kind of picture (in Okinawa, 2010)

Tagged with: thinking out loud, life

This Apartment is Awesome!

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By Robert Myers · July 4, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

After living in a Japanese-style/sized apartment for a year (which is very small by US standards, for those of you don't know), I can totally appreciate this guy's work to transform his apartment the way he did... it's such a cool idea!

Snow in April?? Yep...

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By Robert Myers · April 25, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

For some reason it snowed in late April here in Japan... a little annoying when you've gone thru several months of winter and are in need of some warm weather

Wow, it's been 2 months, but....

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By Robert Myers · February 4, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

IT SNOWED IN CHIBA AND TOKYO TWO DAYS AGO!! woooooot!

 

I know, I know, I didn't grow up around snow so I don't know how to make snow men well...

This was just as it started to come down harder, but before it actually started settling on the ground

Self-explanatory

Coping with Space Limitations

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By Robert Myers · November 25, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Japanese apartments aren't exactly big, in case you didn't know. So what do I do when my laundry piles up, I have 4 loads to do in the same night, I don't have a dryer and I need space to hang dry everything I own?

 

I get creative.

 

That, my friends, would be my ethernet cable, which now serves as a clothes line as well. It spans the length of my room, conveniently right across from the heater/AC unit so everything dries quickly. Spark of genius, you say? I thought so, too.

Don't mind the fact that those are all my boxers, just marvel at my brilliance  :D

Day trip to Hakone

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By Robert Myers · November 8, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Yesterday we took a trip over to Hakone. We started off our day by meeting in Shinjuku station at 7:30am (keep in mind that I had to wake up at 5:30 in order to take a shower and get there on time, which is quite an accomplishment for me). From there we got some breakfast at this small soba shop and caught the train out to Hakone, which is about a 2 hour train ride. Once we got there we took a bus up to the most common starting place for the hike and began our journey. Along the way we saw a lot of cool stuff including old shrines, and one road we walked up is a popular car drifting spot. and at one of the rest areas they were selling oden style mochi with this miso dipping sauce and 甘酒, or amazake - sweet sake, which, if I'm not mistaken, has no alcohol in it. Both the dish and the sake were amazing. They also had free tea there which was really good, but none of us could figure out what kind of tea it was. It had a flavor none of us had ever tasted before.

After that we continued along the trail, and that's when it started to become more rocky and then the stone path started (you'll see in the pictures) for the most part it was fine as long as you watched your step, but once we got to the top and started back down the other side, it got pretty steep and if you weren't careful you could slip on the moss and stuff growing on some of the stones. At the bottom of the 30 minute long stone path was Lake Ashi, which we crossed on a pirate ship-looking ferry boat. On the other side we ate a quick late lunch and got onto this gondola that took us further up the mountain and we got some great views of the lake and even Mt. Fuji. The gondola then took us down the other side of the mountain and then we had to take a trolley down these switchback roads to get back to the station.

From there we took a taxi to an onsen (Japanese style public bath house) and about half of us went in to do it. We took a few pictures outside near the parking lot as we were getting ready to go into the lobby to pay, but clearly we couldn't take pictures inside the bath house and I'm sure you all wouldn't want to see pictures of us naked anyways ;) It was definitely an interesting experience. It was one of the most relaxing things I've ever done and when you came out you just felt super refreshed. So the way it worked was right when you entered the lobby you took your shoes off and stored them in a small locker. Then you went to the front desk and paid to get in and bought a large towel for drying off and a small towel to bring with you into the actual bath area. Then we went past a resting area with tatami mats and down some stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, the women's bath area was to the left and the men's was to the right. Inside were more lockers to store any bags or clothes you had with you. So it was at this point that we all found our lockers and, well, got naked haha. We of course had our smaller towels to cover up "the area". The layout of the actual bath area was pretty cool. Everyone's required to shower off before going into any of the baths so we did that. All the baths were outside and varied in size from quite large, to about hot tub sized. Each bath was a different temperature, and they were all pretty hot except for one which was literally ice cold. The other cool thing is they had a sauna which was really nice. I know people's instinctual reaction to this kind of thing, especially if you're really, really Westernized, is to think "whoa, that would be really awkward." And I won't lie, it was a little uncomfortable in the beginning just because it was a completely new and different experience, but you honestly get over the fact that you're pretty much naked - other than having a small towel to hold - within minutes of walking in there. And once I just let myself relax, got comfortable and just started having normal conversations with my friends there, it was one of the most relaxing, stress-relieving, and rejuvenating experiences I've ever had. I know some people are going to be homophobic and be like "wow that's gay," but honestly, don't knock it till you try it.

Anyways, after the onsen we just took a taxi back to the station, got some dinner and headed home. It was seriously an awesome day!

NjS Performance at DJ Bar Color - 10/27/2009

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By Robert Myers · October 28, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Our second live performance since I've been here in Japan. Thanks to my friend Cameron for setting up his camera and filming this!

Sophia!

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By Robert Myers · October 10, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

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