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So, I don’t travel much, but I am taking advantage of currently living in Japan by playing Suntory’s Elixir Recovery Challenge.

*Sound of Readers facepalming*

What’s the Elixir Recovery Challenge you ask [after shaking your head and sighing]? Well, to celebrate the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII, Square-Enix teamed up with beverage makers Suntory to make a real-life version of the Elixir, the drink which restores all your HP and MP. Just that in real life, it casts Haste. (It’s an energy drink. Get it? ^o^) Anyway, if you take a picture of the Elixir with your cell phone, then email it to the Challenge sponsors, if the image is recognized (by computer, I assume) you get an email with a link to participate in a text-based battle.  For winning, you get to download a Flash clock with a picture of whatever particular Elixir you bought (there are 16 different designs). Your personal game homepage keeps track of which designs you’ve acquired.

The coolest thing (but also, creepily Big Brother-ish) about this game is that when you take down a monster, a light will shine with your name on it on a map of Japan on Suntory’s Elixir website, showing your location.  It’s not like you can tell exactly where people are, but you can certainly tell what prefecture they’re in.  Also, since you’re only allowed a 3-letter nickname, it seems like multiple people can have the same name; it really doesn’t matter since what identifies you to the game isn’t your name but your cell phone. When your name flashes, a “can” showing which Elixir you got also shows up at the bottom of the map.

Yup, my username on this game is "ELI." I'm so creative. ^o^ Anyway, I'm holdin' it down for Kyuushuu! We can't get our arses kicked by Tokyo-tou! がんばれ、九州!(<--Fighting a hopeless battle)

Since I really don’t like this drink all that much, I think I’ll stop at 8 cans (the minimum necessary to be entered in the drawing to win a PS3 and/or FFXIII related stuff). When I took this screencap, I had gotten 4 (hence, the 4/16 next to my name).  But I’ve got another Elixir in my locker. ^o^

Alright, on to some Random Life Stuff.

Winter Break Today we had the Second Term Closing Ceremony. That means that next week, I get to sit in the shokuinshitsu all day doing nothing! *Unholy boredom redux* Thank goodness for the Emperor’s Birthday on the 23rd. Well, I could’ve taken nenkyuu, but since I didn’t make any travel plans, I figured it would be wiser to save those days off for going back to the States in March and…potentially, going to Distant Worlds in Seoul in February!  I wanna goooooooo! >_< And it’s cheaper to fly to Seoul from Fukuoka than it is to fly to Tokyo! But I’m scared about the whole not knowing Korean thing, though I’ve slowly been getting courage from other JETs who’ve done it (positive chi shout-out to those JETs!) and since the airfare is cheap (about 200USD round-trip) I don’t feel too guilty about potentially indulging in this.

Oh, Jeeeeesus! At the end of every day, the students clean the school.  Or rather, they “clean” the school.  Anyway, music is played over the school’s PA for the 10 minutes of cleaning time.  Since it’s Christmas time, for now they play Christmas music.  The very first song they play is…Mariah Carey’s “Jesus Born on this Day.” ^O^ I can’t help but wonder if whoever picked the songs knew what that song was about. And during today’s “Big Cleaning,” they played “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” To think of all the past attempts to keep Christianity out of Japan, only to have public school students sweep the halls to gospel. Oh, cruel irony… Once I figure out how to export the recording I did in GarageBand of the gospel-fied cleaning time I’ll post it to here, probably as a YouTube video. (I didn’t record with video because that would involve filming students.)

Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel Last week my fellow JET and downstairs neighbor had a Hanukkah party.  He taught us how to play with a dreidel. I didn’t win much, but it was really fun! And I learned that “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay” is a real lyric, not just something they made up on South Park.

And while we’re talking about religion… A good while ago, we had rakugo at the school.  The performance at the school was kind of like a variety show from before the time of television, as on top of the usual lone rakugo storyteller, there was a performer who did sleight-of-hand tricks. I only got one of the jokes though.  It was:

Question: 神様、信じますか。(Do you believe in God?)

Answer: イエス。(“Iesu,” which sounds like both the English word “yes” and the Portuguese name for “Jesus” which is used by Japanese Christians.)

*rimshot*

Who needs the Double-tipped Spear Technique when you can take down rival warlords with CUTENESS?!

This is Maeda Keiji. Isn’t he cute?! (I think not having 5 cats around is making me fawn over cute inanimate objects.) I wonder, if more Japanese people kept pets, would the Cute Boom ever have happened? I also wonder, what would all these daimyou think if they knew they’d been chibified so modern-day Japanese could hang said daimyou’s pumpkin-headed effigies from their cell phones? “You mean to tell me this is what I unified the country and had countless vassals die for?! FTS!” LOL Ah, poor feudal warlords…anyway, I wasn’t familiar with Maeda Keiji when I picked this up; when I saw it I thought it was supposed to be the Samurai Shodown version of Amakusa Shiro Tokisada.

Free Stuff Rocks the Hell Out of Non-free Stuff I had been trying to decide what to spend my 10,000 yen gift certificate from Yodobashi Camera on, and since time was running out, last weekend I made up my mind to get computer speakers.  My MacBook Pro’s are okay, but well, they’re not much for someone who wants high-quality sound.  I got a 3-piece speaker set for 5,900 yen.  It has a sub-woofer! YESSSS! Time to scare the neighbors with loud rap and electronica! ^o^ The speakers have pretty good sound for the price, certainly better than my computer’s speakers. I used the remainder of the gift certificate to get an iTunes card.

If you can't see the speaker trembling, you ain't got 'nough BASS! And yeah, that's Disney Princess Kleenex. It was on sale. What?

Tiger! 2010 will be the Year of the Tiger.  I miss my Tiger! T_T ‘Twas this emotion which made me buy this (plastic?) mochi with a cute tiger figure on top (sorry the photo’s so blurry):

良いお年を!Raow!

Corazón Salvaje I don’t think I saw this classic period novela when it first aired back in the early 90’s, but thanks to una amiga muy buena, I’m now watching it. In Japan! ^o^ Gracias!

Jingle...torii?

I was going for symmetry but… I bought these little bell garlands at the 100 Yen Shop.  I wanted to make a curtain of them, but they didn’t have that many.  So instead, I put them up like this –>

Only later did I realize that it sort of made the doorway look like a torii when decorated with the rope and paper hanging down. ^o^

As for my City Year coat hanging out there…it’s the best rain coat I’ve ever had, so while I feel a bit weird wearing it here (mostly because of the U.S. flag on the arm, which I think makes people think I’m a soldier; and the CY logo kinda looks like someone doodled over the Japanese flag) it’s mighty convenient.  And it was pretty funny when some girls saw me leaving school with my red coat and red bicycle and exclaimed, “Eri AKAI~!” (meaning, “Eli’s RED~!”) LOL

And speaking of CY… Back in late November, all prefectures held a mandatory Mid-Year Seminar.  Both ALTs and JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English) go to this seminar.  At the end, we played a game.  It involved passing a ball around a circle while saying the name of the person you were passing it to.  Since I’d played similar things in City Year, I was able take the mushiness for what it was and relax.  But I could certainly understand the feelings of everyone who looked around and said, “what’s the point of this? This is so dumb!” ^o^

Ah, well, this turned out to be quite a long post.  But, considering that I update so erratically, I don’t think it’s all that bad.

Til next time!

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