Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Post of 2011 - Happy Glorious 2012!!

Dear Secret Admirers of Fat Geisha, This year has been a very eventful year, especially the second half when you can see my posts dwindling. I have just returned from a most wonderful and eye opening trip to Hokkaido, which I hope to share with you in the coming year. 2012 promises to be an exciting and perhaps anxious year, but I look forward to it with much hope nonetheless. I would like to take this opportunity to wish my dear admirers lots of love, happiness and good health in the next twelve months, and Fat Geisha promises to be bigger and better than ever before!!! XOXO Fat G.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pachinko! (And a Brief Review of Kaiji 2)

Before I know it, it is already the end of the month, and I haven't written a thing (other than the first day of the month post). So. Seriously. Busy. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the looney ice-berg. I doubt I have time to write a single post for December. So better to write something while I can.

Amidst all the craziness in November, I managed to steal in some movie time with Samurai T on his birthday. Instead of doing the high brow like visiting the ArtScience Museum for the Titantic exhibition, we decided to watch Kaiji The Gambler: Part 2, even though we did not watch Part 1, and know nothing about the manga series, other than it is in Japanese, about gambling (duh!), and acted by Tatsuya Fujiwara from Death Note.

It is a moderately interesting, occasionally head-scratching movie (probably a result of our ignorance of the background story), although Samurai confessed to falling asleep mid-way through the movie. I kept awake because I was trying to practice my Japanese (again, was not very successful), and scrutinising Fujiwara's slightly bloated face with my newly Lasiked vision. Unfortunately I do not find him hot, unlike my dear Kimura-san, but he is passable. (He was apparently in Singapore for the movie opening, but as usual, I knew of it after the fact. Sigh.)

Although he does not rock my boat, it does not mean I cannot post a gratituous pic of him. ;P

The biggest thing I remember from the movie was this SUPER extended scene of Kaiji Ito, the titular character played Fujiwara, playing a monster pachinko machine. (In my not-so-humble opinion, that scene was WAYYY too long, making a supposedly climatic scene anti-climatic in the end.)  Prior to my first visit to Japan in 2008, I have already read a number of news articles about the Japanese aunties (obasan) and uncles (ojisan) becoming addicted to this pachinko game, forsaking family and friends, and money, of course. And I thought to myself, I must check this thing out and see what the fuss is all about.

Therefore, during my visit to Shibuya on my first trip to Tokyo back in 2008, I dragged the Samurai into the first pachinko parlour I saw. And this was what we saw:

To me, it looked like rows and rows of jackpot like-machines and there was a cacophony of noises coming out of these machines, and the players looking quite zombie-like, having obviously sat there playing for God-knew-how-long. Instead of money, they had trays and trays of small steel balls next to them. I tried to figure out how the game was played, but unfortunately with my language handicap, it was all Greek to me. I mean, I never really knew how to play jackpot too.

According to Wikipedia, which I finally researched after watching Kaiji, the objective of the pachinko game was to feed the steel balls into the machine to TRY to win MORE steel balls, which at the end of the day could be exchanged for cash. The reason for using steel balls instead of cash in the game was that gambling is OUTLAWED in Japan (I learn something new every day), so those steel balls are exchanged for cash at a separate site from the parlour (probably managed by the Yakuza!). There are apparently a zillion permutations of the number of steel balls you can win, in short, it IS like a jackpot machine - but a Japanese modified version.

I almost fell asleep trying to describe what is pachinko, and hence totally fail to see why this is such an addictive activity. Give me mahjong anyday!

In  any case, the highlight of my little visit was when I saw a series of "Winter Sonata" pachinko machines. I am a fan of the Korean drama series, which had also garnered legions of Japanese fans. I used to be CRAZY over Bae Yong Jun, so it was funny to see pictures plastered all over parlour and inside the machines. I guess even the obasans need motivation to sit there for hours to play. 

 Winter Sonata Posters

A Winter Sonata themed machine.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good News to Start Off November!

I got 89% (or 160/180 marks) for my JLPT 5 Mock Test 1!!!

After all the agonising and fretting prior to the event, I actually passed.

I was actually surprised by my excellent results, because I found the test rather difficult, and to be VERY honest, I DID NOT even finish studying all the given materials (probably only read through a quarter of them). So a combination of dumb luck and paying attention during class paid off in spades. Of course, I am not going to take it for granted that I would naturally pass come the actual exam on 4 December. In fact, Sensei has already warned the class that Mock Test 2, to be held in another 3 weeks, would be significantly more difficult (むずかしいですね). Shudder.

Even the Evil One, who has been travelling non-stop for work, has passed the test. She was practically doing cartwheels in class when she received her results because she was sure she would have failed. In fact, the entire class passed, and it was hard to tamp down the celebratory mood! (And it was not even the real thing. We are so easily satisfied, no?)

The best part of my day was that my results topped the class. I marginally scrapped past my 19 year-old classmate (89% to his 88%) who is always very good in his Japanese. (It was a funny moment when he realised he lost by ONE percentage point.) I am *er-hem* ALMOST twice his age (not quite) but SUCH satisfaction and a sense of achievement I felt. My older brain is not dead yet! There is still life and vigour! Take THAT, young brains! Take THAT, spring chickens! (Hmm, all this hidden resentment against youthfulness is rising out of nowhere.) Maybe if I was 19, I would have gotten 100%!!!!!!!! (Ok, I am probably stretching it.)

Well, enough of gloating. It is a good start to November nevertheless. Hopefully I will have more time to write a few more posts but don't hold your breath. I have got to keep my top dog position in class.

Gonna frame this up! :D

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I Have Not Been Blogging

In this case, I think pictures speak a thousand words.

Got to finish this revision book in 6 weeks??? 

On top of this, we got homework in the form of MOCK examination papers. Use 2B pencils to shade please. I feel like I am back taking my A-Levels. 

That is just ONE PART of my vocabulary materials. Time to cut open the brain and insert more memory. 

More new grammar rules to learn even before the dreaded exam. 

That's my "registration number", in case anyone is keen to buy 4D. 0106??

And this is just one of the things I have got to do. And that is WHY!!!!! I am not blogging.

Hang in there, fellas.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Movie Review: School Days with a Pig (Buta ga ita Kyoshitsu)

Surprised that I am back on the blog so soon? Me too. After the last post I was wondering what the hell was I going to write this month, and if I had the time to write it in the first place. Then the Samurai was flipping channels this weekend in his usual irritating manner and we found ourselves arrested by the above movie, which was, in a nutshell, based on a true story about an elementary school teacher who brought a piglet for his class to raise for one year before their graduation. At the end of the year, the class had to make a decision on what happened to the pig. Should they eat it?


Damn the Japanese and their animal movies.

I bawled like a baby at the end. Which was no surprise, given my track record watching and crying during every single Japanese movie on animals, which stretches from Hachiko, to Quill, to 10 Promises to My Dog, to Helen the Fox.... These movies just wring every last drop of moisture in you by the time the credits roll. Busted, I am a big ole' softie. I even cry for a pig going to slaughter, and I love my Kurobuta as much as the next person.

Before I write anymore about the storyline, let me just say beforehand, "What an awesomely handsome man we have as the school teacher?! Who is he? Where has he been hiding?! OMG he looks gorgeous!! That smile! Ack!" According to Wiki, the actor is Satoshi Tsumabuki, and he acted in many movies and dramas, some of which I have watched. Why didn't I notice him before!? I will keep a keen eye on him from now on.

Satoshi Tsumabuki - Come to Mama.

Now that I have gotten the hormones out of the way, let me address the reasons why a simple movie on children, a pig and a handsome school teacher (okay!!!) has touched me so. 1) A cute furry animal always gets to me, even if it oinks. I doubt a story about an iguana will quite have the same effect though. 2) There were a number of unscripted scenes in the movie, where the children debated fiercely whether P-Chan (the pig) gets to live or go to the meat centre, and the honesty of the dialogue resonates. 3) The themes of life and death, the superiority of man, of responsibility are still the same issues we confront everyday in our adult lives. 4) Crying during movies is very cathartic. I would much prefer crying over fiction than in real life, having just lost a pet hamster and a foster dog to old age and disease very recently.

The Japanese children are a joy to watch. They were apparently auditioned specifically for this movie. The interactions among themselves and with P-Chan were priceless. You could see them struggling with their own morals. Are they really able to eat a pig that they have raised from young? Who can determine the length of life for anyone, even an animal? What does it mean to be responsible to a pet? How far do you take that responsibility - unto death?

I remember when it was time to put down my beloved dog, Waggie. It was one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my life. Internally, I wanted to spare myself from seeing him being put down, and I had done that for my previous dog, when I left him to the vet, an act which I regretted to this day. No matter how much I wanted to spare myself from the pain, I know my responsibility as the owner, and as the love of my dog's life, that I HAD to be with him when he breathed his last. So I stayed. Even then, I did not have the courage to hold him in my arms as the vet injected him, and it was in Samurai's arms when he passed on. It is another thing that I hope to correct should I ever have another pet.

School Days with a Pig won a number of well-deserved awards in the region. And I highly recommend all of you to watch it, but prepare your tissues. Will I still eat Tonkatsu after this? You bet I will.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bane of My Life - Kanji

You know, I really admire those bloggers who churn out posts everyday or every other day. I am struggling as it is to even post three pathetic write-ups in a month. Say what? Oh I forgot. These are FULL TIME bloggers and they get PAID for it. I have been blogging for 15 months and haven't seen or smelled a CENT. Thankfully, the Samurai is well and able to feed me. Also thankfully, I can find self-gratification writing posts that only a handful of people will ever read. I guess that is enough for me to spend the next 1 hour typing another insipid post on something Japan related.

So I am finally down to the last two lessons of Intermediate 1, before embarking on a boot camp to sharpen up my skills and knowledge before my FIRST Japanese exam, the JLPT 5. Failure is not an option, dude, no sir, not for the brilliant-minded Fat Geisha, who was an A-grade nerd in school. Of course, good grades then were a matter of sheer will and brain power, but 20 years later, my brain cells have been dying off bit by bit despite my best efforts to ignore this fact. 

Which brings me to my hated subject - Chinese. I speak Chinese well enough - actually pretty good to win story-telling competitions (yes, in Mandarin). But I so hate writing Chinese characters. Unlike most other languages of the world, each freaking word is a unique character and there are up to 8,000 (or more?) Chinese characters in the Chinese dictionary and a normal adult should know about 3,000 characters (I doubt I am under the "normal" category though). You need to have the MEMORY of a computer to remember all those Chinese characters! I still remember vividly that it was such a pain writing compositions in Chinese. After 18, once I was done with my A-Levels, I swore I wouldn't touch written Chinese again, and didn't....until NOW.

The Japanese Kanji is like my greatest recurring nightmare. Some of them ARE Chinese characters, some of them are VARIATIONS of Chinese Characters, some LOOK like Chinese characters but are actually NOT Chinese characters. Since my Chinese vocabulary is quite weak to begin with (in terms of word recognition, not speech), after learning Japanese Kanji, I no longer know if a particular word is Chinese or Japanese. Is that a REAL Chinese character? Or just a Japanese variation?? I cannot tell. It is screwing up what little Chinese knowledge I have.

To rub salt in the ever enlarging wound, a single Kanji character has up to three!!! or four!!!! pronunciations! And three!!! or four!!!! different meanings! How in the world am I ever going to remember them with my diminishing brain capacity!? Are they crazy? Insane? What is wrong with Hiragana?! Or Katakana? Seriously dudes! Aren't you enemies with the Chinese or something? Can't you not just drop Kanji?

The only thing positive (if one can call it that) is that I enjoy doing Kanji homework (as compared to the others). It is the brainless writing of characters (like when you are back in nursery practicing your alphabets) and you can do it while drooling over Kimura-san on TV.

Doing my Kanji homework!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cat Adventures: Maru Desu (まるです)

Ever since my beloved pooch, Waggie, passed into eternity more than a year ago (14 months to be exact), I have been without a dog, and I had dogs since I was 11 years old. As an adult, it is infinitely more difficult to commit your time and love to the little canine, what with all the various distractions and responsibilities one has to face each day. But the death of my dear friend of 15 years (!!!) left a huge gaping hole in my life that even the Samurai cannot quite fill (I mean, he is not cute and furry after all. HAIRY, but not furry. Heh.)

Thankfully, in our neighbourhood we have a number of the cutest stray cats in Singapore, all lovingly cared for by a group of "cat ladies" who fed them with the best food, and brought them to the vet when they got injured or sick. Both the Samurai and I have made friends with these cats. (Samurai, for some reason, LOVES CATS, but cannot keep one as he is allergic to fur.) We feed the strange motley of cats with treats frequently, and play with them almost everyday. Although they are not as passionate as dogs, they have come to recognize us, and will come to us to be stroked (or fed).

Just this weekend, we found a new kitten meowing pathetically under a car. Since all the cats in our neighbourhood have been neutered, this newbie must have been abandoned! It turned out to be the MOST GORGEOUS Siamese kitten I have ever seen, with the most magnetic blue eyes EVER. We brought it up to our house (very dangerous for new kitty to be outside), and I fed and played with it for a good three hours.

Young Blue Eyes.

I totally fell in love. For the first time since Waggie's passing, I was tempted to keep a pet that is NOT a hamster. The Siamese kitten was playful and extremely intelligent. It was also very expressive in its adoration, being a motherless kitten and all. When it got tired of exploring our house, it promptly jumped onto my lap and fell asleep!! Such a dear. But one look at the Samurai sent my hopes crashing down to earth again. Unless I want to murder my husband, using the "Death by Fur" method, i.e. flood his windpipes with fur and make him gag to death, we cannot keep the cat. In the end, VERY reluctantly, I had to let the little kitty go to Samurai's colleague, who has experience in rehabilitating and re-homing cats. :(

The little dear falling asleep on my lap. Isn't he the sweetest feline?!!??!!?

In view of Samurai's physical weaknesses, we normally admire cats from afar, including on YouTube. Unless you are a cat hater or from Mars, you should have heard of the most famous Internet cat from Japan, known as "Maru". He is a tubby Scottish Fold cat and his adventures (he gets into the most laughable scrapes with boxes) are faithfully recorded by his mysterious female owner, mugumogu. He even has his own blog ( and a book out now too! (For those practicing Japanese, the blog is in both English and Japanese.) Amazing.

Some of his funny videos I have posted below. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Drama Review: JIN Seasons 1 and 2 (Spoilers)

So, you thought this blog was dead? I did warn you admirers out there that due to a myriad of responsibilities, I would not be able to post as frequently as I would like to. Of course, much of last week I was busy falling sick, and since I was stranded at home half dead (together with the Samurai who received the flu bug from me), we had nothing better to entertain us but watching Season 2 of my favourite historical-cum-medical drama series, JIN.

Those who have been following this blog, or those who know me personally will know that despite my overt Nippon-phile status, I have shown a marked preference for Korean dramas over Japanese dramas. For one, I think the Korean actors are infinitely better looking, with the exception of my dear Kimura-san, and Fukuyama-san.The Japanese dramas also conclude too speedily for my liking, usually within 10 episodes. Although this makes for speedy viewing and less endless plot dragging, it is difficult to get invested in the show and the lives of the characters. This is not too say that the Japanese drama scene is not without its gems, and JIN is one.

Oh JIN! How much I love thee! Even though the main lead is played by someone totally unfamiliar to me - Osawa Takao), we brought the first season last year based on the STRONG recommendations of the Evil One, and became engrossed hook, line, sinker. This drama series has all the elements that I love: time travel, period setting, political intrigue based on actual historical events, tight medical plots, realistic gore, unexplained mysteries and an unfulfilled love story (did not really like this part but more on that later)

In a nutshell, the main story arc was about a modern day surgeon named Minakata Jin (hence the title of the show), who was roped in to operate on the brain of a nameless injured man found in a park, and found a tumor which was shaped like a fetus (gross). Jin himself was depressed because he had just lost his beloved girlfriend, Miki to brain cancer and blamed himself for his inability to save her. The nameless man was then caught by Jin trying to steal medical supplies, and in a struggle, he fell down a flight of stairs and found himself transported back to the end of the Tokugawa period of Edo (Old Tokyo), in late 19th century, a few years before the Meiji restoration, where the samurai still roamed. The mystery of how and why he travelled back in time was not unravelled until the last episode of Season 2! (Imagine my frustration as we waited for Season 2 to be shown!)

In Edo, Jin found himself rescuing a young samurai named Tachibana Kyotaro and was taken in by his family, which included his beautiful and brainy younger sister, Saki (played by the gorgeous Ayase Haruka), who later fell in love with Jin and decided to follow him in learning medicine (a strict no-no for women in olden times). This was followed by a series of mini stories in which Jin used his modern medical skills to assist the Edo folks, which included scenes of bloody operations, and also his "invention" of penicillin to treat  injuries and diseases, making himself a phenomena and garnering a number of followers who together set up a medical hall "Jin Yu Do", to help the poor. Along the way, Jin got entangled with historical characters like Sakamoto Ryoma which resulted in a comical bromance of sorts, and met a dead-ringer of his dead girlfriend Miki, who was a famed geisha in Edo. Whoa!!! Many things going on indeed, yet they came together oh so beautifully.

Jin and Ryoma - An Edo Bromance

The individual stories were beyond moving, and the actors convincing in their happiness and grief. How many times did I find myself teary throughout the 22 episodes of Season 1 and 2??! Totally lost count. Jin himself was not the typical drama hero - besides his superb medical skills and soft heartedness, he was actually a bit of a weakling and a total waffling character, compared to the quiet determination and sureness of Saki. Their love was a love not meant to be, although many times I wished I could smack them out of their doldrums, and tell them to "go to bed already!" and stop their self-sacrificial nonsense. It just doesn't cut it with me that divided through time and space as they were, they were contented in their knowledge for their love for one another. Total and utter BS! Gah!

RIP Jin and Saki

But all things considered, Jin is one show with a lot of heart, and a totally superb script. Both the Samurai and I are concurrently watching the Ryoma series, acted by the delectable Fukuyama-san, but it bores us both to tears with all the slow moving action. So even a good looking actor cannot keep me awake if the script sucks.

So what else is there to do now? Go watch the damn bloody drama. You, the readers, I mean.

Monday, August 22, 2011

EXILE Here We Come

Thanks to the Evil One, we have SUCCESSFULLY balloted for the EXILE concert tickets in Hokkaido on 24 December 2011. While I am jumping up and down in excitement (figuratively), this also means there will be a crazy mad rush to nail down our holiday itinerary. And I have been so incredibly busy and WILL BE incredibly busy from now until the end of this year. There are business concerns, moving to a new house and planning renovations, studying for JAPANESE N-5!!!! and learning how to drive?! I think I am insane since I have so obviously bitten off more than I can chew. So help me GOD!!!!

Anyway, this is a warning that my posts will likely be spotty for the rest of 2011. I will TRY my best to write whenever possible.

So here I leave you (and the Evil One) with another cool-looking EXILE poster, with a slogan totally close to her heart and directly aiming at Atsushi.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Random Hokkaido Pictures

I was so inspired after my Takuya dream, but after the last post, all inspiration dried up like a prune. Although to my defence I must say that I had an extremely busy week which included celebrating my wedding anniversary with the Samurai, and then celebrating my country's 46th National Day. Yes, I celebrated by eating lots of good food and gaining weight, despite my best efforts to uh, do some exercises. All to no avail.

Anyway, just so that this blog does not seem too dead, I am going to post random pictures on Hokkaido (nice ones ok) that I have found all over the Internet, mainly to whet up my appetite for my planned year end trip. (Unfortunately, I have yet to book my trip but I am waiting for an upcoming travel fair.) Don't sue me for copyright - I am just sharing good stuff with fellow Japan lovers!!!

Below are just some of the things that I would love to see and do (and eat):

Hokkaido crabs - I dream about you night and day (never mind the cholesterol).

 Hokkaido is famous for its sprawling and jaw-dropping natural landscapes. This is Mount Kurodate.

This is Lake Akan, another well-known sightseeing spot.

What is Hokkaido without snow? I know the Evil One is dying to go skiing, although the Samurai is barely enthusiastic. I'm game for anything. This is Niseko, where the snow is like powder!!

The majestic cranes that are so symbolic of Hokkaido - enough said.

Why would I want to go to Hell Valley?! Why, to enjoy a good onsen, of course!!!

 Hokkaido also has an indigenous population known as the Ainu people. This is an Ainu Village at the Akan National Park. Have they turned into tourist traps, I wonder?

Another place I would love to visit is Otaru. I have seen countless gorgeous pics of the Otaru Canal just like the one above. So romantic, no? 

Of course we must not forget the capital Sapporo as well. Despite all the natural beauty Hokkaido has to offer, I am a city girl at heart. Really, where else can you get to shop if not at a bustling city?!

As usual, I must end the post with another food picture. This will make the Samurai happy for DAYS. The Hokkaido Ramen. Just like we have got to eat the crabs, we are certainly going to slurp down these delicious noodles.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Dreamt of Takuya (and a 2-cents worth review of Moon Lovers)

For the first time in my life, I dreamt of Takuya Kimura.

It wasn't a nonsensical daydream conjured up by the brain in boredom, nor one of those "I think it was Takuya Kimura, but his face was quite blur lah" but a long drawn out dream, with fairly logical happenings, and you could still remember bits of it when you suddenly wake up and realise, DAMN, you were NOT having dinner with Takuya afterall.

The crappiest thing about this dream was I wasn't even making out with Takuya (seriously I need to go for a brain check). I don't THINK I even got to TOUCH him. I spoke to him though, logically, sensibly, which was even stranger to me because I believe in real life I would have squealed, hyperventilated and fainted, rather than stand there and make normal conversation, which was what I did, in the dream. As much as I could remember now, many hours later, it appeared that a group of us (could not recall exactly WHO) attended what was likely to be a SMAP concert, and somehow, we got to make a date with Takuya (!!!) to meet us for dinner outside and he appeared in semi disguise (looking most plain and normal) and my first thought was, "He's short!" and then we proceeded to have dinner in a foodcourt like place and just talked. And I have no freaking idea what we talked about. THE END.

The weird thing was I wasn't even thinking about Takuya in recent days. I wasn't even listening to SMAP songs, since Samurai  T totally preferred EXILE music (a key reason why he was willing to join us for the Hokkaido concert). The only thing I could think of that could have sparked my brain into dreaming this inane dream was a TV preview I saw on an interview with Lin Chiling (Taiwan actress/model) who was talking about acting in "Moon Lovers" or "Tsuki no Koibito" with Takuya Kimura, and I told myself then, "Ah ha, I should blog a review about "Moon Lovers" in my next post."

Obviously the brain works in mysterious ways.

Since I have expended significant energy talking about my Takuya dream, I am just going to do a half-assed review of "Moon Lovers". Shown sometime last year, it was Takuya's latest drama project and it was supposedly "exciting" because Lin Chiling, a relative famous Taiwanese personality was going to play his love interest. (Bitch.) So of course I was curious how she would fare trying to ACT and speak in Japanese at the same time. Afterall, her acting has been slammed by a zillion supposedly objective critics and not just by sour grapes like me.

To cut a long story short, Takuya was acting as a suave young president of a furniture company Rensuke who somehow fell into the company of a poor Chinese worker working at his Shanghai factory, Lin Chiling's Shumei. Like a swan she was recruited to become the face of Regolith (his company) and at the same time romance the boss and kiss him passionately. (Bitch.) Even as he was fending off the attentions of another heiress from rival company and his long time best friend. Somehow in the course of 8 short episodes, they realised they were not for each other, and he got married to his best friend instead, while finding himself and whatever else he was trying to find. Bottomline was, the script was so blah and illogical, it resulted in the poorest ratings of a Takuya drama EVER, and what was originally 10 episodes got snipped to 8 episodes. Obviously Takuya's brooding presence (The Evil One commented he was like sour grapes throughout) couldn't rescue a sinking ship. Even I couldn't quite remember what the story was really about, and I have a pretty good memory.


Throughout the show I only remembered doing a few things: 1) Admiring Takuya's boyish tycoon image in spite of his sour expression; 2) Cursing while they were engaged in a passionate kiss; 3) Admiring Takuya; 4) Bitch. And so on, and so forth.

Honestly, the best thing about "Moon Lovers", other than Takuya Kimura was the title soundtrack, which I positively LURVE. Below is one of the coolest MTV, and yes, the singer does not look even remotely like a Japanese, but he's quite cute and you can enjoy the great music.

The following is a performance of two songs of Curly Haired Man with SMAP. Check out Takuya in his "Rensuke" guise and his oh-so-slick dance moves. Um-ummmm, I LIKE! To be honest though, SMAP sort of spoils the song with their singing. ;P

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dying of Laughter - Another SMAP Softbank Ad

I know I just posted yesterday, but I accidentally came across this video while trying to repair my Youtube links for the last Softbank Singapore Ad post (see here), and nearly perished from laughter after watching this. It is just TOO GOOD not to share it. Words fail me at this point, but thankfully you can just watch it. Evil One, I know you WILL love this!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

EXILE-D to Hokkaido!

The Samurai has left me all alone to attend a STOOPID conference in Philadelphia for a week. Thank God for my buddies who are stepping in to accompany me during these solo times. Fat Geisha is incredibly blessed and her friends rock!!

So, more about the nefarious plans that The Evil One and I have as mentioned in my last post. EO has discovered to her eternal glee that EXILE will be holding a concert in Sapporo, Hokkaido, this coming Christmas Eve. We have been thinking about travelling together to Japan for quite some time, either to Kyushu or Hokkaido (avoiding those disaster affected regions), and she was especially eager to try to catch a SMAP or EXILE concert if possible. You can imagine her hormones going all haywire when she found out the news and realised that her dreams of pawing Atsushi's tattooed chest and abs are within reach. I was initially worried that she would hyperventilate and faint from all that excitement. I believed that she hadn't come down from all that sexual high since I posted the first EXILE piece (see here) many moons ago.

The Chest of Her Dreams......

While I am also excited about watching EXILE live in concert (although my excitement will never reach EO's levels), I am even more pleased by the prospect of finally visiting Hokkaido, a place which many friends and relatives who visited have praised to the skies. I look forward to my virgin frolicking in a snowy winterscape, possibly trying out skiing, eating super delicious fresh seafood and SNOW CRABS (OMG I am salivating now). And finally, FINALLY, being able to speak Japanese in Japan. Hey, EO, you better brush up your flirting Japanese phrases in case you really get to meet Atsushi one-on-one. I promise I won't interrupt.

For the travel portion of which I am in charge (she's taking care of the tickets), there are a number of options that we can choose from. In view that we are likely to have 7-9 days in the week leading up to Christmas (and EO needs to take off on her business trips after Boxing Day), I am leaning towards going for a one week package tour which should include a ski resort and/or onsen, and then we can extend our stay in Sapporo. I don't fancy taking public transport by ourselves in deep winter. Brrrrrr.....

When I have more details about our Hokkaido plans, I will share more in future posts. Oh, and the Samurai? He is coming with us of course. He is resigned to tagging along for the trip, but bringing ear plugs just in case the two screaming Obasans deafen him.

Below are some of the concert videos to further pump up our heightened expectations. Yooohooo!!

First time I heard "Last Christmas" sang in Japanese. I would if they would perform this again since the concert would be on Christmas Eve. So incredibly sexy. Evil One, you can have Atsushi, I will have Takahiro. 

This is one of our collective favourite songs. Samurai saw the actual lyrics on another video which actually contains a lot of English words (not that we can catch all of it) and remarked that it was a very silly song. But it is so incredibly catchy and has so many hilarious signature dance moves. Even my Sensei can dance to it!

Hmm, very nice song here and I absolutely LOOVE their shirts. Am definitely going to get one!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Year On My Japanese Learning Journey

I think I should just change my nickname to Tardy Geisha, instead of Fat Geisha (but it does not mean I have lost any weight, sigh). But here I am again and I have FINALLY - FINALLY!!!!! reached the one year mark in my part-time Japanese Language classes, and ta-dah! am moving on to the Intermediate Level come next Monday. This also means that I will be able to take my first JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Level 5 in December this year. If I can take any comfort in the mini in-house test I took earlier this week (43/46!), I think  I should be able to pass the JLPT without too much angst, and so long as I keep up with my revision (which is not a given in view of my overwhelming tardiness.)

The crappy thing of course is that since I started learning Japanese, I have not been able to step foot on Japanese soil, no thanks to the 11 March disaster. Hence I have not been able to show off, or rather, er-hem, UTILISE my new-found Japanese skills. (Although now I am plotting some exciting plans with The Evil One, to be discussed further in the next post.)

Despite being surrounded by a ton of girlfriends who are studying the language at the same time with me, AND knowing a number of people who HAVE studied Japanese, I realised that we are not actively practicing with one another, for God knows what reason. In fact, our fave Japanese phrases, if we did in fact use them, are still "Arigato!", "Sumimasen!", "Chotto Matte!", "Mata Raishu!" etc., which HALLO, I was already using prior to starting my lessons. Are we too old, too shy, too afraid, too lazy to use the language on one another? How in the world are we going to improve if we are confined to using it once a week in class?! What is the point of learning a new language then? I can't travel to Japan every other day (much as I would looove to). To my detriment I still prefer to watch Korean dramas to Japanese dramas. (I think my Korean is quite powerful too, thanks to Lee Min Ho.....) I try to listen to more Japanese songs but can only catch random words, without understanding the full meaning of the sentence. Japan Hour on TV is repeating its episodes which is SOOOO boring. ARGH! 

So how? How am I going to become a Japanese language expert? Or at least, learn sufficiently to flirt shamelessly with Kimura-san (should I ever meet him)? I need an immersion programme, immediately. Preferably immersing myself in an onsen full of gorgeous, naked Japanese men, and I can assure you, I will reach Advanced Level in no time at all. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Goriness of 13 Assassins - Movie Review

I am supposed to be studying for my upcoming Japanese test on Monday, which requires me to study an astonishing 21 chapters, and I am choosing to break my blogging duck for July instead to post my reviews on a movie I just watched last night - the 13 Assassins. Of course I also chose to go movie watching so near to my test date in the staunch belief that I was going to be able to practice my にほんご Nihongo (being a Japanese movie and all), but alas, they were speaking in some ancient Japanese structure and I barely caught 10 words, most of which was おもしろい ("interesting/exciting") and たのしかった ("enjoyable") uttered by the psychopathic villain Lord Naritsugu, played  to freaky perfection by SMAP member Goro Inagaki.

The 13 Assassins in full glory - some old men, some very hot men, and one VERY MAD man (Goro in white at the bottom of the picture).

Samurai T had actually watched part of the movie, a remake which was released in Japan last year, on Singapore Airlines' wonderful KrisWorld system during our December holidays to Taiwan. Being the bloodthirsty man that he is, he has been raving about the movie non-stop to me, and when the movie finally reached Singapore shores, he was more than game to re-watch it again with me. The Evil One was also keen to join us, since she had read that Goro had received a Japanese Oscar-equivalent for playing the Naritsugu role - and let me say that he TOTALLY deserved whatever acting accolades he got.

The Evil One and I were prepared for an all-out gore fest since we were amply warned by the Samurai and our mutual friend Z-san, who said Kill Bill was "child's play" compared to the 13 Assassins. So the Evil One quickly went to the toilet beforehand in case she pissed in fear during the show. As it was, the very first scene showed a very long painful scene of a samurai committing hara-kiri or seppuku, i.e. ritual suicide. Although they did not show all the entrails falling out, the expression on the actor's face, as well as the sound effects were sufficient to make me clutch my tummy in fear.

The plot was simple and I doubt it would be spoiling the movie for anyone in telling the whole story. A respected middle-aged Samurai, Shinzaemon, was tasked by Sir Doi, a senior advisor on the Shogun's Council, to assassinate the Shogun's half brother, Lord Naritsugu, a most sadistic and evil man, before he could take his place on the Shogun's Council and wreck havoc on Japan. The audience was quickly made aware of how coldly insane Naritsugu was by flashing back to his multiple crimes, chief of which consisted of a screaming LIMBLESS woman shedding tears of blood whose image would be ingrained in my brain for a long time to come. His insanity was boundless, and Goro made the character even more frightening by being calmly aloof (instead of cackling with mad laughter) as he carried out his nefarious deeds. Thereafter, Shinzaemon gathered his band of brothers and the last hour was just all-out slaughter between the 13 assassins, against Naritsugu's party of 250 (!!!) men in a remote village full of death traps.

Naritsugu was the only one dressed in pristine white throughout the movie, irony being he was the evillest of them all.

The brilliance of the film lay in the execution of the story - laying the groundwork on why Naritsugu must be killed, the bonding and motives of the various Samurai, to the eventual climatic battle unto-death. It was engaging, it was gripping, it was BLOODY. It was funny in parts, too funny especially in the scenes involving the last assassin, Kiga, a mountain hunter-cum-potential mountain spirit, and the cinema broke out into loud guffaws in spite of the serious themes involved. The Evil One and I still had time to admire several hunky Samurai (yums, ronin Hirayama) even as they were being sliced to pieces. Suffice to say, this being an almost one-sided contest, most of the assassins met a glorious (in their warped Samurai mentality) and gory end.

We enjoyed ourselves tremendously, with the Evil One proclaiming it was one of the best movies she had seen in a long time. I wouldn't go that far, since I was never fond of violent movies, but it was a movie that was definitely worth all the time and money you spent on it. Thankfully in spite of my fears, I was too tired to have a nightmare of a limbless woman crying blood emerging in my dreams.

Near the end - the killing fields.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

THAT School Uniform Party (NC-16)

DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE BELOW 16. I will NOT be responsible for your mental corruption. >.<

Hmmm, me bad. My propensity to procrastinate on things is boundless. For example, if I had bothered to haul my own ass, I would have done LASIK a long time ago, and start to enjoy splendid vision for a much longer time. And, about 2 months after the event, I am FINALLY getting down to blogging about THE School Uniform Party the Evil One and I co-organised with a couple of other friends. Be warned: although I would be blurring the faces of the participants, if you don't think you can stomach seeing 30-somethings  dressing up as 16 and 17 year-olds (or even younger, hur hur), STOP READING NOW.

The idea to hold this wacko party arose out of a fairly harmless conversation about my predilection for younger, hot men (shall not name names just in case he/they read this blog) with a group of friends. One of them, let's call him Z-san, suggested to Samurai T, that in order to hold onto my interest as a result of my "cougar" instincts, he should wear his old school uniform around the house. Somehow, one thing led to another, and we decided to re-visit our long gone youth by holding a School Uniform Party, and at the same time use this as a platform to raise some funds for the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

Obviously I had thrown my school uniforms away donkey years ago, and in any case, I seriously doubt I could fit into any of those without rupturing the seams. The Evil One and I decided to embrace our inner sluts and go for the "Japanese School Girl" look, which stirs up all kinds of objectionable fantasies, and look something like this.....
This is about the most conservative Japanese school girl look that I could find on the Internet. Obviously, the chaste "virgin" thingie ain't gonna work for us older folks.

You cannot BELIEVE the number of PORN SITES that popped up the minute I googled "Japanese school girl image". I believe this is from one of those "adult" sites, even though this image actually looks quite innocent. This uniform actually looked REALLY similar to what The Evil One ultimately wore that night - right, right!?!? 

The key thing about Japanese school uniforms is that the skirt has got to be SHORT. Very short indeed. The one I ended up buying was sooooo short half my butt was showing, much to Samurai T's horror. As I did not have slim thighs and long legs like this hot lady above, I had to wear tights so as not to look overly obscene.

In the beginning I was contemplating on going as Sailor Moon, which was one of my favourite manga characters as a kid. The Evil One, Z-san and I made a trip down to a cosplay shop in town and indeed they had a Sailor Moon costume for rental. But I changed my mind immediately. If you don't know, or remember, Sailor Moon looks like this:

No way in the world am I going to be able to carry this off!!!

For one, her skirt cannot be in all honesty be classified as a "skirt". Two, the top is the tightest thing ever known to mankind. Three, I had to get a blond wig to complete the look. In the end, both of us decided to stick to good old Japanese schoolgirl uniforms which cost us SGD89 each!!! She had on a summer version, and I took on the winter, long-sleeved version. We both turned out looking like this:

The Evil One and The Fat Geisha - how wonderful did we look?!

We did up our hair in style - I had mine tied up in ponytails and she had on girly hair clips. I was totally in love with my seriously bright pink uniform - under poor lighting I was quite sure I could pass off as 16 years of age again. The party was a rocking success because many of our guests came dressed up to the nines, but I am not going to post all of them because it is such a chore to "pixel-late" faces.

 This is us with Z-san, who is looking trim and fit in a local school uniform. We were supposed to be "seducing" an innocent school boy, but I don't think we succeeded. LOL.

That's me, posing with a strawberry and trying to give off "come-hither" vibes. I think I failed on that count too! Don't you think those black tights are very slimming?!!?!?

This was another one of our co-organisers, C-san, who was wearing the tightest imaginable shorts EVER, and yet still looking hilariously like a primary school boy. Insane!

Despite our supposedly raunchy poses, it was a night of good, CLEAN fun. We were happily playing mahjong, and cards, and stuffing ourselves silly on a scrumptious Thai buffet spread that The Evil One sponsored (I forgot why it wasn't Japanese). Here's a pic to make you drool.....

So, so, so YUMMY......................!!!!!!

Ultimately, we did some good in the end. We raised SGD 500 (not a lot but it was a last minute gathering) for the Japanese Red Cross while having oodles of fun. Applause, applause, everyone!!!

P.S. If you are wondering why there are no pics of the Samurai here, he was wearing boring PE (Sports) attire because he couldn't find a uniform to fit his bulk. ;P

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing the Locomotion - SMAP's Softbank Ads

This LASIK thing is really miraculous. And I thought I would be out for a very long time, but the truth is, I could have easily blogged the next day after my operation. The results were almost instantaneous, and contrary to all my greatest fears, the op was incredibly fast and painless. Now I feel reborn again, and it seems I am looking at all things anew, in super sharp focus!

So after two China related posts, the Evil One has been egging me on to post more Japanese stuff. She made a brilliant suggestion to blog about SMAP's Softbank ads. For those not in the know, Softbank is a multi-billion dollar telecommunications and media company and currently the only carrier of iPhone in Japan. What is so interesting (and mighty frustrating) is that SMAP recently came down to Singapore in March (!!!) to shoot the latest Softbank ad - the location being Singapore's newest architectural icon, the Marina Bay Sands. And none of us knew of their top secret trip to Singapore UNTIL they had left the country!!! And we were all seething at the missed opportunity of catching the hot Kimura-san on our homeground. Bah! I could have brought him to eat chilli crab and other Singapore delicacies, you know....... (and do many other things WITH and TO him as well......)

Well, no use bawling over spilled milk. The Singapore Softbank ads are out, and I have been checking the various Softbank ads on Youtube and it appears that like the Gatsby ads, they have a signature tune, which in this case is Kylie's "Locomotion", accompanied by a cute little dance (which has been spoofed countless times). It goes something like this:

The ad is cool and fun at the same time, although as usual I don't quite see the link between mobile phones and their dance, but the Japanese definitely operate on a different mental plane from the rest of the world.

So let's check out the Singapore MBS version, where all of them look quite stunning decked out in white (especially YOU-KNOW-WHO):

There is also a talking component of the Singapore ad, but alas, my Japanese language skills are not quite there yet to be able to catch what they are gabbing about (something about the wonderful Internet connectivity in Singapore??), but the ending is hilarious because they turned our national icon, the Merlion, into "Maoto-san" - which looks like the Fox God I see in Japanese shrines.

There are many other interesting and funny incarnations of the Softbank ads, and also the spoofs, which I will reserve for another post another day.

Until then!!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

China's Infamous Toilets

I am trying to blog as much before Thursday, which is when I go for my LONG AWAITED LASIK op to correct my severe myopia. But that also means, my dearies, that I will once AGAIN be absent from this blog because I am NOT supposed to strain my eyes after my op. Although seriously I wonder how long I can stay away from the laptop/iPAD/TV/books - may one day? Less than 24 hours? 5 hours?!?!? God, I use my eyes for every damn thing - all my hobbies involve heavy usage of the eyes, like reading, drama watching, blogging, am I ever going to survive? Gah. Trying not to think about it.

Let's discuss more unpleasant stuff.... like China's public toilets. Where Japanese toilets are probably the best (and most sanitary) in the world (absolutely the BEST), China's are right at the other end of the spectrum. Just the thought of it gives me goosebumps (of the worst kind). Even before I went on my first trip to China, I have heard all sorts of horror stories, like most people. Thankfully since I stuck to the developed cities and stayed close to hotels for my baser needs, I did not encounter anything horrifying. But true exposure came fast and furious on this trip.

My tolerance level for dirty toilets is ZERO, or even negative something something. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why people do not see the need to flush toilets. It horrifies me to note that there are so many parts in the world where there are no proper toilets, and people do not really CARE. (Ok, they may have bigger things to worry about, like day-to-day survival, but STILL.) Is it any wonder then that I love Japan so much?? The toilets are soooo clean everywhere I go (even better than Singapore!!) that I probably can have meals inside!

During my Silk Road sojourn, I have mastered the art of timing my pee times appropriately, holding it in for as long as humanly possible until we get to an acceptable restroom stop and drinking as little water as possible  in a super hot and dry climate. Since we made the trip with Samurai T's students, I had come to depend on their "toilet reviews" each time we reach a toilet stop (be it on the road or in a restaurant, etc.) "It's a C-plus!" or "It's very smelly!" or "There are no doors!" to "F-minus minus!!" or "You cannot see anything inside!". Music to my ears would be "It's very clean!" which I heard only once or twice during the entire 11-day trip, cleanest being a restaurant in Lanzhou where there was even a helpful and cheerful toilet lady to make sure even the sinks are not wet after use.

I don't know how they (the Chinese) construct the sewage pipes in China, but people are not even allowed to flush toilet paper down the toilet for fear of clogging. (There is a similar practice in South Korea, if I remember correctly.) So waste paper are all conveniently deposited into a nearby bin. Already ewwww, right? It is even worse when the baskets are overflowing because no one bothers to clear it. You can only imagine the worst stench ever. The scariest I have encountered was at a restaurant in Urumqi where once you step onto the second level where there is a huge dining hall and where the toilets are located, your nasal orifices are hit by the most unbelievable smell EVER. I cannot imagine having to take my meals at any table on the second level because I would puke if I so much as draw a breath.

And naturally because the level of civic consciousness is not there, there were numerous incidences of un-flushed toilets (maybe they were saving water?!?), and toilets where the walls were so low between cubicles you could actually have a chat with your neighbour when you are doing your business. The Chinese also do not quite understand the concept of privacy because many doors have no locks and/or locks are spoilt, and the tour group had lost count how many times we had accidentally opened the door to a user squatting over the hole. The girls in particular took turns to guard over each other's doors - lest someone decided to barge in! One particular memorable incident for me was during our visit to the Southern Pastures where the toilet was completely dark once the door was closed and it was literally a hole in the ground and there was no flush (!!!). The upside was you could see nothing disgusting; the downside was a snake could crawl out and you wouldn't know.

Thank God I survived but I need to visit Japan again soon to wipe away all the toilet trauma I had experienced on this holiday......

All major sites have "Tourist Toilets". Unfortunately, many of them are not the kind of toilets they want to see. This will be my only picture. Anything else, you will get nightmares for the rest of your lives.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Journey to the West (Western China, That Is)

Hi Dearies, Fat Geisha is back after traversing the paths of the Ancient Silk Road. I have been to China many times, but always to the top-tier developed cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen for both business and pleasure. While impressed by the rapid development, the country has never been able to draw me the way Japan does, even though I am ethnically Chinese and should feel a stronger affinity to the country. But this particularly trip was certainly an eye opener for me. 

For one, I realised that China is not JUST about Beijing or Shanghai (Technically I KNOW it is bigger but I hope you get what I mean). It is bloody HUGE. Flight time from Beijing to Urumqi, Xinjiang, was 4.5 hours, which was about the distance between Singapore and Taiwan. The cultures and the people are vastly different, not just because they are from different ethnic groups, like the Uighurs and Kazakhs, but even the Han Chinese have very different behaviour, thoughts and outlooks on life, many times for the better I feel.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, which are designed to strike awe in the hearts of foreigners "Hear Ye, Hear Ye, China is a World Power!", I see sprawling landscapes, genuine human warmth, the ever widening income gulf between the haves and the have-nots, immense cultural treasures and exotic food. Instead of babbling endlessly, I think a picture speaks a thousand words. I will let my pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy your pictorial journey.

Fat Geisha always starts with food.
Lamb skewers galore - Samurai T was chomping down like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, me no quite like mutton.

At the Xinjiang International Bazaar, Urumqi. One look and you can tell we are NOT in Beijing.

Big ass red dates, one of the local produce. Shopoholic that I am, I bought, of course.

We went to the Southern Pastures of Urumqi to check out the grasslands. Unfortunately part of the slopes were converted to ski resorts - urgh, commercialization! But still we saw some nice landscapes and this Kazak cattle boy.

A lovely Uighur family. We ordered a lot of lamb skewers from this man, who manages a small roadside stall!

You see a lot of interesting architecture in Western China, which is heavily influenced by Central Asian and Islamic cultures. This is the lobby of our hotel in Turpan. Great lobby, but gross rooms.

One of the UNESCO sites we visited in Turpan, Jiaohe City - a 3,000 year old city situated at the crossroads of the Silk Road. Amazingly well preserved, and equivalent in awesomeness to some of the sites I visited in Egypt.

The Emin Minaret - more than 400 years old and now one of the largest mosque in Xinjiang.

At the Flaming Mountain of the "Journey to the West" fame. Notorious for being one of the hottest places on earth. It certainly lived up to its reputation.

We visited an Uighur family who produced and sell grapes for a living. All sun-dried, hand-picked, no funny chemicals and preservatives. And they tasted wonderful!

Another UNESCO site at Dunhuang, Gansu Province - the Mogao Grottoes or Caves famed for its Buddhist art over the span of 1,000 years. Very impressive.

On this trip we cut across 2 deserts - the Gobi Desert and the Takalaman Desert. Here we are at the Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Spring in Dunhuang. The sand is sooooo fine!

The Crescent Spring which is a natural spring which springs out in the middle of all that sand. Miraculous really.

We visited the Western end of the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan, built in the Ming Dynasty. It was a spectacular looking fort.

Our Silk Road journey in map - unfortunately we did not go all the way down to Xi-An, the ancient Chinese capital.

A section of the Great Wall known as the Overhanging or Cantilever Great Wall, rebuilt in the 1980s and so-named for looking like it was hanging over a cliff.

Those vast vast landscapes of nothingness. Makes me wonder how all those ancient traders of Silk Road survived. Certainly very harsh conditions, even with all our modern day conveniences!

Our last stop at Lanzhou, where we visited the Yellow River, the cradle of Chinese civilisation. Muddy yellow indeed.

So I end with another food picture - Lanzhou's famous beef ramen, which was SUPER delicious! Yummy.