Καλή χρονιά! おめでとございます！Happy new year!
thanks to my friends here, I had the chance to spend a wonderful day at shibuya. we had dinner in a greek restaurant. yep, it happened and it wasn't my suggestion. the food was ok, but the prices were london-expensive. it came as a shock even for me since I am now used to not paying a lot of money for food here! my friends were very curious about greece and they generally enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. I also had the chance to meet the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Nikitas and he was very friendly and kind. I will go again I think. after that, we went to have a coffee and we kept discussing until it was about 12.00.
it was amazing in shibuya. so many people were there at the countdown and we were all clapping at the change of the year. the atmosphere was fantastic. many foreigners were around and everyone was happy and enjoying themselves. if anyone had told me that I would be spending a New Year's Eve in Japan I would have never have believed them. but life thinks otherwise. at least, I had a very enjoyable night with some great people instead of spending the change of the year alone at home. at least it's something, isn't it?
let's all try to make 2006 a better year for everything, shall we?
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Καλή χρονιά! おめでとございます！Happy new year!
Friday, December 30, 2005
yesterday I went to see my first movie in Japan, Memoirs of a Geisha. it was enjoyable but maybe not great. I liked the way the japanese life was portrayed. I was very curious to see how our japanese friend would feel about the movie and she liked it. so, I am happy! a funny highlight is that after the movie ads (which btw have a good time lag behind the US and Europe screenings!), a small movie merchantise object was advertised. the peak moment was a pen for The Legend of Zorro which had Kathrin Zeta-Jones. BUUUUT... if you moved it, it would reveal her bikini! all of the foreigners laughed hard at that time...
before that, one missionary from Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on my door. a japanese member with using fluent english. sentence patterns like:
- are you a christian?
- you are so lucky!
took place. it was funny. the bad thing is that I don't really care about missionaries and stuff, since my "official" religion has declared them as heretics. but she was so polite that I just had to play along. fortunately, our connection from my video-phone was lost and I could just go back to sleep...
after the movie we went to a sushi bar and it was great! the fish was of excellent quality! all three of us enjoyed the food a lot. we also had the very very good part of the tuna. and it was extremely cheap. things like that just reaffirm the fact that life quality in japan is so so good.
a great day overall. if only I could start working...
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 12:06
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
today the new-year's vacation has started. we were actually told to leave the building by 4pm because it would be locked after. the university will be shut until the 6th of January. and I will be spending my time working during the holidays. and today we had 2 earthquakes. and that's all.
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 14:12
yesterday, I treated my lab to the greek cold coffee Frappe. it was hailed a success! even my sensei had one, which was very nice. it's amazing how japanese people like to try new things. it is something I don't really see so often in greek and (maybe) english people and it really makes the japanese people stand-out. cool stuff.
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 14:05
Sunday, December 25, 2005
on thursday I finally finished my abstract for the Lisbon conference. that was a relief.
also, even though I thought my trip to Nagano was for Friday. well... aparently not. I got a call from Fumie-san (who by the way organised everything and I would really like to thank her again!) who informed me that it was actually for thursday... anyways, I finished the abstract and rushed to get the bus from Yokohama. at about 8.00am we were in Hakuba. it was snowing and everyone was clearing out the snow from the streets and walkpaths.
I was to find a big surprise when we got to our hotel. it was japanese style! tatami and all! it was really comfortable and nice. after about one hour of sleep we head off for skiing. of course, my friend Stan was so eager to go skiing that we went immediately. we met him later on. Hakuba was the place that the winter olympics of '98 took place. and the skiing adventure began... with Stan's advice I managed to get down this slope!
the view was fantastic.
which is not something I could say for my skiing skills... another proud moment in my life...
it took us about two and a half hours to get down this slope... then we went to a different slope. and this is where it all started. I had slept for an hour and I was really tired of falling and getting up. so at some point I just started walking... and then we realised that it was about 6.00pm, it was dark, no one was around and the skiing centre was officially closed... we decided to continue walking to get down to the base of the centre. on the way we actually found a girl that was also lost! we gathered at the Cafe Fifty (btw, it is named like this because it sell coffee for 50yen :P). and it was just freezing. after two or three phonecalls, we managed to let know of the centre that we were lost...
two patrol staff came. we waited until about 7.30pm in the freezing cold. I was sorry for the patrol guys... most of the parts of our bodies were wet... and then the snow-plough came to pick us up! it was amazing!!! one of the patrol guys took us to our hotel, they were great... after that, we went to the hotel's onsen. the only thing I'm going to say is that... it's great to dive naked in the snow and then on the hot water! ohhh that was a great day...
exausted we went to sleep. I had the chance to get some good pictures the next day. and we went to a different onsen, more traditional. it's amazing to watch the snow while soaking outdoors in hot water...
it was great fun. I should do it again.
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 16:38
Sunday, December 18, 2005
...is going to the cinema! there are some movies I would really like to see on a proper cinema. for example, I read that King Kong is quite good. and really, this is not a movie to see on DVD, it is the definition of a cinema movie. apparently Peter Jackson has made another great film. who would have thought he could reiterate the success of Lord of the Rings... OK. I LIKE NAOMI WATTS. besides being very very beautiful, she is a superb actress. really...
on the other hand, Memoirs of a Geisha could be seen outside of a cinema. especially with all the criticism the movie received for basically inaccurately portraying the japanese life of the early 30's and geisha life. in addition, the movie was locally criticised in China for the "sell-out" of Chinese actors. even though in english and describing japan, the movie features an almost completely Chinese cast possibly to grab a bigger market. of course, the chinese are very aggressive against the japanese lately, which will probably mean that the movie will be a flop in the chinese market. on the other side of the sea of japan, the japanese feel also a bit frustrated that a movie about the life of a japanese in japan was described without one actor being japanese, given the recent chinese hostility and the innacuracy of the movie. therefore, the movie is titled Sayuri here, from the name of the heroine. so, the movie will probably be a flop in Japan too... still, some reviews say that Zhang Ziyi (my god, she's really pretty) has made a very good job in portraying Sayuri. my supervisor said that the book is great so I will try to get my hands on it.
anyway. to return to the problem, there is no cimemas around my place. there are some cinemas in Shibuya, but I haven't found any there. I will probably try to find one soon... I also had the chance to see two movies on my new incredible laptop, I, Robot and Constantine (heh, we have the same name :P) . they were ok, but nothing really great. I, Robot is directed by Alex Proyas whose work I generally like, as he directed The Crow and, one of my favourites, Dark City. well, one must watch what he can get his hands on in this country!
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 06:13
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
ok... here goes the story of this past weekend!
we got our shinkansen from Shin-Yokohama and headed to Osaka were we were staying. after about 3 hours we were there. Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan and it is realy more down to earth compared to Tokyo! in our hotel, we enjoyed the fabulous view of a city in action
and then we rushed to Kyoto. it was already late and we had to get going soon. unfortunately, when we arrived it was already dark for sight seeing. so the first night was consumed in strolling through Kyoto and its fabulous streets.
where I also had the chance to see the local market where all the nice but beautiful things used in the fabulous Kyoto cooking are sold. also, a kabuki theater! apparently, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan...
and then we went to the traditional japanese restaurant... my only objection is that the music playing was european slow music. I would have prefered something more japanese but I have to admit the music was soothing... the food was of excellent quality and taste! especially this EXCELLENT dish of grilled fish, and I know it doesn't look like it!
on the restaurant we also made some new friends! maybe you noticed the HUGE plate of raw food waiting to be boiled!
after that we went for a drink... I will try to describe as vividly as possible. on the bar, one of the barmen was (apparently) gay. when he talked about himself he used "atashi" which is the female version of "I"... at somepoint he asked where I'm from and then he replied "kawai" meaning "how cute..." finally, for one of my friends (which he clearly liked the most) he said that he is "oishii" meaning "delicious"... it was a fantastic night and as for me, after two regularly-sized bottles of sake I was starting clearly to become "happy". we somehow made it back to Osaka using one of the last trains. unfortunately, I contacted a friend and he informed me that he had broken up with his girlfriend, which is really sad because they were probably the best couple I knew and she is a great girl! that actually clouded the conclusion of the night with a bitter taste. hang in there, guys. anyways, the next day I woke up with a mild headache...
we again went to Kyoto with the immensly optistic plan to see many many sights... but given Friday night, that was too much given headaches and late wake-ups...
so after having lunch, we went to our first stop, kinkaku-ji. the temple's colours is actually plated gold. the place was packed!
the reason for the packing is that this the best weekend for someone to get to Kyoto in all of the year. and the reason is because of the characteristic autumn leaves of the trees in Kyoto, making it a stunning visual experience... honestly, when I saw House of the flying Daggers,I thought that the stunning images in that movie were computer-enhanced! NO! Asia is beautiful. simply beautiful...
we then rushed to our next stop, Nijo-jinya. the house was used for visitor lords in the Edo era and was built about 300 hundred hears ago. at the time this was a house with fortress abilities. it has everything!!! from secret rooms and closets, secret staircases to allow for escaping when some enemy was inside the house! low ceilings to avoid sword-wielding, windows that would reveal possible eavesdropers, unstable floors, falling traps and sooo many more things! of course it was fully unreachable from the outside with places for guards and everything. an amazing place. the closest to a ninja-fortified-place in the world! unfortunately, no pictures were allowed so you will have to go and see on your own... oh, and we also found some interesting shops and places, but unfortunately most of the main sites I wanted to see were unfortunately closed...
BUT, we had time for Kiyomizu-dera. and, believe me, even if it was the only I saw in Kyoto it would have been worth it. when we got in the temple, I was just stunned by its beauty. one of the protected sites by Unesco in the world (Kyoto actually has 17!!!) it is just stunning at that specific weekend of the year and especially when lit up at night. ofcourse, if I knew it so all of Japan would. and believe me, they knew... just at the time we entered the temple, my camera informed me of two things. first, the batteries were gone and second, the card was almost full... typical. so, I will try to give you the feeling at the temple given the bad photographer I am and also the fact that it was very dark, making photography very very hard. here goes...
and then it happened. I saw the most beautiful thing those eyes have seen. maybe the photograph doesn't make any justice but here goes (once again, thanks Sugi-chan)...
and that was it. mind-blowing. just that. it was really hard to get the pictures above but it was worth it! after that, we went back to Osaka. even though we were really tired, Sugi-chan convinced me to go for Karaoke. and even though I thought the day was already great it just turned amazing.
this is the Karaoke room. one can identify the central unit that is responsible for reproducing the songs selected by the people inside. actually, the songs are a close reproduction of the song, not the song itself which is a bit of turn-off. still, all the words show on the screen and follow the normal flow of the singer.
IT IS SO HARD TO SING! I had about 10 songs killed that night, two of which were japanese... (ok, at least I tried). that was maybe the most entertaining night I had in Japan. I definitely have to do this in Europe!
since we had to depart at 2pm, there was not enough time for going to Kyoto again. So, we went to the closest best thing, which is the Osaka-jo.
DO YOU SEE?!
it was huge and beautiful. too bad we didn't have enough time to explore it more, we had a shinkansen to catch... still, it was a really nice site
we returned to Yokohama, with me having one of my best weekends finished. I'm really thankful to my friends for their company and the good times we had! I hope I gave you an idea of the beauty I experienced. Let me know what you think!
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 12:55
Monday, December 05, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
tomorrow, I'm leaving for Kyoto. It was a request (actually, more of an order...) from my supervisor. fortunately, this is the best weekend to go to Kyoto in all of the year because of the coloured leaves of the trees which makes Kyoto immensly beatiful. unfortunately, this also means that we could not find affordable accomodation in Kyoto, so we will be staying in Osaka. Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan and only 30minutes from Kyoto. so, it should be fun even though our time is short. will be using the shinkansen (hikari, not the fastest Nozomi) from Shin Yokohama to Osaka. expect many pictures on Sunday people!
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 15:17
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
today was a haircut day. this was the second time I got a haircut, both times on the same hair-salon. you just haven't try a haircut if hadn't had it the japanese way! so I took my friend with me to help me translating (thanks Sugi-chan).
first of all, the towels. I counted that in total the barber used about 20 towels. at one point I had 7 towels around my neck. yes. and you thought 1-2 was enough! ha! he continued his work as any other barber in the world. the poor guy had a cold.
then there was the time of the hair-washing after the cut. suddenly, the chair (mechanically moved obviously) started rotating and expanding to a bed!!! towel no. 17 was immediately on my face while the barber and his assistant washed my hair. when they took the towel from my face the barber was wearing a mask! and that mask is the mask the Japanese (and Michael Jackson) wear when they're having a cold. anyhow, after that he took a special trimmer and he trimmed around my ears!!!! I started laughing. it was so very funny... they took towels no. 18 and 19 off me and gave me a steaming towel to refresh my face.
and how much was it? ¥3150 or £15.26 or 22.38€. and they both went out of the shop when I left to greet me off...
was it worth it? hell yeah!
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 13:33
Friday, November 25, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
YES PEOPLE! I cooked this! and it was really nice. udon (thick noodles) and chicken karaage (fried chicken).
ok... I didn't fry the chicken. I bought it from the convenience store...
also... I just boiled the noodles and then put the sauce and sliced vegetables on...
... and actually, those were in the bag-sealed in the correct portions and given to me by a very kind japanese girl...
It counts as cooking... right? who cares...
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 16:28
Sunday, November 20, 2005
on the 16th of November, Howl's Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城) was released. of course I was there... also I could not resist and byu his other classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ)
Kambero (with a 'b') you must see Nausicaa! Also... the name of the heroine in Howl is named Sophie...
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 12:31
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Yep, it's only one country... Greece dear all!!! We just cannot be like anyone else... fuck anyone else! We're Greece! So what if we have the most expensive internet in Europe? So what if only a small part of Greece has access to the most expensive ADSL in Europe? FUCK EVERYONE and their efforts! We'll just INCREASE THE PRICE OF DIALUP CONNECTIONS! YOOOHOOO!!! Who the fuck thinks internet is good for the country? It's not... All the rest of the countries trying to minimise internet costs are plain FOOLS! We don't need cheap internet, only more public servants are good for this country. Especially working for the highest grossing company in the country, OTE... Enjoy people. Maybe you want to have a look at the Union of Greek Internet Users' Webpage.
Great way going forward there... Anything else?
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 16:05
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Some nights, if not all, the best time to slow down and think about almost everything in your life is when go to sleep. Here I am, 4am in the morning, writing to--- who, really?
About 2.5 months ago, my friend George was murdered in Crete. It was on the night of his marriage. He had an argument with his newly-wed wife that apparently became violent and she phoned her brother, a coastal guard, to go to where the couple was. The brother did go at their hotel suite and the outcome of the night was the murder of my friend with the gun provided by the greek state to guard the huge coastal borders of Greece, the bride in shock and the brother of the bride fleeing procecution.
I don't know if my friend actually became violent. To me, it is unthinkable that he did. He was definitely one of the kindest and good persons I knew. Still, even if he did he didn't deserve what he got.
I was shocked when my mother told me when I returned from England this past summer. George was an orphan, 5 years older than me. He was a neighbour of mine and I got to know him in the basketball court near my old house. We used to hang out on the afternoons and speak about many things. You see, he had qualified for a course in Computer Programming and this is what I also always wanted to be. He was the best student at his school with an average of 19.3/20. He was more than a friend. He was someone I was looking up to, a mentor. I once asked a cockish self-appointed programming teacher to recommend me a book to learn how to program in C. He replied: "How old are you?", I said: "15". He replied "Go home". I was really frustrated by that guy and George assured me that I could do it if I wanted it too much. George was always kind to me, even though I was so much younger than him at an age that even a year's difference is important. Later on, as my studying became more and more demanding we lost touch. When I qualified for my engineering course I relocated to a different city and he also relocated to another. Our contact became less and less frequent till it became a 20minute chat every year whenever we saw each other. But I always said "hey, come to Volos!" and he would reply "for sure!". Five years after, I moved to England. The motto became "hey, come to London!" and he would reply the same thing. Hey, you know what... this will never happen. When I learned of his death I was in shock for a couple of days. Then life continued. One night during my 10-day vacation I saw a mutual friend of George's and I. We were both on a night club. We avoided to look at each other. We did not speak to each other. We were both embarassed that we were there, supposedly having fun while George was not. George should have been there with us. I should have made more time available for George, because sometimes you just don't know what the next day will bring.
To all of you hot-tempered guys out there, think before you do the most atrocious thing you could ever do. Think what you're doing on someone's child, on someone's brother, on someone's friend. Think what would happen if someone did the same to your child, to your brother, to your friend. Having a gun and pulling the trigger doesn't make you more of a man. It just makes you a plain murderer.
As for me, I only realised what has happened. It's 4.30am, I'm on the other side of the world and I have finally slowed down adequately to have an insight on the past year's events. I feel that the only thing I can do is to write on this electronic substance. Am I becoming more and more insensitive? Do I really think you would know how I feel? I had to give it a try...
Μου λείπεις φίλε. Να 'σαι καλά όπου κι αν είσαι.
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 18:54
Monday, November 07, 2005
excellent website. just keep in mind that it describes japanese extremeties and not real normal life in Japan. so... fish anyone? or maybe interested on japanese toilets?
more on the website...
oh and by the way, ninjas. ninjas kick ass....
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 15:27
Saturday, November 05, 2005
aaaaaahhh... weekend. sun is shining, the house is too hot to stay in... I have practically went nowhere in the past two months in Japan, so it is a great oportunity for me to go and see this beautiful country! or so I think... another staying-in and working this weekend... pathetic, I know...
in the meantime, I am waiting for the new Sony Walkman to come out. even more pathetic...
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 04:02
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I know that all of you are wondering what I am listening to now that I'm in Japan... ok, I know you don't, but if you did I would inform you that my favourite album is "Άνοιξα μανταρίνι και σε θυμήθηκα / I peeled a mandarin and remembered you" by "Λουδοβίκος των Ανωγείων / Loudovikos of Anoghia". Loudovikos is one of my favourite greek artists and his songs are a blend of Cretan and new greek style music. my favourite song out of this album is the following. it describes a person looming in the docs
"Του λιμανιού ο γιος"
τον έχουν δει να τριγυρνά στου λιμανιού τα σκοτεινά κάθε χειμώνα
αν ζει ο Αλέξανδρος ρωτά κι αν ταξιδεύει στ' ανοιχτά η έρημη γοργόνα
έχει τα μάτια χαμηλά και ξέρει να σιγομιλά με τα ζουμπούλια
σ' αυτό το βλέμα το βαθύ έχουν πολλές φορές χαθεί θαλασσοπούλια
σκύβει στην άμμο και γροικά της θάλασσας τα μυστικά
κι οι σφουγγαράδες τον ρωτούν να δέσουν ή να ξανοιχτούν
στα μάρμαρα του βασιλιά και στης γοργόνας την ποδιά αποκοιμάται
είναι του λιμανιού ο γιος, δεν έχει σπίτι ούτε βιος
μη τον ξυπνάτε...
I tried to translate it as accurately as possible and --- believe me --- it's not easy. here goes!
"The son of the docs"
lyrics by Loudovikos
they've seen him roam in the doc's darknesses every winter
he asks if Alexander is still alive and if the mermaid still swims in the open seas
he has his eyes lowered and he can speak to the flowers
in this deep glare seabirds were lost many times
he bends on the sand and understands the secrets of the sea
and the sponge divers ask him if they should tie their knots or embark
on the king's marbles and on the mermaid's lap he falls asleep
he is the son of the docs, he has no house nor possessions
don't wake him...
I wanted to do this for a long time ;)
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 09:02
Saturday, October 29, 2005
it's not fair! why do I not remember my japanese?! 1.5 years of (ok, not tooooo intensive) study and I cannot properly communicate with japanese folk. I can only say elementary thinks. I think my japanese teacher (Takahashi-sensei, excellent person) would be dissapointed in me, even though her japanese politeness would not let her show... but I will change this!
ima kara mo ichido nihongo o benkyo shimasu! kambarimasu!
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 07:54
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I don't really understand why I do this. every year, this happens once or twice. I get the very strong urge to install linux in at least one of my computers... this urge is always triggered by whenever suse released a new edition of their linux. this time, suse went completely free and they provide their opensuse distribution, something similar to what redhat did with their fedora.
suse provides a new distribution every six months. this is their first completely free one. I have always been a suse fan. I always thought that the suse desktop was always better than anything else. also, suse use to be (and probably still is) the strongest (ok, or second strongest) linux distribution in europe.
ok then, this how it (always) goes:
- I download the dvd
- I back-up all of my important files
- I install suse, with it reserving usually 15GB of my precious hard disk space (especially in a laptop)
- I am impressed by suse! champaign on ice!
- I convince myself that I can do anything with suse without the need of paying any money to that blood-sucking software houses. (especially Microsoft, since it is the face of all that is evil to linux enthusiasts...)
- It takes me days to set-up a completely working system and this happens because I just CANNOT STAND everything in my computer to not work in perfection
- I start working with linux
- I start getting the first problems... I again remind myself that both of my supervisors work in ms-office and I always receive this .ppt or .doc file that just won't render correctly in openoffice!
- and then I have to plot the results... and I cannot but just reminisce the user-friendliness of Origin...
- I start to think that Windows is better that Linux because I'm more productive in windows... I realise the significance that windows have played in spreading computer usage to a broader audience
- gradually, I loose interest in linux and silently work again in windows...
- i regret the time I've spent in installing linux and the space I have sacrificed in doing so...
- after one to two months I just don't logon to linux any more
- I uninstall suse, saying that I won't do this again...
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 17:23
Thursday, October 20, 2005
everyone has to have some laughs eventually even in the most interesting country in this world... so, after the South Park Sessions at Clayponds (ohh... the joy... the laughs... ohhhhh) the next best thing in ages is Scrubs. i haven't had such a laugh for ages! it is about trainee doctors in a hospital. amazing series, amazing gangs, amazing humour... have a preview in Winamp5.
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 16:16
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Saturday, October 08, 2005
i'm back! last night it was okonomiyaki night. some of you might have seen this way of cooking before.
many vegetables and seafood or meat are being put together with one egg. you mix the ingredients (for quite some time...) and put everything on the heated plate. something like an omelette with not many eggs ;) i tried excellent octapus with this. it is amazing.
verdict: AMAZING (healthy?... hmmm maybe not...)
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 10:00
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 09:56
Friday, October 07, 2005
Saturday, October 01, 2005
japanese soba (here topped with seaweed) is the answer to italian spaghetti. made from buckwheat, it is black and can be eaten both cold and hot, even though cold is considered to be better by the soba experts. you eat the soba by putting it in the provided sauce which has a great salty taste. also, making a sound while eating soba is a sign of a person who knows a lot of things about soba (soba-chu).
in addition to soba, very taste shrimps fried in tempura style (very very tasty), tofu cheese and, ofcourse, rice.
at the end of the meal, in good soba shops, the residue water from the boiling of the soba is being brought to dilute the salty (but not that salty for greeks) soba sauce. the sauce is then drunk.
verdict: VERY TASTY AND HEALTHY MEAL
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 13:41
as in the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the most important thing in the universe is a towel. NEVER leave home without one. this is very true for Japan in the summer. have a look at this picture. (excellent towel, excellent moto: what a good towel this is!)
Blog vandalised by kzarog at 13:37