chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47



Originally uploaded by buck82.
As I was coming home from Toyama City Sunday afternoon, I noticed that Tateyama, or Mt. Tate, was supremely visable from my house. So I had to get a shot of it. Most of the time, I forget that I live near the Japanese Alps, until it becomes rainy or stormy. For some reason, it is on those days that the mountains stand out.

Are You Kidding Me??

Check this out!

Oh man, like my razor needs any more blades! What happened to 4 blades? Gillette went from 3 to 6 blades in just two steps!

This is what happens with 3 blades:

Triple Razor, Triple Cut

What would 6 blades do? Cut of your arm?!

A Classic Convenience Moment

So I was walking down the street when I thought to myself, "Chris, you've got a stratchy throat. Perhaps a cold is coming. Let's stop at the next convenience store and buy something to solve this problem." So I did. I walked into my FamilyMart (it is mine, by the way) and decided to purchase some lemon vitamin water. "Pefect," I said to myself. "But you know what would be even more perfect? Hot lemon vitamin water. If only..." Just for fun, I glanced at the hot drink cabinet. Lo and behold, FamilyMart stocks hot lemon vitamin water!

That, ladies and gentleman, is the definition of convenience.

Actually, if they had brought it to me on the street... That would have been more convenient...

Other tales of convenience:
When Convenient Stores Are Too Convenient
Japanese Truth [第5]

I Discovered A New Smell This Morning

It's an intoxicating bouquet I like to call, "Eau de Melting Rice Paddy." The aromatic blend of pond sludge and moist rotten plants makes for an amazing pick-me-up on a sleepy morning walk. Where can you find such a rare and exotic scent? Why, right outside my door! Please come on over for a cup of tea and a whiff of something that'll make you pass out with joy!

Sprinklers From Hell


Sprinklers From Hell
Originally uploaded by buck82.
In Japan, the streets are kept clear of snow by a series of sprinklers lined along the center of the road. Generally, the streams of water are unnoticeable and amusing. The sprinklers shown above, however, were ridiculous. They shot at least 1 metre into the air!

★ Article: "Turn off the heat - how Japan made energy saving an art form"

I feel much better after reading this article. Read my previous rant.

What's My Personality?

I discovered this on a Toyama blog, and I'd like you to help (if you know me). It's a personality map (called a Johari Window) that describes what my personality is like according to myself and my friends.

To contribute, please follow this link: Contribute to Chris' Johari Window

To check out what my window looks like so far, go here: Chris' Johari Window


Lovely Dinner

In lieu of any romantic partners for the evening, Amanda and I decided to celebrate VD together. We classed it up and took the train to Fushiki to dine at DOCG. I almost completely forgot about this bastion of style and cuisine tucked away in a little fishing village. The fare is mainly Italian, with a few fondue dishes thrown in for fun. Amanda and I opted for the fondue set and some red wine. Twenty-five courses later... okay, seven... we rolled our filled bellies and emptied wallets home.

Thanks for a lovely dinner Amanda! I <3 you!

Here's an ode to love, as can only be sung by my ichi-nenseis:

It's A Secret!

Party in Uozu


Emily and I
Originally uploaded by buck82.
Jake turned one quarter of a century old (scary, eh?) last weekend. To celebrate, a bunch of us headed over to Uozu for TexMex and Nomihodais.

I'd like to give a shout out to Emily:

Emily (Emily Emily Emily...), I know your name is Emily. Laura is a horrible name and I have no idea how I could have mistaken it for yours. (Laura, sorry, it's not a horrible name. I love it.)

Also, I don't actually think our adventure on the gondola was a bad date (had it been one). In fact, it was the best non-date I have ever been on!

In conclusion, Emily, you rock. And stop bringing it up! :P

12 for ¥183


12 for ¥183
Originally uploaded by buck82.
How is this possible?? How can I buy a billion bananas for less than 2 bucks? And how is this even remotely possible in JAPAN? It's a mystery.

The Lines Have Been Drawn

A single drop in a still pond will cause a ripple to move across the surface, propagating ever outward until either the energy has dispersed or the wave hits something. At a greater perspective, the ripples highlight and expose any disturbances on the surface of the pond by reflecting and propagating new ripples.

The violent demonstrations springing up across the world in response to the cartoons in Denmark are clearly highlighting the lines that are being drawn for the new world war. (Article.) Will this ripple continue or die off?

A bit dramatic? Maybe. Unwarranted? Definitely not.

Do you remember what started WWI? The Archduke of Austria was assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo. A small (in perspective) act of violence sparked years of death and sorrow. Of course, there were many other complicated issues that laid the foundations for war.

An excerpt from the World War 1 article on Wikipedia,

The reasons for the outbreak of World War I are a complicated issue; there are many factors which intertwine. Some examples are:

* Fervent and uncompromising nationalism
* Unresolved previous disputes
* The intricate system of alliances
* Convoluted and fragmented governance
* Delays and misunderstandings in diplomatic communications
* The arms races of the previous decades
* Rigidity in military planning

Does any of that sound familiar? Ahem... Iran, Syria, Indonesia, Iraq, Palestine... Don't get me wrong -- I do not discriminate against religions. However, the political rhetoric and hatred coming from these places must be familiar to pre-war Europeans.

The last world war occurred only 60 years ago. It can certainly happen again.

Osaka Weekend

I think I have managed to spend every single one of my weekends this past couple of months outside of my house. Let's recap my weekends since December, shall we?

December 17-18 // Chicago, Illinois, USA
December 24-25 // Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
December 31-January 1 // Toronto, Ontario, Canada
January 7-8 // Oakville, Ontario, Canada
January 14-15 // Tokyo, Japan
January 21-22 // Home in Imizu, Toyama, Japan!
January 28-29 // Hakuba, Nagano, Japan
February 4-5 // Osaka, Japan

Notice the one time I was home. Wow. I think I need to cool my jets until I leave for Vietnam next month...

So, Osaka. I love the city. Tokyo and Osaka are very different, and I like both for different reasons. Tokyo is crazy and full of adventure; you're never without something to do. Osaka is more cosmopolitan than Tokyo. The streets are wide and green. The subway system is cleaner and less confusing. Everything feels closer to home (a.k.a. Western).

Jose and I took the train down to 'Saka on Saturday to check out a Royksopp concert. Man, those guys know how to make the crowd move! I've only been to a few concerts in Japan where every single Japanese person danced in the audience. (People here usually don't.) The event started early (18:00) and thus ended early (21:00), so we had plenty of time to meet up with Amanda and Tomoji at a fabulous Mexican restaurant. (Notice the lack of quotation marks or 'Tex-Mex' terminology in labeling the restaurant... Jose is vehemently opposed to calling "Mexican" restaurants in Japan as such, but he declared that El Charro in Osaka is a real Mexican place! Shock!) We spent the night in a capsule hotel and woke up to a day of sightseeing and shopping. Oh, and IMAX! I love IMAX. Here are some pics:

The Covered CrowdTomoji and AmandaJose and I
Glass CloudOminous
Bikuri Samurai!
Sunset Over Osaka BayReflections of the HarborAquarium WindowsInside the Curve

Coffee Tip

For those of you with access to a Japanese-style gas-powered wall-mounted hot water heater with hose, you can easily make oishii cappucino in mere seconds!

Step 1:
Take a mug and add some instant coffee with creamer.
Step 2: Turn the hot water dial to max.
Step 3: Switch the spray setting to stream.
Step 4: Let the water run until steam rises from the sink.
Step 5: Fill the mug with the water.
Step 6: Enjoy the frothy instant goodness!

What Just Happened?

Why is it that when you wake up late, it's always at the exact time you'd usually leave the house? Is it some cruel joke by the universe? Is there someone up there saying, "hey, let's f*ck with this guy today"? Seems like it.

After five minutes of scrambling around my house, I was on my way to work. Just a few seconds of walking later, I was picked up by a teacher. Six minutes later, I was sitting at my desk.

I had gone from laying in my bed unconscious to sitting at my desk pretending to be perky in less than 15 minutes!

Oi Oil!

Bush gave his big speech yesterday and remarked that the U.S. is addicted to oil. Well, if the U.S. is a self-confessed addict seeking rehabilitation, Japan is the twitchy junkie curled into a fetal position in the corner of the bathroom. This country uses oil like it's going out of style. (Which it is.)

Proof 1: Home insulation does not exist, so everyone is forced to buy litres and litres of heating fuel to keep their houses warm in the winter. I have personally used 80 litres of kerosene since November.

Proof 2: Everything is wrapped in plastic, including the individual cookies inside a bag of cookies. Apples are separately placed in styrofoam mesh and then wrapped in plastic wrap. I mean everything.

Proof 3: Many people in Japan have no qualms with leaving their cars idling as they shop in grocery stores, read comic books in convenience stores, or eat dinner in a restaurant. Just yesterday, as I walked past a gas station, I noticed a woman filling up her car while it was running! Needless to say, I started running. TURN OFF YOUR CARS JAPAN! IT'S NOT THAT COLD!!

Japan is going to be the first country to fail if it doesn't adopt new technologies in the next decade. Full-stop.

Original Intentions

I have been busy making preparations for the next stage in my life this past month. As I wrote resumes and researched universities, I was reminded of the arduous application process for the JET Programme. How quickly one forgets the pains! After nearly half a year of applications, reference letters, essays, and interviews, I am here in Japan having the time of my life.

Inspired by a recent blogger posting, I want to open up my dusty computer folders and share with you my essay from my JET application:

My reasons for wishing to join the JET Programme are threefold: I want to experience Japan, I love to learn, and I love to teach. First, I am fascinated by the cultural richness and beauty of Japan. Growing up in the isolated city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, I have come to delight in experiencing different customs and locations. I have traveled to Fiji, the Netherlands Antilles, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout Canada. Each new experience has broadened my view of our diverse world and the similarities that bind us together. Japan has always been a place of mystique and elegance in my mind, and I hope to immerse myself in its customs and language so as to gain a better understanding of it.

Secondly, I love to learn. My university experiences both in and out of the classroom have been profound. In the classroom, my studies have refined my ability to analyse and adapt to new concepts and methodologies. My education is scientific in focus; however, it is balanced by courses in Philosophy, English, and Literature. I have excelled academically and gained the skills necessary for effective oral and written communication.

Outside of the classroom, I have had many cherished experiences that have opened my eyes to the world around me. I spent my first and second years at the University of Guelph living in the International House on campus. This residence aims to facilitate cultural exchange by placing both international and domestic students as neighbours, so as to create discussion of each other’s backgrounds and experiences. The environment in International House heightened my sensitivities and awareness of cultural differences, and exposed me to global issues and debates. I served as President of the Hall Council for International House in my second year, forcing me to develop strong interpersonal skills in dealing with structured social situations and conflicts. These experiences, combined with my experience as President of my high school, guided me towards other leadership positions on campus, including Vice-President of the Future Vets Club. The leadership aptitude I gained with these roles will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I value the power of language, and hope to wholeheartedly devote myself to learning the Japanese language. So far, I have mastered the hiragana and katakana syllabaries, and plan to move onto developing basic conversational Japanese. Along with my extensive grasp of English, I have gained moderate experience in French through my secondary education. I look forward to the challenges posed by language barriers and the rewards of overcoming them.

Finally, I love to teach. The satisfaction of knowing that I have made a small difference in someone’s life is amazing. One of my most memorable experiences with teaching occurred in secondary school. I participated in a smoking cessation group, in which I travelled to several elementary schools teaching students the dangers of smoking. Interacting with those budding minds was enlightening and gratifying, and gave me a taste of what teachers must experience daily.

Recently, I have been mentoring an international graduate student in colloquial English. The idiosyncrasies of English (and languages in general) became apparent to me immediately as I explained to him common expressions and phrases used daily in Canadian life. I have an increased respect for individuals attempting to learn English, as it is not an easy task. As well as language mentoring, I have been assisting my friend in adapting to Canadian culture. In return, he has been able to teach me a great deal about his country and culture. The challenges I faced in mentoring have helped me develop the skills and confidence to continue teaching English to other students.

I believe the language and cultural skills developed with the JET Programme would assist me in my future career in science and research. My passion for learning and teaching, as well as my leadership and English language experience can be an asset to the JET Programme.


This is my favourite line:
I value the power of language, and hope to wholeheartedly devote myself to learning the Japanese language.

Wow. Sometimes the heart wants to do other things...

Thanks for not laughing too hard. (>_o)


This past weekend, I piled 24 of us Toyamians (?) into a bus for a weekend of skiing/snowboarding and drinking. I had my ass kicked by the mountain on Saturday, so Sunday was a true day of rest. I'll probably be back on the slopes in a few weeks. Here are some pics:

Good to GoTrees on the Slope
Windy PeaksGondola HopesFoot Onsen
Me On Top of the Mountain Again!

▲ List: I Have Visited The World's...

Longest Canopy Walkway
Tallest Twin Towers
Best Airport
Second Best Airport
Second Busiest Airport
Second Most Expensive City
Third Most Expensive City
Longest Outdoor Covered Escalator System
Largest Terminal Building
Oldest Rainforest
Second Most Densely Populated Country
Most Populated Country
Tallest Flagpole
Longest Building
Second Largest Country
Longest Bridge Over Waters That Freeze
Busiest Intersection
Second Largest Ferris Wheel