Friday, April 24, 2015


A little while ago, I was talking to some Japanese about an aged beef restaurant they'd gone to. Apparently this is something of a rarity here, and we got into a discussion of the various cuts of meat. This isn't something I'm really all that familiar with, so I couldn't say much about it. A few days later, I was walking past a butcher shop in Tenmonkan and I saw this display in the window, so I decided to take a picture and run it here. When you have the time, check out the wiki entry. Compared to America (12 cuts) and Japan (10 cuts according to the picture), Korea is supposed to have 120 different cuts.

肩ロースの塊肉 - Chuck
肩の塊肉 - Brisket
骨付きリブロース - Rib
骨付きカルビ - Plate
サーロイン - Short Loin
ヒレ - Tenderloin
イチボラム - Sirloin / Top Sirloin / Bottom Sirloin
カイノミ - Flank
ササミ - Flank
ウチモモ - Round
外モモ - Round
トモ三角 - Shank
シンシン - Shank

Thursday, April 23, 2015


New Dragon Ball Z movie coming out. Looks to be a remake of the original Freeza story. Tickets available at Lawson.

Spend lots of money at Lawson and enter a contest to possibly win a 3DS game or a Gokuu figurine.

At the cineplex in Amupla, an advertising board for the new movie, supported by Royal Home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Uranai Fair

Last Saturday, Tenmonkan hosted a "Fortune Reading Street". There were about 6-8 booths with a variety of different kinds of fortune readers, including the traditional palm readers and tarot cards.

Here we have a "color reader". The color sheets you pick will reveal all. (I did find it amusing that the sign in English on the back of the booth said "color leading".

And there was a small play space for the kiddies while the adults threw their money away. The palm readers that normally set their little tables up along the walkway were not happy at having this new competition. It's not something they foresaw coming.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Luann Tracker

I've mentioned before that I like a lot of different comics. The ones I read on GoComics include Hubris, Endtown, Lay Lines, Non Sequitur and Wide Open. I'd been reading Luann off and on over the years, and started following it more actively about 6 months ago. Back in March, GoComics interviewed the artist, Greg Evans, as part of the events marking Luann's 30th anniversary. In the interview, Greg mentioned checking the comments each day in order to gauge reader responses on the strips (he only glances at the first few comments because he finds some of them "disturbing").

Anyway, one of the things I've done in the past is write short programming scripts (using Visual Basic Scripting) for obtaining the HTML source code for a given GoComics page, then parsing it to either get the URL for that day's comic, or saving the comments on the strip to a searchable text file. (I've used most of this code for helping out Aaron Neathery and his Endtown webcomic). And, as part of my "science"-related blog on Wordpress, I've written scripts that interact with Excel for creating and saving charts to a file. So, it was a simple matter of taking my existing code and massaging it to automate the process of collecting the number of comments and unique commenters for the last 30 years' worth of strips, and picking the top 3 most (and least) popular strips for each year, and for the last 4 months.

(April tracking.)

The most time-consuming part was creating the new blog site on Wordpress to host the graphs, and deciding how to format the statistics to make them readable. I then posted a test comment on GoComics for the Monday strip. Within 24 hours, I got 70 visitors to the blog (most from the U.S., but one or two from Germany, Canada, Ireland and Singapore) PLUS, I got mentioned on the GoComics Facebook page. That part kind of surprised me, because I wasn't sure how they'd react to my cross-posting the top Luann strips on my blog. No reaction from Greg yet, but that's ok. I'm doing this just because I can, and it amuses me. The entire tracking process is almost 100% automatic - I just have to run one batch file, and a few seconds later upload the generated graph and blog text to Wordpress. So, running the tracker weekly, or even daily, is pretty painless. And it is interesting to see what the top Luann strips are for a given time period.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Learning Japanese from the signs

It's been a long time since I've done this. If you want to learn real Japanese and you're just starting out, one good resource is to practice reading signs. I found this one in the Kenmin Volunteer Center across the street from the Reimeikan History Museum.


honjitsu wa, daiho-ru, chuuhou ho-ru no benyou ga nai tame esukare-ta wo teishi shiteimase. keibi

honjitsu = today.
wa = topic marker
dai ho-ru = the big hall
chuu ho-ru = medium-sized hall
no = possessive
benyou = service + use
ga = subject marker
nai = no/none/not
tame = for this reason
esukare-ta = escalator
wo = direct object marker
teishi = suspend
shite imasu = is in the state of being
keibi = security

today . topic . big hall, middle hall . of . in use . subject . not . because . escalator . direct object . suspend . is being . security

Native English translation: Because the Main and Auxiliary Halls are not in use today, the escalators have been turned off.
- Signed, the Security Office.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

School Mural

The elementary school near Tenmonkan was in the process of repainting another section of their wall.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Contact review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Contact was written for the Gameboy DS by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Marvelous Entertainment in Japan, and Altus in the U.S., in 2006. According to the wiki entry, the game was intended to be a non-fantasy RPG that would use the touch screen in non-obvious ways, take advantage of the sound design offered only by video games, and make the Gameboy's features work specifically to advance the story. The fonts were inspired by the Apple IIe, and the two screens had contrasting graphics, with the upper screen looking 8-bit, and the lower screen being pre-rendered.

(The Professor in his lab, along with his cat.)

The basic story is that the Professor has been flying around in his saucer, and he gets into an accident that causes him to lose a bunch of energy crystals. You act as an operator controlling Terry, an Earthling that is tasked with recovering the crystals. Terry then shuttles back and forth between the ship (designed to look like an old sailing ship) and various locations identified as having one or more crystals. He finds weapons along the way, fights various animals, creatures and other enemies, picks up objects used for solving later tasks, finds recipes for cooking up other healing items, gets extra changes of clothes, and takes occasional breaks to play with the cat on the ship. At the beginning, it is easy to be defeated in battle, but if this happens the Professor just messes with his computer and causes Terry to wake up fully recovered back on the ship. I think there's a fair amount of similarity with the old King's Quest game that came out for the PC in 1998 from Sierra.

(Terry battling an octopus. First one to go to 0 HP loses.)

Also according to the wiki entry, Contact had abysmal sales, with only 8,000 copies sold in the first week in Japan and 26,000 for the year in 2006. Altus, the company that carried it in the U.S., speculated that part of the problem was that customers were more interested in the release of Mother 3, which came out at about the same time. I'm not sure that that's all that relevant. In my opinion, Contact was an attempt to be "retro 80's" at a time when the market was looking at "bigger, better, faster" games with the impending release of the Playstation 3 console in Nov., 2006. Just about everything in Contact screams "primitive", from the limited sprite animation and fonts, to the game play itself. Battles are automated; all the player does is move Terry close to the enemy, press the "A" button, and wait a minute or two for the swinging to stop. Terry and the enemy trade blows until one or the other dies. Most of the game just consists of running around the field looking for things to attack or pick up, although I admit that I've only bothered trying to get the first crystal. My biggest complaint so far is that when you enter the ship to save the game, you have to crawl into the bed to sleep, and it takes at least a full minute for Terry to wake back up so you can keep playing. The game is already slow and dragged out enough, making me sit and watch someone sleeping every time I save doesn't help matters.

(Terry in his room on the ship. Climbing into the bathtub causes him to heal back to full HP. The closet lets him change uniforms. The bed is the save point, and the blue globe at the far right is how you set coordinates for the ship to visit new locations.)

I bought Contact as one of the batch of 6 games because it was cheap and I just wanted to see what it was like. At 250 yen ($2.20 USD), it's not a complete waste of money, but it's not something I want to play that much. I never did care for King's Quest, and there are other things I want to do with my time. Still, Contact is not an absolutely horrid game. I may go back to it at some point to play with the cat some more. I can understand, though, why it didn't sell well in the first year of its release in Japan. It's just "too 80's".