can you become...

a new version of you?...

i don't know, can you? i think i've watched too many episodes of felicity. i'm not taking into a tape recorder talking to sally or whatever, but i'm just trying to make sense of my little experience here in japan. has seeing all of these japanese arts and crafts made me a different person? have i been transformed by all of the temples and gardens that i've seen? i'm not sure, as of yet, but if anything, maybe i'm not really a different person, but i think my view of the world just got a little bit wider, my eyes have been opened, . it's kind of refreshing to live somewhere else and experience a different culture to get a better perspective of where you're at.

so where am i? not sure yet, but i'll let you know when i get there...


christmas bells are ringing...

so this past saturday i headed out early to downtown kyoto to run some errands. i got on my bike and headed to koksaikaikan station in the cold air. i was basically shopping for some souvenirs for people back home. little things like this that are so simple for other people somehow create so much stress for me. the stress i assume stems for the fact that i don't want to give something cheesy to someone that i care about. i'd really like the gift to represent a lot of thought and not just something that i got off an end cap at the local 100 yen store. but when does this need for good will really worth the insanity it causes? in some cases, it's well worth it. and today was one of those days. so i did that in the morning and then headed to japanese class. we learned how to ask for our "yellow beanie" (along with various things). so after a good day of shopping for others (and i didn't buy anthing for myself, but i think to reward myself i'm goign to by these shoes that i saw (dude, they're on sale for about 5000 yen which translates into about $41. SCORE!), and possibly another jacket!) i grab my bike from the station parking lot and head back to the dohokan. one of the interesting things here is the fact that in a mainly buddhist nation, they still celebrate christmas. apparently christmas in japan is for lovers, so it's not a religious thing. but the station, the arcades and everthing else is deck out for christmas. well as i was riding my bike i saw this house with blinking lights, santas and elves outside. it was just so funny. anyways so i was looking at this in amazment and all of a sudden i turn my head and this bike light is heading towards me...AHHHH!!!!!!! fortunately i swerved to the right and the girl swerved to the left. so after this whole 1 second ordeal i yell out "SUMIMASEN!" (excuse me in japanese) and proceed to head home with my heart beating 100 miles per minute. dude, i didn't even check if the girl fell. whoops! i felt really bad, but i was so in shock. but i guess if she fell i would have heard a thud and a cry right? i'm sure she's fine.



It's SNOWING!!! it's 1:30 am and everyone is out throwing snow balls and enjoying the first snow fall.
here are a few pics. man am i going to miss japan...

just outside the line of fire...

more pictures tomorrow!!


weird dreams in japan

so the past couple of days i've been having a lot of really weird dreams, well they're not weird they're just random. like i'll see people from back home in dreams and they don't really do anything except that i see them. like the other day (which is a while ago) i drempt that i saw my brother's girlfriend at venice and then i saw his old roommate. and then just this week i dreampt that i was hanging out with ja and bev. and then had another dream that... well don't really want to talk about that one....

anyways i think i'm missing home and kinda want to come back...
but really the other night i drempt that i had become the house that i'm designing. and it was stuck inbetween a rock and a hard place. the design wasn't going well, and i wasn't happy at all. i had these interlocking forms, and it was going really well with my idea, but something was off. so i went to bed that night and i drempt that i had become my house that i was buidling. like literaly my legs had become the walls, and i was trying to design myself and i couldn't. the walls were way too heavy and i couldn't move a thing. and i could totally feel myself struggling to move the walls, but they wouldn't budge. it really freaked me out.

i guess my subconcious was telling me about my design. too heavy aparrently.
or was the heaviness relating to something else? maybe i'm getting fat. so maybe the next time you see me you won't be able to put your arms around me.

(knock on wood) i hope not...


momiji madness!!!

November 25, 2005

so many gardens, so little time...
SAIHOJI (the Moss Garden)

i really went there, even though this picture looks like it's been 'shopped (photoshopped that is...)

Momijis everywhere!



Alex, Jessica, Terri, Greg and Korina posing by a random gate in Ryoanji.

Just to the right of the karesansui garden (dry landscape garden; gravel and stones are used to represent water. In its earliest manifestation karesansui simply referred to the placement of stones where there was neither pond nor nosuji.)

here is the most famous kareansui garden... it's awesome!

persimmon tree and another momiji (japanese maple tree). japanese persimmons are supposed to be the best, eaten when they're crunch, not when they're soft like in america, but i don't really know, i don't eat them. last time i ate one it made my tounge itch. not fun.

it was really amazing here...

"i'm tellin' you, they doin' it!"

just some more animial fun

besides all of the sexual innuendo going on at the doho, the animals are getting all frisky outside. earlier this week, i heard this cat meowing in this totally strange way and i was like "WTF?" and one of my friends goes "oh that's how cats have sex" and i'm like "WTF?" and she goes yeah, they go through this whole formality thing where (i guess) the male starts meowing before he pounces on the female. so the male cat woo's the female, interesting. so this whole week i've been kinda hearing cats making all of these noises and it's been the topic of some random converstions too.

so today while we were walking to another garden, we stop by the post office, which is basically a bank too. outside of the bank is a golden retriever that's tied to a post. being the animal lover that i am in japan i go up to him and start petting him. and i'm kinda being cautious b/c i don't want to smell like dog. he doesn't really stink so i'm like "alright let's see if he can do tricks." so the first think i do is see if he can give me his paw. at first he doesn't do it, but after a while he give me his paw and i'm like "good dog!" and pat him on the head. he does it again and i get a glimpse of his under carriage and at first i don't believe it, but i get up and look and this dog is totally showing his LIPSTICK!

Ikebana Show

november 13, 2005

mrs. wasa is one of the masters of the ikebana school of flower arranging. we had a short workshop with her where we created a floral arrangement (my thing was supposed to be like a night scene, but it didn't totally pan out that way). anyways she invited us to a festival where there was a ikebana show and our instructor yoshio asked that we say something about the show. so we sat down and started commenting on the flower arrangements. people started giving their analysis of the show saying how amazing the show was and how the abstraction of the arrangements brought about images of nature. a few comments also centered around the flowers and arrangements giving a sense of peace and serenity. during these comments she started tearing and it was really touching. she saw that we all understood that although the arrangements were beautiful on their own merit, they represented a higher form of beauty that wasn't seen.

so she invited us to this other show that was happening in downtown kyoto at ikenobo, the school of ikebana. there were so many great arrangements. ranging from "showka", simple arrangements comprising of three elements and arranged in a straight line, "rikka," arrangements that used flowers to represent landscapes and "freestyle" which is basically freestyle, do what you want.

happy thanksgiving!!

thanksgiving in japan is on the 23rd, but we all were set on celebrating it on the 24th. so before deciding on eating at the italian restaurant that we ate at, there was so much drama!

one of the guys wanted to set up a dinner at this bar that him and the other guys in the dohokan frequent. he was going to set up a deal with the owner, b/c they're friends, where for 4000 yen (about $40) there was going to be two hours of all of can eat food from the bar, which basically consisted of curry and nan and i think all you could drink. this gesture was very cool, but i was in agreeance with other people, who wants to eat dinner in a bar (which has rounded corners so it's so hard to sit down and i got a leg cramp just drinking there once) and just have curry and nan? not me, plus curry is the source of muddbutt. so i was like, do i really want to be uncomfortable, get a leg cramp and eat something that's going to give me "geri o shitemas"? NO FREAKIN WAY!!!!

so after a string of emails, some nasty, some saying that they wouldn't mind eating $40 curry, others saying that they wanted to eat other food, we all ate at this italian restaurant for thanksgiving. i didn't have turkey or chicken, which would be an obvious runner up to turkey, but BACON!!! well i had pasta carbonara which has bacon in it. mmmmm bacon...

but i kept on thinking about one of my favorite episodes of friends, "the one where ross got high." i just kept on replaying the part where ross and joey stop by monica's for dinner and they go:

ross: "wow, everything looks so nice!!"
joey: "and hey guys, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!"

and then the other part where everyones real feelings come out:

rachel: "i wasn't supposed to put meat in the triffle!"
joey: "i wannna goooo!!"
pheobe: "i love jacque cousteau!"

it's funnier when you watch it...

anyways happy thanksgiving

View from my studio window...

last year the view from studio was the school parking lot and the fenced off empty lot. now, it's this... i'm so freaking lucky...

this is me sticking my camera outside of the window. i usually wouldn't do this b/c there is a big big problem. not roaches, but these other thing.

Imperial Garden Visit: Shagakuin Imperial Villa and Katsura Imperial Villa

november 11, 2005

short story: this imperial villa was commissioned by retired emperor gomizuno-o. a palace was built for his eighth daughter on the grounds, but after the emperor died she became an nun and established her palace as a temple. to preserve it's scenic beauty approximately 19 acres of paddy fields and farmland surround the three main area comprising the villa.

the upper villa really impressed me. they played games with the landscape so that paths and certain features remain hidden until you cross them. for example, a lot of the paths are set into the ground or hidden behind berms so that they aren't seen. also, to create the pond, a mountain stream was dammed. the dam is cleverly concealed behind a huge berm of earth covered with trees and various other plants. so this seemingly natural landscape is actually very carefully calculated. pretty cool huh?

view of the pond, created by the dammed mountain stream

this bridge was a present to the emperor. the emperor thought this gift was to extravegant so he told the guy who make it to kill himself, the guy did, but he kept the bridge anyways.

it's also really peaceful, it kinda made me want to sit down and just kinda think about my project, but the guys running the show over here had a very strict timeline that we had to follow. our tour guide seemed like he didn't even want to conduct the tour. whatever, i took my time and tried to enjoy it. but it was kinda hard to enjoy it though.

i was the group leader for these tours so i had to coordinate getting there and all of that other crap. in my group was dave, korina and our instructor greg. well the day before we went to osaka and as i was leaving the subway train my instructor yells out something, "blah blah blah" i turn my head and all confused go "uhhh yeah!" so the next day we're outside of the villa waiting for out 10am appointment. 9:55 rolls around and our instructor isn't there. we go in and ask the guard to watch out for an older gentleman who might be coming late. after a 10 minute video, we start the tour and we stop by the entrance to look for him and he's not there. the guard in front crosses his arms and says that even if he does come, theyr'e not going to let him in. so the three of us go in and we're all worried that something happened to him. anyways so we finish the tour and head to the next place, only after eating at this delicious bakery where i had this bacon wrapped tomato topped with melted parmesean and mozerella cheese. it was SOOO GOOD!!!

view of nishihama, the west seashore.

katsura imperial villa

so we get to the next garden (katsura) after getting lost and me losing my patience (but that's another story in itself...) and we see our instructor. apparently what he had said to me was that he wanted to confirm that katsura garden was first and not shigakuin. and i yell "uhh yeah" so he assumed that we were meeting there first. WHOOPS! my bad... but it was cool b/c he had seen the garden before and he went off to go practice his japanese while he waited for us to show up.

don't have too many pics for this place b/c i ran out of batteries.

Osaka: Trip 2

november 10, 2005

my second trip to osaka (pronounced "OH-saka") consisted of seeing the church of light by tadao ando. apparently he's a national hero over here and has done A LOT of buildings. some of them cool, some of them, well, just alright. after seeing the "alright" buildings i start to wonder, how and why did he build this? but then it hits me, you don't produce great works out of thin air, they are the result of going through a process, producing iteration after iteration and learning different things from each one. i guess that's what architecture school is all about....

anyways the church of light is really a spectacular place. you look at books and see pictures, but i guess you aren't really prepared for actually seeing the real thing. i walked into the church and my breath was taken away. i don't think my heart dropped, but it was just so cool. we also saw this pencil building, just a tall and skinny building by waro kishi. i'm still amazed how the japanese just build...

view of the alter

loafing around in osaka across from the waro kishi buidling

after wards, we walked around and saw the sites of osaka. one of the things that we saw were "love hotels." these are basically spaces were people go and "make love" or do whatever, probably b/c doing stuff like that at home would be kinda weird especially if your rooms are just separated by shoji screens and are made of thin sheets of rice. at these places you can rent rooms for the night or by the hour! the only way that you usually can tell that it's a love hotel by it's neoclassical columns in the front, (which are pretty ugly, this building looks pretty cool if they didn't add those classical columns in). so basically you enter, pay, go to one of the themed rooms, do your business and then exit through a private exit, so nobody sees you. i was actually looking to see if anybody walked out of it, but i wasn't so lucky.
anyways, we were walking by the river and i think i saw a dead fish. kinda gross, and kinda random...

the arched doorway, and tiling at the top messed up this buidling (all of this stuff was added after the building was finished and the owner changed...)

the love hotel

having more fun with minami

Imperial Garden Visit: Sento Gosho

sento gosho: november 8, 2005

this is one out of the three imperial garden visits that we did. here's a little history from:

"the sento imperial palace served as a residence for the retired emperors. it was built in 1630 as a palace for the retired emperor gomizuno-o. at the same time, the nyoin palace was built for tofukumon-in. the consort of retired emperor gomizuno-o, daughter of the second shogun tokugawa hidetada, to the north of the sento imperial palace. until then, there was not predetermined palace for a retired emperor, but after its construction, the sento imperial palace became the residence for retired emperors thereafter. the palace burned down three times during the lifetime of emperor gomizuno-o and it was rebuilt everytime."

it's basically just south of the imperial palace and one the same grounds. and it's nice.

there are 111,000 rather flat and oval stone that are laid out from the shorline into the pond. it is said that each stone was transported for one sho (about .5 us.s gallons) of rice. to the west of the shore line is a small shrine dedicated to poet kakinomotono hitomaro, many of whose works can be found in the famous poetry anthology the manyoshu (ten thousand leaves), compiled in the 8th century.

me looking healthy...

so why do i look so sick in this one?


trying to stay awake...

so for the past couple of days i've been slaving away in CAD trying to bet some floor plans done for my project. in a nutshell i'm doing a live work residence for an art therapist based in a kyoto neighborhood. and i have some stuff done, but now i need to work in 3d so i can really understand what i've made. i also need to work out the facade and all of that other fun stuff.

anyways, right now i'm actually waiting for my laundry... it's like 3am and i'm up doing laundry. WTF?!! apparently i've become notorious for hogging the wash here, which is somewhat true, but in my defense i haven't done laundry in like a week and a half, which is really good b/c i packed enough clothes to last me at least two weeks without having to wash clothes. i also promised myself that i would wear all the clothes that i brought here atleast once so that my packing wouldn't be in vain. but besides waiting i also was brushing up on the 3d program that i've been trying to learn for the past couple of years. it's hard for some people!

anyways so here are some pics from a recent trip to osaka. i'll just put these random ones up b/c i'm getting really tired and i need something to kind keep me entertained... enjoy!

"anybody home upstairs?" this was at some ridiculous hotel in osaka. the front columns here these huge heads with legs attached to them. above left is minami, she's the mascot for this art festival that happens in osaka.

this is a "conversation hotel"... and when i say conversation i mean "sex." that's a guy. and no i didn't go in.

time to check laundry... just some advice, if you guys ever come to japan and are here for an extended period of time and need to do laundry, don't forget to bring dryer sheets, there is static like crazy over here...



i guess i kinda have a routine over here in japan. nothing out of the ordinary than i would in la. i get up, take a shower and have breakfast and then head to class. but this past tuesday was different.

i'm down stairs in the kitchen having my cereal enjoying the silence of the morning with another dormmate. all of a sudden she says, "holy shit, the toaster oven is on fire." i'm not really awake yet so i'm calm and say "where?" i look over to the top of the microwave and sure enough, the toaster is on fire. it's a gentle flame coming from the inside, but it's still pretty dangerous.

so the smell of smoke doesn't get everywhere i calmly open the door to the outside, turn on the fan and close the door that connects the kitchen to the other other rooms. then i start to think about how we're going to extinguish this thing. we can't use water b/c it's most likely a grease fire so it'll spread, so i see the fire extinguisher, pull out the pin and get ready to fire it. at this point one of our other dormmates comes out of his room and goes, "have you ever used that? that shit gets everywhere." so the next thing we do is get a sheet that's on the floor being used as a floor mat and smother the toaster oven.

it eventually goes out, but what about the toaster oven? it's definately more versitile than a regular toaster. so the solution to this dilemma is to replace it with the one that is pictured above. that one looks like it's been in a fire or two...

as for the one that caught fire... this is where he ended up...


it's me, but my shoes are just alittle bit worn...

TRAVELweek: Day 5-7::Tokyo

Tuesday November 3, 2005

so after a night of drinking, i still managed to get up at about 7am, get ready and get on my 9:30 train to tokyo. it was going to take about two hours to get there so i figured i could rest on the way. but i'm glad i didn't b/c i got to see this... MT. FUJI!!!

alright so it's not very clear, i outlined it in illustrator and it's through the window of the shinkansen, but dude, it's still Mt. Fuji. it was pretty amazing to see.

i did a lot of architectural touring so the rest of the pictures might not be fitting to the tastes of everybody, but it was probably one of the most enjoyable times that i've ever had...

look! it's team rocket! i was trying to be sneaky taking this picture while i was eating lunch on a bench by rafael vinoly's tokyo international forum. these kids were everywhere. i sometimes wonder what these kids are doing out in the afternoon on a school day...

the Ginza shopping district.

what i think is a pomeranian

shizuoka press building

tange's yoyogi gymnasium

capsule hotel

louis vuitton in roppongi hills by jun aoki

Le Corbusier's museum of western art. building was alright and so was the art work, but it was my first Le Corbusier building which made it exciting.

frank lloyd wright building

well that's just a sampling of what i saw in tokyo...