March 4, 2008

Reso Water Park, Random Ads, Translation, and Library Books

With the kids off from school Monday, Ilena got a great tip on a cool activity and they headed off to Reso Water Park, an indoor/outdoor water park in nearby Nishinomiya, complete with large pools, slides, water games, and even an outdoor hot springs with a view of Rokko Island.

Ilena met another ex-pat mom there with her kids. It is striking how easy it is to make friends. All of the gaijin really want to help each other out and are eager to meet other ex-pats with whom they share a common language and culture. It makes for a very interesting and neat social dynamic.

Nishinomiya is also home to the historic home of the Hanshin Tigers, Koshien Stadium. Ilena and the kids saw the stadium from the outside. Jacob was very excited. We will have to get there at some point for a game, as it is reputed to have real character, akin to Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. By the way, if you are interested in reading a great article on Japanese baseball, check this one out here. Spring training is in full swing here, and the season starts at the end of March. We're excited to see the Tigers play at Osaka Dome on March 31st and also excited to get to see the Orix Buffaloes with the LaRocca family.

Check out this life-size Colonel Sanders in the KFC near Kyobashi Station (close to Mike's office). He was tempted, but opted for Soba for lunch instead!

And here is a Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera ad that Mike sees plastered over all the trains. Panasonic is in the midst of an ad blitzkrieg, leading up to the Beijing Olympics, for which they are a huge sponsor.

One thing that we have been using (both at work and at home) are web translation services like Google Translate. If Mike gets an all Japanese e-mail at work, he can paste the text into Google Translate and get a translation. Usually, much is lost in translation and you can get some pretty weird stuff as output, but sometimes it can give you the gist of things. Its also handy that you can plug in Japanese websites and it will provide a translation of them. This is great for trying to find things (like, for example, Reso Water Park which, as you can see, has an all-Japanese website). You can take that all-Japanese website, and pop the URL into Google Translate, and it spits out a somewhat workable translation from which you can actually figure out what time and where the shuttle bus runs from the train station, hours of operation, and how much it costs! Of course the translation is often spotty and sometimes doesn't really work well at all. But it's a very neat resource for us to help us find our way around. Ah technology!

Finally, today Ilena hit the Rokko Island Library (one of two libraries here on the island, the other being at the kids school) and took out a bunch of books (yay, English books!). One that is sure to please is Dave Barry's Dave Barry Does Japan. Which looks absolutely hilarious (and is even funnier since we are currently living the humorous truths that he riffs on). We will definitely share some fun and topical Dave Barry quotes over the coming weeks.

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