5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 20

It’s been quite a long time since I last talked about running. And yesterday was such a big shock for me about my running ability:)

Guess what? I finished a 10-kilometer marathon yesterday morning with my hosts, Yoshida-san, Rie-san and other two GRIT members, Ishikawa-san and Nakamura-san. Frankly, never in my life before had I thought that I could ever run that far or spend time for running in general:) And that’s why I was surprised at myself for being able to complete the marathon.

Actually, it has many things in common with overcoming a general challenge or finishing a difficult task that we think we would not be able to do. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am not into running and one of the reasons is that because I am not a good runner. Seriously I prefer going for a walk or wandering around slowly to running as walking gives me more time to enjoy the scenery and think about something I want. But with running? No. I am too tired to care about anything other than hoping the run to end as soon as possible:)

When Yoshida-san registered the 10-kilometer marathon for me, I was thinking :”Ok I will try but maybe 5 or 6 kilometers is my maximum. 10? No way!” Although sometimes I ran with Yoshida-san and one time could reach 5 kilometers but my running has been delayed for about 1 months recently due to various reasons (or simply I was too lazy) so everything just came back to the start. I felt my body heavy and tired to death again whenever I had to run even just for 20 meters (^.^) And I also walked a lot during my 2-day trip to Osaka right before the marathon day with a very tight schedule so yes, no more energy left for running:) I kept asking myself on the train back to Nagoya: “Oh my god tomorrow morning is the marathon. I want to finish it because it’s my last marathon in Japan but HOW???? My legs are so tired now. Can I do it or not??? I really really don’t know.”

And before I had the answer for my questions, the morning came and we had to go. It was a cold and windy morning. I liked it. But sunny. Not so good. I have headache everytime I am under the sun for a while, and this time it’s nearly 2 hours. I still thought I couldn’t finish the marathon and maybe all people who know me would have the same thought:) The whole marathon was divided into 7 rounds (1.5 kilometer each) and every runner was given 6 rubber bands to drop off one by one after each round (once they finished the 7th round they just needed to run towards the goal).

We started at 10a.m. Not long after the starting moment I realized that I was at the end of the group but ok, just kept my own pace and remained it as long as I could. Actually I didn’t pace up during the whole marathon as I knew if I pushed myself too hard I would be exhausted very soon and couldn’t continue. As I ran slowly, I could enjoy the beautiful scenery of that area and it was such an motivation to keep my body moving ahead. Of course it was very tiring but after I finished one round and stopped for a few moments to drink water and tight my hair again, I felt like my energy coming back and I could run more. And just like that I started a new round. Sometimes when I felt too tired I walked about 3 meters and ran again, but only once or twice during each round. When I noticed that there were only 1 rubber band left on my wrist, I thought: “OMG Lien I think you can do it. Let’s just try to finish what you begin.” Then I started the 6th round and after finishing  it I felt like my legs could not move any more meter. But only 1 round left. I was so close and I didn’t want to regret. At that time Yoshida-san, Rie-san and Ishikawa-san had already finished. When I met them Ishikawa-san said she would run my last round with me. It should have been the most tiring one but as I kept thinking “This is the last one. Just finish it and you don’t have to run anymore.”, I felt stronger and finally could reach the goal (^o^).

How did I feel after that? Strange. “Really Lien? You’ve just finished a 10-kilometer marathon?” Just couldn’t believe it! But will I continue running by myself? Let me think about it!:)

                               My result!^^

In short, I think life is always full of unbelievable things so when we’re afraid that we are not able to do something because it seems too hard for us, let’s simply follow Nike’s famous slogan: “Just do it!” (^.^) Whether we are successful or not, at least we have tried!

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 19

Trying new concept photos is always an interesting experience for me. 

About 2 weeks ago I got an idea of taking photos of water drops. It was known as a quite difficult technique in photography and I did not have experience in taking that kind of photos before so I had to search on the Internet in advance about what to prepare and how to do it. Luckily it was not so complicated!^^

As water has no color, it is necessary to prepare some colored paper for the background. However, I also tried taking photos with white background and the effect after editing was also impressive. Other things we needed to prepare were a tripod, a camera with marco lense, a wireless flashgun, a glass bowl to hold the water, a big tray to hold the glass bowl, any tools that can be used to make water drops and last but not least, some tissue or a towel to clean up water.

The most important thing for taking this kind of photo is to learn how to use the wireless flashgun to help “freeze” the water drops. I’m going to tell you the detailed settings necessary for this. I used the sync shutter speed at 1/200 of a second at 1/128 power. You can try other numbers if you want but it should not be lower than that otherwise you can’t have enough light for your photos.

The wireless flashgun I used at       that time

I had about 30 minutes struggling with this flashgun as it had not worked out the way I wanted. Things would have been more difficult if I hadn’t had a great supporter by my side, Haruka-chan, another intern in Grit. She helped me adjust the flashgun and other things as well. One time while it wasn’t working, she accidentally pressed somewhere and it started to work so we decided immediately to just leave it like that and not to touch it any more (^.^).

Camera settings are also important. With the help of flashgun, I only set the camera shutter speed at 1/125s, ISO 100 and DOF (depth of field) from f10 to f14.

                     My favorite camera, still:)

An ideal lens for this kind of photos

What’s next? Fill the glass bowl with water and put it inside a big tray to avoid making the area around get wet. Now you need something to make the water drops. If you only carry out the photoshoot yourself, it’s better to create a simple system to hold a water bottle, make a tiny hole with a needle and let the water drop slowly. However, I found a medical needle at home so I decided to use it instead of water bottles and Haruka-chan helped me pull the needle. It depends on your own purpose and ideas that you may want to adjust the speed of the waterdrops.

A very important thing is that we must use the Manual mode of the lens because we can adjust the focus to the position where we want the the water to drop down. And also remember not to put your camera too high or too low, I think just a little higher than the surface of the water is ok. Sounds enough, right? Let’s shoot! (^o^)

Drop the water. Shoot. Drop it again. Shoot again. Again and again and again.

It is normal that you may take about 200 – 300 photos and only 10 of them are usable. After shooting comes the editing part. Usually we have to crop the photos to select the best parts and then add some effects if possible. The results may truly surprise you!

Below are some of my photos after editing. This was my first experience in this kind of photos so I will try it again with some changes.

I also try filling a glass with water and dropped fruits inside and it turned out to be my favorite photo^^

Good luck with your experience if you have!^^

 

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 18

Last Monday was a great day.

I spent nearly the whole day with Shiho-san, one of my close friends in GRIT!, and her 13-year-old daughter, Yuna-chan. In the morning, we went to the Tokugawa garden which took about 30 minutes from Nagoya station. I have been always fascinated by traditional Japanese gardens because of their tranquil beauty and luckily, Tokugawa garden did not disappoint me at all.

Actually, the garden was bigger than I thought. We planned to spend only about 1 hour in there but in fact it took us more than 2 hours to enjoy the beauty of every corners and to take a lot of photos as well:) Almost all the trees are still green, some of them have already started to change colours. Just imagine how wonderful it would be when Autumn really comes to Nagoya and paint the city red and yellow and only thinking about that makes me definitely want to come to this place again with my friend for a photo shoot (^o^).

                          Such a poetic scenery!

This green will soon turn into red and yellow

The garden impressed me with its bridges. There are about 5 or 6 ones in total and views from each are really good. The reason why I liked bridges is that they are a symbol of connection and my name, Lien, also has the same meaning (^^).

A kind lady offered to take photos for 3 of us^.^

           Walking on this bridge is really cool

Visitor wandered slowly to enjoy the beauty of nature

                         Good view to the bridge

Tokugawa garden has a quite big lake and the other impressive thing for me is that the carps in a lake are sooo big. When I sat close to the water to watch the fish catching foods from visitors, I was shocked at how large their mouths were. A little bit scary:))

Feeding and watching the fish is a favorite activity of visitors

They look smaller in the photo but trust me they are sooo big!

We walked slowly to enjoy the cool air and beautiful scenery of the garden. Everyone was really in the mood for taking photos in such an ideal place like that.

               Do you want to live near here?^^

The only thing I have to warn you before coming here is the mosquitoes. Remember to prepare anti-mosquitoes spray if you don’t want to get a lot of red spots on your skin:)

After that, we went to an “ankake spaghetti” restaurant for lunch. Well, “ankake spaghetti” is a special food that ony Nagoya has and it’s pretty good to me so I’m always willing to eat it again!^^

                   Looks good, tastes good!^.^

Here we met Shiho-san’s husband and his American friend. They’re poke-tomo (which means they knew each other by playing Pokemon go) and we seperated into 2 groups again after eating:)

Well, I have to say that I was really satisfied with that day and the main reason is that because I could eat many delicious things (^o^). I’m a little pig you know:)

Although we were full after eating a big ankake spaghetti plate, we still headed to Osu street for more. Thanks to Shiho san, now I know the best milk tea shop I could find in Nagoya. The shop’s name is “Quickly” and it totally changed my opinion about Japanese milk tea:)) Besides, I also took Shiho-san and Yuna-chan to my favorite donuts and icecream shop and they also agreed it was a really good one.

                          Best milk tea in town!!!

Must-try donuts and ice-cream in Osu

Before going home, we went to “Alice on Wednesday”, a special accessories shop. If you are a girl, you will love it. For me, everything there was so cute that you can not leave the shop without buying at least one for yourself.

Small wooden door leading to the magical world^^

Well, seems like too many good things happening in one day, right?^.^

See you next time!

 

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 17

Challenges make us grow up. And one thing I like about this internship is that challenges came continuously and I believe they have greatly helped me become a better person.

Last Thursday, I had a task to go to Fukui prefecture to take photos of the staff in two gasoline stations. It took about one hour and a half by shinkansen from Nagoya station and I had to start from home quite early at about 6:30a.m. However, this time there was only me. I had to do the things that Yoshida-san usually did before when we went to somewhere together, from getting the train tickets, finding the correct train platform, going to the place and taking photos. Was it more difficult and tiring? Of course. But everything happens for a reason. And I think it was a really good experience for me.

The first lesson, which is repeated many times, is about preparation. Before that day, Yoshida told me to find examples for each kind of photos we wanted to have such as seriously working poses, friendly and kind poses or team spirit poses, etc. It was very important because it saved me and the staff time to think about different poses and even if I have an idea of a specific pose in my mind, sometimes it is hard to explain it to other people so having a similar photo will help them “act” better.

Other preparations included choosing the camera and lenses to bring along. I picked the Canon 6D, my favorite camera, as usual and three lenses for different purposes. It was also necessary to bring spare batteries and made sure they are full (^.^) as well as a spare memory card.

In addition, I also wrote some notes about what I should do during the shooting time such as “Remember to change lens”, “Observe to choose backgrounds before asking staff to pose”, or even “Remember to smile” (^o^).

However, although I had quite thorough preparation of the equipment and documents needed, I still forgot one thing. A coat. It sounds not really important but in fact, it was very necessary if I want to be able to focus on shooting and not being distracted by the cold weather. I blamed myself right after getting off the train because it was sooo cold and even rain slightly. “This is not good”, I thought. And I was worried about the photo shooting. Therefore, it’s always better to check the weather forecast before going to somewhere and bring along with us a light coat just in case.

The second lesson is about communication. In spite of my limited Japanese, I still tried to talk to the staff at first to be more familiar with them. Luckily, they are all friendly and humorous people so I felt very comfortable among them and even sometimes forgot the cold (^.^). As I have also translated into Japanese what I wanted to talk to them before (most of all were orders for poses), it was much easier for my shooting and the staff didn’t look at me like an alien when I tried to express my thought in Japanese.

Smiling is also another form of communication. I know my face is kind of serious (which my friend’s always call “supervisor’s face”:)) so I have to remind myself all the time to smile when meeting new people, especially during the first few moments so they will not misunderstand my attitude. Actually we had lots of laughs that day. I got the feeling that they truly enjoy their jobs and working together, or in other words, they are happy workers (^.^).

I spent nearly 9 hours taking about 2.000 photos in both gasoline stations and of course was really tired but when looking back, it was a good day for me because thanks to the preparation in advance, the photo shooting ran quite smoothly and I could feel relieved.

About Fukui, I think I like it because I saw many beautiful traditional old houses and was greatly impressed by the paintings and models of dinosaurs in Fukui station. Moreover, the miso ramen I ate for lunch was delicious and it reminded me of Yamagata ramen, which in my opinion is the best ramen I have ever tried in Japan so far.

You can see dinosaurs everywhere in Fukui station

I went back to Nagoya quite late that night and you can guess how deeply I slept then (^.^).

Anyway, mission completed!

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 16

Hisashiburiii!

To be honest, didn’t even know why my blog writing was delayed in the last 2 weeks. But no problem, I promise to come back from now on.

One evening 2 days ago, I had a really stunning experience with some GRIT! members in a prison-style restaurant near Nagoya station. I read about that restaurant on the Internet before and was aware that it would be very strange but in fact, it was much stranger than I expected. When we arrived at the door, we had to press a butten under a skull and then a staff would come and open the chain for us to get inside. It was a little bit scary already but what happened afterwards was even more interesting.

Felt relieved because it didn’t bite me^^

When the staff came, she asked us to select one member to be hand-cuffed like a prisoner. That person would be led to the room by the staff and the rest of us just followed them. And the room? I like it:)

We looked like monkeys in a cage:)

When we started to order, it was really difficult to choose from so many creative and unusual foods there. Of course they still have some normal foods and drinks but as we had come already so why not trying out the new style, right?(^.^) Fortunately, although they looked toxic and strange, everything was really really tasty and didn’t upset our stomach:)

Do you wanna try this medicine drinks?^^

                             It’s my drink

                             A jelly eye^^

                      Ninja-style salad

          They looked so cute and complete@@

Felt a bit guity to cut them apart but had to:))

      Will you eat these cute octopuses?

Okonomiyaki with lots of garlic to chase the dracula away

The restaurant special dish

At about 9p.m, there was an alarm that everybody should be prepare themselves as the zombies and devils would come in the next 10 minutes. I didn’t think that they could frighten me but in reality, I was scared to death T.T When the time came, all the light were turned off and it was all black in about 30 seconds. After that, gloomy music was played and the room was covered in the colorful flash lights, everyone paid attention to the room door and waited for the devils. My arms started to have goose-bumps but I was still thinking: “Frankly they are just fake devils so maybe they can only frighten some children. Not me:))” Then the horror movie began.

There were 3 zombies and devils coming to our room in total and each time they came, I screamed and hold Ogura-san, the GRIT! member who went with me that night, very tightly to hide my face behind her back. I wanted to see the devils’ face but couldn’t because I was too scared to lift up my head:)) Even one time when I was trying to look at another direction, one zombie kept hitting my head slightly and I really nearly cried 7.7 (or yes, I did cry:))

When the show time was over, the staff began to call out names of the customers who have birthdays in October and congratulated them, including me. I was surprised because I didn’t know that would happen, maybe one member, Shiho-san told them when she reserved the table for us. After that, one special birthday cake was brought to our room. Well yeah, everything in this restaurant is strange so of course the birthday cake could not be normal as well (^.^) But no matter how abnormal it looked, the cake was delicous and I appreciated it very much.

We truly had a wonderful time together with lots of laughs and scary moments. If I have a chance to come to this restaurant again, I will definitely still go.

Happy birthday to me!

 

 

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 15

Being a soldier is never easy. There are many indispensable factors that create a great soldier and one of them must be bravery.

I have been watching a lot of war movies and am also aware that fighting in a battle is very dangerous because you can die anytime if you’re not careful. Therefore, we always have to show our gratitude and respect for the ones who have died to protect our country or the world’s peace. However, everything was still just theory. Until a few days ago when I and two other GRIT interns, Haruka and Naomi, decided to try the survival game.

Yes, it was harder than I thought. Much harder.

When we came to the studio, there were all boys. Yes. ALL boys. They looked at us as if they were wondering: “Why are you girls here?”:)) To be honest, I got shocked too just by  watching some boys practicing shooting with their guns very professionally. “They’re gonna laugh at us.”, I thought. Then the studio staff gave us the necessary clothes, masks, hats, gloves and the most important thing: guns. No soldier can go to battle and forgets his gun at home, right?

                 This is us with the new look:)

                      Ready to shoot our enemy!

All the 24 players were divided into 2 teams equally. As we had a plan to have dinner after that, we only joined 4 rounds, 5 minutes each. Well, I didn’t want to admit it but…yep, we weren’t the winners:) Although our team had some good shooters (of course not us), the other team was too strong and they attacked us really fiercely T.T However, I enjoyed the game very much and was happy because I could survive most rounds until the last moment (^.^). The feeling when you had to hide yourself from the enemy but also wanted to get out of the shelter to shoot them was really thrilling that it made me feel like I was in a real battle. If you also like this kind of activity, ask some friends to join with you and let’s try your best! Be a real soldier.

                             I want to do it again!

All of us were hungry after we left the game studio but this time, we decided to go to a special place to have dinner: a maid coffee shop. Wow:))) All the maids are very cute but you can not touch them or take photos of them. When we wanted to order something, we had to do some special actions such as saying altogether: “One, two… Meow meow!” and they would come:)))) Besides, the maids also gave us some magic words before we ate the foods because they said those words could make the foods become much much more delicious (^.^) That was absolutely not my style but in order to make the maid happy I tried to follow every instructions from them very enthusiastically. And I myself felt happy, too!^^

Changing from soldiers to cute bunnies so quickly:)

I didn’t expect that much but the foods there tasted really good and extremely kawaiiiiiiiiii>.<

                                  Bear hamburg:)

                 Cheese cake with another bear^.^

             A maid drew my face on the pancakes

The maid started to dance on a small stage from 10p.m and we left after the dance. I truly had a memorable evening and couldn’t wait to share it with my friends!^.^

I also want to send special thanks to Haruka and Naomi for their kindness to join and create those cheerful moments with me!

Arigatou!

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 14

I used to think I would never have a chance to ride motorbikes in Japan. But luckily it was not true!^.^

Yesterday I went to a motocross court in Seto city with two GRIT members, Takeuchi-san and his daughters and Shiho-san. Actually we planned to do it last month but it had rained heavily the day before our scheduled date so the plan had to be cancelled. A muddy court is obviously not an ideal place for first-time riders like me:)

Although it didn’t require driver licenses, I had to sign a consent form to confirm that my health was in a good condition and I was aware of any risks that might be involved. The court consists of 3 areas: the 1st one is flat and also the easiest, the 2nd one is much more difficult with many ups and downs and the 3rd one is quite similar to the 2nd one (for me I think the 2nd area is the hardest). Takeuchi-san was a really good rider before so he could help me with a lot of things in order to make sure that I have the safest but also enjoyable experience with motocross.

         Takeuchi-san is giving instructions to me

At the beginning, I was worried because the motorbike is very heavy and I didn’t know how to control it well so it was very easy for me to fall off. Nevertheless, after a few times practicing in the 1st area (mostly gear changing and braking), I got familiar to it and could speed up a little, just a little:)

Make sure there was nothing wrong with the motorbike

                        Takeuchi-san is a very good teacher^^

Let’s enjoy the ride!

Takeuchi-san gave me reviews and encouragement after each round

I spent all the morning practicing in the 1st area to have the best preparation for the next one. The court’s lunch time was from 12p.m to 1p.m and nobody was allowed to ride during that time so we also stopped and took a break. I appreciated Shiho-san’s kindness a lot. She came along to help look after the children and take photos for us and it turned out that she was a very good photographer(^.^).

Takeuchi-san’s daughters are very cute and talkative^o^

              Took a shot nap before the new ride

We started again at about 2p.m. I practiced in the 1st area for about 3 more times and then moved to the 2nd one. WOW! Ups and downs and ups and downs:) It looked dangerous but I liked that. Everything was fine in the first four or five rounds. Although the terrain is difficult, I really enjoyed the ride as it gave me wonderful feeling after I finished one round successfully. But yeah, just when I thought I can speed up a bit, I fell off when going up a 3-meter-high slope (>.<). The fall was very slow so my body and the motorbike were ok but it was too heavy for me to lift up. Fortunately, another rider passed by and help me out, I was still lucky (^.^).

I have to thank Takeuchi-san a lot for the day!

After getting a bit tired, I went to the 3rd area to watch Takeuchi-san riding his high-power motorbike. Subarashii!!! His speed was maybe 3 or 4 times faster than mine and he could jump over the slopes like a real pro. I wish I could jump at least one time like that (T.T) There were only 15 minutes left before the court closed, I told Takeuchi-san that I also wanted to try riding in the 3rd area and he said yes. Tadaa, history repeated again. As I was confident with the first two rounds, I speeded up during the 3rd one and fell off when taking a narrow turning. God bless me! This time was a serious fall. My body was protected by the special outfit so I only felt little pain and scared; however, the motorbike’s gear shifting clutch was broken so I had to call Takeuchi-san to bring it back to the starting point. Not a really happy ending but yeah, we finished like that:)

                        The broken clutch

Two little angels were finally sleepy after a long day

Overall, I truly had a great time with these people. Takeuchi-san’s daughters are so cute and lively that they made me feel happy and excited everytime I looked at or talked to them. Shiho-san is always a great helper in many situations. And of course, I couldn’t have this wonderful experience if it hadn’t been for the help of Takeuchi-san.

Thanks all very much for creating memories in Japan with me!