Friday, June 18, 2010

Meeting A Japanese Actress

UPDATED! The group picture we took together with Aoyama Hanako is added! Credit to Andrew's camera.

Short note: It has been a fortnight since I last updated this blog, that someone commented that everyday have to see the same piggy pictures lol! I would put all the blame on the mid-term exams, which will only be over by next week. Perhaps, that is just a lame excuse. I don't know whether it is just me or what, because the level in kosen and university are just like a million light years away! I just wish the exams will end as soon as possible, so that I can watch the FIFA World Cup in peace. Speaking about the World Cup, it was a slow start in the opening matches, but we can see the excitement is beginning to pick up. So, which team are your supporting?

On a different note, it was the Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival (端午節) a couple of days ago, and I had bak zhang for the first time in Japan. My last time having bak zhang was two years ago! Back then, it was my grandma's home-made bak zhang. Now, I feel like going home, because I think I am food-sick >.<

IMG_1707

The bak zhang in Japan is relatively smaller than those found back home. 

IMG_1710

The ingredients was nothing special; it was just roasted char siew. No mushroom or nuts at all =.=

Almost a week ago, my senior, James invited me to his place, as they planned a simple get-together party to bid farewell to another senior of ours, Andrew. Andrew, who currently works in Tokyo, has been living in Chiba for more than six years and he has finally decided to move to Tokyo. Initially, there were six of us there, including Loke Eng, Kit How, Teck Soon and myself.

Before the real deal arrived, we just sat down and chit chatted for some time, while munching to our snacks and drinks. Finally, the delivery guy from Pizza Hut came, and we were treated to several hot delicious pizzas by Andrew. He later told us that there would be another two persons who would be there as well; one of them was Kae Lin, while the other one...

Well, he just said it was his friend at first. So, we didn't really put much attention to it.

That was until he decided to drop the bomb by telling us that that friend of his is an actress. Not a random actress who acts in commercials or dramas, but an actress who has acted in a movie -  アディクトの優劣感 (Superiority of Addicts). At first, we thought Andrew was just trying to pull our legs. We wanted to confirm what Andrew had told us about that friend of his, so we went to search for this girl in the Internet. Try key in 青山華子 (Aoyama Hanako) in any search engine and you should see this fierce-looking girl.

img20081120132629133

Not only we saw an online article in Yomiuri Online page about this girl, there was even a Wikipedia page for her. That was the moment we believed Andrew's words; at the same time, felt excited and couldn't wait for her come. James and Teck Soon then said that in the future, they could proudly tell everyone that a Japanese actress had visited their place haha! Suddenly, all the attention was turned to this girl and everyone forgot about Andrew.

Since I was the youngest junior there, I was given the task to pick her up at Midoridai station, much to the envy to the rest of them haha! Who wouldn't feel invidious, for missing the chance to personally pick up an actress at a train station. Doesn't that sound very much like a Japanese drama storyline? It's no longer a novelty, but a reality that I was given such a golden chance lol! Perhaps Andrew is already well-aware of my goldfish-ism; that is why he showed me a photo of her, which was taken in the train, before I leave, so that I do not bring back a wrong person haha!

Yea-lah, who knows, later I bring back a wrong type of girl (pun intended), sure gonna bring big problem one.

37236_410358027901_695687901_4325784_7140380_n

No idea why everyone looked so tensed in this photo lol!

On my ten-minute walk to the train station, I keep recalling her face I saw on Andrew's phone, to make sure that I didn't pick up the wrong person. I was about fifty meters away from the station, when I noticed a girl, in white jacket, leaning on a bicycle. Is that her, the girl who I was supposed to pick-up  at the station? The nearer I walked towards the station, my uncertainty on whether or not she was the girl grew more and more. I dared not looked too much at her, worried that if she wasn't the correct girl, she could report me for sexual harassment haha!

I tried to take some glances on her; she did the same to me, and both of us almost smile for doing that haha! Somehow, I felt she was the girl, but I still wasn't totally sure. I just didn't have the courage to approach her. Moreover, this is Japan, and how often do you get to see two strangers greet each other? So, I took my phone out and called Andrew, to ask him if his friend came with a bicycle. Once I got the confirmation, that was the time I had the guts to approach that girl on the bicycle and ask her if she is Andrew's friend.

And my early intuition was right. She was Aoyama Hanako.

329295_01_05_02

The two of us walked back to James's place. I took less than ten minutes to walk to the station earlier, but the walk back with her felt like ten years lol! We talked about what are we currently up to, brief introduction about ourselves, but I later realised that we talked so much until we forgot to introduce our names to each other haha! So, who is this girl, Aoyama Hanako? And how did Andrew managed to get to know her?

She was a first year student when Andrew enrolled into Chiba University as a third year student several years back, and both of them got to know each other through an international cultural exchange society in the Engineering faculty. So, technically, she is Andrew's junior.

Second question you might ask - how an Engineering student like her, could end up becoming an actress in the entertainment industry? It was down to one word - "by chance". The whole story can be found in this Yomiuri Online article, but for those of you who doesn't read Japanese, I shall briefly explain it here. Prior to this acting project, she has totally zero experience in this industry. She is just like another girl from the next door, who has never thought about being an actress in her wildest dreams.

Her friends in Mixi (a Japanese popular social-networking site), refer her as an actress (女優) in her profile page, just for the sake of fun. However, the staff of the producer came across her profile page by chance, while searching for the keyword 女優. They had an instant interested on her after viewing her pictures and sent her an e-mail, asking her if she is indeed an actress and to invite her to a movie audition.

3_1

Since her high-school days, a girl who has the x-factor as an actress, has been approached by scouts from the entertainment industry for countless of times whenever she goes to Harajuku or Shibuya in downtown Tokyo. However, she never really put much attention on those dubious invitations, and the thoughts of venturing into the entertainment industry was put away just like that. Upon graduating from her high school, she enrolled herself into Chiba University in the Engineering faculty.

Back to the e-mail she received, she quickly brush off the fact that she was an actress. However, more e-mails were sent in repeatedly, and feeling that she had nothing to lose, she decided to give it a try. Just like a movie script, she passed her audition, beating the rest of the candidates that came close to a hundred persons. She was make the lead actress, taking the role of ヒノコ (Hinoko).

She took a temporary break from her studies to put her whole attention on her movie project. The movie - アディクとの優劣感 revolves around women, sex, and drugs. So, I guess you can barely imagine the storyline, right? It was partly filmed in Taiwan, which was one of the reason she decided to take another break for a short-term study in National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. She can't speak fluent Chinese, but understands a little bit of it. So, when some of us spoke in Chinese on that night, she just smiled and told us that she managed to catch some bits of the conversation.

36774_410358137901_695687901_4325790_3979297_n

New picture added: This is the group picture we took together before we made a move that night. Hanako-chan is in a white striped t-shirt, standing in the middle.

At the end of the night, we took a group picture together, but it was in Andrew's camera. I will have to wait for a while, until he gets his Internet set up in his new place.

So, from this experience, do you know what's the moral of the story? If you ever feel like becoming an actor or an actress, ask you friends to write on your Facebook wall everyday by referring you as an actor/actress, and who knows, you might be the lucky one to be picked up by a producer haha!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wild Boar Temple

Short note: Apologies for the short absence, as the mid-term exam season is here, not because I have turned blind already from the LASIK surgery like some people had claimed haha! I would love to write more, but time is against me. Besides, there's nothing much happenings recently, just some random rantings, if there is any. This entry was written some distance back, but I never posted it up because I wanted to make it as a filler-entry, during busy periods like now. So, here you are, an entry about my visit to a place in my hometown, Taiping, which I find it quite interesting. Mind you that this was way back during my summer holidays in September 2009!

Disclaimer: This entry contain images which might not be suitable for certain religious viewers. It is advisable to skip this entry, especially to the Muslims as they might get offended by the material.

This is a non-halal entry.
DSC04147
It is something which used to be the hottest talk of the Taiping town several months back, and I finally get to experience it myself. In early 2009, my Mom told me about a story about wild boars. Not just normal wild boars, but something more special. Apparently, the people of an Indian temple located nearby TESCO Taiping would ring the bell every evening, and these wild boars will appear from the forest. Maybe my description just too bad that you might think it's something stupid haha! I mean they don't appear suddenly like magic show, but they would run out from the forest once the bell is rang.
So, what's so special about these wild boar?
DSC04071
The road that leads to the Indian temple.
DSC04069
There used to be so many people visiting the place that they have put up this signboard.

Having nothing else better to do, I decided to turn an undercover agent and find out about this story lol! The location is just behind Taman Zenith, which is nearby Tesco Taiping. If you are unsure about the exact location of Taman Zenith, just get yourself to Tesco and ask any locals there. Just tell them "Mau tengok babi hutan" and I'm almost certain they would show you the way there.
At that junction, which is the entrance of Taman Zenith, there would be a boy with another two guys, who wait there every evening. They would be holding plastic bags contaning stuff wrapped in newspaper. I approached the boy one day and asked him what was he selling.
"Mau beli nasi lemak ar?"  (Wanna buy some nasi lemak?")
DSC04064
The nasi lemak boy.

"Kasi babi hutan makan" (To feed the wild boars)

I was gonna ask him how much a packet of the nasi lemak, thinking that he was selling nasi lemak for us to eat, not until he uttered the second line haha! From a further conversation with him, I found out that it's actually nasi sardin (sardine rice), sold at RM2 a packet, which is to be used to feed the wild boars at the temple behind.
DSC04079
"Hello Cikgu, mau tengok babi hutan ka?"
My Mom, who was with me that evening, continued our search for the temple. Whether it was a coincidence or not, we came across two of her students who were loitering around that area. We got down and asked for the direction to the temple, which they were more than happy to tell us.
It was not the Indian temple on the hill as we thought initially, as the wild boars visited another Indian temple about ten minutes walk from the first one.
DSC04082
Look for this yellow signboard and you would find the temple inside.
DSC04085
The entrance to the Indian temple, famous for the wild boars.
DSC04086
There's even a time limit when you're praying.
We went there on a weekday, so there wasn't many people. On weekends and school holidays however, there would be sea of people who will crowd that temple. Stalls selling muruku and other assorted snacks are usually set up. According to one of the guy who is my Mom's student's father, the wild boars used to love nasi lemak.

Nowadays, they prefer to be fed with muruku haha!
DSC04088
The temple is on the left, while the wild boars would come out from the forest on the right.
DSC04093
Devotees praying at the temple.
DSC04111
The new temple is still under construction on the left.
DSC04095
Nasi lemak sold in the compound of the temple.
DSC04113
A group of tourists from Singapore at the temple. I know they're Singaporeans from the southern Hokkien slang they spoke to each other.
People from all over the country, including neighbouring countries, as far as from Singapore and Thailand would come to this temple for one sole reason. So, what is so special about this temple and its wild boars. You might laugh when you read this but apparently, they come all the way there just the touch; yes, you read me correctly, to touch on those wild boars. Apparently, the reason is because the wild boars would bring luck to those who get to touch on them.
They claim that when you touch on them, just go to the 4D shops and buy any random numbers and you would strike. Quite lame and unbelievable, isn't it? However, there are stories which claimed that they make quite huge winnings after touching the wild boars and they managed to strike the first prize. Some of them even used some notes to touch the wild boars, and used the same note to buy lottery lol!
DSC04104
Lottery hopers placing the nasi lemak on the fence, waiting patiently for the wild boars.
DSC04110
Mom and her students seemed to be anticipating for the wild boars to make their appearance haha.
So, anyone interested to try this?

Once you strike, you don't have to work anymore and can straight away retire already haha!
DSC04131
This is where the wild boars will run out from.
There are certain times when the wild boars come out from the forest. At seven sharp every evening, the bell at the temple will ring and it is like a cue when you would see one big herd of wild boars running out from the forest. My paranoid Dad tried to brush off the punctuality of the wild boars by saying there is someone who is stationed up the hill to chase the wild boars down to the temple haha!
When we were first there, there was only one baby wild boar there. After a while waiting, finally the whole bunch of wild boars ran out.
DSC04108
Lonely baby wild boar.
DSC04117
Here comes the whole family.
DSC04115
And people started to get a touch on them. Some tried to touch the wild boars while holding on red packets haha.
I overheard one of the tourist saying something to his friends.

"Bong ar, bong ar, th'an bong koe mai bong ar." ("Touch! Touch! Get to touch already some more don't wanna touch-ar")
DSC04140
I didn't "bong" the wild boars-lah, just took a photo with them haha!
I controlled myself from bursting into laughter when I saw the people there being so enthusiastic to touch those wild boars. They were like so excited and believe that those claims are true, in hope that they would be an instant millionaire the next day.
Some even brought their food there to feed the wild boars. To be truth, their intention is not to feed the wild boars; they are just to lure them to go near the fence so that they get to touch the wild boars.
DSC04139
Feeding the wild boars with packets of nasi lemak.
DSC04120
Not just from one person, but there would be groups of people who would fed on the wild boars.
DSC04123
But the real intention was to touch them.
DSC04134
To see the people there touching the wild boars as if they are their pet, is sometimes a little gross haha.
The new steel fence was built just recently to replace the old wooden one. I guess that is because there were too many people back then and they fear the fence might collapse from the pushing an shoving of the people.
Although there are fences to avoid the wild boars from running around everywhere, they can still escape from the area at times, especially when they are really hungry. It is advisable not to hold your food too low or the wild boars could escape and try to snatch the food away from your grasp. I saw that myself and that lady was so shocked to see one wild boar biting and pulling her food away from her hand, until it made her shouting away haha!
taiping_boar
How the place used to look like (picture taken here).
DSC04118
The wild boars begin to come out from the perimeter.
DSC04128
Some of them are daring enough to come out from the fence to fed on the food.
DSC04149
Some of them can get really fierce when there's not enough food for them.
Just in case you are wondering if I tried touching on those wild boars, I didn't because I doubt the claims by the people.

Sometimes, they just make out some rumours to make the place popular and gain revenues from parking collections and nasi lemak sale. If that story is true, I might create a new rumour by claming that you would strike lottery if you shake hands with the monkeys at the Taiping Lake Gardens haha!
DSC04132
They seemed to be admiring the wild boars haha.
My Mom talked to one of the Singaporeans in that group, and asked him is he touched the wild boars. He said he didn't because he doesn't beliave on the claims made and believe they are just rumour.
He added, "Touch touch so much, instead of kena lottery, kena H1N1 got-lah!"