Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fish weekend

The music group that my daughters attend had their annual Salmon fish egg fertilization event this weekend. It started on Saturday for me when I joined a group of 14 other parents and travelled by bus from Kawasaki to 「木戸川 Kidogawa」 (Kido river) up in Fukushima prefecture. We arrived at the river at around 1:00PM after leaving Kawasaki at 7:00AM.

So I got to see how Japanese river Salmon are caught and how their eggs are removed from the female, the fertilization process and how the fish hatchery works in general. I also learned that the Salmon we eat here in Japan is not river Salmon but ocean Salmon. Fishing the river Salmon is illegal. Makes sense now since the Salmon return to the river to lay their eggs. So our group had special permission and so received 4 female and 4 male Salmon for the following day's event.

So the following day (today as I type) all the families met at the 「宮前区役所 - Miyamae Kuyakusho」(Miyamae ward town hall) to see the fertilization event. One of the music school teachers cut open the 4 females and removed the eggs. All pretty medieval and yes the females die. Actually all 8 fish were killed and we ate Salmon soup later that day. So the males are milked and the whole mess is stirred about and each participants received a small dish of about 10 to 15 fertilized eggs to take home and to grow into Salmon. By next February the Salmon eggs will have grown into fish and they are released into the 「多摩川 Tama-gawa」 (Tama river) which borders Kawasaki and Tokyo. This is yet another event for the kids at the music school.

So now in our fish tank we have about 20 or so fish eggs ( I volunteered this morning and helped out with the event and so received 2 little dishes of eggs instead of 1 dish ) to grow into Salmon to be released into the Tama river next year. It is a fun family hobby that I hope will educate the kids about the great circle of life, fish in general and responsibility as the kids will hopefully take care of the eggs. You need to keep the water at a fairly constant 15 degrees and keep the tank clean etc. With a little luck we'll have 20 Salmon by next February. I might try and keep one fish past February and grow it in the bathtub. My wife doesn't like the idea though....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween party 2009

The Halloween party went very well. I learned a few things about putting on events and so the next one will be less hectic. One thing to avoid is having a free event as this one was. Some people tend to have an "easy come easy go" attitude and feel that because it is free they can cancel out at any time. Next time I am charging a small fee to see how their attitudes change. We had 22 kids and lots of parents that attended. We did "Pin the tail on the donkey" and the 「じゃんけん列車 janken-ressha」Rock-Paper-Scissors train game. Following this was 「折り紙 origami」Japanese paper folding and then trick-or-treating. I hadn't allotted enough time for the trick-or-treating and since we had some little kids, one and two years old, it took longer to make our way around to each spot. Plus since there are no elevators in the buildings we had to lug the kids up the stairs.

Lots of parents were saying how much fun it was and when we will do the next event. Once mother has already volunteered to help out with the Christmas event. I did not know we were having one... :) A Christmas event would be easier as there are more festive things to do. Decorate a tree, sing songs, exchange gifts, a visit from Santa etc. etc. etc.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free tennis court in Kawasaki

Calling all tennis players! They say nothing is for free but there is a tennis court near my home in Kawasaki. Admittedly you need to pick up a key from the local 「区役所」but still this is great news for (parsimonious) tennis lovers like me. It is located under the  「東名高速道路」overpass in Miyamae-ku Kawasaki here:

View Larger Map

Anyone up for a game send me an email.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween event prep

All the preparations are complete for the Halloween event. My wife who is a much better artist than I have prepared the 'Pin the tail on the Donkey' board and tail, the four posters for the '4 corners' game. We have all the balloons for the balloon game and I have the CD for the music itself.

A nice lady who lives in the neighborhood will provide the 「紙芝居 Kamishibai」Japanese picture story show. The Kamishibai is Halloween related too which is great and it will be done in English. Not sure how that part will go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


"Shall I try my hand at Fansubbing?", I asked myself. I think I will and add another post later on the effort and end result. What is Fansubbing and most importantly is there money in it?

Again Fanlore has a good explanation of what it is and how it is done.
Basically it is a translated version of a Japanese TV manga or movie or Japanese Drama/Soap where the subtitles are added in for another language so that anyone who can read ( but who can't understand the native Japanese ) can understand and follow along with what is happening in the show. These Fansubs are then distributed via either the Internet or DVD would be made and the DVD physically shared or distributed.

As with Scanlation, since there is a lot of work to get a high quality fansub it it usually done by a group of participants who share the labor to produce the fansub. Scanlation requires just a scanner, Photoshop or some other photo editing software and a descent Japanese <-> English dictionary. Fansubbing on the other hand would require more than one software for ripping the data from a DVD and then adding subtitles etc. Again, more information on this process is coming.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scanlation attempt

I tried my hand at Scanlation to see what it was. Here is some background information on how Scanlation works.

Basically a scanlation is a translation of a Japanese manga into another language. The work to translate the manga into let's say English is done by a group a fans of the manga who work free and distribute the translated images on the Internet. The scanlators don't own the rights to distribute the images or the source images so it is an example of copyright infringement.

This link has a lot of great information on the process and the people who make up the team to complete the process. ->
As you can see it is quite time consuming to go from the raw source to a translated manga ready for redistribution.

I was originally curious about going from an English comic and scanlating into Japanese as a form of study for the (Japanese Language Proficency Test ) JLPT I want to take next year. I decided to try my hand at the opening page of a copy of Toriyama Akira's 3rd installment of Dragonball. The translation from Japanese to English was the easiest and quickest. The difficult part was rebuilding the window in Photoshop with the Pen Tool after removing the 「ジリリリ(ji-ri-ri-ri)」sound of alarm clock ringing (I didn't bother putting the "R-R-ing" of the alarm clock back into the scanlation). Photoshop's Pen Tool is tricky to get the hang of how to use I found. The rest of the page took about 5 minutes after downloading a new font for the manga style font which my Windows XP machine did not have.

If someone else would do the rebuilding of the windows for example I would be interested in joining a scanlation group as some other role i.e. translator or typesetter for example.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Android app for kids

Android is the open source mobile platform from Google. Google makes it pretty easy to get started in Android development with add ons for Eclipse IDE ( Integrated Development Environment ) and emulators and lots of clear documentation and example code. So I am going to try my hand at creating an ESL ( English as a Second Language ) application for children. The status and progress I will track somewhat in this blog but am thinking of starting another blog specifically to track the Android development work. More on this later....