The Latest News

Author: mirai  //  Category: Life in general, Rants and Raves, Travel Blog

  So many things have happened this month that its hard to keep track.  But things are going so well I can hardly believe it. 

I’ve completed the paperwork on my house, so its almost official.  I just need to get together a loan from a bank.  I applied for a loan at four different banks, thinking that I would get approval from at least one bank.  Surprisingly, all four banks approved my loan.  Now its just a matter of choosing which bank has the best long term interest rate.  Once I figure out which bank is good to go, its just a matter of signing a loan contract, and then everything will be official.  The official move in date hasn’t been set yet, but the current owners are looking to move out in mid-July, so I’ll probably be moving in in late July or begining of August.

I just returned from Okinawa yesterday.  It was the first time I’ve ever been there so it was quite an interesting trip.  I was expecting it to be something like Guam, but it turned out to be much better than Guam.  The weather was really nice.  Not too hot and not too cold; almost like late spring weather.  The food was excellent.  I was expecting more Japanese like food, but Okinawa has their own distinct flavor.  Most of it centered around pork.

The only thing I didn’t like about Okinawa was the American military bases there.  In Japan, you often hear of news of anti-American military protests.  I never understood why the Okinawan people wanted the American military out so much, until I actually went there.  For one thing, military prensence on Okinawa is hardly subtile.  They are everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE.  Secondly,  the Americans are pretty loud and very obnoxious.  I even felt embarassed and sometimes ashamed when I saw drunk Americans parading down the street shouting obsenities in the middle of the night.  Since I was staying in condominium near the beach, I could hear them until the early hours of the mornings.  At times, I just wanted to run outside and shout “SHUT THE F!`’K UP”, but that would only make me as obnoxious as they were.

In addition to the obnoxious American presence on the ground, was the obnoxious American presence in the air.  In Okinawa, it seems that the US Airforce do their military training exercises during the VERY early mornings. So I was often woken up at 6AM by F16’s and F22 Raptors buzzing overhead.  Kind of reminded me of the days when I lived on base, except back then it was helicopters that woke me up, not fighter jets.  But I must admitt, I really thought that the F22’s were cool.  I spent a half a day snapping pictures of them flying over my condo.

 Overall, it was a pretty cool trip.  I wouldn’t mind returning to Okinawa again someday soon.

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The Condo

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Okinawan pork

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Broiled shrimp

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A view of the Okinawa Aquarium

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This picture doesn’t even begin to describe the enormity of this whale shark.

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This may give a better idea of how big the tank was that holds the giagantic whale shark

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Another shot of the whale shark

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A playful dolphin putting on a show

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The dolphin even got Princess’s attention

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Princess an Jenna getting their feet wet at the beach

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Prinncess and Jenna getting a good wiff at beached blow fish…Yuk!

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Princess fetching her favorite toy

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Sleeping after a day at the beach

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An F22 Raptor buzzing overhead

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Another F22 coming in for a landing

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I love A&W root beer.  They have A&W all over Okinawa.

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Couldn’t resist

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Time to go home

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Jenna preparing for the trip home

March has been an AWESOME month!

Author: mirai  //  Category: Rants and Raves

 March is usually not my favorite month on the calender.  It marks the beginning of spring and the end of my favorite season, winter.  It’s the month of hay fever and allergies.  Its the month when everything gets a bit busier and time becomes a more precious commodity.  And usually, I dread the coming of March, but this March has been absolutely good to me so far.

First, I got to be in my first full length motion picture (see my previous blog enty).  And although it was really not too huge of a deal,  it was a nice change and I defintately look forward to more of it.

I am getting more calls for auditions, but not only for TV and movies, but stage acting as well.  I actually have an audition for a small part in a small production with the Yokohama Theatre Group tonight.  The director has been emailing everyday asking me to stop by to do a reading, but I have been way too busy.  I even turned him down once, but it really seems that he wants me to be in it, so I thought about checking it out tonight after work.

But the biggest and most significant thing that has happened in this great month of March is that, I am very close to buying my very own house.  I had looking for the right house for the last few weeks now.  There were a couple that seemed worthy but weren’t really too special.

The first house I found was HUGE.  It had a five car garage, and something like five bedrooms, which is enormous in Japan.  But when I called the realtor to set up an appointment to see it, he told me that the house had been sold.

The following week, I found two more houses.  They weren’t as spacious as the previous house, but nice in their own respect.  One of the two houses was a brand new house.  It was on top of a hill that overlooked Yokohama so the view was excellent.  And since it was new, it was nice and clean. But for me, the best feature of the house (being new), was the feature that turned me off.  I really am not too interested in buying a brand new house, as they tend to have more problems than a slightly used or even an old house in Japan.  Also, it only had a one car garage which wasn’t a big deal, but I really wanted at a place to put another car just in case.  Also, the neighbors seemed to be a bit inconsiderate.  When I looked in the garage, it seemed that someone had parked a motorcycle in there.  And gathering by the looks of the house across the street, which had a huge minivan in the driveway that kind of stuck out into the middle of the street, I could easily guess that it was them.

The third house was way out in the boondocks.  Living there would have meant that I would have to walk to the nearest train station which was more than 20 minutes away, then take a hour long commute by train to work, so my heart wasn’t 100% into it.  The house was ten years old, which isn’t really that old at all, but it looked 25 years old.  It was very charming and close to a park in a very quiet neighborhood.  The house had a huge back yard, a two car garage and a small room next to the garage that could easily be coverted to fit a third car.  It was being used as a gym by the current owners.  It had huge potential to be something special, but it would take a considerable amount of cash to renovate into someting that I would enjoy.  I put in what I considered a “fair” bid for the house, considering the condition it was in.  The bid was about $80K less than what the owners were asking.  The realtor told me that a couple had put in a bid that was only slightly more than what I bid for, but the owner turned us both down.  They were pretty firm on the price.  The couple wound up standing down (understandibly) and I was about to do the same, but I decided to propose a second deal to the onwers.  I made a list of things that I insisted should be fixed or renovated before being sold.  It would have costed me about $20K to do everything on that list.  I told the realtor that I would pay what they are asking on the provision that they fix every single thing on my list.

As I waited for a reply from the realtor and the owners, I went to a second realtor and had him show me a few more houses.  He showed me three others; two aren’t even worth mentioning.  They didn’t even pass my bare minimum criteria.  But the third house….WOW!

It was love at first site. This house looked brand new but it was also ten years old; quite a difference from the one I found earlier. It had a two car garage, a fair sized backyard (not huge but adiquete), a sizeable living room with REALLY high ceilings (which I LOVE), a wooden terrace,  huge bathrooms, a drop dead incredible entry way, and a master bedroom that is literally bigger than the living room, and any apartment that I had lived in the past (quite literally).  Not to even mention the skylights on the ceiling in most of the rooms.  This house was a true work of art (quite literally) because the current owner spent years achieving a certain look. And we must have the same taste in houses, because it was absolute perfection.  I didn’t even have to think about it, this house is mine!  On the same day, I applied for ownership to the house, a home loan, and arranged for a professional contrator to come out and make sure that the house was structurally sound, and earthquake-proof.    On Thursday,  I will be plopping down $30K in cash as a holding fee for the house to say YES, I AM BUYING IT, SO STOP ADVERTINSING.  Although, I already have legal rights over it.

Yesterday, a contractor came out a looked at the house and deemed it structurally sound, and earthquake-proofed. He even went on to say that for a ten year old house, it shows very little signs of wear.   Considering what I offered for it, its an absolute steal.   I took a have a day off and spoke to the current owners who were a very sweet elderly couple.  Apparently they spent close to a million dollars on this house, and an additional $100K on customization. They are currently building a new house in Tokyo so that they can live with their daughter and her husband under the same roof.   

I sat in their, soon to be “my” living room for two hours, and I must have looked like a complete idiot because of the huge grin in my face I had the whole time.  I could not get enough.  It was looking at a detailed painting; the more I looked the more interesting things I found.

Yes, this month is truly sweet!

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The house from the front

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The front entrance

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The entry way, the window on the right looks out towards a bonzai tree in the backyard

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The living room with the really high ceilings.  On the right, there is a tree that stretches halfway up towards the ceiling.  The owners have had this tree for 20 years and decided to give it to me as a part of the house. WOW.

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A better view if the ceiling and the skylights.  The steel beams are for earthquake re-enforcements, but I think it looks awesome.  Kind of like having a catwalk in the living room.

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The wood terrace made from hinoki (Japanese Cypress)

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The bonsai tree in the backyard.  This can be seen from the enty way window (above)

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This is the upstairs.  The current owners use this as a sort of a family room, but its actually the master bedroom. Its absolutely humongous and even has a loft thats being used as an attic.

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The skylight in the master bedroom.

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The two car garage

On the silver screen at last!

Author: mirai  //  Category: Theater, TV, and the Arts

A while back, I saw an ad for people to participate as extras for an upcoming movie.  Of course, me being me, I could not resist answering the ad.  I didn’t think they’d be interested since I don’t look very Japanese, but the assistant director emailed me back and told me that he was interested and to be at the studio by 8AM.

I took the day off from work and headed down to a place in the outskirts of Tokyo.  Since I had to be there by 8AM, I had to leave at 6AM.  Anyways, there were about 70 people who showed to be a part of this movie.  The lame part was that none of us got paid to do this.  But the good part was that our names will appear in the ending credits.  Since I’m not really in this for the money,  I was more than happy to get my name on the big screen.

The movie turned out to be a 007 parody B flick, which disappointed many of the extras who showed up.  Many were so disgusted and angered that they left half way through the shooting.  Although I, like many of the other extas, wished it were a bigger budgeted presentation, I decided to stick around and have fun with it.  I was happy that I did because since many of the others left, it gave those who stayed a better opportunity to be on camera.

I’m not sure how the other final product is going to turn out, but they did get a good shot of me.  Of course,  I said that about the ANA commercial that I did, and ultimately wound up being on TV for a grand total of 0.1 seconds, but since this is a full legnth motion picture, there may be less cuts….I hope