17 Dec 2007

THE VERVE live at roundhouse

Oops, it’s already more than a month ago, but, sorry, I just don’t want to miss this topic out…

The Verve
venue: Roundhouse, London (Chalk Farm)
date: 9th Dec 2007
time: 9:00 - 11:00 pm
support: None

Yes, I’ve seen The Verve! This is just incredible!! I had never ever expected to see them anymore since they split up in early 1999 until their recent surprising announcement of reunion.

As I wrote previously, I’ve once chased them up to Leeds to see their performance at V98 festival. But it was a bit frustrating one as the guitarist Nick had just left the band before their breakup. Then, finally, they had never come to Japan despite an awfully high demand.

And, this time, it was excellent! It was obviously different from what I’ve seen before. It was massively energetic and devastating, and was even different from the image of the band which I’d been having. I’ve now realised that they were actually a live band! Amazingly, they have played for bloody two hours! They are still young enough to rock.

When Richard Ashcroft walked into the stage, I was knocked out. He was just… cool! So cool!! What a man!!!

Also, the venue was amazing. Roundhouse is a recently remodelled live venue which had been given an architectural award, and it was literally originally a roundhouse. It is not just unusual but the interior was so cool! This is England! This is The Verve!!

To be continued!!

22 Nov 2007

leaving the office

It is chronologically the other way round, but I would like to talk a bit about when I left the last office.

Every time when someone left the last office, the bosses organised an office drink on the person’s last day. Just after I joined the practice an year ago, I have experienced this custom as a woman was leaving the office and going back to Australia. I was actually amazed as the ceremony was impressive and the people in the office were so friendly. She was given nice presents and cards from both the bosses and colleagues, then she gave us a speech with tears in her eyes.

I remember at that time I just couldn’t imagine this would happen to me some day. Particularly, it was very difficult to imagine I would make a speech in English in front of twenty professional architects! Yes, I wasn’t confident with my English at all. Mind you, I’m not saying I am now totally confident, though.

However, as a result, the time has come so soon. When I decided to leave, I was still nervous about the ceremony, but luckily, there was another person leaving on the same day. Also, I was there only for a year, so it wasn’t that emotional thing. I could somehow make a speech.

I was a bit frustrated with my speech. I’ve realised I still have to practice English very hard. But now it seems it wasn’t too bad. Maybe I should be confident about it a little bit.

I’ve got fantastic presents and cards from the bosses and from my colleagues. The boss gave me very nice words. She appreciated my work very much and it seemed to be quite an honest feeling. It was such a wonderful experience, I am really happy about it.

Oh, I just forgot to say, I’ve worked just as normal until just an hour before the end!!

18 Nov 2007

a new start

I had a good start with my new job!

I started working there from last Monday straightaway after I left the last office on Friday the week before. At the last office I worked as normal almost until the end and at the new office I started working as normal almost from the beginning. It was almost like I just changed the place of work but not the work itself. I rather enjoyed my ability to adapt an immediate change of environment.

I tell you what, I didn’t feel nervous at all! It was so very different from the time I joined the last practice. It is true that I was quite familiar with the office as I used to go there for a couple of weeks last summer for helping my friend NY’s own work, who was at that time freelancing there. But I believe that is almost because of my progress. In fact, there are only a few people left since I was there.

I was also lucky to start with the project NY is working on. This must be the reason why I didn’t realise I’ve changed my work.

The first week actually seemed relatively long. I didn’t think I was feeling any stress from moving, but now it seems actually I was. This weekend, I’ve been feeling very tired! Anyway, I’m happy about the fact that I could work as normal at two different places without any break and I had a good start!

7 Nov 2007

samurai spirit

Only two days left at my current office! But, I’ve found myself still working just as normal.

I’ve remembered about when I left the company in Tokyo in March 2005, for which I worked for thirteen years. I’ve actually quit the job by a golden handshake. There were about ten people who retired with that offer. I remember that I was disappointed with the fact that most of them took holidays for two weeks or so at the end of their employment.

In principle you have the right to do it, but I thought it was too practical. I thought they should’ve thought about why the company had to reduce the employees – of course it was because of the company’s seriously bad economy. If you felt like thanking the company or your colleagues for your experience even for a bit, wouldn’t you feel like contributing to them to some extent? How much did you get paid for extra?

For a cost saving purpose, the office has in fact moved to a new place just before we quit. However, most of the leaving persons didn’t even help it. I just couldn’t believe it.

In the UK, when you quit a job, the condition is a bit different. You will normally get paid for the rest of your holidays, so you don’t really need to think about taking holidays at the end of your employment. However, some people seem to lose their motivation towards the end. Even so, I’m still trying to deliver the same quality of work until the very last minute, thought I think it’s just normal.

This kind of attitude may be an old Japanese way of thinking. But the thing is, if a Japanese behaves just as she or he is, most of the European people won’t blame it or make fun of it but they would rather appreciate it. You just need to try to speak more but don’t have to pretend as you were a European. This might be one of the most important things I’ve learnt in London so far.

I am the only Japanese in the office, so how everyone thinks about Japanese is really depending on my attitude. So, I will just continue as normal until this Friday 6 pm!

31 Oct 2007

'october 2007'

This is the first and last note of this month. In fact, I could’ve written everyday – there have been so much happening. My life has dramatically changed only within one month.

One important thing is that I’m changing my work from 12th November. I sometimes wrote about some of my frustration at work on this blog, but I’ve finally decided to leave my current office. I felt the need of changing the environment. I thought that’s the best thing I can do for now in order for the achievement of my plan. Very fortunately, I’ve managed to find the next place so soon. That’s the place where my best English friend NY is working.

At the current office, I was certainly getting better and feeling much more confident than before. Maybe I should rather say I was ‘recovering’ as I was getting used to the work in this country including the use of English. But, at one point I started feeling difficult to change the ‘atmosphere’. Even though I’ve changed quickly, people didn’t seem to have changed how they treat me accordingly.

Particularly, it was really difficult to make my boss have a proper understanding about my career. When I spoke with him lately, I was so disappointed – he said, “I know you have very good experiences in Japan. You were working for a construction company, weren’t you? What can I say!?

Also, I’ve found the fact that I tended to adapt the ‘atmosphere’ and even sometimes forgot about challenging. I thought that if I change the work, I would be able to make a new start from a higher position and, at the same time, I could put more pressure on myself.

I thought it is a nice idea to work with NY as he has the best understanding of me. As a result, in the interview with his company, they understood about my career and what I intend to do very well. I believe NY’s recommendation of me to the company helped a lot for this. They are offering me a good condition with more responsibility. This means, I am now stepping up to the next starting point!

30 Sep 2007

ERASURE LIVE at Royal Albert Hall

This was one of the most important events for me this year – the first ever chance to see Erasure’s full concert and first time to visit Royal Albert Hall!

Erasure ‘Light at the End of the World Tour 2007’
Date: 25 Sep 2007
Venue: Royal Albert hall, London
Support: one two

Since I was fascinated with their song ‘A Little Respect’ in 1988, I have been a huge fan of them. However, after missing their concert in Tokyo in 1989, I had never had a chance to see them until I came to London. Luckily, I’ve finally managed to see them at their acoustic live last year. The show was fantastic and I was so happy. But to be honest, I wasn’t a hundred per cent convinced as it wasn’t a normal live. So, then, the time has come!

Another special feature was the venue. Royal Albert Hall is not a highly acclaimed architecture but I quite like its appearance, probably because I’ve come across it on the very first day of my visit to London in 1993. I sometimes happen to see some classic concerts at the hall on TV, and every time I was dreaming of going there.

The show was very simple. The most interesting aspect of the concert was the band… Basically, there was no band but a small computer set. All the music was played by Vince with a Mac Book, a little keyboard or something and a little bit of guitar. The singer Andy loves karaoke, and in a way the concert was rather like a karaoke show. I thought it was rather honest as they are an electric pop band.

I enjoyed singing too, to their hit tunes mostly from 80’s and 90’s. As I used to sing them at home or in my car so many times, I remember most of the lyrics. I believe there’s no other Japanese who can sing Erasure songs like me!

When they started playing A Little Respect, I couldn’t help crying! I’ve realised this song is really very special. Of course, everyone was singing!! If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve gotta listen to it!!

20 Sep 2007

'did you have a good time?'

As I wrote in the last topic, the stay in Japan was wonderful. As I’ve totally adapted the life in Japan, while I was there my life in London seemed even like a dream. So I was a bit worried that it might be difficult to re-adapt this life and the environment in the office in London, and about the use of English as well.

However, there was nothing difficult. I was a bit nervous when I returned to the office, but after having some chat with my colleagues I could easily settle down.

I rather felt very comfortable to be there again, because many people warmly welcomed me. This is just a general custom but everybody asked me about my holiday. Particularly, I was glad that LR welcomed me kindly with many smile. I’ve realised that this kind of people’s attitude is one of the good things in Europe. I think this was also one of the factors which made me interested in British and European culture long time ago.

I brought some sweets from Japan to the office. This is also a common thing in the office, which is almost the same as Japanese. But the different thing is the way people appreciate it. As soon as I opened my sweets called Yatsuhash, made in Kyoto, many people gathered around and curiously looked at them. Even the graphic on the box has amazed them. Yes, this is exactly what I expected! Finally, TQ asked me if he could bring one home for his girlfriend with the box. I was very happy as everybody enjoyed it.

11 Sep 2007

summer holiday 2007 in japan

Yesterday, I’ve just come back to London from two weeks holiday in Japan. Yes, I had a great time! I was too busy for meeting friends and I didn’t even have time to write from Japan…

Thank you everyone, who came to meet me during my stay. I’ve met thirty people in total, but I couldn’t meet everyone I wanted to meet. The stay seemed like a month as I met different people almost everyday, but it was still too short! Sorry to those who I missed. Let’s make it next time, definitely!

20 Aug 2007

two years

Yesterday, two years have passed since I moved to London. When I descended upon here, I never imagined I would still be here now. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to complete the university course. So, now I’m very happy about the fact that I am working here and somehow feeding myself.

But I’m not satisfied with what I’m doing now. This is not just an unusual experience in my life, but it’s meant to be a very important part of my career. I need to do what I should do now and what I can do now. Lately, I’m thinking that that’s actually not my own fault, but it’s just because of the current situation which I am in. It seems that I need to have a fairly clever think in order to change something.

I always think I am lucky. I should say I was lucky that I’ve got a chance to come to London, probably at the right time! There were also many good lucks happened before, which are now helping me live and work in London. Just before I left Japan for London, a friend of mine said to me that I am actually not lucky but I am just able to make good lucks happen. Since then, I sometimes think that the important thing is to believe. If you do not stop believing, something will happen. So, I would never stop believing that the time will come some day!

14 Aug 2007

we will rock you must go on

I went to see We Will Rock You a while ago. It was the second time after I saw it five years ago when I went to London for holidays quite soon after its launch. I’ve been planning to go again since I moved to London as I thought it’s worth seeing twice.

I remember the first time, it was not just a musical but a concert as well. It was absolutely magnificent. Although I couldn’t follow the language very well, I could enjoy it so much. Unfortunately, this time I was very stressed from my work as it was in fact the day before a deadline and I was a bit too tired to enjoy the show. Even so, when the band started playing some of Queen anthems like Killer Queen and Somebody to Love, suddenly my eyes became watery.

I started remembering about last time I was in this theatre. At that time, each song made me emotional and I kept crying almost throughout the show. I didn’t have a clear idea of what made me so. Probably, it was because the band was fantastic and was as if the real Queen members were playing. Even this time some songs made me so and I’ve realised how Queen’s music is special. There’s nothing like it.

The show itself was of course fantastic. It is such an enjoyable musical. In the story, Freddie Mercury is very much praised as a legendary rock star, and the audience clap and cheer for it. Literally, this ‘ritual’ is happening every day for more than five years. Also, the cast have been doing the same thing. This is incredible!

31 Jul 2007

'GORE let it out'

It seams I’ve written about quite serious matters lately, so today I’m gonna write something about British English.

But, what is British English? Is it the so-called Queen’s English or is it like David Beckham’s speaking? It seems there’s no definition. An English teacher has said, there is no ‘typical language’ in English. After living in the UK for nearly two years, I’m realising gradually that there are several different ways even only in terms of pronunciation.

I’m getting able to have some idea of from where a person comes from her or his speaking. Now I can somehow recognise cockney accent and also sort of northern accent.

Recently, I’m quite interested in the northern accent. One of the reasons is the TV drama Life on Mars, which I’ve reviewed on this blog before. The story was based in Manchester and the people’s speaking was very difficult. For example, the “o” sound is more like “or” i.e. “hole” is similar to “hall’. If you listen to some Oasis songs carefully you will notice it. When Liam sings ‘Go Let It Out’, the “go” sound is like “gore” (does it make sense?).

As I still sometimes get confused with “o” and “or” sound, this was an interesting discovery. I’ve listened to many northern English bands like Oasis and the Verve, so this may be why the “o” sound still confuses me.
In other words, it doesn’t really matter even if I confuse with “o” and “oh” sound, as most of the people will understand anyway.

This is just one example of the many aspects of the diversity in British English that I’ve noticed. I would like to keep on talking about it sometimes.

18 Jul 2007

unfinished monkey business

For the past few weeks, I’ve been so busy with deadlines on every Friday. I’m so stressed. I’m now again suffering from the ‘holiday escape’!

Today, I was told by the boss like this.

“We are not monkeys so you need to say something when you have any doubt before you draw it.”

I didn’t really care as I of course did so. That’s just essential. That’s the sort of thing that any boss might say.

I’ve actually confirmed with the project architect if he was convinced with that strange idea. He was convinced, and I didn’t take it seriously, because the time was so very short. It was also because I’ve just returned to that project after three months absence and wasn’t too sure about what was going on. We aimed to finish everything by last Friday although the actual deadline is tomorrow, as the project architect were to go for holiday. The fact is, there are still some things left even though we’ve worked until midnight. Furthermore, we are making some changes to the design without the project architect just before the very crucial deadline which will affect the competition result.

To be quite honest, I don’t really wanna be called as monkey. My pride wouldn’t accept it. Never. However, more important thing is the truth that my boss has said such kind of thing to me. I mean, this might represent how he treats me. It’s not a matter of age, but it’s about evaluation.

I believe I’m trying to do my best with motivation and ambition. However, this is probably the truth. It is always difficult to convince the bosses through everyday work. Particularly, it is actually difficult to deal with our boss who is over 70 years old. It is a difficult but essential subject to give good impression to the bosses in order for forwarding my plan.

8 Jul 2007

in only seven days

Last week I was very busy. Not too busy, but it was rather mentally hard. However, I could do much more than I’ve been doing before.

Despite my expectation to be easier after the tender issue at the end of the week before, there were so much to do with the project last week. In fact, the project architect has gone to a holiday! So I needed to deal with a lot of things on behalf of her. I felt that she had almost escaped, as there were so many mistakes in the tender issue and I had to prepare a lot of information by the end of the week.

I had to work with our boss. He is already about 70 years old and quite difficult to work with. Although he had been working with us on the project, he wasn’t aware of everything and kept on asking me about many things that even I don’t know! The most difficult thing was to identify which part of work I should ask him to do and which should be done by myself. Also, I had to make or answer to a lot of phone calls and speak with other consultants, suppliers and even the client.

It was really hard. Even now in the Sunday evening, I’m so tired. But it was a really good opportunity. I was enjoying it. Generally, I sometimes hesitate to do something, particularly the things I haven’t done before, but this time there was no choice, I had to do it! Now that I feel I could develop myself quite a lot only in one week.

Am I getting closer to the project architect!?

28 Jun 2007

history of tea

Lately, when I was having a little chat with my English colleague in the office kitchen, she said,

“Japan must have much longer history of tea than England?

I wasn’t sure. But, this is absolutely true.

For Japanese people, tea, especially ‘afternoon tea’, is one of the most important aspects of England and is believed to be a very traditional culture. I had such kind of feeling, too. However, when I looked at Wikipedia about the history of tea, I was so surprised! It was mentioned, that tea has been brought to England in 17th or 18th century, which is not very long ago! On the other hand, Japan is believed to have its tea history since 8th century. I did know that tea is not grown in this country but…

I had already realised that tea is not very common among the English people. More people seem to drink coffee. Furthermore, I haven’t seen an English person having a black tea! They don't seem to enjoy a subtle taste of tea like Japanese people do.

‘Afternoon tea’ must be a wonderful culture, but now it seems it is not worth comparing it with Japanese tea ceremony. Japanese tea is not only a culture but it also influenced the style of architecture very much. It must have had a great influence to the mentality of Japanese people, particularly through tea ceremony.

In the first year of my stay in London, there used to be a lot of amazing rediscovery about Japan, but recently it didn't happen so frequently. So I’m now very happy about the new discovery about tea. This is something we Japanese people can or should be proud of!

27 Jun 2007

the verve reunion!!

It’s incredible!!! The Verve is reunited!

I’ve just happened to find this news and I still can’t believe it. The Verve is one of the most important bands for me. Particularly, Richard Ashcroft, the front man and vocalist, is the charismatic person – more ‘practicaly’ than my dear Freddie.

They had split up in 1999, and as far as I’m concerned they finally didn’t manage to come to Japan and play. But I could luckily see their concert once – I flew to England and chased them to Leeds in 1998. It was a bit reckless plan. I left Tokyo on a Saturday and in Sunday morning I took a train from London to Leeds to go to V Festival. I didn’t book any accommodation and I didn’t even have a ticket! However, everything went so well! Ultimately, I was so very lucky.

Even at that time, the guitarist Nick had already left the band, and to be honest the concert was not very convincing. But, now they have already announced the tour dates in November, so I will finally be able to see the very original Verve!! I am so lucky again, I have never ever imagined this would ever happen!

I’ve been feeling that recently I’ve written too much about music, which is not the main theme of this blog, but I really couldn’t help writing this.

*photo taken at Richard Ashcroft concert in June 2006 at Old Trafford Cricket Ground Manchester

26 Jun 2007

muse@supermassive wembley (continued)

It was absolutely phenomenal. It wasn’t just a concert but a space age entertainment. Muse is the only band at present that can electrify such huge audience in the new Wembley Stadium.

There’s nothing to say more, really. I was so high just naturally, jumping all the time, like never before. I was feeling so good.

My dear Freddie must be convinced by the band too, who played at Freddie’s memorial place.

18 Jun 2007

muse@supermassive wembley


MUSE Live @ Wembley Stadium
Date: 17 Jun 2007

More pics and text to follow shortly!

10 Jun 2007

design team meeting

My current project is now in the final stage of design. Last week we had a design team meeting with all other consultants – structural and mechanical & electrical engineers, a landscape architect and a quantity surveyor. It was the first time to attend this kind of meeting.

I wasn’t feeling nervous and I could talk quite a lot. I could realise I’m getting used to everything and working quite like I was doing in the office in Japan. There are more times that I get frustrated and get pissed off, but this time it was a very nice feeling.

I’m also getting used to telephone a bit. These days I have quite a lot of opportunities that I have to call somebody. But recently I’ve found myself not getting very nervous like I was before.

I’ve realised that either for attending a meeting or conversation over the phone, if I am relaxed things will be all right somehow. I really hope this will make me more confident, because confidence is literally the most important thing for me now!

5 Jun 2007

manic street preachers live at forum

Finally, I’ve experienced the ‘REAL’ Manics!!!

Date: 29th May 2007
Venue: Forum (Kentish Town)
Support: The Enemy

I’ve seen them three times in Tokyo, but this was surely the best performance I’ve ever seen! I could somehow predict how they will play this time after listening to their new album ‘Send Away the Tigers’, but it was actually more than I expected. They played in their original style – more aggressively, more like punk!

If I had been to the concert in Tokyo in 1994, it could have been the best one. I did have a ticked. However, it had been cancelled… It was literally the time when the iconic guitarist Richey had suddenly disappeared. I needed to wait until 1999 for the next chance. I was so happy about finally seeing Manics but I remember I wasn’t totally convinced as their style had already changed.

I also remember that last time I saw them in early 2005 I was a bit disappointed as I realised they were too old to play like they used to do. That made me so sad. They were trying to do something different with some taste of electronic sound and stuffs like that. At that time I have remembered that I had already had the same kind of feeling in the previous concert in 2003 as well. So I thought it would not be a good idea to go to their gig again.

However, when I found the news of this live schedule I didn’t remember that memory and had no hesitation in getting the tickets. As a result, it was alright. I didn’t have to be worried at all. Now after 13 years, finally I have seen the ‘real’ Manics!!

It was the most aggressive indoor concert I’ve ever been to. We had showers of beer and there were crowd surfing people almost all the time. Also, the male rate was the highest ever!

They are supposed to play in Summer Sonic this summer in Japan, so you Japanese folks don’t miss it!

I was actually having a very busy month with four concerts! Most of the times I go to concerts on my own but this time I was glad to go with my Greek ex-flatmate Katerina!

28 May 2007

a letter from kathmandu

All of a sudden, an email has been sent to me from Kathmandu, Nepal. It was from a manager of the organisation which was our client when I was staying in Nepal for my duty on an ODA (Japanese grant aid) project.

Honestly, it was a very difficult organisation as it was a public sector. Many people from the client side, especially the government people, were very difficult to deal with, like the politicians in Japan. However, the manager, at the same age as me, was literally a very friendly and reliable person. We were, perhaps, friends. He was more human like the typical simple Nepalese people are.

He mentioned in the email that, they are trying to make the most of the facilities we built in the project, and he thanked to ‘the gift from people of Japan’. I was so pleased to hear this. I can now regard my hard times in Nepal very worthy.

Unfortunately, ODA is actually a kind of business. It is basically supposed to help people in poor countries, but in reality there are more reasons. Even in our project, there were some businesses that I can’t talk about in here. I knew he was in a very difficult position. He sometimes needed to refuse our request against his will, due to some unreasonable reason…

But, we both know that we are good friends. I know he is a very good man. It’s such a wonderful thing that we still have a friendship no matter where in the world we are. In fact, he might still have many difficulties with our ‘expensive gift’. But, even so, we are friends and I know he is really thankful to the Japanese people!

20 May 2007

OMD live - 'architecture & morality'

It was magnificent!

OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)
'architecture & morality'
date: sat 19 may 2007
venue: hammersmith apollo

I�ve never expected to see their concert, as they seemed to have ended their career years ago. OMD is, in my understanding, an 80�s electric/techno pop band. Though they had a huge success in UK, they are not well known in Japan � I�ve met only three people ever. When I found the concert information, I though it would be an amazing experience, as I�ve never been to this kind of concert. Actually, Pet Shop Boys� ticket was also on sale. They were more successful and famous, and I myself love Pet Shop Boys, but I was more curious about how OMD play on stage. And, it was definitely a right decision!

First of all, the visual set up was excellent. In this concert, they were supposed to play songs mainly from their most acclaimed album �Architecture & Morality� (1981). In the opening of the show, some beautiful architectural 3D images have been shown on the screen, which I�ve never seen at a concert. It was so atmospheric and had a huge impact.

Music itself had much more impact than I expected. The audience were quite mature, but incredibly excited! I haven�t thought their music was that exciting and danceable and they were such a live band! At the same time, all songs were played perfectly and beautiful. I really enjoyed the perfect harmony of music and vision.

Just before anchor, �Enola Gay� was played as everyone must have expected. This is probably their best-known song, which I believe even in Japan quite many people can recognise. However, I�ve suddenly stopped shaking my body to the beat. I don�t mean I don�t like this song. The screenplay was too strong. The actual images of bombing in Hiroshima have been shown. I suddenly realised that there was no Japanese around me, and the whole audience was getting high or dancing as if they had even not been aware of what Enola Gay means. I was so confused and had a very strange feeling.

This song is literally about Enola Gay, the B-29 plane who dropped the a-bomb in Hiroshima. During the interval, I regretted that I didn�t know the actual meaning of its lyric. I thought it�s really a shame. As soon as I got home, I examined it. Then, I got relief.

�� ah Enola Gay, you should�ve never had to end this way��

16 May 2007

i'm doing fine!

In the last article, I might have seemed very serious or maybe broken down, but I just wanted to motivate myself by writing my thoughts honestly and seriously, as I think this is how the blog works. Actually, a couple of my friends have given me heart-warming encouragement after reading it. I am so very pleased with it! Now I want to say I’m actually doing quite well and enjoying my life in London!

15 May 2007

after half a year

Just six months have passed since I started working for the current practice. I think it is fantastic that I could continue till now having got the work permit smoothly. I can also recognise some of my own improvement. However, I must admit that it is far behind from the extent that I’ve expected at the beginning.

When I started, I was planning to have a review with my bosses and ask them to raise my salary after three month or so when I realise it is time. But, the time is yet to come. I’m still working with a salary for the ones at around 25 years old. I myself still can’t think that I’m contributing more than that. I might be doing better than I’m realising in every bit of work with my ‘confident’ experiences, especially technically. But, at least my contribution is not recognisable.

So, what is a problem? It is apparent. I don’t really want to say this again and again, but the problem is literally my communication skill. It was much harder than I thought. Without beating this, I wouldn’t be able to go further ahead. Moreover, due to the lack of confidence in my English skill I still seem to be feeling inferior to others. I think Japanese people latently have inferiority to European people. Even some Japanese residents in London use the word ‘Gaijin’, meaning foreigner, to any non-Japanese people. I would say to them “Oi, it’s you Gaijin!” The word ‘Gaijin’ often means only Europeans, but not Indian nor Chinese. Anyway, I still haven’t managed to take that kind of feeling out of myself after all. Nobody in the office would think I am 38.

Last Friday, I heard shocking news. One of my colleagues has become a new associate. In an architectural practice, this is the common name for senior project architects. I knew she has been doing very well, but I was so surprised as she is still in her early 30’s, which is very young as an associate. I am, in fact, a bit interested in her. I was not only disappointed with the huge difference between us but also felt like she’s gone too far away from me.

I don’t mean my communication skill hasn’t changed at all. Though this is not only by the improvement of my English, now I’m basically relaxed at the office – I used to be very nervous at the beginning. I think this is the best improvement of me so far. I believe I’ve been making most possible efforts for this, like attending the office’s social events as possible - drink, dinner, film outing, tennis, cricket, and even snowball fight! This English blog is of course one of my efforts.

It seems the only thing I can do for my English is to continue. But, at the same time, it seems there’s more I can do as a part of my communication development. It is unclear, but I may need to think about ‘dignity’, particularly as a Japanese. The goal of my stay in England, to work as a project architect, has never been changed. Next time, after another six months, what would I be able to write here?

8 May 2007

manic street preachers - send away the tigers

The 'real' Manics is back! This is brilliant!!

When I go to a record shop for buying a new stuff, usually the album is played there and it makes me feel so good. This would happen in Japan, too. Similarly, when I went to HMV in Oxford Street today, the new Manic Street Preachers' new album was being played. I could recognise it straightaway, although I hadn't heard it yet. The music is really exciting and is more like punk as they used be. Actually, I couldn't help shaking my body to the beat!

The sound is apparently influenced by their best acclaimed album 'Everything Must Go' (1996). To be honest, last two albums were too experimental and I was a bit frustrated. But now, they have gone back to the basics and are playing harder. I'm getting so excited for their gig, end of this month!!!

7 May 2007

pet shop boys, actually/freddie mercury, literally?

Literally - this is the most mysterious English word for me so far. I have noticed quite a while ago that many English people use it quite often. However, I still can't understand the exact meaning, though I've already tried to use it in this blog a couple of times. It seems for me it is mainly used among middle class English people.

Last Friday, when I went out for a drink, I asked about the word to my best English friend NY. But... I couldn't believe what he said:

"I don't really know."

What!? You are the one, who speaks the word to me many times, aren't you?

Though he wasn't totally sure how the word is used, he told me that it is basically a connecting word and doesn't have a particular meaning, and is often used for emphasising the meaning of a sentence. But he also told me that the word is normally used to get back into the original meaning of the sentence, as English has a lot of phrases which have particular meanings. In other words, 'literally' is used when a sentence means as it is. So, this means, I wouldn't be able to use this word properly without knowing those particular phrases! I could understand why most foreigners, even if they are fluent, don't use this word.

There was another surprising story. 'Effectively', which is also a connecting word, is another mysterious word for me, but NY wasn't even aware whether it is 'effectively' or 'affectively'! This is, too, the word I've heard from him very often. He and another English friend, both are intelligent, couldn't explain what the word means properly.

As NY sometimes say to me, many English people can't spell lots of words correctly. This means, speaking and writing are totally different things. Literally, English is not that easy. (Is this the proper way of using it...?)

30 Apr 2007

the long and winding road

In my current project, I've attended the last three meetings with the client, that is a council in London. The project architect LR is trying to give me as many chances to be involved in important occasions as possible as she promised before. However, I am now faced with a difficulty. In the meetings, literally, I can only understand half of the conversation.

LR suggested to prepare the minutes. After the first meeting, I have somehow written a draft and LR seemed a bit surprised at what I've done. She even said 'this is perfect!', though many of the notes have been corrected by her. I myself thought it was better than I've expected. I've told her that I used do this when I was working in Nepal.

In the second attempt, it's got worse. Most of my notes have been corrected by her. In the third one, at last, she's done it before I try! I understood that's probably because we were so busy that she needed to organise our work in the most productive way. But I also thought that she might have a bit disappointed with my second minutes.

I have realised I must try really really hard. Unless I wouldn't be able to have a meeting with a client just by myself, I would never have a chance to work as a project architect. COMMUNICATION IS ESSENTIAL FOR ANY ARCHITECTS!!

The road is long.

23 Apr 2007

day of the match

Last Tuesday, for the first time I've heard the cheering from the Emirates Stadium just in front of my house.

Basically, I'm not convinced with the new stadium, but the real chees of English football is literally exciting. I can surely recognise when Arsenal scores, just with the cheers from the stadium! Though I'm not an Arsenal supporter (I rather dislike it), I want to see the match at the stadium just for once, as a 'stadium-spotter'.

14 Apr 2007

life on ‘life on mars’

On Tuesday night, I’ve watched the last episode of a TV drama called ‘Life on Mars’, on which I’ve been hooked lately. The leading actor John Simm is so very cool! This is a story about a Detective Chief Inspector working for Manchester Police, who had been hit by a car and woken up back in 1973. He isn’t sure if he has gone back in time, is in a coma or has gone insane. He struggles with working as a Detective Inspector in a totally different circumstance in thirty years ago, and tries to work out how he can get home.

This was the second series, following the series one broadcast a year ago. When I happened to see a couple of episodes of series one, I thought it was very interesting. Because of the strong accent I couldn’t follow everything, but the atmosphere of the drama was very special. – A good air of 70’s, the wild but human cops, with great 70’s music.

Yes, music is an aspect of this drama. As you might have recognised it, the title derived from a David Bowie hit song ‘Life on Mars’ and is the theme song. As 1973 was just in the glam movement, many of glam rock music, such as T-Rex and Sweet, were featured, very loudly!

I couldn’t see all episodes of series two due to the ‘bloody’ annoying ex-flatmates, but I could enjoy the final one very much. It was a very much ‘understandable’ end of the show. I thought it was a very happy ending, but I felt a bit sad about it’s all ended – I felt like staying there in 1973 forever.

Actually, I’ve bought the complete dvd set of series one recently. I’m watching it day after day, and listening to Bowie every day. I really hope this will be on air in Japan, I’m sure it will make a hit. It’s really cool!!

8 Apr 2007

back to the 'back to the future'

I have moved to a new house, as I really couldn’t stand the couple flat mates’ mess and behaviour anymore.

This time, I’m gonna live in a family house. But it’s more individual than the so-called homestay as the house is big and I don’t have to share the bathroom with many people.

One of the best aspects of this house is the cosy and spacious living room, where I can sit on a sofa and relax with cable TV. Just on the next day of my moving in, I happened to see the film Back to the Future on TV, when I was sitting the sofa. This is one of my favourite films. Actually, this is the film I’ve seen on the very first date with my very first girlfriend in 1986. I’ve already seen it several times but every time I see it it reminds me of my younger days.

I don’t know why but the girl in the film called Loraine, the ‘future’ mother of Michael J Fox as Marty Mcfly, synchronises with my girlfriend at that time. I was feeling as if I’ve travelled to the past…

The occasion I was watching this film this time was completely different from the place when I first saw it. I’ve realised that I’ve travelled so far from that time… I’ve never imagined at that time where I would see this film twenty years later and how I would feel about it. It is obviously impossible to predict ones future. If I could travel to twenty years ago, what would I like to say to me in 1986?

The address of this new house is, actually, called ‘Loraine Road’. When I first heard it, I just felt it’s a bit familiar name… Yes, it is.

25 Mar 2007


Last week, for the first time since I joined this practice four months ago, I could find myself developed!

I started working on new projects two week ago and now I'm enjoying working with new people. The project architect LR is really a nice lady and I'm doing quite well with her despite the anxiety I had. On Friday of the week before, we had a farewell party for a colleague, which was the most enjoyable drink with my colleagues so far. I always find it difficult to speak in a very loud place like pub, but in the party I could enjoy speaking with many people. Particularly, it was very nice to speak with LR. We talked about a lot of things but the most meaningful thing was that she was happy about helping me do more important jobs.

This experience of the party apparently encouraged me to have a positivity at work. On the next Monday, from the beginning of the day I was feeling so good. In the general office meeting, I could even speak something for the first time! (Though it was sort of a personal matter.) This was the day, I have realised I'm doing much better than the time I started.

LR is a lovely English lady with beautiful blond hair. Unfortunately, she has just got married...

16 Mar 2007


Today I had a chance to talk with my English flat mate JD. Why I say 'chance'? It is because we hardly see him at home. Particularly in the past few weeks he was almost missing, though I could somehow notice he was at home.

I might have already wrote something but I've decided to move out from this flat as soon as possible. I can't stand the mess and behavior of 'that' couple anymore. Fortunately, I've got a very good offer of a room and am supposed to visit the place this Saturday. So I needed to tell JD about my plan.

I've already told the couple the other day. I wasn't 100% honest about my complaints against them but I confessed that I was not feeling very comfortable. Surprisingly, the guy admitted they were too messy and said 'we have almost took over the living room'.

Oi, you were aware, hah!? Yes, you guys are living in the living room!

On top of that, he told me that they are planning to move out, too! He confessed that they are not gonna live together anymore and will move out after a couple of months.

I needed to hear JD's plan, because I will have to tell the next occupier of my room about the condition of the house lease. He said he was gonna stay here until the current contract expires in November. However, he agreed with my complaints and told me he actually didn't even want to meet the couple! This was why he was almost hiding himself. Now, this is really a problem isn't it!? Two people apart from the couple are feeling annoyed with the couple's attitude...


Well, actually I've been wondering that JD might have had some mental problem. But, apparently, problem was not with him but only with the couple. I mean, what I wanted to write today was that it was really nice to talk with JD. It is obvious that we could share the same feeling, but I've realised again that this is the thing we normally experience in a shared house. This is what flat mate is meant to be! Today we were totally 'equal' each other. Now I've just realised that I've been always a bit nervous when I meet the couple mates.

It was also nice that I felt a bit easier than usual to speak with the northern guy with a strong accent. I was able to catch less than half of what he said, but today it was about two third!

11 Mar 2007

good-bye brad

I was shocked by the news that Bradley Delp, the lead singer of the American band Boston, has suddenly died on 9 March at the age of 55.

I don't listen to American rock so much but Boston is one of the exceptions and surely the best American band for me. Their debut album 'Boston' released in 1976 has sold 17 million copies and is still the best selling debut album ever in the world. This is of course one of my favorite albums and I still listen to it at least once a month.

I still remember that In 1987, when I happened to hear their debut song 'More Than a Feeling' from the FM broadcast, I was totally fascinated. I wasn't aware of the name of the band but the song was so familiar to me and gave me a feeling of traveling back to the good old days or maybe to the space - I knew this song because my brother used to play their record at home.

Brad's voice was incredibly high but at the same time very powerful. Nobody can sing like him, like nobody can sing like Freddie Mercury.

I've been listening to their first album five times today, but it still sounds fresh and gives me a nice feeling, not just a feeling maybe. Thank you, and good-by Brad.

More Than a Feeling / Boston

'I looked out this morning and the sun was gone'
'Turned on some music to start my day'
'I lost myself in a familiar song'
'I closed my eyes and I slipped away'

'It's more than a feeling when I hear that old song they used to play'
'I begin dreaming till I see Marianne walk away'
'I see my Marianne walking away......'

10 Mar 2007

4 lectures, 1 exhibition and 2 concerts in only 3 weeks

Tomorrow will be the holiday first time in two weeks! Today we have managed to finish the preparation of our proposal submission for a school project, on which I have been working since I joined this practice in early November. I am feeling excited but nervous about starting working on other projects from next week.

Though I was pretty busy for work lately, I was also busy after work - I've been to FOUR lectures by architects in three weeks! Was I ever so enthusiastic? Actually, those include Helzog & De Muron and Shigeru Ban!! Anyway, I think I need to write about them later.

On the one hand, I've been to Brett Anderson concert!! I saw him several times in Japan, but it was first time in England - it was as if I've seen him for the very first time, I don't know why. A bit strange feeling, I'm shocked...

There are so many things to write about, but less time to do...

28 Feb 2007

visa delivered!!

FInally, just on time!!

I have received the long awaited visa this morning. I was told from the Home Office that 'generally 70% of the applications are approved in 28 days.' Yes, today was exactly the 28th day since my application was accepted. Actually, I've already received the visa in my dream this morning! These days, I quite often see a dream that comes true on the same day...

Anyway, now I can start working totally legally!

The visa covers the whole work permit - it's for five years! Well, I'm not gonna stay that long though...

20 Feb 2007

living on my own?

Recently, I tend to stay in my tiny bedroom at night because I have realised a couple of weeks ago that I'm getting pissed off with the my flat mate couple. But today I happened to have a chat with them at our supper in the dining, which reminded me of the importance of sharing time with other people at home. I haven't had that kind of feeling for quite a long time. I found myself really enjoying the moment although I'm still a bit annoyed with them.

I've already decided to move out from this house as soon as possible and been thinking that it might be a good idea to go back to the 'living on my own'. However, to be honest, I am a very nervous person and I tend to fall into a deep thought about what I really don't have to think about. Sometimes I even feel very difficult to get away from it. It is obvious that my old flat mates in the last flat had saved me from that problem very often.

Probably, one of the reasons I felt like being alone was the fact that I am now working. Meeting flat mates after work is sometimes a bit difficult. On the one hand, I have noticed that I don't really have much time to chat with my colleagues in the office - most of the working hours I'm only communicating with the PC. I think I don't have enough chances of practicing my English in the office.

So, now I don't really know what is the best thing to do. Somehow I need to wait for a couple of months until I have enough budget before I move to the next place, so I think I'm gonna have a think about it for a while. Anyway, next place will be already the 5th place to live in London in only two years! It's exciting, isn't it?

18 Feb 2007

an expamle of difficulty in globalosation

I was just thinking about the globalisation. I have noticed that globalisation has not only started in the recent decades.

We Japanese traditionally write our language vertically and newspapers or novels are still in that manner. More than half a century ago, we also used to write in the opposite direction as we do now - from right to left.

Now, arises a very big question.

How the hell are arabic people using the PC's!?

16 Feb 2007

questioning japanese hair salons

Since I moved to London, I've been trying to live a more British life as possible, not in a Japanese way. But, there are things that I can't give up like Japanese food. Haircut is also a matter. Among the Japanese residents in London it is commonly said that we should go to a Japanese salon as we Japanese require a special technique for our haircut. For example, the technique called 'suku', meaning reducing the volume by cutting the hair randomly sometimes with razor, is believed not to exist here as the local people don't require it.

Following this theory, I've been going to Japanese salons. But the two salons I went so far were both not that good. FIrst of all, they are very unwelcoming and not motivated. Though their technique seems to be below the Japanese standard, they are very expensive. I suspect this is because there are much more demand than the supply of services and they don't have to make any particular efforts for their good business. The theory above must also be helping them get more Japanese customers.

The salon I'm using is really disgusting. They don't have air condition so on a hot summer day they use the hair dryer only by the cold air. On busy Saturdays, the hot water frequently runs out and the customers have to suffer the cold water shampoo! Even so, I kept going there as the hairdresser who did my hair seemed to be quite good and, more than that, there seemed to be no better choice.

However, recently I started wondering... Is the theory true? I understand the volume and quality of hair or the shape of head differ very much between Japanese and white people. But, London should be the fashion leading city in the world and there must be the latest and the best techniques of haircut. In fact, many Japanese hairdresser come to the famous salons in London like Vidal Sasoon for training.

Actually, there's another reason why we tend to go to Japanese salons. It is... the difficulty in explaining our requirement to the staff in English (not only for this, I must say...). If the theory above is just a superstition, some dresser might have imposed on such weakness of Japanese people by making up such story.

So now, it seems it's time I explored British salons? This could be the second challenge for me for the more British life, following the launch of this English blog, couldn't it? It's not too late, cos I believe there are still enough hair left somehow!

14 Feb 2007


Note: This blog has been established after the Japanese author decided to write his existing blog in English, which will still remain as 'translated version'.

In the autumn 2006, after finishing one year course of architecture in a UK university, I was supposed to go back to Japan to return to the business. One day, however, almost all of a sudden, a new idea has come to me.

'One year meant nothing to me. Why not make more attempts? Let's go as far as possible!'

Fortunately, things went so well. And I have been working for an architectural practice in London since last November.

It seems it takes just one year to adapt oneself to a new place. Only with the basis of life made up in the term, we will be able to use what we have learnt there. I would have the same feeling when I spent one year in Osaka. Thus, the forthcoming life in London must be meaningful for me than ever before, even though I am supposed to go back to Japan some day...

During the year of study in the UK, I have experienced the sequence of surprising discoveries about my country Japan. This made me realise how I should be confident of myself as a Japanese. Yes, London is attractive, but the place I would choose to live is Japan. After I finish my 'austere training' in London in the coming few years, I am intended to go back to Japan and go ahead for what I really want to do.

The work, which I have started as an architectural assistant, will mean nothing to me if I do not aim to go furhter. But in reality it is not a very easy task. As all other people around me in the office are Europeans, I can't avoid facing some disadvantages like in the use of language. But, why not face up to it with my parctical experiences and, particularly, with the confidence as a Japanese! I should do the work that only Japanese can do and leave my footprint here by realising a building with my own design, and then, return to Japan in triumph!!