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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last day in Japan

by Trent Herzog

Thursday
We had lunch with pastor Paul Ueki at a Chinese restaurant where I ate lots of exotic food, which included shark fin soup, sliced jellyfish, and peiking duck (duck skin tacos). I’m trying to eat a lot so I can make up for the weight I lost at Asbury and gain weight, because I want to get bigger, so I think I surprised Mr. Waggoner and Crum by eating more than them, despite being smaller than them. The pastor paid for the meal, which was very generous. 

Then the pastor gave us a tour of the city where he was born, which included walking along Tokyo Bay. We saw three buildings that were called king, queen and jack, because they were the first three big buildings in Yokohama. Mr. Waggoner took some pictures of Crum and me against backdrops like a ferris wheel.  

We went back to the Zirkles house, and Mr. Waggoner, Crum and Holly did some shopping at Don Quixote, while Mr. Zirkle and I checked out the martial arts dojo above the store, because Mr. Zirkle remembered that I wanted to see some martial arts in Japan. The dojo was small, but I saw some children practicing jiu jutsu, which is one of my favorite Japanese martial arts. During dinner at the Zirkles’ house, the Zirkles gave Mr. Waggoner, Crum and I all pens for a present. That night, we signed the Zirkles’ guest book and tried some soybean flavored Kit Kats and “dry” Pepsi that Holly had bought at the store.

I have been over whelmed by the Zirkles’ generosity during this trip. There have been so many good people on this trip like the Zirkles, Holly, pastor Paul Ueki and the Bible study at Rikkyo college. There might be only 1% Christianity in Japan right now, but with good, genuine people such as these, I definitely think there is hope for Japan. ^_^

We are posting this as we run out the door to the airport, so we won't have time for captions, but still thought you may enjoy some pictures from the day.











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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to school

by Nathan Waggoner

Today was a pretty laid back day in some ways.  We traveled to the Christian Academy of Japan (CAJ) where Becky Zirkle works in the library.  We wanted to get a little footage of Becky in her ministry there at CAJ.  Since the end of the year is nearly over, Becky is busy cataloguing the textbooks and we helped her move some of them around the school.  We also filmed some students in the courtyard for some more youth footage.

Nathan Crum uses the steady cam to shoot a little behind the scenes today.  We have been filming a fair amount of behind the scenes footage and hopefully will be able to edit a video of our time here as well.

After driving back to our home base, we ate an amazing dinner!  It was a typical Japanese dinner consisting of rice and shredded cabbage with breaded and deep fried chicken or pork as the main dish with  Miso soup and fruit as sides.  After dinner Nathan Crum tried making some sushi using some leftover rice and a seaweed wrap.  It was impressive!  I think I know what we will be doing for Global Café snacks when we share this fall.


Tomorrow we will be traveling by train south of the city to Yokohama.  It will be sort of a tourist day as we see a new part of Japan.  We don’t have any particular footage we are trying to get, but you can be sure we will be taking our cameras anyway.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow will be out last day here in Japan.  We have been blessed to see lots of amazing things and meet some really great people.  Pray with us that we will be able to share a little of what we have learned through the videos we will be producing.  The Zirkles who have hosted us will be coming back to the states this summer for their homeland ministry assignment and they will be using our videos as they share with churches and small groups throughout the USA.  There is a young family named the Motts that will also be using the videos as will Brandon Kuba as they are also raising their support to get to Japan.  If you are interested in having any of them share with your church or small group, e-mail me at Nathan@asburywgm.org and I can put you in touch with them.

Thanks for your continued prayers! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last day of interviews


by Nathan Crum

Today has also been a good day for interviews. We talked to three leaders in the Japanese church that also has plenty of experience in other cultures. There were still a few questions that were left unanswered before today but after we were able to hone our questions and talk to these pastors with a fresh perspective we got almost everything we needed.

After some of the interviews today Trent and I decided to take on Tokyo’s newest challenge…the MegaMac! McDonalds new quadruple patty burger which we have only seen here in Japan. We managed to consume it easily along with fries. They also gave us a free can shaped glass Coca-Cola cup for super sizing the meal. 


From the first ad we saw on the train, we knew we had to try the Mega Mac

We were also able to go celebrate Nathan Waggoner’s birthday today by eating out at a nice restaurant in the Sunshine City mall and dessert at Coldstone creamery before ending the day logging and resting.


Shot on a timer from a neighboring table at tonight's dinner.
Nathan's balancing fork trick
They sing a ice cream mixing song here in Japan as they prepare your Cold Stone treat.
Nathan chose "Chocolate Devotion" for his birthday dessert.  Instead of any coffee flavors, they had green tea flavors of ice cream.  None of us were brave enough to try it.
 Now Nathan Waggoner and I are sitting in our matching authentic Japanese outfits (with pants) and watching Leverage with Trent and Holly. Just a few days left here in Japan and a few places left to visit and film before we head home and finish up the project. So we will leave you with some fun humorous images for today.

Holly took this action shot.
For how clean everything in Tokyo is, we were surprised to see this sign in the elevator of an office building today.
Trent standing in to test the light for an interview that was about to happen.
The Zirkles had a special plate for Nathan to use today on his birthday.
 The next viral YouTube video.  Youth all over Japan will soon be doing this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rainy Monday

by Trent Herzog


Monday
I transcribed most of three videos in the morning. Then we went to Rikkyo college and had another meeting with the Rikkyo Bible study group. We interviewed some more people in the Bible study group and filmed everybody sitting at the table where the group has their meetings. We also had a Japanese, sugary snack that we had in the park on Saturday. We talked to the people in the group just to get acquainted and read some verses in the Bible, but we only stayed for two hours and then went back home. We didn’t do much outside today. This afternoon I finished transcribing the three videos that were in English and found out from Mr. Zirkle that he transcribed the videos that were in Japanese himself, which saves me a lot of work. This evening we watched two more episodes of Leverage. This day was somewhat uneventful. We only did one thing outside today, which was visiting the Bible study group again. I can’t believe we only have three more days left before we return home. I wish we could spend two more weeks in Japan, because I love it here and the Zirkles are great. Japan is everything I thought it would be. ^_^


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Worshiping in Tokyo

by Nathan Waggoner

Even without a common language, worshiping with brothers and sisters in Christ is always uplifting.  Today was no different.  We attended the Immanuel Fukagaea Church this morning and joined them in worship.  After the service we ate a delicious meal of Japanese Curry while sitting on the floor at low tables in typical Japanese fashion.  The church provides an inexpensive meal each week after church and most of the church family stays to eat a fellowship.  Once a month the church puts on an afternoon concert, so after lunch we enjoyed some classical and sacred music performed by the youth and college-age students at the church. According to the pastor’s wife, about 2/3 of the people who came to the concert were non-Christian.  It is rare for a non-believer to feel comfortable coming into a church building, so these concerts are a way to introduce new people to the church.  The music was beautiful, but after a good meal and while sitting in a warm room, the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” felt a lot like a lullaby.  The only think that kept me awake was filming Nathan Crum struggling to stay awake himself. 

After the concert, we had the chance to interview lots of people in the church.  We did six individual interviews and then had a panel style interview with about a dozen youth.  According to Kevin Zirkle we got a lot of good stuff, but we have to trust him since all of the interviews were in Japanese today. 

We did several of our interviews up on a little balcony above the sanctuary.  We have gotten pretty good at being creative in tight places.

Trent is showing where to attach the mic.
We try to use available light whenever possible, but sometimes we had to get out the video light to add depth to the subject.

Shooting a panel 'interview' was a little tricky, but hopefully we have something usable.
Tomorrow we will be working hard at translating some of the interviews we have shot.  As they are translated into English, Trent will be transcribing them.  Nathan Crum and I will be working on scripting and making sure we have all of the shots we need.  We will be using this information to plan out Wednesday and Thursday’s schedules.

Pray that tomorrow is productive!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Promised pictures from Saturday

Thanks to Holly for taking theses pictures of us yesterday while we focused (no pun intended) on video.
We found this overlook of the famous Tokyo scramble intersection and were able to get some good shots of the crossing.
There is no audio on the shot below because we were standing in a train terminal and the audio wouldn't have matched anyway.  The visual speaks for itself.  This intersection averages 45,000 people crossing an hour.

Trent uses the glide cam to shoot the intersection.

Reviewing some footage before heading out to get more at a popular Tokyo park.

Our 'normal' steady cam camera battery died, and our other camera is significantly heavier, so Nathan Crum used his water bottle as a counter weight for a few shots.  He has the real makings of a missionary videographer with that creativity!

Ultimately we found that two empty water bottles made the rig a little more steady.

We aren't standing this close just be cause we like each other. Even with our doubts when the train doors opened, Holly said we would fit, and she was right.
The train emptied out about half of the people from the shot above, so we were able to get this short video.


Heading to church in a few minutes to get more interviews. We will get to eat lunch at a traditional Japanese low style table. When is the last time you took your shoes off when you went to church?

Full Saturday in Tokyo

by Nathan Crum

What a busy tiring day we have had today, but we have been blessed with tons of good footage. (We will try to post some pictures/videos in the morning) We started our day interviewing the Zirkels this morning around 10am. After the interview we began our 7 hour trek/train ride that was one of our most fun days this week. 

We travelled by train to Yoyogi park where we were able to see what people in Japan like to do on the weekend. Before we got there though we had to get some shots of “The Scramble.” The scramble is a nickname for a large 4-way intersection that has an average of 45,000 people crossing it every hour. The cross walks go from sidewalk to sidewalk and criss-cross into an “x” in the middle of the intersection. You can also just carve your own path and ignore the crosswalks altogether because they stop all four ways of traffic at once instead of a few at a time. On our way to the park we came across a group of Taiko players. Taiko I learned is a Japanese style of drumming where they will choreograph movements between the drums and sort of dance at the same time while playing and switching drums between each other. 

At the park we saw more activities than we could count on two hands. There were people set up doing jump rope to hip-hop music, freestyle basketball & soccer players, skateboarding, BMX bikes, volleyball, Frisbee, sword practice, dancing, picnics, concerts, juggling, and more. You name it we saw it. We stayed there for quite some time trying to film as many youth activities and families in the park as we could. We ran the T2i camera dead and went through 1 ½ batteries on the 5D which we had never done before. I think we managed to gather lots of great shots today. We finally began the journey back home and stopped at a few interesting shops along the way and found some great deals. We also managed to fit our team on our first rush hour train experience just without needing the train attendants to push people to make them fit as the doors were shutting. It was still pretty crowded though. Altogether it was the fullest and most exhausting day but it was one of the best days we have had so far.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday in Tokyo

by Trent Herzog

I transcribed three interviews that we had in English this morning. Then we visited the Bible study group at the college again and interviewed five students in the group. Mr. Zirkle interviewed the five students in Japanese, Mr. Waggoner filmed the interviews, and I held a reflector during a couple of the interviews until my arms got tired. After that, we had lunch that Mr. Zirkle had brought with him, outside. Then we shopped at a pen store, a computer store and a bookstore where I looked at manga including the Gantz series and doujinshi. Crum and I bought a couple drinks and rice cakes at a 7/11. It was the first rice cake I’ve ever had. It was cheap, only 130 yen, around $1.50, but it was good. My drink tasted weird, though. Sodas and soft drinks in America taste a lot different from drinks in Japan, and they usually have a stronger taste. A couple of tremors have occurred today, one in the morning and another while I was working on this journal this evening. The tremors are only one something on the seismograph, so they aren’t that bad, but it’s still startling when it happens.

Thanks to Holly for these pictures of our team from earlier in the week.  We have been so busy shooting video that we haven't gotten many pictures of ourselves.

Friday in Tokyo

by Trent Herzog

I transcribed three interviews that we had in English this morning. Then we visited the Bible study group at the college again and interviewed five students in the group. Mr. Zirkle interviewed the five students in Japanese, Mr. Waggoner filmed the interviews, and I held a reflector during a couple of the interviews until my arms got tired. After that, we had lunch that Mr. Zirkle had brought with him, outside. Then we shopped at a pen store, a computer store and a bookstore where I looked at manga including the Gantz series and doujinshi. Crum and I bought a couple drinks and rice cakes at a 7/11. It was the first rice cake I’ve ever had. It was cheap, only 130 yen, around $1.50, but it was good. My drink tasted weird, though. Sodas and soft drinks in America taste a lot different from drinks in Japan, and they usually have a stronger taste. A couple of tremors have occurred today, one in the morning and another while I was working on this journal this evening. The tremors are only one something on the seismograph, so they aren’t that bad, but it’s still startling when it happens.

Thanks to Holly for these pictures of our team from earlier in the week.  We have been so busy shooting video that we haven't gotten many pictures of ourselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Full Day

Today was a really full day and we are tired, so we will post our update tomorrow. We are all doing well, and learning a lot about the church here in Japan.

Thanks for your continued prayers!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

High above Tokyo

This panoramic was stitched together from 10 still pictures. (click picture to see a larger size)
Today was a pretty amazing day for filming and getting to understand the lives of experienced Japanese Christians from a women’s English Bible study. We began our day by going to a popular tourist attraction in the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan government tower. The top of the tower contained a couple panoramic views overlooking Tokyo as well as a café and a gift shop. Even though we were told not to use tripods while we were there, another group of people came up with a professional tripod and video camera and began shooting.

Here is a screen grab from one of our videos. Even from 45 floors up, we could zoom in on workers taking a smoking break at the base of the middle dark building in the panoramic above.

The overlook was on the 45th floor of this Tokyo Metropolitan tower.
After we made sure we shot all we needed we grab some lunch at a local restaurant and filled up on large bowls of ramen. We later met up with Becky Zirkel and the women from her Bible study to interview them about what it is like to be a Christian in Japan. All the interviews went well and we even had the chance to talk to a 3rd generation Christian which is very hard to find in Japan. Hope you enjoy our pictures from today and there will be more tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playing tourists (with lots of camera equipment)

by Trent Herzog

We visited the college we had gone to the day before again where we saw a festival and did some filming. However, we weren’t able to film at the rally, because an official at the festival wouldn’t allow it. However, we did get some footage of some people and buildings that weren’t at the rally. We also went to a Buddhist temple where we saw two giant statues of scary looking demons that were supposed to guard Buddha from evil spirits. The statues were in small towers with screens that you could see through, and on the side of each tower there was a giant sandal made of straw that was supposed to belong to Buddha. If you manage to touch Buddha’s giant sandal, you’re also supposed to get good luck, so Crum filmed me jumping up and touching the sandal. A Japanese cameraman took some pictures of me, and I gave him the peace sign, which is the typical sign most Japanese people give you when you take a picture of them. I used the restroom but found out the restroom only had holes in the floor that you were supposed to do your business into instead of actual toilets. I bought myself a bottle of Lipton tea, because I had a headache and I thought I might be dehydrated. I also filmed some of the videos today. We logged lots of videos in the morning and at night.


Nathan and Trent logging this morning
The Asaksa Temple in the middle of Tokyo

There were several small gardens around the temple with statues.

Trent jumping to touch the huge straw sandals.  Folklore says that you will be able to walk long distances  if you can touch these sandals.  With all the walking we are doing here in Japan, we may need the help.

We were caught in a downpour as we were leaving the temple.  Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we got out of the subway for our mile walk home.

You probably wouldn't hear Nathan if we hadn't set up the mic.  We have some 'official' interviews tomorrow, so it was good to test our camera set-up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How many people did YOU shoot today?

by Nathan Waggoner

There are an estimated 35 million people in the Tokyo area, so shooting video can be a little tricky as we found today.  Getting equipment from point A to point B is the first challenge, but thankfully we are shooting with digital SLR's so we can travel pretty light.  The one necessary piece of equipment that is proving to be difficult to use is the tripod.  Finding a place where we can set one up without being in the way of everyone is a challenge.  Most people ignore the fact that we are shooting pictures and video, but they aren't happy if we are set up in the flow of traffic.  There are thousands of people in the streets and on the sidewalks, so we have learned to time our shots to the stoplights which give us short segments of clear walkways to set and shoot.

This morning we worked a little more on the planning aspect of our video work.  We think we have four video topics nailed down and we are developing a shot list to help us make sure we get the visuals we need to tell the stories.  We have been particularly drawn to the needs of the youth in Japan, so we are planning to focus a lot of our attention on getting footage of youth.  Today we were privileged to spend some time in Bible study with four students from Rokyo University which is within walking distance of our home base at the WGM center.  We met in a small room on the 5th floor of the student activities building on campus.  It was nice to get to meet a few college students and hear brief testimonies from them.  One of the young men in the study is a new freshmen this semester at the university who accepted Christ while being hosted by a Christian family in a study abroad program in rural PA.  How cool is that!  He recently returned to Tokyo after two years in the USA, and was glad to find a Christian fellowship he could join at the University.  I am so glad that our missionaries Holly and Kevin are here to help continue to disciple him and the other Christians in the group.  You can hear Trent's thoughts about the Bible study in the video clip below. We will be spending some more time at the University tomorrow to get some stock footage of random students in their beautiful courtyard.


After the Bible study, we traveled to the headquarters of Immanuel Gospel Church where we met several church leaders and set up times to interview them over the next two weeks.  While Kevin and Holly were representing WGM in some meetings, the three of us walked around the surrounding blocks getting more footage and enjoying the sights and sounds of Tokyo.

We are traveling by train and foot mostly here in Japan.  Both offer exercise since there is often no place to sit on the trains.

Trent and Kevin on our walk back to the WGM house after a full day.
We walked several miles today, so I think we should sleep well tonight.  We have have a full day of shooting tomorrow that includes the University, a Buddhist temple, and one of the busy shopping districts.  Thanks for your prayers!  We feel them even though we are 13 hours ahead of most of you!
 :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our first Sunday in Japan

by Nathan Crum

Today our team had the privilege to attend the Nakameguro church in Tokyo. It was a beautiful church that is built into 4 story building with the sanctuary being on the third floor. The first floor has glass walls going around it on two sides so that the occasional worship meeting held there might be visible to passer bys who have no idea what Christians do in a church. The worship in the church was beautiful to listen to but with all the words being in Japanese characters it’s kind of hard to sing along. We were also witness to an event that hasn’t happened before in the 30 years the Zirkels have lived here and attended the church. At the end of the service the pastor was interrupted by a couple radical German ladies that were trying to preach impending judgment and death on the Japanese as a people at which point they were quickly, yet kindly, escorted out the door and informed that it’s illegal to purposefully interrupt a religious service in Japan.

After all the excitement in the church that morning we ate lunch and then made our way over to the Meiji Shinto shrine. It was a section of Tokyo almost like a park with broad gravel paths and enveloped by towering trees and spiraling branches. 

Outside of the gate to the shrine.
Here we were able to observe and understand a little of Japan’s religious past and influences on today’s culture and beliefs. Where in the USA many of our large events like weddings and child dedications are held in churches by religious and non-religious people; the Japanese would have similar events at Shinto or Buddhist shrines like the wedding we were fortunate enough to witness today. It was a wonderful day for experiencing Japan and getting footage for the videos being worked on. At the end of the day we sat with Holly and the Zirkels and had a great discussion about youth in the church and how there is a great need for people that can connect to those youth. Not only is there a need to draw them in but retaining a group that are committed to the church and growing spiritually. This task is will be increasingly hard with the ever widening disconnect between the very traditional adults and the ever uncertain and western influenced youth that are living here today.

Nathan Crum enjoys a new Fanta flavor - Melon

This picture is from day one at about 5AM as we waited for our flight from Lexington.

I love the upload speed here in Japan!  12 MB/sec!  At that rate, we will try to post a daily video here from now on.  The video below is of Nathan Crum in the train on the way to the Zirkles house in Tokyo.  We were mainly testing camera settings, but I thought that you may enjoy seeing what we saw out the train window just outside of Tokyo when we first arrived in Japan.