Tuesday, April 15, 2014


日本語のクラスで私とイーサンとジさんとリューさんはいっしょにビデオポッドキャストを作りました。グループの名前は「アジアンのコミュニティ」です。私の母は沖縄から来ました。イーさんは韓国人です。ジさんとリューさんは中国人です。そして、私たちのトピックは中国、韓国、日本の文化はきょうつうせい (commonalities) がたくさんあります。

ラーメンや、お茶や、焼物や、書道についてスクリプトを書きました。これは、アジアンの文化をつなぎます (connect)。

ヤシャラーメンでビデオを作りました。レストランのぬし (owner) の名前はハンナです。かのじょとスタッフはとてもやさしくて、ゆうようでした (helpful)。ラーメンもおいしいし、ヌードルがうすいし、スープのうまみがありました。




Monday, March 3, 2014






Monday, February 17, 2014

About Communication

The topic for the latest blog post for Columbia's first-year Japanese class is "About Communication."

In our classroom we've formed groups of four to work on a video podcast, which is all about communicating our ideas to our fellow classmates as well as anyone else who will watch the finished project. Before we can communicate with our viewers, we must first communicate within the group. Finding a topic, writing proposals, and working on the script have brought us together as a cohesive unit, and we've been using the Japanese we've learned in class as well as picking up new vocabulary along the way. Through working on our own, we're closer to becoming autonomous learners as we research our topic and discover the best ways in which to convey our message in Japanese. In essence, that is the main purpose of doing the video podcast.

As someone with a degree in Mass Communications, I take a two-pronged approach to what the word "communication" means to me. From a professional point of view, I'm inclined to say that at its core, "communication" is about broadcasting your message to the world, whether it's news, sports, music, theater, drama, or comedy. I suppose that's from working in the television industry for more than twenty-five years, on the technical side of production, churning out facts and figures and numbers and data.

As a writer, I strive to be a little more elegant with communication. To communicate is to express an idea in an effective, informative manner that will entertain and educate the viewer/listener/reader. If we do our jobs as communicators adequately, perhaps we will prompt people to want to learn more.

Monday, February 10, 2014








Monday, February 3, 2014


My first official blog entry for my class is a short essay about what I did during my winter break.



It's been quite a while since I've posted on shrinecastle! In May of 2011 I launched JapanCulture•NYC, an English-language resource for all things Japanese in New York City. I've devoted all of my free time to attending Japanese-related events, interviewing Japanese artists and members of New York's Japanese community, and writing about Japanese culture.

I'm resurrecting shrinecastle now as part of the Blogging Project for first-year Japanese students at Columbia University. I was accepted into the Postbaccalaureate Studies Program at Columbia this semester, and while I'm not starting completely from scratch, I am doing a lot of important review work. I chose Columbia because I wanted to improve my Japanese and take a more serious approach to learning and studying. A great deal of Japanese culture is tied to its language, and if I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the culture, I need to be more proficient at speaking.

I'd like to introduce myself to the other students participating in the Blogging Project. I am Susan Hamaker, and I am half Japanese and half Caucasian American from a small town in North Carolina. I am not your typical college student. I am 45 years old, married, and I have been living in New York for 14 years. I have had a 24-year career in television production, but I am making the transition into full-time writing, with JapanCulture•NYC as my vehicle.

When I was growing up, I spoke only English to my mother, who is from Okinawa. This blog is named after her, the English equivalent of her maiden name, Miyagi. She taught me how to count to ten and how to say "hello," "thank you," and "you're welcome." I've learned a lot more taking various classes over the years, and now I am even more focused at Columbia. The fast pace of the class forces me to be focused. I'm excited for what this semester will bring!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tar Heels Play the Tokyo Dome

I'm a huge fan of Japan, baseball, and the North Carolina Tar Heels. It's a rarity when I can combine all three, but that happened last week, when MLB officially kicked off the 2012 season in Tokyo. Fortunately, I was able to make the trip to Japan to see the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics play a two-game series as well as exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants.

The Seattle Mariners have two players who were stars during their college days at Carolina, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager.

Seattle's starting second baseman, Dustin Ackley is a native of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, and had a record-setting career in Chapel Hill. In Tokyo, the Mariners' first-round pick (second overall) in the 2009 MLB draft had a couple of good games. Ackley was 0-3 as the Mariners lost in an exhibition against the Hanshin Tigers on March 25, but the next day he connected for a solo home run and a triple in Seattle's 9-3 loss to the Yomiuri Giants.

Ackley began the 2012 MLB season in fine fashion, going 2 for 5 with a home run, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored in the opener against the A's. Since he drove in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th, I'll overlook the throwing error he had in this game. In game two of the MLB series, Ackley's bat was a silent as his teammates', as he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

Ackley rounds third after his home run against the A's

The Mariners selected Kyle Seager of Kannapolis, North Carolina, in the third round of the 2009 draft. Seager was 0 for 1 in a pinch-hit appearance against Hanshin, but he had an RBI single as a starter in Seattle's contest with the Giants. He didn't play in the Mariners' first game against the A's, but an injury to left fielder Mike Carp forced Seattle manager Eric Wedge to juggle the lineup, allowing Seager to get the start at third base. He was 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

Seager at third base

The Oakland A's also have a Tar Heel on their roster, relief pitcher Andrew Carignan. Carignan, a teammate of both Ackley and Seager at Carolina, took the loss in game one after giving up the game-winning hit to Ackley.

Ackley has a pregame chat with teammates Chone Figgins and the iconic Ichiro