Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Once again, I'm experiencing a dry spell.

Indeed, the adventures continue, but there's only so many times I can write about the same thing happening.

There are only so many times one can rant about the things that happen back in the states...Only so many times I can be outraged by what people are willing to do and say in public forums... Only so many times absurdity can be trumped by absurdity.

Or so it seems...

I'm hopeful though. I'm sure I won't be disappointed. Never underestimate the power of humans to do and say really...really...retarded...shit...

In other news, I have another house guest. That's right, Gigantor has arrived in Japan, and I'm not really sure if Tokyo, or as he calls it, "Toka-Loka" is quite ready for it. You may remember him from this post about a year ago.

Unfortunately Drewski and Tall Paul will be leaving Japan soon. I have a feeling that Drewski will be back, but Tall Paul is pretty anti-Japanese. If you are a person who is easily outraged or put out by little things, Japan is really not a good place for you to live. Sure, any normal Gaijin here experiences his or her regular frustrations with whatever bullshit they encounter here, but it's just not a good place for some, especially people like Tall Paul, who are, as I said, easily outraged and upset about little stuff. You simply have to let shit go here. Either way, my entire social circle is getting an Extreme Makeover, but that's how it goes in Japan, especially the gaijin scene. People are pretty much transients here; they're not really here for the long haul, and I suppose I'll inevitably head back to America's Green Pastures someday as well..

Oh yeah, another thing.

I saw Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's female clone on the train.

That's him on the left, and her on the right.

He's like Samson. He gets his power from his hair. That's why he kicks so much ass.

...Oh, and here are some instances of animal cruelty in Japan:


My official response is this:

Monday, May 22, 2006


Well, Brando came and left. It was an awesome visit -- I took a week off of work and hit up all the sites. Pictures were taken. Many pictures. I will allow Brando to post those on his site as he sees fit, and I will try my best not to steal his fire.


I will post a brief schedule of events as they happened. This will also assist Mr Brando in remembering some of the names/places we went for when he writes his blog. I switch back and forth from 3rd person and 1st person, but: Paul = me, Tall Paul = my friend Paul, who shares the same name, and is really tall.

Arrival; went to Shinjuku with Tall Paul and grabbed some yakiniku at a Korean restaurant. Yum. Cruised back home at 11pm.

Went to Harajuku and walked to Shibuya. Hung at Sonoma Restaurant with Yucifer and went to a Tachinomiya ("stand up" drinking bar, i,e. u don't sit down) at about 6pm, drank a lot of cheap beer, and headed over to the Maple Leaf restaurant. There, Brando experienced Damon, the crazy Australian, in full force. Ended up back at Sonoma because Brando had a hankerin' for lamb, and Paul amused Brando by repeatedly demanding an order of "freedom fries" from the french waiter.

Odds that Paul consumed "freedom bodily fluids": Very high.

Odds that Paul cares: Irrelevant.

Cruised around Yokohama, namely China Town, Landmark Tower, and Sakuragi-cho. Played on the pier and victimized homosexuals in public restrooms.

Just kidding bout that last part.

We headed back early because The Simpsons, Family Guy, Lost, and The Apprentice are on Tuesdays, and I needed to do some laundry in a big way.

Went to Shibuya, walked to Roppongi. Had the world's most expensive beers at Hard Rock (about $13 a piece) and horsed around in Tokyo Tower. Brando managed to find a Geocache at the base of the Tokyo Tower without a GPS. Paul discovers that Geocaching is fun, but is probably too lazy to make a hobby out of it. Next, headed over to Yasukuni Shrine. Paul and Brando meet up with Paul's ladyfriend and eat some good food at an izakaya. That was a full day with a lot of walking. We finished up the night by doing some Karaoke, and it's safe to say that Brando rocked...the...freak...out...(movie footage available)

Hung with Paul's college friend, Jon. Jon was Paul's good friend from College and met Brando at some point about 9 years ago, but Brando does not remember. Brando is, however, highly amused by Jon, and finds his political views "over the top" (in a good way). Once again, end up at the tachinomiya and get bombed on cheap beers.

Paul and Brando meet up with Drewski at Akihabara, after delivering some copenhagen snuff to Tommy. Tommy was unable to play this week because his tonsils swelled up and he had a temperature of about 40 degrees centigrade. Doctors requested that he not smoke (after spending 3 days in the hospital), but nothing says "tonsil health" a fat dip. After cruising around Akihabara and taking pictures of freaks and playing video games with some middle schoolers, we went and walked around in Ueno, and then we headed to Ginza and got shitfaced at a 300yen bar, i,e. everything is 300yen. Jon met us as well. We cruised to Shibuya and the ladyfriend came out, and we all did an all-nighter, heading back to my place at about 8am. Brando gets a manicure and his nails polished at some point during the night, resulting in black fingernails, save for one, which has a black skull-and-crossbones tastefully drawn on it.

We got a late start and it was raining, but Brando, Paul, and the Ladyfriend finally made it to Asakusa at about 7pm. There was a festival going on, which was mighty lucky, so Brando got to see some cool stuff, and even said "hi' to God. After that, we went to Odaiba, enjoyed the romantic nightscapes, and headed to Shibuya to begin pre-flighting. We met up with Drewski, Tall Paul, Yucifer, his brother, and some skeezers they know, and we all headed out to Roppongi. We started off at Muse and ended up at Vanilla, which I despise. Either way, it was a good Roppongi experience for Brando, as I believe Vanilla is the largest club in Roppongi. Or the second biggest. I can't remember, and I don't care, because I hate it. Yucifer hooks up with inappropriately hot girl, and does a little dance and cheer for Brando before disappearing into a cab with her. We made it back to my room at about 7am, slept for a few hours, and I deposited Brando onto his train to the airport at about 1:15pm on Sunday. As far as I know, he is still at the airport wandering around, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he made it back OK.

Check his log for details, and a cool perspective on someone who's never been to Japan before!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

...And the winner is....

...And how!

Seriously tho..

Mr Brando is coming to visit today, so I will probably be posting some stuff later this week. Check his site for news too, as Japan will probably seem a lot more exciting / have a new, untarnished look to someone who hasn't lived here for a bit (and had their soul stolen from them). muahahaaaaa

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Golden Shower anyone?

So this week in Japan was Golden Week. Golden Week is one of the only times of the year in Japan when people can take off for vacation. I mean, companies give vacation days and stuff, but if you are Japanese and you take off during other times of the year, lots of times your co-workers will talk shit about you and complain, which is a big deal over here. Not like in the USA, where we'd tell everyone to get bent.

"Wow, you seem to be taking a lot of vacation time these days."

USA response: "And? I have a lot of vacation days. Do you have a problem? Are you telling me that I can't take my vacation days that I rate?"

Japan response: "My co-workers are thinking ill of me. Oh shit."

The Japanese tourist industry is very accommodating too. They jack up the prices during this time 'cuz they know everyone will be traveling, and going anywhere is a complete nightmare. One of my coworkers drove into town to take some business, which should have taken about 3 hours at the most. It turned out to be a 9 hour ordeal.

Screw that.

I was watching Japanese news last night and they reported traffic backups on the highways up to 30 kilometers. That's a lot. Japanese people just kind've shrug and say "...well, it is Golden Week after all......."

That seems a much better response than, say, the average American's response during stressful travel seasons, which is to go apeshit and make a public scene. There aren't many public scenes here. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen one, unlike in Korea, where I saw like 3 in one day and there wasn't even anything special going on. I love Korea.

Another thing I love is calling it "Golden Shower Week."

"konshuu golden shower abiru?"

"Are you going to take a golden shower this week?"

har har...

Working for the US Government, Golden Week means nothing to me, but all my friends have off. "What are you doing for GW," they ask. "Working." After getting back from my Osaka trip, I realized that I hadn't taken any time off for about 6 months. I'm also very aware of the fact that I'm the only one in my department who hasn't / isn't getting hooked up with a trip this year, and that the trip I did get hooked up with was to Charlottesville, VA for a week at a conference that had nothing to do with what I do. Meanwhile, everyone in a position to send me on a trip is busy sending themselves to Hawaii for whatever they possibly can.

Roger that.

Then my boss calls me in his office and says, "We have someone coming here for reserve duty, and we'd like you to be her sponsor."

"OK," said I. "When is she getting in?"

"On the 14th."

I knew when she was getting in. I just had to hear it for myself.

Now, I haven't had a tantrum since I've gotten here. I threw biweekly tantrums in my supervisor's room in Afghanistan, which he took with a lot of grace. They weren't directed at him so he didn't mind, I was just spazzing out.

Anyway, I informed my boss that my best friend from college would be coming out that week, and that I'd be taking leave that whole week, and waited for him to do the "grit my teeth and suck in air" thing that people do before they shitcan something you wanna do. I was poised and ready to let loose.

I think my boss saw my basic-tantrum-throwing-warrior's-stance and said, "oh ok, well just set it up and I'll take care of it."

I admit, I was a little disappointed. Tantrums can be cathartic. But disaster was averted, and I didn't have to pull my spaz-card.

So Friday I took a sickday cuz I was, erm, feeling sick, but fortunately I recovered quickly and got to enjoy some gorgeous weather in Tokyo with a ladyfriend of mine. I needed a break. The Osaka trip was a vacation, but since I'm the only one who can speaky Japanezey and drive, it's not a 100% vacation. This weekend was great though. Totally relaxing.

During my Tokyo trolling, I discovered that King Leonidas was very misunderstood. Not only was he the King of Sparta, he was also a connoisseur of chocolates.

Who'da thunk?

At one point, I also got in trouble on the train. For some reason I was doing pronunciation practice with my friend, who speaks very good English (I think) but we only speaking Japanese to each other. Here's how the pronunciation practice went:







*uncontrollable giggling*





*uncontrollable giggling*

We weren't even doing it loud at all, just above a whisper, but this old lady was giving me the stank eye. Finally she says to the girl in Japanese (with a horrified look on her face):

"You shouldn't be doing that on the train. Maybe you could teach him about Japanese culture..!"

This resulted in hysterical laughter from me and embarrassed laughter from her, and the old lady gave us a nasty look and moved away.

As much as I avoid being "that obnoxious gaijin," sometimes I slip up. Compared to most roundeyes out here, I really mind my ps and qs and try to be as anonymous as possible. In any case, the thing that I found funniest was...why Japanese culture? Of all things to talk about on the train, did she expect me to be receiving lessons about ikebana or origami or samurais??? I wonder if she'd be so snippy about Japanese culture if she realized that the girl is an ethnic Korean whose relatives were probably brought over as slaves during WWII? I wanted to ask, "What aspects of Japanese culture should she teach me? Comfort women?? Maybe a little enjokousai??" Perhaps something from here????

I guess she didn't notice all the businessmen reading violent pornographic manga in out in the open.

Let's be honest though.

Bottom line: I need to grow the freak up. Seriously.

Golden Showers? Swearing on the train? Tantrums in the office? Sparta Chocolate humor?


I need a vacation.

Save me Brando!

Monday, May 01, 2006

...oh deer

You ever tried to do a trip on the cheap? But due to some things that are and are not within your control, the trip ends up being at least twice as much as you intended?

Yeah, welcome to my weekend.

I rented the battlewagon and cruised up to Tokyo to collect the Canadians.

It was time for another Osaka road trip !!!

Computer! Show battlewagon!

Road tripping with 4 or more people is the most economical way to travel domestically. I can rent a van for $50 a day, and the van comes with toll vouchers. From Tokyo to Osaka (one way) is a little over $100, which is waived for us. If we took the train it would be about $150 per person one way. It sucks.

Anywho, we thought it would be better to leave at night 'cuz there'd be less traffic. Wrong. Once again, we imposed our North American assumptions upon Japan and it blew up in our faces. We didn't realize that the Japanese highways are giant truck parties all night long. While we made pretty good time, the trucks tacked on about an extra hour of time, so we showed up in Osaka at around 7:30am. Since I rent the van from base, I'm the only one who can drive. That kind've sucks, but I don't really mind driving long distances, and if I feel like being a little bitch at some point along the trip, I'm totally within my bounds.

Not that that ever happens...

On the way down I noticed some tasty treats available for weary travelers.

And for those of you who are fans of funny fat white folks?

120yen. You'd think it'd be more expensive.

So, what did you guys do in Osaka??

We did some drinking, but I'll spare you a post about me getting shit faced and pissing off every woman that cares about me in the least. I'll also spare you the drunk "look I'm drunk hanging on a girl" pictures too. This is a post about cultural stuff. I'm being refined here.

Exhibit A:

As you can see, Osaka is in Kansai, which is near a few other cool cities. One might say that Kansai is the cultural breadbasket of Japan, assuming one were to ever use culture and breadbasket in the same sentence. Again, Drewski's brother is in town, and the Canadians were jonesin' for some roadtrippage.

Kyoto was the old capital of Japanistan back in the diz-ay, and the USA was kind enough not to level it during WWII. I really liked going there when I was a student here. My favorite place (as some of you may remember) is Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion.

I took that picture. I think it's physically impossible to take a bad picture of that place. It almost looks fake.

After that we cruised over to some other temples and shrines. It's kind've easy to get all Temple'd out there, because they're everywhere. Oh look, a temple. Oh look, another one. I almost threw my mom off the side of Kiyomizudera when she was visiting because we saw like 800 temples and shrines in one day. I called it the "Temple Shuffle".

I'm not a real culture-y guy, you see. I like what I like, but I have the attention span of a gold fish.

After that we went to some other places, like here:

Computer! Enhance!

One of the best parts of the trip was how big my friends are. One is 6'6, one is 6'3 or 6'4, and the other is 6'1. When we'd stop at rest stops in the countryside people would crash into stuff rubbernecking. Super-size Gaijin.

Except for me.

I'm just a baby.

Anyway, after a night of revelry, we cruised over to Nara to play with the deer. There are deer cruising around in some of the parks. You can feed them little crackers called "shika senbei". They don't really like to play though, and they're not really interested in hanging out if you're not feeding them. We found a little family of deer and cautiously approached.

I found one hanging out, so I offered up a cracker, which she graciously accepted.

Then I saw a little baby dear.

"Who's a cute little baby dear?!?!", I asked.

Then something weird happened.

"Wow," thought I. "He's possessed!"

He wanted some crackers.

Or maybe my flash was on.


In any case, the deer are taught to bow before they get crackers, so they trot over to you and start bowing. They don't do it indefinitely though, and they get really pissed off if you don't give them anything. I was looking for a cliff to stampede them off of, but I didn't have any luck finding one.

Here's a video of one of them bowing.

So aside from me hitting a pole with the van (which is probably gonna cost about $400) and accidentally spending $100 on parking for 2 days in Osaka, the trip wasn't really that expensive!

Maybe I'll post again when I find out how much the damage is to the van. Or maybe I'll just lock myself in my room.

More later..