The bloggings of an Upstate NY-born Tokyoite. Now with 20% more verbosity!

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

A visual tour of Downtown Shinjuku

Huge.


DVD and Terebi (Television)

Downtown Shinjuku, as seen from a land-bridge.


More tall buildings.








The Engrish never ends!




WHERE DA WHITE WOMEN AT??




So many stores, restaurants, etc.. It's not unusual to find really busy little side-streets like this.

I like 'em!

Some traditional-style Japanese drawings.


View from the east exit of Shinjuku station.


And that's all for Shinjuku pictures. I live conveniently close to one of the busiest train/subway hubs in the world, and have been commuting there regularly for job training. I'm over some of the tougher parts now, and once I start working I'll be rollin' in cheddar! I'll give all you all more details later on. I'm going to see Defiled and Hellhound, not Hellchild. Pretty disappointing since Hellchild is an amazing band but yea they broke up like 7 years ago. Also keep an eye out for my (probably late) CD of the week!

OK, here's a few more fun pictures and I'm out:

An ad for yet another English Conversational School, GABA. What a fake-looking cop.

The crowded train I mentioned in a previous post. It actually gets worse than this too!

If the coffee keeps you relaxed, isn't that bad??

Tonight's dinner: Fried eel over rice!

Actually taken from a kid's English textbook! :)

Oh, and random, weird J-fact of the day: there's a place Ikebukuro called Nekobukuro, a pun that sticks the word "cat" in the city's name. The reason being that it's just a room where you pay an hourly rate to play with kittens. Not a bad idea, especially since most apartments do not allow pets in this country. Pretty wacky though.



"Although we often wonder, it was no thing of wonder, the shit that flew from our minds! ...It took so much effort, not to make an effort, oh, what a flawless design.
It was always worth it
That's the part I seem to hide
And the busy ant empire
Put up the closing sign" - Modest Mouse.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Everyone needs something to look forward too...

Honestly, without the D-Day counter, this blog just doesn't feel the same. It's like so much of my happiness - our happiness, as people - relies on building expectations. Anticipation. Awaiting the climax, more so than actually achieving it. Is anything ever really objectively good, or do we just will it to be that way through endless amounts of mental build-up?

I guess what I'm trying to say is we all need goals to keep ourselves sane. This way we convince ourselves that our lives have purpose, and that there's a reason for this and that, "and hey don't sweat about X, yea it's bad, but Y is just around the corner." What does it matter then what we are setting ourselves up for, whether it's an Olympic race or a hamburger, or in my case leaving behind the world I knew for so long? I'm not trying to say I'm disappointed, it's just that I have thought about this kind of stuff for a long time. I'm almost more interested in the "why" we do things than anything else, even their actual results in real life.

Things are pretty tough right now. I need downtime, but training is very demanding and tomorrow is a big "test lesson," so I'm studying my ass off. I thought I left this behind with college! But no, learning teaching methods is important, and I'm learning a lot...it feels like too much, really. More than I can retain perhaps. I think I'll learn more "on the field," in action so to speak, as opposed to sitting around and being lectured. That isn't to say that this component of my job is not important, because it is! I wouldn't know where to begin without the proper training, conditioning and mindset, and would make all sorts of mistakes that would cause my students to regress instead of progress. All I'm saying is that I will learn so much more, get so much more done, and feel a hell of a lot better when training is behind me and I can really start making a difference in someone's life. Teaching something to somebody. I took this position because I wanted a job that I could be happy with, one where I would not rue the workday but look forward to it. A job where I would have visible results, and be able to take great pride in what I had accomplished. I could have made this money back home by selling myself short and doing something I would have hated - I definitely could have taken the easier way out. I take pride in the fact I didn't, but....

Damn, this is hard guys. I mean I'm not slaving away for 16 hours a day making sneakers in a third world country for a dollar a week, and I'm not working terribly hard physically (except the many miles walked and stairs climbed in dress shoes), but my brain is strained. Everywhere I look, there are things unfamiliar and strange. Even doing simple things like going to the grocery store or buying an appliance are 10x more difficult because of the language barrier. When the world overwhelms me, I tend to block it out so that I don't go crazy - Ergo I'm not really reading all the kanji I see, because if I tried to my head would explode. I'm practicing my Japanese when possible, but it's a hobby and not a priority right now. I hate to say it, but for the most part the culture is weighing me down and then the job is kicking me in the side, it's like a double whammy. My employers understand this and still (rightfully) demand a lot from their newest batch of employees. So yea, it ain't easy!

...at least the food is great!

Good night family and friends, and don't worry about me too much or anything like that. I came into this knowing full well it would be hardest at first, but I once I actually start my job for real things will ease up significantly. I can get into a pattern, get more settled, and not be under so much pressure. I'll be just fine.





Countdown to T-day (Teaching Day, a.k.a. my first real lesson) 13 days.

"Today I reached into a shitter, and saw the inmost part of me. My reflection has looked better, but it has never quite looked clean." - Polar Bear Club

"I came to see the end, but it already began." - Bloodlet

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not a dull moment

After each day here, I think when I get home: "Man, that was a long day!" And today was no exception. The worst thing that happened was that since I was totally exhausted last night, I completely neglected to set any alarm! So, I luckily woke up at 9:30 and was able to rush rush rush and make it to training just in time to still be late. Luckily I wasn't the only one, but punctuality is a really big deal here in Japan - Even being a minute late is considered late! So I have to try a lot harder on that in the future. I'm going to start setting two alarms every morning, so that the only possible thing that could cause me to be late would be extenuating circumstances, like a broken-down train or something.

After a long hard day of training, everyone in my group went out to go drinking for a little while! Even though none of us really had much time, we all needed some kind of a break. (And I know some of you just found this blog so, uh, Hi!) The bar we went to (on some of the staff's advice) was called an Iyazaki, meaning I have no idea what, and it had the first sliding doors I've actually seen in all of Tokyo thusfar. We all ordered a few drinks and got to laugh and be loud and take some pictures and all that good stuff. Whether the staff loved or hated us, well, I couldn't really tell! But we all broke out our politest Japanese, anyway.

All good people in my group, as I have previously mentioned. I feel the beginning of some beautiful friendships, and what makes it even cooler is bridging the culture gap: I mean, back in New York I never got the chance to hang out with people from Canada, let alone Australia! And many of our trainers are British, coincidentally.

The only other real thing that happened was that when I showed up to my transfer station on the way home, I heard some kind of message about an error or a problem. I don't know what was said - it was all very fast and a lot of words I don't know, other than "trouble," problem" and "please wait thank you." Suffice it to say I had to wait about an hour to get out of the station, but whatever, at least I didn't have anywhere that I needed to be. I also managed to somehow turn the wrong way out of the station and walk an extra mile or so getting back home, fun fun!

Not a very exciting entry, huh. Well, I'm working my ass off right now so I don't really have much energy to put into it. Here are a few things that I can't wait for:

-Saturday night. I'm sure most of us will all celebrate surviving the first week of training (we have one day off on Sunday, so we can actually stay out somewhat late)

-Defiled and Hellchild on Sunday! Japanese metal legends! Beers will be drank, heads will be banged, and picture will be taken this time!

-Two weeks from today, when I get to the end of training and can finally start teaching people English. I await this day with great impatience.

-My first paycheck! Japan is pretty expensive after all, especially if you want to go out or do anything remotely fun.

Until next time interwebbers. I promise that next time you won't have to read so much without some kind of fun visual break.

Me and Jordan, reppin' da Gaijin crew yo

"I see through bitter eyes, but the fact still remains! I read between your lines, you gotta beat em at their own game" - Madball

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dog go bow wow

Writing in this blog is addictive. Not only am I incredibly exhausted, my feet burning with relief now that those damned dress shoes are finally off, but I am also using my last inkling of spare time and energy to write this. If I don't, many things will be lost and forgotten in the ubiquitous reaches of my porous brain.

In other words, I am forgetful.

As you may already know, I woke up at 5am today, and did morning exercises. This is all well and good, but not when you have obligations until 9pm that night. Suffice it to say that today was a long day, and there was a point in it where I felt so shitty and frustrated that I said to myself, for the first time since I got here: "I want to go home." But we need to back this train up.

Trains! The all-encompassing transportation system here in Japan. Me and my friend Dayn met up this morning; You will remember that it is Dayn who is also a trainee, and who lives above me. As I recently discovered he also pays $300 less than me for rent, but has a dinky apartment, so I lucked out I think. I want to have friends stay here, and be able to keep plenty of stuff!

Woo tangent. We were walking to the station, and it feels nice to not be doing that solo, especially in my new hometown here. Please allow me to elaborate for you: While some of the recent "negative" experiences were rather poignant, I also may have exaggerated a bit - Many, many Japanese are tolerant of me, and most are friendly. It's just that here in Tobu-Nerima, very few foreigners are seen walking around. I know of maybe half a dozen, and there's probably even dozens more, but that is in ratio to probably 10,000 people, to just throw out a wild estimate. So, I get the most dirty looks here of anywhere, because foreigners aren't seen as much. Are we a threat to what remains of "traditional" Japanese culture, or do we help to bring perspective to a once isolated country and help them communicate with the rest of the world? Most likely both, but I certainly hope it's more the latter than the former. Either way, it's good to not walk alone.

We talked about some various topics, about our old lives and such: He is from Michigan, and I from New York, but we both enjoyed pizza and subs with lots of meat and other things that you can't necessarily get here. At the ticket station something humorous happened: An old lady walked in front of me in the line, which is funny in its own right because it would never, ever, ever, ever, EVER happen in East Greenbush, New York. OK, at least it would be highly abnormal. And then to put the cherry on the sundae, the damn thing flipped up and said "station closed" as soon as I walked up to it... Anti-Gaijin Detectors? I wouldn't put it past those technologically savvy Japanese!

But I kid. It was gorgeous and sunny so the walk to work from the station was enjoyable, and we took in Shinjuku in all its Urbane glory; I took a bunch of pictures, but do not have the energy to post them right now. I'll skip most everything about training, because again this isn't a work-blog! It's a life-, music- and Japan-blog. And, if anyone were too google my name and find this who I happen to work for, well, know that I love you guys for getting me over here, and I think you are number 1!!! :-)

Anyway, I love my little group of trainees, and the trainer today was hilarious. I have come to find however that florescent lights really bother me after a while, and I developed a headache after that chunk of first 4 hour chunk of training that stuck with me all day. I still have it now, and this is at least 7 hours later...but I chalk it up to lack of sleep and jetlag still rearing its ugly head. A bit about my fun little group of a dozen: One of them I met at the Melt Banana show, so he's into my music, which is boss. I also have a few Aussies in my group, whose accents I really enjoy listening to and trying to mimic. Girls with that accent are completely 100% always cute, regardless of any other factors. There is a former JET in our group (google that if you don't know what it means) and he's a bit older, but definitely more versed in the ways of East Asia than almost all of us. There's a few Americans, several Canadians and that's about all, really - the best part being that none of them take themselves too seriously, and we can have fun together.

After that piece of training we all had a break, so we went out to eat at a Burger King for lunch. Nothing really special about that meal, although it was a taste of home of sorts, and more filling than fish and rice - me and Dayn both thought BKs were nonexistant here, anyway. After eating my meal I felt naturally shittier, as fast food will do to you often times. We went to some mall down the road because this one girl wanted to look at shoes (oh boy), but me and my aforementioned compadre of musical taste found an instrument store in that same mall, and a large one at that! Long story short is we both plugged in and jammed for like 40 minutes, and that made me feel a bit better, as playing music always does. We also met a store attendant who spoke great English, apparently because he had come to New York and L.A. to see "jazz and rock bands," respectively. He insisted we come back again, haha.

As it turns out this musical fellow also knew how to shred, and with good reason - he graduated with a bachelors in music! (In the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, a bachelors in anything is acceptable for your qualification) So we talked as such, and although he's a very nice dude, I was happy to part ways and head back to work to snag my umbrella alone. The reason being that, well, after so much human interaction (about 7-8 hours worth) being tired and having a pervasive headache had gottent to me. I was in a serious "Fuck Everybody" kind of mood. I get like this sometimes, and really all I need is my space.

However, where is that space in Japan? Where I place my feet, where I sit to eat ramen? Not really. Subsequently I had such unpleasant, disconcerting thoughts as: "Everything here is completely foreign to me," "I don't belong here," "what am I even doing here?" And the aforementioned "I want to go home." It passed after a little while, and I just forced myself to smile, because sometimes doing your best to stay positive is really the only thing you can do for yourself.

It was 5:30, I was an hour and a half early for training and what should have been a 10 minute train ride, so I felt OK again. The training was also conveniently right at my transfer station, very close to home. I sat comfortably but was a little nervous, since this was different than the train I had taken the first few days, as Dayn had enlightened me to an express line that didn't make the 7 or 8 cumbersome stops on its way to Ikebukuro, but only yesterday. Determined however not to be unnecessarily paranoid I thought: you are fine, just relax.

So I did, and I ended up unnecessarily going to Shibuya, in the opposite direction. "No big deal, just get off this first stop and turn around." Wrong trains happen, it's to be expected. Only an extra stop back in Shinjuku and then I'd be there, right? I had plenty of extra time anyway, so no big deal right?

BATSU! That's something the Japanese throw around a bit, with the added gesticulation of crossing their arms like an X (a cute little gesture), and it means "wrong." Remember how I said in a previous post that I didn't have to worry about subway gropers? Well, I hadn't been on an actual crowded train yet. You ever see those pictures of trains being packed in with people until they fill to the brink, and it looks almost inhuman? Well, that's what it was like for me today on the way to finish up training. I was packed in like a sardine, gripping my bag and umbrella for dear life and trying not to bump people or stick people with them. As the train bumped a bit, I grinded by complete accident (and vice versa) into some salary man, and two middle-aged looking ladies who were both collectively as tall as me. It was so packed that at Shinjuku (the halfway point of this intense ride) I got pushed in farther from the exit door, and not even everyone who wanted to get on could.

Note to self: 6pm = rush hour. Ride train bad.

So, being thoroughly squeezed in, what did I do? I listened to my Ipod and just went with it. It really wasn't terrible so much as annoying, and difficult to not feel like an ass when bumping into people. Kind of like a really packed show, except at those I just make my way through the crowds; Here, that was damn near impossible. When we finally got to my stop, the worst was I kind of had to fight to get to the door. By the time I exitted the train, new people started pouring in, so unavoidably I must have knocked some people with my umbrella, perhaps in the shins or knees. At this point however I just didn't care, I needed out of that thing. That big, unnatural, sardine can on electrically-charged rails THING. I took a picture of all the poor saps standing in there, and will post it in the future. They looked at me with my camera, some glowering, and I just gave 'em the big old smile. With my work hours, I shouldn't need to take that train at that time again any time too soon.

The very end of my day was in Ikebukuro, which is another happening place, second to Akihabara in being technologically savvy with stores and whatnot, as Ian has so informed me. I was feeling real burnt but knew that I had to turn myself on for the training - it was an observation of small classes which turned out to be quite fun, actually - so I went to the nearest vending machine and sat down on a low brick wall at its side. I bought a Boss canned coffee for a roughly $1.20 (probably spent 20+ in canned coffees already, they are delicious) and ate some nutty chocolate candy that I had packed for lunch, but not eaten. The sugar and caffeiene were a good pick-me-up.

What's funny here is that I saw a black couple walk by. I'm just coming out and saying black, because ethnicity does matter here in Japan, and I could give two shits if you think I'm being politically correct in my treatment of the subject or not. Anyway they are all like: "hey, hey you, helloooo~!" So I casually pull of my headphones and say:

"You're lost, aren't you?"

"Yea," the girl says, "we need to find the Princess Hotel."

"O.K., well I have no idea where that is. Do you know what train you need to take?"

"No no, no train, it's around here somewhere."

"Well, I just got here last week so I can't help you. However, if you say "Shitsureishimasu, suchandsuch wa doko desu ka?" I'm sure someone can help you."

Here they seriously annoyed me, because the girl gave a distinctive cluck of annoyance herself, and said: "man forget that." I'm thinking to myself: "OK, you're here, you obviously don't speak a lick of Japanese, not even enough to ask for directions - is this somehow my fault or something?"

I re-iterate: "Just say SUCHANDSUCH DOKO? It'll get you far, trust me."

The male, apparently being less full of 'tude than his counterpart checked the pronunciation with me and said thanks, I think. I should have also said "there're these great things called phrasebooks and maps, you should try them some time!" But instead I said good luck, and headed toward my training session.

The teacher I worked with was incredibly nice, and a veteran of the company. I learned some good tips from him about handling lessons, and he even incorporated me in a few times! Meaning that I got to try my hand at English Conversation with a Japanese person whose level I was attempting to guage. I found it fun, exciting and challenging - not to mention interesting! Among other things, I have to try really, really hard not to laugh when a Japanese woman says something like: "Dog sound, you know, dog go bow wow." Also, I found out 2 particular Japanese cultural facts out which I had no idea of before: 1) People put water bottles around their gardens to ward off cats, apparently based on the loose assumption that cats don't like water 2) In accordance with Japanese tradition, there is a stringed instrument whose body is made from the hide of cats. Say "ewww" if you want to, but stuff like this is so fascinating, and I'll be learning lots of Japanese culture as an added bonus of my job and location. The awesome teacher also told some cool stories, namely about his cat catching a baby bat on the porch of his apartment. Badass.

Then, finally, time to go home. It was almost 9, and I felt lifted back up again, despite being tired and having to poo. Although the day had been rather rough at points, the ending was very reassuring, and the teacher even said to me: "I get that vibe from you, you are meant to be an English teacher."

Meant to be. Meant to be.

.......

I took the train home, but of course had to stop for something at the giant department store that is a good 3/4ths of a mile from my apartment, but very close to the train station. I bought a coffee maker (yessss), some new, more comfortable headphones, and random groceries like salad, plastic spoons and some kinda Asian stringbeans. All very exciting, ISN'T IT?

And now here I sit, in my underwear, beer at my side, thinking about just taking it one day at a time, because that's really the only way to live without going totally effin' crazy.



"Maybe if I eliminate the people who fit this so-called mold, my pain will finally be released, and my mind free of thought." - Suffocation

"Let me fly. Man I need a release from this troublesome mind. Fix my feet when they’re stumbling, and well you know it hurts sometimes. You know it's gonna bleed sometimes" - The Killers.

"Party 'Till Ya Puke" - Andrew W.K.

Charles Bukowski said:

And I'm paraphrasing here because I can't find the quote: "The worst kind of writer is someone who calls himself a writer." I personally don't think there is by definition any such thing as a "writer," through his talents or through nurturing. My point here is that writing is never an isolated thing: it's always a way to express ones' self, a medium to use in relation to everything else. This gets into linguistics and the kind of topic Greg last hit on in his last blog entry, concerning the purpose of speech - I won't get that deep, but I want everyone to know I'm not a writer. I'm just a guy who likes to read a lot, and thinks all too much to keep it all in my head.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are some pictures!

A brief tour of my building:

My shoebox which doubles a mailbox, apparently.

Umbrella holder. Literally every store you ever walk into here has one outside too, and a plastic-bag dispenser if you want to carry your umbrella with you. Efficient!

THOU SHALT NOT PASS.

Hehehe

There are even separate slippers to wear in the friggin' bathroom!

Japanese-style toilet! You squat, not sit.....I go downstairs to the Western-style ones for my "serious business."


Here are a few pics from back home I wanted to post:

Me and the family at Epcot last year, minus Mum taking the picture. On the right is my cousin who loves anime and is super jealous of my current status! She rulez. In the back is my Aunt, who threatens to flash me every time we talk on webcams (!!!) and in the chair my sister Barbara. I miss 'em all! And my beard!

My cat "Lil' Pete" as a kitten almost 2 years ago. This was my background for a while.

Hangin' out.

YOU CAN'T SEE ME


Random fact o' the day: My new favorite way to study Japanese is reading the manga Bobobo-bobobo-bobo. I die of laughter every time! :)

"Don't wanna have to take your shit anymore, I finally concluded that life is way too short, oh... The ticking of the hourglass, the tiny grains of sand, it beckons me like gravity, like signposts on the land. Have you got what you wanted with the force of reprimand? Seconds are all runnin' out, we're running out of Tiiiiiiime.... Let's go!" - Bad Religion (I'm on a BR kick right now)

No one can predict the future

And who could predict me waking up at 5am, after being so exhausted last night? I think it was all mental - sitting in a classroom after being up 14+ hours just isn't easy. Maybe jetlag is still creeping up on me, I'm not sure yet.

I'm going to go running around town. My workout is suffering and if I'm not careful I'm going to start falling out of shape here!

P.S. IT'S SUNNY OUTSIDE. After 5 straight days of raining. Finally!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First impressions of da new jorb, and other strings of consciousness

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! I don't believe in replying in the comment section as it is kind of weird to me, so if you asked any questions I'll probably e-mail you or something, if I don't address it here; I do like the feedback, either way. As far as being groped on subways, it isn't likely to happen any time soon, since I have "gaijin perimeter" on my side: Because I am a foreigner, people always give me extra space. So, even on a crowded train I have plenty of room most of the time.

If you're a white girl with a nice rack though, well, it's only a matter of time!

Now, for the meat and potatoes here: I am really excited about my new job, for several reasons which are most easily represented in list form:

-All the other trainees all seem like very cool, laid back people with good sense of humor. Going out to Karaoke with them and drinking should be a lot of fun! Oh and the working part too.

-My trainers are also really cool. I found out that the one guy who taught us today was really into black metal, which made me happy.

-I really feel like I'm working for the right company: It's a litter smaller than some others, but it's currently expanding, hence the influx of new teachers. They treat you right here, from all I can tell thusfar and from all I know through the grapevine.

-All the classes are supposed to have air conditioners, making the whole wearing-full-suits-in-summer-thing a lot more bearable. So, the only time I'll be sweating bullets is probably on the way to and from work. Yessssss.

-One of the other trainees is Chris Roberts' twin, separated at birth. Swear to God, he looks nearly identical just without tattoos, I'll post a picture at some point.

-The different types of classes greatly vary, and with any luck I'll get to teach some higher level stuff, something I'm really hoping to get the chance to do. As much fun as teaching little kids how to say "my name is Takeshi" sounds like, I'd like to actually feel like I'm putting all that English study to good use! And it would challenge me to learn more and become a better teacher.

Also, as it turns out one of the teachers, a fellow by the name of Dayn, lives a floor up from me here. It's great to have another English speaking cohort, and even though the dude majored in Japanese he is very down to earth and cool. He wants to teach as well, and I have a feeling we'll both go far. He helped me find some stuff in the grocery store tonight after training, not to mention a faster express train home! I believe I have made a new friend.

He also introduced me to tuna and mayo sushi rolls, possibly one of the tastiest Americanized-Japanese fastfoods ever invented.

In other news, I tried cold soba (buckwheat) noodles today and they are completely, for lack of a better word, derishus. I managed to get slightly lost in Shinjuku on the way to training, but only because I took the wrong exit, and I soon saw the huge sign for my school. Wait unti you see some of pictures I'll take, there are giant electrical signs and huge anime characters and trains and people and STUFF everywhere.

Everything is pretty good over here, but don't count on the regular variety of posting you've come to know and expect from me for the next 2 weeks: Training is very intensive, 7-8 hours a day, 6 days a week plus homework, so I'll have trouble finding the time. Once I get into my job routine however I'll be able to make time. Expect from pics from the Hellchild and Defiled show this weekend tho! Both bands are apparently legendary around these parts, having been together 15 years or more! They apparently don't believe in putting up myspace tunes either, so if you're interested check out those youtube videos. Also, Hellchild did a split with Converge a while back, as Gabe reminded me.

For some reason, getting into the beginning of my job training made me suddenly feel slightly homesick. I miss being able to drive 5 minutes and hang out with Gabe, Jessica, Ed, John, etc.etc.. And to all my friends who lived in NY but weren't that close geographically - to all my brothers and sisters in the New York hardcore/metal/whatever scene - you really are like family to me, and I miss you! I won't soon forget all the great times we had, and will have in the future, and I hope to make friends who are half as cool over here.

"Cuz I'm a 21st century digital boy, I don't know how to read but I got a lot of toys, my daddy is a lazy middle-class intellectual, my mommy's on valium, so ineffectual...ain't life a mystery yea!" - Bad Religion

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Werucomu to Japan!" First weekend edition.

This weekend was a wild, disorienting ride. A hell of a first one though, and part of me already never wants to leave. I've already made some friends, seen some amazing bands, and eaten some delicious food. Check it out:

Friday

I spent about an hour translating directions to "The Shelter," a club in Shimokitazawa where the Melt Banana show was. I really had no idea what to expect, I just knew that I wanted to go, I had to go. Bear in mind that since my plane landed, I'd only slept 4 hours at the hotel and 4 hours the first night in my apartment, so I was definitely running on low batteries. I tried to force myself to take a nap, but nothing doing. I then decided that for better or for worse I'd just load up on food, coffee and beer and make my way through the day, so that I would HAVE to be tired enough to sleep at night.

I managed to figure out how to load a text file of the directions onto my ds (if anyone is curious you can ask me about it) and set off around 3:30. The show didn't start for 3 more hours, but I figured I would get there early and look around. According to the wikipedia article, Shimo (for short) is a really happening, hip place, so I figured there would at least be some cool stuff to see. I made my way on the trains for only the second time, but already everything was falling into place. I later had a conversation about this: The Tokyo subway system looks incredibly intimidating, but not only is everything color-coded, there are signs in English everywhere, especially at the big stations. One just has to not psyche one's self out. Observe:

Anyway, I made great time, and listened to Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" on the way there, a very thought-provoking read/listen. I had however made the mistake of eating 2 Big Macs (oh lord, never again) before boarding the train so I wasn't feeling my greatest. I had been hungry and hadn't feeling like figuring out my @#%&ing rice cooker the day before.

When I actually got to the town, I could see the vibe immediately: Young, artistic, exciting. A lot of shops, for almost every niche and weird thing you could possibly imagine. I bought a disposable camera but those pics will be a while if they ever make it up here. There was one shop with everything from weed-pipes and incense to 70's disco lamps to neon signs to, well, it's hard to describe. Random crap, really. Another specialized in matchbox cars, of all things. There were also a lot of bookstores and eateries as would be expected.

So, being there hours early I of course found the venue almost right away. The only thing that threw me off was that according to the Japanese directions, I took a left at Rohson, which actually turned out to be Lawson's Market, a convenience store chain. This is the fun of translating Engrish back to English, people. So I passed it the first time, but otherwise the venue was easy enough to find. The door was gigantic and thick, plated metal, like a dungeon door, and there were stickers everywhere. The guy told me no admission until 6:30, and there was a sign on the door that said NOREAD-MISSION, so I figured I had better go and get some food and coffee beforehand. By this point I was pretty tired, but moreso in the lacking sleep sense than being physically tired.

I moseyed around, tried to eat a chicken sandwich from the convenience store that almost made me throw up due to its pickly ketchup and slice of processed cheese, and read and took a picture of a sign that said "you move out of way, but your smoke doesn't." There was a whole diagram on it and I'm still not sure what the meaning was. I saw a guy with a t-shirt that said: "My idea of fun is killing everyone," which made me laugh. I really want to blatantly take pics of all the terribly funny Engrish shirts sometimes, but of course I'm not going to point my camera at some person I don't know; That'd just be rude.

The funniest thing that happened was, while I sitting at a bus-stop bench waiting for the show to start, playing my ds and keeping to myself, these 4 kids walked over, two boys and two girls. They looked 13- or 14-ish, and they're all laughing about something, but I tried not to place too many furitive glances. Suddenly I see the two boys start dancing in unison with each other, like a sideways electric slide, in an obvious attempt to impress the girls. Then the one girl promptly tells them her opinion: "Gay."

I had to try really, really hard not to laugh. Even more ridiculous was that he immediately tried to save face, and if I understood his slang correctly (which I'm pretty sure he did) he said he'd "fight the gaijin for her." ?-_-?

Getting tired of sitting there I went back to the venue, and outside I ran into a white dude whom I had spotted earlier buying a ticket - he had some punk-rock looking gear on and looked bored as well, so we chatted it up. It's easy to start a conversation with another foreigner here: "Hey, so what are you doing here in the land of the Asians?" As it turns out he was a graduate student of Science, from Berkeley College! He said that he was riding on some 5-year grant between scientists in California and Japan, and he had just traveled here from Lithuania where he'd played drums for a band's European tour. That's the sort of thing I want to get to do someday. Anyway, he was a solid dude or at least a fun companion, so we decided to get smashed and watch out for each other.

The first band was an absolutely amazing instrumental act, with an electric keytar-flute, an air harp-thingy that works on electromagnets and a really sick drummer. I was really impressed and went to go buy their cd, only to find out that when I said "that set was awesome!" I started hearing scattered laughter for some odd reason.... I had bought the wrong band's cd! The guy politely offered me my money back, but I refused, mostly to seem like it was on purpose or something. Oh well, live and learn eh?

By the time Melt Banana played I had gotten thoroughly smashed. Earlier, when I had come down off of my caffeine high, I saw swirling colors for a minute and thought that I might have pushed myself too hard for once, but I evened out just fine and the flow of adrenaline kept me up. I should mention a few things: The venue itself was rather small, and drinks were $5, so considering the lack of tipping in Japan it's about the same as back home. There was also a barricade between the stage and the crowd, with a rubber-foam wrap to keep people from getting hurt - so basically, I headbanged and thrashed off this with a few other people moving around in a tight little area while Melt Banana played. At one point I got way too excited and accidentally slipped over the barricade and onto the monitor, landing on my back, feet up in the air - it was both embarrassing and hilarious at the same time.

One thing I need to explain is that if you've ever seen any live Japan entertainment at all, be it Mixed Martial Arts or Baseball or whatever, you may have noticed that fans are not nearly as outspoken and obnoxious as their American counterparts. As such, when a band plays here in Nippon, the audience will clap in between songs for a few seconds, and then be completely silent and listen to everything the singer is saying. This is of course the complete opposite of back home, where no one pays attention and heckling is rampant. I've seen plastic bottles, drumsticks, t-shirts, frisbees, and even footwear thrown at bands back home and vice versa, but I strongly doubt that would ever happen here.

The reason I felt it necessary to make this clear was so you could appreciate that, after the entire crowd had fallen silent in between songs, I was so stoked that I yelled "MEEELLLLTT BAAANNAAANNNAAA!!!" as loud as I could, and the singer just says: ano, gaijin-san (Uh, Mr. Foreigner). Whether it was with a tone of acknowledgement or just to be funny, or both, I'm not quite sure, but I was reflecting on how awesome the set was for the rest of the night anyway.

The last band was rather anticlimactic, but it was their cd release party so they played last. Post-rock mewithoutyou-type stuff, pretty good. I would not have bought their cd had I heard them first, however - all the lyrics are in Japanese so a lot is lost on me. All in all it was an excellent first show, I talked to a few people there, but the Japanese are so introspective and shy by nature that starting a conversation can be difficult, even at a show. I met a cool dude named Hideki who kept talking to me in English while I talked to him in Japanese (lol), and some people I raged with in the pit, who I'll probably see around. The former guy, when I told him I had arrived merely 2 days ago and it was my first show ever here said: "werucomu to Japan!"

After the show, me and my new compadre wandered down what I thought would be a shortcut, but what naturally ended up getting us lost. I can hold my beer pretty well, being the big guy that I am (plus my college "experience"), so it wasn't so much that we were wasted as it was that everything in Japan is really, really confusing. We stopped at a diner-looking place where I had some deliciously over-priced curry and rice - like anything spicy, it makes great drinking food! We talked about random crap or whatever, and I invited the dude to stay on my floor if he needed a place. He refused, saying he wanted to check out a capsule hotel while he was still here, and get up at 5 to go and eat at some fresh fish market Capsule hotels by the way are little tube-like places with TVs above your head where you can crash out drunk, sort of like a last-minute plan if you miss the last train. They are actually really expensive despite being so small though.

I made it home OK, and was very proud of myself to have the way home pretty much down after such a short period of time. And, being so incredibly tired and drunk, I finally achieved my first good night's sleep since Sunday night. Eat shit jetlag!

Saturday

Upon waking up around 8am, I knew the first thing to do was take a shower and promptly get to work on figuring out my rice cooker - I had already eaten out more than I had originally planned to, and I really wanted to make a good effort on conserving money whenever possible. After about an hour or so of translating characters and skimming the directions for what I actually needed to know, I figured it out, and in another hour had some delicous rice with curry, which was featured in my last post. I also picked up the latest Shonen Jump from the corner store - $2.45 for 380 pages of comics? Uh, yes please!

The next course of action was to get my Alien Registration Card. Being a foreigner in Japan, I am currently relying on carrying around my passport, on the off chance that a police officer (who are a total joke to most people here in Japan, by the way) asked me for some identification, I would have it, no problem. However, within 90 days I am obligated to get an ARC, and I need one for my bank account, cell phone etc., so I went to get that taken care of.

The train ride was roughly 40 minutes, and I ate at Mos Burger again. That was the place I had eaten at my first day in Japan - they are everywhere around here and so much better than McDonalds! Also, here in Japan they bring your food to you at the table, even though it's just fast food. Sweet! When I crossed the large bridge and got to the doors of the Town Ward, I was dismayed to see a sign on the door with the dates of 8月23日-8月24日, and various kanji that I could read such as "broken," "electricity," and "closed." Annoyed but not willing to take the day as a total loss, I listened to Mitch Hedburgh, hopped the train back to my transfer station and went to Akihabara, also known as Electric Town.

This picture scantly does it justice, the place was PACKED and full of electric signs, niche shops for parts and pretty much anything you can think of pertaining to techhnology, ranging from giant superstores and little street vendors.

So obviously, one of the first things I did was look for a camera to buy. Ironically enough, after going to a stand and checking out a refurbished Casio that was $170, I decided to look around thoroughly to find the best deal...but found nothing cheaper. So, when I got the camera I took a few pictures on my way out. It was raining, otherwise I'd have a lot more:

On the outskirts of Electric town.

One floor of the 9 story SofMap building I bought my T.V. from.

Next stop, cameras!

I like this ad, mostly because the girl on the left is getting pwnt by a cookie, and the other duder is all like FTW

Ladies and gentlemen, the sign on top is either "Mr. Computer," "Mr. Love" or the biggest simultaneous misspelling and understatement of the year.

That is one happy train!

A slow day at the train station.

video
200 yen from a vending machine. :)

Akihabara is also a haven for Otaku (Japanese slang for those super-nerds who dress up as fictional characters), and I saw a white dude dressed up as Super-Saiyan Goku from Dragonball Z, with a giant blond wig and gi on, the whole 9 yards. I also saw some girls in maid outfits advertising "Maid Cafes." These are places where you pay an abormal amount of money to have a girl act as if she is your servant (no, not like that) by bringing you tea, feeding you, etc. The idea is to make the customer feel at home, but damn what a waste of money!

Anyway, that was pretty much all that happened in Akihabara, besides me being blown away by the sheer amount of people and, well, electric stuff. Oh and I also had a conversation in Japanese with one of the dudes who worked at the T.V. superstore about 360 vs. PS3, and how the latter is stronger but the former currently has many better games. He also informed me that Final Fantasy 13 is coming out for both systems in the States, but not in Japan. For once we get something cool that the Japanese don't? *Shock*

Back on the train carrying around a semi-heavy T.V., and back home. Stuff might have happened but I forget by now. Oh yea, some guy in a business suit said to his friend in a business suit that I smelled bad. I just ignored it, something I'm going to have to get used to.

Back home, I looked over my directions for the show and, despite being tired and destroying a bowl of "spicy-spicy-spicy-delicious curry," which made me into a sloth, I convinced myself to go. Fuck You Bastard was playing, and they were supposed to be pretty good. I wouldn't really know though, because the story is that I couldn't find the venue. I had rushed to get there on time, but stopped to grab a beer at the grocery store which was my very first mistake. The store was right before the train tracks, and sure enough about 4 trains go by including mine while I wait, and it's already 7:20 by them time I even board, about 50 minutes after the show had started. Even better is that right before the transfer at Ikebukuro, there is Kitaikebukuro, meaning north ikebukuro. Me, not paying attention and being slightly buzzed, completely kept sitting on the train while everyone got off, somehow being too oblivious to notice, until of course the train starts off in the opposite direction. I fixed my mistake promptly afterward, but still...

I get into Shinjuku around 7:55, and dash out like a madman to make up for lost time. I circled the same 5 blocks what felt like a dozen times searching for the place, to the point that my feet were throbbing, and still no dice. It was also raining. I asked at least 15 people in Japanese if they knew Shinjuku Wall, but no dice there either. Keep in mind that I was also originally planning on seeing Caliban (metal band from Germany) with Loyal to the Grave (sick beatdown J-hardcore) that night, but the show had sold out like 5 days beforehand. So, the beginning and end of my day were both a bust, but....

Lucky me, I found my way to Cheers street!

And flavor potato, now with more salt!

When I got home, I attempted to hook up the T.V., despite being rather tired. I figured some Japanese cable would be just the mind-drug to help me not dwell on the fact that I felt stupid for missing the show. "There will be many other shows," I thought "no biggie." Little did I know just how great the next one would be! Anyway, I hooked up the T.V., tried to skim the Japanese directions for how to program the remote, figured out it was pre-programmed, scanned for channels and got 'em, but when I tried to watch any besides the informercials I got some message saying "B.S.-Card yaddayaddananika." Bullshit card is more like it! Apparently here in Japan, there is a card you purchase at stores to pay for cable. You then stick said card into the side of the TV. That is whack. Luckily for me both of my video games worked, so I will be able to turn off my brain and play CoD4 with my mates back home without a problem.

Sunday

Are we there yet? No, not quite. Sunday was a great day: I talked to my friend Ian for a while via webcam, and my Father as well. I decided to take it easy since my feet still hurt from walking so much the day before. However, when I was skimming an e-mail that Ian sent me a week or 2 back concerning shows, I realized that Melt Banana was playing again, just outside Shinjuku. I decided to check out the other bands playing, and upon realizing that they were all vicious, relentless grindcore/crust/punk/thrash bands, I knew I couldn't resist the opportunity:

Slight Slappers
Senseless Apocalpyse
Nice View

Maybe these bands aren't quite as impressive on recording, but stuff like this is excellent live. Not to mention, bands like this rarely ever play back in Upstate New York.

I got as prepared as was humanly possible, and set forth around 4, even though it didn't start until 6:30. When I arrived there, it was raining (as it has been and will be for apparently the next month or two, according to Ian), and I set off in what looked like the right direction. I had two landmarks: a huge gaming center and a Tonchan, some kind of pork-themed restaurant. I found the first one no problem, but couldn't see the EARTHDOM or Tonchan anywhere. Seeing a little "police station" (more like a hole in the wall), I asked them how to get there in Japanese, and thankfully someone actually knew what I was talking about this time! It blows my mind that you could work within 100 feet of somewhere and not know it exists, although with the crowded conditions of Tokyo, it is entirely plausible.

Anyhow, I got directions but didn't understand 90% of what the officer said - all I picked up was to turn around and look on the left side of the road. I did that, no luck. I decided that maybe he meant to go past the train station, so I looked over there for roughly 20 minutes, with still no luck. I returned in the direction of the police station, frustrated and hoping this would not be a repeat of last night. However, I saw something that made me very, very happy: Tonchan! I don't think I'll ever be that happy to see a sign for pork again! (I don't even like it that much) I still had half an hour before doors, so I went to the corner store and bought a tallboy Asahi, and went to drink it and nom some tuna sushi outside. Even cheap convenience store-sushi is so much better here! I saw this white lady walk by for what must have been the third time that night, so I said: "Hey, must be the third time tonight, huh?" She gave me a deep look, and proceeded to talk about how she had swords, and had attempted to kill herself in front of the police, all in a thick British accent. Yes, that was actually the kind of nonsense she was spouting.

I popped my beer and decided hey, instead of losing the crazy, I'd hear her out and have a conversation with her to kill time before the show started. She looked to be in her late 30's, sort of hard features like a stout nose, and long, dirty, blond hair that probably hadn't been washed in ages. She wore a slicker over a haggard checkered shirt. The shoes she wore looked like they had been to hell and back, and there was something undeniably sad in her manner and appearance. She went on in her thick accent, mixing in bits of Japanese that proved that she really had been here a long time. There was always a twinge of desperation in her voice as well. Here are some of the things she said to me:

-"Oh yea, my father raped me, abused me, you know the whole bad deal"

-"I'm from South Africa, and they tried to send me to a mental hospital there!"

-"I'm stuck here, it's where I want to be, but I don't have any I.D.. It's my sixth time coming here since 1993."

-"Why did I come here? For love." ("Well, that was your first mistake," I thought)

-"I sleep over there in the park by the man in the box, although we've traded places recently."

-"Oh yes the police all know me, they abuse people here, rape them, put the umbrella right up me pussy, even guys they rape here."

-"I was speaking in tongues and being exercised when I fell backwards and smashed my head on a brick"

-"My brother's pregnant wife stabbed me."

And so on. I would engage her and encourage her and calm her down, whatever seemed necessary. I drank my beer while she talked and showed me pictures of samurai from pre-World War II - the connection having something to do with the "samurai sword that the police trusted her with." It was hard to tell with that furious jumble of British tongue and bits of Japanese. I offered her a piece of sushi, which she initially declined, a very Japanese thing to do actually, but she ate it a few minutes later. Overall, I felt like she had mental problems that were untreated, and was a sad case who really just wanted some attention; And food, shelter, all the things that people normally want. She had most likely been a lot better at one point in time - how else could she have gotten here in the first place - and it's a shame that the Japanese seem to so strongly ignore their homeless. Hell, most anti-psychotics are illegal here, so the woman couldn't even get that kind of treatment if she could afford it! I ended the whole thing by shaking her hand, and telling her that whether she really does believe in Jesus Christ or not, every day of ones' life is precious, and to be grateful for the ability to live and breathe. Maybe she was just impressionable, but this really seemed to strike a note with her. I told her good luck, pleasure meeting you, and walked to the club, hoping she wouldn't follow me.

The Shelter is a basement club with a bar-room that has some very comfortable furniture, paintings of blackbirds on the walls and various graffiti such as "FUCK POLICE" written in English across a vending machine. I would have taken pictures, had I not come with the intention of getting completely shitfaced, and therefore left my camera at home. It was nice, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was not the only white dude there! (Friday night it had only been me and the other guy) After finishing my beer, I made my way to the two white gents, who turned out to be British, along with their Japanese friend, a nice girl who spoke good English. As it so happened the one guy, a tall, short-haired dude from Northern England, was in Japan teaching for Interac and his friend had stopped through for a week on his way to a wedding in Australia. I almost met another Whiteguy McGaijin, this one also British but with glasses and a long scar on his arm from the recent insertion of a metal plate to fix an injury, who has lived here a year were my cohorts for the night, and that helped to make it a lot more fun.

The silence in between songs was still strange to me - and besides Melt Banana and No Value, I didn't know who any of the bands were, since they never seemed to say their names and the two just mentioned both have female singers. No Value's singer was really cute, and the way she was bopping around innocently and abrasively screaming to grind was downright ludicrous. Definitely nothing like any band I've seen in NY, that's for sure. She would bounce her hands on her knees in tune with the songs, and other various gesticulations of cuteness. I mean, as much as I do love watching sweaty dudes with their shirts off play music and all... 0_o

By the time Melt Banana played I was again tanked. The club was packed, maybe 150 people or so in a fairly small area, like CBGB's size. I got in the pit and thrashed, and also had my longest stage dive ever, probably around 30 seconds, thanks to my new friends holding me up! Afterwards the tall one says to me: "Bloody hell man! You're too big to be doin' that now!" We all laughed a lot, and I can't remember much specifically of what was said later on, other than me calling football "soccer" and the two English dudes getting really offended! I didn't really pay much attention to the last two bands; I just kept drinking with my friends until it was roughly an hour before the trains would stop running, 11:15. Yes, shows begin and end earlier because of the train schedule in Japan. We all had a blast, and the night ended with the aforementioned Japanese girl being so drunk she could barely stand (she was keeping up with us the whole night!) and telling me that: "You're funniest person I've ever met. You're so funny, you could be comedian!" That sort of made my night. Well, that and actually getting loose at a show over here, it's about damn time! Oh and I define "getting loose" as both moshing and drinking. It's got 2 entries in the Belcher dictionary, so please watch for contextual clues.

Making my way home was fun, and as it turns out the convenience stores are open significantly later than I had thought, especially on a Sunday night. Also today had been some kind of Japanese holiday - I saw a lot of men and women wearing traditional Japanese garb with purple and white colors. (Want to tell me which holiday it is, Ian, anyone?) I grabbed some spicy potato sticks and munched home, leaned on the walls to get into my apartment, and watched the Office until about 1am. Never seen that show before a few weeks ago, absolutely hysterical.

Monday

Almost to the end! I woke up today, feeling excellent as I usually do after a good show, despite being slightly hung over. I talked to my Mom, Aunt and Cousin and Ian for collectively 3 hours, which was nice. My only obligation today was to go to the Town Ward in Nerima, which if you've actually read all this in one sitting I need not remind you is where I go to get my official Japanese I.D.. The trip was relatively fun, except for one thing that made me really, really angry. An Asian couple who were obviously on vacation because of the maps they were holding were sitting across the train from me, and I saw the man putting his hand to his mouth and talking into the woman's ear, both of them laughing and her waving her hand as if to ward off a foul smell. I got the sneaking suspicion they were saying how bad I must smell, being a foreigner, but I brushed it off as paranoia and kept listening to Slaughterhouse 5 on my ipod. After a while though, as the laughing continued I could hear over my IPOD on maximum volume: "He wants to understand, but I don't think he understands at all hahahaha." Now this was in English, and the very audacity of such a blatant insult made me want to tell the twat to shut her stupid fucking mouth. But, being the well-mannered person that I am, I subsided my rage despite the mockery. I shot the woman a look which I think got the jist across, I mean I can look pretty mean, not that I have any desire to most of the time. This has been by far the worst instance of prejudice I've been subjected to, and I'm not making any promises to myself that I'm not gonna start telling people off if they insist on making such obvious cracks. I mean Japanese is one thing, but in English? Really? Right in front of me too. Rageragerage. I'm going to work on my Japanese and seriously lay a verbal browbeating on the next person that not only insults me, but laughs at me and is incredibly obvious about their comments. Everybody has their limits, ya know.

OK, I'm done venting. I brought my camera today, so check it out:


I guess it's local voting time, because these guys with their loudspeakers spewing political shpeels are all over, even where I live.

With his cuteness, we may save the planet!

Fire...bad?

Kind of a lot of comics. There were 5 aisles like this, and this was a small book store.
Japan's fascination with my childhood hero, Thomas the Tank Engine, continues to baffle me.

Destination reached!

The Foreign Resident Registration Office.

A quick story about my time at the office: I was supposed to bring pictures of myself from a photo booth, which I did (and they look ri-freakin-diculous, trust me), but I had neglected to bring the printout of my address with the company's official information. This lead to me having to give the lady who worked there my e-mail addy and password so that she could retrieve it. Of course she couldn't sift through my e-mail even with accurate directions, so I had to go back and do it myself. Everything seemed to be OK, and I copied the information and gave it to her. However, she goes on to tell me that there is no such address on block 23 in Tobu-Nerima. I say that's impossible, since the baggage-movers brought my stuff there. Blah blah yadda yadda and of course as it turns out, 10 minutes later we figure out I had copied the number down backwards, it was really 32. I felt like such an ass, but these are the kinds of mistakes I make with mathematics: Even when I still delivered pizzas, I would have to check the address several times because numbers always get mixed up in my head. Maybe I'm actually lesdyxic?

Anyway, I got that taken care of, and came back home with some groceries and another new manga. Good reading practice and all that jazz. Here I sit in my room, wondering how tomorrow will go. It's my first day of training and I'm a smidgen nervous, but I'm sure it will all be gravy once I actually get in there; I'm most conerned with teaching little kids, anyway. However, getting a chance to wear one of my suits will be kind of neat and fun, at least for now, save the stickiness of summer and me being the supposed King of Stink here in Japan. I kid though, I shower regularly and apply copious amounts of deodorant, so if anyone has anything to say about my body odors, they can suck it!...or perhaps sniff it? Or both. Either or. OK.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm waiting for the next big bug sighting here at the apartment. Just a matter of time. As such, I have found it necessary to link yet another article from Japan Probe, concerning the Japanese equivalent to silverfish (a.k.a. "house centipedes") and daddy long-legs spiders, my loved/hated friends from back in NY who kill all the little peskies for me. *Cringe*

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR GRAND PRIZE FOR READING (or perhaps just skimming and scrolling, either is acceptable) THIS FAR: FUNNY ADVERTISEMENTS AND OTHER RANDOM PICTURES I'VE TAKEN:



DRINK THE LEMONADE AND YOU WILL LOOK LIKE US.

I almost bought this.

The skin and hair products of Super-Saiyan Goku and his Shonen Jump pals.


Yeammkay.

Tokyo Disney is pretty close-by!

Is this bad grammar? I can't tell.

Manbearpig?

A ha! The Japanese are all penguins in disguise, no wonder they can't fly!

What 90% of Americans think of when they think of Japan. Oh how I loathe that franchise.

Put a decimal point in two digits to the left and you got the USD price, more or less. $5 for an apple and 4 for $10. If anyone tried to sell at these prices in New York, they would either get laughed at, shot, run over by a pickup truck, or all three at once.

My personal favorite. "Everyone, let's have good manners together!"

I probably spent a collective 5-some hours on this post. If you liked it, please let me know, and I'll keep feeding your Japanese culture cravings, fiiiiiiiiiilthy humans!!!~~~



"What is the universal language? Could it be hate, if not love? Could it be money or power or violence? I say it's music, or none of the above!" - H20

"One more day to say, one day at a time." - Life in Your Way

"Have you ever known fear? Have you ever felt fault? Have you ever felt something? Did you ever seem lost?" - Kylesa