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

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Sleep is for the weak a.k.a. 3 Girls and a Gaijin

My normal hours of work being in the afternoon to late evening, I tend to stay up quite late. Usually until 2 or 3 in the morning. I find myself doing useless internet stuff or sometimes just staying awake for the sake of it, most likely since I'd rather be lounging around than actually going to work and doing responsible things. It's all in my procrastinating nature.

Halloween weekend approacheth, and I am not planning too much fun crazy nonsense. I've never been much for costumes or cosplay, although I do enjoy watching others who take it deadly serious and make it into an art form. Or just wear full body bunny or pokemon outfits.

Anyway, I'd like to say that I'm pilphering the downtown area and going where the fun stuff is, but most likely not. Most all of the cool clubs and themed parties start at 11pm and involve pulling all-nighters, and I'm really not in the mood for self-abuse. Saturday night there is a party with a bunch of my co-workers which should be fun. I've met some real interesting people from different walks of life, from a philosophizing Irishmen to alcoholic Australians, and as one of em so prolificly said: "You have to be at least a little weird to move here.

Sunday I agreed to work overtime, since I'm trying to squeeze my pennies and save up for my Kyoto-Nara excursion with Kevin in December. We're gonna go Temple-crazy!...until we get bored of it and just start drinking, at least.

Sunday night something interesting is happening! Grizloch - the same wonderful chap who video-taped my band way back when and who is a gentleman and a scholar - notified me that a certain all-girl Japanese grindcore band was looking for a guitarist, no gender requirements. I had to take this up of course, and I'm meeting up with the gals on Sunday night. Hopefully this turns into my first music project over here and I get to write/play in a grind band, which is something that I've always wanted to do anyway. It doesn't hurt that the band is decently established, has fans worldwide and has played a few American festivals: Now that would be a cool reason to take my first trip back home. Not to mention that 3 Girls and a Gaijin would certainly make for an interesting lineup on the visual side of things.

Classes are good, feel fun and rewarding again this week; I don't know why but I went through some meloncholy spell where I thought my job was abhorringly stupid last week. Of course it isn't pointless at all, since people learn stuff if they so desire and I have fun most of the time. I talk about everything from Dr. Fish (immersing your feet in water and having fish eat the dead skin) to natural disasters (some guy was stuck on a stopped bullet train due to a typhoon without his hernia medication for 40 hours) to the Savannah (one girl claimed she wanted to go to Africa because "Hippos are so cute"). It's fun and interesting, sometimes boring and sometimes quite challenging. I had a student for the third or fourth time today who is incredibly low level, unable to produce much at all if she isn't directly copying me, and she often hits herself in the head and seems quite distraught at her inability. I give her all the positive encouragement I can, of course. I can't help but wonder if maybe a Japanese-speaking teacher wouldn't be better for her if she's at that stage? But, they pay the big bucks, I work the racket. So it goes.

It's a national holiday on Monday ("Culture Day") and in a few weeks we have "Labour Thanksgiving Day" on November 23rd. Neither directly effect my work schedule, but I thought the latter was kind of funny.

Oh, and halloween-themed kids lesson tomorrow! We get to make spider-balloons! Time to buy that cheap wizard-hat from the dollar store! :)


"Does anybody know a way that a body could get away does anybody know a way?" - Modest Mouse.

"Spatula city, we sell spatulas - and that's all!" - Weird Al

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gallhammer / Mount Taka0wned

Epic two-part entry today, highlights of a metal show the weekend before last and my trip to Mount Takao on Monday. Enjoy!

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The Sunday before last, the highlight of my weekend was finding my way into an obscure little basement club in Koenji to see some nasty metal bands. There was doom, grind, death metal, everything all across the board, and ALL the bands were great. I highly recommend checking them all out, so I've left links with the pictures. Thanks to my friend Hendrick from Sweden for taking the pics and e-mailing them to me!

This picture pretty much sums up the whole night


The Almighty COFFINS: (doom metal)







Gibbed
: (Griiiiind)





Anatomia
: (more Tokyo Doom metal)





Abigail: (Black Metal with some Thrashy influences)







Me and (British, not the aformentinoed) Ian.


Gallhammer:



















--


Mount Taka0wned.

I was asking co-workers about cheap vacations a month ago, and one of them recommended Mount Takao, a nice place to get away from the concrete jungles of inner Tokyo. After some planning and deliberation me and my friend Daniel (a.k.a. Spaniel) met up around noon in Shinjuku to hop the train. The roundtrip was roughly 800 yen and about 45 minutes each way.

The silly gaijin in question

There's a railway car you can take up the initial slope of the mountain to get right to the tourist attractions of temples and junk - but that's for the handicapped and the elderly. Plus it cost nearly 1000 yen! So, me and Dan set off on what must have been the steepest 2 kilometers I've ever walked in my life:

On the way back down, there were cars driving down here, and making ridiculous 17-point turns at every one of these steep twists - must have been 9 or 10 at least.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

I almost forgot what trees looked like.

WTF?!

Yuck.


The walk up was a bit rough but doable, although it was all on concrete so you can't really call it hiking. In fact, of the 4km to the top of this mountain (or "cliff" as Ian referred to it) about 95% of the path was preset on concrete.

Regardless, the air was rejuvenating as it didn't taste like exhaust or anything artificial, it was real air man. Getting out there really made my weekend and reminded me that you really have to get out of the ubran madness once and a while to keep your sanity. I've never lived in a city before either, so this whole expedition was border-line nostalgic.

Anyway, here is the motherload of pictures, slightly out of order:

Cool architecture.















It's not that cold here yet, so we had to get to the top of the mountain before we saw many leaves changing color.

Never faded.



As far as pwning goes, our triumph over Mount Takao was nothing compared to this dude. Pure pwnage.


Pondering the meaning of life.

A wrench?



Nice paintjob!






Scraps of paper where people write their wishes, hoping they come true.







Proper translation: "Big Angry Red Guy"





These wooden planks were similar to Japanese "tomb stones," so I decuded that this was probably a memorial wall.

On and on.

Even Gods need their Green Tea.

Paper Machete Donation Dog!





















And that was that. The climb up only took about 90 minutes, and down about an hour. I'll definitely go on this trip again some time soon. We lucked out it was such a clear day, some of those mountain panoramas came out quite well, I think.

On our way out:

I do not want him cutting my hair.

One of many animals supposedly indigenous to the region - we only saw giganto worms and spiders though.


After the trip, I hauled my stinky, sweaty ass onto a train to Tachikawa, about 30 minutes away, where I met up with Ian, the awesome dude who brought me my guitar and some other junk that I had ebayed. It was a fun evening, and since I was exhausted and starving we went to a ramen shop for dinner first.

This is what Tachikawa looks like - it's mostly a business district, and coincidentally I work there one day a week too.

The hotsauce was especially delicious.

He get stupified - BWAAH!

Awesome guitar shop we went to afterward, a huge selection.

!!!!

Astro Boy picks, is that really necessary?


Well that's about it. Back to the daily grind for me, although I feel it necessary to mention that I'm listening to the song "Attack with spell" by Abigail. Later all



"Hearts will stop and brain cells pop, Apocalyptic high" - Acid Bath