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Browsing Posts published in April, 2008

Now onto the weekend of April 4-6, an action-packed three days full of events ranging from ridiculously awesome to just ridiculous. On Friday morning I headed into Tokyo to discuss a full-time position offer, and after that I headed back home to get ready for the big day. Steve checked out of his hotel and met me in Chiba, where we cabbed his luggage to my apartment, where he would be staying that weekend. That night was the first 2008 reunion at the rightfully legendary Y’s Makuhari. We had a pretty good turnout, with A-Team representatives, old friends, new friends, and of course a big grilled fish head.

Y's Mug ワイズバー 幕張テクノガーデン店We showed up before opening at 5:30, hanging out in the lobby with a decent number of middle aged salarymen, all waiting to enter paradise as well. Matsushita-san opened the place up and gave us a wave. He was telling some of the staff (Kanda students) that we’re the ones responsible for popularizing Y’s with the foreign students and probably Kanda students in general. Amazing. The place was probably busier that night than ever, since April is the start of the academic and fiscal year, meaning there were a lot of companies having welcome parties for new staff members. All of the private rooms were full, every table was packed, and even the counters were populated by tons of young Japanese workers all wearing the same suit. We weren’t able to get the usual middle counter, but I guess it was permissible this time. Steve and my friend Jini were the only ones who had never been to Y’s before, and they were both very pleased I think. It’s hard not to be.

After closing the place out around 10, we headed out towards Kaihim to try and find a karaoke place. There was a slight mishap and delay due to Steve’s glasses, but it was temporarily remedied with some 7-11-purchased scotch tape. Unfortunately, all those new company employees wanted to do karaoke as well, meaning that both King Arthur near the station and the place in the new shopping center were totally packed, and we were out of luck. We ended up cabbing to the big place near Hongo station and doing an all-nighter there. The group had been reduced to about half since a lot of people didn’t want to stay out all night. It was a fun night but the cold walk to the station at 5AM is never pleasant.

On Saturday after waking up in the afternoon we had a pretty lazy day in Chiba. We took Steve’s glasses to the Megane Super (メガネスーパー) glasses shop and they did a free and quick repair job that was of course not perfect, but it was a lot better than scotch tape. Went to Bochi Bochi (ぼちぼち) for dinner, letting Steve try okonomiyaki and natto. I don’t think he was a big fan of the natto, but most foreigners aren’t. I sure hate the stinky stuff.

Sunday was another busy day, waking up around 8AM to head to Kawasaki, which is south of Tokyo. It was the first Sunday of April, meaning that it was time for the 2008 Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り), the Iron Penis Festival that I went to last year when Ari was in Japan. I didn’t think I’d end up going again, but with Macie and Steve both here, it was time to go see the giant pink penis float again. This year was very much the same as last, but it seemed like it was a lot busier. There were people all over the place, it was super crowded and still just as loud and lively as before. Konosuke had never been to this before either, and even being Japanese he was pretty surprised that such a weird, messed up event happens in his country. It was my second time and I’m still finding it difficult to believe. And hey, let’s make a quick collage!

川崎 かなまら祭り 2008 金山神社

So that was that.

Mayor of Namjatown ナンジャタウン 池袋 餃子スタジアムAfter the Penis Festival, we headed up to Ikebukuro to go to Namjatown, the “Golden Saucer” of Tokyo. In addition to the usual zones like Gyoza Stadium and Ice Cream City, there was a Cheesecake Expo going on and some other new stuff. It was great to see the mayor and the Namderbirds. Going with a big group to Gyoza Stadium is always a good idea because that way you can try a lot of different kinds of gyoza (pot stickers/Chinese dumplings). There was an awesome one made with a beef filling that I don’t think I’ve had there before. We walked around some of the amusement areas that I’ve never looked at before, and they were kind of interesting. Not interesting enough to pay for, but they were free so it was all good. After Namja we went across the street to The Lockup Ikebukuro location, giving the visitors a taste of a weird Japanese theme restaurant/bar.

So pretty much after that there wasn’t anything as special, at least with me. Macie left on Tuesday and Steve headed down to Kyoto on his own. He came back at the end of the week and left the following Saturday. I was still busy doing work and job interviews and stuff, but I was able to make it to the airport with both of them.

It was good to have visitors! It is tiring though, haha. But anyone else who’s going to come for a visit, let me know and I can help you out. I’ve got a decent amount of free time until June when I start the new full time position and have to go into Shinjuku everyday to work.

If you want to see some pictures from the places we went, there on the Pictures page.

Leong TourIt’s finally time for me to get around to documenting the past few weeks. A big highlight was the unusually high number of visitors. It seems like everyone and their mother decided to come visit right around the same time. Actually Blanchard’s mom did come to Japan, but they were in Kyoto. But at least the “everyone and their mother” line kind of works. But I digress. Luckily, I had a lot of free time to hang out with people, show them around, go to sightseeing-type places, and all that stuff. I got to play tour guide and went to more places in Tokyo than I think I have the rest of the year combined.

First group of visitors was Nick “NR7000” Roberts and his so-called Sidekick. They came up from Ono to Tokyo for a few days during the last week of March, and I met up with them on the 26th. We had planned on meeting up in Akihabara, after which I thought we’d be going around to other places in Tokyo. We ended up spending the entire day there though, which gave us an in-depth look into the strangest and creepiest part of Tokyo.

Most of the day involved us going around to arcades, shops, etc. There wasn’t really anything that I wanted to pick up, but Nick was able to do some shopping and also found those giant foam Hulk Hands that came out about 6 years ago. He was wearing those all around the karaoke booth at night. Sidekick was looking for a mousepad or a poster and some other stuff for some weird jerk-off anime that I don’t know about, and I don’t think he found it. Either way, one highlight (if you can call it that) of the day was the maid cafes, which Sidekick had never been to, and of which Nick and I had only been to once, last year during Golden Week. While in principal I am not interested in these places, in some small part it was interesting. However, we went to more than one maid cafe, which is more than you ever need to go.

Nick at the Maid Cafe メイド喫茶The first one we went to was called a ツンデレカフェ (Tsundere Cafe), which is a kind of special maid cafe where the waitresses are supposed to act like your little sister but also be all pissy and mad at you and stuff. Due partially to the fact that we were foreigners and they probably didn’t want to confuse us, there was very little difference between this cafe and a regular cafe. There was one time when Nick tried to call the waitress over and it took a few tries (she was only 3 feet away). This could have been her being pissy, or maybe she was just a bad waitress. Or deaf. Also they spoke very casually, rather than the usual formal Japanese that all people in the service industry have to use for fear of being speared in the temple with a katana. Overall I was not impressed, and being there was just uncomfortable. The place of course had creepy dudes by themselves, and there were two guys who were hanging out eating a 4000 yen giant waffle sundae. Yeah. There was another maid cafe where Nick totally got into the weird maids (see right), mostly the super fat one (not pictured) who could kind of speak English. I don’t think I need to go to anymore maid cafes the rest of my life.

I put up some other pics from this day here, and there is also a quality YouTube video of Nick and his Sidekick doing some anime dance and being creepily synchronized for this being the “first time” they did said dance. I’m pretty sure they’ve done it before.

The following Sunday we had a Hanami Party at Chiba Castle, which was sweet before it started raining about 2 hours in. We ended up going to this American-style bar on the west side of Parco afterwards, which was pretty cool and is apparently open 24 hours. That night, Steve arrived in Japan and we went to Kim-chan for dinner before he headed to his hotel in Asakusa. The next day we met up in Tokyo with Macie, who was also visiting Japan. So yeah, the first stop with Steve and Macie was Akihabara, making it the second time for me to go to Geek Land in less than a week. That’s embarrassing. But with them, we did more arcades and hit up Super Potato, not doing much shopping. We didn’t really stay there that long. Macie was going to Kyoto that night, so after I took her to Tokyo to get on the Shinkansen, I met back up with Steve and we explored more of the city. We hit up Shimbashi, Ginza, etc on that side of town.

In Ginza we went to this amazing sushi place called 乾山 (Kenzan), which was the ritziest eating experience I’ve had in a while. From the moment we stepped into the door, we had a bunch of waitresses in kimono taking our coats, bags, etc as we got seated at the counter with our own personal sushi chef. Everything was absolutely fresh and made to order, including the anago, which was also grilled and cut to order. Of course great service and great food comes with a price. I didn’t know the damage until we actually asked for the final bill, which was scary since I noticed early on that there were no prices anywhere, and we were getting the otoshi and dessert without saying a word. Also they gave us a new shibori (wet towel) with almost every course. So yeah, the head waitress lady came over with the price written in pencil on a piece of paper and I almost gasped. It was indeed a pricey meal, but the best sushi I’ve ever had and a good experience. Can’t say Steve didn’t get a fancy Japanese meal that night!

The rest of the week was a balance between me going to job interviews, working, and meeting up with Steve in Tokyo. We went to the Ghibli Museum, Ueno Park for sakura, etc. Blanchard’s dad was also in town, so I went out with those guys one night. Seriously, everyone decided to come to Japan at once. There are some other pictures here. Part 2 of this big wrap up is coming soon, with the first Y’s of 2008, Penis Festival, and Namja Town.

Hauled myself out of bed this morning at 6:45. I don’t even really have anything to do today except work, and that’s not until the late afternoon. The reason I woke up so uncharacteristically early was to try and get a parking spot at the big bike parking lot near the station. You need to register for a spot there, and they only accept applications on the 25th of each month, and only if there are openings. You’d think this was some exclusive country club, rather than a small stretch of blacktop with fencing around it. Applications open at 7AM, and I arrived at 7:02 according to my cell phone. There was some guy applying, and apparently he got the last spot. WTF. I suppose people were actually lined up for this? Or maybe there was only 1 opening. Either way, it was a wasted morning except for the fact that I got McDonald’s breakfast.

This is why I continue to park my bike illegally. It’s not that I’m unwilling to pay for bike lot use – I just can’t make the ridiculously tiny window they have for applications. And yes there are other lots, but I’m not going to go that far to pay the city anymore money.

I’m going back to bed.

I saw this Engrish in Shimbashi station last week, just as I was exiting the ticket gate…

your mom said the same thing to me last night! 汐留シティセンター

Direct and straight to the point, right?
I wonder if they have their employees wear this logo on a shirt.

Back, kind of


I’ll be back up to posting blogs and pictures, especially from the adventures over the past few weeks, very soon. There’s the Y’s party, Penis Festival 2008, sakura, Namja Town, etc., all waiting in my cluttered mind and digital camera, waiting for their time to shine on this terrible, terrible blog. In the meantime, the plan is to decide on my job ASAP. Pretty much by this following Monday the 21st. I have a few offers, and I need to figure out exactly which I want to do out of them. The jobs I’ve been offered are very different in terms of responsibility and duties, but salary and all that so far seem pretty close. Either way I’ll be working at an office somewhere in Tokyo, which will be a big change. So I guess I just have to decide what kind of work I want to do.

You’d think that having offers and all that makes the job decision process easier. No. It makes things about a thousand times more difficult, since you aren’t just imagining things – you have real decisions and real deadlines telling you to hurry up and get off the can.

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Comments off

A lot has been going on. I’ve got two friends visiting Japan now, so I’ve been doing things with them, showing them around and stuff like that. This past weekend there was a big reunion at Y’s, and a festival on Sunday. I’m also looking for a new job and stuff still, and one of the offers has a decision deadline of very soon. I need to decide if I should take it or wait for something else. I would have thought that once I had an offer it would make life easier, but it’s actually making things tons more difficult and there’s a lot more pressure. A lot has been going on.

At the same time, I woke up on Saturday and via e-mail found out about a loss in the family, which is tough. Obviously and honestly, it’s just tough. So really, it’s been a busy past week or two, and I’ll catch the blog up on most of this stuff soon. For now though, it might be a few days until I add anything new.

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