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Lotteria Meatwad Challenge

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ロッテリア期間限定 「タワーチーズバーガー」

Look at this beast.  This is Japanese fast food chain Lotteria’s special limited time only destroyer of arteries, the aptly-named Tower Cheeseburger.  Finally got around to conquering it over the weekend.  I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed of that.  Probably a little of both.

I first heard about this behemoth last month from Gigazine, who compared it to KFC USA’s Double Down sandwich in terms of terribleforyouness.  Unfortunately (fortunately?) until the beginning of June the Tower Cheeseburger wasn’t available at the Lotteria near my house and I never got around to trying it anywhere else in Tokyo.  But yeah, Blanchard and I hit up Lotteria yesterday for lunch and each got the Tower Cheeseburger plus fries and a drink.  It was a disgusting and delicious experience.

Obviously, the thing is massive.  It’s kind of like eating an entire meatloaf only greasier and cheesier.  It comes wrapped in paper just like a normal cheeseburger, but it’s pretty tough to pick up and actually fit into your mouth like a normal burger.  Brian somehow managed to do so in record time, but I had to get a fork to finish the thing off bit by bit.  Surprisingly, the taste is pretty good overall once you get over the fact that you’re destroying yourself.  The cheese was really good, and the meat patties seemed like pretty good quality , although with that much cheese and meat the flimsy bun and skimpy condiments (only on the buns) make it a little boring to eat.

I hadn’t been to a Lotteria for a long time since their normal burgers are pretty small and their prices seem more expensive than McDonald’s.  But after this experience I’m likely to hit up Lotteria again in the next few months before I leave, although definitely not for a 10×10 ever again.

Cleaned

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I’ve been using the same dry cleaners since I moved to Chiba city back in late 2007.  It’s right around the corner from my apartment, and is cheap and fast which is nice.  The weird thing about dry cleaners in Japan is that they’re everywhere.  There might be almost as many cleaners as there are convenience stores, and those are pretty much on every block.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but just barely.  On my way to the grocery store, for example, which is only a few blocks away, I pass by 3 conbinis.

But oh yeah, my dry cleaners story.  So my dry cleaners has a stamp card – every time you spend 500 yen, you get a stamp.  After 30 stamps, the card is full.  Nothing is written on it about what happens when you fill up a card, but I assumed you get some kind of prize, or maybe special membership status, etc.  I wasn’t really sure, but since I had to get my suits and stuff cleaned anyway, it didn’t really matter.  I was kind of looking forward to fulling up the card, though, in the back of my mind.

Dry cleaning cardThen finally, today, after two and a half years of watching the stamp count slowly increase, I finished it.  I had 30 little “Masaki” stamps and I was ready to claim my prize.  Victory was mine.  Would I get like a special gold card to show my status as a power user of the dry cleaning shop?  Maybe a gift certificate to help offset my years of dry cleaning costs?  Sure if you do the math I’d only really spent about 15000 yen (USD$150) over 2.5 years, but the buildup was killing me.  The grumpy old dude at the cleaners took my dirty clothes today and stamped my card to the last blank space (what you see on the left here is the new card).

And what did I get for my waiting?  My grand prize for cleaning my suits and shirts enough to warrant a second stamp card?

Drumroll please…..

千葉市可燃物用 ゴミ袋Umm yeaaaaah.  After loyally going to Masaki Dry Cleaners for 2.5 years, my prize for filling up the stamp card was a pack of &#@%ing trash bags.  A whole buck fifty’s worth of plastic bags.  Thanks a lot grumpy old dude.

Boeuf! Haw haw!

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フォワグラと牛フィレ肉のロッシーニ風"

The night before leaving Japan for Christmas back in the US, I grabbed a late dinner. Had a beef filet Rossini style, which has foie gras and a truffle sauce over it. Sounds kind of fancy, right? Except that it only cost me about 1400 yen (USD $15) and it was at Denny’s. Whaaaat?

Obviously, Denny’s in Japan is a lot different from “real” Denny’s in the US. For one thing, their breakfast food is a joke. It’s pretty much the same kind of generic “Western breakfast” stuff you can get anywhere in Japan, even at Yoshinoya in the mornings: 1 egg, two mini sausages, and a cabbage salad. There’s no Grand Slam, no Moons Over My Hammy, no other disgustingly greasy and delicious American breakfast foods. And the pancakes. OH GOD DON’T GET ME STARTED ON J-DENNY’S PANCAKES. Too late. They’re about the size of what we might call silver dollar pancakes if the chef took the size of a silver dollar as a literal unit of measurement. And you only get like 3 of them and they’re dry and gross. Yet somehow they try to market this as a real stack of pancakes you would get at real Denny’s when in reality you’d get more volume if you get your breakfast set with the half piece of toast they also offer. Ugh. In short: don’t ever get J-Denny’s pancakes if you’re expecting real pancakes. You will be angry, disappointed, hungry, and scarred for the rest of your life.

Anyway, the filet I had was good. I’m actually starting to mind J-Denny’s less and less. Even though they have none of the menu items you can get in the US, they have sandwiches and pasta and stuff that are decent, and they have pretty good coffee. Not really college student stay up all night coffee, but decently good coffee. It’s a little more expensive than the other J-family restaurants, but for variety it’s OK. I guess recently they’re trying to improve their image even more, offering gourmet ingredients in wannabe fancy dishes like the Rossini filet I had, or the truffle and prosciutto pasta they offered last month. Kind of interesting, although I’d trade it all for a Breakfast Dagwood or a Moons with fries.

Boss of the Race

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Mario Kart x Boss Coffee
I like Boss coffee. I like Mario Kart. Thus I also like the current promotional item on top of cans of Boss coffee, these little Mario Kart pull-back friction toy cars. They’re in a little container on the top of the coffee can in convenience stores.

マリオカート x ボスコーヒー

LJ, NNJ, and leaving Japan

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I remember once upon a time I wrote things occasionally on this blog that were funny or interesting, but recently I feel like I haven’t been posting anything but boring LiveJournal-esque stories about what I ate for lunch or what color socks I’m wearing*. I should try to change that, but I think a big part of the problem is that my life has been so mundane lately there isn’t much else to write about. I don’t even have as many complaints about Japanese culture or society because with the whole working at home/flexitime thing these days I’m not getting exposed to the public as much as before. That is not necessarily bad.

I’ll try and come up with better material one day, but don’t hold your breath. This blog has still and always will be for myself and my own amusement, slightly adjusted for friends to read and perhaps waste a few minutes of otherwise productive time wasted browsing the interwebs.

Quick story: This is about one of the hobos here in my city, who I guess I’ve started calling No-Nose Joe on account of a bandage or duct tape always covering his likely frostbitten/missing nasal organ. This guy has a very impressive collection of hobo junk, usual stacked on his tiny (child’s?) bicycle, which he is usually seen creeping along on near Chiba station or Yodobashi Camera. I say creeping because I’ve seen earthworms move faster than this man. I was pretty surprised a few weeks ago when I saw ol’ No-Nose Joe in the supermarket near my house, where he was creepin’ along with a shopping cart rather than the usual bike chariot. He was, of course, in the liquor aisle, mentally debating which carton of cheap booze to buy for the night while at the same time doing a great job of repelling other customers from the aisle because, let’s be honest, hobos don’t smell great**. I too was trying to avoid him, but after making my rounds in the store and completing all my other shopping, I still needed a loaf of bread and Joe was still blocking the bread shelf, which is in the same aisle as alcohol. I took a deep breath, gripped my basket, and headed into the aisle. . .

I don’t know what I did to this man, in this life or a former one, but somehow he is deathly afraid of me. As soon as he spots me entering the aisle, his eyes open wide like a deer in headlights and he goes off in the opposite direction. I don’t mean he creeped away at his usual 1mph – he RAN away from me as if I were charging at him with a bloody machete. I was of course startled but more surprised at the fact that this normal slow-moving homeless man had apparently channeled into Usain Bolt. End.

So yeah, other boring stuff.

It’s been just over 4 months since I left my last job at a Japanese company and started working for this American start-up doing business development and stuff. The job is great: I have a lot of freedom, work at home, and even get to travel sometimes. I have control and responsibilities that I never even got close to having at my last job. The problem (well, not really that bad) lately is that I’ve been given so much freedom and open-ended goals that it’s difficult to get myself focused. Of course I like having freedom, but sometimes I do slightly miss more concrete direction and specific assignments. It’s a lot like running my own business, so I guess I just need to get more used to working like this.

It’s been almost three years since I graduated from IU and headed out to Japan to work. I’ve changed jobs a few times, done a lot of fun stuff, met a lot of good people, but I’m finally starting to see that it might be time to leave Japan. It’s not that things are bad here at all, but I feel like it’s time to move on. It would be more beneficial for my work for me to be in St. Louis as well, and I’m definitely looking forward to having an apartment again that has space for furniture and a giant computer station like I used to have. Japan is great but if there’s no specific reason for me to be here, I don’t think I should stay. One reason I didn’t leave immediately after starting this new job was the chance that I’d be starting up business here in Japan, over in China, and other places in Asia that would make it advantageous to have someone already in the region. That possibility’s not gone at all, but I personally haven’t been focusing on it much yet, which means that the company’s not either. I’m thinking that if I get some solid reasons to stay in Japan, like with work, then I could definitely stick around for a bit longer. But on the other hand, if I don’t end up doing that, then it’s probably time to head back to the “real world.” I’m thinking I’ll give myself until next spring.

*white, if you really want to know

**of course, if you don’t have a nose, you probably don’t care what you smell like. NNJ ftw.

bj Action

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It seems like ever since I got back from my trip I’ve been pretty busy. My first day back in Japan I think I slept over 12 hours, probably recovering from the lack of sleep and ton of walking I did over in China. Friday night since Duy’s been in Japan for vacation we took a group out to Y’s, which was weird because we had a lot of old IES alumni and Shin-san even showed up. On Saturday I went out to Chiba Park again with Andy and Brian to play frisbee and hang out. Had a bigger group this time so that was pretty cool. Hit up Kappa after it started getting dark and pigged out on cheap sushi.

On Sunday I went to Ariake Coliseum for the first time to see the Japanese pro basketball championships. Bryan was able to swing tickets for this – and I am not joking about the name – the bj League Final Four. Yes. The professional basketball conference here is called Basketball Japan, or bj for short.

bj Harmony

I showed up for the second half of the 3rd place game, which was Osaka vs Hamamatsu. It was strange to be watching a professional basketball in Japan, since half of the players were Americans. The crowd wasn’t super into it, but it was still a fun time. The final game was much better and much more exciting, and the crowd was actually going nuts the whole time. The final was between the Tokyo Apache and the (Okinawa) Ryukyu Kings. The head coach for the Apache is Kobe Bryant’s dad, and the star of the Kings is Jeff Newton, who used to play at IU, so that was kind of cool. I think Nick Roberts is also in love with him.

プロバスケットボール bjリーグ

Even though the Kings never lost the lead the entire game, it was still sweet to watch and even though our seats weren’t super close or anything they were still really good seats. I think venues in Japan are just small compared to ones in the US, so it seems like you always have better seats than you would back home. The Kings won the championship 89-82. What a great bj day.

is it immature to laugh at this?  too bad.
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