Saturday, October 31, 2009

His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL) and Halloween in Shibuya (HIS)

I hung out with the Dalai Lama yesterday. Well by "hung out" I mean we were in the same room together. Actually by "same room" I mean really big auditorium. And really when I say "Dalai Lama" I mean bald Tibetan looking dude in yellow and red (McDonald's?) robes. But I'm pretty sure it was him. He was speaking about Buddhism after all, and samsara, and some other really complex stuff... Oh and apparently there's bingo tomorrow at 3, BYOD (bring your own dharma). At least I think he was. Honestly I have no idea what he was saying. My Japanese is bad enough as it is, but Japanese spoken with a Tibetan accent? Fugghitaboutit! Oh wait... Oh yes I'm being told that he was speaking Tibetan and his interpreter was speaking Japanese. Well I'm just an idiot then and have no idea what language sounds like.

But regardless of any of those sorts of language or spacial boundaries it was a rather moving experience. I think. I dunno I just felt really mellow the whole time. And bored. Yeah I was pretty bored. But mellow. So I guess it balances out. It was really cool though to see so many people show up to hear him speak. People talk about the world being in such a dismal place, but when so many people come to listen to a guy talk about transcending desire and peace can we really say it's all that bad?

After his talk we headed to Shibuya for some ramen and to see all the crazy Tokyo kids dress up for halloween. Forgive me, but by "all the... kids" I mean all 20 of them. But they did have cool costumes as you can see below. I would say "after the jump" but never understood what that meant because I'm not making any jump and it usually just means "after the empty space" so fuck that. "Below" works for me.

Anyways, I didn't get dressed up this year. I'm still getting accustomed to just being here and didn't really have like a group to go out with. Hopefully next year I'll be motivated to don some crazy attire and head out to the streets. We'll see...

Thursday, October 29, 2009


A simple piece of advice. If you plan on ever coming to the Land of the Rising Sun make sure you have enough time to get sick of the rice. If you happen to leave Japan before consuming at least 15 metric tons of gohan (cooked rice) you can rest assured that the rest of your life will be quite miserable. Let me explain.

Japanese rice is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Ever. Nothing you have ever eaten before in the entirety of your life can prepare you for the overwhelming experience of Japanese rice. Now don't get confused, it's not immediately overwhelming. It's not like an explosion in your mouth. You won't pass out, or see images of God or Jesus while staring gape-jawed at the ceiling with a mouth full of white gold. What it will do is slowly encode into your DNA taste-bud receptors that require constant satisfaction or else you will experience the worst withdrawals you have ever experienced in your life.

Now you may be thinking, "Big deal, I've eaten rice before AND done heroine, I'm not scared." Keep thinking that. Think that all the way back on your 10 hour flight home, the 45 minute trip through the airport, the hour-long commute home, keep that thought until you're all cosey in bed, ready to fall asleep. Then, at 2am when you wake up with cold sweats wondering why your teeth hurt, you will realize the truth of my words. Don't believe me? Go out to an American sushi restaurant. ANY American sushi restaurant, see that shit they wrap the sushi with? That's not seaweed, and that's definitely not rice. Go ahead, taste it. Taste it and let your mind wander back to that very first time you had real Japanese rice. You were so innocent then, you didn't know. You couldn't know that you were condemning yourself to a life of never being satisfied with any other rice eating experience. It's ok, I was there once too. It's why I'm in Japan now. I couldn't live without my fix.

But there is hope! It's a difficult path, not many will walk it. Most will unwittingly lock themselves into a life of misery, but maybe you're different. You could be the one. It requires a firm mind and a strong stomach. You have to eat all the rice. All of it. You must eat gohan until you feel sick, until you are sick, until you think you will die, and for some until you die. Trust me death is a better alternative than living a life without Japanese rice. If you make it, if you can eat all the rice, then you have a chance at burning out the coded DNA rice receptors. Once those are gone you won't have the cravings. Normal, American, crappy rice will taste normal again. You'll be happy. Content.

Though the risks are many the momentary pleasures that Japanese rice give us are great. Whether it's gohan, mochi, or cooked in any of a million other ways (those Nihon-jin sure are crafty little buggers!) it is delicious. This cannot be denied.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nothing Really New

For those of you who are unaware (but interested in counting) this is my fourth trip across the Pacific and my third trip to Japan (one of those ventures was to China). I guess it's really no surprise then that I'm not as blown away by all the Japanese weirdness around me. Like political candidates standing outside of train stations with mega-sized megaphones screaming their thanks to everyone who deafly "listens" to their platform. Or really all the myriad things that most people notice on their first outing here: public baths, plastic food, endless vending machines, bowing, neon lights, karaoke, geishas, etc... That's just naming a few. I haven't even been to Tokyo yet so I can't quite remember what that's like but if memory serves me correctly it's fucking insane. Sort of like Dark City but filled with crazy Japanese people.

Anyways, most of my time here so far has been spent kicking it with my brother. I can't complain really, we spend most days going to the beach and doing Tai Chi, eating, and watching movies. It's been great, but not really a traditional "Japanese experience" if you know what I mean. Tai Chi on the beach sure is fun though. I could think of worse things I could be doing... Like waking up at 5:30am to go to work 6 days a week. Yeah there's that. That would be a lot worse.


Monday, October 19, 2009

This Is Vedy Important... Mm.

Went to my 2nd Aikido class yesterday. *Phew* I had no idea it was gonna be 4 hours of getting my ass kicked.

Hour 1: Boken practice. But apparently in Japan they use extra heavy bokens that us gaijin can barely lift . I thought my arms were going to just snap out of their sockets like Legos or something.
Hour 2: Jo practice. Much easier than the boken but still tiring.
*Break* <-- I thought this was the end of class, little did I know we had just begun.
Hours 3 & 4: Aikido practice. Mostly getting thrown repeatedly into a mat and having my wrist locked in what can only be expressed as "HOLY SHIT FUCKING OW! OW! OW! I CAN FEEL MY RADIUS SPLINTERING PLEASE STOP!" Yeah apparently they don't stop when you scream, only when you tap the mat. Gotta follow protocal I guess.

But you know, it was tough but a lot of fun. Also, I can see that Aikido is pretty serious business. If you really study it I think it has a lot of practical application. One of the guys in the class had been studying for 40 years, after class he put on his suit and walked out with a breifcase. I feel sorry for anyone trying to mug him in the night thinking he's just some harmless saliryman.

Slowly approaching the 2-week mark in Japan. The loneliness is slowly starting to set in. I really need to just get out of my brother's house and start making my own friends. Soon enough that'll happen I imagine. But right now it doesn't feel soon enough.

Anyways, at a cute little restaurant that has free wi-fi. Apparently wi-fi is a pretty rare commodity in Japan. I think they limit a lot of these sorts of technologies as a means of preventing any future Godzilla type mutations in the fucking MILLIONS of bugs that live here. I could imagine some Japanese person imagining that if some spider crosses with some stray wi-fi signal it'll mutate into a 20-story tall arachnid capable of shooting acid web on city buses and fucking up the JR time schedule. THE RAIWS MUST RUN ON LIME! WAKADE MASU?!

God I love it here.


Friday, October 16, 2009

First Pangs of Homesickness

I felt homesick the other day. We were sitting around eating dinner having some sort of depressing conversation about the current state of the world and I just started to miss being home. I missed my neighborhood in the Mission. I missed my two jobs with all of my friends. I missed being able to talk to anyone I met in a language I understood. I missed the near constant harassment by homeless people for what little money I have. I missed the HUGE variety of food that exists in America and especially in San Francisco. I missed my roommate and our regular (though amusing) arguments. I missed biking to the beach and through the Haight. I missed getting Indian delivery at 11pm and gorging myself on chicken tikka masala while watching Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert make what would otherwise be horribly depressing funny. I missed the smell of urine that I so often found walking down Shotwell. I missed the smell of urine I so often found anywhere in the Mission. I missed going to Dolores and watching people much cooler and more beautiful than I get drunk and act like assholes. I missed the near constant sound of sirens as apparently there is always a fire/murder/heart attack happening somewhere. I missed the sound of gunshots lulling me into a dreamless sleep.

But then I belched and felt better. I guess it was just gas.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day Alone

Japan has been great, though alone time seems to be pretty scarce. No complaints but I've been spending so much time with my brother I almost forgot what it was like to be by myself. Well today I got to remember. Spent the morning talking to some friends on FB. Got to catch up before doing some stretching and cleaning around the house. Then I went to Kamakura for a burger and some walking around. Bought some postcards to send people.

It's strange, I guess I've only been here 5 days, but I don't really miss home or anyone yet. I keep feeling like I should and I keep waiting for that familiar homesick feeling to set in but it hasn't yet. We'll see.

Oh I almost forgot. I went to get a haircut the other day. We were walking around Fujisawa doing some shopping and we happened upon an old barbershop that Jesse knew. He said I could use a trim if I'm going to be getting a job as an English teacher so we went on in. It looked like a normal barber shop but boy these people were pros. It was one of the shortest haircuts I've ever had (in terms of length of hair cut) and one of the longest (in terms of how long it took). Now this guy was a pro. He had his black belt in barbery. There was a picture of him getting his black belt. He was punching through a wooden board with a pair of shears while giving some guy a hair cut. Impressive doesn't quite capture it. Frightening is a little better.

Anyways, the actual hair cut was over in just a few minutes. What proceeded was perhaps the most pampered 45 minutes of my life. I was massaged, shampooed, shaved, massaged, moisturized, and dried off and sent on my way. It was awesome. I got such a great shave and back rub. Some day I hope to meet a woman who will so lovingly scrape a 4" piece of sharpened metal across my bearded face. I mean the lady who shaved my face was like a surgeon. I don't know how she did it but she managed somehow to fit that huge blade up my nose so she could shave some of the hair up there. It took all of my self control to not sneeze or breathe.

If you ever find yourself in Fujisawa and need a trim hit me up. I will personally walk you to this place. I could always use a good back rub.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

I made it!

Hey all! A little late for this update but I made it safe and sound in Japan. Been staying the past few days in my brother's beautiful house in Kamakura. Everything is wonderful. I was packing right up until the very last minute and actually didn't get everything finished (sorry dALE!) but I made it out the door and onto the plane. I was so exhausted from staying up all night packing but I was still a little nervous so while I was waiting to board I took on of the xanex my mother had given me for my nerves. I guess it worked because a stewardess had to come wake me up so I could get on the plane before it left me at SFO! I woke up about halfway through the flight and took the other one so I got plenty of sleep on the plane. Hopefully I wasn't snoring too loudly for the people next to me but I guess I'll never know! Got into Tokyo and sleepily made my way onto the train for Kamakura. It was a direct shot and was only slightly delayed thanks to the Typhoon (yeah right we know they really mean Godzilla!). Made it to the Kamakura train station just when a taxi was pulling up and was dropped off at my brother's just in time for dinner. Easiest move overseas yet!

Well I'll be going on a picture taking frenzy as soon as I get over this stress-induced cold I managed to pick up. So maybe tomorrow I'll have some pictures up of where I am. Until then...


Monday, October 5, 2009

Countdown: 2 days!

Saw Alyssa off this morning. Decided not to work these last two days and instead spend the extra time packing and relaxing. Said my goodbyes at Whole Foods. Finally gave Taryn her umbrella and a mix cd I made her. It got kind of exhausting after awhile explaining to people where I was going and what I was doing. I felt bad I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone but after awhile I just wanted to duck out and disappear.

Just put my bookshelf on Craiglist and got a few people interested in my bike. Hopefully I'll get it sold today or tomorrow .

Whoa, just spaced out there for like 30 minutes. I have no idea what else I was going to say... Well back to packing.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Holy Crap

So much to do, so little time to do it. Had the best going away party last night. I have amazing friends. Might do a re-do on Tuesday for some of the people who couldn't make it. Not sure yet. I'm fucking frantic but need to go to sleep. Got my suit, got my ticket. I guess in the end nothing else really matters...


Saturday, October 3, 2009


Four days.... FOUR DAYS?! Holy shit I have to be packed and ready to go in four days? I've got so much to do! I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped. Just totally swamped! I need an assistant or something. What I need to do is put the computer down. Just put it down, back away from it and go make my bed.

But hey, in four days it won't matter. Whether I'm ready or not I'm getting on that plane in 4 days and then I'll be in Japan. I'll be in Japan and facing a new life of adventure, songs, art, dance, English, Engrish, and so much good food and good times. It will be awesome. It will be epic. I will live the life I've been dreaming of. Hopefully I can bring some people along for the ride :)

Take care blog-o-sphere. Stay classy!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Only Five Days Left?!

Holy crap boys and girls! I have just over 5 days (roughly 122 hours) to get on a plane! How in Zeus's beard am I going to get pack and moved out in that time? Especially when I spend all my time either on Facebook or playing WoW? The answer is I can't, unless I fucking get in gear and move my lazy white American ass. Which I will. But first an update:

I sold my Bianchi Pista. I was really sad to see her go as she was a very excellent bike. I think the guy I sold her too will take good care of her though so... You know... *sniff* Happy for him.

My other bike however has yet to have even one offer made on it :( I just dropped the asking price $200 so hopefully that will draw in some interest. But if not I don't know what I'm going to do about it.

Well I really should be going. Have the day off but then work tomorrow morning and a going away part in the evening. Hopefully some oknomiyaki in the middle.