Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Years Break, The Beginning

My first day off was spent here and there in Tokyo. Heidi was coming through town, so we made a day of it.

  • Sushi at Tsukiji fish market early early in the am
  • Massive mechanical walls that come to life every 3 hours
  • Chillaxing on the monorail above Odaibo, Mt. Fuji was in full view
  • Korin-cho motorcycle district in Ueno for some bike shopping
We hit up Tsukiji at like 6am. It was early. But Tsukiji is alive as always. Lots of comotion. We jumped in a random food line for some sushi. The line took over 2 hours, but who cares, 'cause it's Friday, I ain't got no job... and I ain't got shit to do.

Ordering the chefs recomendation turned out to be the way to go, and we enjoyed what was one of the best meals of raw fish I'd ever had. Heres a sampling of what was had.

1 day down, 9 to go. Also, I got a renewal offer from my company to stay for another year in Kawagoe. I have to make some big choices in the next few weeks! I've got some general plans for what I'd like to do and where I'd like to be for the next few years. These plans all entail maximum enjoyment and minimum effort on my behalf. I'll post when I know more.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I got my first surprise package today!!!

Thank you Tracy for the wonderful present. It is perfect. For those who don't know, things like dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter are like gold in Japan. This package would cost me about a month's paycheck to aquire out here. I'm serious. If you are back in the states, and live near a Trader Joes, worship that place! And if you live near Tracy... worship her!

Merry Christmas

Sunday and we were off to the track! When I introduced myself to some new Japanese friends as Brian, they got excited. Apparently, Narita Brian is a famous horse.

I learned how to place a basic bet in Japan. I'd never bet on horses in my life. There are some crazy ways of dropping cash on this sport. I just bet that my choice would get in the top 3 spots. Fill out your scantron and put some money in the vending machine. Yes, it's all automatic.

And get one of these.

The first bet was a recomendation by one of the Japanese people who knew what they were doing. It won. Woohoo, I more than tripled my bet. Good times!

At the track, if your view isn't very good, just watch it on the TV on your cell phone.

Christmas came as I sat outside a cafe in Roppongi. We got caught up in some eating and drinking at an izakaya, as well as checking out the shiny Christmas lights.

As the story goes, we missed out last trains. No big deal... been there... done that. This time though, instead of clubbing and drinking too much, we just posted ourselves at a 24 hour bookstore and cafe. It was nice. Plenty of artsy type books to read, and I was able to go on a couple walks around the nicer part of Roppongi (away from the clubs). A little after midnight, a gang of Santas on motorcycles rode by, signalling the seasons greetings. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


After a standerd week, singing song to babies and fielding questions about my penis size from the older kids, I decided to head up to Mito for the weekend. Mito is the home of Suwen, another teacher for my network of schools. 3 hours on a train and I was there.

Mito itself is a nice city, me thinks. Big wide streets, lots of trees and rivers, and even a red light district. Cool beans!

Sunday Mags, Tak, Branda, and Andy joined up with us for some sight seeing. We hit up lunch at a French cafe.

My salad was pretty damn good!

Desert was no joke. Also included was a big pasta dish, which was so-so. But the kicker was that there was all you can drink wine.

Andy couldn't believe that we got all this for 1000 yen. Thats less than 10 bucks.

After this we hit up Kairakuen garden. The Japanese love to rank things. Top 3 mountains, top 100 best rocks, top 10 soba noodle shops along a river with oarnge chairs. This garden was in the top 3. So anyways... we went there.

This place is most famouse for it's plum blossoms. But alas, December means bare branches.

A huge bamboo forest. I was doing some Crouching Tiger type shit up on top of the leaves, but I accidently deleted the pictures.

There was a dwelling of sorts in the middle of the garden. I could think of worse places to live! (I'm at one now)

Caves are scary.

After the garden we walked along the side of a gorgeous lake. Natue was in abundance. Check out the black swans.

The rest of the time in Mito was spent eating and drinking.

Also, I bought a new hat. My last one is soaked in blood, so I'm gonna wear this new one now. Thank you everyone for your concern, but really I'm fine. Head wounds are always very dramatic looking, but mostly superficial.

To everyone who reads this, Merry Christmas! The Japanese love this holiday. Tokyo is all lit up and the department stores are full of decarations. And I have "Last Christmas", by Wham stuck in my head. Peace-

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pavement 2 - Brian's Head 0

Once again I got into a little accident on my bicycle. Once again it is in no way my fault. I was just riding home after work and something broke. I have no idea what broke, but the gear and chain doesn't seem to be connected to the wheel, and the rear brake seems to be stuck in the "on" position. I went down, banged up my knee, elbow, and head. I got a "Daijobu desu ka?" from a walker by. Daijobu ne. I think I'm ok.

Oh, you want pictures of my bloody, disgusting wound? Here they are. You'll have to click the link to see em though.

Very soon after the accident.
I let it ooze for a bit to get this nice shot.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Spicy Bath!

My plans of adventure in Yokohama this weekend got cancelled, so I spent some time exploring Kawagoe. But before my adventures in the urban expanse, I needed a bath. Not just any bath... a SPICY BATH

I was shopping for wierd Japanese things to send home for Christmas presents... this seems pretty fucking wierd. But I had to try it out first. You know, in case it melts skin or something really bad. How can anything pink be bad?

I filled the bathtub up with hot o-mizu and poured it in. It kinda smelled like hot tamales candy, those ones you get at movie theaters. So, yeah, kinda funky.

I was expecting a slightly painful acid feeling, maybe some burning on the sensitive bits. But actually it felt... slimy. My body was covered in a mucusy film. I let it do it's magic for about 20 minutes, rinsed off, and that was that.

So the next day I looked outside and saw mountains in the distance.

I decided to ride my bike to these mountains. 2 hours later...

I picked a random street and road to the top of them hills. It was kinda brutal on my single speed Japan style bike. At one point I met some mountain bikers who called me, "Kuraaaaazy Boy!"

The ride back was pretty quick, I think there was a tailwind on my back. It's good to know that there is some nature not too far away. I saw trains, so I bet I could get back to these tree covered hills in the future. Hmmm... what I really need is a motorcycle... hehe.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Love is in the Air!

Ah spring! The cherry trees are alive with blossoms, birds are chirping, the air is warm and pleasent, and love is in the air!

But wait... thats a winter cherry tree. It's cold as fuck up in this piece. The birds chirping are more crows squawking. But love is still in the air! Let me explain.

I wrote too much I think. So I'll just say that my students have been asking me all sorts of sex questions lately. Like, if I have threesomes and how long my "boinger" is. This has forced me to learn some new Japanese phrases, like, "That's inappropiate" and "Don't draw that". Yeah, I came into class one day with drawings all sorts of cocks, balls, and titties on my board.

3 weeks till my 10 day holiday vacation. Woohoo. No plans really. Still looking at New Years in Tokyo, New Years day at Meiji Shrine with 2 million of my closest friends. Maybe a short trip out to Osaka, but who knows...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gardens and Gourging

Sunday was spent strolling about a beautiful Japanese garden in Tokyo. Koishikawa Korakuen is a very old garden, dating back almost 400 years. Fall is especially nice, because many trees in the area are showing their colors. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

The next day I hit up Namja Town with my previous co-teachet Mandy and some of her friends. Namja Town is a wierd place. You pay to get in, then basically buy lots of food. There is a Gyoza (pot sticker) theme town, Ice Cream City, where you can eat like 50 different kinds of ice cream (I skipped the curry flavor), and much much more. Lots of wierd games to play. The whole place was high on the wierd Japanese o meter.

Shawna, Mandy, Humi, Cat of sorts, Brian, and Gordon.

Mandy and I cleaned up on the UFO catchers! Actually, I had to bring in Mandy to win mine for me... but I got it started at least! Mandy has taught me some of the skillz needed to win at these things. I can usually win some of the easy ones now. Anytime I see a Rilakkuma UFO catcher... it's on motherfucker!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving in Chiba

People were coming down to Tokyo area for the weekend. A new friend from training, Heidi from Sendai, had asked if she could come hang out and check out Kawagoe. I love playing tour guide, so it was on! She got here crazy early though, since she took a night bus from her place. We did the Kawagoe tour. Good times!

The nice people who took our picture thought we were on our honeymoon. Really? People take honeymoons in Kawagoe?

Mags was kind enough to invite everyone over for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner at her place in Chiba. Her place was dubbed "Narnia" about 5 months ago, so I finally got to see why! It was a very nice 2LDK apartment. My favorite thing about it was that it had windows everywhere!

Apartments in Japan use code letters. I'll explain (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you get bored!). The first number is the number of random rooms. Bedrooms count as ranom rooms. The "LD" means living-dining room. The "K" means a kitchen area. I expected a 1K when before I came to Japan. That would be 1 room with a food preparing area in the corner. I ended up with a 1LDK. Bedroom, seperate living room, and a tiny kitchen area. I'm pleased with my place!

We had a great meal!

Afterwords people were a little tipsy from wine and we tried thinking of stuff to do. Half the group went off to do karaoke. I passed on this one. The other half went to the local sento. A sento is a public bathhouse. But I couldn't go in. I'll let you figure it out for yourself:

The next day Heidi, Tyler (my new co-teacher), and I did a little tourist fun in Tokyo. I thought I'd be sneaky and force them to the National Museum for the day. But, dammit, I forgot museums are closed on Mondays. So we did a little walking around Ueno park, then a little walking around Ginza. Lots of christmas stuff up in Japan. They aren't down with Jesus here, but they are totally down with shopping!

We found a cool shrine in Ueno. It had an eternal flame from Hiroshima. After the bombing in WWII, someone kept a flame from their burning house. They kept this flame alive and its a very famous memorial in Hiroshima. They took a torch lit with it to this shrine in Ueno. There is so much to think about when looking at this, whether its your opinions on war, or just the concept of energy being kept alive like this.

I don't really have any plans for December. I want to relax a bit, maybe take a break from Tokyo. I'd like to explore the mountains around Takao a bit more, and maybe visit some of my friends who ren't too far away. New Years break is coming up soon too. Almost 2 weeks off! But no plans... Anyone want to come visit?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Off??

Thursday was a national holiday. 'Workers Thanks' day or something. I dunno. I decided to hit up Akihabra. I had been building a shopping list of shit I needed for a while now. With a few man yen and Eric helping me find my way, I destroyed that list in no time.

One of the highlights of the day was some little mom and pop Om-Rice joint. Om-rice is like an omlete with rice in the middle and sauce on top. This wasn't no om-rice... it was the bomb-rice!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Somtimes plans change

My plans for Fuji Q amusement park got cancelled due to rain. Oh well! Spent Sunday chillaxing, watching movies on the computer and cooking. Monday I met up with Tyler, my new co-teacher. I gave him the tour. It rained more. That was my weekend!

Random photo time!

The other day there was an 8.5 earthquake on some of the waaaay northern isalnds in Japan. So we got a tsunami warning. Every channel on TV had an image like this, telling coastal people to get the fuck away from the ocean. And yes... I'm naked.

I bought a chair! My back has been aching lately from sitting on futons on the floor. This chair is mad crazy comfy, recognize!

My cell phone.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Photos from the Retreat Weekend

Here's some winners... enjoy em!

Mt. Fuji... I'll climb ya next year.

Chillin with Aaron and Dave in our Yukatas. Me and Dave were naked under them for a bit, but didn't want to frighten away anyone.

Branda, Heidi, and Suwen were very festive that night. Apparently I introduced Branda to whiskey that night. I gave her like a thimble sized shot, to which she replied, "I like it!" It was over after that.


I don't remember this one...

Yes... I actually work over here.

Thats it for now. I'll put up more photos on my photobucket account later maybe. Hit the link in the upper right of the page. This coming weekend, I'm off to Fuji Q Highlands amusement park for some hard core thrill rides (this place is known for breaking records). And Mandy Sensei is leaving Kawagoe this weekend, so gotta welcome Tyler, my new neighbor. I've been pretty lucky with cool people so far. But I'm easy like Sunday morning, so I'll take whatever I get. Haha, peace-

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Retreat Weekend

Our company had it's follow-up training this past weekend. Kind of a corporate retreat type thing I guess. Meetings, seminars, speeches, good food, and a free weekend at the hotel.

The thing was, there were like 25 foreign teachers from my company there, all from different places. A lot of the regular faces, and a couple new ones were down to party. The hotel was the shit. On a mountain top with views of the ocean on one side, Yokohama on another, and Mt. Fuji in the distance on another. The rooms were cozy as hell. I took the most epic shower, with multiple shower heads, massage settings, and all sorts of lotions and shit. Hey, it doesn't take much to make my day.

We all got dressed up in the matching Yukatas that came in the rooms and began the festivities. I'll post some photos soon, when I get them.

After the retreat, a few of us hit up the "American Bar" izakaya in Shibuya. It sounds like it would be some lame foreigner hangout, but its totally not. It just looks like Cheers or something inside. But the clientelle is mostly Japanese people having a good time. Good cheap food, good cheap beer, its a good time. So how the hell did we run up a bill like this??!!!? Lol.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random Wandering Leads to Randomness

4 Day Weekend!!!!

So Friday we were gonna meet with the usual gang at Meiji shrine for some festival with horseback archers and some other tight shit. The usual gang being BMS (Branda Margaret Suwen), Andy, Eric, and myself. We had a couple out of towners in the midst, that being Corrie and Aaron. I made Mandy come along. She brought along a couple more, CiCi and George. I also introduced Michelle to the Tokyo crew, since she lives close and it cool to boot! Hmmm... seems we may be rolling too deep. We all got to Meiji and turns out there was nothing really going on. Dammit, Andy promised horses! After that it was hard to decide on what to do, where to eat, etc. We checked out Yoyogi park, got some crepes on Harajuku street, and hit up Tower in Shibuya. I cut out early cause I was going hiking the next day. Word is they hit up Vanilla. Enjoy some pics:

Recognize the greatest character of them all... Rilakuma... aka Relax Bear!

This pic cracks me up. We were expecting archers riding on horseback, doing crazy feats of awesomeness. Instead we got random guys dancing to a flute. Look a little closer:

Mandy looks the most attentive of them all. Maybe she's a fan.

Michelle... earth to Michelle...

Suwen isn't even watching.

Corrie seems confused.

Andy looks like he's trying to hide. You promised me HORSES!

Aaron's first time in Tokyo. Welcome.

Hiking the next day was fun. Mt. Takao is very close to Tokyo. It was a little hazy, so the killer views were not to be had (Skyscrapers of Tokyo and Yokohama, Mt. Fuji, and the ocean) but it was nice none the less. The main path up is paved and crowded, take the side route. Although still kinda crowded, you walk on actual dirt and see lots of trees and water. Nature!