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!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Weekend

Where to start...

In the words of my favorite comedian, Dave Attell, "I was drunk, or as I like to call it, time travelling."

Let me set the stage. We were gonna go out Saturday night. I was gonna wear the Batman costume. We were gonna go clubbing. A simple plan, as usual.

Then I found out about the Yamanote Halloween Train Party. An urban legend for years, it's a flash mob type thing where gaijin dressed up for the holiday take over a car on the Yamanote line in Tokyo. The Yamanote does circles around the city, you could stay on it all day if you wanted to. So the myth is that at 9pm you hop on the train in Shinjuku on car #10. Bring booze. Share booze.

9pm... I work until 8pm. It takes about 10 minutes to get home. 5-10 minutes to shower and get dressed. 10 minutes to get back to the station and on the train. 35 minutes to Ikebukuro. 16 minutes to Shinjuku. I rushed. Fate worked for me this night and I managed to catch the right tain, right car, and even met with Eric. Flippin sweet.

Here's a video on youtube of the fun. Look for Batman runing by, thats me:

So it was just some good old fun. Everyone was chanting and drinking and hopping between cars at each stop. I started drinking.

...Time Travel...

I remember posing for about 100 photos with random people. My outfit was pretty... stand outish

Yes, it was skin tight. Yes, my goods were very much noticeable. Or maybe lack of goods is a better term. It was cold dammit! I faintly remember taking a "crotch" shot with a couple Power Rangers who also had the bulge thing going.

...Time Travel...

Me and Eric are now in Roppongi. The guy in the Ferrari wouldn't let me drive, even though I said it was the Bat Mobile.

...Time Travel...

Some Persian chick molested my package in the Lawsons store when I was buying a beer.

...Time Travel...

Some club called Grace. I thought we were going to Ageha! Dammit, Ageha was free for people in costumes. Oh well, I got a discount at least going in. We went to the techno floor. I had to time travel out of there ASAP, it was whack!

...Time Travel...

The hip hop floor, this is more like it! Decent mix of music. Lots of hype from the MC, in a good way. I got handed a lot of free drinks from people I didn't know. Someone gave me champagne. It's easy to dance to hip hop with a glass of champagne in your hand.

...Time Travel...

I got DQed from the "Biggest Pimp" contest for some reason. Fuck that!

...Time Travel...

Somehow I ended up in the building office. There were bottles of booze everywhere, but instead I just stole a bottle of Evian.

...Time Travel...

I was talking tattoos with a bunch of Yakuza looking people near the bathroom. They were very nice.

...Time Travel...

Made it to my train fine, but slept about 6 stops passed. Wow, now THAT is the boonies. Rice patties and shacks. Made it home around 7am. Slept 6 hours. Zero hangover! Maybe someone handed me some wierd sake made with onsen water or something.

Sunday was spent in Harajuku and seeing friends a little bit. Just a chill day. Monday spent loafing around the apartment. My next month is almost totally planned out. Hiking weekend, then a training weekend, then a weekend at Fuji Q amusement park, then a weekend in Kyoto.

6 months ago all I did was sit around and play World of Warcraft. I have very few stories from then. Now I have some sort of random adventure almost every week. My job is simple and enjoyable, I'm saving money for the future, and I meet happy people all the time. I would whole heartedly recommend teaching in foreign country to anyone who has an interest.