Tuesday, January 30, 2007


What an honor to stand on the podium that the world's best athletes stood on not too many year ago. It's now a discount parking lot. What an honor to stand among some of the finest minivans and kei-cars in the country of Japan. It was kinda rusty too. What an honor to stand amongst some of the finest atoms of oxygen reacting with iron that Nagano could muster up.

That's totally me snowboarding on the left side. It was my first time and luckily I had Mags and Aaron to give me a few tips. I got the hang of the basics, but yeah, I spent most of the day falling on my ass. By the end I was so beat that I kept losing control of my balane and did like 15 faceplants in a row.

The snow was really nice.

B, B, A, and M. I ain't got time to write full names anymore.

Good times. 9 years ago I told myself that I'd never go skiing again, cause I just never seemed to have that good a time. But now I wanna go again. I think maybe I'll give skiing a go before the season is up.

After a day of snow on Sunday, we chilaxed in Nagano the next day. A couple of the gals got some new ink. The tattoo artist was named Maru, he was pretty damn good at his art. I showed him mine and he knew who my artist was. I got some new ones myself. I'm really happy how it came out. Check it here.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Woke up a little late, but I was determined to get down to the Hachioji area for some hiking today.

In Kawagoe, Route 16 says Hachioji on it, so I took that down. It got me where I needed to go without much fanfare. The normal roads in Japan are kinda teh suck. Packed with lots of red lights. If you are from the San Francisco Peninsula, think El Camino. Los Angles, think Wilshire. If you are from somewhere else, sorry. Also, there are a ton of big rigs. Bleh.

The other option is the expressway. Japan's freeway network is whack. It's fairly sparse, and they are toll roads. When you get on, you get a ticket, and when you get off, you pay all sorts of fees. Basically its more the farther you go, plus whatever else they want to charge you. I took the expressway back today, maybe about 50km on it and it cost me 1250 yen. Ouch! That's more than $10. I looked it up, to ride from one end of the country to the other on these roads would run me close to $400. Dasai!

But enough complaining. Instead of a 2 hour train ride that costs about the same, it only took me 1 hour to get home. And the expressway is gorgeous. Huge tunnels, no traffic, cool futureistic looking signs and blinky lights and shit. The speed limit is 80kmph, which is about fuck-if-I-know mph. 80 felt like normal highway speed. I got it up to 120 at one point, which aint super fast. It was kinda cold to be going fast. Once I get some good gear I can drive at better speeds. The best part was when I gunned it coming on. Instead of yelling "Woooohooooo!" or "Yeeeeeehaaaaaaw!" (yes, riding a motorcycle is like riding a roller coaster, it's the shit) I instinctively yelled "Suuuuugoooooiiiiiiiiii!"

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vroom vroom...

The bike is parked out front my apartment. Success!

I got a phone call about noon from Suzuki-san, the bike shop owner. Our conversation was funny.

Brian-sensei: Hello?
Suzuki-san: Bike OK. What time.
B: Ichi uhhh.... ni. (Tried to say '1 or 2', but I forget what 'or' is)

All that was left when I got there was to give him a bunch of money. Then I drove off. I knew that from Ikebukuro the 254 goes to Kawagoe. So I had to get near Ikebukuro and then look for some sort of sign saying 254. It was easy peasy japanesey. Took kind of a while though, like an hour+ to get back. There is an expressway that I need to figure out for the future. The 254 was also packed as hell, so not very fun riding. I got a couple chances to open it up though.

Man this bike flies. It feels very different from my one back home. Lots of high end torque, as opposed to mostly low end torque on my cruiser in California. Serious stopping power, since it's probablly half the weight. I need to get used to the seating. The cruiser is like a big comfy chair. The CB400 has a very sporty feel. My shoulders are sore from putting my weight on them. I'll get the hang of it.

I've got a shopping list now.
  • Some sort of luggage solution. I think a box that sticks up on the back would be perfect.
  • Gloves. I used the gloves I wear for normal warmth walking around. My hands got all sweaty and then really cold. Not fun.
  • Boots. They are in the mail, my boots from back home. I wore my hiking boots today, and my feet are frozen now.
  • Jacket. The down jacket I wore today was actually pretty good, and most every other rider I saw had the same type of thing on. But I want the real deal, something with armor and a good look to it.
  • Cover and wheel lock. I saw some at the place I bought my helmet in Kawagoe. Maybe I'll go there today.
I also need to find some people to ride with. I found a few internet forums and what not serving the greater Tokyo area, so hopefully I can make some new friends and see the sights.

I'm gonna try and ride to the mountains tomorrow and do some hiking. If the weather is good I'll take some nice photos of the bike with trees and shit in the background.

Keep the rubber side down. Peace-

Monday, January 15, 2007

Almost done...

Yesterday was step #1. Pick a bike, sign some papers, yada yada yada.

Today was step #2. Off to city hall. The shop owner gave me an addressed envelope and I had to get an official address form. Took about 15 minutes. After that I bought me a helmet. After that I took a crowbar to my bank account. He was a big fat bastard, just sitting there, not really doing anything for me. Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins, right? So now I'm ready for step #3. Pay the man and ride off into the sunset.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Wheels

Guess which one? Cmon, I'll give you 3 chances...

The new Ducati 1098? Sorry. Wrong. Maybe next year.

Hayabusa? I ain't no squid! I'd have to go to superbike school back home before dropping the cash on one of these.

Honda CB400 Version S? Yup, thats the one.

I headed into town and checked out the stock today. I was feeling the 400cc bikes. I miss my big heavy 1150cc Yamaha V-Star back home, but I want something good for zipping around Tokyo and the ocasional weekend getaways. This bike fits the bill. Light, nimble, stops on a dime. And fucking gorgeous.

The experience of buying the bike was a trip. I checked a lot of shops. The owner spoke very little English. More like no English. We used lots of hand gestures. On the occasion that something needed translating, he called his wife and we talked. When I told him I needed to go to the bank to get his money, he had me hop on the back of his bicycle to get there. Japanese people ride on the back luggage rack all the time... this was my first. I looked reluctant, this old dude was gonna pedal 2 up with a 6'4" 180lb gaijin? That shit was kinda scary. He saw the look of horror in my eye and said, "Japan OK." It was... interesting. I almost fell off a bunch of times. Japanese people are always riding 2 up on bicycles. The rear person is usually texting on the cell phone too. Funny shit like that is an everyday occurance to me, I barely notice it anymore. I'm rambling.

So anyways, I bought a motorcycle.

Everything was relatively easy and painless. The shop handles insurance, shaken (mandatory inspection fee), and registration. So you an go in and get it all done in one place. This was great. I have no desire to see what the DMV is like in Japan...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Decisions made, my time left in Japan

Letters have been faxed, phone calls made, I've got a pretty solid plan for the next year, give or take some random anomalies here and there.

First off, I chose not to extend my contract at my school in Kawagoe. My current contract is until the first week of July. I was given the option to extend for 6 months or 1 year. I like my school, it's very laid back compared to some of my other friend's schools, but I just don't want to be in Kawagoe anymore. The Kantou area, which is Tokyo and it's surrounding plain of suburbs, is just an expanse of buildings, roads, and civilization. The only nature nearby is about an hour by train to Hachioji, which also serves as the only nature for all of Tokyo. I need trees!

But I don't plan on leaving my company. I am applying for a position as an emergency teacher. If I get this job, my main job duty would be to fill in at schools that need a teacher for whatever reason. It's a crap shoot, I could be placed somewhere cool or could go somewhere lame. I could see many many schools or I could be stuck at 1 the whole time. Regardless, this sounds like something that I'd enjoy. Also, I can take a few weeks off after my contract here and before emergency teaching to travel around. Sugoi!

After 6 months as an emergency teacher, my plan is less certain, but I do have an idea what I want. I would like to move back to Tokyo, get a guesthouse for 3 months, and check out other avenues of work in Japan. After that, I have a plan for travelling around Asia for at least 6 months. It's very fuzzy right now, and more than a year away, so I won't talk about it yet. I like being mysterious.

So here's the breakdown for those who want to know:
  • Present to 07/07 - Kawagoe, same ol same ol
  • 07/07 to 08/07 - Motorcycle tour of Japan... all of Japan
  • 08/07 to 02/08 - Emergency teaching here and there
  • 02/08 to 04/08 - Guesthouse type place in Tokyo
  • 04/08 to 2009ish - Asia travel
If I don't get the position as an emergency teacher, I will just go straight to a guesthouse after Kawagoe. I've heard mixed things about the ease of getting this job. I'm a good teacher and have helped out my school a lot, so I think I'm cut out for it.

So thats that. My plan.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I love ramen!

Although I prefer a delicious bowl of the good shit from a nice restaraunt, the instant stuff here in Japan is pretty damn good. My local supermarket sells em for 92 yen. They have about 30 varieties. I always have a few on hand for lazy evenings or when friends come and visit. The creator or instant ramen just passed away. 96 years old!

From 5 for a buck cheap stuff (I always liked the sesame chicken flavor) back in college to expensive (relatively) stuff endorsed by famous chefs here in Japan, ramen is the shit, son!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kawagoe is the Cuts... Part 3

I went for a ride around Kawagoe this morning and found a ton of new signs warning against the dangers of life in my neck of the woods. No woods in sight though, but on the map, my area is described as a "housing estate". I don't kow what that means, but this "housing estate" is a bunch of old run down apartment buildings. There are some rusty playground structures and piles of debris here and there. "Housing Estate" might mean The Projects.

Stop!!!!! It looks like the guy is wearing the purse and she is cutting it out of her arm. What a bitch!

I forget the name, but turtles with wierd crown heads are some kind of Japanese mythological animal. And the will kill you if you go in the water.

I like the imagery in this one.

Sorry bunnies, apparently there are bears in Kawagoe. They will eat you. I haven't seen any rabbits around, so it must be true!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

Happy 2007

To anyone who reads my blog, I hope 2006 was an exciting and meaningful year for you.