Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Guesthouse Room in Tokyo

Did I ever mention about the living situation in Tokyo? Maybe not. So presenting...

Drum roll...

Duh dadada...


My tiny ass guesthouse room!

Clocking in at a whopping 2 meters by 3 meters, or 4 jo for those who hate both metric and standard measurements, it's definitely on the small side. C'mon in!


This is where I spent about 12 hours a day for the past year. Maybe more like 14 hours a day. Wow, now I'm depressed.

But I'm moving next week. Now I'm back to normal.

Can you spot the whiskey in the picture. Now I'm happy.


This room has a kitchenette in it. Perfect for brushing teeth, boiling water, or peeing in the sink when you sleep in and have to multitask.


The view from my bed. Lately I've been falling asleep watching Japanese dramas, then waking up and continuing where I left off. I don't feel bad about this extreme level of sloth though. It's studying a new language, right?


Empty wall space, never! Ed Hardy shirt collection to the rescue.

Cameo by Kermit the Frog, who I rescued from the trash at my school in Kure.

I made a video showing the rest of the place. You want more videos? Too bad, I can't stand the sound of my own voice. Sounds much better filtered through a skull.

Want to know more about guesthouses in Tokyo? Here comes the factoid section of the blog. Feel free to skip if you don't plan on living in Tokyo.

A guesthouse is a shared living space. Usually you have your own bedroom, and share the kitchen and bathrooms. Shared spaces are cleaned regularly, in most cases. The standard rate in Tokyo is about 70,000 yen it seems, which includes utilities. This is about $700 a month. Also expect to pay around 15,000 yen management fee and maybe 20,000 yen refundable deposit. The farther from the city center, the cheaper it gets. Buildings range from a couple rooms to a massive 71 room dormitory. You can usually find these places online, and they all have management who speak English and will help you with everything, even if you are coming from overseas.

  • Fuck that, let's start with the cons!
  • The location is usually less than ideal. Both places I've stayed at were a 15-20 minute walk from a station. You may be thinking, "Hunh? There ain't even no trains near round me!" But this is Tokyo, you'll be on the train everyday.
  • Sharing isn't always caring. You'll meet some slobs who make a big mess in the shared spaces. Cigarette buts strewn about on the lawn. And yes, it's true, someone pooped in the shower... 3 times.
  • If noise is a problem for you, beware. Actually, I have a verbal agreement with my neighbor, loud music anytime is ok. This was our first conversation a year ago. Sometimes he blasts some rock at 3am. Sometimes I bump some 2 $hort at 4am. It's all good. Don't expect the same from your neighbor.
  • Wierd charges. One place might have a coin operated shower, or coin operated air conditioner, or bicycle parking charge, or rental fee for a pillow. Read the contract.
  • Obviously not having your own bathroom or kitchen is a negative point. A deal breaker for many people.
  • Safety can be a concern. We've had situations with perverts living here and freaking the hell out of some of the ladies. If you get a midnight knock on your door soliciting some adult fun, tell the manager.
  • It's pretty social, like a college dorm. Get your drank on.
  • Cheaper than an apartment, by a lot. Apartments are not only pricey month to month, but you have to fork over almost 6 months of payment. All non-refundable. So you're looking at 5 to 6 thousand dollars to move in. If you're only in Tokyo a year or 2, this makes a guesthouse look much better.
  • Did I mention that a lot of apartments won't rent to foreigners? Welcome to Japan, you white devil!
  • Again, it's social. Group dinners and parties are common.
  • Almost every house advertises that you can "have cultural exchange" with many countries. This either means you can learn things like strange foreign cooking, or maybe it just means you can have sex with a lot of nationalities. Connotation is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Free internet!!!!!

Some links:
  • Mayflower - I had a friend who lived here. The room was even smaller than my place now. But it was in central Tokyo. 2000 yen cab ride from anywhere.
  • Tiger House - I've heard good things. Akihabara location for you otaku wannabees.
  • Oakhouse - Where I'm at now. They have about 100 spots in the Tokyo area. Nothing very central though. Good management, clean buildings, I can't complain.
  • Sakura House - A lot of central locations, but they have a really really really bad rap. A bad rap about both the management and the people staying there.
  • Artist Guesthouse - I used to live here for 6 months. The rooms were mad big, 16 jo I think. That's 4 times the size of my current place.

Oh, by the way, the perspective is all whack on these shots, making my room look kind of big, because I got a new lens. Sorry if I confused you.


What kind of place are you living at in Japan? Hit up the comments-

Monday, June 08, 2009

American World Harley Davidson Festa


Nothing says America like a big fat dude on a big fat Harley Davidson motorcycle. This brand actually has a pretty big following in Japan. Out on the road I've come across quite a few rider's, American muscle the only thing between them and the road. It's a dream thing. Harley has been embedded in our minds as the ultimate freedom machine. Modern advertising pushes this to the limit, but I think it goes back to Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, and those sweet, sweet machines.


I'll admit it, I've never ridden a Harley, but have this secret desire to drop a huge sum of cash on one and ride from California to New York, hitting all 48 states in the process.


But, Harley's have a bad reputation. You pay a lot more for that Harley charm, and they have a tendency to be fickle machines. Hardly Able-sons is a common moniker.


Really damn expensive. The whole process of buying a Harley involves buying the bike, which is a 20 to 30 (or 40 in the above shot) thousand dollar ordeal. Then comes the customization. Chrome ain't cheap. Performance parts ain't cheap.


$2000 for some shocks. Yeah, every brand is pricey to customize, but somehow Harley comes out on top... way on top.


Anyways, I heard about this Harley event and had to go. Selling points:
  • Free entrance and gifts
  • Only about 15km from my door
  • Test ride some bikes
  • Country line dancing

The free present was these sweet rain ponchos. Rock on... in style.


As for the test rides, I went straight for the V-ROD. I've been in love with this bike since they introduced it back around 2003. It's all kinds of cool, and I think the styling is so bad ass. I sat down, wiped the childish grin off my face, and started the engine.


We all know a simple fact in life. Harley's are seriously loud. Like deafening loudness. So when I started the V-ROD and my first comment was, "Is it on?"... that's not good.

That's the reaction you want from a Toyota Prius.

Revving the engine elicited similar ennui. The test drive as well. Oh well. I think all the bikes here were severely limited. There can't be any other explanation.


The food was more hard core than the bikes. That's rice with taco meat loaded on top... and a hot dog. The word メガ, mega... makes it good.


There were some games to play. In this one, you have to shoot the 酔っぱライダー. A play on words meaning drunk riders. バンバン! Bang Bang!


The "gun" is the exhaust from the back of a bike. It's like you're in front of the bar, doing a burnout, and shit is flying out of the exhaust and killing all the drunk bastards inside.

I won some stickers for my murderous efforts.


License in Japan... you're doing it wrong!


Mild mannered English teacher at a girl's High School by day, bad ass who wears clothes like this at night.


This was the first time in my life that I have heard live country music. In Japan. And for someone who has only listened to this genre when driving in the countryside of California, I seemed to know all the words to the songs. (Achey Breaky Heart, Country Road, Rodeo)



Kid's Heaven? Isn't that were little boys and girls go when they die?



Ladies Beauty Square? Isn't there where perverted Japanese business men who like groping girls on the train go when they die?





I should also mention that I test drove a Buell Lightning. Buell is an offshoot of Harley. Pretty much a sport bike built with a Harley engine. I was Kick Ass. I capitalize to make a point. The bike almost made me numb from the shaking. No way I could handle a long haul, but I really really want.


This event changed my life. I had dreams of driving a Yamaha R1 sports bike, but this has been replaced with a Buell Lightning sports bike. I also had dreams of driving a Harley cruiser, but this has been replaced with a "anything not Harley" cruiser.

But Harley will always hold a special place... on funny Youtube clips!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Street Food on Enoshima


Enoshima is a small island about an hour out of Tokyo. Island is a little misleading, since it's connected to the mainland by about 600 meters of bridge. But, nonetheless, it's an island.

This island is known for love. Oh baby, let's see some lover's messages!


Girl's name: Mae-something
Guy's name: N/A


Girl's name: Mutsumi
Guy's name: N/A

Side note, if you keep seeing the word "Cock" and are confused, let me explain. Much of the island was purchased by a Mr. Cocking in 1880. Hence the Cocking Garden, Cocking Greenhouse, and various Cocking related merchandise.

If you want to eat strange and exotic food in Japan, the seaside is the place to do it. We westerners like our fish to look as far from a fish as possible. But not here! Just take out the guts and eat!*

Actually, the taking out the guts part is optional. I found that out the hard way.



Storefronts boast about their plethora of toppings. The wait to eat here was about 2 hours. While you're waiting, wander around and sample some things.


しらす are little tiny sardines. Bake em, mash em, put em in a stew. These ones were stewed in sweet rice wine and soy sauce. Tastes like candy! Looks like cute baby fish!


Mmmmm, gooey, slimy 岩のり. It's seaweed. Some of it comes with the baby fish in it. It's like each bottle is a little microcosm of life, plants and animals living harmoniously.


Here they are served raw with a little ginger.


Pickled squid. If you don't like the sound of pickled squid, don't *snicker* worry *snicker*. This stuff is really *snicker* delicious and in no *snicker* way like eating stinky raw fermented squid.


My lunch. Salmon, salmon eggs, and shirasu.

Still hungry? Try an octopus cracker.


Made fresh.


Right before your eyes.


Oh, the horror!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009



Nothing much to write about, I just went down to Akihabara to get some camera memory.


Every time I go to Akiba, I'm like, "I wish I understood this place!"


Not the regular otaku stuff, grown men playing with toys or video games or comic books. I can understand that. I used to collect toys (realistic collectible models), I used to play a TON of video games, I never got into comics but probably would have if circumstances were different.

Actually, the 1st time I went to a comic book store when I was 11 the owner yelled at me. All Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons style. Seriously, I was 11 and couldn't find a comic that I wanted, I had written out a damn list for my first time down to the comic store, that's how nerdy I was, and he yelled at me because issue #1 of Spiderman's Adventures or some shit was behind Silver Surfer and I couldn't figure out what he was talking about. I never bought a comic after that. He probably saved me a lot of money in the long run though.


But the fucked up scenes in the smaller alleyways. I could swear those guys are some low level yakuza lookouts. What are they doing. I want to know details. I want to understand.


Then I went home and watched TV.