Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 2013



If the ramen shop at the rest area up here were a bit better, I'd come more often.



The SOUSE house!


I swear, every photo in this album was either mean-mugging or some kind of crazy hair. A Saitama university, as expected.


Broke into the piggy bank. My daily collection of 500, 100, and 50 yen coins. How much you think?



Raw horse mane goes well with motsunabe (pig gut stew).



Winning poster of the month.


Himeji Castle is under a tarp until 2015. A castle-sized tarp.

If you get bored waiting, there is plenty of literature about the plastering technology being utilized for the restoration.



Lame art exhibit. A bunch of old vinyl players, sans the vinyl. Some sort of expression of unintended sound. I can't believe I paid to see this. The permanent exhibit at the MOT is always decent though.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Building a New Computer in Japan

It's been about 8 years since I built my own computer. One of the main reasons I studied Computer Science and became a massive nerd during my formative years was because of a knack for this stuff. The first computer I put together from parts was a x386 something-or-other back in 1993.

It used to be a lot harder, let me tell ya. Jumpers and what not. DOS prompts. Anyways, my laptop, an Alienware gaming thing, was starting to show its age, so I headed down to Akihabara.


A lot of people come to Japan thinking they are going to find amazing deals on electronics. For some countries with massive sales and import taxes, this can be the case. But with North America at least, you can probably get everything that plugs into a wall and makes beeping noises for the same price, depending on the exchange rate.


Actually, even in Japan, you can probably just buy all your parts on Amazon.


But walking around this place, anime music blaring, girls in their 20s trying to make a buck by donning their high school uniforms and working at cafes, overwhelming neon lights, there's something nice about that.

Six years ago, before some guy went knife-crazy and they shut down street performers, this place was super fun. Maybe not super fun, but more like neat-o fun. The weekends were a veritable extravaganza, with mini live performances every five meters.

Now it's just a place to buy stuff. Let's consume!


The only real deals are when you buy a few things at once.

By the way, I chose the components for this based on Tom's Hardware's Quarterly System Builder Marathon, with a much less powerful video card (I don't play a lot of games). I also went a little beefier on the storage and memory. And I didn't get the Fatal1ty branded motherboard. I met that guy once at E3 years ago and he seemed like a dick.


I saved 6000 yen by buying the motherboard, processor, and memory all at the same time.



Bought the drives on the net.


Windows 8 is rad! It is the perfect balance. Just enough new features to excite Windows mega-fans (fanboys). Just enough weirdness to give the Apple people (fanboys) something to complain about. And it is slick enough so that normal people can use it to get on facebook and watch cat videos.

Anyways, I added up how much I paid, and compared it to the price in dollars on newegg (a popular computer retailer in the states). About the same. I used to be in touch with the crazy deals back in the states, and most of my friends were into this stuff, so you could often get scraps from other people and free-after-rebate bits and bobs to drastically bring down the price of a home-built system. But those days are over. Everyone in Japan uses Macs!

By the way, my 3DMark11 score is:

SCOREP4907 with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti(1x) and Intel Core i5-3570K Processor

Not sure if this is good or not.

I could probably adjust the core speeds in the bios a bit and . . . whoah!  Too nerdy!

I'm out!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Drinking Parties are a Cultural Thing in Japan

Japan is big on cultural-social events that revolve around drinking. No complaints here! The 忘年会 and 新年会 thing is entertaining to say the least. Get wasted before the end of the year, and then do it again to celebrate the new year. Technically, bonenkai means to forget the year, so I guess you can't be blamed for wanting another massive drinking party a week after the last, what with all the forgetting.

If you have random jobs and friends, you will have random parties.

A typical one looks like this:


An atypical one looks like this:


Super-rad and super-lame at the same time!


My boy who organizes this Santcon had it in Kanda of all places. Who hangs out in Kanda? Besides a few hundred Santas? A bunch of old dudes who look like they just lost money at the track. Seriously, the east side is depressing at night.


I wore my red G-Star sweatsuit and a ski mask, which most people thought was whack, but a few people were down with.

Some ramen bonenkai went here.


It was some of the worst food I have ever had in Japan. At least the drinks were watered down so I didn't get too drunk.



I hit up my boy's glass-blowing studio for their year end party. Hunh?


Glass blower fun and games?


You bet. Apparently you can make popcorn.


Blow a giant bowl of molten glass.


And dump in the kernels!


Later, he said he's tried it a few times to no avail.

The videos on Youtube make it look easy.


Japan Riders Shinnenkai.jpg

No drinking, but we always have a meetup of the fine folks from the English biker groups.


Nice weather.


Homeboy crashed his KTM, but he is always talking shit about how I don't do wheelies, and he laughed off the crash, so I guess I don't feel so bad. See it live here:

That isn't me, it was another guy, by the way.

Soranoiro Shinnenkai.jpg

Insane ramen party. See you next year.

Monday, January 07, 2013

December 2012


Happy holidays, even though those days are long gone by now. I spent the holidays in Japan, I won't lie, with a 10-day return-to-Warcraft free offer. About seven years ago I was severely obsessed with that video game. Over about a year I logged 66 days of playtime. That's over 1500 hours in front of my computer clicking on my night elf. Moving to Japan with a turn of the millennium laptop essentially forced me to go cold turkey. I thought I had kicked the habit, and a short return could be something casual, maybe an hour or two in my free time. But said free time was in abundance this holiday season, and soon the sun would be rising while I would be doing basically the same thing I did in my previous life.

What I'm getting at is just say no to MMORPGs kids.


Most train stations in the countryside, in places known for hot springs, will have free foot baths just outside.


As well as local confectionery. Dried persimmon stuffed with chestnut cream. Pair this with a crisp sake.


Just another day at the office!


Cheapest sushi ever was found in Hatagaya! Also, the beer was 50 yen. Also, the first drink was free. Also, chu-toro for 150 yen.


Also, not so bad!


The new job takes me far and wide on the weekends. I'm trying my best to get deep into the local food and drink scene. In Tsuruoka, up in Yamagata Prefecture, on a search for the famed hata hata fish, we found this small izakaya. The owner, seen here, was previously, until September, a professional duck and pheasant hunter. And hata hata.


The old guy sitting on the adjacent stool (nothing but counter seats during the year-end drinking season) invited me to his local whisky bar. Wild.


Santacon Tokyo 2012.


Grilled eel guts.