so yesterday was pretty wacky… i get to kyoto and i realize that i have no clue where my hostel is in relation to where i am. so i try to make my way towards downtown, first on foot, then by bus, then by foot again. after 2 hours of wandering around and ending up back at kyoto station, i finally find this internet cafe and get directions. i get to the hostel and set off for this reggae bar to say whats up to the owner, and its closed for christmas, but he is bartending at this party in town. i have a vague idea of where this club is and i set off for it, in the wrong direction. i walk for about 45 minutes and i get to marutamachi station… but its a different marutamachi station. so i get out of this station and i start walking, in the wrong direction, and i end up back where i was 45 minutes ago. so after 2 hours i finally ask someone, and i get correct directions. i walk for another 45 minutes and i get to the other marutamachi station and i cant find it! i know its around the station, in the basement of something… and it turns out that the entrance is in the stairway to the station, which would explain why its called club metro. the party was fun, there were good reggae dj’s and sweet live music.
when i was walking around getting more lost and frustrated i started playing a game called intrepid photographer, where id just take as many photos as i could.
lessons learned: get directions
kyoto, name your subway stations better, its confusing.
so yesterday i went to the bicycle film festival here in tokyo, and there was a big seattle presence! not only did i meet up with a new friend of many friends… and a tokyo friend.. we saw an awesome 2 hours of bike films! the longest film was called “fast friday” and its about… fast friday out in seattle. it was a well made film, and after the showing i met some people that i didn’t really know before but i had seen all around downtown/cap hill… we then went out to to a special fast friday in tokyo event… here are the pictures
so after fast friday we got totally hooked up and got into the bicycle film festival party for free, thanks to the founder of the festival
what up brendt!? thanks!
the end of the party.. 4:30 am
it was a super fun day… thanks to seattle, fast friday, cadence and the bicycle film festival for an awesome day!
so after 3 days of trying to rent a dog (the first day i got there past the reservation time, the second day it was raining and they don’t rent on rainy/wet days) i finally did it.
i’d like to preface this report by saying i only found out about this uniquely asian service because of the second bear suit project… basically every american said that the odaiba rent-a-dog place was their favorite place in all of tokyo (well, thats not true, almost every american said odaiba… but alot said the rent-a-dog in odaiba, so i’m going to make a broad blanket statement…) [i personally dont think odaiba is that great... i found some clothes shopping deals while wasting 3 hours waiting for my rent-a-dog, but overall i didnt think odaiba was that great... granted, it is "scenic"... but whatever... you can't really get the best of both the urban and rural areas in a city like tokyo... you have to live in an awesome city like seattle! odaiba is nice for tokyo, and it is sort of pretty, and you can rent a dog, but its no discovery park... or even lincoln park in west seattle (i saw a bald eagle there once)] the odaiba waterfront is pretty if you look at it like enjoying staring across a bay to see tons of skyscrapers… and it certainly beats seattle in terms of the number of skyscrapers… but its no kehoe beach (which isnt in seattle.. its on the pt. reyes peninsula in california… best beach ever made (that ive seen))…
secondly, id like to talk about the rent-a-dog service in regards to what little i know about japanese culture… i noticed 2 or 3 trends in my limited experience with a rent-a-dog service… first: the internet reports of expats wishing they still had their dog with them (i.e. me and some other people… google it), second: japanese with super restrictive leases that don’t allow them the awesomeness that is owning an awesome dog (i.e. like me… although i’m not looking to get another dog in japan and it did prove to be prickly over the first 3 years in the states) and japanese couples that just wish they had a baby… or a dog…or a living thing… to coddle.
so, it took me three days to reserve a dog… the first day i got to “puppy the world” (that is the actual name of the place in odaiba.. .there is also the “cats livin’” store where you pay a nominal fee to go into a room with a bunch of cats and you can pet them and stuff… i did it, it wasn’t that cool.. these cats, let alone cats in general.. dont care about people) it was after 2, and the second day it was wet.
so some people would say that the rental dog service is pretty unethical… i kind of agree, except that stupid people like me are willing to pay money to walk some persons dog. so these dogs are getting tons of people that want to pay money to walk a dog and shower it with love for a limited amount of time. granted they live in a glorified shelter, but people are coming every non-rainy day and paying attention to it. i certainly dont think this is the same as owning a dog… because i feel like kaya and i have some kind of relationship, i got him off a shitty farm in valley ford when he was 6 weeks old. maybe he just pays attention to me because i gave him food and didn’t yell at him for pooing outside of our typically meager housing situations, but i have never met anyone else who would wait at the door/gate 5 minutes before i got home. and i dont know anyone who could recognize the sound of my car a mile away. and i dont know many people that like to go on really long drives and listen to reggae music and then walk on some beach or up a giant hill (well, i guess i do).
i really just did this because i miss my dog.
there were mostly couples in line with me to get the dogs… you have to show up between 12 and 2pm and reserve a dog, then show up again at 3 to claim the dog… after 2 days of disappointment, i was there at 12pm sharp. 11:57 maybe. when i saw the dog i picked (in picture form) i kind of got the impression that it was a german shepherd puppy… boy was i wrong… it was a black and white shiba inu… really small… about 15lbs tops… it might have been a puppy, it just might have been really small… but it was cute.
you also would think that a rent-a-dog service would employ trained dogs… nope! i kind of think this dog was a pup because it was impossibly hyper… it might also be that they only get walked when they get rented… questionably ethical… the funny thing was that they asked if i could handle an “active” dog… this dog was only 15 pounds! it pulled on the leash alot… but i mean, this is a tiny dog… the dog i grew up with weighed more than me most of my life… but of course neither of us really spoke each others respective native languages, so i guess it makes sense to ask.
so i show up at noon… choose the dog from the bulletin board of photos and find out i have to wait until 3pm to claim the dog… so i walked around the many malls of odaiba for 3 hours.. visiting the sony explorascience center (not that cool) and eating a crappy tuna sandwich at a “hawaiian” joint until it was time. i get back to “puppy the world” and wait in line with a bunch of people (10 maybe) and we show our claim tickets and get our dogs and our tote bags with poo baggies and water (to clean the poo off the asphalt, not water the dogs… you get a bowl and have to fill it with water that isnt in the poo cleaning bottle)… most people got french bulldogs… i think they are kind of silly looking… and i find out that i am not getting a german shepherd but a tiny shiba inu… oh well.. a dog is a dog i suppose. the dog is stoked to see me for a second, then is ready to tear off… she is totally straining the leash until i ran with it for 20 minutes… unfortunately, this is just some random dog, so its not like i can let it off the leash and hope it comes back… plus i dont even think it understood english…
it was a cute dog though… we went on a nice jog/walk through this old japanese military training spot and when i’d stop at a bench to observe the view, it would totally sit in my lap and let me pet it… adorable…
it was actually more interesting to watch the other peoples experiences… we werent walking together, but everyone is basically walking around the same waterfront park, so i’d pass all the other people at some point during the hour… the most interesting/surreal/adorable couple had this french bulldog that wasnt really into walking (as i said, these dogs are really untrained) and they just carried it around for an hour… when i passed them about 45 minutes into it they were just cuddling it on a bench and cooing to it and petting it… so weird, but kind of cute too… they just want to love on something for a bit… and are willing to pay money for that privelege… saps like me i suppose!
my dog payed little or no attention to me really unless we were running or sitting, and i guess i wouldnt expect it to, it has probably been walked by tons of people and in my experience animals only care about the people who feed it. it obviously didnt respond to my english “hey!”s… but it did like to be pet and walked. this was certainly no substitute for owning a dog… but it did somewhat relieve this weird desire i have to walk my dog again. all these dogs are too jaded.
this was a really weird experience.. i dont think ill rent a dog again. it was a gorgeous day though, and it was cool to walk a dog on the waterfront on a sunny day… almost like having my real dog with me
my real dog (flying in the air circa december 2005 on a randomly post-snowy seattle weekend):
even older… april 2005 46th st.
so here are the pictures of ayame the rent-a-dog:
it was certainly a cute dog… but its not my dog.
so today i went to the tokyo sea life park… pretty sweet! here are some photos… (ps: i dont think its wrong to take photos of fish, but i dont think its cool to take photos of caged animals… hypocritical? maybe)
for some reason, they leave a datestamp sign out for entrance portraits… i dont know if i have ever seen that at any other attraction ever
tokyo disneyland across the water… theres the castle and space mountain or captain eo
giant moray! creeeeepy!
puffer fish! fugu! ふぐ
leafy sea dragon!
in the middle of this pic is the blenny.. a rock hopping fish
this baby penguin wasnt so into floating around.. he just wanted to kick it with his rock pals
the adult penguin feeder leaving
at this point i would like to crack my joke.. [joke redacted... if you really want to know, ask me... but making fun of the holocaust isnt really funny 99.9% of the time... even if you are a jew]
baby penguins getting stoked to be fed
id like to be this guy… joke nonwithstanding
the origin of the joke
pretty cute! i wish i had a baby penguin living in my bathroom, like when mickey mouse brought the seal home
this is the first thing you see upon entrance to the sea life park
theres a bunch of other tanks and the giant tuna donut tank… cool!
it was sweet, and only 700¥, so go check it out.
so today i went to the ueno zoo… it was kind of depressing… for instance ling ling the panda now lives at the ueno zoo.. the oldest zoo in nippon. ling ling is relagated to a room that is lined with tile and is fed dumplings consisting of apples and chicken. i’m pretty positive that ling ling didnt eat dumplings in the mountainous regions of china… granted he gets as much bamboo as he wants in his room, im sure he didn’t relegate himself to 20 sq. m of space with tile floor… or consider dumplings the majority of his diet. i know that pandas are one of the dumbest creatures on earth (who else survives on a terribly threatened species of bamboo in a terribly threatened forested region of china and only mates every so often to produce one baby), but i was surprised to see that the san diego zoo traded the ueno zoo for ling ling.
i’d say even though it was definately cool to see the greater asian take on the zoo, it was basically just as depressing as most zoos. i saw a bunch of incredible birds, like the secretary bird, that i will never see in the wild but it was kind of a drag to see them in the middle of tokyo in a small enclosure.
this picture does no justice to the awesomeness that is the secretary bird.
the ueno zoo definately excels in birds and small mammals. i think i saw stuff that id never see in an american zoo. considering that it cost about 5 bucks to get in (600¥) it was a deal. when it came to the larger mammals/reptiles.. it got pretty depressing.
i would like to assume that most of the larger mammals were raised in captavity and just didnt grow as large as most of their wild counterparts. the lions and tigers seemed pretty small, considering the hype that they get as ferocious beasts. granted the tigers were asiatic tigers, i still wouldn’t step to them. they seemed to be a little smaller than i would have assumed, but still ferocious.
the asiatic elephants were in this tiny pen (compared to their size)… and there were 4 or 5 of them… so i didnt think that was that cool…
on the other hand, i dont know if youve taken the time to appreciate the alien-like nature of an elephants skull/physique
a bunch of the birds at the zoo have pretty dinosaur-like features…totally wild… so i think thats definately a good point of argument for evolution people… there are some wild creatures out there
the monkeys, arguably the most intelligent and human-like creatures at the zoo, seemed so bummed out to be stuck in cages… the just sat and stared at the people or huddled in the back and slept… drag city
the polar bears had a relatively realistic enclosure, but all they did was pace back and forth along this cliff that was closest to the fence and kind of pose/glare menacingly towards everybody… all day.
i saw this guy feed the penguins and the shore/ocean birds and that was cool.. he threw fish to to the cranes and seagulls and stuff, then went in the enclosure and all the penguins waddled out of the pool and followed the dude and he fed each of the penguins a fish as they waited around him. super cute.. i didnt know that there was a type of penguin called the jackass penguin… oddly enough the king penguins (like the ones in march of the penguins) had this totally crappy enclosure behind this glass wall and all 8 of them just stood there, beaks against the glass, and just stared at the people passing by… i guess macaroni penguins and jackass penguins are more managable… youd think theyd give every flightless bird a sweet enclosure… its not like they can hop the fence and fly away
there were some sweet nocturnal mammals, notably the leopard cat, the flying fox and the pangolin…
i saw a giant anteater, which was cool cause the UCI mascot is the anteater… they are also fed a diet that doesnt consist of what they naturally eat… mostly chicken. so weird.. but they feed the anteater this mix of ground chicken and greens in this bucket type carafe thing that they hang outside the fence of the enclosure and the anteater uses his super long tongue to reach down the narrow neck of the bucket and scoop out the contents inside. i got there way after feeding time, when there were only scraps left in the bucket, to see some japanese girl lifting the bucket so that the anteater could get all the scraps inside… cute and weird. firstly anteaters dont eat chicken… and secondly anteaters dont eat ants out of carafe shaped buckets. zoos are kind of weird. but i did get a first-hand look at the incredible anteater tongue.
i saw capybaras… which are pretty cool because they are like giant guinea pigs. there was a mom and a dad and a baby one. pretty cute.
soon after seeing the anteater i met a really nice canadian dude and we walked through the rest of the zoo and got a beer afterwards and went our seperate ways… really nice dude though.
the most notable thing after the anteater were the hippos and the crocodile.
the hippos (both regular and pygmy sized) were in enclosures that seemed way too small, but it seems like hippos are pretty lazy and as long as they have a pool to chill in they dont care…
the croc on the other hand practically took up the entire pool that it had… i didnt remember how big they were! the funny thing was that i saw the dwarf crocs first and i just assumed that they were so small as a result of living in such small quarters.. then the next pool was the full sized croc pool and this thing was GIANT! it was asleep, but it was absolutely enormous! totally 6-10 meters long! i felt bad for it because it was in an enclosure that was basically the length of itself though… i’ve seen planet earth... crocs are one of the most brutal animals on earth… if the macaques get a mountain, the crocodile definately deserves a bigger enclosure! (ps: baby macaques are impossibly adorable.. basically a mcnugget for a crocodile… i think an adult macaque is still nugget sized to a croc)
so all in all, it was cheap and it took up most of my day, but it was also kind of depressing to see the larger mammals stuck in such dinky cages…. i saw some incredible birds and other stuff, and i cant recall the last time i went to a zoo, so it was definately worth the 5 bucks.. and i met a canadian! good times… but you should probably take the 5 bucks youd spend to go to the ueno zoo and just go rent planet earth, which is the most breathtaking, incredibly filmed and impossibly awesome animal/nature documentary ive ever seen (get the bbc one, not the discovery channel one, it sounds way cooler with attenborough narrating instead of sigourney weaver)
maybe i’m just uneducated and unsophisticated, but i get this totally silly childlike giddyness everytime i go to a museum or a zoo/aquarium… ironically i hated most of the times i was made to go to them as a child, except for the flight museum in dc… that museum rules! looking back, i wish i had appreciated all those times more. knowledge rules. theres no time to bemoan all the knowledge i should have gained.. theres just time to go out and gain more!
well, i am finally moved in to the new pad! i’ve not yet entirely unpacked, but i am entirely living in the itabashi-ku… welcome to beautiful itabashikuyakushomae (which means: itabashi city/town/ward in front of the city hall)! i am conveniently located near the ward office, which i will probably only have to go once, and ive already gone to change the address on my gaijin card… but it is on the mita subway line which is the line closest to school and the neighborhood provides everything one would actually need. there are 2 grocery stores, 2 or more 100¥ stores, an indian curry restaurant, a japanese curry restaurant, a chinese joint, tons of ramen/udon shops, tons of produce/meat stores and yes, most important of all, a free petting zoo. i’m not sure why there is a free petting zoo in my neighborhood, but i’m not going to question it… i’ll go to the spot tomorrow and take some photos, but i kinda fear that it will make it look even more pitiful than it already kind of is… and to top it off i’m totally going to the ueno zoo tomorrow… the oldest zoo in japan. but i dont think i’m going to take photos because i think its pretty low to take photos of caged animals. i’d much rather go to the aquarium, but i dont know which aquarium to go to. needs more research.
anyways, welcome to my sweet (by japanese standards) pad!
my small stovetop and sink/dish drying tub
my fridge and washer.. and my radical rice cooker
kitchen/entry… note the three essentials of cooking… soy sauce, olive oil and tabasco… i really need to find some sriracha!
my spaceship airlock bathroom… i really wish it had an airlock!
my yet to be unpacked room… big ups to ikea for having relatively affordable comfortable designs! i need some kind of organizational system… so if anyone has the hookup on milk crates or cheap, stackable boxes and shelves… let me know
oh yeah, go to muji.net… i was gifted a beautiful teapot from there… everything they make is golden (design wise… everything is really some shade of beige.. but still incredibly radical.. better ikea with a much higher price!)!
ill post the neighborhood pics tomorrow
(ps: i would like to note that even though this is a nice western-style japanese pad… most (poor) gaijin are relegated to the few gaijin-friendly/focused realty companies and that there are probably nicer, bigger pads out there but 99% of japanese real estate companies are super anti-gaijin and won’t even talk to you, and then they want all this deposit money, “key money” which is basically 6 months rent, then this “gift money” to the landlord that you give to the landlord as a gift for being so gracious as to letting you rent his rental property… lame. im super stoked on this pad!)