well, im pretty sure that today i witnessed/experienced my most bizarre japanese experience…. the kawasaki penis festival.
kanawara matsuri.. explained by wikipedia
The Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan in spring. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The penis forms the central theme of the event that’s reflected everywhere; in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decoration, a parade of mikoshis, etc.
The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine, once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan’s prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony, etc. Today, the festival is used to raise money for HIV research. There’s also a legend of a demon that hid inside a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus that was used to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.
bizarre. here are the photos
i didnt get the impression that this was a homosexual event, although i witnessed alot of latently homosexual action… and alot of women posing dirtily with penis lollipops and a giant wooden penis..
this wheelchair laden dude had a giant wooden phallus coming out of his pants. he gave me a high five
these guys were really stoked to carry the giant steel phallus mikoshi (みこし）
really stoked on a giant metal penis
this guy had a really big phallus with him
one of the shrines
the metal shrine people were dressed in traditional japanese clothes, but the big pink people were mostly dressed in womens clothing
the big pink crowd was way more obtuse… at least the big metal crowd was pretty subtle… as far as big penis sculptures go
scary mask dude preceding the phallus parade
man this festival was gaijin city! i couldnt get any good shots in the crowd until i joined them
this was for sure the weirdest day in japan… shinto is bizarre
there were penis lollipops, lets just leave it at that.
Hey! Its time to look at cherry blossoms! Sakura rules! Hanami is the excellent time of the year when Japanese get drunk under the cherry blossoms!
this bike is awesome
in shinjuku you have to wait like an hour for krispy kreme
so i went on a holga spree the last few weeks past because of this weird thing called…. uh how do you call it… springtime?… thats right! super gorgeous days which often happened to fall on weekends… here are the best parts ps: ilford fp4 film rules! ive never had a favorite film before! its a pillar of meat eminating out of the grossest canal ive ever seen… right now theres this dam type thing that just collects all the waste in the canal… i have to walk past it every day on the way from the station to school and if i look at it i gag for like 10 minutes…. it doesnt help that the bridgey thing says welcome and that theres a pillar of meat coming out of the river… tokyo is a pretty clean city, but man urban situations can get really gross really fast.this my he-bro adam… not a terribly flattering potrait, but we are brothers in adonai… he makes that face alot…. just for, you know a split second while transitioning between facial expressions, not permanently as recorded here… ps: i really want to be a mod and ride in a vespa gang of slim cut italian suits… and pork pie hats…. wanna start a slim cut italian suit vespa riding gang?i wish this photo came out in focus…. the street name, if said very quickly in english transliteration, sounded like “oh my gosh…. cho” in katakana… the whole roll sucked… way to go seth, end the post on a sucky, but not entirely sucky note…. so believe it or not, the biggest draw to this blog is the google search of “baby polar bear” because i once put “baby polar bear” in my entry about the yasukuni jinja. it is by far the most popular entry, because people search for “baby polar bear”. i wasnt going to do it, but now i am… baby polar bear! and how about wet baby rabbit while we are at it… actually fuck it, heres another baby polar bear (my cash cow, im getting like 8 hits a weeks off this!) heres the wet bunny just for show and a couple of ducklings (i did not take the last 3 photos/1 video, but i wish i had. thanks to cuteoverload.com) puppy in a sleeping bag!?
part two of a double header! (can you tell that im stoked about japanese baseball season starting?? im so stoked!!! im not sure why though because i dont really care about sports… but recently ive had some relapse into some kind of affection for baseball… its really big here and baseball games are super fun and nostalgic for me… i digress)
holga roll around my neighborhood…. go!
oh man, scanning film negatives is so much fun!
guinea pigs at the childrens petting zoo
you dont know much pride i derive from living in a neighborhood that owns a flamingo. a flamingo that is facing off with a goose everyday.
right outside my alley… rockin nakajuku-dori
a wonderful sight to behold… a kirin delivery truck… although i like asahi better…
hands. and haircuts.
man school kid uniforms are super adorable… and they all have these backpacks that rule… imagine having a specific backpack to go with your uniform… wild!
goose showin off its stuff
this is a rare occurance… a double exposure that totally works… it looks like these goats are drinking out of this empty swimming pool… i really dig this shot
sheep at the free public petting zoo… my neighborhood rules. they are kinda dirty, but i think they are pretty well taken care of.
thanks for hanging out… stay posi.
check out these photos i found from last semester that somehow never made it to the b to the l to the o to the g… first part of a double header! ive just been hecka busy with school and it also helped that last semester i had to take photos for school….
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.
happy thanksgiving to everybody. this year for me its particularly important to give thanks because ive been so lucky to have been able to come here… (oh and i have an apartment now… so im staying for a while longer!)
big ups to my family for supporting me, watching my pup and helping me come out to japan!
big ups to my friends in the states for staying in touch and stuff…
big ups to my new friends too
big ups to everyone else… im going to subway (kinda gross) to see if they have turkey subs… then maybe to an international market to see if i cant get a turkey sandwich there instead
i miss you all, thanksgiving is really the only holiday i celebrate, so its somewhat of a drag not to be at home. its the best day of the year… family and too much food. solid combo.
oh gosh you guys am i stoked on how this is turning out…. my photo final.. bear suit portraits matched up with yet-to-be-taken landscapes of japan.. well the greater tokyo area! yah! and the best part is that i just smacked down the silly epson printer and now im printing gorgeous prints to turn in! so stoked! compare these to part one… i think they are definately a step forward (even though i think the bear suit photo project has ended… its a technical progression).
check this out!
this is totally my favorite one, but it doesn’t really go with the whole semi-uniform approach
well, i think i definately have been progressing as a photographer these last few months… this series certainly isnt perfect, but i think it is closer to what i wanted the first one to be… had i had more control over the room and the lighting (its the painting room, so sometimes there were people painting in there and i couldnt turn out the lights and fiddle like i would have liked to)… and had paid a bit more attention to the placement of the people in the frame, it could have been a bit more together… all in all im stoked, the prints are turning out fabulously… i also had a tripod, which made things pretty much better all around… oh and i learned how to focus my camera.. that helps too.
obviously im not turning all of these in, i think it got a bit better as you go down the page and stuff like that… its at least some amount of progress… im stoked.
This shrine was one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in Japan!!! I really wish my dad was here, he’d get a huge kick out of it. This fascinating shrine was first created in 1869, during the Meiji era. This is about the time that the US (courtesy of Matthew Perry) landed in Japan. Up until that time, Japan had been in voluntary isolation from most of the world for quite some time. There was a big conflict during the Meiji Restoration that led to this shrine for Japanese war heroes. There are over 2,460,000 people, mostly soldiers, enshrined here as Shinto gods. This is a very controversial shrine because there are soldiers from the Russia-Japan and China-Japan wars, and WWII. There are at least 14 Class A War Criminals enshrined here, and many big political figures in Japan visit here annually. It is also widely regarded outside of Japan to be a very biased, revisionist retelling of the last 130 years of war history. There is a big right-wing presence here, but apparently they don’t really have much control over the running of the shrine. It is a privately funded religious shrine though, not a government funded one. There are usually these big black vans outside of it that blast right-wing nationalist propaganda through a loudspeaker. These vans, SUVs and buses also drive past my school on a pretty regular basis blasting fascist propaganda, sometimes it sounds like Wagner opera.. very Nazi-ish… but they are non-violent and generally regarded as nutjobs.
I got to the shrine pretty late, so I didn’t have time to survey the grounds entirely… I went into the museum, which was really interesting. In the beginning theres a lot of cool Samurai swords and uniforms, then it just gets into the more recent wars, up to WWII. Most of the captions were in Japanese, except for these time lines explaining their view of the course of these wars. The whole museum only dealt with the military events, there was only one sentence (in English at least) mentioning Pearl Harbor, and no mention of the Atomic bomb. All the captions for the various uniforms, will and testaments and artifacts are in Japanese. I don’t remember seeing very much about the Japanese actions in Okinawa during the second World War as well, other than the mention of people “valiantly” committing suicide for the cause. Definately no mentions of WWII Comfort Women either… I’m definately going back again, earlier in the day, so I can go slower and explore the whole compound. Here are some pictures though:
This is a REAL Zero Fighter (Model 52.. the second model)
By the way, these were built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the same people who make cars and electronics. Pretty odd, but history has shown that war is pretty profitable for some industries (list unnamed defense contractors and manufacturers here)
I thought this was pretty cool to see in person, there were some other planes too, but you couldnt take photos. I couldn’t imagine flying one of these, or an American plane.. They are pretty small, and seem pretty sketchy.
that tree is blocking the ominous clouds
this is a 150 year old bronze cannon
this is the shrine
this is a lion… someone told me that when the Buddhist Vedas were brought from India to China to Japan… no one in Japan actually knew what a lion looked like, they had just read it in the Vedas and kind of make one up. I don’t know if the lion is in the Shinto religion, or its just one of those Buddhist/Shinto mixes…
Anyways, it was very interesting to see this place, I definately want to go back… particularly when its cherry blossom season. There are tons of cherry blossoms here. I felt kind of weird about the attitude towards their wars here, but every country is going to skew the experience to make themselves look a little better.
Just to make you feel a little better, heres a picture of a baby polar bear that i didnt take
man, i haven’t written on this thing since october 20… sorry! so to make up for it, im going to post 3 posts today, with lots of photos… here are some photos from my last photo critique… they all have to do with finding light sources and also manipulating light in photos… some of it was fun.
writing with light is fun!
im a wizard!
five hands and 3 heads!
im a ghost!
eli has a nice bike
train tracks at night
self portrait 5
water bottle reflections
bright shiny days
this is the only remotely good photo from halloween..and its not even in focus.. the gaijin train. this was seriously the dumbest thing ive taken part of in japan! hundreds of gaijin just take over 2 or 3 cars on the yamanote line and just get rowdy and drunk… i wasn’t in a costume, i just wanted to witness it… it was too crowded, i couldnt take photos, my lens wouldnt stop fogging up, i wasn’t drinking… just stupid. im never doing that again
self portrait 6
manbuku.. i think its a ramen shop まんぶく
well. thats post 1 of 3. next up… bike race!
well, this week was pretty slow… all i did all week was party… and by party i mean do homework (i.e.: take photos, rule at lower level math, and watch all of veronica mars season 3 [kinda weak... but i did develop a newfound hatred for "the cw"... WHY!? WHY CW!? I WILL NEVER HAVE THE RESOLUTION I NEED BECAUSE YOU CANCELLED VERONICA MARS BEFORE THERE COULD EVEN BE A SEASON 4!!! YOU SUCK! THEY TOTALLY ENDED SEASON 3 LIKE THERE WAS GOING TO BE A 4TH SEASON, BUT NOW THERES NOT... SO I WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO VERONICA MARS AND "THE CASTLE"! ANY SERIES THAT INVOLVES A COLLEGIATE SECRET SOCIETY REQUIRES RESOLUTION!!! YOU SUCK!]
anyways, i took about 1200 photos, and umm, about 95% of them were terrible… but i was able to turn in the requisite 14… including these 2 self portraits…and i admit they are nice portraits, but whats so damn great about self portraits? its just some excuse for your prof to see how lame you are at coming up with ideas… granted my teacher told me they were “really strong”… but come on… art students + self portraits… glorified myspace photos and self indulgence… lameness. petty bourgeoisie individualism! why are all art teachers so concerned about self portraits? window to the soul my ass. here they are anyways, cause they are “really strong”
did someone say chiapas?
no bears allowed in the dorms
and to clear your mind.. heres a baby
hes just peekin out at ya
heres my whip, in color and black and white… cause its that epic
high contrast means business!
and heres the obligatory blurry kids staring at me photo
heres some other classy art photos i took
he saw me. oops.
side note… its totally ok to be sick and wear a surgical mask all around.. to school.. to work.. on the train… you, my friend, are doing everyone a favor! keep your illness to yourself… and while you are at it, look like you are prepared for the impending apocalypse… japan is all about prepardness… the apocalypse is going to happen any minute now… so just go ahead and start rocking your surgical masks and retrofitting your majestic skyscrapers for tsunamis and earthquakes…
oh yeah, i made a new friend… well an acquaintance… he wasnt that stoked that all i had to offer was leaves, so he kind of peaced out before we could really sit down and chat
i really need a zoom lens
for a country that is notorious for inaccurately applying english phrases to things, i thought this was really clever.. on a side note… in japan it is apparently totally ok to wear a shirt that says “100% nigger” as long as you dont know what it means… weird. and lame. and you know, horribly racist. very odd. once again, i should have taken a photo with my futuristic japanese cell phone. damn.
more bike porn
mama chari bikes rule the street here… god bless any country that sells a $150 bike that comes with a built in lock, a basket, a kick stand and a light. you might not know much about gender equality, but at least your bikes are functional and accessible.
KITTENS! KITTENS MOST LIKELY ON DRUGS!
on another tangent… i ran into these cats on the street in shinjuku last monday… last monday was a holiday… a fake “yay! its fall” holiday created to somehow circumvent or repair the labor laws in japan… so fewer salarymen jump in front of trains to get out of the ridiculous work cycle… and someone did actually jump in front of a train last friday (not in front of me… 2 stops down)… right when i was about to get on said train line… so i had to wait like a half hour before we even moved… you want to end your life… whatever… just dont stop my damn train!)
anyways, and by cats i mean… cats on drugs! real cats… and im sure they were real drugs! after the show, the kitten tapped me on the shoulder and was like “hey man, do you know where i could hook it up with a few rails?” and i was all “dude, thats not my scene… get lost.. go talk to some yakuza over there.” at least i know who im not inviting to my next holiday get-together this year. high or not, these cats were adorable.. and asleep and motionless in crowds of people for like 3 hours… which is why i suspect drugs
i hope that sign says “these cats are really high, crowd around and pet and gawk and take photos, they dont know no better”
i forgot to mention the breakdancing mime. cool.
and i forgot the artsy fartiest shot of the week
check ya’ll later. peace. oh those wood panels are some kind of votive thing that you pay for and write a prayer on, or like a wish for peace or something positive… its at the meiji shrine.. basically every single person in my photo class had a photo of these things… so i didnt turn it in… didnt make the cut. its certainly a valid thing to take a photo of.. i mean east meets west and all that… and yay for being exotic… but its clearly played out.
well first off let me pronounce that rupert murdoch is a slimy piece of controlling shite!
anyways, i went to the polysics myspace secret show on saturday night, it was kind of fun. the djs were awful, playing stupid “indie rock” of yesteryear, i.e. blood brothers and bloc party… they weren’t even mixing songs, just song. stop. new song.
then i was trying to take pictures to show all my friends the fun i was supposed to be having, but i kept getting shut down by the myspace police. so i tried to convince the myspace staff that i needed a press pass because im a temple daigaku no gakusee (temple 大学のだうがくせ, and my senmon （専門わ）is communication and i work for the paper and im writing a write up of the show, but they werent having it. but i did give them my contact info, and they are supposedly sending me the “official press photos”. weak. i snuck a camera in for nothing!
anyways, the first band was awful… basically bloc party plus placebo. typical british rock shite plus japanese teen heart-throb lead guitarist/singer. kinda catchy but they sucked, i was thoroughly nonplussed. and i think their band name was “ogre you asshole” which doesn’t even make sense, and sounds ridiculous. hecka lame.
polysics was pretty awesome, the venue was packed, and i got a little something-something for alon who is totally stoked on the polysics. at least someone will be totally stoked that i went.
plus, even though i showed up in the only blue shirt i owned, i had to wear a bright blue t-shirt into the show because light blue isn’t blue enough for myspace. once again, i curse the name of rupert murdoch. ill have you know i threw away the shirt right after i left the liquid room, just to stick it to ol’ rupey one last time.
fox news corp is a stupid stupid organization.
anyways, sunday was way cooler than saturday.
as you might have known, on friday night i blew my back tire. lame.
i thought it was the actual tire, but it turned out to be the tube which was a much cheaper repair. but i had to walk for more than an hour to get to a bike shop that sold more than mama chari tubes, which are decidedly smaller, wider and less applicable to my sort of tire. but nonetheless, i prevailed over the standard shopping bike stores, found a road bike store, and got to get all manly and change my tube on the sidewalk… with the tools i had in my backpack! (plus the pump from the store)
it totally rules to have a wrench and tire levers in your pack all the time! my dad would be proud. for the first time in my life, i own tools. and i carry them around with me. i wonder if john wayne carried a wrench with him when he was righteously metering out ol’ fashioned cowboy justice and rescuing damsels from savage indians? i wonder if john elway carries a wrench? what about bruce willis? bruce willis could probably defuse a bomb with a paper clip… he probably doesnt need that wrench.
anyways, i walked the first half to harajuku はらじゅく, changed a tube, then rode the other half… it took like 2 hours to get there. but it was fun. i noticed quite a few fixie riders on the way.
so i got to harajuku はらじゅく, helped out this dude im working with on a rad website/blog/impending clothing line and online store and then rode all the way to shimokitazawa しもきたざわ… which was kind of far. i kept having to ask people “shimokitazawa wa doku des ka?” ”下北沢毒ですか” and then hoped that they pointed in a direction, so i could nod and smile, not understand anything they said, and then ride off in the direction they hopefully pointed in. the highlight of that leg of the trip was when i went into this childrens bookstore, the two ladies looked at my map, then looked up the spot on google maps (double true!). they then proceeded to print out 3 pages of maps, cut them out, tape them together and then highlight the route in highlighter! japanese people can be so damn nice sometimes! or so damn racist, but gaijin 外人 usually suck, so i dont blame them. the only problem was that all the google maps for japan are in… japanese… and i dont know kanji yet… so i just kind of had to gesture at the map i couldnt read and hope that someone pointed in the direction i should be heading it… needless to say after 90 minutes and many miles more, i arrived in shimokitazawa and it turned out to be the best neighborhood in tokyo ive seen so far!!!! simutaneously low key and bangin’ at the same time! awesome little shops (ps: graniph you rule as a store… i want your pink hoodie that says helvetica (in helvetica) [even though helvetica is the font of the petty bourgeoisie masses] ever so badly) (pps: my size is small and if you are in the process of buying this for me you probably know my address. im aware that the only color is “frost pink” but for the love of christ, its a “frost pink” hoodie with a typographic reference… love!) anyways, i got invited to a bike event of some kind, and then hung out on the roof of a bar looking at some radical tokyo skyline… really cool! and im ashamed to say that i drank a cappuccino from starbucks but it was ironically the best coffee ive had in japan… thats a new low, japan! the other older low was the first week i was here being denied entry to a bar because im white, but get this… the bar specialized in budweiser and had a huge american express sign outside!!!! IRONIC!!!!!???? maybe it was because i was in a group of pasty whiteys, but that is just silly. what self respecting japanese person would drink budweiser and pay with an american express card?
then i had to ride for like an hour and a half back to the dorm, and my chain fell off for some reason, but it was alright cause i had a wrench in my backpack!
then i got home and typed this. mom, i hope you enjoyed it.
well, this was definately the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me… possibly ever… not just in tokyo
i was on the train with like 10 kids from the dorm and this really old lady in what seemed to be a 10 year old girls princess dress (with puffy see through shoulder puffs and everything) starts speaking in english and says a couple times (with hand/face hand motion) what i thought was “your face is silly!” and so i was kinda like… “well listen grandma, your dress is silly!” you know, all snappy like… but i dont think either of us heard each other… which was cool because….
she stands up all frail like and touches my face and says in english “your face is wonderful” so i was like kind of shamed at previously inaudibly shaming her and was like “well, your dress is WOOOOONNDERRFUUUUULLLL” all nice like… and then i said she looked like a princess and she blushed… ADORABLE!!!!!!
fucking amazing, right?
then she got off the train and this creepy toothless shitfaced drunk bum guy got on and was making kissy faces at me for like 3 stops till he got off, and also proceeded to stare at me through the train window till we left the station… but he was drunk, so who cares… especially considering what occurred directly before that.
tokyo is so weird.
monday is “national respect for the aged day” in japan. kiss someone over 60 and give them daisies or something too. maybe carry their bags… or tell them that they look like princesses if you get on the train and they are really old and are wearing a princess dress. just dont push them down the stairs like you want to cause thats your fucking train and you might be late to school if they dont hobble any goddamned faster… (just kidding, id never push an old person down the stairs…. they are all hunched over and short… in a pinch a relatively lanky person could probably just jump over them!)
ps: i need to have my camera in my pocket at all times from now on. or a video camera. golly!
pps: i should have used my futuristic japanese cell phone… it has a camera and does video.. and the battery lasts for like 5 days… and i can watch tv on it (for free.. with japanese captions! WTF!?)… what the fuck was i thinking? im not used to having a cool phone. my apologies to everyone involved
well, the envy/mono show was radical! it was super fun, even though it ended up sounding nothing like i thought it would! but i got to do the seth-freakout dance and shake my hand in the air alot which is the best part of shows… i went out with some friends to a club in shinjuku that was actually super fun, and it was cheap to get in… you just had to buy one drink… the envy/mono show you had to buy one drink as well… seems like to go anywhere you have to buy one drink to get in… and water doesnt even count! what the fuck? oh well, one beer isnt going to kill anyone. but sometime im going to go back to that club with a grip of people, super mellow… dancin all night long!
and im rockin pretty hard at school, so thats good. keeping everything cheap and under control…
gyoza time… its only ¥198 for 30! score!! rice and gyoza!
oh yeah, will someone please tell me where to get sriracha? i need spicy vietnamese chili sauce in my life.
try memorizing this new alphabet with 46 characters (hiragana) in 36 hours while having a cold and a million other homework things to do:
fun. not to mention the extra like 20 hiragana characters with the diacritical marks!!! next week is katakana. then kanji. good thing these alphabets are all over the place… i have about half of hiragana down, and you know… im in japan… so i can sound out signs and parts of advertisements on the train and on the street! cultural immersion rules! the weird thing is you can construct a sentence in japanese using all 3 alphabets and a few english words… it can get pretty complicated, but as i said cultural immersion rules! and so does lemon tea… and extra strength halls lozenges… and japanese tv.
I’ve been pretty lax about writing up my experiences here, mostly because I’m hardly ever at home. But I will try to sum it up here:
I live in a guest house/dorm type building, where I have a single sized bedroom. There are about 60 people in the dorm, all of whom are pretty nice people. There aren’t any Japanese in the dorm, but there are a few other international students from places like Spain and Russia. Its pretty quiet here, and the building is located in Ota-ku, which is a small residential area. The train station is a 10 minute walk away, and it will get you to Kamata on one end and Gotanda on the other. From Gotanda you can transfer to the JR Yamanote line which will take you to Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku one direction and to my school in the other (at Tamachi station). Theres a killer sushi bar right next to Ontakesan station, and a grocery/department store called Jusco. Theres also a sweet bar called Pearling Cafe, which is really small and run by this guy named Masa who is a surfer. A bunch of kids from the dorm, particularly the ones under 21 go there pretty often (probably because its a novel experience for them to go out drinking). Thats about it for the neighborhood, its a little far from school in terms of biking, and I haven’t found an english map yet so I just take the train to school right now and that takes about 40 minutes.
School is pretty swell, there is a good mix of Americans, other internationals and Japanese students. I have met and hung out with cats from all over the world in the last two weeks, from Europe to South America to other parts of Asia, like India, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Thats pretty fun. There are two school buildings, and all of my classes are in the Azabu hall building. Azabu hall is near a cool neighborhood called Azabu Juban, where a lot of foreign embassies are located. Theres a good mix of international food there. After Azabu Juban theres Roppongi Hills, where there is a huge fancy mall with lots of hyper expensive designer clothes and an art museum. Behind Roppongi Hills is Roppongi, which I haven’t been to yet. Roppongi is where there are a bunch of bars and clubs, filled with mostly tourists and foreigners. It sounds pretty over-hyped, but I will probably have to go there at some point to at least check it out. Tonight I am going to Koenji for the first time to see PWRFL Power, this guy named Kaz who is on tour from Seattle. I met him just before I left and he seemed like a nice guy and a very talented musician. I have been going to Shibuya fairly often, mostly because thats where people always want to go clubbing, which I am not that into. I like Harajuku, and I picked up some nice clothes there. There are tons of vintage stores and boutique clothing shops, most of which is insanely expensive. Shinjuku is kind of the same as Shibuya, with a bunch of bars, shops, restaraunts and skyscrapers. In Shinjuku there is also this art supply store called Sekkaido that is enormous. Its 6 stories tall and has anything art related you can think of. Thats where I got some of my school supplies.
I’m slowly picking up Japanese, mostly at bars because thats where it seems like Japanese are most likely to talk to you. They love to get “socially lubricated”, as it were. Theres some good beer here, lots of Kirin Ichiban and Heineken. There is a severe lack of good whiskey here, I miss Jameson! I’m stuck with crappy Jack Daniels most of the time. There is also Wild Turkey everywhere, for reasons I don’t understand. As well as Early Times. All crap. Japan is definately a drinking culture, all the businessmen go straight to the bar after work and come home drunk, passing out on the train en route to their destination. (see photo below)
There is tons of awesome cuisine here. I love the Ramen and Udon. Sushi is the best however! You can also get rice bowls with Unagi (freshwater eel I think… the other is Anago and its cheaper, sweeter and all around not as good.) for pretty cheap, but there are also places that specialize in Unagi and thats going to cost you.
All in all, this place rules. I’m having an awesome time so far, but I’m trying to keep my costs down by not drinking all the time and cooking some of my own food. Come out and visit me!
i got a new camera! and i found these two awesome fixies on the street in ebisu. super stoked!!!!!! i’ve only seen a couple of nice fixies around, but i’m sure i’ll find more.
this is my favorite photo that ive taken so far… very spontaneous, taken right before the train filled up. its pretty common to see drunk salarymen passed out on the train late at night. funny, huh?
well, i got into town last night, sat on a bus for like 2 hours, then took a cab to my dorm in the ota part of tokyo. its a super cute little residential area with tons of neat little houses. theres a million bikes around, and they all kind of look the same, and no one locks their bikes.
ill add more later.