HELLO Japan Part 5 – Leftovers

My father told me that he disliked the overly polite service of the Japanese.  He considered it to be “fake”.  I, on the other hand, adored it.  I’m a creature of routine so to be greeted and sent off with the same honorifics was comforting and pleasant.  Sure, they probably picked up on the fact that I didn’t speak Japanese and they could have been telling me to “go suck a fat one” for all I know, but I choose to believe that’s not the case.  I actually looked forward to shopping and eating out, something I can’t always say about home.  In Canada, there is such an emphasis on individuality that that can translate into “I’m allowed to act like an a-hole.”  I much prefer the false modesty of the Japanese over the up-front rudeness of North Americans.  They’re brought up to follow an ideal and that’s a noble endeavour.  Besides, when you’re asked to act like a decent person for long enough, you might actually become a decent person and I can’t see how that’s a bad thing.

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I don’t know why, but this scene just made me feel, like, super sad you guys.

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This is my brother.  He’s not big on smiles.  We were both that way for the longest time.  My house is full of pictures of my brother and me looking completely blasé in various situations.  I remember when my mother would get the photo packages from our school picture days and she had to choose the least awful set to order.  It’s not that we’re a couple of miserable bastards, we just find the whole process exhausting.  There are so many muscles involved in a proper smile.  I’m getting tired thinking about it.  I know I’ve loosened up quite a bit over the years though and if I’m in the right mood you can usually catch me with the dumbest grin on my face.  You might even see my teeth.  I smiled a lot on this trip.

Case in point.

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Middle row, third from the left there was one written in English:

I WISH MY FAMILY GOOD FORTUNE AND THE NINERS WIN THE SUPER BOWL NEXT YEAR – NATHAN J.

I’m more of a Titans fan myself, but you have to respect the fan who invokes the Japanese gods to give his favourite NFL team that extra push.  If San Francisco actually does win the Super Bowl, I’m heading back over there and covering that board with about a hundred prayers for the Raptors and Blue Jays.

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 This is the legendary Korakuen Hall and no, your eyes do not deceive you, it’s about the size of a public school gymnasium.  The gentleman in the middle of the ring covered in confetti, standing next to the large trophy is Ryusuke Taguchi, otherwise known as “The Funky Weapon”.  This is why:

The photo above was taken at the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament finals.  Despite being a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, I’d never been to a live show before.  Wrestling has an illustrious history in Japan and it’s not as taboo for a mature (or immature, in my case) adult to follow it over there.  Considering the above clip it’s a wonder that it isn’t taken more seriously in North America.  I was familiar with a few of the performers, whether from YouTube clips or their work with the bigger promotions.  I was most excited to see Low Ki, a wrestler with a reputation for taking things a bit too seriously and putting on sickeningly brutal matches as a result.  He made it to the finals where he seemed to have mistimed a chop and nearly took out Taguchi’s eye.  You could see it swelling up badly by the end.  Still, Taguchi went on to win and danced his heart out, God bless him.

If I were to describe live pro wrestling to someone who had no interest in it at all, my best comparison would be a “panto”.  A panto is a form of musical theatre (occasionally geared towards children) that encourages interaction with the audience.  It’s silly and lighthearted and if it’s done right, you’d be amazed at how engaged the audience can get, clapping and singing along with their favourite songs and hissing at the villains.  Being able to relive moments from beloved stories is part of the appeal of musicals.  Think about people who make it a ritual to watch The Sound Of Music every year.

Wrestling is much the same.  I’ve seen thousands of matches in my life so when I finally got to see it in person it was like knowing all the actors lines and the words to every song.  I knew when a guy was going to throw a clothesline or fall off the top rope or kick out of a pin or play to the crowd…and that knowledge only made things more enjoyable.  I was like a kid again and not in that sense that “oh, this is so silly it’s something only a child would enjoy”, but that it reminded me how liberating it is to give in to your imagination and get caught up in the act.  Korakuen was as loud as any sporting event I’d ever attended and you could look around and see people from all walks of life completely invested in the story that these guys were telling in the ring.  I mentioned in an earlier post that there were few things my brother and I bond over.  This was one of them.

Also, this:

That’s supposed to be a look of disbelief on my face, not a look of “I just swallowed a large insect.”

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Anytime you travel to a place that gives so much to you, you have to feel like you leave something behind as well…in this case, the adapter next to my head that I forgot to unplug.

I forgot to post a picture of my capsule before, so here it is.  The photo was taken by a Korean fellow named Hector.  I figure he must have been a student.  He seemed nice and trustworthy and not uncomfortable with the idea of taking a picture of another man sleeping in a bed.  I really should have made an effort to talk to more people.  Wherever you are, Korean Hector, thanks for the photo, mate.

*****

I would have died if they ever opened up a Spice Girls themed cafe.

One of the most fascinating phenomena I came across in Japan was the pop group AKB48.  Anyone who reads pop culture news sites and travel blogs are probably already familiar with these ladies, but if you aren’t I’ll do my best to catch you up.

AKB48 are a group of 64 girls (AKB = Akihabara, 48=…I have no idea where the 48 comes from) divided into 4 teams: Team A, Team K, Team B and Team 4 (obviously).  There’s apparently going to be some shakeup with the groups soon, but I haven’t kept up with it and the four team arrangement is how it’s worked for the majority of their existence.  Each team has 16 girls.  The benefit of having this legion of performers is that it makes them more accessible to their fans (a huge factor in the idol culture of Japan) and they’re able to have performances every day.  That’s right, every freakin’ day.  So Team A might perform on Monday, then Team B on Tuesday, then Team K on Wednesday, then Team A on Thursday and so on.  Or you could have two straight days of Team A and then the same deal with Teams B and K.  All the while, members of Team 4 exist as substitutes, just waiting for misfortune to strike so they can get off the bench.

You would think that sort of strategy would quickly create oversaturation, but with Japan’s population, tourism and dedication to their young idols, the demand has actually risen to meet the supply if that makes any sense.  The AKB48 machine cranks out all kinds of gimmicks to maintain interest: a lottery to determine who gets tickets to attend shows at the AKB48 Theater, fans voting to decide who gets featured in the singles and concerts, and singles being packaged with ballots to allow the fans to vote in the first place.  Grown men (and make no bones about it, a large majority of the fans appear to be adult males) will buy multiple singles so they can have their say.  Not to mention multiple albums, with the promise that some of the albums contain a rare ticket that gives you the opportunity to meet and shake hands with your favourite member.  The fact that the entire operation exists under the guise of bubblegum pop and grade school dance choreography makes the whole thing utterly insidious.

It also got my gears going trying to figure out how this could work in North America.  We love our pop stars, don’t we?  Isn’t there a lot of money to be made here?  But my brother kept reminding me that our continent is filled with selfish jerks and that getting 4 girls to work together in a group is hard enough, much less 64.  I also remembered that we have a more cynical view of celebrities here.  While the Japanese fawn over their idols, we are eager to burn ours to the ground.  Both mindsets are kind of despicable.

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When I saw the entrance to this mall in Harajuku, I urged my brother to cross the street with me so we could check it out.  When we were actually passing through it, we began to regret our decision.  It was a scorching hot day.  Mirrors, as you may have heard, reflect light and heat.  We may as well have gone down to the beach and wrapped ourselves in tinfoil.

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The only picture Chris and I took together during the trip.  He had just treated me to some delicious okonomiyaki.  It’s one of those foods you prepare yourself that reminds you of the ingenuity of folks, especially when it comes to satisfying their stomachs.  I can just imagine some poor farmer throwing a bunch of batter on a grill and mixing it with some crops and serving it up to his fifteen kids.  “Eat up kids!  Okonomiyaki!”  I imagine pizza having a similar origin.  You can blame the blurriness on the drunken Australian holding my phone.

HELLO JAPAN Part 4: Enoshima Island

As I contemplated taking pictures of a Japanese cemetery, I thought about how odd it would be if I saw someone walking around a Canadian graveyard snapping photos; not inappropriate, but certainly odd.  Then again, much like everything else in Japan, their cemeteries are just better than ours somehow.  I think the arrangement allows for more orderly navigation as opposed to the wide open spaces that we’re used to.  There are steps and levels and everything is more organized.  I was less worried about walking over someone’s plot than I usually am.  If there’s one area where we might have them beat it’s in variety and design, but to me those should be secondary concerns when it comes to your final resting place.  I decided against taking pictures.

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Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe…

I really love this picture.  Obviously, you get a pretty good view of Enoshima Island and that layer of mist over top adds a lot, but as with most good photos it’s the little things that jump out at you.  The subtle reflection off the bridge, that statue on the right with the twisting strip, the fact that you can see the edge of my umbrella even though I was doing everything I could to get an angle where you couldn’t see it.  I like the couple at the centre of the picture, but then again I’m a sucker for anything that reminds me of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (probably the greatest album cover of all time).

Walking around the island was not unlike walking around Nara, just, you know…moister.  There was no wrong path, making it ideally suited to my unique (read: non-existent) sense of direction.  I would be in one place and then I’d traverse a staircase or step along a stony trail winding through the trees and then be somewhere else.  Sometimes there’d be people around and sometimes it was like I was the only one on the island.

One of the things I took great pride in during this trip was never paying to see anything.  Call me cheap, but it seems senseless to me to have to pay to look at a garden when you’re on an island rife with plant life.  You’re not short on vegetation options is what I’m saying.  The museum pictured below was another place I avoided, though I did walk up to it hoping that the statues would come to life.  Perhaps if I defeated them the curators would permit me to enter but alas, all they demanded was a few hundred yen that I refused to part with.

I came to a spot where the island split.

A gentle rain was falling and the mist from the sea was swirling about, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave.  My umbrella rested beside me, neglected.  I leaned on the railing, oblivious to the passersby, oblivious to everything really, and thought about the billions of random microscopic moments that coordinated to cause the land to be break as it did.  I thought about friends and people I hadn’t seen in a while.  To the right of the picture was a vast forest and I strained my eyes looking for any sort of activity, but all I could see was an oxymoron: the tranquil wild.

Atop a hill there was a bell for couples to ring for good luck.  You could purchase a lock and hang it on a rack and the whole ritual was meant to signify everlasting love and all that jazz.  I almost rang the bell, but realized how depressing that would be and decided against it.

Eventually you move past the landmarks and find yourself facing the raging coast.  Unfortunately, it’s fairly rigid as far as where you’re allowed to go and I was forbidden from going down to the rocks and standing at the island’s edge.  I envied the fisherman who was standing out there, braving the slippery rocks and rapid winds.

This was also one of the few times I asked someone to take a picture for me.  Usually I was too embarrassed to talk to a local in Japanese, but my other concern was that someone would run off with my phone.  We were at the end of the island so there wasn’t really anywhere one could go, plus these girls were European and kind of cute so I felt okay asking them.  She actually took two photos because she said my eyes were closed in the first one, but I think she’d just never taken a picture of a Chinese person before.

On the way back I stopped off to get something to eat in this cozy restaurant with a beautiful view of the coast.  My conservative use of the umbrella resulted in me being soaked down to my socks.  I didn’t eat at the elevated tables because I assumed I’d have to remove my shoes and it made me think about that scene from Donnie Brasco where Johnny Depp has to conceal the fact that he’s wired.

“Please, take off shoes.” “What are you kidding me?  Take off your pants, what the **** is that?”

When I asked for an English menu, the hostess signalled to a young man working there who came over and began to speak in my native tongue.  That must be a nice way to spend your summer, working at a restaurant attending to fat and lazy foreigners.  Lucky for him and other people who had to deal with me, my demands were typically short and sweet.  On this day I ordered a squid and orange juice, or as I like to call it the “iced tea of Japan”.  In many ways it was the best meal of the trip, sitting there gazing out the window at the water and giving my feet a chance to dry.

When I talk about living in a remote area, people are always telling me that I’d never survive without television or the internet or all of those other modern conveniences, but I could.  I really could.  Spend one rainy day on Enoshima Island and I bet you’d start to feel the same way.

HELLO JAPAN Part 3: Kyoto, Nara & Lake Biwa

At Hikone Port, stray cats wait in anticipation for the undesirable catch of the night fishermen.  It’s almost ten o’clock and I know I should be back in Kyoto but I felt compelled to see Lake Biwa.  Even in the darkness I find myself in awe looking over the vast waters.  It was scary at first because what’s normally a vibrant tourist attraction during the day was now completely deserted.  I wandered along the dock until I spotted a fishing party.  I kept my distance, like a zoologist not wanting to disturb the local fauna, and sat down a few feet away from them.  I made sure to turn down my music and tried to be as still as possible, petrified at the thought of interfering with their work.  After a while, I chilled out and watched them go to work.  It was slow going, but by the end it seemed as if everyone got their fill, even the strays.

Just sittin’ on the dock of the bay…er, lake, wastin’ time.

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It would be understandable if my brother was frustrated by my disdain for schedules.  Every day he’d ask me what I wanted to do and when I couldn’t come up with an answer he’d throw out some suggestions and I’d nod my head and do what he said.  Or I wouldn’t.  We were checking out some prospective locations and one place that stuck out to me was Nara Park.  We hastily arranged for me to spend a few days in Kyoto and its surrounding areas.

One could spend days exploring Kyoto itself, I imagine.  The train station alone is an absolute marvel of design.  I don’t know the first thing about architecture, but I feel like the amount of times I blasphemed whilst shaking my head in disbelief should provide some gauge of how impressive it is.  That combination of expressions occurred no less than a dozen times.

This stairway was responsible for at least half of them.

That stairway captures so much of what I enjoy about Japan.  There’s great expression and beauty in everything they do, but never at the cost of convenience.  My mind would race as I pictured myself walking up towards some mythical kingdom but at the same time if I felt like going to the washroom or picking up a pair of loafers all I had to do was take a left on the 7th floor.  There was an entire floor dedicated to eateries, one of which required me to use a mortar and pestle.  I have no idea how to use a mortar and pestle.

See that bowl of sauce in front of the orange juice?  All me, baby.

This is why my meals usually consist of a foot-long ham Subway sandwich.  I did my best to ground up the ingredients, but I wasn’t sure if I should go fast or slow, hard or fast, circular or jackhammer (get your mind out of the gutter).  I kept peaking over self-consciously at the guy next to me, like Mr. Bean doing a calculus exam.

At the top of the stairs was “Happy Terrace”, an ideal place for tourists to meditate on their journeys, for locals to enjoy their coffee breaks and for young lovers to suck face with each other at night.

More like “Horny” Terrace.

In what you’ll notice is a recurring trend, I took the time to sit down and do absolutely nothing.  I didn’t think about anything.  I didn’t talk to anyone.  I didn’t listen to music or read anything.  I just closed my eyes and waited.  I waited and waited and waited.  Then it was time to go.

I equipped myself with a guidebook that contained no less than 20 different routes for exploring the old city.  Naturally, I ignored them.  The nearest temple wasn’t too far from where I was staying anyway.  Which temple was that, you might ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  Call me ignorant, but the names of the landmarks I visited didn’t seem all that important to me for some reason.  I walked around and took pictures and after some time they all started to blend together.

It’s that temple…you know the one.

You had to take your shoes off before walking around, which I was fine with.  I even removed my socks so I could feel the ancient wood on my feet.  It was a rich, fulfilling experience to walk around those magnificent temples.  I envy the people who live in that area who can come and visit whenever they want; though I’m sure I would take them for granted as I would a church in Ontario.  I stopped to watch a man prepare the shrine, performing all sorts of subtle, seemingly inconsequential procedures though I’m certain every action is rife with meaning.  My spirituality is, at best, “confused”, but I knelt down there for a while and connected with my personal gods.

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Breakfast at Kyoto Station the next day.  Delicious.

It was hot as hell the day I visited Nara.  Neither side of the street was offering any shade.  It was like the sun was peaking at the end of the main street, scorching and laughing at anyone foolish enough to traverse that path.  I tried to flip my arms periodically to even out the tan, a trick I learned in my country club days, but it didn’t help much.  There were a couple of nice looking fountains along the way and were I a more impulsive creature, I surely would have stripped naked and jumped in.

Not pictured: Hobo sleeping on the left.

Eventually I ended up at a marketplace that, like so much of Japan, was crowded but clean.  I knew I was close to Nara Park, but I was shocked when I turned a corner and went from this…

No deer.

…to this…

Deer.

I’ve never even been to a petting zoo before so to be close to an animal that’s not a dog or cat or duck was surreal.  I expected someone to come and wrangle (is that what you do with deer?) the poor thing and bring it back to its cage but there it was, left to its own devices.  It never crossed onto the pavement.  I don’t see why it would want to, but it was neat to see that there was this inherent understanding of the boundary between our world and its own.  As it turns out, my furry friend here was just the tip of the iceberg.

This seems insanely dangerous to me.

The heart of Nara Park was occupied by tourists, school students and, of course, more deer.  I couldn’t see any sort of officials or security; in fact, from what I could discern the only employees were the old women who sold the cookies for feeding the deer.  Even they weren’t that helpful, sticking to their duties of selling cookies, cleaning up poop and occasionally herding the deer away from them.  They definitely didn’t give a crap when a deer started to nibble on my shirt forcing me to frantically scatter the cookies I’d just purchased.

Not pictured: The deer who tried to EAT ME.

My favourite thing during the whole trip was the sign that warned visitors of the deer’s aggressive behaviour.  It looked more like instructions for the deer on how to attack and how much each maneuver was worth.  A knockdown has got to be worth at least five deer cookies.

I imagine this is similar to how the New Orleans’ Saints bounty system worked.

Nara suited my style of travel to a tee.  You didn’t need to know where you were going because anywhere you went there were new wonders to be discovered: Holy shrines, authentic tea houses, shimmering ponds…endless avenues of escape.  I was overwhelmed and needed to rest, finding a quaint shelter with a stream running through it.

As a staunch advocate for public napping, I could not recommend a better spot than this.

Revitalized I continued my trek before coming across an open field that just…

…froze me where I stood.  I felt so small and insignificant.  Unlike the deer by the marketplace, I didn’t want to respect the boundary between nature and man.  I could have run into the woods and never come back.

No joke, Bambie was my favourite movie as a child.

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Hikone Castle would definitely be closed by the time I got there and I would be wandering around in the middle of the night in a town I knew nothing about.  I didn’t care.  I wanted to see the lake.  I stared out the window, thinking about Nara and paths taken and not taken.  There is an infinite amount of space that the average person will never see.  That’s not something to be sad about, it’s to be celebrated.  To know that no matter how long you live or how far you go, there is always something new and wondrous off in the horizon.  For anyone to experience even a fraction of this magnificently imperfect world is truly a miracle.

Not pictured: The tracks of my tears.

HELLO JAPAN: Part 2 – Akihabara

You may recall that I went to Japan at some point in the last few months and I was planning to write about it.  The writing fell by the wayside as the trip went on and I got back and got real lazy, but I now feel compelled to complete my travel thoughts and share them.  At this rate, I should be done by 2014.  Join me, won’t you?

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It rained all day Saturday.  That’s the excuse I want to use anyway for why I spent most of it hanging around the arcades of Akihabara.  Akihabara is known by many names: Akiba (kind of like the Japanese equivalent of “T-Dot”), Akihabara Electric Town, the “nerd” district of Tokyo (as my brother so fondly describes it) or as I like to call it, “what I thought heaven would look like when I was eight”.  Dozens of stores lined up all selling an array of electronics, souvenirs and fetish properties, often in combination with each other.  Walking into any of these establishments can be overwhelming.  I see so many novel things that don’t have an equivalent where I come from.

Though perhaps that’s for the best.

I just want to buy everything I see.  Action figures for famous martial artists.  Body pillows.  Super Famicom systems modified to play any kind of 16-bit cartridge.  If I lived here, my life would be over.  I’d be prowling Akiba every day, digging for treasures and trinkets, eating at Maid Cafés (I haven’t yet, but the tourist in me was begging to pull the trigger) and, of course, going to the arcades.  Arcades!  Ar-motherf–kin’-cades!  And not just arcades, but SEGA brand arcades.  That name actually still means something here and last time I checked, I traveled to Japan, not the year 1994.

If I hadn’t already, this would be a textbook “I want to go to there” moment.

When were taken to Quebec on a class trip back in elementary school, I remember wasting a considerable chunk of time playing Time Crisis 2.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened and even though I’m not a hardcore gamer anymore, the sight of vibrant, colourful monitors and the clicking and clacking of buttons causes my gaming gene to flare up.  These arcades in Akiba are works of art.  Some of the cabinets are insanely elaborate and they’re all immaculately maintained.  They also have a pass card system so you can scan in your information and enjoy progression just like you would if you were playing at home.  The attendants are all dressed like janitors and they’re super eager to help you with whatever you need (typical in the Japanese service industry).  There are instructions and wet napkins at the ready.  Some of the more popular games have sign-up sheets.  I just want to say one last time: Arcades.

This is a game where you flip things off of a table to score points.  Yelling “F–k this, I’m outta here!” is optional.

My brother also took me to the famous “Super Potato”, paradise for a retro gamer.  Old TVs are hooked up to even older systems and you’re free to try them out.  I can’t read a lick of Japanese so I probably didn’t know 80% of the games there, but seeing them all in one place was breathtaking.  That’s right, I just used a word that people normally reserve for the Sistine Chapel or the birth of their child to describe a shelf of musty computer games.  That just happened.  On the top floor is a small arcade and, you know, a THRONE MADE OF CARTRIDGES.  No big deal.

…I was drinkin’ earlier, now I’m drivin’.

The guy working there was cool enough to let us take some pictures, so I pumped in a couple of credits so my brother and I could play Dynamite Deka (or as I knew it, Die Hard Arcade).  We couldn’t read the button prompts so we kept messing up the Quick Time Events, but we did pretty well considering I haven’t played the game in years.  That was about as close as we get to brotherly bonding.  Also anything to do with Persona 4, maybe the greatest JRPG ever made.

Everyday’s great at your Junes!

Seriously, I was freaking out at how much this country loves Persona 4.  There are huge posters of the characters everywhere and a fighting game just came out featuring the characters.  When I was at the arcade, there were maybe twenty cabinets on one floor and all of them were occupied.  It is nuts.  My brother and I both have a great fondness for the series and we blew about twenty bucks buying cards from that machine in the picture.  It’s worth it just for the envelope.

I could go on about Akihabara all day.  For now, I leave you with a picture of what I’ll be wearing for Halloween next year:

Guten tag.

HELLO JAPAN: Part 1 – Tsujido

David Gardner. The man. The myth. The…well, the man.

Make no mistake about it: This is a blog primarily dedicated to mixed martial arts and the music of The Twilight Sad. That said, I’m currently away from my beloved Canada and it would be silly of me not to provide some thoughts on my travels here, right? Right.
For those of you who have never seen the preceding clip, it really requires no explanation. You are watching what you think you’re watching. David Gardner, in the midst of defending against Shinya Aoki (one of MMA’s most celebrated grapplers), made the tragic/hilarious decision to take that moment to greet the good people of Japan. It was a touching gesture and sure enough, he was rewarded by being choked out within seconds. Despite that embarrassing lapse, Gardner has gone on to embrace the nickname and he should be celebrated for the part he played in creating a YouTube classic. It is that enthusiasm, that joie do vivre that we should all embrace when going on new adventures.

*****

These people have the most amazing gardens. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Canada and there are many houses with big, bountiful backyards but in the area of Tsujido, these sights are commonplace. There is modesty in it. There is no pageantry. I could have walked around there forever. I’m sure anyone who saw me taking pictures of their front gate was amused by my…”tourist-iness”. It would be like someone marvelling at my storm door.

Not my storm door.

I can’t imagine travelling around a place like this with anybody else. My method of navigation is somewhat unorthodox, or at least it was on this day. I picked a street and I walked down. Eventually I would reorient, making a note of which direction seemed the most logical and likely to keep me in sight of the train station. I would then proceed away from that direction. The worst that could happen is that I could get lost, but when you’re someplace new that’s the best thing to be, isn’t it? There’s a great scene from “The Understudy” episode of Seinfeld, the first time Elaine meets J. Peterman. She bumps into him and says that she doesn’t know where she’s going and he slyly replies: That’s the best way to get someplace you’ve never been. It’s played for laughs, but that’s a great line. Besides, behind every joke there’s some truth (except for the one about the Bavarian cream pie).

I don’t know what this is and I don’t care.

I asked my brother whether I should attempt a Japanese accent when going through the basic phrases. As my whole idea of Japanese intonation is based on video games and anime, I wasn’t sure whether I should go high-pitched and overexcited or deep and ominous. He warned me to attempt neither, so I think I’ve settled into an exaggerated Western twang.

Con-itchy-way.

It came in handy when I ventured into the always exciting world of…eating by myself in a foreign restaurant! Oooooh…yes, that’s right, I feel accomplished by doing something a twelve year old kid could probably do. Even though I didn’t need to, I asked for an English menu and the check in Japanese and even gave my first “domoo arigatoos”. I also pointed a lot, which seemed most effective. I had a delicious “BIG Battered Meat & Cheese” skewer.

I still refuse to eat and tweet, so this is exclusive HCANC content up in ‘herr!

And that was my first day.