木曜日, 9月 30, 2004

Meshi, Furo, Neru

I watched a movie last night, drive-in style on Osanbashi pier last night. It was pouring rain, so we sat under a roof in this beautiful wooden amphetheatre. The Yokohama skyline is awesome at night, with all the lights and the huge ferris wheel. We went out for a drink after the movie and found ourselves sitting next to a table of drunken pachinko players. They were loud and wasted and their ashtrays were overflowed with butts. We were chatting when suddenly one of the guys jumped up and held a bottle to another one of the guys head, and got REALLY loud. Hidemi told me after all was said and mellowed out, that the one guy was pissed that the other didnt speak to him using the honorific form of speech you use for people older than you or of higher status. 20 minutes later one of the guys fell on the table, smashing and spilling it over. Broken bottles, beer and cigarettes all over the place. The manager moved us to the next table and wiped our bags off and apologized like crazy. I felt terrible for the poor guy who had to mop it all up while these guys continued to be loud and act like idiots.
I told a couple of coworkers about it on luch break and they told me more about how rigid the social structure is here. The Japanese teacher said that usually when you meet somebody, one of the first things they ask you is your age, so they know how to speak to you. My assistant is married to a Japanese woman and says that she cried when he did the dishes one day because she felt like she wasnt doing a good enough job. She wakes up way before him to make his breakfast and his lunch, and opens the sliding doors for him when he gets home, draws him a bath... Western men may say cook me a chicken pot pie woman, but Japanese husbands are famous for only saying 3 words to their wives: "Meshi, Furo, and Neru" Food, bath, bed. Shoganai (c'est la vie)

日曜日, 9月 26, 2004

zannen desu ne...

Well, the plan was to hike Fuji this weekend, but it was rainy and cloudy so I'll have to wait for another weekend. It'll be covered in snow soon, so most likely Ill have to wait till next spring. I learned a new phrase though- zannen desu ne... bummer.
My computer froke out this morning... I finally got it working after about 4 hrs, but the external drive and all my music is still on the fritz.... I learned another phrase for that.
an now I'd like to pass the mic to this
who has the cojones to blog against the machine. Jello Biafra got good stuff to say about it.

木曜日, 9月 23, 2004

electric city

I made this all by meself
Originally uploaded by freebeets.

I went to akihabara (electric city) to buy a new camera today. I found an amazing little silver box that takes 4 mega pixel pictures, is a voice recorder, does video and takes 3-d photos. All that and its smaller than an ipod. Im going to climb mt. Fuji hopefully this weekend so I want to take lots of pictures. That should be amazing. Im going to hike up on saturday, camp out and wake up for the sunrise.
Im getting better at making my own food here and no longer have to resort to purple rice and modern pets for dinner. I made this sushi all by myself. It was damn good too!

火曜日, 9月 21, 2004

missing my robot...

Ive gotten used to quite a few things here, including my little green microwave that helped me recognize my road like a breadcrumb trail. The microwave looked like an abandoned little robot tucked away in the weeds, but it disappeared this week. It kind of made me sad in a weird way. Ill have to befriend a new robot. Theres a blue lantern around the corner...
Ive been blabbing about the absurd costs of things like fruit lately, and a friend asked me "What is cheap there?" I had no idea until today. Mushrooms are way cheap. I realized that I'm eating tonnes of Shitake mushrooms and they're less than a $1 for 150 grams. There you have it-there are cheap things here. I would kill for melon...
Ive been putting together a subway mix for my ipod. Anyone who has "spirit fingers" by four tet, listen to it on a crowded speeding train. Its so "right". Or maybe its just so right here. I dunno, try it and let me know. Email me if you want the playlist, or if you have any suggestions.
Its been 30 C or higher 68 times this year here, a new record. I cant wait for it to cool off. Its so hot and humid you sweat like crazy doing anything, or nothing.
One of my students forgot a note for the after school program today so she couldnt stay. She was so ashamed. She could'nt look at me and she began crying. Im glad kids dont carry tanto knives, or I might have had guts all over the floor.

日曜日, 9月 19, 2004

costly cantaloupe

costly cantaloupe
Originally uploaded by freebeets.

I'm sure everyone has heard stories about $10 peaches in Japan, and I'm sure most people called bullshit on that. Here is photographic proof, that things really are that expensive here. These melons are about $27... I asked roomie why so expensive and she said "Is that expensive? We have 10,000 yen melon too." That's $92. Theres some kind of expensive melons joke in there, but Im not touching that one...

土曜日, 9月 18, 2004

karaoke ghost

karaoke ghost
Originally uploaded by freebeets.

So last night I sang...
It was actually kind of fun in a super awkward way. I had to go after another new employee who should totally be on starsearch or american idol... I sang Rio by Duran Duran. Later on I sang a Sabbath song, and take me home country road... Harajuko is an insane part of Tokyo. There are huge drive-in screens here and there, lights, masses of people. You feel surprised to not see flying cars. It looks like tron.
I keep finding myself stopping on a street corner surrounded by tokyo thinking "holey shit, where am I?"
I caught the last train home last night. You dont know packed until you do this. People push in at every stop. I found myself standing without a thing to hang onto, wedged with my hands at my sides, swaying with everyone else in my boat. You know what kind of conditioner everyone wears, and cant worry whos pressed up against you. Its a struggle to get off at your stop. The crowd thinned out by my station and I watched everyone looking into their phones, messaging or playing games or watching television and wondered what would happen in Japan if the power went out.

日曜日, 9月 12, 2004


So I rehearsed some lines for going to the barber and went yesterday. I learned how to say (though dont ask me now...) "I would like a haircut, same style, but a little shorter". I walked into a neighborhood barber with an old man and his wife working and tried my lines. They of course asked all kinds of questions and said lots of things I didnt understand, so I said I dont speak Japanese. Everyone there kind of giggled and I was so on display in the chair... Everything was mega 50's barbershop. there was a hairdryer that fits on your head like a brain reading device on a long robotic arm on the ceiling mixed with digital sterilizers, flatscreen television and straight razors. I wondered if the old people were skinjobs. Maybe ridley scott scouted barbershops when writing bladerunner...
The old man came over to me and kind of tickled my ear and said something in Japanese that I didnt get. He said "eh seriviceh" so I just said "hai" and nodded. His wife put on a face mask and leaned my chair back...
Then she started shaving my ears with this tiny little straight razor. I guess thats eh serivice. The old man took over and cut my hair. His mannerisms were really strange, really dramatic. He remided me of a symphony conductor. He raised his arms and kind of shook them to get his sleeve right then moved in for the cut. When he was done he syled it with this super gay 80's curve up front. I of course said good, good good and moused it up as soon as I left. I think Im going to start going there for a weekly straight razor shave though. face, not ehs.
Went to see MOMUS last night with Mi. It was a great show. the venue was about the size of some bedrooms Ive had in the states, and was packed with all kinds of Japanese hipsters. The Japanese have style. People have the cojones to dress like elvis, or a bunny rabbit or whatever. Its amazing. The place smelled like a show back home with the smoke, sweat and stale drink, but everyone was videotaping with cellphones. It was like a heavy metal show with lighters from the future.
I realized that Im a long way from dirt roads, frozen pipes and moose in the yard... seemed a lot further than 6,525 miles
Im now a fishitarian. I just dont think I can do it and eat out or stress out at the supermarket. Besides, if theres ever a place to go out for sushi Im here. Mi and I went out to eat in Shibuya after the show. She sat by the window on the tenth floor with big city at night and lights behind her. It was pretty amazing

土曜日, 9月 11, 2004


Originally uploaded by freebeets.

black tights frog

great taste biscuit frog

great taste biscuit frog
Originally uploaded by freebeets.

I get sucked into the candy aisle every time I go to the supermarket. Im a sucker for these boxes of candies and cookies because they have these weird little figurines in them. I got "black tights frog" in this one. YAY!
I started reading SHOGUN this week. I remember seeing it on my moms bookshelf when I was a wee lad and being so impressed. Its soooo thick-1152 pages and the words are so small. One of those things that make parents seem like superheros. I found the book in my school library. Its funny how books travel around and get passed on. I read on the road while bike touring and passed it on to somebody riding the other way when I was done.
I watched grave of the fireflies by Miazaki with roomie last night. Shes really into sad movies. Cries all the time. It was a great movie though, sad...
Going to see MOMUS tonight with Mi...

木曜日, 9月 09, 2004

Tsunamis, typhoons and train jumpers

Tomorrow were going to have an earthquake drill, unless, school is cancelled because of the typhoon... There was a typhoon last night that did some good damage in a different part of Japan.
I found that I had left my keys on my desk after I pedaled all the way home today, but phoned a coworker who lives nearby to grab them for me. While I was on the phone I found somebody elses keys...
I waited for him on the steps outside his building and got yelled at by the owners(?) of the "massage" parlour in the same building. When he showed up he told me about his morning commute- somebody jumped in front of the train. He was alive, but barely when they carted him right him. He said the guy was making all kinds of "animal sounds". It freaked him out and said he almost passed out...
I guess its a pretty common thing to do here. People work so many hours that they just lose it. You can see company men in their suits and cases at 9 pm. People do some serious hours here... Ahh the life of a teacher doesnt seem so bad!

火曜日, 9月 07, 2004


When dishes clang, the person your eating with gets a funny look, and everyone says the Japanese equivalent of "whoa" - then theres an earthquake happening. We were on the 7th or 8th floor and the building was definatley swaying. I guess it was 7.3 or something in western Japan...

日曜日, 9月 05, 2004

people per square inch

Originally uploaded by freebeets.

Ive been kind of lazy about the blog lately, so here goes.
The first week of school was fantastic. Ive got my students in a good groove. Monday we start the real work. Friday was school spirit day, so we had an assembly and did some activities. The assisntant principal asked the kids why we have "spirit" and a little first grader answered something like "because we are school of people from all over the world and friends".
Ive been told by kids all over that I look like shaggy. Im starting to hear that I look like Beckham (footballer).
I took the train into Tokyo yesterday to shop around for a bike. No dice on the bike so Ill have to order it from the states, but I did find the apple store in Ginza (super busy shopping district and $$$$). It was amazingly busy, swarming people. Crowds here are very polite and quiet though. If people bump into you, you hear "sumimasen" or "gomenazai". The apple store was packed, and must have been raking in the money. Everyone was buying the new ipods. There were probably 200 people in the store. Really. I felt claustrophobic.
On the train home there was a schoolgirl in that outfit (made famous by anime and perverts) with her longbow. The bow was in a sort of cozy with little cartoon characters on it.
Im meeting a girl for language exchange today in Yokohama. I really need to start learning some Japanese. Its frustrating to be illiterate unable to talk.
anyway, thats all fer now

水曜日, 9月 01, 2004

nazi headquarters

Originally uploaded by freebeets.

apparently my school is close to Nazi headquarters... I found this map at the bus stop near my school the other day. Something in th fridge reeks like hell even though the door clealy says "refridgerate quick and keep fresh". I dont want to say anything to roomie in case its supposed to smell like that. We had netto (bean paste) the other day and it smelled like feet, but tasted pretty good.
Any teachers out there-if you want to see something amazing come to Japan and watch a classroom. My class is absolutely amazing. They follow directions to a T and totally get into their work. Sometimes its hard to believe, like a movie...
Went to the supermarket tonight and did pretty good. Ive been practicing the kanji for different meats and found some vegetarian stuff. There was an old hunched over woman choosing some weird looking fruits so I asked "good?" and she said yes and then a whole bunch of other stuff that I nodded to. I also bought some strange leafy vegetable and some isu curemu (green tea and adzuki bean). I think all the checkout ladies know that Im the foreigner who doesn't need a bag. People stare at me staring confused at packages. Its hard...
I joined a gym this week and worked out. They play 80's music and the girls wear leg warmers. They even have one of those jiggle the fat off ya machines with the belt that goes around your waist.