Friday, April 30, 2010

4月30日 Day 37: In This Club

So my friend had a party last night at a club called New Lex in Roppongi. It was my first time clubbing in Japan and it was NOMI-HOUDAI (all you can drink)! Although in retrospect, I didn't REALLY use it to my advantage... but that's ok because I can actually remember everything! (^0^)


In short, this is what it looked like when we entered the club at 11:45pm:



This is what it looked like when we left the club at 5am:


Highlights of the night:

-Getting introduced to Akanishi Jin (Japanese Justin Timberlake aka: love of my life circa 2007)

-Sitting and dancing VIP with my friends while the other mere mortals were forced to stand and get shoved around all night on the dance floor.

-Sweat.

-Hearing my favorite song, "SHOTS," by LMFAO and dancing my heart out.

-Helping random strangers get to the toilet before they blew chunks all over the club bathroom.

-Watching some random guy knock over all our drinks, shattering all our glasses.

-Getting burned by some douche's cigarette, ruining a good pair of tights.

-Watching all the Japanese girls throw themselves at sleazy gaijin.

-Losing all feeling in my feet from wearing my hooker heels.

-Leaving the club, watching the sunrise.

-Taking off shoes in Hibiya Station, walking barefoot all the way home.




So, first and foremost-- I ran into Akanishi Jin about 4 times last night. I bet he probably thinks I was following him haha. My friend who knows him pulled me up to the velvet ropes, made Akanishi get up and take a look at me. I flashed him a peace sign (his signature one from his days on Gokusen) and a smile and he sat back down, probably unimpressed, but WHATEVS. Then, after I told my friend Kana that I saw him, he wound up standing at one of the tables in the middle of the club. I told her, "GO TOUCH HIM, YOU'LL NEVER GET ANOTHER CHANCE." So she did. Then I ran into him when I went to the bathroom. My friend Keith saw me, opened the men's door and he was standing right there. We made distinct eye-contact and I'm pretty sure his eyes were saying, "Woah, it takes a very desperate disgusting person to follow someone to the bathroom." BUT I DIDN'T FOLLOW HIM!! (+_+);; Anyway, the last time I saw him, he was sitting in our VIP couch section (even though he had a private one all to his own posse). He was just sitting there, looking at the crowd, looking bored. I told my friend Heather (the cutest white girl you'll ever meet) to go say hi to him. She had no idea who he was-- but I told her how famous he was and she had a nice little chat with him where he said, "How do you know who I am? I'm so famous. I want to dance with you later." HAHA.



All Akanishi sightings aside, the night was UBER fun. I felt like such a badass flashing my VIP wristband. My friend basically does PR for this club so he got us all in the private seating section. It was soooo much better than dancing on the main floor, which was probably more like a summer rush hour train towards the end of the night. It's weird how the fact that I got to sit down made me VIP, but there were NO SEATS IN THE CLUB. Yep, that's right. None. Pretty awesome after you lose all feeling in your feet and get sick of everyone's sweaty body rubbing up against you. Towards the end, I wasn't even dancing standing up-- I was loving my luxury VIP couch too much.


Here's a cool drink my friend brought over for us. I have no idea what was in it.



One thing that sort of amazed me was the fact that I somehow wound up holding some random Japanese girl's hair back while she puked, my usual duty whenever girls and alcohol come together. I was in line for the bathroom, pretty much at the front, when all of a sudden this guy shoves this girl in front of me and says, "She needs to go before you." Seeing her pale and sweaty face, I knew this guy wasn't joking. There was one other girl in front of me, but I told her in Japanese that this girl was going to barf all over the bathroom if she didn't go ahead.


There were only 2 stalls in the bathroom, so barfing girl was in one, and the girl in front of me was really nice about letting her move ahead. Once the second stall was free, another girl about to blow ran to the front and I told the girl in front of me, once again, to move out of the way. Now both stalls in the bathroom had puking 70 pound Japanese girls in them. They were taking soo long and so I made small talk with the other non-puking Japanese girls in line. They said, "You are such a good friend." to which I replied, "I don't even know them!" After a little more small talk, my new friends and I noticed these girls were taking too long in the stalls. I let my ugly American out and pounded on both doors yelling, "オ~イ!!早くしなさいよ!" Which means, "HURRY THE EFF UP."


Little did I know how urgent this message was. The girl in front of me who had been kind enough to let two other girls pass her had been waiting patiently for her chance to spew and finally couldn't wait any longer. She ran towards the sink, and in my attempt to make up for the fact that I had basically ushered 2 girls ahead of her, I held her hair back and ran the water. The girls I was talking to in line said, "Wow, you really are a good friend." to which I replied, "I don't know her either." HA.


All in all, it was a good night full of debauchery, dancing and drinks; but I really don't think I need to do that again any time soon. Roppongi is legitimately dangerous, full of mischievous gaijin, belligerent drunks and other shady people looking for something to occupy their night. Clubbing in Roppongi until 5am was definitely something on my list of things to do in Japan, and now I've done it...



In 5" heels, for most of the night. Funny story: Today, I ate it while walking in flat sandals-- I might have re-torn my ligament! I'm going to Kyoto tomorrow! YAY!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

4月25日 Day 32: Tokyo Ta-WAAAAAAH!




Today my friends Ayako and Yuko took me to Kichijoji and then to Tokyo Tower! Today was the nicest day it's been in weeks; it wasn't raining and I was actually able to wear a spring dress without 10,000 layers over/under it. The sun was out, there were barely any clouds in the sky; it was really the perfect day to be outside enjoying everything Tokyo has to offer.


After eating some DELICIOUS baked goods and coffee, we went to a sock store. Yes, I spent $23 on socks and am not ashamed! If there's one thing Japan does really well-- it's socks. In America, visible socks are a definite no-no, especially frilly/colorful ones. But in Japan, not wearing socks is straight up disgusting. Visible or not, socks are a must. In fact, the style that most Japanese girls wear their socks with is with any shoe, (high-heeled, boots, flats, etc) completely visible under their stirrup leggings. GOOD TO KNOW! Now when you come to Japan you'll sleep better knowing that your shoes don't have to smell like rotting flesh! ; )




Anyway, enough about that. After my sock spree we went to Inokashira Koen in Kichijoji, and it was adorable. The first thing that struck me about the place was its huge lake that was full of little pedal boats (AND SWANS) for young couples and parents with infants. On the side of the lake, there were tons of street performers, artists, and flea market style goods vendors. Aya bought a super cute coin purse and I bought some wing-shaped earrings! :D



This guy would take your picture about 4-5 times and combine the pictures to make a new face.



Some Swedish post cards haha.


I was surprised people were still drinking under the trees despite the absence of cherry blossoms. Then I remembered that there's no "open-container" law in Japan and continued enjoying the park in all of its afternoon drunken glory.




Inokashira Koen really made me miss San Francisco and Golden Gate Park. Despite all the crackheads and hippie drum circles, that place has its own certain charm. And at the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I must say that I really enjoyed being near the trees and greenery today... it was a nice escape from the urban jungle and endless suffocating skyscrapers of Tokyo.


After we left the park, we headed off to Tokyo Tower. What an awesome place. I'd never been before and was completely blown away by the view. From the main observatory of Tokyo Tower, you can see Mt. Fuji and Yokohama on a clear day. Today we couldn't really see either of those 2 things, but we saw Odaeba, another awesome place I still haven't been to.


View from the street, thing is HUUUUUUUUUGE. Apparently they're building a bigger one to catch more signals.




I think this is the view facing Shinjuku.



Some temple and a park facing... east?



Odaeba~! That big circular thing is Fuji TV!



A window that lets you see just how high you are... it was SCARY!


We had originally wanted to see the special observatory, but the wait was about 45 minutes and the view isn't THAT different, it's only 100 meters higher. Good thing I'm from America, where we refuse to use the metric system, and have no idea what that actually means. The sad thing is that I'm only half kidding, folks (T_T)


After descending from the heavens of Tokyo Tower, we went to the 2nd floor gift shops. I bought Aya and Yuko some cell phone charms of Rilakkuma climbing Tokyo Tower as a token of my appreciation and for the awesome memories we made today. Aya didn't have anything hanging from her phone, so I felt as though I did her a solid :] I bought myself a similar one and now my cell phone has 3 charms! YAY FOR CONFORMITY!



Can you see the little bear climbing Tokyo Tower in the back? :3 What about my sakura Totoro? TEE HEE HEE.


Then we went to dinner. Aya and Yuko took me to this Korean place called Copain Copine near Hibiya (I think). GOOD NEWS FOLKS: PICTURES OF FOOD HAVE RETURNED!! We had a salad, standard Korean pickled stuff, bibimbap, awesomely spicy japchae, and this thing I've never eaten before called chige. Chige is sort of like an omelette-- but I don't think it's made out of eggs... or maybe it was? I don't know, you be the judge.



FEEEEEEAST!



This is Chige. TELL ME IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE AN OMELETTE!



Japchae!



Bibimbap!


The food wasn't even the best part of the day-- and it wasn't even my sentimental "OMG I LOVE YOU GUYS" type farewell either. The best part was the fact that I spoke Japanese ALL DAY. It was probably horrible of course, but the fact that I have friends I can speak to (who won't judge me) really makes me hopeful that I might someday be... bilingual...


However, for the time being, I'm pretty sure my Japanese translates like this:


Thank you so much for you coming to pick me up after my arrival at the train station. I was afraid, very scare that I lost and I would not be of being able to telling you of where to goes to where I is. Thank you so much, please have this gift for of your kindness and your family's kindness of me. Please look upon me kindly~!


...now if only I could get this passage mass-produced and printed on a shirt... I'd make a killing here.


The one thing that I can't believe was the fact that Aya and Yuko had sneakily bought me shiyoko aka: bready peeps filled with white bean paste? DELICIOUS!



Don't worry, I had sneakily bought their keychain charms and Tokyo Tower shaped cookies for their parents too! Two can play it that game!



What it looks like after I bit its head off! BWAHAHA X]



Final picture of the day-- my favorite ad on the Metro!

Friday, April 23, 2010

4月23日 Day 30: TGIF

Well, I'm a weakling. I've gone completely without American food-- but on Day 30, I cracked... and went to TGIFriday's.

I've NEVER been to a TGIFriday's. EVER. But damn it was so good. It felt amazing to have some quality deep fried American food in my system. I ate buffalo wings, potato skins, calamari, chicken fingers, french fries, onion rings, and some other fried chicken appetizery thing.

*Please note that this deep fried death trap was shared among 4 people, not just me.

I know I'm always criticizing the ugly Americans here-- but Goddammit, tonight, I was one of them: loud, obnoxious, and obese. Haha. There were actually 12 of us in our party who all fit this description. And well... that's about I all I have to say about that.

Today was an odd sort of day, one that definitely warranted our fat feast. This morning, someone threw themselves in front of a train on our line, backing up the subsequent trains for the whole of the morning. Even MY train (the post-rush hour train) was packed full of people. My arm was pretty much jammed into this poor girl's hat as I held on to the handle for dear life. I could feel people breathing, smell their bodies, feel their uncomfortable tension pressing against all sides of me on that train. Luckily it only lasted for about 5 stops when about 90% of the people transferred to a different line.

It really bothers me that this is a common occurrence that isn't really being combatted in Tokyo. If you remember the anti-suicide gates I showed in an earlier post, please know that they're not at every station, only bigger ones. My thoughts on that situation is that they should have them at EVERY station. People who are going to jump in front of the train will find a station that enables them to do so.

Another thing about it that bothers me is everyone's complete nonchalance towards the subject of people REGULARLY throwing themselves in front of the train. The mentality is, "Well, it happens." Sure, that's true if it happens every so often-- but it happens almost every week... is that some kind of indication of something? I mean, suicide in itself is always a selfish act, but in Japan, suicide via the Metro is just downright inconvenient. It makes people late for the jobs that eventually lead them to suicide.

It's days like these that make me feel justified for letting it all hang loose at TGIFriday's with a plate of potato skins. I just wish that more Japanese people would too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4月22日 Day 29: Kate Gets Lost

Today was full of lessons in epic, epic failure.

Today in Modern Japanese fiction, I learned this new phrase, 生きよ堕ちよ (ikiyo ochiyo) which means, "To live is to fall," and that is exactly what I did.

I went to school and endured Japanese class with my Thursday/Friday sensei who I really don't like. The class' lesson today was a HUGE step backwards, we learned short/informal form (食べる、食べた etc.) because apparently people still don't know how to use it in Japanese M2... Naturally, I dozed off because I had actually retained that information. I even saw a Korean guy smacking his head against our textbook in frustration, muttering to himself, "OMG SERIOUSLY?!"

Sensei definitely noticed my lack of interest and made me read aloud, which is probably my biggest weakness. She was so passive aggressive about it too, "Who's listening, who's listening...? AH-- KEEEITO-SAN! Nemui desu ka? (Are you sleepy?)" DAMN RIGHT, I'M SLEEPY... GAAAAHHH! I wanted to punch her in the face!

Anyway, I went to Modern Japanese Fiction, which was lovely and not a complete waste of my time. My professor is this sophisticated Chinese woman who married a Japanese man. When telling us about formal Japanese speech that no one uses anymore, she said, "My mother-in-law used to speak like that. She's dead now. Haha." EVERYONE burst out laughing. PRICELESS.

Then I went home, went to the grocery store and then to the post office to withdraw money. I thought I'd be real slick and take a shortcut. I had been taken down that road before and saw all the familiar landmarks, but I got SO lost...

On top of that, it was raining cats and dogs and windy as all hell. So rainy and windy in fact, that my umbrella broke (X_X). Great. Lost and wet with a busted umbrella. Here's the path I took: (green represents the eventual path I took to get home.)


  1. Started at the grocery store outside the train station, picked up some essentials and school supplies.
  2. Walked to the post office. Withdrew money. Got cocky.
  3. Tried to take shortcut home from post office. Walked for about an hour, saw familiar buildings and landmarks from previous excursions, with no idea why I was lost. Got about 3/4 of the way home gave up, and turned around, drenched.
  4. Serious backtracking. Ended up back at the train station, walked home in a complete circle. Bought a new umbrella, completely humiliated.
My hair and jeans were basically soaked through. My legs had denim stains on them because they were so wet. I had arranged for my friends and me to eat in Harajuku (at a restaurant I had never been to before), so I hopped in the shower, washed the shame off, and e-mailed a map to my phone so I wouldn't get lost going to this restaurant.

We went to Sakura-tei, where my new friend Kana works. We had okonomiyaki, yakisoba and every dessert on the menu (for 10% off, thanks to Kana). It was delicious. Guess it kinda made up for the fact that I got uber lost.

Hey, it wouldn't be an international experience if I didn't get completely lost every once in a while, right? BLEH, hope it doesn't happen again any time soon... Golden Week is coming up!

Ugh, I have Fundamentals of Religion tomorrow. Not excited. The professor basically just yaks about his opinion on religion, pisses people off, and then gets too whimpy and Japanese to calm down the arguments, side comments and personal anecdotes that people subsequently feel compelled to share. UGH.

At least I have Contemporary Japanese Society afterwards, which is by far my favorite class. THEN IT'S THE WEEKEND AND I'M FREEEEEEEEEEEEE~!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

4月18日 Day 25: Hayao's Moving Castle






Today I went to the Studio Ghibli Museum and it was... wonderful.

I can't even really describe it. I don't want to because I'm afraid it won't do the place much justice. The only thing I would have changed about the experience was my age... I wish I was a little kid so I could have experienced the wonder in its purest form.

The Museum is located inside of this forrest-y park in Mitaka, which is right by ICU. HOLLER! It was a very oddly constructed building. It had staircases all over the place that took you to different levels of the museum. It was sort of like walking into a live version MC Escher painting. The best part of it-- there was no set path, you could just walk around to whatever area you want... because that's the way Miyazaki wanted it! *sigh*

It had rooms that showcased all different types of Miyazaki's movies, his animation techniques, and his many, many, inspirations. Some rooms were dedicated to motion, others to nature, others showed replicas of Miyazaki's work station/studio. His bookshelf was full of books on flight, aviation, boats, engineering and all sorts of random odds and ends. I saw a few of his original sketches of characters like Kiki~ and basically giggled my face off with excitement.

I would have taken more pictures, but it wasn't allowed (inside, anyway). I'm sure Miyazaki made it that way because... well, the Ghibli Museum is a place you HAVE to see for yourself. The feeling you get isn't something you can get looking at a bunch of pictures.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

4月17日 Day 24: Meccas for the Shoharas

It's really too bad I don't have enough money to ship back all the ADORABLE furniture and housewares I find here. I've been to 3 new stores that make me want to redecorate my entire apartment. I feel like I see my family in all of these stores.




MUJI is basically the love child of Ikea and J.Jill. It has basic, loose fitting, peasant-style, neutral, linen clothing and modern, and streamlined minimalist dishes, pencils, notebooks, towels, sheets, cooking accessories, make-up etc. AND IT'S CHEAP. Holy balls it was cheap. It's a store that my Auntie Aj would LOVE for its simplicity, it's neutral tones, and thriftiness.


FRANC FRANC is a store my Auntie Sue would like. It mixes modern bold patterns with technologically advanced and sleek living necessities. Things in there are colorful and bold but still understated. They have REALLY cute aprons, dishes, oven mits, and cooking utensils. All the extra features these things have make Japanese housewives (and me) go, "EEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHH?!?"


Tokyu Hands is a place my mother would love because it's a flippin' rat maze. It has EVERYTHING, on multiple, horribly-designed and hard-to-navigate levels. It's easy to get completely immersed in the overwhelming organization of the whole place. Unless you know what you're looking for, you could spend your life in there. Ergo, it's perfect for you, Mom.

I miss you all. I hope you'll come here to see me, or to see these stores. You'd love them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

4月15日 Day 22: Ice Breakers

So I'm basically used to my Japanese class dynamic. My other classes, not so much.

My Religion and Society in Japan class sucks. The professor is speaking English, but her wording honestly makes NO SENSE. It might as well be in Portuguese. I'm basically in the class because it's only requirement is attendance, 1 class presentation and a final essay. It will kill my theology credit for school. I hope.

My Contemporary Japanese Culture class is SUPER fun though; I can tell I'm really going to like it. Sensei started the class by asking us about the stereotypes, "What stereotypes do you see in Japanese people or in Japanese culture?" Most of the volunteers gave really general answers.

"They don't like outsiders."
"They're homogeneous."
"They're polite."
"They all work really hard."
"They go crazy for trends."
"They have access to a lot of technology."

The only really interesting one I really heard was, "Japanese people aren't very direct. They sort of expect you to figure out what they're talking about, and they're not confrontational."

I was completely baffled as to why no one mentioned how INSANE Japanese people are. What about all the socially deviant things that make people come to Japan in the first place? What about everything I read about in my Naturalism in Japanese Literature class?! What about the penis festivals I've been to and ass-shaped pillows I've seen at multiple stores? In an attempt to be direct and confrontational, I queried,

"Uh, isn't it a very sexually repressed culture?"

The 150 person lecture erupted in laughter/nervously honest giggles. My professor said quite sincerely, "You know, there's a whole class about sex in Japan. If that's what you'd like to study, you can take a whole class on it!"

I felt like a total perv, but dammit, it needed to be said.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

4月14日 Day 21: The Busiest Starbucks in the World



Wow. 3 years of graphic design, and this is how I showcase the Busiest Starbucks in the World? DON'T JUDGE ME!

My friends and I went to Shibuya after a rather short but taxing day of Japanese class. We visited Loft (aka Mecca) for some necessities and school supplies and did some window shopping and purikura afterwards. Then we went to THE BUSIEST STARBUCKS IN THE WORLD.

It actually wasn't that busy. I suspect it was probably busier than most for 5 pm on a Wednesday, however-- they had people monitoring the line like they were club bouncers. They take their jobs very seriously, those bouncer/baristas. They're also bi-lingual, verifying orders in both English and Japanese. That Starbucks was basically like the Japanese United Nations.

The woman that helped me out wore thick-rimmed glasses like me, and all black with a microphone, earpiece, and the standard green Starbucks apron. It is my belief that anyone wielding a microphone/earpiece has a completely warped sense of power-- this woman definitely lives up to this conception. After asking for my order in line, she wrote it down on a piece of paper and shouted it to the people making the coffee, so naturally, I thought it was my turn to pay. She grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted, "NO! STOP."

o_O WOAH LADY-- TAKE A CHILLAXATIVE.

Her completely curt 'tude almost ruined my green tea frappuchino... but it was so delicious, I forgot all about her earpiece/microphone/thick-rimmed glasses God-complex and just enjoyed my uniquely Japanese beverage.


I'm really sad they discontinued this drink in the states.

The rest of the building was pretty awesome as well. The first floor is the Busiest Starbucks in the world while the next 4 floors are DVD, CD, and TV show rental places where drinking and browsing are allowed.

*Cultural Note:
In Japan, you do NOT drink or eat while you walk. You MUST sit down. Be it at a table, on some steps, in an alley, or on the sidewalk-- YOU SIT THE EFF DOWN. So, simultaneously eating and browsing inside of a store is a novelty and a privilege in every sense of the word. I used it to my full advantage, casually sipping my green frapp while I perused the isles of dramas and used CD's. Despite the huge signs that said, "DRINKING AND BROWSING...OK!" I still got a few scornful glances from some natives. Whatever, haters gon' hate. It's allowed!

**Other Cultural Note:
Eating, drinking, and talking (even while sitting) on the train are also HUGE no-no's. There are some girls at my dorm who completely ignore this fact. Every morning on the rush hour train, they munch and chug their breakfast while hee-ing and haw-ing like the loud, annoying American asses they are. Luckily, my classes don't start until after rush hour, so I don't have to endure their complete disregard for Japanese etiquette. My poor friends that can't avoid riding with them are forced to put in their headphones, grin and bear it-- but I think they should say something soon or else they're going to throw those stupid girls in front of the train...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

4月13日 Day 20: First Day of School pt.2

I had my other 2 classes today: Religion and Society in Japan and Contemporary Japanese Culture. My professor of Religion and Society in Japan is an older woman whose face really reminds me of the grandma from Totoro.


Unlike Granny though, she pushes her head forward, juts her jaw out, and stutters when she talks. She also closes her eyes when she thinks. Every so often, she's able to successfully complete a sentence that scares the crap out of you. For instance, when going over the syllabus she said, "Th-th-th-the Japanese people believe in dif-dif-dif-different k-kami which ar-ar-are almost like d-d-d-dieties. They are not like Christian God."

My professor for Contemporary Japanese Culture is named Nana Oishi. Yeah, that's right. Oishi. Like delicious (that's how my friends remember her). One thing that bothered me about her self-introduction was that she referred to herself as "Nahnuh", pronouncing her name like "banana" using a flat A sound. Not cool, considering she was born and raised in Japan. Anyway, the woman was really animated about the syllabus and must have talked for about 20 minutes about the joys of motherhood (we're talking about gender empowerment in a few weeks, so I guess that's what sparked that crazy pre-menopausal rant). It's mothers like her that raise Japanese men to be so inadequate. ANYWAY-- I DIGRESS. The class sounds really fun and I'm excited to learn all about Japanese society... heh.

Every day, I learn more and more about the social life at school. For instance, today I learned that while all the cafeterias on campus serve relatively the same food (for dirt cheap) each one caters to a different demographic. The Building 2 cafeteria is called "The Terrace" because it has a breathtaking 360 view of the greater Tokyo area. It's the only cafeteria located above ground on the 5th floor. It's probably the most diverse and popular cafeteria on campus, full of both Westerners and Japanese people. I think all the hot chicks on campus eat there because it's got all the dainty ice cream type dishes that they decide to substitute for lunch.

Building 11's cafeteria is where all the jocks hang out. LITERALLY. It's like high school! All the sports teams hang out their in their letterman jackets and act obnoxious as they watch shiai on their cell phone TVs. Other people eat there because the food is probably the best on campus... and they have a soft-serve ice cream machine *drool*

Building 9's cafeteria is probably the best kept secret on campus. None of the gaijin foreign exchange kids know about it... 'cept me! ;) I've met a new friend, Kana, and she took me to this exclusive caf! It's got a bomb bakery, which adds an element of deliciousness to the fact that you don't have to listen to people who want "the tun-CAT-soo-ker-ray." EVERYONE is Japanese, is speaking Japanese, and is just normal... I can see why they would retreat to that particular cafeteria, it's really hidden because it's in the basement! It's also free of all the anime/manga Japanophiles who are looking to meet a hot Japanese girl.

Monday, April 12, 2010

4月12日 Day 19: First Day of School

First day of school and the weather SUCKED. It was about 7 degrees (44 degrees F for us Americans), raining with super strong wind. I feel like I'm living in Seattle or something!!

Other than that though, the 2 classes I had today were pretty fun! I had my Japanese class and Anthropology of Japan-- crazy! My Japanese professor is a lovely little woman named Omori-sensei. She's got Cleopatra bangs and a little bob hair-do. She reminds me of a young Tsai Chin, circa You Only Live Twice.


Her voice is very raspy at the moment because she caught a cold from staying out late doing Hanami! HA! I can already tell I'm going to like her. The class wasted no time, we dove right into a lesson, and I learned a new structure, "〜ばかり。" Which means "I just did something."

I feel like the class is really good for me. It's literally picking up where my last class left off. It meets every day for 1 1/2 hours so it's not too overwhelming either. One thing that I have to get used to using is Keigo (honorific language). I've never really used or heard it before (my family's waaaay to casual for that) so it's really hard for me to remember all the different versions of the verbs. I'm sure Omori-sensei will teach me well though! Soon I'll be formal enough to hang out with Masako-sama in the looney bin!

My next class was Anthropology of Japan. The class was PACKED-- probably around 80-100 people in it, my biggest lecture ever! The professor was a bald American man with a lisp. He was very eccentric too, and was completely hilarious, but I'm actually not going to take the class though because it sounds too group oriented. I hate classes where I'm forced to depend on the efforts of others; I can never trust them! Plus, I'm taking another anthropology-type class called Contemporary Japanese Culture (way more fun, and NO GROUP PROJECTS!).

The classes are fun, but the in's and out's of the school are also pretty amazing. There's one main path down the campus, and it's better known as "The Catwalk" because all the girls strut down it in their high heels and short skirts. The girls here are all so fashionable, pretty and just... dressed to the nine's EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Isn't it exhausting looking that beautiful all the time?! It makes the gaijin really easy to spot out in their sweatshirts and jeans. Guess I won't be wearing those for a while!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

4月11日 Day 18: Okonomiyaki!

So today, I slept in until 2pm. Yep, that's right: 2pm. I've NEVER done that before. Who thought gay clubbing would be so draining??

I had just enough time to put on my make up and meet my friend Kana for dinner. I haven't seen her since high school so I was really glad we got to have a reunion in Japan! Before we ate, we went to this awesome store called Loft! Talk about Mecca. Loft is like Donkey Hote, but way classier. It's full of cute apartment necessities, furniture, and other day-to-day stuff. They had a HUGE stationary section, so I was slightly relieved that mom hadn't discovered this place while she was here...

I got a little bell for my keys (so I don't lose them) and it came with this free bento-bag! Please read the Engrish on this thing...


"Isn't he somewhat resemble your cat?!"

I also bought this cute Rilakkuma phone charm. In Japan, it's completely unacceptable to NOT have something (if not many things) dangling from your phone. It's like, the only way you can express your identity...


Wonder what mine says about me? Haha.

Then I had Okonomiyaki for the first time at this place called Gottsui in Shibuya!


Okonomiyaki is a dish from Kansai and it tastes like heaven. It's basically a grilled cabbage-y pancake. One of ours had yakisoba and yamaimo in it! Okonomiyaki is covered with a sweet sauce (sort of similar to tonkatsu sauce), but the whole thing tastes pretty savory. It's the perfect combination of the Japanese palette! It was so filling, I can't believe we ordered two of them! If you've never had okonomiyaki, TRY IT! I can't believe I've survived 20 years without it!

After that, Kana and I decided to claim our inner FOBs and went to do purikura! Purikura is like a photobooth... on crack. In America, photobooths are tiny cramped little boxes that let you take 4 different pictures using 4 different facial expressions. That's it. In Japan, you have a HUGE space (enough to lay on your side). You take 6 pictures, using 6 different angles, positions, poses, lighting, and backgrounds and then after you're done taking them you get to DECORATE THEM! The technology is so advanced now that you can even choose one of the pictures to e-mail to your phone!


A few things I found unnerving: 1.) The photobooth automatically increased the size of our eyes. 2.) One of the booths we went to gave us FREE fake eyelashes! WTF?! I think they just automatically assume that everyone in the booth wants their eyes to look bigger and more doll-like. It's the weirdest frickin' thing I've ever seen because my eyes aren't that small... so I looked like a bug in a few of the photos! O_O

First day of school tomorrow! Nervous/excited... wish me luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

4月10日 Day 17: Wallflowers

Today, I went to a club in Shinjuku-nichome, Tokyo's gay district.



My friend really wanted to go check it out, so 3 of my girlfriends and I went as his beard. They had gone before me because I was eating dinner with my other friend. Trying to find this place was one HELL of an excursion. My friend said to turn left at the "Megane" sign at the Shinjuku central exit and that the club would be on the 2nd street on the right.

YEAH RIGHT!

My friend and I had to go to a different train station, walk to the farthest exit, then walk 3 circles around the place until we found OTHER gaijin gays to ask directions to the damn club (which looked like a hole-in-the-wall barber shop btw). Thank God these nice guys took us straight to the place because lord knows I saw about 4 effing "Megane" signs.

The place was basically a bar with a dance floor. We got there at about 10:15 which is WAYY early for any club: gay or straight, Japanese or American. WHO GOES OUT THAT EARLY? It's ok though because my friend wanted to go out that early, so I had to be supportive. When you go out in Japan, you have to make a decision for how long you plan to stay out in the beginning of the night. You have two choices: a.) go out early and take the last train (around midnight) home or b.) leave on the last train and come back on the first train at 5am. I chose A, but still managed to wake up at 2pm this morning.

The cover charge was only 1 ¥700 drink, so that was nice. There were lots of gay Japanese guys there, but none of them were dancing. They were all just standing against the wall watching all the gaijin gays and their fag hags dance obnoxiously to the bad music they were playing.

I've never heard such lame music being played at a club. I just kept thinking, "Uhh, they're gay-- just play a shitload of GaGa and Britney mixes with plenty of bass and unce unce unce and you've got yourselves a good time." That wasn't the case. They played a lot of 9th grade high school dance music: Nelly, Shakira, Black Eyed Peas and other crap that wasn't gay enough. They also didn't really MIX the songs, they just played them all the way through, which totally bored me. Who wants to listen to a song all the way through at a club?!

However, the party started building up at around 11 when more people arrived and the DJ saw it fitting to finally play some Lady GaGa. That was also around the time that the gay Japanese guys got drunk enough to start dancing with us, red faces and all.

A lesson I learned tonight: Gay Japanese guys are completely indistinguishable from straight Japanese guys. I know a lot of you reading this are probably thinking, "DUH, all Japanese guys dress like femmes." But there weren't just femmes there! There were REALLY butch looking guys there in their version of Japanese thug wear! It was the weirdest thing. Gay is still really taboo in Japan. It's complicated because it's simultaneously tolerated and not tolerated. Just like in America! There's a gay district, there's a gay pride parade, I just got back from a penis festival-- but being gay is by no means ok to most Japanese people. It's weird.

I would think the host club guys that hang around in Kabukicho are gayer than the guys I saw in the club. But they're not. Girls actually desire guys who look girlier than them. Like these guys!


They were prowling around the streets trying to get girls to come sit at their table. SICK!

More about that later, I'm late for dinner with my friend :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

4月9日 Day 16: Amagi Goe

I did karaoke from 1am-5am in the morning. Why?? I still don't even know. My inner Japanese was crying out to sing some Enka I guess.

Yes, amidst the Backstreet Boys, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Iron Man, I made some time for my favorite Enka song, Ishikawa Sayuri's Amagi Goe. I sang the crap out of it-- really well. (Btw, I'm super good at being modest ;] ) I'm sure if I'm drunk/ballsy enough, I can do it again if someone asks.

Because of that sheer and utter nonsense, my day didn't officially kick off until about 2pm. We ate lunch standing up at a soba/udon place in Shinjuku train station, which was surprisingly awesome. We all wanted something quick and cheap, but got something delicious as well: hot mushroom soba. *Drool* If so many salary men weren't waiting to eat after us, I might have taken a picture. Next time...

Then after that, some friends and I went to Takebashi to go to MOMAT, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. We weren't allowed to take pictures, so here are the jpgs of the highlights.


Gardening (Manhattan) by Oscar Oiwa. This painting was epic (probably took up the whole 10 foot wall) and it made me happy.


Shihota Chiharu: Bathroom 1999. This was basically a video installation of a girl bathing in a tub full of muddy water and covering her face with dirt. It was like The Ring. In the mud. Maybe I'll die in 7 days...

The museum was great because it had FREE college student admission. SCORE. Definitely going back there. Didn't even get to scope the gift shop.

It also had BEAUTIFUL views of the cherry blossoms, the Imperial Palace and its moat.


GORGEOUS!


I love Tokyo's twilight hour right before the sun goes down. I think that's when the city looks the most beautiful. The neon against the dusk light is unlike anything I've ever seen. Throw in the traditional historic beauty of the imperial palace and you've got something really magical.


...it's also a great escape from my messy room. It smells like unwashed laundry and plastic wrappers. Welcome back to college life!

Just realized that I haven't showered. I still have the stench of karaoke on me: cigarettes, sweat, passion and shame all rolled into one. Toodles!