Andreas’s Japan journeys

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We were retards

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 12:26 pm

You can call us idiots, morons, stupid if you want to. It just won’t bite on me anymore, cause after the last trip to Tokyo I am (together with Brian and Canadian Friend) more than aware of that fact myself. Let me tell you why.

Plan was to get up at 5A.M. but of course I awoke at 4A.M. instead. It didn’t help that I had not slept well for the two days before that so that I was totally out of it that morning. I came to the train station at 5:45 and we jumped onto the 5:58 train heading straight for Tokyo. There was only one problem. We had booked the tickets so close to the departure we had not been able to secure either the night train or decent seats for the day train, which forced us to take the regular train. Not only did that mean we would have to accept the fact that if there were too many people we would have to stand the whole way until someone left the seat, the trip itself was also a horrifying 6 hour one. Fortunately we could sit down from time to time, but every time we changed train there was a possibility we would be out of seats again.

Once we reached Tokyo at 11:45 we explored the central parts and visited the Imperial Palace. Of course no one is allowed into the palace so we had to stroll the grounds outside the walls, taking some pictures of the huge garden of trees supposedly belonging to the emperor. After that we were heading towards the Tokyo Tower. Brian wanted to take the underground but Canadian Friend and I were against it, wanting to stretch out legs after the train ride there. It ended up with about 45 minute walk towards the tower, because we thought we were really close but of course we weren’t. Once there we were totally let down, cause the tower itself wasn’t that impressive, plus we could not take a ride up since there were hundreds of Japanese queueing for entrance. Instead we bought the most expensive crepe I’ve ever had which tasted moderately good.

After the tower visit we headed to Shinjuku going by underground. Shinjuku is the place to go to for your shopping of any kind, but mostly malls and stuff are located here, while electronics are in Akihabara (finally learned how to get that one right). I’ll be returning to that later. In Shinjuku we stayed for the remaining day since we were planning on sleeping there. Without hotel booked though, we had to fix the sleeping issue via a more controversial means. Either we could sleep at a manga cafe. It’s basically a book store that sells various items, including sleeping space for those who miss the last train home. Expensive, cramped and full of retards, we would’ve fit right into that crowd but we had other plans. Instead we headed to the second choice; a 24/7 internet cafe. We were pretty tired after checking the malls in Shinjuku so at 10P.M. we booked three rooms. Now, a Swedish and a Japanese internet cafe is totally different.

First off, you not only get the computer, you get a whole box for yourself. That way you can do all sorts of things by yourself if you want to. You also get a Playstation 2 to your box for no additional cost. Also, the soft drink bar is free, and you can borrow any magazine there is. Let me tell you that I wasn’t surprised that they had a full bookshelf with only porn that was already half empty… Canadian Friend had a guy watching porn all night next to him in his first room before we changed to a more comfortable type for example. We rented the rooms between 10P.M. and 5A.M. and between that time Canadian Friend was the less retarded one. He actually tried to sleep while Brian and I stayed up playing on the free Playstation 2 and watching movies until 2:30. I played some hack-and-slash game until I changed for a movie (Davinci Code, sucked!!!) and then slept very uneasily for 3 hours.

When we got up I was a zombie. A retarded zombie. We all were. We were so tired you wouldn’t belive it. Canadian Friend and I wanted to go home as soon as possible but Brian wanted to stay until 3 which would mean we wouldn’t be home until 9P.M. Unacceptable I thought. So during the whole morning we tried to convince Brian to go home earlier. When we went to Akihabara, the home of electronics and porn, and the weather changed into a rainy storm we finally got the green light from Brian as well. We visited the Tokyo Bay first and then the weather only got worse, so we were releaved to take the 12:30 train back home. We only had a 6 hour long trip back… We also missed the last change of trains the last time which forced us to wait another 30 minutes until we came back home to Okazaki. By then I was totally breaking down. I was tired, drunk (not of alcohol), hungry, smelled. Kind of like after a computer LAN but worse. The most stupid part was that I didn’t buy anything in Tokyo because it was all so expensive, and would’ve been a pain in the ass to drag home. I instead succeeded in making my wallet 20,000 yen lighter only on food and that internet cafe. It was crazy.

Now, if you try to imagine you’ve been to such a trip, a real backpacker one, no planning, just head straigh on, what would you do on the day after? All I know is that I shouldn’t have done what I did. First off, I got up at 9A.M. to go to Nagoya to searach for a Wii since it might have arrived during my absence in Tokyo. So at 10 I was on the train again, together with Brian who wanted to check out some used cd store in Nagoya. After arriving I got to the store but there were no Wiis there of course. But I didn’t leave empty handed like Tokyo. I did ge tmy hands on the 5000 point card together with a Classic controller which was nowhere to be found in Okazaki, so that was really lucky! Once I get my Wii I will have 6 games from that only. Plus I’ve already got my Zelda. Blast this waiting game.

After Nagoya I returned only to meet up with Daniel and Canadian Friend who had turned into a real zombie. He had hurt his foot so bad in Tokyo after all the walking he was limping. He really looked like a zombie when walking. In any case, we headed for the CoCo curry restaurant with the supposedly strongest curry around. Usually the highest level is 5, but this restaurant has lvl 10. The three of us had already eaten there once before, Daniel had a lvl 8, Canadian Friend and I had 7, to initate our sacred brotherhood – Za Karee Kyoudai (Brotherhood of the Curry). This time we chose lvl 10 all of us. As I have explained in the last update Daniel is leaving the school so this was a farewell dinner for only the three of us since we are now brothers. The bonding of curry is stronger than that of ordinary blood brothers because of the support you must give each other when eating lvl 10 curry. Blood is thicker than water, but curry is the thickest of them all! I have to coin that expression. Want a nickle every time someone says it.

In the end, we finally finished the curry, I being the last one. The curry tastes horrible because of the spiciness, but I finally got it all down. And I seriously didn’t feel good afterwards. But at least we all completed the ritual and can now proudly call ourself Curry brothers. Still we didn’t stop there. Afterwards we headed to Canadian Friend and watched Star Wars episode 6 in Japanese to finish that series too, since we had watched episode 4 and 5 already together, in Japanese of course. So now we can close that chapter and leave it behind and look to the future! For that purpose I’ve come up with this new haiku.

To mo ki e ru
yu kku ri de mi rai he
mou ichi do a u

Friends disappear,
We head slowly towards our future,
Meet once more we shall

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Today’s word is tsukarekitteiruexhausted


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Terminator

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 4:52 pm

Arnold Schwartzenegger (phew, I wonder if he spells like that) terminates people. I am kind of a terminator myself, or at least is subject to some terminations. First off, my homestay is now at an end, three days ago to be exact, but I have not updated my blog because I’ve been very busy with my final exam at school. Yes, final. The semester has finally but regretably come to an end. Not only will I get a new class and new teachers next time, but I won’t even meet one of the best teachers I’ve had; Osoroshii (Hada) sensei. She was actually crying herself, but she has decided that she cannot go on at the school for ever. She needs experience in other fields as well, and not just being a Japanese teacher. While I understand her decision I actually feel sad since I’d like to meet with her again in future lessons. A lot of friends are going home as well; four of my classmates are quitting Yamasa. It feels as if everything is terminated this time, instead of just a pause like last time 3 months ago. It kind of feels like last semester in high school – you’ve spent a long time with people and suddenly you figure you’re going to part ways and never see them again, and it actually hurts. So to you, Daniel, Andrew, Virginia, Kou, I write this haiku. EDIT – I have changed the haiku to a more poetic ending I’ve been thinking of during the last few days. I find it has more heart to it.

Ka ra da tsu yoi
ko ko ro ha nai te ru
To ri ga to bu

My body stands strong,
but my heart weaps,
The birds leave the nest

Onto happier thoughts, my test was sufficiently good to let me go on to the next level. I scored straight A’s on everything except writing where I got a B, which unfortunately lowered my overall grade to a B, so evidently I performed worse than last semester, but I blame the much more difficult content in the books and counter with the proof from the teachers that I have more than doubled my vocabulary and I now know most grammar forms there are in Japanese except the very extremely polite ones that we will now learn in the coming book New Approach. It is a very suiting name as we’ve studied basic Japanese now, just stuffing it into our brains, and now we will instead learn the finer points of the language, how to speak in a polite manner and how to behave during conversations. The former books were about being understood. Now we approach that grammar in a more refined way.

I also tried to get my hands on one of Nintendo’s new consoles the Wii. But it proved to be a futile dream I had to abandon quickly. I should have bought it back 2 months ago when they were available, because now there is a shortage in the whole of Japan and the manufacturers cannot produce them quickly enough to let everyone who wants to buy one get one. I’ve alreayd bought the game I want to play, but I waited with the console because I did not want it to be an interferring object with my studies. I knew if I bought one I may perform even worse on my tests than I already did, and so decided to wait. In one way I’m happy I did, since I turned out pretty well as I mentioned above, but at the same time, now that I’m off school and have nothing to do, I can’t play since I can’t buy the console. Such irony.

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Today’s words are kanashiisad, and ureshiiglad

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Homestay package IV

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 10:05 pm

Hello everyone, back with a new update, and most likely the last one I will make before moving away from my homestay. So in the future you can hope for more regular and better updates. Or something. I’m moving in exactly 2 weeks, Tuesday, 2 days before the biggest test I’ve ever had at Yamasa will fire, and 3 days before I get my spring holiday! But more about that later when it comes, for now, just read my latest batch of updates covering January and February and the beginning of this month. Oh and btw, the pictures I am mentioning will most likely not be uploaded to my gallery until after I’ve moved, so you have to do with the little stuff I’m giving you now, for now. Now… read!!

The foreigner in the foreign quarter in a foreign land, unknown date (I forgot when this was…January I think)

So, the title says it all. Today I went to Kobe and left my homestay at about five in the morning, which means I got up at half past three. You should’ve seen me on the way back home later at night… In any case, me and a friend went to Kobe to check the town out, and while I don’t regret going, Kobe was not a very special town in the manner I had expected. Not like I imagine Kyoto or Tokyo to be. But I did a few fun things and I’ve taken some photos too of places I passed by on this tour of the city!

First off after a 6 hour train ride, we go to this smaller town outside Kobe to look at a castle. It takes about 5 minutes until we run back to the train again to head for the real Kobe. But it was a nice castle. Another 30 minutes and we split up for lunch. My friend is a gormet and he was searching for this special meat restaurant. I chose to eat Korean ramen and then we got together and went to the foreign quarter. This was the place where American, German, Dutch and the rest of the West’s merchants were allowed to stay during the late 1800s when Japan was re-opened to foreigners. Some very striking western buildings we checked before hitting the icecream stands. I ate a cow milk-flavoured one, it sure tasted weird. I thought I had ordered vanilla, but no…

After that we went a long way to the harbour and half strolled half ran through a park on the way (you have no idea how stressed we were at some points, especially when thinking we were lost, found a thing to guide us and then getting lost again…). At the harbour we look a serious detour and then found ourselves at a huge fish statue I took a picture of. After that we went to this famous mall where I bought some presents and a chocolate cake. Kobe was supposed to have this famous choclate or something but when I got home and ate it it was like a 500 yen cake you buy at the supermarket. Quite the letdown if you ask me… I hope my mother’s present tastes better. I bought some sake for my father and then it hit me he doesn’t like sake. So now I have 1,5L of alcohol to heave, plus my whiskey I still haven’t finished. After that I ate another icecream, melon and raisin, and then we headed for the train for the 6 hour ride back home. I was painfully reminded that I still had a 45min bikeride home after arriving at the station.

I am uploading all the Kobe pictures into my photo gallery that is still a mess, but for now you have to live with it, because I don’t have enough time to make it nicer because of lack of time.

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Today’s word is tsuraipainful

The perfect birthday gift 19/2

Hey I made it! I finally got myself a girl! In Japan no less! And on my birthday, the timing couldn’t have been better. Unfortunately she is not Japanese. American by all standards. Blond-grey hair, huge boobs and skinny dress. She even gave me a Coca Cola which was nice. Ironically it was the teacher who introduced us. My grammar teacher who often seems like the most boring of the four suddenly thought it was a good idea to get the two of us together. I guess she did it because she didn’t know I fancy Japanese girls more… Oh well, what is done is done and it was a nice birthday gesture.


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Today’s word is kanpekiperfect

To be elected or not be elected, that is the question 23/2

It is time for the Yamasa school’s speech taikai. It means meeting, but to us it is synonomous with challenge. I have been studying for this speech for about three or four weeks, and then it just happens that I wasn’t even selected in the class. It was probably because of my amazing cold and fever I got which didn’t really help my performance in class. After all that work I wasn’t elected… But still, it was kind of nice not to be the one to talk in front of 300 students and an unknown number of Japanese who wanted to come to listen to foreigners speak about their experiences in Japan. And be filmed at the same time so that classes in the future have an example to watch as preparation for their own speech.

In any case, the speech contest was pretty good, but there were a lot of contestants’ Japanese that I didn’t understand, especially the higher class entrances’, but I voted for the guy looking like Harry Potter because he was talking about Japanese and western clothing which I found more interesting than the winner who (most likely) talked about a book she had read or something. At least she held it up in the end so then you could guess what she had been talking about, but who can truly know. The speech really felt like something for the upper classes and that the lower classes were just there to entertain with poor Japanese and crazy stories since we cannot speak about advanced things yet. Next time I’ll talk about space travel for sure, that’ll teach’em!

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Today’s word is mendokusaibothersome

Flamable devils and Japanese culture 24/2

This Saturday Canadian Friend and I decided to go to a festival that was held at this far away temple. I hopped onto the train and then we took a walk for about 1,5 hours to get to the place. Once there we found out we were about 5 hours too early. So we waited and ate chocolate bananas and were offered to buy “Japanese culture”. Some highschool boys were selling it outside the temple, because their school was right next to it, and to get some cash for the class they had hand-made stuff in a crate they were willing to sell to us for some rediculous price. They went crazy when I declined in Japanese after they having tried to sell it to us in English. It was pretty funny to see their faces after that.

The festival was definitely worth going to, but while waiting my back started hurting like hell, because we were squeezed in between loads of other people who were trying to get good places to see from since the front was packed with photographers who were blocking the sight to the temple quite well sometimes. After waiting from half past 3 to 8 the minor show finally started. I’ve taken some pictures and (soundless) movies of the intro, and also when the real stuff started and ended (8:45-9:00). They basically were driving out evil spirits and devils by burning the temple. This forced the fire brigade to be ready at the scene, both before and after, by spraying the temple with water. But in the end it was a nice event with cool effects. I just hate my camera for not recording sound. Some movies might seem long and boring, but at least look at the last ones if any (though all of them are worth it if you have the time in my opinion) and you will see the devils being driven away, and some fighters showing their skills at slaying the beasts. I am uploading the pictures to the gallery as there are about 30 of them and none of them felt any exciting to lis there since I have the movies.

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Today’s word is harau – to exorcise

In a far, far away friend’s apartment, a not so long time ago 3/3

Darth Vader has become Daasu Beidaa, R2D2 has become Aatsu Deetsu (which isn’t really that different to the stupid Swedish subtitle name Artoo Detoo he has received back home) and I don’t even know if they named Chewbacca. Luke has become surnameless and our good old Han is now known as only Solo. It really did take some time to figure out that they were naming some characters the Japanese way and some the western way. Yes, you’ve figured it right. I’ve watched Star Wars this weekend, and in Japanese no less!!

Canadian Friend has bought the trilogy on DVD so we gathered this weekend to watch “episodo yon – rararararara kanji”. We had royal entertainment the whole night if you excuse the pun, and I even bought icecream from a machinevendor. I think I’ve seen the strangest machinevendors in Japan ever. Drink ones are common, and cigarette can be found at least in England, so those two I had seen before coming to Japan, but this icecream, and also a battery one during above mentioned festival, and then the warmfood one with hotdogs and crap, it’s amazing what you can actually find. In any case, feasting on that icecream we watched the first movie and heard classics like “I’ve got a bad feeling about this“, “May the Force be with you” (I seriously wish my classmate would stop repeating that one in the classroom…. OTL), and “That is no moon, it is a space station“, all in Japanese. Could the evening have been better? I think not.

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Today’s word is teikoku(the) empire

Video Japan VIII 5/3

Alright, do I have some cool videos for you today or what! I have both music, game, and movie movies. Movie movies… Well, whatever.

Another song of the Japanese metal band Metal Safari. It is difficult to say which one is better, I like them both. If I can I’m getting their CD but from what I’ve found out, I think the only way to buy it is through their homepage. I’ve search countless stores and it is nowhere to be found.

A movie sequence from a game I’m going to buy once I get my hand on a Wii. It is called Fire Emblem and is a very popular series in Japan. This latest game is the 10th in the series, starting on old NES and now making it’s way to Wii. It is a mix of strategy and RPG and it is the only of its kind to any console if I’m correct.

This clip would be fun even if you didn’t know of Star Trek I think, but you won’t get the finer bits of humour if you haven’t seen the series I think. No matter, the clip in itself is really funny. It’s not sick humour, just plain goofy one. Made my MadTV, a show just like Saturday night live.

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Today’s word is omoshiroihilarious

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