Monday, 29 December 2008

Strange Days

I didn't feel comfortable driving without a licence. Knowing my luck, I'd be pulled over when I least expect it.

I went to the Department of Transport office in Rosalie only to find out it would be closed until Friday! There was however a note down the bottom stating the office in Spring Hill was open.

My brother was leaving back to Sydney today, so on the way to the airport I was dropped off to renew another five year licence. For $71.05 it's a bit expensive considering I'm still living in Japan. Who knows how long I'll be there for?

So far it looks like it'll be living there a while yet. Maybe it's just a slow time of year, but I'm pretty bored being here. I can't remember it being this slow and quiet before.

I walked through the city after getting the licence. Like last time it felt strange. I've gotten so used to Tokyo now that it's here I feel awkward. Again, the sounds of English, and I mean AUSTRALIAN English, sounds foreign!

Right now my biggest decision is whether to chop off my locks or not. Now THAT is a tough choice to make.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Sunday Driver

After a long sleep I finally woke up at 3pm. This is not so bad. Quite often I wake up in Tokyo at 2pm, so business as usual for me!

Although I haven't renewed my licence yet, I HAD to drive my car again. I got my chance today as the whole family went to Sizzler in Toowong for dinner. Luckily there weren't any cops around.

It was fantastic to get behind the wheel of my Mx-5. If there's one thing I really miss here it's my car and the freedom it gives me.

Sizzler's the McDonalds of restaurant dining, but I can't explain how happy I was to see this.

Yes, that's right. It's a steak. Thick, juicy and it was still cooking when it got to my table.

Japanese food is delicious for sure, but a man needs meat to grow big and strong!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

You Know Where You Are? I Forgot

Can you have too much of a good thing? Probably not.

For the second night in a row, I made it a mission to go once more to the Down Under for some more good times.

We arrived earlier this time around 7.30pm so it took a while for things to pick up.

Generally speaking it wasn't as good as last night, but it was good to catch up with some more friends.

There were some girls sitting in front of us, but they were quite lame to talk with.

Not much better were the Korean girls that didn't keep our interest for long.

I can't help to notice how quiet Brisbane is to Tokyo. Maybe a lot of people are on holidays elsewhere, but apart from this bar the rest of the city felt deserted.

To end the night we had a kebab. Ah, the good ol' days!

Friday, 26 December 2008

You Know Where You Are?

I have to make the most of my time here as much as possible.

Arriving before the weekend is always a big plus, so after having a bit of a sleep during the day I was looking forward to a night at my favourite little watering hole, the Down Under Bar!

Accompanied by my bros, we had a real good night with a great crowd.

It wasn't long before it was time for tequila.

A very nice surprise was to catch up with a good friend who I met in Tokyo. Good to see you again! Sweet.

Needless to say it was an excellent all-nighter for me. Good times with good people.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Jimmy's Magical Christmas Toy Run

I'm not good at packing.

I left it until the last day and sure enough I forgot my razor and a few other non-essential items. I arrived in plenty of time at the airport.

It's one heck of a long trip getting to Narita airport. Going through customs took no time at all.

The plane was meant to leave at 8.20pm, but it didn't leave for close to an hour later. I had a good seat on the plane with lots of legroom and a spare seat next to me, but I didn't get to sleep though.

Surprisingly, one of the other teachers was on the same plane. What are the chances of that?

Arriving at the Gold Coast airport I was welcomed by rain and a bit of humidity. It wasn't so bad, even though I was wearing two jackets and a jumper, so I wouldn't have to carry them along with my bag.

My toys made it safe to Australia, although I found it strange that my suitcase lock was missing. What's so suspicious about a suitcase full of UFO catcher toys?

I drove home in my dad's car. It feels fantastic to drive a car again.

Brisbane here I come!

Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart

The shops were busy yesterday. It's also the last time (for this year), I get to hear the strains of "Last Christmas". Don't people realize it's a BREAK UP song? Being in English probably not. Also I can do without Mariah's "All I Want For Christmas" too.

Thanks.

Coming home pretty drunk I couldn't wait to give my presents.

I got the gf a "ping pong Dash" t-shirt and a Suica penguin 3-in-1 adapter. She told me she liked the shirt everytime we went to that shop so I figured it'd make a good present. She pretty much likes Suica penguin anything, so the other one was a no-brainer too. She can use it with her laptop and charging her mp3 player. Cool huh?

I got some Japanese books that I can't read, some biscuits and a hair band. I guess I have to learn to read Japanese then, won't I?

Still haven't fully packed for Australia yet. Hopefully it won't take too long. Leaving tonight.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Tears On A Razor Blade

I've finally started to use the replacement Gillette blades that I bought back in March.

As you can see the one I've been using for a YEAR AND SEVEN MONTHS is looking a little worse for wear. That's right, since I arrived in Japan!

Even with shaving cream, it was really starting to feel like I was ripping my face apart. At least I know how far I can use these to (my) breaking point.

For some reason Gillette market the blue blades for the non-powered razor. It happens to be a little cheaper, but it fits and works just the same as the proper ones. So, don't pay extra for a colour co-ordinated orange. Blue looks fine.

I have to say I had a much more comfortable shave today.

Station beers was a little more in-house tonight. Considering it was Christmas Eve and the last drinks for 2008, we stayed indoors with a few more of the staff and other teachers.

See you next year guys. Cheers.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Geek Like Me

In my final days I couldn't stop myself from checking out Nakano Broadway.

Going there every week is fairly pointless as most of the stuff stays the same, but it's been quite a few months, so in the limited time before work I jumped off the train to the land of hentai dolls and other retro toy junk.

It was quite satisfying. I first gazed upon the retro handhelds. Most of the same games were still there. Upstairs there was an assortment of Gundams and hentai dolls but no, I didn't buy anything today.

Tonight I did a preliminary packing of my suitcase. This involved mostly taking all my hentai dolls and Gundams (ha ha) out of their packaging, and putting the stuffed toys I have accumulated over this year. While it's not full as last year's suitcase, it's still more than I expected to carry (sigh).

Let this be a lesson to the catcher addict.

The good news is that so far with my trusty new electronic scales, the total weight so far is only 11kg, meaning I have the opportunity to stuff another 9kg of crap in there. Great!

Only 2 more sleeps to go.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Tokyo Reality

This was shot by the guys from Akihabara News on a Digital SLR Camera, namely the Canon 5D Mark II. It looks nothing short of amazing.

It really conveys the feeling of living in Tokyo.

I kind of miss my video camera that I decided to bring back home last time. Recently I'd be toying with the idea of getting a HD camera that was smaller than the one I have, and being able to edit them on my mac. I read a lot about the AVCHD digital format used for the latest line of camcorders.

From what I read, it seems like you need some pretty high-end, powerful gear in order to edit videos which feels like a hassle.

An alternative to all this is the Nikon D90 DSLR which being a step up from the D80 also includes a movie mode! In essence I'd be able to do cinematic HD filming on a camera, and I'd finally be able to auto-focus with my fisheye as well as other older lenses my D40x can't focus with. Imagine, fisheye movies!

The only small drawbacks are manual focusing movies, and a sensor-imposed 5 minute limit (at full resolution). Oh, and mono sound, but that's not a biggie. I had a play with it in Yodobashi. It was quite fun.

So in a nutshell, if I get this camera I should be able to do videos similar to the one at the start of this post. Cool huh?

So where was I? In less than a week I am back in Akihabara. I arrived quite late and didn't manage my time so well. I bought a lens so whoever gets my D40x can use it, with a lens. I bought a cheap but good, 18-55mm for 7,480 yen.

My plan was to run to the best priced place to get a D90 (for 73,500 yen), but I was too late. Looks like if I want to get this I'll have to go ONCE more to Akky. Sigh.

It wasn't the only thing I got. Oh no.

I got a Powerbank battery pack (4400 Mah) that I can use on my iPod, iPhone, Nintendo DS, and even the old Windows phone too when they run out of juice.

Battery life ain't that great on 3G, so this'll be useful. I got it from here, but be aware, I got the last one left.

Sorry.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

A Cow Says "Mo Mo"

I've been a bit lax lately writing posts so first, a quick recap for the highlights of my week:

On Monday I decided to go to Hachioji once more to check out the "Off" stores for some bargains. I noticed Astro Wars was still there and discounted to around 2,000 yen. Still didn't make me want it more. That thing is more than thirty years old!

My real reason for going there was to find some bathroom scales.

For two reasons - I keep getting asked if I am losing more weight more than too many times lately AND, there's a strict 20kg baggage restriction with Jetstar that I want to keep to if possible for my flight home.

I didn't find any there but when I got to Tachikawa, I still had enough time to walk to the Treasure Factory and found a Winnie the Pooh one for 800 yen and an electronic one for 2,000 yen. I held off thinking I should look around a bit before plonking down my yen.

Later on I thought it wasn't too bad, and checking Bic Camera, electronic ones go for between 4,000-5,000 yen for the cheapest. I didn't have enough time to go back so I thought if it was still there I'd go back the following week.

On Tuesday, station beers was put on hold for a night out at an izakaya with a bunch of people from the Yokohama school. The only negative thing is no matter what time you get there, the bill is split evenly. So, that was coughing up 4,000 yen. Ouch.

A particular highlight was the train home watching a guy, who not long before I got on had done a spectacular vomit all over the floor near the doors. It was a purplish colour with chunks and liquid streaming to quite a large area of the train. Impressive!

I had my SLR camera with me and I SO wanted to capture this moment. It was priceless. Too many people may have thought that a tad insensitive, so I didn't.

The rest of the week has been arts and crafts, doing Christmas lessons with a surprising amount of success. Lots of candy and chocolate. Bonus!

Tonight I have finalised all my plans for Christmas presents, so it's one less thing I have to worry about. Have you been good? Santa MAY come pay you a visit this year. Maybe.

I DID get an electronic scales that looks just like the one I passed up in Tachikawa at Eda's Treasure Factory for 1,000 yen!

Super fantabulous!

There was also a really old looking, "analog" bathroom scales for 300 yen. Although it worked fine, it looked like junk. This one was covered in styrofoam and plastic, so it looked pretty much as new. It still had a battery in it, so I could see that it worked. There was a lbs/kg switch that looked like it was missing, but considering it showed kg's, that's all I need.

I really like this shop. There was a whole lot of stuff I'd really like to buy, but my lack of impulse stopped that pretty quick.

In Shibuya tonight we were really hungry, so by chance we stumbled upon the interestingly named Mo Mo Paradise, a shabu shabu/sukiyaki chain.

We had to wait around an hour because the place was busy.

To kill some time we played "Nintendo" strength test on my new scales. I also took the opportunity for a few pictures around the waiting area.

After the disappointment of the local shabu-shabu in Yotsuya, I was quite pleased with this place.

It was 1890 yen each all-you-can-eat for 90 minutes. As soon as we ordered another plate, it was there in no time. Fantastic.

I have to say I liked the beef more than the pork. The pork was a little fatty, but the beef wasn't, and was sliced in really big pieces. We got stuffed with meat well before ninety minutes was up. It's not only in Shibuya, so I definitely recommend this place for a decent cheap feed of MEAT, and lots of it.

I'll be back.

Finally I just want to mention I got a merlion biscuit today.

As you can see it's a cross between a mermaid and a lion. It's a symbol of Singapore.

Personally I prefer a liger, the cross between a lion and a tiger and "bred for it's skills in magic" (see Napoleon Dynamite, just do it).

Over and Out.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Neko

Under the apartment there are some baby cats that the apartment owner has taken under his wing.

I like how the basket looked with the natural lamp light hanging over them. I couldn't resist to take their photo.

Kawaii, ne?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Party Time!

Like I promised here are a choice selection of the almost fifty photos I took last night at the Christmas party in Yokohama last night.

Instead of saying too much I think I'll just let the pictures tell most of the story.








The moral of this story is.. I like to surround myself with cute genki girls and weird J-boys.

You probably noticed some cream on my chin. I hammed it up in one of the other's photos by smearing my face, and no-one told me there was still some around my chin. Bastards!

With a great turn-out of between forty and fifty people I think it's safe to say the night was a complete success. Of course the only thing that could bring the night down would be the inevitable karaoke post-party. I was there for about five minutes.

I made a very quick decision to just leave while I was still good, and managed to not get the train straight back home but the next best thing, to Shinjuku and find my way home from there.

It's strange that all the schools have their Christmas party on the same night. I was debating which one to go to but after this night, I know I made the right decision. I was with the people I really care about, and that's all that matters.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Wait For It

Just a moment..

I want to thank all the people that listened to me, ever, and even the people that didn't like me for no reason other than that they decided that was their choice, before they even let me prove myself. Not that I ever had to justify myself to anyone.

Tonight I feel like I know who are the people I trust, and the ones that are truly my friends. I've always tried to be honest to myself, and expect others to do the same for me. I really enjoyed myself tonight.

Arigato

I missed the last train, and walked home from Shinjuku. It gave me a lot of thinking time, about why I am here in Japan.

I NEEDED this. I'll go back soon, to remind me what was special back home, and I'll miss all the good things in Japan.

Two words.. Christmas Party! I'm too tired to post any pictures tonight. Stay tuned. Maybe tomorrow..

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Walking To Shibuya

As expected, this morning I had a killer hangover. Even around 3pm it was still bugging me.

Eventually I managed to leave the house and make my way towards Shibuya.. on foot!

Initially I was only thinking we'd walk around Yotsuya, so I could take some pretty pictures of the last yellowing leaves of early winter, soon to drop and leave the skeletal remains of the trees.

This is the path along the main road leading towards Yotsuya station.

I can't help to mock the politician on this poster that I always see on the wall near my street.

This is Yotsuya crossing looking towards the koban and Yotsuya metro station.

As it was getting darker, we kept walking alongside the Imperial Palace and Jingu Gaien noticing a lot of the fallen yellow leaves. So Pretty. It was hard to take decent non-blurry photos without the flash.

This is a random Christmas "illumination" photo in Aoyama's CI Plaza. It turned out better than I expected.

I'm told the sign next to the Coca-Cola billboard is an advertisement for a hangover medicine. Just what I needed today!

This is an interesting sculpture outside the Aoyama theatre.
This is the AO building in Aoyama. At the moment it's so new, the only part open is the Kinokuniya supermarket. It's great to see some unusual architecture in the typically dull Tokyo cityscape.

If you look carefully you can see Kiddyland on the left. One of my favourite toy shops, in Omotosando. Lots of cool stuff.

Looking for love? This may be the place, in a back street of Omotosando.

Yes, I'm immature when I read things into this.

Since we walked this far we kept on going to Shibuya, not that far away. When most people first come to Japan they read that OIOI store as "zero one zero one" or "oi oi". The latter sounds more Aussie to me. It's actually the Marui department store.

And then we went to Karaoke.. NOT! By this time we were quite hungry and decided on pizza at Shakeys. It's not the most quality food, and I kind of regret that feeling in my stomach afterwards, but for 1500 yen all you can eat, it's a good way to beat hunger in Shibuya.

It took around an hour to walk back home from Shibuya. My legs were so tired. It wasn't such a bad way to get over a hangover though.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Eight Is Enough

I haven't played the catchers for a while.. until today.

She wanted the big "Daddy" moi to complete her chick family, so seeing that I couldn't find it in any other UFO catcher I bit the bullet and decided to try for the only one here in Yokohama.

From first appearances it looked like it had to be picked up and dropped into the chute, which I thought would be impossible. I asked the staff to give me a fighting chance, and he moved the holder that was cupping the plushie in the right direction.

Without much luck I changed some more money and asked again if he could move it chotto closer. He did and I got it on the next try. Only thing is I put in a 500 yen for three tries. He only let me use them on another machine which was a bit of a waste as there wasn't anything else I wanted to play for. All up it was 1000 or 1200 yen, I think.

So this will be the last of my UFO catching days.. maybe.

After work we had station beers outside the Diamond as per usual. LH came with us to watch those pretty ladies walk past. An African guy was hanging around for a while, blocking my view which I didn't like at all.

Both BBD and LH finished their drinks before I did and wanted another so unwisely I had another chu-hi as well. It was horrible getting the train home. I was dizzy and tired.

It felt like forever getting back. Those 8% chu-hi's are dangerous. Lolly water with a sting.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Skeletons In My Closet

It's getting cold.

Walking around Shibuya I felt the first snap of Tokyo's winter freeze. Maybe it's time to get those gloves out again.

This photo is from the start of Center Gai that runs through the heart of Shibuya. Tsutaya is Japanese for "rip-off" video rental store.

Today I realized I have a new addiction. That's right, another watch.. again.

On the left is the original skelton watch I bought back in July here.

On the right is my secondhand Swatch "Body & Soul" Irony watch.

This was the original watch that I REALLY wanted. The consensus is that the LK watch looks quite a bit cheaper, albeit much easier to work out the time.

So suffering to keep up with street cred (of which I mostly lack anyway), I didn't hesitate to get it. For 4,800 yen it was a bargain. I saved that 200 yen with a discount voucher they gave me straight away too! Lucky..

To give a little bit of perspective, brand new this watch is 17,850 yen from the Swatch shop. It only had a few very light scratches and came with the original box and warranty. Looking at the papers, it's not even a year old (5/2/2008!)

Nice.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

This Strange Behaviour

Finally!

Looks like Tokyo Metro might read my blog after all.

It's great to see them "attempt" to thwart salaryman drunkenness on the train lines.

It's a lost cause of course.

If I was a typical Japanese salaryman ("work is everything" - short holidays and unpaid overtime? Yes please!), I'd want to be drunk most of the time too.

Please do It at home? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ginza Desu ka?

Hai!

Another fun-packed day at Ginza.

Before school I wanted to print out one of the photos I took at Mt Takao the other day. The good ol' Bic Camera has a lot of photo machines that bang out quick pics for just 30 yen a photo.

On my D40x camera and on my laptop the photo looked perfect, but after I printed it out I was quite disappointed.

To my eyes it had far too saturated skin tones for my liking.

I didn't have much time to ask someone so I just rushed to get to work. Of course I allowed enough time for some Kimuraya anpan. Sampleman® has NOT been pleased with the stingy amount of samples they have been giving lately.

A few hours later I was lucky to have a vacant lesson to get some food. I was hungry!

Sad to say I had a double Quarter Pounder for 490 yen at evil Mcdonalds. I know. I shouldn't have. Still hungry I bought another anpan and scoffed that back at the office.

After work I pointlessly went back to Bic and asked about my over-saturated photo, to which they said nothing could be done.

Typical Japanese response.

I figured bringing my SLR along today I should take some pics. The photos on this post are from my camera.

Enjoy..