Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy B'Day Sweet Baby Jesus!

On Tuesday I decided to pack up my new Les Paul and EMS it back home.

I used a heap of 100 yen tape to put together a makeshift guitar box out of the Pepsi boxes that seller "kindly" gave me. A true PITA!! I probably should have sent it earlier as it's not going to make it there for Christmas Day, but it will be fun "racing" it back to Australia. I'm glad I sent this one instead of the Tele. 10.3Kg would be no fun carting to Narita.

I left home with good timing. This time I adhered closely to my list and up to now it seems I hadn't forgotten anything. The dolls, the Elmo, the guitar stuffs, iPhone and oh, some clothes too.

The usual 9 hour flight was stretched out to about 13 hours. It wasn't so bad. I watched four movies - 500 Days Of Summer, Funny People, Up and District 9. All good. I'd recommend them all.

500 Days has Zooey Deschanel who I like because she reminds me of Katy Perry who I also "admire" DEEPLY. Anyway, this film won me over with the Tourette's-like yelling of the P word. Secret be told that during my time in Japan I have devised an entire language using that sole word. Seeing this made me giggle like a schoolgirl on the inside.

District 9 was better than others made out. A truly, original film. Definitely much better than that um, 2012 film that I talked up. Funny People was pretty good too. I could actually take Adam Sandler seriously in this one. IT was great to see Eric Bana act with his true Aussie accent. Pretty funny! Up was a nice animation, reminiscent of Pixar's kind of stories. It was real sad when his Ellie dies. Oh spoiler, s*** sorry!

The transit stops in Taipei and Hong Kong were made less boring by the free internet access. What did we do before the internet?

Arriving back in Brisbane I was so tired. I can't sleep on planes, and I wanted to see all those movies too. I'm sure drinking the complimentary beer didn't help either. I'm glad my Tele got back to me in one piece. "Free" delivery, YAY!

Brisbane welcomed me with muggy humidity. I know it was Christmas Day and quiet, but this place seems VERY slow compared to Tokyo. It was too overcast to do too much today so I took my car for a drive and played my guitars.

Good to be home again.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Tomorrow Wendy

The last day before I head back to Australia, we had two things to do -

1. Go see the Christmas Shinjuku Lights and Suica Penguins near Takashimaya Square, and 2. Go to Wendy's for the first and last time.

The Suica Penguin is still one of our favourite characters here in Japan. Damn, any penguin is still cool in our books!

I hadn't bought the gf a Christmas present yet and I was truly stumped what to get her. I thought the best idea was to go to a clothing store and get her to choose something. She liked a United Colors of Benetton jacket that was on sale for 14,000 yen. It looked good. Problem solved.

Not long ago Wendy's announced that they would be closing down in Japan on the 31st of December. Apparently Wendy's are the third biggest burger chain in the world. Strangely enough the ones in Australia sell icecream so I think it must be somebody else.

Seeing that I wouldn't be here, we thought it'd be good to try them out before they are gone for good. Looks like other Japanese think the same thing, as there have been more people than usual since the announcement.
These burgers aren't half bad! I'd have to say they are at least on par with Burger King or better. Better than Macca's, but that's not too hard. Shame about them leaving.

Maybe in many years time they'll rise like a phoenix and come back like Burger King did. Who knows?

I'd like to dedicate this song to them ;) See YOU!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cow A Saki

Instead of the usual militaristic kindergarden classes today I was assigned to do time in Kawasaki.

Not bad, I like it there. It's a little Yokohama, and that's not such a bad thing. It gave me the chance to head to my favourite Hard Off store in that vicinity. I got tempted more than once, guitar stuffs, hentai doll stuffs, everything!

They had a 20% UP promotion which I thought was a discount, but it looks like the "up" means some kind of extra cash for what you sell to them.

Although I could've bought more than I did I only got an Evangelion EX Daibouken Figure: Dark Brigade - Asuka hentai doll. Pantsu you see.. hmm.. OH, and a guitar, but you're sick of hearing me talking that huh?

By the time I got back near work I went to the B Select store, another kind of Off, and saw two watches, One that looks like the JR Yamanote train signs, and another Pimpin' Ain't Easy one that was pretty difficult to read the time. Who would buy SUCH things? Um.. I did.. both of them -_-

Anyway.. after a fairly good day I was surprised to be invited to an impromptu last Christmas party at an izakaya after work. It was up near the top of one of the buildings, and the view over Kawasaki was fantastic.

A great "Last Christmas" finale before I head home!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Inokashira Park and my new LP Custom

I don't know what it was about this week but I got quite a bit of rudeness from Japanese people in a relatively short space of time. Japanese rude? Yes, I'm afraid so.

One day I was actually DISSUADED from buying a Sony UMPC that had a very nice sticker price. The Sofmap salesman flatly told me there was no adapter, no guarantee. Basically if it didn't turn on, too bad. Now that probably doesn't sound so bad, but the WAY he said it made it seem like he didn't want to deal with a foreigner possibly complaining.

I went to Macdonalds for a coffee while I searched the internet about the cost of an adapter and a battery. Seems like it wasn't too bad so I went back to the store. Unsurprisingly by the time I got back it was gone. I was NOT happy :(

Another time I was in Maccas having my meal. I sat at a 4 person table because there weren't any single seats available after I got my order. Before I was even finished I was told by a server that where I was sitting there had to be at least 3 people. She didn't offer me another seat. I suppose she just expected me to hurry up and leave.

On Friday before I had to go to Ikebukuro, I decided to go and take a look at a Les Paul Custom in Kichijoji that had a GREAT price. I was circling the block for 30+ minutes looking for a guitar shop. Time was almost running out. I had to get to work but I didn't want to waste my train fare and time coming here.

In desperation I asked passers-by for help with the address. A woman totally ignored me and kept on walking. The next guy was MUCH more helpful. Not only did he help me find them but also called them on HIS phone to find where they were! So much of my faith in Japanese had been restored at that very moment. Looks like there is some kindness in this world after all.

To my surprise the shop I had been looking for was actually just an apartment, and a very small one at that! The guy said someone else was coming to look at the guitar that afternoon but I could call back later. He let me take a look at it, but I didn't get the chance to test it out. It was obviously used but considering it's condition and the price it wasn't too bad.

With help from the gf she organised a time today to try again and get the chance to buy it. The person coming to see it didn't buy it but what peeved me was that he held it for that person but he said if someone came in the meantime he would not hold it for me. That made me so mad.

Luckily it was still there. I didn't have an all-nighter from last night's party so I could wake up with a level head. I was surprised I didn't have much of a hangover at all. I might have to give up that trashy cheap chu-hi I've been drinking. Looks like the biru is much better for me.

We got there and I tried it out. It sounded fine and he was helpful enough to pull it apart to show me the wiring and insides of the guitar. I took a lot of photos so I wouldn't have to pull it apart myself. I asked for a discount but he did that Japanese laugh and said, "NO discount, you won't find guitar at this price". Sad to say, he was right, but he didn't have to be an a**hole about it. Rubbing salt in he also said there'd be no guarantee but he could arrange repairs at a price. Great. He didn't even give me a guitar cardboard box he had outside saying they were for his business. ahh.. right. Hello? He gave me some Pepsi boxes to make my own. Thanks..

We made our way nearby to Inokashira Park.

It's the first time I'd been there. They have a nice lake and some boats. I definitely recommend to check it out.

Nice huh? Only a few more days to vacation. Can't wait.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

'Tis the Season To Be Yopparai

I managed to go to two Christmas Parties this year. The first, in Aobadai, I wasn't expecting to be any good. Aobadai is the kind of place where young people settle down to start their families. It's very residential so as you can gather, my expectations were quite low.

One of my regular students kept pestering me to come along to the school parties, so seeing that I didn't have any alternative plans, I decided to stick around.. for three and a half hours! I was considering having a sleep in the kids classroom but somehow I stayed awake until party time.

There was a good mix of people. About half and half guys and girls and even another two teachers came along as well! It just goes to show that if you give us an incentive to be at work unpaid for our troubles we might actually show up!

There was another school's party I planned to go to. Especially when I saw their memo in the teacher's room. I don't know about you, but "On The House" in my language usually means "my treat/shout". Apparently in Japanese it means 3,000 yen? When I showed them the poster, they said it was a mistake. It was up for about 3 weeks. Pass. No, thank you.

Anyway, the one that I most look forward to each year is the Yokohama Christmas party.

I was also asked to go to the Shinjuku party on the same night enticed by free alcohol and no cost to teachers, but I'd have to backtrack and I also thought I'd go straight to Yokohama instead of going home to change.

I arrived a little earlier so I had a drink or two in the teacher's room. I was surprised looking out that quite a few students had shown up filling out the foyer in no time. It was strange to be stared at, but with a little push from the SD I went out to mingle.

For some reason tonight lacked a certain something that I had felt in previous years. I still had a great time and had a lot of fun conversation and drinking with my peers and students.

The after party was going to be at another bar but somehow between closing time and the bathroom, I found myself heading home on one of the final trains. I had other plans for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Michael Jackson in Yokohama!

As per usual station beers is still alive and well after a hard day's work in Yokohama.

It's been quite different lately with one of the clan absent for quite a while, but last I heard he's doing better. If you're reading this, there're a lot people missing you 'round here! Come back soon ya' hear?

Anyway, it's always interesting and amusing to see what happens as people make their way home going back to the station. Tonight we were fortunate to witness a live performance from a Michael Jackson wannabe. I didn't have my camera with me, so unfortunately it's iPhone video for you. Here you go..

He came closer to us and one of the new guys got into conversation with him which meant he was hard to get to leave. First rule of station beer club, do NOT make contact with any salaryman, or any old Japanese men for that matter. That means NO eye contact too buddy. This rule is thrown out the window when we're talking about those sweet J girls.

Quite a long while back I mentioned how some mothers thought I looked like Matsumoto Jun. For some reason, mentioning that brought quite a few admirers to my blog (him, not me). Now that my hair is much longer and tied back most of the time, those comparisons have pretty much disappeared. Sorry girls.

You'll be pleased to know no doubt that our good friend Jun is now peddling finger lickin' chicken for KFC. Good work bro.The KFC checkout chick surely thought I was strange taking this pic. "Crazy gaijin desu" so, so, so..

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Twenty Twelve

It's not long since I went last to the cinema, but I really wanted to see 2012 on the big screen.

I spoke briefly about discount movie theater tickets in Japan, but I didn't really give much detail. The normal adult price is 1,800 yen for an adult. If you go between 3.30 and 6PM on a WEEKDAY it's 1,200 yen. On the first of the month it's 1,000 yen!

Again we went to Wald9 in Shinjuku. The only problem was that the only session that we could both make was at 11.50PM! It wasn't an ideal time, but I'm up late most nights so it wasn't a big deal. I was quite surprised how many people that showed up. I'm sure they all lived relatively close by, because no trains are running when it finished.

From watching the trailers, I think the movie is a "must see" on the big screen. The images and sound really warrant it. The storyline was pretty good. The gf thought it was really funny. Yes, an apocalyptic end of the world movie is hilarious. Some parts were a bit over the top, but that's Hollywood for you.

Just like Mt Fuji, it's wise to go once, fool to see it again. That's my verdict.