Sunday, 31 May 2009

Two Years In Japan

I know I haven't written in a while. Either I must be having TOO MUCH FUN, and too busy to write, or else I have nothing worthwhile to mention.

Well, today I have something of note to say. I have finally hit the two year mark of being in Japan!

The time has gone fairly quickly. While I have no regrets being here, at times it feels like I'm dragging my feet and every day is exactly the same. I know this might sound strange, but sometimes I forget I'm living in Tokyo.

With my ears blown away from a too loud iPod, I fail to notice I am the only foreigner on the train. I have assimilated so well, that I think that there are too many gaijin in this country. Can't be good for we Japanese, can it?

The other day drinking, one of the other teachers cottoned onto the realization that I am THE "Jimmy In Japan". Made me feel special for a few seconds while downing my Long Island Iced Tea. First time I've had one of these. They pack a nice punch. A "happy hour" indeed. Can't wait for the next outing.

So I raise my glass to you Japan. Thanks for the good times and eye candy. Little by little may I learn a bit more Japanese as every day passes. Another year rolls on to better and "funner" things!

Oh. Thanks for all the enquiries about my black guitar. SOLD! The only way is up.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Assemble Dissemble

Like I hinted at a few posts back, I decided today to swap the necks on my JEMs.

I've been thinking about doing it for days now, but I wanted to have plenty of time to slowly pull them both apart. I didn't want anything bad to happen from lack of concentration.

About 10:15 I started the delicate operation and finished around 12:45.

First I had to figure out what to put behind the floating tremolo bridges to stop them from getting pulled into the cavity. It's not that large so I stuffed a bathroom hand towel in both guitars propping up the bridge.

Then I took the strings off both guitars.

After that, off came the necks! Surprisingly the neck screws were quite easy to loosen from the neck with a screwdriver. The BRMR neck dropped out easily, while the Vine neck was a little more snug in the pocket. Some very careful movements allowed me to prize them apart.

Each part is stamped for identifying. The vine neck didn't though. I took pictures for when I sell, I can prove where each part came from.

From there I assembled everything back into position.

I decided to take the mirror plate off one headstock to put it on the vine neck. It was a little tricky to remove it. The double sided tape was stuck hard. After many small movements I finally set it free. It was still sticky enough to put directly on the other guitar.

The truss rod plate screws and string retainers were more difficult to unscrew than the necks! I managed to put the necks and strings on. Thankfully there wasn't any problem with the action or buzzing, and more importantly, I didn't cause any damage to either guitar. Bringing both guitars back into tune, there weren't any problems.

I think it was a success!

The BRMR looks fantastic with a vine. I have all the soft toys around my guitar, not to make it Kawaii cute, but to hide the mess on the couch.

The black guitar looks better than I expected. Even without the vine it still exudes an understated classiness.

Both the body and neck look clean without dents or scratches. There are just some light pick scratches on the scratchplate that are hardly noticeable.

Like I said before, I'm willing to sell this guitar. Please message me if you're interested!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Aisu Creamu

Out of character for a Sunday we got up early. Why?

Marusho, a supermarket in Yotsuya Sanchome has a 30% discount of icecream on Sundays. The last time we went they were sold out of what we wanted. So.. we got our 7 pack Morinaga chocolate ice bars!

Because we got up so early I thought it'd be a good idea to have a mini picnic in Yoyogi Park. Unlike Shinjuku Goen, this place is free, popular and you might get to see some cosplayers on the Harajuku bridge. We brought some bakery food to snack on and watch the passing parade.

It was so hot today. About 27 degrees celsius! It feels like summer is on it's way. I wore shorts for the first time this year.

When we got home I thought I'd get another box of el-cheapo ice blocks. This time we got Meiji's Strawberry bars instead.

To my surprise the Morinaga bars were smaller than the ones you get at the combinis. Still they were a good little bargain on a hot day.

Actually I prefered the Meiji icecreams. To me it tasted like the icecream we get when we go to a nearby Shabu Shabu restaurant.

One icecream that I'm really getting a taste for is Haagan Daaz green tea Icecream. I never knew this stuff existed! It's becoming a close favourite to their Azuki Milk.

Yum.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A Tale Of Two Jems

Today I slept through my alarm and had twenty minutes to catch my train to not be late for work. Somehow I actually made it. But what makes me even more happy is I've got another one..

I kept it secret 'til now. I held back until I actually had it in my arms.

Last Monday, the same day I went to the aquarium I put a bid on an Ibanez JEM "bad horsie" BRMR mirror guitar that was on Yahoo Auctions before leaving house.

This is the same one that got me started to buying a JEM in the first place. I missed out on the one from America and when I saw the beat up one in Akihabara, I knew this is the one I REALLY wanted.

At the aquarium I checked the auction and I was shocked no-one tried to bid over me. I was debating whether I really needed it, and at the eleventh hour I was getting cold feet and was considering bailing out on it. It didn't help that the gf was giving me dirty looks.

So fast forward to today. This one's come from Hokkaido and I can't believe how fast I got it. Just two days! Nice.

It was packed really well. Lots of bubblewrap to play with.
Upon opening the case I was in awe. It looks great.

On closer inspection I found a few imperfections.

In a lot of ways the black mirror JEM is in better condition than this, apart from the neck, which I think looks newer on this baby.

In person that mirror looks like a million bucks. Pictures don't do it justice at all. To top it off (literally), the guy had put a mirror plate on the headstock to match the body. Nice touch.

The only thing that I'm thinking of doing is swapping the neck for the vine neck on my BK.

I'd really have to sell the 77VBK as there's no point in keeping them both, right?

So, I'll put it out there.

If anyone is interested in my black mirror JEM, send me a private message on that little box on your right. Preferably someone in Japan, or possibly in Australia where it'd be easier to arrange a direct deposit into my home account.

They both are sweet looking and sounding guitars. Can we keep them? Pllleeeeze..

Monday, 4 May 2009

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Sometimes I have selective hearing.

I hear what I want to hear, and everything else can just switch.. off.

And so it was when I heard "zoo, aquarium", I missed that word "free" until today.

Today is "Greenery Day". No, not Green Day, unfortunately.

Some would say it's a day to be one with nature, but more importantly it means free admission to a few zoos and the aquarium.

Even though it was getting late from my sleeping in, we made a late exit to give us a few hours at Tokyo Sea Park.

As we should have known, it was pretty busy. We had a half hour to enter, and a lot of the aquarium windows were covered in people making it a little hard to see the little fishies.

Compared to the Osaka aquarium, I thought it was better there, but still I think we got our money's worth :)

I guess the particular highlight of this place were the giant tuna swimming pretty fast. In the low light it was hard to take an unblurry pic of these guys. I wasted a lot of my low battery to get a good picture. I will have my sushi revenge!

Because of that I missed out on taking good photos of the outdoor penguins. I had to settle for iPhone snaps.

To get to Tokyo Sea Life Park you catch the Keiyo (NOT Keio) line to Kasai Rinkai Koen station. (On the same line it'll take you to Tokyo Disneyland).

Not a bad day out.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Campingu Part II

Golden Week has started well with perfect weather for camping.

Along with a few other guys (sadly not too many Japanese girls want to "rough it"), on Wednesday we made our way towards Shizuoka prefecture to strike camp in the Kawanishi, Yamakita area for three days.

Unfortunately there aren't any detailed satellite maps, but you can find where our exact location was from these co-ordinates :

35°22'36.87"N139° 1'53.26"E

Our rendezvous at Kanazawa Bunko station was to be around 11:30. I arrived 20 minutes late, and the other one arrived an hour later! From there we went to Costco to get some food, and more importantly alcohol supplies.
It's my first time there. By the looks of things, it's quite popular with the Japanese, even though there's a hefty 4,000 yen membership fee to shop there. Basically it's a huge warehouse with just about everything you'd be looking for, from tents and watches, to clothing and food.

There were a few sample stations where Sampleman got his fix. I had to wait a while getting some Ferrero Rocher chocolate, because some kids were hogging the chocolate. I got lost from the others as I was waiting but thankfully it didn't take too long to rejoin them.

We spent around 21,000 yen here. On the way out we also got tasty pizza slices and sickly sweet guava smoothies.

The first spot we scouted out looked a bit too residential, and we couldn't find an access road to get us close to the river. I wasn't too keen about here anyway. It reminded me of the homeless people living along the river near Kawasaki.

The second place was much better. There was an official camping area but there was no one in the office so we didn't want what happened last time on the Kujukuri-hama, Chiba trip, so we camped out closer (which I liked better) to the river.

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking..

On the first night we grilled some beef stir-fry, which took no time to cook. The steaks on the second night took much longer to cook and didn't taste as good to me.

We didn't have too much trouble getting a fire started with the help of lots of wood and some lighter fluid.

This one looks like a dog leaping out!

It was so cold at night. The fire really helped to keep us warm. The temperature changed quite a bit. It was about 10 degrees(C) at night and 18-20 during the day. The tents were like saunas in the morning.
I'm glad I brought my SLR. The photos came out great, like the 'fireworks" from my slow shutter speed.

This is the river behind our camping area. I'm glad the pictures lined up well to do this panorama shot. Click the picture to see the detail.

I went swimming twice.

The water was so freezing that I couldn't stay in too long. I was feeling numb in my legs and arms.

It was very invigorating! A nice way to wake up.


On the Friday we packed up, but before driving home we went to Gotemba near Mt Fuji.

Here, we went to the Gotemba Outlet shops where they had a lot of boutique brands selling at discounted prices. We didn't check out any of the stores. Instead we bought ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. I had a green tea one with cake.

Finally I've gotten to see Mt Fuji.

The sun was going down, but it helped me capture some moody shots like this one.

I'm really hoping that this year I'll get to climb to the top this year. One of those things I HAVE to cross off my list.

As we made our way home we stopped for refreshments at the biggest rest stop area I've ever been to at Ebina.

I got a more satisfying icecream, as well as bakery pastries and some Tokyo banana creme cakes. I heard they were famous in Japan so I decided it would be good to try them.

Yummo!

That night we planned to go to AgeHa, but instead ended up at Camelot in Shibuya. I've been really wanting to check out Ageha so it was a little disappointing at this quite ordinary hip-hop club. They didn't ever play songs the whole way through! The girls weren't too bad. Maybe a little too young, but still some eye candy.

Blurry-eyed I caught one of the first trains home at 5:30.

Although quite sunburnt, it's been a nice start to my holidays. A "golden" week indeed.