Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A New Post?!?! ZOMG!!!!!111

Hello All,

I know it's been a while since my last post and I'm sorry for that.

I am now in the final stages of completing my Winter vacation plans. A group of friends and I have decided to hit the slopes from December 30th through January 1st. It's not a very long time, but going on a ski trip during New Year's is CHO-TAKAI! Not only do I need to pay for the hotel, transportation, lift tickets, ski wear, skis, etc., I also need to purchase some clothes that will actually be suitable for skiing. We will be traveling to Karuizawa, Nagano. It's a popular ski town during the season and it should be a lot of fun. I just saw the website for the hotel we're staying at (the Prince Hotel) and it looks really nice. I think our room(s) will have a cottage-style ambience.

More to come...

UPDATE: I won't be staying at the Prince. Instead, I'll be staying at Karuizawa 1130.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Studying for the GRE is a Bitch

The vocabulary is what gets you. Archaic and incredibly rare words flood the verbal portion. I feel it to be a tremendous imposition because the usefulness of this test to a musician is like the usefulness of a dollar to the pocket of Warren Buffett (although, apparently, he is Frugality's poster child). Take that, Analogy Section!

There is no tipping in Japan. I like it and I'd be willing to bet most consumers do, too. The Japanese people hold the belief that providing good service is part of the job, whatever it may be. They feel that you should not be paid extra for doing what you are supposed to be doing. I think there's something honest and commendable about that. Service is excellent in Japan and I'm hesitant to say that it can be matched.

Several friends and I went out Saturday night to Roppongi. I can't begin to explain what kind of area it is; you need to see it for yourself. Exciting and sleazy pretty much summarize the scene. Let's just say that at 6:00 am we ended up at this really nice apartment and I don't know how it happened. I was half asleep when we arrived and probably 80% asleep when we left. I honestly don't know what else I can say about that whole situation.

I need to decorate my apartment. Maybe I'll buy some posters that portray people having fun and then have conversations with them (my apartment is small and lonely). Japanese TV is...well, I don't really know how to describe it. Go to YouTube and search for "Japanese game show" or "Japanese TV" or something like that. I guarantee it will yield interesting results.

Bye bye.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fortunately, I Get Paid Tomorrow

Money goes quickly in Tokyo, especially when you buy a $500 keyboard and a $300 phone. Today, I will be eating ramen.

Nothing too exciting happened this weekend. Noah arrived in Japan and I got to talk to him on the phone for a couple of minutes, but he's busy with training so I probably won't see him until maybe next weekend. Yesterday, I went to Harajuku with a couple of friends. We were at the Softbank store for quite a while because Lauren was getting an iPhone and, for some reason, it takes forever. Lots of cosplayers (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay) gather in Harajuku on Sundays so it's fun to see them in all their crazy outfits.

Well, that's all for now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Two full nights out this weekend has made me a little tired. Gotta love those 5:00-6:00 am trains though. I actually fell asleep on the train (typical Japanese businessman-style) Saturday morning and missed my stop (twice) and had to go all the way back from Takadanobaba on the Seibu-Shinjuku line. It was the local train, too! UGH. It took me about 2 hours to get home and at 8:00 am I was finally ready to go to sleep. Saturday night we went to a club in Shibuya called the Liquid Room where this notable DJ of house music and another singer were performing. We got on the VIP list because my friend knew someone who knew the coordinator of the party. It was a good time. Monday night (we have Tuesday off this week because it's a holiday) we went to karaoke in Shinjuku and then stumbled around town afterwards. My friends and I found ourselves in one of the red-light districts and saw a slew of love hotels (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_hotel) and Nigerian pimps. We walked around that area for a while and then got bored with the scenery. There isn't really too much else to say. We just did the usual all-night wacky, random stuff for the rest of the evening/morning.

I'm hoping to go to Nagano this Winter for skiing and way up to Hokkaido to see the ice festival. I'm not sure when I'll make it out towards Osaka or Kyoto, but I have time. My good friend, Noah, will be coming to Japan in a couple of days. He's doing the same kind of work as me and he'll be about an hour or so away by bullet train. I'm sure fun times will ensue.

A couple new pictures are up: http://flickr.com/photos/29247809@N06/.

P.S. My cousin just got her assignment for the Peace Corps! She leaves for Lesotho, Africa in November and will be there for a couple of years. Awesome! You can check out her blog at http://nicann8.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wild Night

My goodness. A night like last's is well worth a mention. So I met up with some of my coworkers at this bar/club in Machida and had a spectacular time. Whenever I've gone out (since I've been here) I've made sure to get on the last train back to my city. It leaves at 12:44 am from Shinjuku (we usually go to Shinjuku or Shibuya). Shinjuku is only a half hour away, give or take, from my station so it's quite convenient. Machida, however, is an hour and a half away. Going there, I knew we were out for the night. The next train doesn't come until 5:00 am. We kept ourselves busy, though. Lots of dancing and drinking provided several solid hours of entertainment. By the way, watching Japanese people dance is one of the most amazing things ever. I'll admit that I don't have medal-winning moves, but this was...fantastic. Everyone is so nice and friendly, though; much more than in the States. Most gaijin (foreigners) there were British and were quick to chat my friend and me up. After a few solid hours of making a fool of myself on the dance floor (that's not true - I was awesome), we decided to get some late night fast food. Everyone's been there, right? Well, it was more like late night rice, but it sure hit the spot. On the way to and from the place where we got our food, we passed several prostitutes prostituting their way through a prostitutical evening. I couldn't make out what they were saying while propositioning us, but I'm sure it was like poetry. Hey, everyone's got to make a living, right? Actually, in Kumegawa (where I work), you'll see guys standing around the station and other open areas wearing vests. They are pimps. Now, prostitution isn't "legal", but...you know what I mean. No one is going to do anything about it. I guess it's a turn-the-other-cheek sort of thing. I asked my Japanese coworker about "these guys standing around wearing vests" and she told me, simply, that Japan was very free. Enough said.
Where was I? Oh, right - rice. Yeah, so that was good. We headed back to the bar and spent a couple more hours having a good time and then left. I didn't get to take the first train out of Shinjuku at 5:00 am because we were in Machida. So we took the 5:00 am from Machida and got to Shinjuku at 6:00 am. The 5:00 am from Shinjuku is packed full of drunk people from the previous night so, fortunately, we thwarted that one. And by packed I mean you cannot possibly fit another person. They have station attendants who are there simply to push and cram people into the train. It's ridiculous (and it looks like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axwMxUBL_ws). So I said a fleeting goodbye to my friend and she left for her station and I headed for mine. I didn't get back to my apartment until 6:45 am and I fell right asleep. It felt great.

A couple new pictures of the bar from last night are on flickr so just click the link from my last post and you'll see them.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The First Week

I'm sorry for not posting sooner, but this first week has been a very busy one. Let me begin by telling you about Cameron...

I met Cameron last night. He appeared out of nowhere - in my bathroom. I got home from my welcome party and he was just hanging out on the wall. I really wanted to kill Cameron because I make it a point not to invite cockroaches into my home. As soon as I flicked on the light and moved in to destroy him, he scurried away to places unknown and unreachable. Cameron was being a coward. So, last night, I went to bed knowing he was still in my apartment. Fortunately, I was inebriated to a point of not caring. However, about one hour ago, I came home from a night out in Shinjuku and Shibuya to find Cameron (or at least I hope it was Cameron) on the wall in the living room - that is, what you could call a living room. The audacity! I quickly ran down to the Mini Stop and bought some cockroach spray and, needless to say, Cameron is now dead and floating through the Tokyo sewer line. Cameron the Cowardly Cockroach. *It should be noted that Japanese cockroaches aren't small by any means.

Last night (before my encounter with Cameron) we had my welcome party at an izakaya - a traditional Japanese bar. It was nomihodai ("all you can drink") so we took full advantage of it. About twenty people showed up and it was a lot of fun. Many of my students were there and they loved hearing about America.

Tonight, we went to the premier restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku. If you have ever seen Lost in Translation, you'll know what I'm talking about. It is, by far, the nicest, most expensive place I have ever been to. First, it's $20 to sit down. That's just to sit down. One glass of wine can cost anywhere from $20-40. The waiter brought an appetizer menu over and they had some tenderloins you could get for the cheap price of $110. My friend and I only sat in the bar area so I can't imagine the prices for actual meals. This place was unbelievable though. They were certainly puttin' on the ritz. The Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo is one of the hallmarks of sophistication and beauty in the world. One night in their cheapest room is around $750 per person. The view is great though because it looks over all of Tokyo and displays a beautifully lit skyline.

I uploaded a few photos to my Flickr account. You can view them here: http://flickr.com/photos/29247809@N06/

Monday, September 1, 2008


Well, I'm here. After a long plane ride over the Pacific, I exited Japan's Customs area to be welcomed by...Oh, wait. No one was there. Yeah. Apparently, my plane arrived a few minutes early and I walked out of the terminal just before the person who was supposed to pick me up got there. However, we managed to find each other after a half hour and dropped my bags off with the courier service. We'll talk about more of that in a minute.
So we got on a train heading for Higashimurayama. We had to switch lines a couple of times and it ended up taking us about two hours to get to the place I'll be working. It was pretty late in the evening when we arrived so there were no students at the school (I work for an eikaiwa). I met my manager - the sweetest lady ever - and the teacher who has been subbing for me, awaiting my arrival (he's also very nice).
As we were talking and getting to know each other, we found out that the apartment address listed on my sheet was different than the one my school had. Uh oh. We had already sent my bags to the address on my sheet! So we called the courier service and they said that the wheels were in motion (pun intended) and that I would not receive my bags until Monday morning. What a pisser. It's Monday morning right now so I should hear a knock at my door sometime soon.

However, in between then and now, I've been exploring the city a bit. The train system is so efficient here. I was a little daunted by the kanji encompassing the ticket kiosks (and everything else for that matter), but I saw an English button and got the feeling that everything would be alright. I must say there are many signs and things alike that don't have any English on them at all. If you are planning to move to Japan and don't know Japanese, I suggest learning the pronunciations of katakana. As far as signs go, it's the most commonly used writing system. You'll recognize words like "teeshatsu" (t-shirt). It's pretty helpful.
I've been to the Mini Stop by my apartment a few times and the clerks there have been more than generous with helping me find the things I need. FYI, orange juice is less than par in Japan, but perhaps I've been spoiled by living in Florida.

Well, I guess that's all for now. I will post some pictures very soon so check back often!