Thursday, 27 March 2014

car-related incidents

I dont really want to relay any of these stories just yet - as I need to keep a certain degree of confidentiality.  But I realise I should make note of them to jog the old memory-box in the future:

- The time I scratched a womans car and had to deal with the consequences.

not such a great story. But it was something that happened to me very early on, and taught me a lot about the workings of Japanese customs. For that it was an important memory for me.

-The time I was pulled over in Mito when Lucy (Allen) was vitisting.

I really can't go into detail with this story at all. This was one of the most frightening moments of my life. But anyone who understands Japanese road laws will appreciate how incredibly lucky I have been. 
I will always be grateful to Lucy who gave me the best advice at the exact time I needed it "be cool".

-The time moo was visiting and we parked in the wrong spot.

What an insane sitation, it just happened this week. I think I still need a little time to digest it.

My family in japan

Last night I went to two leaving parties in Mito. The first was a dinner party for a certain Page Corgan, the second was a drinking party at the Drunken Duck for a very sweet Scottish guy called Chris Baird. It makes me feel the need to cringe when I know I'm about to write something mushy, but when I'm sleep deprived enough, I am able to enjoy a certain type of clarity.

Something I realised last night. Watching people who have enjoyed and made the most of their time here, saying goodbye to a large group of friends, many of whom they may never get a chance to see again, is moving. It just is. You would need to have a heart of stone not to appreciate that. It can be very upsetting, saying goodbye is a sad thing to do. But in a way, I felt envious. It's difficult to accept when the time is right to move on from a place like this. Life here can be comfortable - maybe too comfortable. It is also incredibly enjoyable and interesting. Moving on is hard, but it is inevitable in one form or another. I fear how much I know I'm going to eventually miss it here when I have faced the inevitability of leaving, but I also know I will be proud of myself for doing so. Or, you know, maybe I'll hate myself forever for not having the guts to stay. Who knows?

But actually I don't think I can bear staying here too long - as the longer you stay the more people you see come and go. I get too attached to people to be able to deal with that. How many people in my life will I miss over the years of moving around, making new friends and moving on? Everytime I make a life-change I have to go through this ordeal. New university, new class, new course, new job, new city, new place to call home. Missing people from various points in life weighs me down. Keeping in touch is hard work and its depressing to think that many great friendships will get lost in time, or might just amount to a long series of "I miss you" emails.

After the leaving dinner for Cage:


Monday, 24 March 2014

In the time-being

Moo has been here visiting.
Perhaps she will send me some of the photos she has taken so I can put them up on hereee.
I've taken her out to meet some of my friends.
We went to the park - the aquarium - where I cried at a dolphin show because it felt mean and I'd never seen one before. In fact I hated every moment of it. Those intelligent creatures deserve better.
We went to Tokyo and spent the day with Yuri and her mum shopping and eating tempura yummm.
We had a tonkatsu cooking lesson from my supervisor and had a yummy dinner party at my aparto.

Ok, well, thats the small talk over and done with.

In general, Im feeling a little down. A lot of my friends are leaving at the moment. Not only does this make me incredibly sad to think there are some people I may never see again. Its sad to think the group of friends I've made here will never all hang out together in the same way. How can this group of people be together again? - when we all live in completely different parts of the world? Yes, it means that whenever I travel I might be able to stay with someone I know - and catch up. But it will never be the same. Here we make memories. When we leave - it will just be a matter of remembering. When you live here together, you are in the same situation. You are going through the same experiences, you have much more in common. When you meet up in years from now, as different people with different lives, different responsibilities, will it be the same? of course not. What will you have in common? only the memories. The memories that will make you sad to have left it all behind. I felt a similar way after finishing my masters programme. Everyone on my course was from different parts of the world. But theres something deeper here. In Bristol I was still in England, I was in my home country, I had all my home comforts around me. I could visit London whenever I wanted. Here - this is it.  My friends here are family.  This is why its so sad to see people move away. I feel as though I've hardly been here for any time, yet I am already going to be missing people and feeling nostalgic.

When people leave, it also makes me remember how temporary this situation is. What will people do after they leave? Where are they going? How do they know they are ready to leave? This makes me panic so much about my own situation. How long do I plan on living in Japan? What will I do after this? who will I meet? Its good to have moo here to discuss these things with. But I feel that whenever I seek advice from those at home, they can't help but try to steer me back to London.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

epic Tokyo weekend #63462 - a birthday in need of an introduction. Laurence turns 25 and isnt afraid of ghosts.

I took an early coach down to Tokyo with Yukiko on Saturday.

We had a great weekend ahead of us.

oh yes.



Area A:  snapchats. "this is how you ......X.... in Tokyo Motherfuckers!" 

X = [pet a dog] [cross the road] [etc].

-The tempura restaurant up the road from our usual stay hostel - where John Dicks and Hana found us. They were on their way back from an Ikebana show... how motherly.

-Laurence is found on the side of the street looking particularly dapper. About to even look moreso - as he was then to embark on a trip to the hairdressers.

-A longer than planned stop at the hostel. Some play on tinder keeps Dyar and John occupied. Zara showers and puts on a new catsuit. We get ready and go.






Department B:  We arrived at the event in Shibuya at around 7pm. Strangely the night was on between 5 and 11 PM. A small club playing very good music, something Laurence had found online. I thought the Canadian DJ was particularly attractive until I started talking to him and realised immediately that he most definitely had social problems. There was an artist making an image of a fox. Apparently it was to be sold for... hmm, 50,000Yen was it? I forced him to dance and offered him a handshake and a kiss on the cheek in exchange for the piece. As expected, this offer was turned down. We stayed at the venue for around 4 hours, each more enjoyable than the last - until the level of fun peaked and we poured out onto the street. We were a group of around 6 or 7 by this point. 

-we got something cheap and delicious to eat. Laurence had a funny little Londoner friend with him- so, as you do when you come across other people from your hometown somewhere foreign, we reminissed about things from home. conversation that would seem so obvious and generic at home is the most comforting and exciting thing abroad.









Compartment C: We hung around Shiubya station getting lost and found and lost and found looking for drinks at combini's, having lipstick kiss fights and generally being messy. We lost Dyar and John. We gained Tiffani. We gained a friend of Laurence's called Cameron. And then we lost Tiffani. By the time we got moving there were 5 of us.
On the metro I befriended a 15 year old scandanavian boy who I forced the name Sven upon. He seemed to adopt it quite naturally. He was wearing summer clothing on a winter night. He was shivering and couldn't find the party he was looking for. I tried to persuade everyone that our next move should be to a 15 year old birthday party. This suggestion was met with hostility. We didn't go.
We were in Roppongi. We stopped for a while on the main street. More snapchats. One comes to mind with the tagline "this is how you make friends in Tokyo".
We went for a drink at a bar called "The Hub" - an underground English style pub with a depressing atmosphere. Me, shmooks and hana started chatting to a pretentious photographer from New York/LA. It was lame. We made a swift escape.


Section D: We went to Propaganda. The cheesiest most embarssing foreigner bar in the whole area. I wish by this point I knew of good clubs and had failsafe venues around Tokyo for a night out- but I don't. Propaganda makes me feel as though I am in a piranha tank. You can smell the desperation from half way up the stairs. The music makes me feel depressed. Commercial rubbish - music made for piranhas to make their kill.
Despite the odds - I found a way to enjoy myself. I befriended the club photographer who was having a hard time getting people to pose for him. I decided to help him out by forcing everyone to pose with me and then by pulling a stupid face at the last moment. Yes I realise now that I ruined every shot - but it was worth it for my own enjoyment.
After we left the place we attempted to go for karaoke - the traditional way to end a night out in Japan. However, karaoke places around Roppongi are painfully expensive and we decided against the idea.

Then of course, the only way to properly finish a night out is by greasy fast food. We went to Wendys, an American burger place. I've never been before - my expectation were low. I must say I found it to be fantastic. As we sat upstairs in the Roppongi Wendys at what must have been around 2.30 in the morning, I enjoyed what was left of the night laughing my head off with Yukiko, Laurence, Hana and Cameron. On the cab ride back Laurence googled "inappropriate jokes" and recited them to me and Yukikoooo like poetry. Apparently a disproprotionate amount of inappropriate jokes found on the internet are aimed at Ethiopians.  What dya know.
We got back with the intention to stay up. by this point we had been out for around 9 hours. I passed stone cold out in my capsule hostel bed.








SUNDAY ^ the morning after the night before.
cameron left us in the morning.
I spent the day with Laurence, Shmookiko and Hana.
We had lunch at a nice Italian restaurant in Shibuya. I thought I might throw up as my body has forgotten how to digest carbonara. We had a final kampai for Laurence's birthday.
We went to watch the St.Patrick's day parade in Harajuku. I liked it. JJ and Tiffani had met up with us by this point. We also bumped into some of shmukikooos friends outside of a TGI Friday. They joined us for a while but then made thier excuses and left.
As it was the first nice, sunny day all year, we embraced this by drinking ale in Yoyogi Park. Josh from Tskuba joined us on his bike. The guy is crazy - he cycled 3 hours to get into Tokyo and then 3 hours home. This is regular for him. I took the bus back to Mito with Yukiko.







Monday, 17 March 2014

authentic

One of the best things is going to a Japanese restaurant in Japan with Japanese people. When you find yourself in such a situation you can expect to eat something interesting and amazing. I experienced this on Friday night at a sushi restaurant. Our friend Tomoe took us to a nice little place where she used to work. We were served "tuna heart". Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence of this. You will just have to take my word for it that fish hearts have a sharp tangy taste. This is who I was with:

Cage and Aita. Aita apparently is the lightest weight human being in Ibaraki. I was able to test this theory by carrying him. You wouldn't think it but hes actually 30 years old:


Me and Tomoe:


Later we went round to this dudes apartment. reaaaalllly cant remember his name, but hes the guy who runs knox record store in mito and has a shit tonne of punk records in his place. Freddy turned up which was nice - although he had gotten through an entire box of wine to himself by the time we found him - so he was somewhat of a shamble. This is the only pic I can find:


I figure that because that isn't a picture of Freddy, and I couldn't find one of him from that night, I will post a picture of him anyway because there doesnt seem to be enough of Freddy on this blog and that's a real shame:




In fact, Freddy is one of a pack of three which are commonly referred to as "The Oarai Boys". Im not sure if I've already mentioned them somewhere on this blog, but I have a very special place in my heart for these boys. They all live in apartments, one on top of another in a mental assylum on the top of a hill. Three of Britains finest if I might say so myself, and I believe I might. This is from a couple months back when I specifically requested to have a picture taken with them - as I rarely find all three together at the same time. What a fiiiiiiiine bunch. Freddy, Chris and Alistair:

the run


Might I add this is a big deal to me as I never did any exercise or sports between 2005-2014. I now try to jog a little everyday. Its not much, but its worth it.

I ran a 5k marathon in Hitachi-Daigo. It took me 32 minutes. I didnt stop running. The last kilometre was entirely up-hill, that was pretty challenging.  This was followed by a trip to an onsen.

Here are the runners as follows from left to right AJ, Matt, Hana, Holly, Randy, moi:



We found a massive traffic cone afterwards:

a change of plans

After the most disappointing meal at the worst Mexican restaurant - possibly on earth? El Paso, a restaurant in Hitachinaka city - never go there. We were upset and angry upon leaving, I really dont want to go into why it was so bad - but just think about every aspect you might consider when judging the quality of a restaurant. Now imagine a sudo-Mexican restaurant in a Japanese suburban town - failing at every single one of them. Getting the worst score in every category that you would judge a restaurant by. Thats El Paso. I was with Daniel, Robbie and Riles. The plan was to then go ice skating - after a failed attempt on the Hokkiado trip (although I was glad that had occured as we had a fantastic snow ball fight in its place).

Daniel and I spent too long getting cosy under my kotatsu. I lit some incense and made some tea. We were never going to join the others at the rink in Tokai. Did I feel bad about it? I guess a little. But in retrospect, I'm glad. I took Daniel on a little road trip around my town. I showed him my favourite secret shrine spot - so romantic - although I might point out that his and my friendship is in no way romantic. But the day we spent together was one of romantic beauty. We sat and admired the view of the ocean. That radiation infested beautiful ocean by Hitachinaka seaside. We drove to Nakaminato. We got lost and then found, and then realised we had gone in a massive circle. We listened to music in the car. We went to a combini. We had some sashimi. We went to a recycle shop. We bought nothing. We watched some episodes of Adventure Time. He napped, I knitted a scalf. What a lovely afternoon.

The night prior at an all you can eat and drink Italian place in Mito station this photograph was taken:



Daniel Lin is many things to many people. ALT, Chinese-Canadian, hustler, musician, international playboy, One Piece enthusiast, sushi chef, drunkard. But to me, he will always be the man who coined the term "best life ever".

settings

Its so unfortunate the day I remembered to update this blog is when Im running on an hours sleep. But if I dont get this stuff down it will be lost from all human memory forever. I'm not gonna let that deep awful black hole absorb all my precious memories. No sir, not today thank you.

I slept for one hour due to my old friend - anxiety. I'm driving to Narita later today to pick up moo. 2 hours there - 2 hours back. Thats the kind of stupid rubbish I loose sleep over. I hate driving long distance that much. grrr.

I will now bring you to last weekend - or the weekend before last. As I write this I'm listening to some old Fleetwood Mac, very fitting. The music mixed with my exhausted state is what I believe to be a recipe for rambling - going off topic and nonsensical solely-made observations. Good luck trudging through this one.

 I will also point out at this early stage that I am quite gutted to be this tired, as I've ordered a tonne of books of amazon - they are sat on my desk so crisp, so fresh, so so inviting. Yet I can't touch any of them. This is the first day of three weeks where I will have no classes and only time to read and dabble into the complex realm of kanji - I was looking forward to this hiatus. But in some ironic twist of fate I know that if I attempt to so much as read a synopsis - an introduction - or even a contents page - it will be too much for my fragile state of mind. Sleep will be the ultimate victor. Sleep, dizziness and a vegetable like state.

Ok, onto the next post.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

yukibro

We went to a horror themed ezikaya in Tokyo for yukikos (aka shmookiko aka yukibro) s birthday. As I have just had a massive spaghetti bolonaise lunch I feel all lazy and dont feel like writing about it. If your curious, you can read about alcatraz here: http://alcatraz-er.net/

Yukiko had a picture taken with all the boys and the gals who turned up, it was pretty cute:



 This was followed by a night club called Muse (music was awful as I expected) and then staying at the same hostel we stay at every trip down to tokyo.. the Shinjuku Ace. In the morning we went for mexican food because as I have learnt, Americans are obsessed. But it is great hangover food, and there's a place in Roppongi which makes them well.

We then split up - some went shopping. Some of us went on an unnecessarily long pilgrimage for a Starbucks. We ended up going to the one at Tokyo station - where we would later catch a bus back to Mito. Apparently I dont understand the concept of starbucks. Because I bought a cup of earl grey tea for 450 yen. This is a piss-take amount of money. But im not really sure what Im supposed to order. Everytime I got for one of those fancy frappe latte mocha chocka swirl cinamon frappucino things I end up getting a mouth full of over-priced whipped cream. When I order tea, I know I am paying too much money, but at least its for something I can understand and tend to desire.

Monday, 3 March 2014

disappointed

Damon Albarn, lead singer of Blur and the man behind the Gorillaz has finally realised a solo album. I cant believe how awful his new stuff is. I feel genuinely sad.