P1

26Oct16

Punch down, slob-out. He’d been rackin’ me dry five days since and a ton more then on. Whine whine whi-ne. He talk swe-e-ee-eet.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fu-ck.

There ain’t two syllables to the word but you fill it with enough hate, and near ‘nough. Near enough been near enough now and years for years. Keep the beat. Right.

Fu-ck li-fe. One punch two more for rat dead Daddy never seen life but the inside of the dry run mines til the mine took him back. Cross out the hot trash. Beat trash. Cruel mash.

Yeah. Like a military chant.

Fu-ck heave-ho one-two. SLAM SLAM SLAM SHUT UP OLD MAN

Give punch a pain and see how he hits. Give her a car, give her a card. Give the the. The.

Fu-ck.

Fu-ck Sarah. Two-tied no-lied not my doing. Wait, cop. Don’t stop. Hit the fu-cking FUCK.

Oh. Fuck. Oh. Fuck. Yes two three now. Ooooooooh. More. Mo-re.

More things, sweeter things. Earth and Heaven too. Sweet voices and rolling, high thoughts. Like dreams. And ahhhh. And focus.

_Focus._

THANK YOU I CAN FOCUS FINE

Top now drawn out. Left right finish threw it. Fore most foot loose fucking cutthroat now it’s.

Fu-ck. Fu-ck. Slap on crap on the real now.

Too many syllables too many fuckups. Ah shit. Ah shit.

Where are we again? Lost again.

Fuck the dongle dreary hovel I came to punch the bag. And fuck the smooth talker.

Slip up fuck up with the wear– weary— whaTHUMP

A–. Aa–. Breathing sucked. Soft sound here now. Aaa. Aaa. There now.

“I never thought I’d see the Waltz of the Drunk Orangutan. I thank you for allowing me a glimpse at its splendor. Tell me, are you braindead or just crazy?”

“Fuck you.” The floor was soft wood.

“Seemed to me like you were losing focus. You flash those killer eyes, madman. Or stupid eyes. Hard to differentiate.”

“I made – (spit thick) – a (pausebreathe) new word.”

“Spell it for me so I know which of the two it is.”

“Fuu-chk”

Never slide a sidelong glare, but that was there. “Go the fu-ck ho-me.”

… yup

Walking was best. Better than laying. Better than dying.

“Wal-t-z”. Hard to say, hard to do, by the by. Didn’t rhyme. Didn’t flow. Like “Heaven”. Three bounce beats.

Then maybe somewhere you dance and she dances but not here and the drip dark brick. Spotlights and streetlights can’t reach their shine overtime.

The microwave dancefloor spun ’round the tender waltz. Look away cancer rays. Cancer in the bruises. Many. So very many. Bruises ain’t Heaven. Sad hand. Man. Maan. It _shakes_. Handshakes?

No, none here. Not now, not near ‘nough. Not for years for years by and by.

Keep the screens off. Don’t take fake pain. Full up. Fill up. Turn off.

Sleep. Always two phrase sle-ep. Sleep? Shh now. Run out. Die now. Rest now.

At least crushed meat earns the best sleep.


It was somewhat of a tradition in stories and tales that adventures would congregate in a meeting place, some local inn or tavern, to swap rumors and news and such. From these varied perspectives of strangers and sots, it would be only natural to see the birth of ventures of profit or pride.

But then wouldn’t it stand to reason that the only way to involve oneself in an adventure of any notability was to seek out and occupy a suitably welcoming space in such a candidate inn, sidle down and put on one’s most gregarious and loquacious face? Then, come what may, may adventure come to those who greet her. Such was the way of things, and it only stood to reason.

Reason may just be another name for the ultimate, and ultimately most boring, Catch-22 of history’ rambling: does greatness come to those who seek it, or do only the great leave their homes?

It doesn’t stand to reason that Fate would trifle with Reason. It would appear in all observable universes that the two had long since hashed out any differences between them and decided to hold a impartial friendship. Nowadays they mostly just go their separate lives then make time to meet up every other Sunday to shoot the shit, share a bag of Five Peppercorn Beef Jerky and play some Smash Bros.

The boxer, in his box, had very interesting dreams. Had he been willing or able to date again, he may have listed this as one of his positive qualities. This, of course, would attract no reasonable mates, but he didn’t care much for Reason. He was ever so much more lucid when Reason wasn’t there to hold him accountable. And that was a _very_ attractive quality to those who dealt in outside of the purviews of both Reason and Fate.

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Response to DFW

23Oct15

Hmmm a few thoughts.

Yes, I read all of it. Yes, I hated it.

I want to make a clear distinction here. I understood the piece. I understood the objectives and the execution and I absolutely respect the heartfelt nature of the feelings behind the piece and the unique way in which it is presented. I think it is effective.

I did not relate to many of these emotions much at all. Nor did I find any enjoyment in the method of conveying those feelings.

In fact, if anything I actively work to become _more_ like the narrator. I work hard to be a person that can consider the feelings/desires/mental states. It helps stave off the autism.

That acknowledged, it’s not like this was all foreign to me. For example, this part was certainly poignant:

> yet another part was observing
the whole scene of a man in a dress shirt and no tie sitting at his breakfast
nook writing a heartfelt note on his last afternoon alive, the
blondwood table’s surface trembling with sunlight and the man’s hand
steady and face both haunted by regret and ennobled by resolve, this
part of me sort of hovering above and just to the left of myself, evaluating
the scene, and thinking what a fine and genuine-seeming performance
in a drama it would make

I’ve had that thought many a time.

So there’s two underlying elements here. First is the neurosis/state of mind of manipulation or “being a fraud”. As I said, I’d like to think like this a bit more, and I make conscious efforts to do so. I think the obsession about it is a bit odd, and seemingly borders on mental illness. This was especially clear with the character’s take on the meditation certificate. There is no evidence anywhere that it was sarcastic, and only an giant asshole or an insane person would chose to take that interpretation.

The clear tipping point is where Cheers quote shattered his reality… negatively?

>the flash of realizing
all this at the very same time that the huge audience-laugh
showed that nearly everybody in the United States had probably already
seen through the complaint’s inauthenticity as long ago as whenever
the episode had originally run

I thought that realization would accompany a change. If you realize that you’re your own problem, stop creating problems for yourself! This character, however, was too far gone or far too weak to take that realization as the clear catalyst it is.

I know what you’re thinking. I know exactly how you’re like, “Oh well that presupposes there’s a social norm that we all should follow and you can’t assume that objectivity…” Yeah. Sure. That joke is a hurtful societal conformist jab at the expense of people like this character. But at some point you either conform or die. At some point, you have to accept praise as sincere without a worry or doubt. At some point the picture is of a pomegranate and not gore. This is a story about failing that breaking point, and that’s why I don’t like it.

I understand this is how you feel a lot of the time (though I would hope not so egregious), and I understand this is not how you _chose_ to think of things but an innate perception. I don’t know what to tell you about that other than stop it before you drive into the bridge. Note: I am not a psychiatrist.

The second is the prevalent theme. That disconnect what accompanies humans as social creatures. This:

>with David Wallace also fully aware that the cliché that you
can’t ever truly know what’s going on inside somebody else is hoary
and insipid and yet at the same time trying very consciously to prohibit
that awareness from mocking the attempt or sending the whole
line of thought into the sort of inbent spiral that keeps you from ever
getting anywhere

That’s a bit of humanity. Every single person to have ever lived on Earth has dealt with that, and I can name three anime, three movies and three books at the drop of the hat that fully explore that theme with different trappings. You should watch Evangelion.

But that feeling doesn’t result in this type of outcome in and of itself. I think the mixture of those two elements, both very strong in the character’s mind (and without going into causation and correlation between the two), caused the character’s suicide.

It’s clearly autobiographical in some respect. I could never write this in a million years, even if I set out with the theme, form and objective in mind. I just don’t have the background to make it realistic. It’s honestly be surprised if the author hadn’t suffered from depression or hung himself.

I suppose that’s why I’m here though, and why DFW isn’t.

But no hey [read my piece](https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAnime/comments/1v2j6d/anime_club_discussion_mawaru_penguindrum_episodes/ceo378i). I’m pretty sure I’ve shoved it in your face sometime in the past. It would make a great panel.


You can take that title however you want to parse it. Ambiguity is the sign of the brilliant and humble writer.

At 7 AM, it was apparent I had, somewhere along the line yesterday, caught the famous Tokyo cold (pronounced “kusokaze” here). It may have been when I picked the dirt out from underneath my fingernails with my teeth. In the words of Sayaka Miki, “Atashi baka. Hountou baka.” (I was stupid. So stupid.) I blame Mother for not beating me enough when I exhibited bad behaviors as a child. On the plus side, I had no fever or headache, thank the ancestors (shintoism, right?). Speaking of that, I set out with every intention to brave the Meiji shrine today.

I awoke again at 12:30, and by the time I was out of the shower/bath/shower-again-when-I-realized-I-couldn’t-fit-in-the-tub combo an hour or so later, felt ready to start the day, for real this time.

So I fell asleep til 3:00, at which time the sickness had left my head and migrated out to my limbs, all of which now ached, doubly so for for their variating under- and over-use in the past week.

I suppose it’s just as well being bedridden today. I couldn’t go anywhere that, you know, costs money anyway. I literally did not have enough money left to buy the pamphlet at the Sailor Moon musical. Plus, maybe sleeping the morning and the early afternoon away had afforded me the stamina to stay up to the end of the musical.

I then managed to organize my bags, a feat which I take a great deal of pride in. I should get back into puzzle games.

Despite my mental fortitude, I couldn’t change my body, which by now hurt like a man being tortured. If only I had chosen the _developed_ world with their modern medicine instead of some backwoods, brambleweed swamp/desert for my vacation!

Oh wait. I did that.

So I took an allergy pill, grabbed the box of tissues, bought two painkillers and some food at the department store, and started my day.

Two hours before doors opened, I made a decision to go see the Meiji Shrine. Because you know what helps when you aren’t feeling well? A mile-long walk through a pollen-infused forest.

The Japanese bowed at the gate, the foreigners did not. And, boy were there foreigners. Many more of the people at the shrine were Italian, German, Korean, Chinese, American, which seemed odd. We foreigners obviously showed no respect for the site, but at least we showed up. I feel like I’m about to make some overarching conclusion using limited knowledge that generalizes an entire people here, so be on your guard. It’s almost as if the Japanese abandoned their past when the modern world came calling.

Ooh, harsh burn.

I dunno what I was expecting from the shrine. At the end was just some steps up to where I assume the emperor would sit. Not even a visible throne. Maybe I’m just too American, but if I walk for a mile and donate some money, I at least want to see the dude’s picture. Not some steps.

On the right, they keep the wishes. You pay five hundred yen for a block of wood, write a wish on it and hang it up. Then you have wasted 500 yen.

Ooooh harsh burn.

Among the 10 or so different languages, I found this gem.

Dear Jebus,

Please make sure the PS4 region free.

Oh, and peace for everyone. Except the bad people.

Cheers

Cheers. Love it. One word to invalidate all the problems in your life.

So I left to find some food. I happened upon “Freshness Burger” and with a name like “Freshness Burger”, I wasn’t about to pass it by.

They made do with what they had, an obviously frozen patty being the worst offender. The sandwich was hot, sloppy and filled with grease, but it worked to the food’s favor. I ate it like she was 19 and innocent. Every bite tasted like freedom, but trimmed with bitter regret for the figurines forever unbought with that 2000 yen. Cheers.

Thank God the onion rings were delicious. Made up for the fact that whoever made the lemonade had obviously never tasted lemonade before in his life. Heathen.

I paid 380 yen for ice cream and then waited five minutes for the soft-serve cone. I was about to get mad about it when I remembered every experience I’ve had at Dairy Queen. Just like home.

The theater wasn’t far, so I arrived a bit early and waited in line with a bunch of Asian women for the new Sailor Moon musical. With a cold. In an enclosed space. You may as well call me Patient Zero.

The play was campy. It had pacing issues with all the exposition at the end of the first act. The music was serviceable, but not outstanding. They tried to replicate the emotional roller coaster of the end of season 1 and still follow the manga closely, but without the masterful directing touch of Satou and Ikuhara or a 40-episode buildup, the drama felt flat. They could have certainly improved the plot by breaking away from the Metalia storyline and telling a new tale all together.

Still, I couldn’t help but smile. They captured the true grace of the heroines and the glamor of the series as a whole. The ensemble songs were high points, as was Tuxedo Mask (who received ravenous applause every time she entered) and Queen Beryl’s strong alto voice.

I absolutely loved the decision make the entire cast female. It fed right back into the grace and glamor, while still offering these roles seriously and without a hint of eye rolling. The Takarazuka style of theater will forever have my adoration and respect.

Everyone looked and preformed great but special shout outs to Sailor Venus, Tuxedo Mask and Jadeite. Oh my word, that Jadeite.

Overall, 7/10, would recommend to fans of the series and children unfamiliar with the storyline and characters.

I rode the subway back to Shinjuku and looked to retire for the night.

In tribute to my poor spending habits and total ignorance of the way things are over here, please enjoy the following story.

It was half past ten, but you wouldn’t know it from the light. Artificial that is. Flashing and loud. Do lights make noise? I’ve never seen them silent. Except for the moon and the stars, of course.

She was smiling. Nice to see a pretty face in an unfamiliar town. Shinjuku, I think it was. Part of me knew I should stroll on past. I’d seen her types before and where they went, beggars followed. I wanted to ignore her. But that part of me, the strong part, well, it had died long ago. Gullible fool I am, I dropped a coin in the machine. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a woman with glasses. I danced her wicked dance if just to return the smile, but she resisted my persuasions, as brash as they were.  But she had given an inch, as if inviting me to push back harder. I offered a second coin to her. No dice. A third. Same. She teetered slowly on the precipice, so ready to fall into my arms.

I turned and said aloud to no one in particular, “Saigo chansu“. The claw went down… and came up empty.

Ah… A town of broken dreams, this Shinjuku. As if my last chance had given the claw some special power. I don’t know why I keep letting myself get involved with her type. They’ll take your money and leave you broken-hearted, time after time. Her glasses, her pink EVA suit. It’s the smile that’ll get me as I sleep tonight, though.

Midway down the street of lights and noise, my fingers danced in the other pocket and, sure enough, found my true last 100 yen piece. I hadn’t used its special powers after all! I hurried back to the arcade, only to find two girls already engaged at Mari’s pursuits. I watched for a while as they dropped over 2000 yen into the machine, more than I had seen Mari offered for not a street away. I set out into the night for wherever I was calling home that day. I didn’t have 2000 yen. I had a pocket of change and the silent stars for company.

At the FamilyMart, I was looking to save my dignity and my stomach. I had intents to leave this town just like I leave every town: penniless. Emptying my pockets on the counter, I must’ve made a sorry sight. The pretty little cashier and her glasses didn’t seem to mind. She brought forth the standard politesses and a smile. I offered 128 yen, powdered doughnut holes and a blank stare.

It wasn’t until some time later, when I was making ready to bolt from this city, that I realized I’d been duped yet again. My powdered doughnuts were made of rice paste and tasted worse than Jet’s cooking.

Mochi

I hate mochi.

And that was Kai’s creative writing hour. Now go read it in Steve Blum’s Spike Spiegel voice.

Cheers.

Thought of the Day

Cowboy Bebop was a good show. You should watch it.


Okay, I’ma put this right out there. If you were expecting some sort of gift from Japan, there’s going to be a problem. I spent all the money. All thousand dollars I had saved for this trip. All of it. Gone. Uh, yeah.

Somewhere between the Fire Emblem Awakening Original Concept Art Book and the Matched Super Rare Scanty and Kneesocks Figurines, I kind of lost control. I suggest either acclimating your tastes in gifts to my interests or preparing to be disappointed.

Did I need to buy a Japanese translation of “The House at Pooh Corner”? Need is such loaded word. What matters now is that I have more stuff than can comfortably fit into two suitcases. If worse comes to worse, the first thing I’m leaving behind is the pants. Then the underwear. No exceptions.

I now sport the Japanese equivalent of twenty dollars in my wallet for food purposes over the next two days. And, honestly, I have thought about buying another figurine with it. I said in my head, I said, “Self. How badly to we want this Haruhi figurine …Uh huh. Okay. Wow, you would do all that and more to her huh? Damn, okay. Easy, boy. And how badly do we want to eat? Huh. Really? Ummm…” I swear to you that if perchance I had seen the one of her in a bunny suit playing the guitar, I would have starved for my beliefs.

Also I don’t want to lose any pervert internet cred here; I have a reputation to uphold. Don’t think I didn’t look for a dakimakura (don’t Google that, mom). I did. Found a bunch, but the good ones, the ones with popular characters and the naughtiest of poses – TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.

WHAT.

Anyway, today I went shopping.

First, I deftly evaded a packed train full of commuters by ducking into a ramen store at 8:30. The Japanese resturaunt had a machine for a menu, natch, and, natch, I happily took the opportunity to avoid human contact.

I paid 500 yen and got two bowls. One full of something like miso soup, the other full of the foulest-tasting cold egg noodles you could’ve imagined. Turns out you’re supposed to dip the egg noodles into the soup and wash off the nasty coating that makes them all bitter. Thanks, guy who sat down at the table in front of me two minutes into me putting on the Stupid Foreigner Show for the cooks.

See you want to think, “Well why don’t they just put the noodles into the soup in the first place. That would make NO STOP IT. Take your reason and go negotiate peace in the Middle East or cure cancer or something. This is the land that invented the anachronism and they’re very content with how things are, thank you very much.

Anyway, with how cheap food is here, I should have known not to buy any meal costing more than 400 yen. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to finish both bowls of that concoction. There are no words for how much I suffered. #firstworldproblems

I ended up in Ikebukuro, which is kind of like a microcosm of all Tokyo, but, more importantly, also the setting of Mawaru Penguindrum.

I spent hours in the used bookstore, relearning the Japanese sylabllary and picking out manga and novels that I can read. And by novels, I mean children’s picture books.

I tell you what, paper must be cheap. Everyone reads in this country. Old men, women, young boys. Everyone reads manga, too. Old guys, women, young boys. I bought a manga collection for 100 yen. A dollar. A book. A dollar.

I think I recall considering that loading my backpack up with heavy books early in the day might not be a wise move, but it could just be hindsight misremembering once again. Whatever.

I stopped off at the anime superstore in Ikebukuro, got offended by their prices, bought something, and left for Akiba.

I realized four days into this trip that no one drinks or eats on the go. I think it’s Article 45 of the Constitution that protects an American citizen’s right to stand on a street corner and eat a hot dog, but that shit don’t fly here. The only weird looks I’ve gotten since coming here when I decided to down a liter of mugicha (barley tea) on the train. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, however, and I didn’t drink or eat unless I was at a restaurant or the apartment for the rest of the day. Also, mugicha is awesome.

Listen, I spent the next six hours staring at figurines and doujin. It’s not fun to read nor is it funny. I checked the famous places, I checked the back alleys. I kept on going. And then I ended up on the seventh floor of a unlabeled black building with no working elevator and the fire escape outside the building as the only access.

And there, where time stood still, I found the good shit. I found full-on, perfectly accurate, Neon Genesis Evangelion cosplay suits costing the equivalent of $2,000. I found long out of print Sailor Moon figurines from the 90’s each costing over 12000 yen ($120). I found everything I ever wanted and more. I grabbed the Demon Sisters from Panty and Stocking and counted myself grateful that I hadn’t stumbled into the Arc of the Covenant or the Holy Grail somewhere in the darkness and paid with my life.

And now I retire in my room while the sun is still up for the first time this trip. It’s one half because I ran out of money, one half because I can’t lift this backpack anymore. Whatever muscles and ligaments connect my shoulder proper to my neck have given up sending pain signals and are instead conspiring with my wallet to destroy the part of my brain that handles decision-making.

I write these posts as sumo wrestling plays on the TV in the background. I must stay awake late tonight, for I must be wide awake for the Sailor Moon musical tomorrow at 8 PM.

Thought of the Day

Tokyo’s Fashion. It’s hard to describe it and let’s face it, I’m no expert here. Maybe Jess said it best: “The people in Tokyo like to think they’re fashionable.”

I sure couldn’t tell whether they are or not, but it was apparent even the sloppiest Japanese homeless man (I saw three today!) dresses way better than me.

I’ve already discussed how Japanese people seem to have extremely high amounts of money floating around from working 70 hours a week, but did you know that many women like to buy apparel instead of video games, porn and anime figurines? And in Japan, this abnormal behavior sometimes extends to males as well.

I think it especially odd considering absolutely no one in this country gives a damn what you wear. There were some freak shows happening every ten hundred meters and not a one had anyone looking strangely at him. A girl in what I can only describe as purple and green motley existed today. I say existed because any other verb you do after putting on those clothes kinda pales in the shadow of the outfit. She could have been doing cartwheels and I wouldn’t have noticed.

With a blank slate, no regulations and infinite possibilities, shit gets weird. I mean, might-actually-be-cosplay levels of unusual. I’m fairly certain I could wear a Charmander suit, light my tale on fire and run around the train station screaming “CHARR! CHAARRR!” and the only thing that would happen is police would kindly remind me that the station is a no smoking zone. And then apologize for the inconvenience.

It doesn’t help that most people ostensibly revere David Bowie as some sort of fashion guru. I walk in a country where men use more hair product than women. Dyed, feathered, spiked, done up like Cindy Lou Who, I saw it all. Thank God the work week came and forced these hooligans to trade in their pink pants and Crocs for standard suits and ties.

And though I have a picture of a woman wearing a Beetlejuice-esque black and white striped leotard, it really isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. The women of this country look great. Sun dresses, skirts, makeup, all that jazz. It’s incredibly apparent that these women, even the older ones, put an amount of energy into looking good that dwarfs most every American girl.

Their fashion does expose their frailty though. When you have an arm so thin that it looks as if it would break it if I were to stare at it hard, you should probably cover that up. It’s not attractive.

Speaking of that, either these women don’t have breasts or the pushup bra has not made it overseas yet. High necklines abound. If you take all racks and racks porn I’ve seen as an indication of what the men in this country are after… ah, I think I just rationalized Japan’s declining birthrate.

So all it boils down to is effort and money. Money is prevalent. Many Japanese people have a desire for individuality. The expression of those two factors… well, you’ll have to wait for the pictures.


Continuing my tradition of starting the day off right, I decided to try out the bidet on my toilet. If any of you haven’t had the pleasure, I imagine the best way to describe the sensation would be that it feels like hot, wet, anal rape. 2/10 stars, would not inflict upon enemies.

I awoke at 6:30, so I took some time to write these blog entries. That’s not all that weird, though. The sun’s up at 4 or so and sets at 6. Land of the Rising Sun, indeed.

I had designs on Akiba again, now that the businessmen are at work, but nature had other ideas. A slight drizzle as I left the hotel became a full on typhoon situation not three minutes down the road. I lost 500 yen when my umbrella took a 60-mph gust right in the face and proceeded to crumple like a dead spider. I had literally a second of indecision before my animal part of my brain got me out of cover.

In the bottom floor of a movie theater.

No way I was walking Tokyo in a hurricane, so I rolled with the punches. The new Ghibli movie out, but not showing until 1 PM. I had to catch another movie to fill the time. The choice came down to that Wolverine movie I had no desire to see, subtitled in Japanese, against an anime movie from a series that I didn’t really like.

On the plus side, I handled my self well ordering my caramel corn and OJ. I even asked if refills were permitted (they were not).

Two hours later, I walked out of that lose-lose situation happy that I had chosen the AnoHana movie. Terrible film, but I got to see the preview for the third Madoka Movie! I freaaaaaked out and squealed aloud when Mami fought Homura. I would have paid double to watch an hour and a half loop of that trailer. The Persona 3 movie also looks great.

You people have no idea what I’m talking about, though. That’s why I came to this country in the first place.

I wish I could have shown you all the informational shorts before the film asking everyone not to record the movie. Not only were they hilarious, but they were weird in that uniquely Japanese way. Doughnut cats, talking anthropomorphized cameras and stuff straight out of nightmares.

Then, the main feature. I dunno what the English title is (translated, it was something about standing against the wind), but the new Ghibli film captures the magic once again. There were a number of times when I got that distinctly Ghibli feeling, the one like when Howl levitates Sophie across the town square. One scene in Kazetachi near the middle of the film was so masterfully done, it can only be described as legendary. Now, is it the best Ghibli? Not hardly. It’s too long in the middle and the main voice actor sucks, but it surely deserves top tiering. Surely above Ponyo, maybe Totoro. I’d put it next to Kiki in quality.

The Japanese cinema experience isn’t as foreign as it would seem. Sure, there’s 20 people working when America would have 3, but the only major differences are that everyone stays to watch the credits and nobody spills food all over themselves. Nobody except the gaijin, that is! American prerogative invoked. I don’t know how the hell you eat popcorn without a mess anyway. I honestly couldn’t do it.

It was mid-afternoon and my rain-beating strategy had proved effective.

Stopped off in Shibuya to maybe find where I went with Jess on Saturday. NOPE. Instead, found a bookstore with the kanji for ‘old’ on it. I assumed it meant ‘used’, but no, it meant Playboys and Life magazine from the 1970’s.

I stumbled onto Love Hotel hill (you know, where you take your mistress so your wife doesn’t find out) and got some great pictures of all the ‘massage parlors’ that offered a happy ending.

Barley tea is amazing. That’s not connected to the rest of the daily story, but I just thought you should know.

Pondered kaitenzushi again, but thought better of it. Actually, that makes it sound like there’s a downside. There’s not. I regret skipping it.

I stumbled, literally this time (damn small steps), into a pachinko parlor. From what I can tell (which wasn’t that much), the game of pachinko is a seizure simulator wherein the maximum possible volume human ears can hear is played and images are flashed at rapid succession behind a series of ball bearings while a middle age Japanese woman’s disposable income slowly lessens.

Actually, that makes it sound like there’s a limit to a middle age Japanese woman’s disposable income. There’s not.

Found a DonQuixote variety store. Yeah, the stuff inside the store makes about as much sense as the name. It’s as if someone dared a crazy businessman to build a store with everything. Then he did. And it’s somehow making money selling luggage, bicycles, beer, kitchen appliances and jewelry with no regard for organization.

Got the hell outta there, took a picture of the world’s busiest intersection and headed once more for Akihabara. You can read the shopping list below. The one bit of trivia I found interesting is that the Japanese use “Auld Lang Syne” to tell you to get the hell out of the store as it’s about to close. I started singing along before I realized all the employees were staring at me harshly. DOESN’T MATTER FOUND PSVITA FOR $150.

Now, I really don’t want to keep bringing it up, but I did come to Japan and not Saudi Arabia, so…

Porn.

It’s like… just there. Like, I’m browsing manga and suddenly the entire next aisle at a glance has a distinctly flesh-colored tone…

I just love how chill everybody was with it. There were businessmen in suits next to me, perusing borderline child pornography. You could probably read that stuff on the train and nobody would look twice. The cashiers were females! And they didn’t even blink at the smut. It’s a far cry from that one time I bought Maxim at college and the blonde cashier sneered at me and scoffed.


I started the day by checking out the TV in my room. The power symbol seems to be universal, and I thought I clicked “channel up” as well. Looking back now, I can clearly see the kanji for “paid” before “channel up”. It really was nice of them to let me preview the paid channels for a minute or two. That gave just enough time for the screaming Asian girl, who didn’t seem to be enjoying having a flesh-colored mosaic thrust into her, to wake up my neighbors before I could find the volume button.

An auspicious start to the trip!

My hotel is a five minute walk away from Shinjuku station. Shinjuku station is the size of Madison Square Garden and has a GDP equal to the state of Delaware*. You can get anywhere in Japan directly from Shinjuku station.

* I made that up. It could easily be true though.

There’s a park near the station called Shinjuku Gyoen. I checked it out to kill time before my noon meeting with my contact/guide/savior, Jess. At the center, there was a fantastically manicured lawn and you couldn’t see any of the buildings, and I guess that’s all you really need from a park in the city.

The star of the show was the kakigoori, or shaved ice. I ordered some in the park from a nice old lady. Rose flavor. This treat could solve international conflict. The dessert tasted like Aphrodite’s breast milk.  It made me want to be a better person.

I waited for Jess in the depths of the busiest station in the world for too long before realizing I should connect my phone to the station’s free Wi-Fi and read her email about how she was waiting _outside_ the sweatbox pressure cooker that I’d been standing in for the last hour. Smart.

She got me a gift, which did nothing but make me feel like an idiot for forgetting that whole eastern culture thing like a true American.

Jess is an interesting phenomenon. She’s an English teacher  from Delaware who loves living in Tokyo, a fan of anime and Pokemon and alcohol, but with a very quick wit and a sort of snarky attitude toward the Japanese culture. I once mention that I thought the androgyny thing was kind of a joke. She laughs. Hard.

The entire time we are together, she is telling stories. This friend misunderstood this, this friend was drunk and did this, my students said this. Almost every one gets honest laughter out of me and I now wish I had a record of them.

Jess also made no excuses about loving some sweets. She suggested that we visit a restaurant called Sweets Paradise in Shibuya for lunch. As if the ignorant tourist lost in the world’s largest city would somehow reject honest advice in his native language.

Okay here’s the setup. You pay 1500 yen (15 dollars) and get two hours of time at a buffet which serves really shitty Italian noodles, soggy garlic bread and soup (the main ingredient in each of which seemed to be olive oil), and then you can eat as much mediocre cake, ice cream and other assorted confections as you can handle.

For me, it was around one slice of strawberry shortcake and some pudding. For Jess it was literally two plates full of cake and a bowl of ice cream. I did eat my fill of oil though. Still, I can’t help but think it wasn’t worth, especially when food in this country is so ridiculously cheap. Just for food, I could live on 500 yen a day, easy.

We browse the all-to-tiny variety stores in Shibuya, take a picture with Hachiko and move on to Akihabara.

Everything you read about Akiba is true. Everything. You want to buy a multimeter? You want to buy a Virtual Boy? You want to buy hentai? Consider where in the world you would find a whole in the ground filled with men smoking and playing Street Fighter against each other for hours and hours on end. I walked blind into that one.

I feel like I’m about to use the word “buy” a bit to much in describing Akiba Electric Town. So I’ll just use it once. I’ma buy all the things. Figurines, card sleeves, sweat rags, phone dongles, cards, literally everything otaku exists in Akiba. I’ll give you more on that when I return Monday and Tuesday.

Big props to Jess for mentoring me through the district. I feel confident that some parallel universe exists wherein I, bereft of Jess’ soft guidance, blow fifty dollars and five hours playing the Madoka Magica crane game. She also had an astounding amount of advice for anyone who wanted to teach English overseas, and offered to operate as my very own private Japanese shipping service once I leave. So it was well worth it when I bought her a rare Donganropa keychain that she was missing from her collection.

For dinner, we sought out Kaitenzushi, or conveyor-belt sushi. I think you can piece together how it works, but I made sure to break a taboo and film the restaurant. At 105 yen a plate, it’s surprisingly affordable. In fact, no food in this country costs anything at all. I had 5 plates and felt full, Jess packed away 11 in approximately as many minutes, so I didn’t offer to pay for her meal. Sorry, Eastern politesse.

She went back to prepare lesson plans, I went back to pass out from exhaustion.

Thought of the Day:

Okay, there’s the weird thing Japanese stores do. First, they make the aisles way to small. This helps you bump into things and knock them to the floor so a small Japanese man can come over and apologize at you. Secondly, they only put on display a frustratingly few options. Like at the Ghibli store, there were three puzzles on a shelf. I know that there were at least twenty different puzzle designs they had in stock. But three were on the shelf.

It’s really an interesting insight into the culture that kind of rationalizes the attitude of a Nintendo-like company. Why do they keep bringing out features and gimmicks, and then convincing the customer that what they want is the same thing as what Nintendo just trotted out. Shouldn’t they instead find out what the customer wants and provide that? Nope! Because that’s exactly how you shop in Japan. It _sucks_.

There’s a reason the milk is in the back of the supermarket. A lot of thought and research goes into designing a store. These people do not give a shit about that. The Japanese seem to like to offer you five semi-random things in as small a space as possible and expect you to be satisfied instead of asking if it comes in your favorite color. Listen, I want this oppai mousepad, but I want the Haruhi one. There should be a huge bin of oppai mousepads that I can search through! Arrrgh! I guess it comes down to floorspace.

The single most organized thing I’ve seen so far has been the porn, as expected. Alphabetized by actress/character/series, it’s a breeze to navigate. Oh, Japan.


Me, I’ve never really considered stealing anything.

Then again, I’ve never really held the ORIGINAL STORYBOARDS FOR HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE in my hands. That is, until today. I promise you I had an escape route worked out in my head, and the odds that I could fight off the two guys working the gate were fairly favorable. I actively had to remind myself that a responsible and rational adult would put the CONCEPT ART FOR NAUSICCA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND back on the table in the Ghibli Museum.

Ah, the place had the magic. Even the fact that all the displays were made for kids couldn’t stop me from receiving that distinctly Ghibli feeling, a mix of wonder and respect, a feeling that leaves you satisfied with your place in a wild world filled with mystery.

A low-light room with many dioramas. Reverent music in the background. Film reels spin, exhibits explain animation using motion wheels. There’s a picture of every Ghibli film, starting with Nausicca and ending with the new one in that’s still in theaters. I read the writing through dim lighting, while in the background a diorama of Mai chasing Totoro through a field on a windy day loops. Translated, it reads something like, “In this wide world, there are many things that move. People and animals, wind-blown trees and grass. All our lives are the same. We all are alive.” I nearly tear up.

Thanks to the typhoon, I had to pay 500 yen for an umbrella and the was smart enough to carry it over my head like I’m dainty little Mary Poppins, floating gently in the breeze, an affectation I would later pay for with a soaked backpack. It didn’t help that I got hella lost at the bus station and walked around in the rain for an hour trying to match the kanji on my phone with the kanji on the signs. You guessed it, I was at the wrong bus station. Luckily my terrible Japanese was good enough for the taxi driver. TOTORO NO TOKORO MADE! (to the Totoro place!)

I dunno what I was expecting from a McDonald’s in Japan. Like, a squid burger, maybe? All I got was a shitty Quarterpounder with Cheese at double the price of any other lunch option.

I think I spent at least two hours total lost in a train stations today alone.

Then, I accidentally found the Pokemon Center in Tokyo. And by ‘accidentally’, I mean I hunted that sunavabitch down. After going the wrong way, crashing a traditional drumming demonstration, and passing both the Tokyo Tower and a Buddhist temple, finding the biggest Pokemon store in the world felt as if I were an Arab doing my required pilgrimage to Mecca.

I do remember walking into the door. I can recall a rather sanguine Japanese woman shoving a stuffed Pikachu doll in my face, smiling and saying “Konichiwa! Itterashaimaseeeeee!” and then it’s all blank from there. The receipt in the bag says I spent 10896 yen. I own a Bidoof keychain dongle and a Minccino hat. I don’t even know what happened.

My body hurts. I’ll get to Day 1 and 0 another time. Also, I’ll also re-edit with detail and pictures sometime in the future. Very, very, very tired.

Thought of the Day:

Interesting paradox I noticed: There’s no trash cans in this country, and yet, no litter. And when I say no trash cans, I mean I had to seek out a train station numerous times simply so I could use their bathroom which I knew would have one. It’s infuriating.

It’s especially absurd considering every time you buy something (and you’re often buying things, because you apparently have infinite disposable income), you get two bags and a receipt. I paid exact change something and just wanna put it in my backpack, but I somehow end up with more paper and plastic than the exit of a grocery store.

I can attribute the cleanliness to two things.

1. Everyone’s working. Especially in places we don’t give a damn about in America.

I saw an old dude raking leaves in the park. I took a picture every time I saw someone unnecessarily directing traffic. People pushing bins places, people on the street handing out flyers. People out front of businesses calling you to enter. Every trash can I did encounter had what appeared to be a 50/50 chance of being in the process of being changed. There’s always someone with a broom.

2. Social stigma.

You say littering is bad and people stop littering. I just can’t even comprehend. This extends to other stuff as well. I pointed out that it would be really, really, really easy to shoplift from these stores and Jess insisted that never happens. Even to the most rebellious Japanese person, the shame of being a thief would far outweigh whatever you would steal.

So you end up with this extremely clean, safe country and backpacks full of plastic bags and paper receipts. Props, Tokyo.