Huge update: My first trip to Japan.
Hiromi and I fly from SFO to Narita.
Rode JR from Narita to Nerima-ku.
It is fracking cold.
Apparently they have Dragon Ball on TV in Japan.
Went to Ikebukuro.
Had kare ramen, so damn delicious.
Bought some pants at Uniqlo. Only in Japan do I find pants in my waist size (T_T)
Smoking inside is fine in many places. Outside, one must find these green smoke zones.
Not satisfied with just having had everyone celebrate his birthday just a few days ago, Christ sets his followers to the streets.
A long over due trimming of the hair is acquired.
Bakudan Takoyaki outside of the SEGA Center is a must. They are HUGE.
Upstairs we try to do purikura and after much confusion, pull off one set.
More shopping: Bic Camera, Tokyu Hands (Nekobukuro!), Dig, and places I forget. Clothes (warm jacket!) and gadgets acquired =D
Trains and subways are lifeblood here. Heated seats, signs depicting the dangers of drunk oyaji, women-only cars (yes the sexual harassment is that bad), and a no mobile phone zone.
Also everyone listens to their PMP at reasonable levels and everyone not texting or browsing on their phone is on a DS or a PSP.
My impersonation, note the white DS to my left.
Head out to Chiba to attend Countdown Japan 07/08 at Makuhari Messe.
Hiromi’s friend got us backstage passes and we got to hang out and eat with artist and their crew and families.
Saw YO-KING and TOMOVSKY perform. Asked YO-KING if his wife (YUKI) was here too, and he said she couldn’t make it. (T_T)
Had to cut out and ride over to Shibuya to meet with Meg for lŠiƒ‰ƒaƒI live at C.C.Lemon Hall.
The hall was big and comfy and the band late to start.
Then they played:
My first VK indies live in Japan was amazing. The entire show was great and presentation was fantastic. Yuuki’s anguished crooning of ‰WŽÌ‚ÄŽR will haunt me for a long time~
Afterward, had some dinner with Meg at Jonathan’s and called it a night.
Went to Shibuya for some more shopping and food.
Okonomiyaki bitch! I love it!
After blowing ~50,000 en at Tower Records, we wander towards Harajuku.
Too fast to live. Too young to die. CREAM SODA!
Ura-Hara’s small streets, cobble stoned and rain slicked, sneak me through the mass of shoppers.
Here, I found my space.
This statement is true.
LaForet. Racist children’s jacket. How about this omiyage for the little xenophobe in your in-group?
After a long day of walking and shopping it starts to rain. We head into an izakaya for some drinks and foods.
Spent the day with Hiromi’s mom hanging out and shopping for New Years.
Kids get all the best stuff. This bin for example.
Later that night we meet up with Hiromi’s friend Tayo-san and her boyfriend Jun-san.
We started at an izakaya, then moved to a tachinomiya (standing bar) where more drinks and food were enjoyed.
Jun-san made me laugh in this photo. He’s a cop. An investigator actually. He has two or more of every rare event Pokemon on his DS.
Tayo-san and Hiromi getting their drink on.
We then headed to karaoke and drank some more. Miho-chan, a friend from San Francisco was in Japan at the time, joined us.
I bust out some ‚¨‚æ‚°I‚½‚¢‚â‚«‚‚ñ and Rick Astley that night.
After karaoke we head to another izakaya. More booze and food!
I don’t remember this.
Miho-chan and my tree friend.
We end up at Tayo-san’s mansion. I kid you not. Japan actually calls these condos mansions. The entire place could fit into my bedroom.
She has two chihuahuas.
An epic battle.
The morning after. This is the only room aside from the kitchen/hall and bathroom/shower.
After having some some hot udon for breakfast/lunch and bidding farewell to my new friends, my hangover leads me to Mister Donut…
…for a delicious pink frosting w/ sprinkles doughnut and coffee. Mmm… raspberry doughnut *drool*
Next, we toured Akihabara for some omiyage shopping.
I was feeling wiped so we bailed after not getting very far.
Spent the night watching K1 fighting on TV and crashed out pretty early.
Every ad was for Fields’ new Evangelion pachinko machine. It drove me nuts seeing it like 30 times.
Spent the day eating soba, mochi, and a bunch of special ordered snacks for the New Year.
With most business’ closed, and us wide awake, we headed to Don Quijote.
Which faux vagina to choose? They each have their strong points. Tough decisions…
After shopping and knocking a bunch of glass bottles over, we head to the top floor to smoke in the arcade.
Holy shit, the new Evangelion pachinko machine by Fields!
This day we headed to Asakusa for hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the New Year in Japan).
On the way we find Business Tool. What kind of business are these ‘tools’ for?!
So many snacks to choose from.
With the line extending farther than we can see, Hiromi cheats and sniper prays from this vantage point.
After getting out fortunes and prayers out we head out to avoid the huge crowds.
Hiromi’s friend who got us backstage passes earlier, invites us over to her her place.
Her son Rin-chan and I both enjoy this Shimajiro potty training figure. Press him down onto the toilet, and he pees! Rin-chan is just getting the hang of it. Every time he makes it to the toilet and pees, his mom gives him a star. He’s got like 30 more to go and he gets a prize.
Rin-chan likes piercings so kept asking me about my tongue.
He borrowed my glasses.
After having dinner and drinks, we left pretty late since Rin-chan didn’t want to go to sleep thinking we’d leave if he did.
Headed to Shinjuku.
Tried on some nice looking but too small clothes (T_T)
Met a really cute lolita. All too briefly. Wish I talked to her more. Dear god, I think I’m developing ƒƒŠƒRƒ“…
Got lost some more.
Ended up an hour and a half late to meet Meg for the live we were going to (T_T)
Make it inside Liquid Room in Ebisu, meet up with Meg.
Head in and Ruvie appears as the secret guest. Not bad.
Next came 176BIZ, who suck hard.
12012 bust out a good show but they are getting bland with their stuff. No women were choked that night.
Jully takes the stage and I’m dancing away. So goddamned great.
heidi. closes the night and I just dance and sing along till they leave the stage
I wanted to see Jully and heidi. so bad, and attending their tour final was so fun. I can’t wait to see them again.
Headed back, got lost (again). One hour later I meet up with Hiromi and her brother Naoto (who just got back from Thailand) for drinks and food.
Head to Ikebukuro for more shopping. Bought a fukubukuro (a kind of mystery bag) even though the day before, I claimed I never would. Peer pressure is powerful.
Head to Ebisu for another live at Liquid Room.
ART POP ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS
CRUSH OF MODE-NEW YEAR PREMIUM SHOW’08
Showed up late (purposefully this time)
So I could miss: spam_life
Holy shit, this place was packed with middle aged women.
Older Japanese VK slash rocker chicks. Some were just dressed in plain clothes.
Lots with their daughters, even dressing alike. Freaky.
While smoking outside one asked me “something something dono bando something something”.
She turned away and continued crouching and smoking after I told her I didn’t speak Japanese.
SEX-ANDROID was fun to watch, but punk is so annoying I didn’t dig them much.
ƒrƒŠ[ sucked. I like one song by them and it was not preformed.
ƒOƒ‹ƒOƒ‹‰fá`ŠÙ was great. I wish I saw them with their previous line up though.
“VÆ ‘åâJ@Solo Project was corny as hell. This good looking glam/metal guy was the reason all the middle aged women were there. They went nuts for him.
V‹»@‹³Šy’cNoGoD blew me away. Well Dancho did. His crazy faces and quirky movements tickled me and his live voice was really strong.
ƒƒgƒƒm[ƒ€ kicked arse. All newer songs that I’ve been too out of the loop to know. Riu was amazing, his technique was so fun to watch and his showmanship was nuts. Fukusuke was looking good and playing really well. Overall, meto did amazing and know how to put on a good show.
I couldn’t find a setlist =(
After the live Fukusuke got on the mic and called out members for a session. Riu and Shintaro stayed, while the vocals from NoGoD, Billy, and Guruguru swapped in and Daishi took over guitar.
They then preformed some song titled “Only You” that Danchou didn’t know the lyrics to and Fukusuke air guitared/lipsynced the enitre performance.
I went upstairs to grab some NoGoD and Meto goods, and while standing in line some girl asks me “something something dono bando something something”. The same damn question I couldn’t understand but could recognize being asked again. (T_T) When I said I didn’t speak Japanese she gave me the “Oh, well that sucks” face.
I’m wondering if their some etiquette I’m missing, like the whole “Which band are you here to see?” question when you come in. I didn’t know what that they meant and that the band you mention gets cash if you state that your there to see them most.
After that I bailed to get some food with Hiromi and Naoto at yakitori bar owned by Naoto’s friend.
The place had a creepy old Japanese style toilet.
Fuji-san passes by.
Shinkansen goes Wooh Woo!
We get to Hiroshima and head for the nearest okonomiyaki place. There’s like 15 shops on on one floor.
Each one said they were #1. We chose this one.
I got a dash of onions.
After food we head to Miyajima.
From the ferry, an oyster farm gets run over by a chariot.
There are deer all over the island. And where there are deer…
…there’s deer ass. They are considered divine and are really friendly.
Heading to Itsukushima Shrine, one must be purified before going in. It’s over 1400 years old.
Walking through the long hallways.
Hiromi prays with the “floating” gate in the distance.
I was there.
Front center of the shrine.
The shrine connects to an old Noh stage.
Sitting on the stairs leading to the unfinished Senjo-kaku.
Hiromi feeds one of god’s messengers.
Tide in and lit up, a tour boat views the gate.
Worlds largest rice scoop. I WAS THERE.
The night got really cold. Ate, drank, and hopped into the public bath at the ryokan. No photos =/
Itsukushima Shrine, morning tide in.
They accept me into their herd. Then kick me out after making fun of the fact I have “only two” nipples.
Take the ferry back to Japan to catch a trolley into Hiroshima.
The robot voice annouces the upcomming stops. One rings out “For passengers going to “Atomic Bomb Dome” get off ahead.” I sat wide eyed thinking, wow, they just call it what it is, no cute PC name, just atomicly exploded dome.
Hiromi loses her DS case as we get off at our stop . I proclaim matter of factly “We can catch it” as it glides away at faster than human speed. We run 4 city blocks, having to take stairs up and down since you couldn’t cross the street, you had to walk below them. “Theres no way we can catch it”. She calls the line’s service and reports her loss. “I’ll have to depend on the Japanese now and wait” she says. I look up, my legs burning angry at stairs, and see:
We wander through the plaza and head to the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Inside is ominous and a video that plays near the entrance loops. The piano that plays through the background is calming and sorrowful.
The images and history here are astounding. Foreigners, Nipponjin, old, young, everyone here is attentive and many can’t stop crying.
The museum is filled with horrors and facts that I never knew about what happened. I’m shocked to know that the peaceful city I had just ran through, chasing a lost DS ,had once disappeared in a flash. The stained tatters of clothing, charred debris, and melted glass are preserved and explained in great detail. This place was once erased.
This stained wall bleeds black rain. Rain that came down upon the destroyed people, and was thirstily gulped by all who were burned, maimed, and dehydrated. From the sky and into their throats ran dust, ash, and radioactive fallout.
I bid farewell to the ashes of all the people who were not identified, at the shine were they are all buried, taking one last photo on the bridge below the sky where the bomb was aimed.
I recommend visiting this place to see for yourself one of the most terrible things people would do to each other. Visit the plaza, and if you can handle crying constantly for over an hour, see the mueseum. The place is beautiful and it’s amazing to see how nightmarish it once was.
One more stop to see what Hiroshima is most famous for:
We head to the station and ask about Hiromi’s DS. And wow, they had it and all the games inside the case were intact. In SF, it would be gutted and left for dead. Thank you stranger in Hiroshima for being awesome.
We take the shinkansen back to Tokyo, tired and humbled.
One more day of shopping!
Stop by a curry soup place in Harajuku and order medium spicy curry soup.
“It was more than medium spicy!” my stomach proclaims.
The city seeds are sprouting.
Shopping continues to Shibuya and then off to meet Meg, Krys, and Alicia. Poor Krys had just gotten back from the US and still made time to hang out. Afterwards, Meg, Alicia, and myself cruised Closet Child, then Meg and I hit Closet Child in Ikebukuro. After chilling and crepes we closed off the night.
Pack, eat ramen, head to airport.
I left the Japans with a huge stack of cds, clothes, way less cash, and an unforeseen fascination with NoGoD, pointy shoes, and shiny jackets.
Get to the US, eat a burrito, get food poisoning, become laid out for 5 more days before developing a cold for 3 more days.
I miss the food, I miss the overall politeness, I miss milk coffee.