Sunday, February 21, 2010

Missed details and side commentary

-japanese people (women in particular) are so good at being/looking happy. Are you really so overjoyed i walked into or exited the store? It's a bit weird.
-many japanese people are nice. twice i was given a gift within minutes of random acquaintanceship.
-yes there is a strange surplus of model-esque and capital U cUte women in Japan. But in fact many of them look bizarrely similar. Such is the magic of make up.

-chatted w/ a Hiroshima bomb survivor (w/ aid of a translator)
-enjoyed the Hiroshima Peace Museum, but think i learned more from the Barefoot Gen graphic novels (again, highly recommended).
-hiked 8km from 1 historic village to another through layers of fresh snow and forests. Didn't see another hiker.
-got through 2.5 wks in Japan w/out bodily injury. Amen: no travel insurance.
-visited a number of japan's ubiquitous onsen (hot springs), including (imo) questionable electric baths which send AC current through yout body, quickly inducing your feet and fingers to tingle in a less than pleasant way.
-was curious to observe entire shelves of porn movies intended to enlighten the masses about the erotic arts of pissing, shitting, and vomiting.

And if you need any more reason to check out Japan, this trailer is all you need to know:

The Silver Lining

Nice silver linings:
1) As i was putting on my shoes for my evening of solo wandering, a girl recognized me from Kyoto, and started chatting w/ me. So i accompanied her for dinner, and mentioned that earlier i was at that Osaka gay bar. "Oh i love gay bars, let's go find one."

So we did.

And despite commentary from a DJ himself that Umeki has no good bars/clubs, the joint was pretty cool. And how can you possibly go wrong with a tranny DJ pumping out lots of old Pizzicato 5 songs, in a lounge-dance music themed night?

Funnily enough the London girl i went w/ wasn't into it. She would prefer listening to Nickelback, it turned out.

2) On the plane bk to BJ sat next to a Japanese guy who's lived in BJ for 8 yrs. Started getting my mandarin on again. He was decked out like a Ramone, used to work for the legendary bar D22, and Maybe Mars record label. Anyhow, it was quite fun shooting the breeze w/ him, and we'll pbly meet up later.

So that was all better than the piss-off ending to my trip it could've been.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fucked up. Again.

Why is it that i never seem to learn any lessons?

This morning i woke up at 8:00, and left for my ferry in Kobe.

Mistake 1: assumed i'd get to kobe in 30 minutes. because although i COULD have done it, i was somehow directed onto the slow train instead of the express train.

Mistake 2: JR pass was expired yesterday.

Mistake 3: realized that my ticket says that the ferry leaves at 11:30, NOT 10:30.

Mistake 4: relaxed.

Mistake 5: thought it pragmatic to waste time buying food for the 2 day ferry ride.

Mistake 6: asked someone about what subway to take to the ferry. Ferry. Boat. Is it the harbour front? "yes yes harbour front." which way? "no, no, you have to take THAT train."

Mistake 7: believed this person. the ferry is in fact not at harbour front.

Mistake 8: took a taxi, not realizing that traffic would be frustratingly slow. Thx nonetheless to the dude who helped me find the taxi and told the old driver where to go.

Mistake 9: not realizing that in fact that the ticket which says departure 11:30, actually could (and DID) leave EARLY, around 11.

Misake 10: snapping at a woman at the info booth who was just trying to tell me the facts.


Mistake 11: not checking to see what the name of the station is, what rail company line it's on, or how to f'ing get there.

all in all, it was one fuck of a stressful morning, running all over w/ a heavy backpack and 2 days worth of food and drink. And literally finding myself directed to run through the same train station i had run through 40 min earlier.

Citing the early departure as a reason, the ferry company generously refunded my return trip sum.

Mistake 12: decided i didn't want to waste time looking for an overpriced interntet cafe in a city i don't know, so instad took a $30 bus to Kansai airport to catch the next plane to bj was a good idea. Turns out there was only one flight left that day, for $1700. So used the moreso overpriced airport internet port, and booked a plane bk to BJ for the next day.

Then took a $12 train to Osaka for the night.

Mistake 13: carbon emissions. The flight to bj, actually goes to Tokyo first, and then changes to another airline. Weirdly, it was no cheaper to take a train to Tokyo first: the Osaka > Tokyo flight cost was ... free.

Anyhow you may well imagine the head-beating and self-denigration and general pissed-offedness that i was experiencing. Thinking about Q, and her reminders for me to get my shit together, and also about her efforts to accept me as i am, brought me to tears.

So, at any rate, all of this stuff came snowballing together making for a rather hard crash at the end of my japan trip. Now i just want to get the hell home and relax. Back in the hostel, i've been pretty antisocial, and wary to hang out w/ people.

tonight will pbly just have a solo wander and drink the sake i bought for my ferry ride.

Tsukiji fish market

forgot to post this earlier.

Everybody and all the guidebooks say you gotta chk out the tsujiki fish market. i got a bit lost, and didn't arrive there until 7:30 am. rather on the late side.

Nonetheless, i still saw scores of crazy sea creatures captured and slaughtered for human consumption. Particularly heaps and heaps of massive tuna. tuna fish that pbly weigh about as much as a 4'6 woman.

My brother (and many others) went on and on about how amazing and incredible it is, so intense, adrenaline, etc.

but largely, i felt... disturbed. All the fish that are sourced out to the rest of japan come here first. so the numbers of these fish struck me as insane.

the word "unsustainable" kept ringing through my head. there were moments i felt like i was witnessing the end of humanity. SO MANY fish, caught EVERY DAY. and that necessitates lots of MONEY and LIVELIHOODS.

It was so obvious that despite decreasing fish stocks people will fight tooth and nail to preserve the industry that they and their families have practiced for centuries.

However, i suspect that these tuna may replicate the boom and bust cod fisheries of Atlantic Canada, an industry that never recovered, since the cod lost their place in the food chain.

And sadly, the less fish there are, the more efficient the means of catching them becomes to keep the output consistent.

this from the Washington Post:
An international group of ecologists and economists warned yesterday that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, based on a four-year study of catch data and the effects of fisheries collapses.

2048, huh? i totally believe it.

The thing that pbly impacted me the most however, was seeing someone purchase an octopus. The merchant picked up the purple creature, sliced off its strangely squooshy melon, tossed it in the garbage, and placed the 8 legs into a clear plastic bag.

Shit, i'd be pretty pissed off if people had no interest in my head. Or body. It's a bit like the sharkfin phenomenon.

Well, it struck me as a metaphor for our waste of natural resources and ambivalence towards life and sentience.

On the plus side, in a country where most everything is expensive, by necessity everytime i eat out i scrape the platter clean.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Japan: pros and cons

-i like the efficiency.
-i like the futurama.
-i like the order.
-the food is great.
-you can drink the TAP WATER here!!!
-The skies are blue.
-it's spotlessly clean most everywhere.
-wilderness and hikes easily accessible.
-Japanese people look really good. Quite fashionable in that cosmo way.
-People are super friendly. Keen to give me small gifts for no real reason.


-The address system which doesn't use street names is (in the opinion of many) incomprehensible.
-Ubiquitous heated seats and auto-opening car doors and other luxuries seem totally unnecessary.
-a 'normal' 6 day work week/ 14 hour days?
-there's a reservedness and conservative-ness that's a bit stifling. i horribly offended some people by blowing my nose while walking on the sidewalk.
-rather tricky to actually get animal-free food, even after stating, 'watashi wa beijiterian desu'.
-Although it's said that you can travel in japan on a budget, it's pretty darn hard to do so. So i stay in hostels mostly, and that's ok. But food and ticket prices etc add up rather quickly.

the manga thing. there's really no denying it. The overt sexualization of school girls in manga comics is self-evident. so us westerners think, Hm, that's bad, that will make us into peodophiles. Right?

so i want to see stats. Is peodophilia more common in Japan than in other countries? Dunno. Sounds kinda like that argument about how pornograpy will make people into sex-maniacs, whereas countries which are more sexually liberal seem to have less sex offenders than, say, the usa. Granted, who can begin to count the factors i'm omitting here.

Ok, more later. tomorrow: kyoto. for a brief 2 days, then onto the slow boat to china.

for a blitz through my apt, before heading off Lanzhou to meet qianqian's parents.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Japan - in brief

Internet is as much as $10/hr.

short skirts, long boots, too many cute/sexy girls.

nervous i might develop a taste for manga chicks.

Japan cuisine: 10% sushi, 10% udon, 80% soba.

Japan Rail - I love you!

Actually, Japan rail Pass, i love you/

Hiroshima reggae, dance hall club night. Very expensive, but very happening.
But too much MC.

Met lots of japanese boys and girls. Unable to converse w/ any of them.

13, 14 hr workdays: normal.

skies that look as clean and unpolluted as canada's.

japan: good.1

Thursday, February 4, 2010

tokyo okyo dokyo

Yup. Tokyo's pretty darn cool. and Hyooj.

i checked out many diff parts of town.

a bit of art.

2 concerts which had stellar moments, but were overall less than stellar. Interesting to see there's diff styles of music which i don't see in bj much.

walked around lots.

No shortage of beautiful women.

Or cosplay girls (decked out in their manga hair and outfits).

plenty of modern architectural wet dreams.

i have some comments about Japanese society, but i:ll let it stew in my brain a bit more before posting on that. Hey, it hasnt even bn a wk yet!