Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time slips by

It's looking like the end of week 2. Wow, how did that happen?

This week was spent traveling with my class. We met everyday for something or another.

On Monday we went to the publishing company of Shonen Magazine, the second most popular manga weekly in Japan. We all learned as to how intense the process of making a weekly manga magazine is. Sometimes the artist and editors go back and forth for 30 hours straight just during the planning stages.

Tuesday we went to the Edo period museum and Asakusa. The museum was nice, but I still hate Asakusa. Tourist traps left and right.

Wednesday was just class. Way to go Wednesday!

Thursday we went on a tour of the imperial palace. I was happy to do this because it was something I failed to do last time. It turned out to be a mistake. It was extremely hot that day and standing around exposed to the sun was not really a priority. The palace itself was pretty awesome, but the tour was way too long for the extremely small distance we covered. I chilled out afterward by going to the Sony Building.

Highlight of the week was the concert at Club Quattro on Thursday. I saw Ogre You Asshole and Eastern Youth. They were both pretty fantastic. I didn't really know how big a deal Eastern Youth was before the concert, but the crowd was flipping out. They seemed really Fugazi influenced (even had a bell above the ride cymbal). I am definitely missing out by not knowing the lyrics. OYA was great live. Their drummer is unbelievable. He was consistently using rudiments and one handed rolls, and was just so fluid overall.

Friday was spent at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. The museum there depicted WWII as a defensive war for Japan, brought on by America pressuring Japan with cutting off our exports to them. Not once was the alliance with the Axis mentioned, nor Nanking, nor anything else one would think would be a slightly important historical detail that might portray Japan in any sort of negative light. Yeah.

Later in Akihabara, I discovered a shop completely devoted to selling sd cards to hack a Nintendo DS so you can put music and however many games you want on it at the same time....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Such a wide range of emotions

So for homework I had to watch Grave of the Fireflies. It is the most depressing movie I have ever seen. It was like Life is Beautiful, except instead of a Father and Son its a Preteen and his 3 year old sister. Also, there are no Nazis as evil figures, only the circumstances of war. I was devastated.

So how do I turn that sorrow around? THE TAIKO GAME FOR WII! It suddenly appeared at my home stay house (along with a wii). Here's a video for anyone not familiar with what I am talking about:

To top it off, before class today we watched the Chinpokomon episode of South Park. Awesome.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A week gone already?!

Right about now marks a week from when my plane touched down.

It's been great so far. All in all pretty much the same place it was last year. I have put my knowledge to good use and have managed to hit up most of my favorite spots in a week. I have been met with some great success.

1. Super Smash Brothers (Japanese N64 version)
Picked this up in Akihabara. I swore I couldn't find it last year, but this time they had like 5 all lined up in a row. The 12-pack is psyched (especially Jamar who will get to play Purin).

2. New CDs
I got these in the Shinjuku Tower Records. The new Shugo Tokumaru and the other Mass of the Fermenting Dregs E.P. They are both quite excellent, but the new Shugo really got me. He focused a little more on his intricacies that I love, and spent a little less time on the bubbly folk tunes. Also, he kicks ass on a banjo too.

3. Nintendo DS with dictionary software
This one is a bit of a funny story. I bought a Casio Japanese dictionary last summer. It's main purpose (other than to look up words I don't know) was for me to write Kanji that I could not read and give me a meaning. I hadn't really used it since last summer, so when I pulled it out on the airplane when I was brushing up on Japanese, I was really surprised when it froze at the starting screen. Even changing the batteries did nothing. Every time I reset it, it would just freeze shortly after. Without my warranty to get a new one, and not finding anyone who could fix it, my parents were just urging me to buy a new one. However, these things are waaaay to expensive and I couldn't bring myself to do it. So I decided to ask around the shops in Akihabara about this dictionary software I heard about for the Nintendo DS. It was the standard for English speaking teenagers visiting Japan a few years ago. I managed to find it in a small store, and bought it with a DS lite for about half the price of a new Casio.

Yesterday my class went on a field trip to Harajuku and Akihabara. I found some actually funny tee-shirts that I would consider buying, and some cool CDs. I didn't have time to check everything out in the Record store so I will go back there, and as for the shirts, it is so rare that I find a tee-shirt in tokyo that isn't super trendy ($$$) or super nerdy ([]_[]). However, this time around I am on a budget. I have about a third of the funds I had last time I was in Tokyo (to be spent in a time span of half the length), so I haven't bought any concert tickets yet. I do have my eye on one that looks really good (Eastern Youth and Orge You Asshole) and I will probably end up going to it. Also the Fuji Rock Lineup this year is kind of ridiculous (what is this Tom York and Flea project?).

So far some of my best adventures this time around have been the result of messing up and having to run off someplace in Tokyo to try to fix it. On that note, time to find my lost ID at the Ueno station.

P.S. Went to a maid cafe with my class. Extremely tame. Somewhat of a let down.

Monday, May 31, 2010

For reals-I am back

Waseda University to the rescue. Although they had like 30 layers of protection, I finally have fast, reliable wireless internet that I can use anywhere on campus. Adventure 2 for the day is getting my phone to work again.

I am back in Tokyo, and things feel about the same. Unfortunately I am in the Funabashi area and am about an hour from Waseda and Shinjuku. I did not realize how perfect it was to be living in the Iidabashi area until now.

Waseda is pretty amazing. The campus is really nice, and it was packed with people today. The other Yale students and the one Princeton student are awesome as well. I have already had one experience in a restaurant this morning where a bunch of the other students turned to me to translate and give advice. Apparently I might have the second most Japanese speaking experience out of all of us. Interestingly enough, the student who speaks Japanese the best has been abroad since last summer. We actually hung out a little last year.

Mostly I have been sleeping and fretting about not having internet, so I have not explored that much at all. Although my first internet cafe experience was pretty cool. It doubled as a Manga kissaten, but I didn't see anyone browsing. It seemed like the focus was the internet/reading in private.

Hopefully next time I will have more interesting stories to tell.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This post cost me 200¥

Just after I found out how to get the yen symbol. I spent a few minutes figuring out how to write in roman characters again.

I am in an internet cafe and the clock is ticking. Back in Tokyo and it feels great. But really? No internet.

My host family has dial up and there is no open wifi for me to use. Seeing as I have not been able to reactivate my phone yet, the internet would have been the only way for me to contact the outside world. Other important questions, such as what is there to do in Funabashi and what is the cheapest way to get back and forth from Waseda, remain unaswered.

Hopefully it will work out, since I would really like to get this blog going again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And that's it...We're out of ingredients

Whoever knows the reference in my title is a champ.

That is all folks. Tonight I pack and leave for Narita in the morning. I had the most amazing time I could possibly imagine. My thoughts right now are split 50/50 with "I can't wait to go home (and even back to school)" and "I want to come back as soon as I can."

I have known I was meant for city life for a long time. I have New Haven, but everyone knows that doesn't count as a city. I think it's genetic. My Dad is from New York, and four of my cousins (all raised one town over from me) live/go to school in New York. As for me, I have probably spent only a couple weeks worth of total time in New York City during my life. After these two months, I feel attached to this city. It is the first city I have lived in, so now it feels like "my city."

As I am writing this, I can't help but laugh at my last statement. How can I make such a claim when I was never a part of this city? I merely adapted, rather than integrated. The collection of my actions here, though varied and vast, do not amount to more than that of a tourist. A tourist takes experiences and confines to the frame of their life, but the experiences themselves are not their life. On top of this I have made no lasting friends in Tokyo.

I do feel like I have discovered a lot. I am in that halfway state of knowing a lot of the city, but still having much to explore. Also, I saw more of Japan than just Tokyo. I meet several Tokyo natives who marveled at the fact that I had seen more of Japan than they had.

I am returning to the States with several things. Among these, obviously, are my new T shirts, my Jisho (dictionary), ticket stubs, fliers, my Japanese cellphone (keitai), my suica card, and the 10 CDs I bought today (bringing my total to 12). However, I also have a renewed devotion to the study of the Japanese language. My time here has improved my comprehension considerably, but I still cannot hold a casual conversation (I am limited to basic questions and answers). My course schedule will continue to have Japanese in it for as long as I can keep it that way.

I have no idea what I want to do with my life. These two months around music make me feel like I should give it a shot after college (I wasn't planning on going to grad school immediately after anyway). There's something romantic about the lifestyle, but I also want a family. I just don't see the two working out together and I know which one I give priority. However, now I do know that Tokyo will be making a bigger appearance somewhere in my life. I am coming back here. Next time I will actually integrate. I may want to live here, at least for some of my life.

Until then, this blog is pretty irrelevant. For now, this is the final post.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Grand Finale

Tomorrow I leave for the Fuji Rock Festival. Though the actual festival doesn't start until Friday, I thought it would be better to get settled in my hotel and not be rushed on Friday.

I am really excited. I will be seeing a bunch of artist I haven't really checked out before, and finally see some artists I have listened to for years.

Friday will probably be something like this:

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
White Lies/Curly Giraffe (leaning towards Curly Giraffe)
Ebony Bones (if I can catch any of it, or if the two above are boring)
Low I.Q. and The Beatbreaker
The Virgins
Peaches/Tortoise (probably going to do a half and half thing)
Simian Mobile Disco

And then at night I will see Eye, DJ Towa Tei, and maybe Gang Gang Dance.


A Flood of Circle (that or I sleep through them, since no one else is playing)
9mm Parabellum Bullet
Funeral Party
Ida Maria
Gaslight Anthem/Cool Wise Men (or nothing, this slot is kind of a dud)
Comeback my Daughters
The Melvins
Ben Harper
Zazen Boyz
Public Enemy


Mass of the Fermenting Dregs
Holy F*ck
The Airborne Toxic Event/Dachambo
HiGE (maybe)
De De Mouse
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Rovo (maybe)
Yukihiro Takahashi
Animal Collective
Basement Jaxx

Sunday really worked out especially at the end there. Too bad I am missing Disco Biscuits again.
Saturday Morning is weak, but the night is the best of the festival (How in the hell did they schedule that so perfectly). Nothing too monumental on Friday, but some new stuff to check out. Why did they schedule Peaches and Tortoise at the same time?