Friday, September 11, 2015

The 31st of July! Big Update!

(Note: I havent updated since before July 31st! And alot has happened.
So this is my attempt to document everything that happened between now and then, in order of how it happened. )
Hello all!
Sorry, I haven't updated in awhile, but I have been soooooooooooooooooooooo busy.
And this blog is going to be really big because I have had so much to say!
This blog has been literally a month in the making. I write a little bit, then I run out of time, then I come back, write a little more.
It's just that I have been really so busy. I am really trying to get the most out of my visit to Japan, so writing this is really hard because I am trying to live in the moment so much. I really want to be a participant, rather than an observer. But I also really want to document and share my travels, as well.
Where to start?
Well I took notes about what I wanted to write about so I guess I will start from the notes I took on my iPhone (I will try to go in order of how it happened, as well):

I visited to a really nice hotel with my girlfriend, one that she worked at for like a week.
But it was reaalllly nice.
Like super rich.
And I was dressed like a surfer circa 1984, so needless to say I felt a little underdressed.
Here are some photos:

They had a beautiful Japanese garden to walk around, so we did and I geeked out.
The top photo was of the pond that had a little meditation stone, and little floating lotus pads.
I sat down to take a picture meditating on the stone as a goof, when all of the sudden I noticed my girlfriend was being eaten alive by Jurassic Park size mosquitoes. 
One actually bit her leg so bad that she was bleeding through her stockings.
And not just like a little cut, but bleeding like a nose bleed type flow.
So adrenaline kicked in and I told her "Run!" and she ran screaming through the trail. 
It was actually quite stressful, but funny at the same time.

While we were taking some pictures, a group of older women asked me to take their picture, and I noticed they were speaking Spanish, so I got to practice Spanish with them, something I hadn't practiced in awhile.
I found out they were from Colombia. 
They were a group of retired women who traveled.
They had actually came from California, where before they had traveled through all of America. 
So that was cool.
Later we went to Shinjuku, which is one of the most crowded and iconic places in Tokyo. 
I didn't really see much, but we saw enough crowds to know that was not someplace we wanted to be at that time.
Later on that week, my boss took me and my co-workers out to dinner.
They asked me where I wanted to go and I said "Sushi."
I said "Authentic sushi."
And that's exactly where we went.
We walked into some sushi restaurant that looked like it was from the 1800s inside. 
It was like REAL Japan. 
Tatami mats, where you sit on pads on the floor and eat on low tables, and Japanese families eating.
Here I was dressed in a business casual suit, with my two Japanese coworkers. Needless to say I was overdressed. And I stuck out like a sore thumb.
It was a great time, because they asked me what I wanted to try and essentially I told them to bring out the most obscure, unique stuff. And boy, did they deliver.
I tried raw octopus. 
River eel.
And even whale. It tasted like chicken.
In the moment I thought "Oh cool, whale." But later I actually felt bad and I was like "ooohh...this is whale."
Regardless it was a unique experience. 
Also the waitress was some old Japanese lady (who I think was drunk). She said Hi to everyone in Japanese and then she saw me and smiled and called me "Gaijin-Sama" and just laughed.
This was the FIRST and only time I've ever been called "Gaijin" in Japan.
For those that don't know Gaijin means "Foreigner." Sama is like the most polite form to call someone.
The food was so good, and really was the authentic Japanese experience that I wanted.
The boss asked if I wanted Sake (Sake means alcohol in general in Japanese, but Sake in America generally means Rice Wine, which was this Sake).
Now I love warm sake, so he brought it out. 
Everytime I finished a cup he refilled. 
I don't know if he was just being polite or if he was just trying to get me drunk.
6 bottles of Sake later....

Here is an update of badly translated English t-shirts:

My coworker told me a kid came into class with a shirt that said "Anti Black."
Then I saw an old lady wearing a tshirt that said "Enjoy yourself coolest dude ever."
The worst was I saw some really fashionable woman who was wearing some nice fashionable clothes, but her tshirt said "I live in moment."
Speaking of fashion I've noticed some fashion trends.
One weird one is I've seen a lot of people wearing Ghostbusters 2 T-shirts.

Like, why Ghostbusters 2? And why the  Ghostbusters franchise at all?
Another one I've noticed is unique Kurt Cobain T-shirts in Japan. Here are some I've seen:

One other is I have noticed Keith Haring is extremely in in Japan.
Keith Haring is everywhere. 

This is really heartening because he is my favorite artist.
Here is a picture of a money tray at a Pizzeria.

I got so excited that I wanted to tell the employee "写真を撮ります (shashin o torimasu - "I take a picture")

Also around this time it was extremely あつい "hot" in Japan!
So meltingly hot!
And it's interesting because it's so insanely cold when you walk inside places in Japan. Literally everywhere is air conditioned. I have never lived in a place where it's colder inside than it is outside. 

One very surreal event I witnessed was walking in the subway late one night with my girlfriend. I heard faint hip-hop music in the distance. As we started walking closer we saw these group of Japanese hip-hop heads standing outside a closed store's rolled up garage door, with a boombox blasting. All of the sudden they started break dancing. 
One of the guys did a spin on his head for what seemed like 30 seconds or more. It was impressive, but it was very surreal.
It felt like I was transported to some artificial New York subway where breakdancing or "breakin'" was this fresh new dance style. It was strange in ways that I can't fully explain. 

Here are some other trends I have noticed walking around the train and subway stations:

1. I can count on my two hands how many homeless people I have seen in Japan. And maybe I have seen the same homeless person multiple times.

2. There was a trend that I noticed of people dropping cell phones on the trains. I don't know if this is one of those cases where this is a trend specific to Japan, or if it was just something that I really tuned into so I noticed more. I have seen probably over 20 cell phones drop in Japan, on the trains and walking around. It is really strange to see this happen over and over again. I don't know....

3. There have been an impressive amount of blind people walking around on to trains and subways. It's really impressive because navigating the subway and train systems are already somewhat terrifying, and extremely hectic with the sense of eyesight. 
It really is heroic to see these people making the trek and not being afraid. I feel somewhat sorry for them, but also I am proud of them for not being afraid to navigate the train systems alone.
I had the same thought of my girlfriend when I saw them walking around, we just want to hold on to their arm and help guide them. It 's really inspiring to see their bravery.

Part 2...Coming soon!

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