Sunday, August 06, 2006

The baseball/soccer stadium blocks from my house. Yes, we're the Beavers, sicko. What of it? And yes, I do find the sculpture terrifing. Pics of the neighborhood and apartment to come, cuz it rocks and all.

This is taken IN A CAVE. And James is wearing a straw hat. I mean, that's crazy. How many feet were we underground? Ty gets cool points. And D, were you actually ever in Boy Scouts?


...and welcome home to the USA. I've grown up with this awesome mountain in my backyard and never appreciated it... 14,162ft... snap! on Mt. Fuji.

The Crew, as it was and all

Lola and Al

THE BUCKET does awful things to a person....

Rolling home with the team.

Long Time Coming

Wow, so, okay, I haven't posted in about two months, my apology. Things have been intense here, in a leisurely way. Weekends are packed with weddings and other pleasant social functions. Unique living situation currently (Allie was mostly right). But things quite good, and I'm glad to be back in the homeland, they have MEXICAN FOOD here! I've had a few adventures, will try to post to keep you crazy kids from all over in the loop, cuz that really is important to me...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Because you (Price) demanded it, I return to you with further documentation of the curious commodes of Japan. It was the first time I encountered this particular species in the wilds, and approached with caution. The translucent plastic sheets covering the toilet seat is of course to protect your butt from all kinds of cross-infection from the hindquarters of others. Before you attend to your business, you press the button and watch in awe while the uncouth plastic is retracted inside the bowels (heh) of the toilet seat. Or that's how it was supposed to work. Upon activating the device, it made a mechanical groan and shuddered a little while I backed away warily, greatful I just needed to pee.

End of an Era

I completed my term of employment with my former company on May 31st and am now only days from returning the the United States. The past month has been otherworldly. I pretty much worked my final three weeks with only two days off, and at the end I was completely run down and my body was starting to protest in various ways. This was, of course, in addition to myself trying to do too much socially, as I remain intent in experiencing as much as possible and visiting with everyone before I leave.

Yesterday was Tony's birthday, and a bunch of us went to a professional baseball game to celebrate. It was Tokyo's Yakult Swallows versus ... the Bison? Buffalo? Cannot remember, just recall large furry herbavore from the midwest somewhere that started with a "B." The stadium initially struck me as quite small, which is a feeling I am not accustomed to when it comes to arenas of entertainment here. The crowd was lively and lived up to the expectations I had concerning baseball fans in Japan. Since clapping is so passe, the majority of spectators wielded two hollow plastic tubes covered in the logos of their favorite team. These said sticks were then vigorously slapped together in harmony to chants of encouragement led by the insane cheerleaders. It was loud. And fun. We sat in the bleachers, the cheap seats, but nobody there was sitting this one out - everybody was taking part. The experience contrasted sharply with my (limited) experiences with baseball back home. I am not aware of the capacity of the Swallows' stadium, but it had to be a third of the standard American ballpark - kinda jives with something I read a while back where U.S. teams were reducing arena capacity to create a more intimate and fun experience. Well, it seems to work.

When your team hits a home run, what can be more appropriate than a victory cheer involving umbrellas? From nowhere, hundreds of translucent plastic umbrellas appeared and were furiously brandished in the air. Fans here are just made of different stuff, I wager. I tip my hat, sirs.

More to come soon, lots to do, lots to blog.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Playing House

Finally got around to snapping some shots of the apartment today, as was promised eons ago. Here it is, fridge to fridge, looking towards mine (left) and Tony's room from Lina's doorway. The living room/kitchen is clearly a multi-use affair, but doesn't prove to be too much of a nuisance. The door on the right leads to the bathroom. There's a glut of bedding about because we currently have guests from back home. Note the economical twig mat wall hangings. While on the subject of walls, I should point out that painted interiors are unheard of in homes. Instead, walls are covered in offwhite textured wallpaper. Easy to replace and clean, but kinda blah in the interior design category.

This breathtaking vista can be had from the balcony, and peers directly through my room, across the communal space, and right out the front passage. Notable things visible: my futon, neatly stacked but not by me (I usually just double it over, our guests are just too neat), Cookie Monster, and again with the twigs, which was something Tony and I agreed to as an overall motif from the beginning, particularly for cost/convenience reasons. While our apartment is officially classified as a 3DK (three bedroom unit with dining and kitchen spaces, not the 3LDK we occupied in Fukiage - "L" stands for large), my room was originally intended as a dining room. The glass door, wood flooring, and absence of a closet betray its true nefarious purpose. The sliding glass doors that open onto the rear balcony are a blessing and a curse, affording a great view but getting lots of sunshine in the morning. I'm lucky to have a standard lightbulb in my room, most of Japan is plagued by florescent lighting - energy efficient, but murder on the eyes.

The photos got me thinking about interior design stuff (or specifically, the lack thereof in my room) and what I can do to the apartment I'll be moving into back in Portland in June. I have not seen the place yet, but have been told by Kim that it has a 1950's thing going on with corner windows, lots of light, and a "vintage bathroom." I have lived with toilet facilities past their prime before in my college days, and must say that aspect strikes the most fear in my heart. Anyway, for the past few hours I've been browsing about the web searching for good ideas, while sorting out and sketching down some stuff I'd prevously thought of or been told about. I remember my father told me about how a door can make a great functional desk, which I haphazardly (stupid to disagree with someone educated in asthetics on such matters) rejected at the time as ... too Dad. In retrospect, I think that the proper door (maybe with a piece of glass on it) stacked upon some nice glass/concrete blocks could really rock as a large desk. Would like to assemble a small, compact space that is useful, comfortable, asthetically pleasing, and accomidating of guests. In the past, there's always been trade-offs; John and I had a kickin' loft-ed dorm room when we were sophomores, wouldn't mind replicating some aspects of that in an apartment. And I was spoiled with the freedom to do anything at my college house ... yet did very little. My apartment downtown after graduation was really nice, but we were pretty limited by time and rules. I'm excited to start putting together ideas now. Guess I am interested in living in more of a home than I have in the last half-decade.

I roll with Domokun

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Our seats were great, and afforded us a perfect view of all the action. We had been advised to limit our attendance to the tail-end of the day's matches, and arrived accordingly as the top-tier ozeki took the stage and performed the first of many, many ceremonies.

A standard match consisted of about ten minutes of preparational ceremonies. First they would take the stage and pay each other a respectful bow, drink some magical water for strength, toss a chalk-like substance about themselves and the ring, and do the famous sumo stomp. Then the two opponents would take their pose, stare each other down intently...

Spent a delightful afternoon staring intently at many square miles of man-flesh festooned in colorful thongs.

Yeah, I went to sumo.

The trip was just a quick train ride into the city and was housed in a dojo-esque looking arena. I found the size of the building impressive - think your typical sports arena, yet it was adorned in traditional Japanese decor. My friend had told me that it would be hard to miss, and here words were true - I spotted the thing before the train even neared the station.

...and then go stretch for a bit, maybe drink some more, lounging about, etc. Imagine all the runners in a race taking their pose, waiting for the starting gun, and suddenly they all stand, pull out cell phones, and start loitering around. After a few matches, I came to know the procession well, but at first I felt robbed when nothing happened a few times. Apparantly, I was not the only one who was confused, as a few of the sumos performed a false start and actually laid a blow or two to their opponent before composing themself. Remembering that most of these guys live together, I wonder if there were repercussions from such actions. Extra toilet duty perhaps?

Anyway, once the match finally starts, it will last about a quarter of a minute on average. It is certainly the most ferocious sport I have ever seen, the emotion of which is evident with both the wrestlers, the referee, and all in attendance. Yet before and after the action, there is nothing but quiet intensity coming from the sumos. I cannot imagine the thoughts and emotions going through these guy's heads after a trumphant victory or humiliating defeat, but we are left imagining because it it is all internalized. No big smiles, no thrown chairs, no funky chicken. Only one guy played it up for the television cameras really, and all that he did was speed-walk into the arena, which I guess truly is achievement enough. Despite all this, the afternoon was unforgettable and easily topped anything I had previously experienced as a sports spectator.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


You do not know how very important something is until you believe you have lost it.

Let us just say that thirty seconds ago this post had a near-suicidal tone to it, but a recent revelation has revealed the prior situation to be merely "Windows File System Error 147."

Moral of the story: back up your digital photos, kids.

I need a drink.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh, Mattyboy, be careful whatcha wish for...

Here's Josh, Adam, Adam, and Matt bringin' the noise and/or funk in karaoke a few days back. The following morning my lungs were shot and I've been doing my finest mime impersonation ever since. Bad business move when your position is teaching spoken English. Yet no regrets.

Good night and good luck.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Was initially dissapointed with the photography prospects at the farm. It's been a blustery spring here, and sadly many of the flowers had taken a beating. Yet outward appearance isn't everything, so I went around sticking my lens inside the plants, which resulted in some cool photos. Check out the natural symmetry at the base.

Here are photos of yet another of my zany day trips. Last Sunday, I went to Chiba to visit a ... flower farm...? In retrospect, I have no idea what the place was, but it had lots of flowers and was a great rural area within which to relax. Oooh, and there was a windmill too