Sunday, August 29, 2010





video
So, the hike up Mt Fuji was pretty damn cool...not only was it a beautiful evening out without rain, wind or lines - we were able to hike up by moonlight! I felt so very authentic and rustic Japanese....
It took us about 6 hours to get to the top from the 5th station on the mountain. If you remember last time, we were pelted by rain, hail and wind that actually forced us down early and kept up from the top. This time we were able to get all the way to the top without any problems. We did run into many annoying Americans, some of which thought I was Japanese and were talking about me as I was hiking - I giggled the whole time and they were so embarrassed at the top when I turned to Erin, my hiking partner, and said, "Im pretty sure they thought I didn't speak any English", which they then went white and ran away...lol
We were there at the top way before we shoulda been - almost 3 hours to wait for the sunrise - which normally would have been fine - but because it was zero degrees - and I only had a jacket and sweatshirt on - I shivered and bitched the whole time waiting....We made a nest to keep warm by a big rock and had the most perfect viewing position - so we rotated turns going down to the little hut below that had a bathroom and souvenirs. There were probably about 1000 people on the hill with us to view, which was awesome to watch people hiking up below us because it looked like a airport runway all the way down the mountain - insane! All these little ants marching up the hill at 3 am in the dark to reach the summit - unfortunately, some people didn't make it because the line was so long and some people aren't as quick and nimble, some had to enjoy the sunrise from the side of the trail.

I had packed 2 special things in my bag - sake to cheers with a cucumber...
I know, a cucumber?! Well the story goes that when you hike up Fuji, you are much closer to the heavens, so you are able to communicate with your ancestors. So, while you are up there, they come down and you bring the cucumber with you and a pair of chopsticks to build what looks like a horse. This is so that the spirits of your ancestors are able to ride back to heaven. During Obon, the really big holiday weekend in Japan, the top of the mountain is littered with these. It was kinda a special moment - all until I cheersed my sake and spilled it all over! I think that the lack of oxygen made my head psyche itself out and i think "loopy" is the only word to describe my actions. :)

It was the last chance this year to be able to go and hike up Mt. Fuji since the season closed this weekend - because it starts to get too cold, icy, rainy and dangerous. I'm so glad that I was able to conquer that beast! It was one of those special moments that you keep with you forever, even though I'm sure all the people on the train home would rather of us not shared with them since we smelled like all the worst parts of a rodeo or sewer treatment plant - but, hey - you can't win em all....I just winked at them and said, "when was the last time you climbed Fuji-san eh?" :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bugzilla!

I thought that Godzilla was killed by a fictitious moth thing - but it turns out those things actually live here! They are huge - I would have thought for a small island country like Japan that the bugs would have been small and scarce..um, no...
This morning I woke up to the largest praying mantis on my door and I actually squealed a little - I thought it was gonna go right for my jugular! The moths here are also nothing to gawk at...They can be up to 6 inches and apparently they are actually poisonous - what?!
My least favorite, of course, are the spiders - which thank god I have not had the opportunity to run into yet...but the other creepy crawlies here are the large cockroaches that live everywhere...They are black, big and have wings - they are basically the grim reaper in bug form. My managers at work are so scared of them that they will interrupt my class to make me get one out of the hallway....Oh and if you are not used to cicadas - don't move here in the summer time - I am still confused in the morning when I keep trying to shut off my alarm clock, only to realize that it's a dying cicada in my window...

Ok - so I know there is doctors without borders - but can someone please start a dentists without borders and begin with Japan. The teeth here are awful! Between the yellow, crooked, snaggled tooth or the non flossers - I can't figure it out...there are more fake teeth here than all of Boca Raton and Scotsdale combined! And it's not just old people, young people have faces chocked full of messed up chewers too...

Let's talk about some basics in biking rules. Yes, I still have it and No, I haven't killed anyone while riding yet....
If you are a walker and you choose to walk in a fish tale pattern like a drunk sailor - then you are eligible for being run over - it's almost like you are a giant bullseye - so don't complain when I barely clip your shoulder..
If your bike has a squeaky brake - get it fixed or give up on using it and play kamikaze at the intersection, cause I can't handle that sound anymore!
Bikes are not like cars - it's not as funny to try and see how many drunk people you can fit on one bike at a time...
Just like driving - don't text and bike - it doesn't work and you ultimately end up sending inappropriate texts thanks to autocorrect
If I park my bike somewhere over night - that doesn't automatically mean that it becomes a garbage station - so stop putting your empty beer cans in my mommy basket!

Let me tell you about some of the parents that show up to work everyday. Some of these moms are gorgeous - yet they have the most horrendous children. These are the ones that hurl candy shrapnel out of their noses at me when they sneeze or think it's funny to kick me in the shins while I'm talking to their parents....I wanna ask them if they have bad vaginal karma at some point and popped out the anti-christ...
My other favorite is the moms that dress their children to match them - and I mean down to the bracelets...it's almost creepy - I can't tell if it's the mom that wants to stay young or the daughter who wants to grow up - but either way, it tends to freak me out and I hide in my room...

I swear if I have to play one more game of UNO, I might actually pitch myself out my 4th story window! I really wish that we could somehow make UNO a drinking game at work - it would make it so much more enjoyable. It's also funny to see how many different variations of the rules there are for my little ones....not only do I have to remember their non-genderfied names, now I also have to remember if they play doubles, stacking or single picks...uggh!
I am looking for other games that they actually understand - but I can't seem to get the idea of Old maid or rummy - way too complicated and I just don't have the patience to teach them yet- especially when a majority of them end up getting distracted and pick their friends noses instead - which reminds me to pick up some more purell and to laminate the cards so I can soak them in bleach at night...
I haven't had the heart to tell my coworker that he smells like a dirty rag - but I think it will be imperative in the next week before I pass out cold at work from the overwhelming rankness that looms in the hallways when he walks by. The smell can only be described to those who have worked in a bar before and know that smell that a bar towel gets after a crazy night, full of drunken college kids and it's the only cloth left and you'd rather not wipe up the spill then potentially get let the stench penetrate your skin - yeah, it's that times 10...I absolutely love my coworker because he's the simplest man ever. He's so kind you can't hate anything he does - though he is probably the most socially awkward person you will ever run into, he means well and is pretty cute with the kids....

So, I know that I'm an english teacher and I should be teaching them all the correct things to say and what not, but when you have said the same word 100 times in a row and then need to say it in the next class 100 times again - you want to change it up to keep yourself sane. I've learned a new trick to keep myself entertained - last week I had a young child that I decided to hold a fork up and I told her to say "spoon"...I giggled until I saw her the next week and she had her lunch with her and she looked at her mom with her fork in her hand and said 'spoon' - the mother speaks perfect english...crap! I rushed away with my head down, karmatically kicking my own ass...oh but today, there was a funny moment with an older lady that I have who read the book Anne of Green Gables during the past week and decided to tell me about it - while she was trying to describe the title of the book - she asked me how to say 'gables', so we worked it out phonetically....by the time I realized how I had split the word up - I was already trying to hold back the tears - I looked up on the white board and I had written "gay bulls"...which she nodded and wrote down in her daily file...great, now she thinks that the book is an animal version of Brokeback mountain....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gays on Parade...





literally...

Today was gay pride in Tokyo - which is kind of the funniest oxymoron I've found in Japan so far - even more so than the phrase "good drivers"...
If you have ever been to a Pride parade in a large city - like Seattle, New York or Sydney - Tokyo pales in comparison. It was kinda like that cute attempt the 5 years old does when riding a bike for the first time, falls over and you pat them on the head and say 'try it again love..'
We all gathered (by all, I mean like 3000 people) in the big park in Shinjuku area - very fun park area, but we were very confused at first since there was also a music festival, which at first made me think that there were hundreds more people attending - nope, they were there to listen to some version on paid karaoke.
So we all queued up at the beginning and we were assigned a color band that corresponded to a group of parade participants - well we couldn't find our group - so we made our own. :)
Oh, and they don't call it a parade - it's a demonstration, since you cannot dance or sign without a permit and you are only allowed to have one motorized float per demonstration - and you can only use 1/4 of the street - so not only were we marching in protest, we were shoved on the side of the street while traffic continued to whizz by...lol
It was fun to see all the people dressed up in crazy anime costumes and even funnier to see the parade onlookers' reactions. People in Japan don't really know what to do with gay people, so instead of discrimination - they just kinda ignore and let them do their own thing. There were tons of foreigners in and around the parade - many of them were disappointed due to the lack of energy wince it was just basically a walk in the streets with rainbows - so nothing different from a normal Tuesday...;) Next year - I'm gonna need to be in charge and step this whole event up - we need some glitter, boys in spandex, thumpa thump music and the sister of perpetual indulgence...

There is this very strange business concept that has become a mecca for the losers in high school who never had girlfriends to come and hangout and have someone dode on you....it's call a Maid Cafe. It's probably the most uncomfortable experience for a gay man ever! YOu are escorted into the cafe and all the little 'maids' start giggling and squealing and talking to you - they make a big fuss about everything - they like to touch your hair and your clothes. Then they come over and they get on their knees and take your orders - mine was for a iced cappuccino - something that I thought would be pretty harmless. The little girl skipped off with her pig tails bouncing like she was on a trampoline. Her outfit was the classic french maid style - but pink and she kept squeaking when she talked...
I literally downed the cappuccino so that I could get the hell outta there - since I felt as though my absence of hallucinogens in my system were going to be a problem if I stayed there any longer...Note to the world - only go there if you think you have missed out on play time as a 3 year old...

Shopping in Ginza is quite the fun experience. The best part is you can pretend that you are some jet setter because all you have to do is wear your sunglasses inside each store - even though I think all the employees know that you are only in their store because they have the AC cranked up to the Antarctic setting. Abercrombie and Fitch has a giant 9 story flagship store and it's more like a ride at Disneyland than a shopping facility. When you walk in - there are shirtless men to take pictures with you - heavenly!
Then you are squished into an elevator - which we all know I hate - and then you are dropped off on the top floor - only to fight your way down to the bottom - which seems as though you are pinball bouncing from A&F salesperson to A&F salesperson - there are actually 4 per floor! They offered me a job when I was there, which was flattering, but I did my classic diva move - which involves the lowering of my sunglasses just enough for me to wink and tell them, I don't do retail hours....

When you eat in Japan - don't expect to be polite like we are in America and wait for everyone to receive something eat before digging in. Here, the first thing up comes to the table, so you get more of a broken progressive dinner than a coursed meal. It's very strange to be with a group and your food comes first and you wait for everyone else - so your food gets ice cold and the server keeps asking if anything is wrong. This is why so many tables just end up staring all the food instead of eating their own. Plus, never stack your plates - they find it rude - whereas those of us who have worked in the industry, think it's a nice gesture...

So, since my last train home is so early, I'm usually forced to stay out all night until the first train - which is the best time to really see the city. I went to Tsukiji market, which is the largest seafood market in the world. This place is so famous because of it's tuna auctions in the mornings. Well, they start at about 4 am for this - so those of us that are still stumbling around the city can find themselves at some of the best sushi places in Tokyo. You literally cannot get fresher sushi - the fish comes in from the boat and goes right to the plate. The tuna was like butter!
The market itself is absolutely crazy - there is no room for error in maneuvering yourself around the endless stalls - there are these crazy electric carts that transport the 1/2 ton tuna from here to their and they don't really have driving rules inside the market. There are hundreds of stalls and open with the fruits of the sea pouring in every few minutes. This place is 5 times the size of Pike Place Market and is absolute chaos - tourists would for surely die if this was in the states - plus the stall people are friendly to tourists since we are ultimately just in the way and customer service is not on their radar since we are not going to drag around 10 pounds of squid or 50 eels...

The national holiday is this week called Obon. It's a celebration for those who have died - similar to Dia del Muerto in Mexico - where the family goes to the grave, brings flowers and offerings and hangs out with the tombstones. Here, the whole city shuts down since everyone is supposed to be with their family - which of course is also gay pride since none of the asian men want to be with their families here...;)
So today, say a little prayer and remember the ones we have lost and cheers them with what's in hand....kampai!