Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm dreamin' of a deep fried Christmas...?

Well it's that time of year when usually store windows are plastered with pictures of Holiday classics - Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Thanksgiving Turkeys and snowmen....well in Tokyo, it's a little different. Not only are all the decorations up and sparkling, but they have been up since before Halloween! The holiday Starbucks cups were even out!
It's exciting to see all these people with crazy holiday fever, but let's take on one holiday at a time...
We have managed to persuade one of our local bars that we are patrons of to make a Thanksgiving feast - complete with an actual turkey! I'm so excited - I offered to help, since I miss cooking so much, and I think I will get to get my hands dirty in the prep for the dinner!
Well the funny thing about Xmas in Tokyo is that compared to the US, it's not a big holiday. Stores are open, trains run like normal every still eats rice...well that's not entirely true - on Christmas here in Tokyo, it has become a tradition to eat KFC for dinner with the family. I'm absolutely serious - people make reservations to pick up their KFC family packs on Christmas day and enjoy deep fried, greasy protein sticks accompanies by soggy coleslaw and lumpy mashers - all in the name of the "favorite American Holiday" Christmas - plus the funny part is that's what they think we all eat on Christmas and they dress up the mascot for KFC in a santa outfit - ooh the skewed views of translating holiday tradition to another culture is hysterical!

Don't buy moisturizer in Japan unless you like the look of the dearly departed Michael Jackson - they all have bleachings agents in them. I kept seeing this weird symbol on the containers of moisturizers and I thought I was lookin at the toothpaste aisle with all the whitening references. Good thing I didn't use that to brush my teeth - though maybe it would have been a cheaper alternative to the over priced Crest strips...

The winters here are pretty crisp and refreshing - if your an Emperor penguin! They don't believe in insulation in this country, so none of the walls retain any heat - in fact, they seem to suck more cold into the homes and offices here! I literally have to bundle up when I go from my room to my computer - and I love it cold normally...
They are expecting snow this year since it's been such a weird weather the past few seasons - which would probably explain why everyone has loading up on fur accessories...These fashion flubs have hit the ground running here...It's like people want to look like a forest creatures. They actually have fox tails hanging from belt loops or purses - I have yet to figure out the appeal of these things...Um, excuse me - There's a dead animal hanging from your cell phone...
Most all of the jackets have fur somewhere on them, the carry all bags are dripping with rabbit tails and even shoes have fur balls dangling from the heels...PETA would have an aneurism!

Oh, btw - you know how none of us have AC in Seattle - well in Tokyo you need one, which was a god send this summer cause it was so scorching hot! Well once the weather turned chilly - I was frantically searching around my apartment for any type of heating source that would keep my toes from falling off - only to find that there wasn't anything here! I was so confused how the last teacher was able to keep from inflicting hypothermia to herself. Well, I gave in and had to ask my students how they keep warm in the winter - most told me that they buy these big over stuffed heating blankets that they sleep in - or they just turn on the heater - that is built into the AC unit!!! Eureka - I found it! I'm not longer darting around my apartment with snotsicicles..

Let me tell you all about the exciting Halloween adventure that I had here in Tokyo...
In the US, Halloween is a holiday where basically anything goes - boys can be girls, girls and be hookers and I can be tragically stuck in between both options...but nonetheless - it's my favorite holiday!
Well Tokyo has yet to jump onto that bandwagon - which is so unfortunate. Some of the children dressed up at school, but most just stared...a few cried when Matthew, my coworker, showed up with a variety of different masks. There's nothing like the shrill, ear piercing scream of that child totally freaked out by a 6 foot 5 man in a gorilla mask lunging at you. I think I peed my pants a little the first time I saw him too and I'm a grown ass man - I'm afraid of masks, thanks to the movie It..
Well for my costume I had to make sure to make quite an impression. I wanted to be a Japanese school girl at first, but I found the skirts didn't come in white man size. So, instead, I had the help of my mother and the US post service to send me a costume direct from America - the famous blue Avatar! I had told all of my students about it and they were so excited. I had everything ready to go - and then on Halloween - a typhoon decided to roll into Japan. Downpour all day, wind like crazy and me terrified that my makeup was gonna run!!!
Luckily, the Halloween gods smiled upon me and the rain let up right before we needed to go downtown. Well since I had to order my costume from home, I had to guess on the size. I'm usually a small in ladies attire - but since it was a lycra cat suit, I thought I would go a little bigger and just hope - well let's just say there's was no hiding anything on it - I couldn't even wear underwear it was that tight fitting! I actually couldn't sit down - so the whole train ride into the city, I had to stand...People on the train had one of 2 reactions - pure terror or genuine interest. The latter ones generally asked for photos and then stared the rest of the time - the freaked out group either moved train cars, or just decided to back away slowly from me not quite understanding if they were on a spoof TV show or if they were actually living a nightmare. One guy actually recoiled and fell into the sliding door and another looked at me and backed off the train and waited for the next one!
Once we got into the city - we hit up a few different parties - which were mostly chalked full of foreigners - which was fun and entertaining. I took maybe around 500 pictures, mostly with asians fascinated with my costume choice.
But the best part was, at the first party - after a long night of judging and flaunting - I won first place in the best costume in Tokyo category!! It was awesome - I beat out Mad Max for first! Such a fun evening and then the rest of the night was just a constant party..
Finally, when the parties died down, it was time to go home, but I didn't want to get back onto the train looking like a giant haggard smurf - so I decided to change in the McDonalds in Roppongi - which was a disaster, because I had forgotten that I had to be zipped into my outfit with help and there was no way in hell I was gonna be able to get out of it alone! So, I'm in the bathroom struggling to unzip this beast of a costume, which after ten minutes and 8 angry people at the door - I was able to wash the blue off my face, put real clothes on and stumble back to the train station and sit down for the first time in 8 hours!
All and all a great night and the first Halloween spent abroad - and I did it up right by living up to my personal anthem - Go Big or Go Home! :)