Harajuku Randomness.

I decided to go to Harajuku today since I learned that it costs the same (about 300 yen ~ $2.75) to go to Shinjuku as it does to go to Shibuya from my house… and walking to Harajuku to Shibuya is just about a 20 minute stroll up north. I’m poor, so I can’t afford to run around on crazy random train rides so much yet. Heh.

From what I have learned so far (I’m just a newbie so I may not be totally correct), Harajuku is famous for clothing shops, crepe, and the extreme fashions of the people who hang out there.

As soon as I got to the station I noticed the crazy fashion statements that are mentioned in every Tokyo guide book. The pictures will speak for themselves though.

The interesting thing is, that while I was in Harajuku taking pictures of the natives, I was asked three times by other people to pose for pictures with them! Yet… another example of ‘gaijin power’ in action. A lot of foreigners congregate on this spot for obvious reasons, and some of the Japanese in the area take the opportunity not only to take pictures of the crazy faces of the people dressed up, but also to take pictures of the silly gaijin. I’m silly.

Here’s something random for ya. While I was still there taking pictures and talking to people and stuff, I noticed another Black guy walking around. I gave the required greeting, and since he seemed about my age we started the usual gaijin nakama interview. “Where are you from? How long have you been here?”

It turns out that he went to the university that I was at in Nagoya (Nanzan) last year; I was there two years ago. It also turns out that he was friends with a guy from IU that I hang out with. “Oh youuuuu’re Harvey” he says. Small world.

Anyway, yeah, Harajuku was cool. There were a lot of street musicians as well, entire bands came out and set up. Some of them got busted by the cops though. It was brutal! Shields billy clubs and everything.

Just kidding.

The cops did come though, but they just nicely told the kids that they couldn’t play with all that equipment turned on out there. The kids packed up and left without any trouble.



Get Lost.

Ah, so you have arrived in Tokyo and are ready to get going huh? Good!

If you’re looking to get lost, you have come to the right place.

Tokyo is a ridiculously large city with more lost people at any one time than entire population of Iowa. There are many opportunities to get lost in Tokyo. You can get lost while walking to the train station, you can get lost while in the train station, you can get lost while trying to find your destination, and also while trying to find your friends. If you’re lucky, you can also manage to get lost while trying to find your way back to the train station.

Once you get into your own neighborhood, hopefully you’ll have an address of where you live. It should look something like this.

321-33 nanntoka nani-shi Tokyo Japan 111-1111

This address should help know where you’re supposed to be going. In order to find the place, you might be able to find maps in your neighborhood to help you out.

Oh good! Here’s one now!

Taking a closer look at these maps will reveal a wonderfully easy to follow numbering system.

There you have it! As you can plainly see, house number 685-248 is logically located between 685-80, 685-90, and 685-88. Across the street you’ll find 685-238. In case you can’t follow the numbering system (apparently Japanese homes are numbered in the order that they were built) you can also look at the names of the families living in the homes… to… help you… uh… find the house… yeah…

Also if you notice on the map there are no street names. That’s no image editing trick. There are no street names. Heh.

All this is how you get lost on foot. Someday I’ll put up a subway map, or a JR map, or show picture of the inside of a trainstation… then you’ll really feel the pain of the 方向音痴 (ほうこうおんち。)

Until then.


Soccer High

Today Japan defeated Tunisia to make it to the best 16, for what I think is the first time ever. Japan showed a powerful display of kicking, and passing, corner kicks and whatnot to take a 2-0 win over Tunsinia. I am not a soccer reporter.

In other news, Korea won too! And they’re also going to the final 16, for the first time in history. This time I’m sure… because I checked another source.

Anyway… Read a paper for details about the match…

I was going to Shinjuku to meet up with my new fellow co-workers after the game. It’s stupid of me not to, but I didn’t realize that downtown Tokyo would be in chaos after the match was over.

Hundreds and hundreds… wait, thousands, this is Tokyo… I can say thousands and not exagerating right? Hundreds of thousands of fans, all decked out in blue, just like their soccer heroes were running around Tokyo chanting and clapping like they had won the championship.

‘Nippon! *clapclapclap* Nippon! *clapclapclap*’

Shortly after I neared my subway exit the station filled, and when I got up the streets I found them packed. Check the pictures to see what it was like. Fun stuff.

Crazy drunken Japanese youth sure didn’t shy away from the camera either! People were posing for me more often than I needed. That reminds me… I need to get down to Harajuku…

The amount of energy was amazing. It was like when my university almost won the Final Four NCAA tournament. However… since there are quite a bit more people in Tokyo than at my university… I think you can imagine that it was on a larger scale. I seriously have never seen anything quite like that since I did new years, 2001, in Florence Italy. Florence had more flying wine bottles, and a bit more kissing, but the amount of people, the fireworks, the energy, everything else was there.

Man. I wonder what new years in Tokyo would be like?! It must be insane. Are there any other events that bring so many people out onto the streets of Japan? Seriously, if anyone has heard of or experienced anything like that in Tokyo before, please let us know by posting a comment or mentioning it in the forums.

I posted some pictures here. When I was in the subway waiting for my friends, I noticed that suddenly out of nowhere these Asahi Shinbun guys showed up and started passing out 日本、決勝T進出 papers like mad. Everyone was swarming to get one, I got one too… Too bad mine was near destroyed in my walk home in the rain. Heh.

I’ll shut up now.


Soccer Fever

World Cup, soccer fever.


This is a soccer shop in Shinjuku I happened to be walking past during the America-Korea game. They have a projection TV on a screen near the door. For those of you in the States, did you even know we were playing Korea? If I were still in the States, I don’t think I would have even noticed. We tied 1-1 for those of you wondering.

I’m sure the fact that the games are being held in Japan and Korea have something to do with it, but Japan is just crazy over the World Cup. I have never really gotten excited about it in America, but then again, I rarely get excited about sports anyway.

A friend told me today that there was a show on Japanese TV that called up random places in various countries to get the feel of the soccer fever. Apparently, the show called some hotels in Spain, Argentina, Korea, and other countries, and asked questions like… “Who do you think will win today’s game?” or, “How do you think your country will do in the tournament?”.

The other countries all assumed correctly that the questions were about the World Cup, and responded accordingly. Apparently, when America was called, responses included things like, “What game?” and, “… Tournament?”

Soccer just isn’t as important to us Americans it seems. It sure is fun being in the middle of all the energy here in Japan though.

I can’t even name one player on the American soccer team… but I know of Japanese player Nakata… I think it’s impossible to live here without hearing his name… He’s like the Japanese Tiger Woods of soccer over here. I wonder if he’s as famous in other countries as well…

Lost Ajisai friends.

Today I went to Tachikawa to try to find an ATM machine where I could get some cash from my American bank accounts… no luck! Bank cards suck. I tried Citibank, and even the ATM machines inside the shopping ‘paradise’ which is Takashimaya. If I could find a way to spend money in that giant tower of consumerism… there may be no hope…

To get to Tachikawa from my house I had to ride the Monorail… I’ve ridden subways, bullet trains, JR lines and whatnot before, but I have never ridden a monorail… Anyone remember the Monorail Simpsons episode? Memories…. There was a good song in there too…

Actually. On the way to the monorail I asked this guy for directions to the station. He was a guy taking care of gas for the neighborhood homes, and he said that he would give me a ride to the station in his truck. He did, we talked, thanks dude! That’s a good example of ‘gaijin power’.

On the way back from Tachikawa I decided to stop by Takahatahudou, it’s this place kinda near my house with a 五重の塔. Also, it is the season for a flower called ‘ajisai’ to bloom, so there are lots of them around the tower.

Here is a picture of one of the ‘ajisai’ flowers.

While I was there I ran into a couple of guys. Again with the use of some gaijin power, one of the guys felt inclined to talk to me. He was outgoing, so he just yelled out, ‘konnichiwa’. I responded, and we started talking and became buds. We exchanged phone numbers so I think I’ll see more of those two guys later.

Well… if you continued reading this far I guess you deserve to hear my embarrassing story. After saying bye to those two guys I met and heading home, I had another adventure.

I started heading to my house and everything was alright, but then I got *totally* lost in my neighborhood. We’re talking, walking around for 30 minutes, asking like 5 people for directions and still not getting anywhere.

You have to understand though, that the Japanese addressing system leaves much to be desired. The houses in my neighborhood are numbered in the order that they were built…. so the numbers jump around everywhere.

Finally… I ran into a ‘kuro neko takkyuubin’ truck… that’s a delivery company… Hehe. He’s gotta know the roads. I asked him where I should go, he tried to explain, but even then he said that it’s gonna be super tough to find.

Eventually, he told me to get in his truck, and he drove me around and we found it together. Funny stuff. I rolled up to my house in a green kuroneko takkyubin truck… haha. I shoulda got a picture of that.

When I got out there were a lot of neighborhood obaasan around to ask me what the heck I was doing in the truck… I told them, they had a good laugh, and that’s the end of that.

I must have walked 8 miles today…


Cheap laugh.

I’m too blasted from walking around Shinjuku all day to write anything meaningful tonight… So here is this picture I took today. Enjoy. Look at it more than once if you want… heh.

This should be good for a cheap thrill. More at Engrish.com of course ;)

Cheap laugh.

I’m too blasted from walking around Shinjuku all day to write anything meaningful tonight… So here is this picture I took today. Enjoy. Look at it more than once if you want… heh.

This should be good for a cheap thrill. More at Engrish.com of course ;)

I’m in Tokyo!

First things first. My host family has a cable modem, and a wireless access point upstairs. My host dad let me borrow a wireless LAN card, so I’m very comfortable on the internet access front….

Getting here was tough! Right from the start I was having trouble. My flight was canceled, so I had to detour through Texas to get to Narita. After arriving at Narita customs took forever, so my friends ended up waiting like an hour for me at the gate… sorry guys.

From Narita to Hino-shi where I’m staying was like 2 hours. Luckily one of my friends made the journey with me all the way to Hino-shi to help me carry my luggage. Without it, I would have literally been destroyed trying to run through Shinjuku with all that stuff in the after work rush hour.

As soon as I get settled I’ll start posting pictures and writting more.

I need to get my alien registration card and crap so that I can open a bank account and get a phone and stuff… Also I need to find a freakin ATM machine where I can use my visa card to withdraw some money. Hino-shi isn’t exactly in the middle of the city. Heh.

This weekend I’m going to Niigata to an onsen with my host fam. Should be fun! Maybe I’ll get pictures…. but you guys probably don’t want to see me naked huh.

More later,


P.S. I started reading ‘Hard-boiled Wonderland and the end of the world’ by Murakami Haruki. I have copies in Japanese and English, I just read the first chapter of the English one this morning… It’s freakin weird.

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