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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pictures from the first day of sumi-e.
I know, I know, I know. I'm the most delinquent blogger; ever. Let's just say it has been busy! Shortly after my last post, we started intensive, which was 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, of Japanese. Added to a 8 hour a day, 4 days a week job, a 2 hour a day commute, and a couple of hours a day of homework, and it's no wonder that week is a blur!

I had three teachers, two of which were lovely, and one of which was a little bit...not. I was (and still am, really) way behind my class as the level one was much to easy for me, but realistically, level two was too hard. A level 1.5 would have been perfect, but I guess this is a good way to jump right in there! I'm catching up OK, I think, but I need to get going on the kanji I missed in the middle (there are about 6 lessons that I did in 3 weeks. in comparison, we'll do 8 lessons between now and January, so a few things slipped through the cracks!)

Regular classes started three weeks later, and so far I've been sleeping more than 4 hours a night, so that's lovely! We have Japanese 2/days a week as well as 4 (or more) classes. I'm taking: marriage in japan, gender dynamics, education, and sumi-e. I've had all but education (the prof just randomly didn't show up on the first day) and I enjoy all of them. Sumi-e is fun and practical (well in the sense of sumi-e being practical), as we were given large kits of stuff and we get to actually paint--around the end of semester we'll be having an exhibition of sorts.

Marriage is fun too, we have to do a 15-20 minute presentation on some aspect of marriage in our home country. I'm going to do gay marriage, being from the west coast and all, and I need to get on that soon--I'm going at the next of next week.

So far, I've been impressed with the classes and lecturers, they're very small, and it's interesting to have the small-class sizes with our profs, which we don't get at home. (There are only 8-10 kids in marriage, gender, and education, 5 in japanese, and 15-20 in sumi-e).

Work has been going well, if hectically, as well. I got another BAB to print last week and we have some new people in the office which is fun and also easing the strain a little bit while I'm in class...We've recently had a couple of BAB events as well. For instance, two weeks ago we had another clothes' swap, which was good fun and I think everyone had/got some good stuff. It was a smaller turnout than last year, but everyone agreed the quality of clothing was way better. I got a couple of cute black dresses and a black top that I just adore, plus some black stilletos that were impulse to the extreme!

There were also some bits and pieces from last year's clothes swap. I suppose that's the good thing about having them regularly! (I brought a few bits back as well, including dress pants that I loved dearly, but would never fit in to (they pretty much just fell off me) ...good, but bad in thi particular case!

On Wednesday, Amy, Zach, and I all went to the opening gala night of Cirque du Soleil's first permanent show in Japan--ZED. It was BRILLIANT. I definitely want to see it again, and if possible, run away and join the cirque! I went to the after party as well, at Ageha in Shin Kiba, which was fun, if a bit strange--many of the cast members had children who came to the club; it was cute, if odd, to see so many toddlers at Ageha!

But go, go, go to see ZED. It is amazing! I'm so excited to see Corteo, as well, which hits Tokyo in the new year.

Yesterday, we had a joint event with Paddy Foley's--speed dating. I have to say that I was basically forced into attendance, but it was more entertaining than I expected. While overall the guys were older than I'd want to date (despite everyone's claims to the contrary), I met some funny people (well as much as you can tell in 4 minutes), as well as some strange people.

For instance, I had this conversation:

Me: "Hey, how's it going?"
Him: "good, i'm (insert name here). i'm a little drunk."
"oh yea?"
"yea, i was a little nervous so i started drinking a lot when i got here and now i'm kind of drunk."
" how's that going for you?"
"i'm drunk. my name is (insert name here)."
I know.
"I'm from mississippi"
you don't say...

After that, we headed over to the TAB 4th anniversary party at Super Deluxe, which featured free cotton candy, cool tshirts, and some so-so 30 second pitches (nothing beats Pecha Kucha). Then, it was back to BMT, as I'm house sitting for Peter and hitomi who are off to Hawaii. Venus is sulking, but she'll survive, even if I did make her go for a walk in the rain.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

My fortune from Senso-ji:

"Number 15 Bad Fortune"
"Every year your servants will get fewer and fewer and you will be alone. Even if you stay in bed for a long while, you'll never get well. It's too dangerous for you to bring the boat to dshore. Just like a dragon loses its treasure ball, you will lose your hope.

Your wishes will not be realised, a sick person will never recover, the lost article will not be found, the person you are waiting for will not come, building a new house and removal are not good, making a trip, marriage, employment are bad."

And no one told me you could bless it away if you hung it up on the metal thing, so I'm screwed. I wouldn't spend too much time around me if I were you.

It was a good run folks, it really was.
Sooo...first day of school today!

For the next 3 weeks or so we have intensive Japanese classes as opposed to Japanese 2x a week and other classes mixed in. So M/T,Th/F, we have 3 hours or so of Japanese each morning.
Yesterday we wrote placement tests and had short speaking interviews, and as expected, I conclusively proved that I know very little nihongo indeed!

However, that's fine as I seem to have ended up with a very nice teacher (though she seems to alternate with another teacher through this course and I'm not sure who I end up with for the semester) and only 5 kids in my level. I'm sort of at the bottom end, so she'll be helping me catch up (and one other guy) at the end of each lesson. Today was sort of a review day--we did self introductions, watched a ridiculously hilarious dated movie, and then practiced up for our field trip to Asakusa tomorrow. I'll finally get to go to Senso-ji! (Last year I sent Navina while I went to work, so I've not been yet). I feel like I'm back in gr. 4 again going on a field trip--we have a sheet of different places we have to find and describe and then we have to (and this is going to be entertaining), find three Japanese people off the street and ask them three questions. Eeek! We practiced in class today, and our sensei was the 'tourist' it was so funny because she kept rushing past and not talking to us and pretending to be scared of us.

So far decently good I suppose--I think I spoke more today in class than the entire year at SFU, so that's good! I have to do it now, so hopefully it will be easier...I have to study over this weekend, but that should be OK--it's a 3-day one!

After class I went to work, which was fairly uneventful for me (not at a critical stage with BAB yet), and then had a bit of time, so I went to Tokyu hands where I got tracing paper and pastels to start a new mural on my wall like I did @ york (pin the paper up and draw on that and you can't really tell it's not directly on the wall) and also got some back to school stationery, b/c paper rox my sox!

Following that, I headed to Jingu, which I miraculously remembered how to find after a month off and played futsal with the onnabelievables. It was so fun! There were only 6 of us, so we played 3v3, which was a good run around!

After that it was home (which now takes 1.5 hours from there, ouch!) and I made it in about 30 mins before curfew (wouldn't want the door to get locked on me!) and now i'm just chilling out trying to decide if i want to study or start making my wall mural...


Monday, September 08, 2008

NxE's Fifty Most Influential Female Bloggers can be found here. I need to step away from the computer and get moving or I'm never going to get to work...especially if I start clicking those links!

Ridiculous dorm rule number....we're not allowed to use the stairs...elevator only, sloth people!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Today's order of the day was heading to IKEA to improve the bland ness of this here room!
Hoka and I headed to shin yokohama eki and then jumped on the free IKEA bus(!!) to a huge IKEA. It was great, if utterly crowded! I got a new bedspread, light duvet (the one they gave us could deal with a Ft. McMurray winter!) a very handy wire basket holder thingy, 3 cacti, some fabric, and a serious craft bug!

I ended up recovering my headboard, stretching fabric over a frame that I also bought (a trip to the hyaku en shop to buy a hammer, measuring tape, screwdrivers, etc was also required!) framing fabric, and (far)tistically placing cacti on said frame...I also put together my basket thing and moved a bunch of food and stuff into it (a shopping trip to SATY for food was also required!)

A couple of us ended the evening watching Sex and the City, eating pasta w/ sausages (I decided to complete the suzy homemaker day and cook), and (thanks to poor Hoka) filling out takkyubin slips, as it's back to work tomorrow for me....

now to figure out how to recover the chair cushions without doing anything permanent!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Well as you can see, I'm kind of moved in now...Tomorrow I'm going on a field trip to IKEA to get some storage and some color! The rules are, as expected, pretty ridiculous! Especially the 11pm curfew. And the 'no boys' rule, which they take very seriously! Hitomi and Peter drove me down here with some stuff today and Peter had to wait in the common room while Hitomi and I took it up to my room!

The other totally ridiculous thing is that the boys are in a different dorm (well, obv) but they don't have any of the same rules! Besides that being of dubious legality in north america, it's just plain ....!

It's a nice place though, if small (and totally lacking in storage!) It's great having Peter's place here though, A as a place to escape on weekends and B as a place to pilfer housewares from--we were given one rice bowl, a side plate, 3 forks, and 3 spoons (no knives), and two teeny tiny glasses...

It's pretty funny, there are signs downstairs to all the Japanese residents along the lines of 'on September 1, you will be joined by these foreign students' and then lists our names and room numbers!

Right, I think it's off to bed (or some desperatly needed katakana/kanji studying!)
xoxo D

PS: GOOD LUCK to Karen Brain and VDL Odette as they ride for Canada at the Beijing Paralympics this week. Follow them here and here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And...another crazy day. I don't know that I've had 3 days this busy in a row for quite some time! I don't want to go home though, it's so much fun!

Today was another fairly early start, with a light breakfast in the Club L lounge before I headed up to the spa for my Harmony Massage. It was a lovely way to start the morning, especially with the storm raging outside (I actually woke up from the thunder). Following that, I went for a facilities tour and got to see some other types of rooms, all of the restaurants, etc.

After a juice and muffin in the lounge (oh how i love the lounge) it was time to race across town to Aberdeen to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, which is an amazing ode to glitter and kitsch and all things Chinese. I took the correct bus, but I think I got off on the wrong stop and was just lucky to see a little sign directing me along the harbour walk...I kept walking and walking, past little fishing skiffs, etc. until I came to a pier saying 'JUMBO' with a super-cute dark wood ferry tied up to it. I hopped on board, crossed my fingers, and a few minutes later got puttered over to the restaurant. Which is amazing on the outside. It's really quite the place!

I was actually there to meet Karen and the rest of the Canadian Paralympic Equestrian team, so there was no time to explore the complex (I think there are multiple restaurants and stuff) before heading in to join them for a tasty lunch. We had various pork buns/dumplings/rice/veggies/etc before finishing it all off with some ice cream. Very nice! Then everyone headed to Stanley, and I got to go with them, jumping in to one of the team's Olympic-provided cars (cool!) and heading out there. They only had about an hour before they needed to head back to the barns, so it was a bit of a power shop all around, with many silk tops, sunglasses, and jewelry all being procured. I bought myself a silk top as I hadn't yesterday and was kind of regretting it...It's a really pretty teal with a Chinese cut/neck line but doesn't have a brocade pattern, instead there are sort of creamy embroidered flowers...(in a fairly western style)

Following that, everyone headed off to the barns and I headed back to the hotel, arriving here at 5:45, just in time to meet up with 15 other hotel guests for a 45-minute tour of the markets around the hotel. There was a girl there who was a new staff member at the hotel and so she was on the tour. She's a 19 yo HK-born expat, so it was cool to talk to her about that...The tour was interesting and encompassed the Mong Kok food/fruit/wetmarket, Ladies Market, sneaker street, etc. the food market was most interesting, with a dried seafood stall, open air butcher, crazy fruits, and the scary scary toad killing stall, where there were poor innocent (ugly as all get out) toads in an aquarium, which were then plucked out, decapitated and skinned in a matter of moments. Madness. I gather the goal is to have them still twitching when you get them home. Tasty?

Markets to hit up on the next trip: flower, bird, and goldfish. Also: bartering. I must do that next time. I'm an idiot/confrontation-hater and there for paid list price for everything at Stanley. Haha! Still decent prices though...It would have been good to take this hotel tour earlier though, as the woman said if it was HK 10-30 not to barter, HK 100-200 to try and get 10-20% off and if it was HK 200 or over to cut it in half. I made a few HK 200 or more purchases at Stanley. Ah well, live an learn!

Following that, I went to work the Science Museum haha. They are having a sports exhibit in honor of the Olys, so I went and threw pitches, sprinted, wheelchair raced, balance beamed, etc. It was fun! (Though chotto lame to do it on my own!) I had a quick tour through the fitness challenge part of the regular exhibit (free on Wednesdays seemingly) before having some dinner and then heading back to the hotel.

A quick stop by the lounge to book an airport shuttle and order a lavender pillow from the pillow menu and then blogging/tv/packing i suppose :( and then bed...glorious bed!
(you know the the pic for pics)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A very short clip of the light show in HK's Victoria Harbour. It's a pretty cool show, apparently it's in the Guinness Book of World Records for shows of this kind...The Star Ferry was definitely the way to see it, too.
Day two is on the books and all I want to do is sleep! However, I'm being a good blogger girl as something tells me I won't be any more energetic to blog at 11pm tomorrow after another full and exhausting, yet fun day.

Today I woke up at about 7:30 (my phone in the hotel plays an obscenely happy 'its the morning, rise and shine' song. if I wasn't on vacay I'd probably want to beat it up). However, I happily bounded out of bed (or, well, eventually dragged myself up) and ended up in the lovely lovely shower here. Its a rain shower, but also includes a regular hand held shower. Basically no chance of that annoying 'I'm cold cos I'm wet but I have to rinse my hair and there's not enough 'spray' to do all of that'. Very nice! After that I headed down for a lovely buffet breakfast at one of the hotel restaurants. There is a huge selection, including all of your typical 'western' breakfasty foods, fruit, pastries, etc., plus all the sushi and fried rice you could ever want at 8am.

After that I headed on the MTR to Central to go to the Japanese consulate and get my visa sorted. Other than having to get yet more photos taken it was pretty straight forward. Central and what I saw of the surrounding area on HK Island is much more what I was expecting I think--a big, clean, modern city with British things like pret a manger and 'mind the gap' on the trains, but some kanjis thrown in as well. Its pretty businessy and I didn't spend too much time down there before jumping on a double decker bus to Stanley. (Thanks to Jordon for the suggestion). It was a gorgeous ride out there, along the water, on this twisty winding road with somewhat of a cliff on one side and a mountain of rich greenery on the other. There were gorgeous bay views, peekabo looks at the city, and glimpses of absolutely gorgeous mansions along the way.

Approximately an hour later we pulled into Stanley Market, which was pretty cool. I got my shopping bug out today! I got a couple of leather(ish?) bags, and then a bunch of presents so I can't talk about it! I spent an hour or so wandering around all the stalls in the market and then walked along the promenade thing by the water. It kind of reminded me of the Bahamas almost, with the colorful and tasty-looking eateries right by the water. At the other end of the walk is a cool building, with tons of columns. Apparently, they had to dismantle it for some reason and keep it in storage, so they wrote numbers on all the bits. Except the ink washed off, so when they 're-mantled' it they weren't quite sure where it all went, and managed to end up with 6 columns spare! They're now just standing there in a pretty row.

In said building is a really nice martime museum that I went in on a total impulse as they were having an olympics exhibit. In the end, that part was cool, but the heritage stuff was really cool as well. They had some GORGEOUS models and artifacts and stuff. Some cool history but not to much and also some nice interactive displays. In the modern gallery, as well as the Olympics stuff (all concentrating on rowing/sailing/canoe-kayak, etc), they talked about shipping and modern boating. There was a morse code game (its harder than it looks!) and a full size bridge deck from a shipping boat in front of a huge three-screen simulator so you can try and steer into the harbour. unfortunately i had no idea where i was going so settled for crshing into a star ferry instead, which made for a lovely shudder and crunch.

Following that, I got back on the bus, wound my way back to central, and happily listened in to the conversation of the Calgarian tourists in front of me. Nothing interesting, just a wrap up of their shopping, but passed the time :)

From Central I jumped on the MTR and came back to the hotel to grab my other camera and headed down to the club lounge for a snack and a chance to quickly deal with any urgent emails and finish up an article before jumping back on the MTR to central to get on my 7:20 Star Ferry boat tour. It was really nice! We went around the harbour and then paused to watch the light show. It was incredibly hard to photograph, but pretty cool looking. I met a lovely couple from the Netherlands who were beside me on the open air deck. They'd also gone to Stanley and the Maritime Museum today! They're off to Sydney and Perth after this before heading home.

After we bobbed our way back to port I went back to the mall by the hotel and got a pretty silk shirt from H&M and then grabbed a picnic of a sandwich and chips at the huge grocery store in the basement of the mall. I also got a pear, but it was funny cos there were like a dozen or so pears strewn in with whatever was next to them, and so I just reached over and grabbed one, and the lady that was over in the 'main' part of the pears stepped over to me and grabbed it out of my hand! I guess she was saving those ones. It was hilarious. (Things like this are the subtle differences between here and Japan, where there's no way that pear would have been taken back off me!)

After all that, I *still* wasn't done, and took my computer up to the pool for a lovely lovely swim (la mac stayed on a comfy cushion under a cabana) before I toweled off and settled in under the stars (er, smog) to upload some photos and start this blog. When the pool closed at 11, I came back to my room, had a picnic in my bed (what vacations are for, really), and finished this.
(click the pic for pics)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Whew, long day and I'm totally exhausted but I'll try and be a good girl and blog before I roll over and collapse!

Today was the big travelling to Hong Kong day, which was quite exciting! Took the 6:33am (yuck) Narita Express from Shinjuku, which was a really easy trip (much nicer than the airport limosuine I think!) and had an easy check-in, exit immigration, etc. Flight left uneventfully at 10ish and I was very excited to find that ANA, whom I've never flown with before, has seat-back, on demand entertainment, featuring Sex and the City! Woot! Unfortunately, I managed to knock the button on the seat 2/3s of the way through, sending it back to the beginning. At the time, I couldn't find the ff button (it was hidden!) and so I gave up on SATC and watched 'What Happens in Vegas' instead. It was cute enough. I also managed to write most of an article on BA, which seemed ironic, yet productive. The only complaint? The WORST food I've had on a flight, quite possibly ever. Easy and quick at just under 4 hours, though!

Arrival in HK was easy, I didn't have to say a single word to the immigration officer, not even a token 'business or pleasure?'. Strange. She did, however, talk to herself for the entire time I was standing in front of her. It was really, really weird!

Mentally squealed at all of the Beijing signs and then jumped on a bus to my hotel. It took about an hour and we got to see a fair amount of the city as we were driving in. It's nice--more tropical than I was expecting, though I guess it is about 4 hours south, and TONS of high rises! It made me realise just how flat Tokyo really is. (also seen today that made me realise i hadn't seen it for a few months: guys with no shirts and pda in the mall).

Got to my hotel and checked in (I think I'll have to do a seperate post on the hotel, but suffice it to say that it is very nice) and then called one of my friends from SFU who hasn't quite gotten back to Vancouver yet and also Karen, here to compete for Canada in the paralympics to make plans with both of them. That done, I went down to the Club L and had a quick snack before exploring the huge mall next to me for a bit and then meeting up with Vicky. Its funny how many Japanese things there are here! Seibu, Muji, shu uemura, italian tomato jr, yoshinoya,...and that's just in the mall next to me! There's also an H&M!

The shopping seems pretty good here, and cheap, but I'm having a ridiculous time trying to convert the currency in my head, either to yen or CDN. Luckily, my phone (in the hotel) seems to be able to do that (as well as send texts and check the weather).

Vicky took me shopping in the nearby neighborhood and also basically fed me for 3 hours straight! We got some street food that is apparently very traditional in HK--bascially a block of fermented/rotted tofu, some really tasty sort-of-waffle type snacks that are somewhat hard to describe, watermelon juice with lemon jelly, and for dinner a sort of cousin of ramen that included balls of meat (or fish). Whew!

I'm fading fast here, so first impressions? I like it, it seems like a cross between Ueno and Kabuki-cho and a bit of something all its own! I'm sure I'll have more to say on the subject after some more exploration tomorrow.

Click the picture for more pictures.

Monday, August 25, 2008

In less than two weeks I will have gone to Hong Kong and also moved into my new dorm...Hong Kong will be fun, I'm def. looking forward to that, ESPECIALLY the hotel!

The dorm should be interesting, too. I found out a little bit more about it today. Here are some of the key points:

on the (big) plus side, it sounds like we get a bathroom and kitchentte in each room. That seems to good to be true, so I won't actually believe it till I see it. It would be amazing/great if that were true though!

on the holy-crap-are-you-kidding-me? side:
curfew (yes, curfew) is at 11pm. I have NEVER had a curfew in my ENTIRE life.
while in the dorm, there is an 'in/out' board where we have to designate whether we are, indeed, in or out, at all times. I suppose this is to stop us from taking the first train home and just arriving home when they unlock the doors again (oh yes, they lock us out after curfew!) at 6am.
Males aren't allowed in the dorm at all
male family members are...but only as far as the common room. I guess Peter will never see my shoebox.
I have a yokohama address! (that's sooooo on the other side of 'the loop' haha)
I have an 11pm curfew!!!!

As it was so kindly put to me in the office today, I'm joining a nunnery!
Not that I wasn't in a self-imposed one anyway, but at least I had the option of staying out til first train and skulking home with a bento at 6:12am if I wanted to...or if there was a kick-ass costume party in Koenji or something.

well, an adventure it will be!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Today I headed to the very very end of the Odakyu sen, to Katase Enoshima, to see the Molet's play on the beach. It was a pretty great show and a fun day all around. It was also nice to see them all play during the day, not requiring an all-nighter :)

While it was on the beach, it was in a beach cafe, so it was covered, though there is plenty of natural light and open windows. It was perfect as today was cool and cloudy--not a late August in Tokyo day at all. In truth it was lovely even though I didn't go swimming beyond a bit of wading with Yo-chan thanks to the less than stellar weather.

Back in the cafe, however, there was plenty of dark wood, comfy-looking leather chairs, surprisingly tasty food, and good entertainment. It was a pretty full-day affair, and the Molets were up basically first followed by some other bands and singers as well as cabaret-style dancers. Some of the same wigged, pastied, dressed up girls, in fact, as from the cabaret night the molets played at in Shibuya awhile ago.

It was a good group of people today and everyone seemed to be having a really good time, right down to the toddlers who were bouncing away and wandering on stage occasionally. It was great to see little kids there, its not an event they would have been allowed at at home (too much liquor and skin) but the kids were way too young to see the burlesque girls for what they were and were much more enthralled with the silver and pink of the costumes than the fact that there were pasties flying through the air.

Good music, good friends, good food, good fun :)

For pictures click the pic.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

So this weekend, Amy and I decided it would be fun to climb Mt. Fuji again. We only decided to do it last week, but we figured it would be OK, given that we'd both done it before. So we booked bus tickets (which proved harder than you might think to use, given the language barrier!), got O2 and headlamps on base, and set off yesterday afternoon.

We arrived at Fuji san at about 7 and set off...It was quite cool up there, I was surprised! I guess when Helen and I did it last year, it really was unseasonably warm, as it wasn't nearly as chilly as yesterday's climb was. Off to the side was a lot of lightening, which was pretty interesting. It lasted for a few hours and didn't seem to move too much. Which was handy as it was aways away--where we wanted it!

My number one goal for the expedition was to make it up and down without puking a la last year, which I thought was food poisoning. Unfortunately, it turns out that I'm just not designed for high altitude, and so after summiting in 5 hours (maybe we should have gone a bit slower?!) We huddled first under a small bulldozer and then in some rocks in the BRUTAL wind, and then I puked again, not once, but twice. It's turning into quite a pattern--wake up, puke, watch sunset, drag myself down a hill). I'm not entirely sure how cold it was, but we'd seen that it was 6C a couple of stations down, so assuming it was a bit colder, maybe 4-5C and then factoring in the wind chill I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was below zero.

It's a pretty big mountain really--3778m, and the walk down, at least, is about 8km (there are a LOT of switchbacks). Going up is more direct, but also much more rocky...

However, we got a pretty good sunset, so that was good, and I am glad we did it, even though I certainly won't be climbing again any time soon!

Click on the sunrise to see more pictures.


PS. GOOOOOO Canada! We're finally beating Togo in the medal standings!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Coldplay sings The Scientist right next to me. The quality is a bit shite, so I'd only watch if you're really a fan...I was using Peter's head as a tripod though, so at least it's basically still!

Coldplay runs right past me
Some pictures:Right after Coldplay

Yes, we were THAT close (for two songs, at least)

(The guy with his back to the camera (in black) is the one who gave me a high five).

The guitars used to make the magic that is The Scientist 20 feet from me.

Caravan at the Beach Stage (saturday am)

At the Beach stage during Xavier Rudd (just about the time we said hi to the Bedouin frontman)
Alicia Keys
Wow, amazing weekend! Went to summer sonic at Makuhari Messe in Chiba today and yesterday. Yesterday was absolute madness! I saw 10 bands--Caravan (1/2 set), Blood Red Shoes (just a couple of songs), Band Of Horses (so good!; third row), Santogold (really like these guys!), Cajun Dance Party (a couple of songs), Trivium (one song), We Smoke Fags, Death Cab for Cutie (15th row, amazing!), The Fratellis (more on them after), and The Sex Pistols (just a couple of songs, just to say I've seen them).

Today, Peter came with me, and we did a more relaxed day... He went to the beach stage for the most of the earlier part of the afternoon and chilled out at Bedouin Soundclash and Xavier Rudd. I'd already seen Bedouin last year so I stayed at the indoor stages and saw The Polysics (One song, just to say I did), Biffy Clyro (1/2 a set), and then totally by accident but he was great, a DJ named Junkie XL, and that was pretty much it before I wandered back over to the other half of the venue (this place was freaking huge!! 6 stages and plenty of room for roughly 50,000 people per day to not seem that crowded). Over in beach land, I chilled out for most of the Xavier Rudd set before we headed over to the Marine Stage (the biggest one, we're guessing about 30,000 people) for the end of the Radwimps, Alicia Keys, and Coldplay. Amazing.

I skipped JUSTICE and The Ting Tings (along with tons of others, but they were on my 'list') partly because of logistics and partly because they were too strongly tied to 'us'. It's weird enough as it is right now, especially since there was always music with us, and with music being hardwired into my brain and my memories I wasn't sure how that would be...Avoidance is good sometimes.


Santogold was really cool--her backup dancers had a great robotic thing going on, where they showed absolutely no emotion and just did there thing. It was a good show.

Death Cab was a great show, of course. I was close enough to see well and still have some space to move... they did a nice set!

The Fratellis. Wow, crazy show! I pushed my way to the second row, and to my surprise, ended up in a massive mosh pit. I had NO idea that was coming since the crowds in Japan are usually ridiculously quiet and polite (in the middle of the Radwimps, with a crowd of probably 10,000, we could actually WHISPER to each other between songs). Anyway, the Fratellis brought the freak out in the crowd and it was INSANE. I have never been in anything quite like that before. Just bodies and dancing and sweat (oh the sweat), and heat, and chaos. It was like one of those super crowded rush hour Shinjuku trains that was dancing for all they were worth. I was SOOO tired when I dragged myself home! I felt like I'd played about 2 soccer games during that set!

Getting a 'hey, how's it going?' and a grin from Bedouin Soundclash frontman Jay Malinowski as we were all at the beach stage (other celeb sitings: a band (no idea who) at McDs and walking back to the event, plus another band standing behind us at Coldplay. Also, potentially one of Alica Keys' backup singers standing behind us at Coldplay.

All the differences between how an event like this might be run in Canada, or, especially, the US: off the top of my head:
You can take food/drinks in, so A), you can bring stuff, and B) the stuff in side is cheap(er)
They don't look in your bag
Everything is VERY orderly
When they tell you to wave your arm up like a dork to show your wrist band for reentry (yes, you can re enter), everyone actually does it
Various bands/artists just wander around (see above)
When 35,000 people leave Coldplay at once and need to walk 20 minutes to the station, including over fairly narrow overpasses, they do so orderly and quietly
The audiences are quiet and don't dance much. When they do dance, it's mostly 'up'. Presumably for economy of space.
When the schedule says the band will be on at 2:55, they'll be on between 2:54 and 2:56, even if its the last band on the last day.

Now, for the most amazing part of the night: Coldplay! I looooove Coldplay, and have for a good 5 years now. I've seen them before, in Toronto two years ago, and while it was a good show, I have to say that it wasn't amazing. Probably because I had the cheapest seats in the house, and went alone. Anyway, tonight, Peter and I were there and had a good spot. To try and explain; this was in a baseball stadium and we were on the floor. They'd divided the front half of the floor into L and R (we were in L) and into front and back. We were at the VERY back of the front section, so that we could lean over the fence that was behind us. We were really close to the audio tent as well. Running between the front and back and left and right were aisle ways where they had staff/security/the occasional band.

About 2/3s of the way through the set (which was 30 mins longer than it was supposed to be), The entire band jumped off stage, ran down those aisle ways, and ended up on a tiny stage we didn't know was there, RIGHT BESIDE US!!!! They were probably only about 10 people away. It was freaking amazing! And when they started playing The Scientist, my FAVORITE song in the entire world, I actually nearly started to cry. I was certainly on the verge of hyperventilation (this is the song that got me liking coldplay, but more importantly, was a big part of the soccer slideshow that maggie made us before we went to BCs. and won. anyone on that team will understand why the song is so amazing to me). Anyway, moving on...So they were SOOO close and it was sooo great!!! I was soo happy we'd lucked into that spot. And then, bonus, as they were running back to the stage, the bass guitarist gave me a high five! Cool!

Then, the next song (Clocks) was pretty great as they brought Alicia Keys out to play the piano, which was pretty great. Overall, they had a great set, but the last third, from basically the second small concert on was just amazing. I even got a piece of the confetti they blew out of the stage at the end (some shiny mylar butterflies).

We wrapped up the night with some cup noodle, in Peter's car, with the top down, parked outside the Messe, blasting Coldplay. Classic.

Next post will have (slightly not allowed to have been taken) pics and video.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It was Mike and Jen's (and Paul's, though he didn't come for obvious reasons) leaving do on the weekend, and they did a pretty fun and Japanese-y thing for it--a BBQ/beer garden on the top of a department store (because where better to put the hundreds of drunken Tokoites?).

It's the sort of thing that would never be allowed at home--two elevators, hundreds of people , a big roof, and open flame on every table... umm fire hazard? Not to mention the open-air alcohol (serve yourself), kids running around, and the pet store you had to walk through to get on to said roof. However, that said, it was lots of fun and a great evening. We did a 2-hour nomihodai/tabehodai, which basically means "eat as much lamb and veggies (and random, un-ordered sausages) and drink as much beer/juice in two hours as humanly possible" (another reason this might not get carried out at home...gaijin can eat a fair whack of food and dispense with a number of pitchers of Sapporo in two dedicated hours.) It was quite funny when they tried to get us out. (of course, closing at 10, means closing at 10). They played Auld Lang Syne (as you do) and then when that didn't work, came over and very politely told us we'd have to leave soon. The word soon was their mistake there! Finally (though probably only at about 10:04, and in our defence, we weren't the last table), the one guy (poor guy) who spoke English came over and told us that the elevators would stop running and we'd be stuck. So we left and headed to a random 5th floor darts bar with astroturf on the ground (again, as you do), for a quick one before last trains started to be an issue and we split up.

Sad to say good bye to Jen and Mike, but we've promised cross-continental trips, and I'm going to follow through on my threat to visit them in NYC at some point :)
DThe little yakiniku ( I *heart* yakiniku) grills...our gas canisters kept running out and having to be replaced and shaken and things...i'm sure not up to US code!, Also: a huge platter of lamb, and an even huge-r platter of veggies...
Quite the popular event, this Ginza roof BBQ thing!
Wahay, it's Dani with alcohol! No, I didn't drink it, and yes, Jen was laughing at me, and yes, this was photo-worthy, and yes, I'm crap at pulling beer. Let's see, 7 parts foam, to one part beer. oops!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Went to a baseball game with Amy and Zach on the weekend in Yokohama which was good fun, if bloody hot! It was the first few hot days of the year over the weekend and the entire stadium was a sea of fans moving at warp speed (as in paper fans, not baseball fans). Amy and I got hot pink Yokohama Baystars fans, which are oh so kawaii and oh so needed at the time! The hanshin tigers , which is an osaka-based team with a huge following had a LOT of fans at the game. i even saw a woman in a pink yukata with the tigers' logo all over it!

There were a few differences between the mariners game and the baystars game (beyond the fact that it was significantly hotter at this game and that I wasn't there with A)

+there's no cover on Japanese stadiums!!! (hooot)
+food and souveniers are actually reasonably priced. probably because you can bring your own in
+there are cheerleaders here
+i was very worried for the health and heatstroke-safety of the mascots (poor, poor buggers)
+there are songs for (according to hitomi) many of the different players as well as the different situations they might find themselves in
+the field was astroturf, not grass (but had carefully striped 'grass' in two different colors in order to give the appearance of being mown in two directions)

All in all, a fun day for sure and the time spent on the train let me read Anthony Bourdain's great memoir No Reservations. I definitely recommend it! What I don't recommend, now, is fish on Monday, lol.


On Monday Peter quietly slipped in to have the plate taken out of his leg. He came home today and brought said plate and the big-ass screws with him in a baggie. the whole contraption looks rather like a giant piece of mechano(sp?).

While he was busy doing that, I took advantage of my day off to show scotty's niece around a little bit. she's visiting for a month from sask and so far loving tokyo (as she should be!) We went to odaiba (despite the fact i nearly lost us a few times since i hadn't been able to pre-plan the route on jorudan!) we checked out venus fort (there are loads of pics in last year's entry about a google search for venus fort gaijinbedbug and it comes up). and while there did print club (for my first time!) it was SOO fun! We didn't quite know how it worked the first time, and didn't go from booth A (where it lets you pick a theme and then tells you how to pose) to booth B (where you get to decorate them) so we thought we'd lost those ones and went to do it again in a different booth (this one 'glitta' themed). Having learned from the people who went in after us in the original booth, we went into the first booth (more like a small room, really, way, way bigger than the ones @ home and with a sweet touch-screen system) and picked a theme (or more accurately, time to chose ran out so we went with their 'osusume' we then picked 6 poses, which it directed us into one at a time (with a different background for each superimposed in after).

Then, part two, which we'd faffed up before was to go to the next booth where our blank images popped up and on a split screen (so we could each do it) we both used pens (a lot like hte pens from the leapfrog books) to add all number of clip art things ranging from writing (kana or romaji), the date, random clip art stamps, etc, etc, etc. it was pretty amazing. we also got to pick the arrangement of the photos, and chose the 10-minute option, so we had 10 mins to decorate, though i think we got longer. once we were done, we went out to wait for our photos to print, and discovered our original photos (totally un-edited lol) in the printer. Keeping in mind tis was a totally different printer than they would have come out of, I guess some one figured out who we were and where we were and put them in for us. V nice!


Today (wednesday) after work I went to play futsal and I'm really glad I did even though @ the office it was a bugger to gather the energy to go! Luckily it wasn't *too* hot and we had a lot of fun...there were 8 of us which was perfect for 4v4 futsal...i scored a nice one-time curling/top corner goal off a corner from one of the other's strange how natural it feels to play, even when i haven't played in what seems like forever (2 weeks) and forever and a day before that (ok, that was actually forever and a day! like february when i was playing with the crazy guys @ hamilton?!)

Got home and peter was home from the hospital so it was good to see him (though i did visit sanno this am and bring him coffee on my way to work...SUCH a nice hospital!). Tonight he watched a DVD called earth, which is a spectacular production, but had WAY too many cute bay animals nearly dying, creatures getting attacked, etc. I left 2/3 s of the way through and escaped up here to blog.

So there you have it...a blog that's not bordering on porno (but it was art, i tell you!)
PS. If you listen to nothing else this week (since the BEST RADIO SHOW EVER, AKA this american life, was a %&$*# rerun this week you are off the hook for that), listen to WNYC's Radio Lab Podcast from March 25, 2008 entitled War of the Worlds. (thanks to Jordon for passing along the WotW goodness!)

Orson Wells, HG Wells, some poor people in 1938...and so on...I won't tell you what happens because you'll be listening to the story soon enough. And even if you do know the story of that bloody brilliant/crazy/stupid/amazing hoax, I bet you haven't heard all that Radio Lab will tell you!

OH! and another big PS--only 1 month till Beijing!!! Citius Altius Fortius! (and just because I have to do at least one gymnastics olympic year prediction after the dozen or so blogs + forum I've been religiously reading recently: Shawn, Nast, A-Sac, Chellsie, Pezek (I guess), Bieger (unfortunatly), Alt 1: Sloan, Alt 2: Hong, NTA: Larson. Unless shayla gets her 7.0 A score on bars and deals with her herniated disks, in which case, she jumps into the bieger spot and everyone else shuffles down a place. IMO.

Now, really, bed.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We went out for dinner at Beacon last night, a nice steak restaurant in Aoyama. It was really good and we all enjoyed the evening. While there, Hitomi said she spotted a well-known Japanese artist, Murakami, who recently saw a sculpture get sold to the US for something like 5 million dollars.

The sculpture (keep in mind it's 2 metres or so tall):
The name: My Lonesome Cowboy
Warning: probably not for those under the age of corruption.

Off to a Yokohama Baystars game today, should be fun!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A few more from the Koenji Connection...

(Happy early birthday Canada!)
Marie, in da house...what an aristochat!
My Day. In Pictures. (It was a long one...up from 7:30am-7:30am. Oh man)

It all started with Hoop Wake Up with Deanne in Yoyogi Koen...Good fun, and we decided, very good to get out of the house to do something, even if being in the park by 9 seemed early at the time...I even walked down there! There was the typical assortment of weekend-in-the-park-ers, which was cool--two standard poodles learning frisbee tricks, a guy with a trumpet, a few tai chi groups, a big running group, some photo shoots, and two girls with hoops. Post hooping out to Mika, I raced home for a shower and costume change before meeting Marie at the Four Seasons in Yurakucho for brunch at the ekki bar and grill (for Weekender). It was really nice and we had a lovely 'ladies - who- lunch' type of brunch...It was like a set course (you could pick from one of about 4 sets, i got 'contemporary'), where you started with a soup (pumpkin), then moved on to about 6 mains on a tray, with each one being tiny and pretty (included mushrooms on brioche, a grilled pepper wrap, a salad, and some super tasty waffles), and then there was a dessert tray, which was so good and had some rocking cheesecake! Followed off by coffee or tea, and either veuve cliquot or krug yellow label throughout (of course, that was a bit lost on me...I had about 3 sips through the entire thing). Still, a lovely brunch in a lovely restaurant. Then, since I was in Ginza, I made the obligatory trip to my mecca, AKA the apple store...5 stories of lovely-ness...iPod touches, mac book air and mac book pros are SOOO pretty...LOVE!
Then, Meguro for a time killing coffee... (For those keeping track of time, its now 4-5pm)
Then, a three-hour self-defence for women class put on by Sun and Moon Yoga. Illustrated above is the heel of the hand punch, which we learnt...(can also be used on a guys elbow should they be on top of you trying to rape you). It was a good class and we learned plenty of techniques, though whether or not I would have the presence of mind to use them remains a bit to be seen!
Then, it was home for a quick costume change (literally) before heading back out to Koenji, where Jordon was co-organising a costume party with lots of djs at the koenji connection. Which I couldn't find to save my life (even though I'd been there before, too!). Finally, after being sent on a wild goose chase by some restaurant promoters (maybe they wanted me to give up and go to their place lol) I ended up in Lawson. The poor girl had NO idea where I wanted to go, but I finally found their map on my keitai (thank goodness for net on phones in japan) and then instead of just pointing me in the right direction, she actually left the store and ran with me up the street to find it...Only in Japan!
Buuut, I made it, and it was a fun night! There was a surprisingly high percentage of people in costume in attendance...I whipped out the flapper costume stand-by, and Jordon was a ghost (except for most of the night when he wasn't--I gather it was a bit hard to see through lol). His gf was dressed as him which was cute--his tattoos had been drawn on her arm, etc..Then we had the cute 70s rocker chick (?), an aristocat, and a michael jackson wig, passed around through various people...It made most people look like MJ, and Jordon look Amish.
(Like seriously. Doesn't he look like he doesn't believe too much in electricity? So funny!)
The west coast of Canada was also very well represented, with like 4 (out of 15 or so) of us being from Vancouver (/Victoria). It was a first-train/last-train? night that ended up being a first-train night for nearly everyone....This city is great in that you can go home, at 5am, in a flapper costume, at the end of June, without anyone staring at you.
And of course, even when sober, Origin (or Yoshinoya) is the perfect end to the night (beginning of the day). Tonkatsu bento onegaishimasu!

And that's that!