Monday, July 28, 2008

Calm Cafe

If you ever find yourself on the western side of the Izu, near the junction of Rt. 17 and 134, then I highly recommend you stop for lunch and a few road beers at this fine cafe. Outdoor seating isn't really very big in rural Japan, so you can imagine how excited we were to find that this outdoor veranda had a breath-taking Suruga bayfront view of the fisherman, sailboats, and scuba divers. Since there is a diving school to the right, we could see many seal-like people crawling from the surface of the water.

Here, a happy Stephanie poses in front of the cafe after we spent about an hour and a half, eating a delicious lunch, ordering beer and wine, and moving over to the grassy knoll in order to enjoy the scenery a little better.

When we saw the sign boast "Pasta and Curry", we were like...uh, whaaaat? However, the restaurant did prove to have excellent food. Steph and Nicole are two of the food-snobbiest people I know (said in a very loving and respectful tone), so the fact they agreed that it was great that we took a chance on this place was golden.

Here's the map of the area. I drew a red circle where i thought it was, but actually it is a little higher up on the map, on that same road.

The Basil bruschetta was so fabulous, we had to order it again after we devoured the first plate.

Nicole ordered the salmon and avocado pasta. It was delicious.

It was nice to have a real Ceasar's salad for once. It was served in a huge, chilled bowl. Very classy.

Stephanie's curry dish looked very beautiful, as the vegetables radiated their natural colors. It was very fresh, and I had a little taste. It was divine.

Here's a little picture showing the beautiful view from our table. The staff was also very friendly and beautiful, and the prices were very reasonable. I am reluctant to share my little slice of cafe paradise with the world, but I want to be able to find it again, so I thought I ought to write about it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Staring Contest

Nobody holds eye contact in passing. However this dude seemed to have no problem staring directly into my eyes for 7 train stops, till I reached my destination, Shizuoka. Even as i snapped this photo, he did flinch at all. I cant help but entertain the notion that he may be the Japanese "Bernie". I should have played some reggae music and found out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's its own gift box

There's no finer way to say "Thank you", "I respect you", "Congratulations", "I'm sorry", "I love you" than to present someone with an outrageously expensive, vegetative anomaly.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Konbini Love Child

I used to worry that living in a small countryside town would eventually backfire on me, however I've successfully kept it hidden that I have been keeping two girlfriends for just over a year now. Aiko was the first. I met her over a year and a half ago at the funeral of my next door neighbor. Our families had lived beside each other since I was an elementary student. Totsuka-san was a teacher of classic Japanese literature. He became my homeroom teacher when I was a junior in high school. During his funeral procession, I became overwhelmed with a deep nostalgia of how he would joke in class about how I used to ride his young son around in the basket of my bike. It embarrassed me immensely when I was but a 16 year old punk teenager who didn't want anyone to know that I played with children. However, when I glanced at his son, who was now the same age I was when Totsuka was my teacher, leaning his head on his mother's shoulder, hiding his tears, I quietly exited from my seat and went to smoke a cigarette away from the crowd.

My mother later chastised my disrespectful behaviour, however, I only did it because I didn't want to become too overwhelmed. I didn't want to cry. I truly did miss Totsuka-san's late night "tadaima" as I'd spend the summers outside working on my motorcycles.

It was while I was searching my pocket for my lighter, that I first saw Aiko. It wasn't her cherry red lips or her perfectly shaped legs that had caught my attention. I hadn't noticed those things until I later approached to ask if she needed a hankerchief. She was crying. I asked her how she was related to the Totsuka family, but she answered that she was just an ex-student. Later in the conversation, I grew deeply embarrassed that we were actually in the same homeroom, yet couldn't remember her at all. She didn't take offense, she just smiled and said "Well, it is not surprising for I rarely ever made a presence in my classes. Not even Totsuka sensei would remember my name."

Soon afterwards, we began dating. I soon realized why she seemed so familiar. I asked her if anyone has ever told her that she looked like Ayumi Hamasaki. She smiled and said that I compliment freely. It was then that she admitted to styling her hair like Ayu-chan because she thought it would match her face well. Sometimes I got the feeling that it was a little more than the innocent admiration of Ayumi's hair, Aiko also owned every CD she's ever released. She would never agree to sing any of her songs during Karaoke, however. I would have liked to see that.

She was and still is a librarian assistant at a library a few towns away. She often talks about how it was Totsuka sensei who inspired her to appreciate the fine literary works of haiku poets. On my last birthday, she took me to her room inside her parents house and asked me if I would like to have my present. I nodded, and she slowly began to unbutton her blouse, never once looking me in the eye. After a moment's hesitation, she opened her shirt. I was amazed at the beauty of her body.

Earlier that morning, she had carefully written an original haiku that she had composed in front of a mirror. On her belly was written

cherry blossoms fall
someday my bosom will too
but we are here now

I didn't know how to react. I stood there quiet and she then began to button her shirt. My friends were to meet us at a restaurant in a half hour, so I took her queue that we should hurry and make our way.

I often think about that afternoon in her parent's house. I almost cannot believe that Aiko, as shy as she is, gave me such a beautiful birthday present. However, since that day, I grew incredibly impatient. I soon began to wonder when we would eventually come to making love.

We've only made love once. It was a month after I had turned 21. After my birthday, I had grown increasingly obsessed with becoming one with her naked body. But she was shy. I soon began to grow irritated that she gave me such a beautiful birthday present, however never let me touch her when we were alone. She would complain that it made her uncomfortable. Actually, it was never a complaint, just a comment, an explanation. So one night, I grew exceptionally impatient and told her that I wanted to break up. She nodded and asked me to take her home. Silence ensued for the duration of the drive to her house. When we approached, she began to cry. I couldn't bear to look at her, so instead I remained quiet and stared at the road ahead.

Then, she put her hand on mine and asked if I wanted to visit a nearby love hotel that we would often pass on our way back from the local hot spring. I turned the key and we made love that night. Our first and only night.

I met Rina at a movie theatre in the city. My best friend, Kento, and I had no intention of watching a movie that day, however, we were bored and wanted to kill some time before the izakayas opened. When I came out from the bathroom, I saw Kento talking to someone. She wasn't really a beautiful girl, her face was round and her arms were chubby. He was glad to see that I returned and quickly said goodbye to her and we entered the dark room. The movie had already started.

Afterwards, as we were smoking a cigarrette in front of the theatre, Rina had spotted us. She was alone. I mentioned that we were about to go have a few beers at our favorite izakaya, and I immediately felt Kento's angry stare. The three of us walked a couple of blocks and entered the bar, only to find that it was jammed packed. He grew very angry that we couldn't be seated and suggested that we go home. I didn't want to and he excused himself and said that he wanted to meet some friends down the street. I was about to follow him, when Rina grabbed my arm and suggested that we get a few drinks and go into the park to talk. I didn't know how to respond, however, Kento quickly excused himself and before I realized what had happened, I was walking into a Konbini with Rina.

Rina loves sex. Even now, I've never thought that any girl felt the kinds of urges that guys feel. Yet, Kento still tries to convince me that I should not have two girlfriends. I almost took heed of his advice until I caught him trying to seduce her on the balcony at a party. After every night I spend with Rina, she confesses her love and adoration for me, begging me to marry her. When I come to think about the situation honestly, I realize that I prefer the nights with Rina much more than the ones with Aiko.

I have grown comfortable with them both. I love them both, and though my paranoia about the possibility that they may someday find out about each other still lingers, nothing seems finer than how things are at the moment.

However, recently, I have wondered about my latest obsession. I have found that after a night with Rina, spending hours at our favorite bar, dancing to the songs she chooses on the jukebox, arguing about our favorite baseball teams with the bartender, making out in the tiny waiting area outside the bathrooms, I have taken to quite an unusual practice.

After we go back to her apartment above the hairshop she works at, after we tire ourselves out atop of her cool cotton sheets, after she lays her head on my elbow and whispers her goodnight "I love you's" into my cheek, I cannot fall asleep.

I lay there. At first, I used to try to close my eyes and concentrate on her breathing, thinking that the rhythm would lull me to sleep. However, these days, I have found that the only solution is to sneak out of bed, put on my pants and shoes, walk to the Konbini down the corner, and stand in front of the magazine stands. I flip through each one, searching for pictures of Ayumi Hamasaki.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Losing my Memory Card

Succeeding through one world, brings you to the next. I’ve passed through many and this one proves a challenge. Energy has been lost, lives as well, but I’m here. By this point, I am in the middle of a night, with just the lonely illumination of my modern, seemingly fruitless perseverance.

I want to turn it off, get some sleep, perhaps prepare for school. I’d like to find the courage to disregard all the points I’ve collected, monsters I’ve defeated, levels I’ve lived through. But I’m here now, and I’ve never seen this one before.

Surely, this will be over soon. I will discover the path, find every key, meet but another boss. I’ll probably lose a couple lives along the way, make a few mistakes, and run my time down after falling into the hidden traps that were designed for just that purpose.

But this is merely a game, yet another test of endurance, dedication. I may not sleep tonight, nor complete my studies. I may face another tomorrow filled with mothers who come into your room at night, turn off the world, preaching wasted time, forcing bedtime. And I shall sleep.

Until tomorrow. Only to return, press reset, and get there once again. Only, this time, in half the time and a fourth the effort.

Many people believe games are a waste of time and energy.

And life?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The person who has been dubliously refered to as my "psychic partner", schooled me well in the Buddhist way. One of his teachings has stayed with me for a long time. I haven't killed any living creature since my murder days in college.

California does not have much of a problem with pests such as mosquitos. Yes, they exist, but they don't bombard your room at night and eat at you for hours. However, here in Japan, they do. Insects here are most disgusting, especially spiders. You see, in tropic regions, insects tend to grow much larger than they do in highly populated cities. Blame the foresty nature, I do.

However, when I first arrived in Japan, I was introduced to some extremely foul-looking wildlife. I was very timid, still in the clutches of Buddhist ideals. I used to spend my summers trapping spiders under drinking glasses. I had never experienced such nasty creatures in such numbers, so I assumed trapping them was the way to go. However, they would escape. Sometimes, even, the glasses would be tipped as is they summoned super-spider strength, like mini superheroes. It was creepy as fuck. Losing a trapped spider is one of the most unsettling sensations a person who desires sleep can feel. Because, you know, it has been written that spiders are attracted to the carbon dioxide in the exhaling of breath that one does in their sleep. Yikes.

By the way, another hideous fact about spiders is that they have an uncanny, evolutionary ability to hold their breath for very long periods. Therefore, if you bomb your house in order to rid yourself of insectual nuisances...spiders will survive unless it is done professionally. This is because they can hold their breath for up to periods of 5 hours which surpasses how long the poison lingers.
Double yikes. Nasty Spider Facts

Knowing this, and eventually becoming fed up with the countless amounts of mosquito bites I've suffered through, i decided to disregard Buddhist teachings. I grew sick of scratching my body like some kind of freakish crackhead. Since the time I heard someone mention that the inside of vacuum bags are lined with pesticides, I realized that vacuuming spiders and mosquitos was a much more efficient way of insect removal. After then, I would never have to get icky, shivery feelings each time I poured a drink into my glasses.

But! But! But! Today. Today, my house was a mess...a total disarray. I would be so incredibly embarrassed if I were to have had some sort of accident that rendered me impaired. Imagine if someone had to come inside for some reason, perhaps to help me, perhaps finding me paralyzed or something like that? Considering my staircase is ridiculously steep (yes, Janine, just like the one in the Grudge), and I've fallen down them before....What if a stranger were to have come to save me, thereby witnessing the filth in which I was living?

So of course, it was imperative that I clean. I began, and soon encountered 8 long, hairy legs. I froze. I escaped upstairs to calm myself with a cigarette on my balcony. I did not want to go back downstairs. I did not want to stare back into the eyes of that hideous creature. But I gambarimasu-ed, like an adult, for I am one of those, an adult.

The point? I'm getting there.

So I slowly descend my stairs, inspecting each area I place my foot, tippy-toe-ing around my tatami, methodically grabbing my vacuum, and quietly pointing it at the beast. I press the on button, and the spider bolts from the sudden noise. I follow, as I hover the rectangular sucking brushes over the monster.

What happened, you ask?

My you really want to know?

Well, it jams. The vacuum begins to wail as if I accidently sucked up a marble or a small rug. It loses control and begins to vibrate and emit a yucky smokey spider smell. The creature is too big to be sucked into the hole.

My reaction? I freak out. I drop the vacuum and run to my hallway. I teeter from left foot to right heart quaking, adrenaline galore. My eyes look away and I try to ignore the hideous noise the vacuum begins to scream.

Eventually, I realize that I cannot escape the situation. So I turn off the vacuum's motor. The spider does not escape. In fact, I cannot see it at all. Not until I come closer do I find that the huge creature has in fact died. It looks much smaller than minutes before when I saw it scampering across the tatami.

It looked crumpled, imploded, tiny.

Guilt is not a Buddhist thing. It is very much Catholic.
Nasty Spider Facts

六月祭 (Mina tsuki sai) June Festival

In the eyes of the students, the most exciting time of the year is the school's cultural festival. They plan it for months, and look forward to the June weekend with great anticipation. Since I already knew what to expect, and wrote about it in great detail last year, I won't bother writing about it again.

What is Shimada High School's School Festival like?

However, I would like to mark this memory with a few notes to my future self on how I wish I could have done it better. Next year, I want to be more involved in things, I should take note that meetings about the festival begin happening at the beginning of the year. Next year, I want to start making a performance for the OC class earlier. I also want to be in the band disney performance.

These are a few of my OC students.

Look carefully, and you'll see that I am getting flipped off. I wonder if it is wrong that I react with laughter and amusement. Well, perhaps since I rarely witness rebellion, it strikes me as comforting when given just a little.

I love this picture. This is me peeking in on tea ceremony club.

It's pretty awesome to see your quiet, obedient students rocking out.

These didn't taste as good as they look.

I love this photo for a variety of reasons. Firstly, everyone is in pink. Secondly, pictured here are 2 of my favorite students.

Number 1 is Eisuke, a quite amusing boy. He's not in my OC class, however, he became memorable to me last year when after his trip to California he wrote his entire English diary assignment on the hot sauce he bought at the Farmer's Market called "Off your Ass". During the show and tell performance, he put a big spoonful onto a banana and ate it in front of the class. It was awesome.

Number 2 is another of the nameless kids.

Number 3 is Hiroshi, one of my amusing and secretly good at English OC kids.

This year, the OC class performed Green Eggs and Ham. I was surprised to learn that nobody, teachers nor students, had ever heard of this book before.

Here is one scene with Shizuma and Naomi.

I was extremely proud of their effort.