Friday, October 30, 2009

Tokyo Decadance

Here we go! The Tokyo Decadance fourth anniversary Halloween party! For those who haven't had the chance yet, please check below for my post about the V-Rock Festival Day 1.

Anyways, after I left Chiba prefecture from the V-Rock Festival, I hitched a train back to Shinjuku for the Tokyo Decadance party! Unfortunately, by now, my feet were completely hosed. Nonetheless, I was determined to make it to this party, lol! I got there in about an hour and met up with some friends around Shinjuku station. Grabbed some food, wandered a little, waited for various friends to show up, blah blah blah. Also... it was kinda raining, ew. But anyhoo, once everyone was gathered, we basically huddled in the east exit of Shinjuku station and did our makeup in public (even though it's considered rude to publicly put on makeup in Japan, lol). I did my makeup in less than ten minutes, while standing, with a compact mirror. Here's how it turned out (my face looks stupid in this picture, lol):

This is a better angle. Also, for those wondering how I kept my bangs in those curls... I actually smeared false-eyelash glue into my hair, haha.

Here's some of my Spanish-speaking friends getting ready, lol.

Sorry for the shaky photo. Who took this picture? David? Anyways, lol! Here's a bunch of us. Not all were going to the party, but this is a cute picture anyways, lol. Sorry my outfit's hidden under a sweatshirt... but it was really cold in the doorway, lol.

After we'd dropped off some crap in the coin-lockers, we walked to the Christon Cafe where the party was taking place. The line was snaking down the road, filled with assorted weirdos sporting strange makeup and wigs and boots. We had to wait in line for over an hour (oy, my feet...). My friend Geri and I were getting hit on by this Total Asshole from Kyushu. His friend was adorable and nice and held an umbrella over our heads for us, but the Total Asshole just went on and on about America and Japan and commented on our boobs, etc. But other Japanese people in line were really nice and friendly and fun to talk to. The whole line thing was good Japanese practice, lol.

Anyways, I took a picture once the line moved indoors. The totally adorable Japanese guy covered in blood is my friend's friend. He was really nice, and I helped him do his make-up, lol.

Here's Geri posing with Total Asshole and his friend. Total Asshole is, of course, the one torturing his poor friend. His friend kept saying "uruseeee!" at Total Asshole, roughly translating to "shut uuuuuup!" or "you're being obnoxious!!!"

Once we got through the doors, we had to go through a haunted house. I HATE haunted houses, so I made Geri go first, lol. Of course, Total Asshole was clinging to me. Ew, lol. After the haunted house, we had to go through a dress-code check from this crazy drag-queen (who, as Geri pointed out, makes a guest appearance in a Plastic Tree music video. Ten points to anyone who can find our drag queen in a Plastic Tree music video, lol). Dress-code was pretty strict, with 4000 yen charged to those without costumes and 3500 to those dressed up. 3000 yen discounts were only given to the most outlandishly-insane people. Luckily, I pre-purchased a ticket, so I got in for 3000 yen, haha.

Here's a picture of the party from the stairs leading down into the restaurant. Yes, the Christon Cafe is heavily Jesus-themed, lol. I love irony, haha.

Once inside, everyone got a free Bloody Mary. We dropped off our stuff, admired the assorted costumes, and checked out the dance floor. All manner of assorted weirdo was bopping to typical club-style music. People were sucking on penis-shaped lollipops or glowing candy. There were men in nothing but thongs. There were foreigners, Japanese... even some guy on crutches. We had cross-dressers, cosplayers, lolitas... Oh, and the organizer's host club friends were there, so there were lots of pretty men in suits drinking alcohol and pretending to be bored, lol. Oh, shout out to foreigners: if you're going to get blasted at a Japanese party, don't turn into a fucking asshole and start molesting the Japanese girls. ESPECIALLY YOU, ASSHOLE ITALIANS IN THE BACK ROOM.

Anyways, soon enough this... thing, came onto the dance floor. I think he's called "Rare Robot Shinji" but it was this dude who had built himself a giant, 10 foot tall robot suit that he was able to completely control from the inside (it was a fully-functioning robot). Anyways, this Gundam-like thing came out onto the dance-floor and like... he danced, lol. The robot was totally rocking out to the music, haha. And you could totally dance with the robot! I decided to stay in the inner-circle and party with the robot, lol. There's a good video of Rare Robot Shinji later in the post!

Among the dance floor... here's my friend, looking like he just got hazed, lol.

And (bragging moment): HERE'S ME WITH DJ SISEN WHOOO!!! It was almost impossible to get near him because everyone was surrounding him and talking to him all the time and he was usually too drunk to understand anything (once his performance was over he just drowned himself in a bottle of whiskey, as you can see). But still, I TOOK A PICTURE WITH DJ SISEN - YEEEEAH! All credit goes to Geri for the picture lol (thanks for putting up with DJ Sisen being too drunk to know his name, haha).

I wish I had more details about this party but my feet hurt so bad that I spent the majority of the party sitting in the back room in agony, lol. I did get up for a vodka and ginger-ale, though, haha. Oh, and I also got onto the raised block in the center of the dance-floor and danced up there, haha. I stole this picture-evidence off Nao's Facebook, lol:

Anyways, even though I don't know his music at all, one of the acts I most wanted to see was Kaya. This lovely cross-dresser (yes, it's a he) is Kaya:

Here's another perty picture:

Unfortunately, I had no idea when he'd be performing. We got to see Rolly perform. He's that nutcase from the movie Suicide Club (Jisatsu Saakuru) who rapes people in bags and sings weird songs. He's also a main actor in the Japanese production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's just... weird, lol. You can see him in the video I'll post at the end. I ran into Rolly in the back room as he was leaving. I smiled at him and he smiled back, lol. Unfortunately, thanks to my stupid feet, I missed Issey and the Fire Dancers. DAMNIT. Oh well, maybe some other time... But I did get to see the girl with the nose-band doing her stripper-dance. Anyhoo, around 4:30 AM they wheeled out the giant, penis-covered cake for over 1200 people. Then this cross-dressing guy got on stage and he seemed... he seemed like he'd had a rough night, lol. He was wearing a haphazard kimono that was barely on, and his hair was all over his face. He got up in front of the cake and started performing some really catchy music. Then he just sorta... lost control of himself. He started running up and down the stairs, draping himself over the banister... then his clothing started coming off. Soon he was half-naked, grabbing at audience-members, making love to the banister... Geri and I were cracking up at this ridiculous lunatic. We were like "what is UP with this psychopath?!!" But the audience was eating it up. People were reaching out for this guy like he was the Second Coming. And the dress-code check drag-queen was standing on the balcony clutching a hand to his chest and fanning himself, lol. Anyways, after several songs, the crazy person finally gathered up his kimono and left, lol. At that point, I was too tired and in too much pain to stay for cake, so I decided to leave. I was really upset that I was leaving before I got to see Kaya, but... I knew I needed to rest before I returned to the V-Rock Festival, lol.

Geri and I left together and stopped off at an internet cafe, which is this great Japanese invention for people who missed the last train. For a minute-by-minute fee, you get your own room for really cheap, with internet, TV, porn, etc, lol. And people often sleep there. Here's our room:

Here's me dicking around in the room, lol:

Anyways, I'm a cheapskate, so I only stayed for 45 minutes, lol. Then Geri and I left, caught breakfast, and I wandered Tokyo till I decided to find a train back to Chiba.

So real quick... let's fast-forward to over 24 hours later. I'm back at Sophia, talking to my friend Mark. Here's how the conversation goes:

Mark: So when did you leave the party?

Me: Umm... around 4:30, I think.

Mark: Wait, did you even stay for Kaya?

Me: [pouting] No....

Mark: Well, anyways, this person totally ruined Marina's shoes at the party. See, after Kaya performed, they served the cake and -

Me: Wait. AFTER Kaya performed, they served the cake...?

Mark: Uh... yeah?

Me: So you mean... that lunatic in the kimono was KAYA?!!

Mark: The guy who was completely convinced he was a woman? Yeah, that was Kaya.

Me: ...but... but Kaya is usually... so elegant... and... THAT WAS KAYA?!!

Yeeeeeeeeah. Kaya, lolita-esque, dainty, elegant, playfully-prancing Kaya had ONE HELLUVA NIGHT. I am not unfamiliar with Kaya. I've seen how he usually performs ontage. He's usually dainty... refined... elegant... WHAT HAPPENED?!! Mark said people just usually do stuff at Tokyo Decadance they would never normally do. I spoke with Marina later. She said she talked to Kaya after the show and he said he was "a little bit hyper, since it was after four in the morning." Really?  Just a little bit hyper?!!

So yeah... that was my adventure at Tokyo Decadance, lol. Good times were had by all! I danced with a robot, smiled at Rolly, saw Kaya's nipples, and got a picture with DJ Sisen! I was left totally crippled, but that didn't stop me from going back to V-Rock Festival for day 2, haha. So stay tuned! I'm SUPER excited to talk about day 2 because it was AMAZING so keep an eye out for my next V-Rock post - coming soon!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

V-Rock Festival Day 1

Alright, who's ready for some serious bloggage?!! Get ready for lengthy descriptions, unnecessary tangents, and fan-girling! WHOOOOO!!!!

SO! Saturday, Oct. 24th, I get up, squeeze into a corset, four-inch platform boots, and I get ready to head out to Chiba prefecture for the V-Rock Festival! First off, I don't know if anyone actually wondered whether or not my host family would be okay with me disappearing for an entire weekend. Allow me to relay the transaction for you:

Me: "Ano... shuumatsu ni... watashi wa tabun... modaranai..." ("um... I might, like... not come home this weekend...")

Host mother: "Eh? Doushite?" ("Really? Why?")

Me: "Eeto... V-Rock Festival ni itte... sono yoru, ano... Halloween paatii mo atte..." ("Well... I'm going to the V-Rock Festival and... that night there's a Halloween Party...")

Host parents: "Ah - iku?" ("Oh, you're going?")

Yeah, that's how it goes around here. I seriously have free-reign. They don't question anything I do, so long as they know about it, lol. They just shrugged and laughed at my usual reckless stupidity and let me go on my merry way, lol.

So, the festival was in Chiba, which is about an hour and a half from where I live (if you take the train). It was surprisingly easy, though. Only one transfer. After I transferred at Tokyo Station, I hitched a train heading to Kaihim Makuhari. At that point, it wasn't exactly difficult to tell if I was going in the right direction. At every stop, as more and more people got on the train, the clothing was getting darker and darker... the hair was getting higher and higher... piercings were becoming more and more frequent... then a guy got on the train with white-out contacts and eye-shadow smeared all over his face. Yeah, definitely heading in the right direction, lol XD

I exited the train and found the Makuhari Messe only about two minutes away. That place is HUGE. It's actually an exhibition hall and, much to my surprise, the Tokyo Auto Show was going on in the building next door to the festival, lol. Anyways, cameras were strictly prohibited at V-Rock so I don't have any pictures or videos for you guys that I took myself. But I'll post outsider pictures and stuff, lol.

This festival really was impressive, though. It's estimated that about 30,000 people attended. And there was a shocking number of guys in attendance. I know people say VK is a girl's genre but... I think that's not entirely true.

Outside the venue I met up with a girl named Casie. She's doing the JET Program and teaching English in Chiba and she didn't know anyone so she wanted a friend for V-Rock. I'd never met her before, but we found each other easily enough, chatted happily (we were both sarcastic-types - yay!!) and headed on into the V-Rock Festival!

The festival was set up in a fascinating way. I walked in the doors and I was like "whooooooa...." There were basically three giant exhibition halls. In the middle was the massive international food court and merchandise area (and a billion chairs for exhausted, high-heel, platform-boot-wearing concert-goers). On the left was another hall, with two giant stages marked L and R. The other hall on the other side had two stages: a smaller one marked V (for indie bands or new bands) and a large one with a runway (yes, a runway) marked S. There was one concert going on at each end at all times (so two bands were playing on opposite ends of the venue throughout the whole festival). In other words, there was constant music and rocking out, lol. Of course, this meant that sometimes you had to give up one band for another, but such is life.

We got to the festival around 11:30. I checked the giant information sheet and saw that Sex Machineguns was just finishing up at the L stage (more like I heard them finishing up... we walked in the doors of the venue and the music was like being pummeled in the face with a hammer). Sex Machineguns is something of a classic and I wanted to catch Penicillin on the R stage next to them, so Casie and I headed into the blasting, chaotic exhibition hall.

GOD DAMNIT WAS SEX MACHINEGUNS LOUD. God DAMNIT. I went deaf instantly. They were definitely one of the loudest bands at the show. NOT NECESSARY, YOU GUYS. Geez. Much to my delight, though, I saw that this hall had a giant jumbo-tron screen so that you could see the band from way back. See, this festival was not set up like a typical sampler festival. These were full-scale (albeit short) concerts with full-scale lighting, massive crowds of people, special-effects, everything... This festival was seriously impressive. Something of a mind-blower for me, lol. So I hovered in the back, shielding my ears and watching Sex Machineguns finish up their last song. Then they finished and Penicillin started setting up on the R stage.

I decided to get closer, so Casie and I weaseled our way through the crowds drifting back and forth from L stage to R stage and managed to get up about half-way in the crowd. Not exactly close, but not far either. And there was always the jumbo-tron.

So... Penicillin............ Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the festival for me. For those who don't know, this is Penicillin:

Scandalous, hehe. Anyways, this band really surprised me. They're an older band so I kinda worried that like... they'd be a bit "oldies" in style. Not really my thing. And I'd heard some music from them before but... I couldn't remember if I liked it or not, which seemed like a bad sign, lol. But no... they were FUN. They were seriously FUN. The drummer was pounding out great beats and the guitarists were rocking out and the audience was jumping up and down and dancing. I was dancing too, haha. There was furi hand-movements, of course, but I decided to skip them so that I could just wiggle and dance in place, lol. This guy in front of me was rocking out so hard he nearly fell over. Casie and I were cracking up.

Also, vocalist Hakuei.  Wow.  Holy... mother of holy things. This man was incredible... I don't mean to sound like a preteen girl here but... I've never seen a man with a more sensual performance style in my life. It was, hands down, the sexiest performance I've ever seen. Hakuei is hot... and he fuckin' KNOWS he's hot. And he owns that damn stage with his sexiness. The girls in the audience were so flustered it wouldn't surprise me if they all had to change their panties after the set.  For one thing, Hakuei might as well have not been wearing pants. He had knee-high boots and some sorta speedo-like bottom that was so subtly skanky that you only noticed little by little how much skin was actually showing. Up top... over-sized fuzzy coat over a t-shirt with a banana on it. And just when I was thinking "damn, that boy is way too sexy for his shirt"... off comes the shirt too!!! If you'd like a taste of what I saw, check out this video from a few months ago. This is quite comparable to what I saw.



After I managed to not throw my panties at Hakuei, Penicillin's set was over. After that, I didn't want to see anything for another hour, so I ran away before Kra played and ate in the food court. I had a nan sandwich from the Indian restaurant. Who ever heard of a nan sandwich?!! It was good despite not making sense, lol. Chicken and vegetables and sauce wrapped in, well... nan, lol.

At 1:10 we had jealkb (pronounced jee-al K B, as I now know). I was originally going to ditch them for a good spot for D but... D was playing on the stage next to them, so I was able to stay by standing in the L stage and watching jealkb over at the R stage, lol (meaning I basically just watched the jumbo-tron, lol). Anyways, jealkb is NOT a band. They're a comedy act. And they're fucking ridiculous. Even more ridiculous was how many people were seriously INTO this fake band. Jealkb tries to be a stereotypical VK band both to be funny and to be a band. The keyboardist never actually touches the keys... and at one point the bassist stopped playing but the bass-line kept going. But damn, people were so into this! I just couldn't tell if they were into it because they love the concept, or if they really got fooled into thinking jealkb was a real band (Casie was fooled). The vocalist can sing, I'll give them that... and the one member that just dances and does nothing else was kinda funny, but... what a ridiculous act, lol.

After that was D!!! This was one of the bands I was most dying to see! They're these guys (I picked a better picture this time):

Anyways, this show was AWESOME. First of all, for the D fans reading this I just have to announce: Tsunehito has pink hair 0__0 Actually, no... it's more like maroon! I was like "holy CRAP... someone in D with a non-natural hair color?!! And Tsunehito of all people?!!" I was shocked, lol.  Anyways, D was great. They came out to their Tightrope intro, and Asagi (the vocalist) came onto the stage with a friggin' whip! During the first song (can't remember what it was), they had Tsunehito yelling into the microphone, and every time he yelled Asagi cracked the whip, lol. And he started pretending to ride a horse by spanking himself and cracking the whip, lol. Interesting thing was... the furi for one song was all done with flags. Asagi had two flags (a red and a black?) and everyone in the crowd had two identical flags. Then everyone just followed Asagi's movements. I didn't have any flags so I just moped and watched, lol. They played Tightrope which was AWESOME. Also... hahaha, they played Yami Yoru Doukoku no blah blah blah, whatever that song is called. I just about DIED laughing.  But actually, Asagi's obese opera woman voice sounds better live. On stage, it sounds operatic and impressive and atmospheric. So yeah, they were AWESOME, lol!

There was a huge gap here where there wasn't much I wanted to see. I met a couple foreigners from Sophia and we all started hanging out (they were in my classes and stuff). One of them had a really cool Australian friend with her. Anyways, having a large gap spelled trouble... and my worst fears came true when the girl (Ashley) who wanted to see D'espairsRay with me decided she also wanted to see... Alice Nine........................ and Casie did too. So... I... got... dragged... kicking and screaming... to Alice Nine. AAAAGH IT WAS AWFUL. My gothy pride, aaaaah!!! For those who don't know, Alice Nine are these guys:

Uuuuugh, they're like the Backstreet Boys of VK................. Much to my amusement, though, they had really bad technical difficulties at the beginning. Still, I survived fifteen minutes of it before tapping my friends on the shoulder and making the "need good spot for D'espairsray!!!" gesture. Then I made my escape and ran to the other side of the venue for the S stage.

Whoo! D'espairsray! Much to my joy and happiness I got to see them again after only a few weeks! And... and and and they were on the cat-walk stage!!! That meant during their whole set, they could walk out onto the runway in the middle of the crowd and play right in the audience! Aaaagh, it was so awesome! Anyhoo, just a status announcement but, Hizumi's voice is still totally screwed up. I wanted to post a couple videos from the show because they're available on YouTube but... his voice is just so painful to listen to and... Well, anyways, they basically completed my goddamn life. So did a band on Sunday, but I'll get to that later. Anyways, I have a list of certain songs by certain bands that I have to see in concert before I die. And D'espairsray played one of them. The song that got me into D'espairsray was a song called Garnet. It remains one of my all-time favorite J-Rock songs. And it's old, so I figured D'espairsray would never play it... well, they DID. Aaaaaw, I can't resist, have a video!!! This is Garnet live from the V-Rock festival! Please pardon Hizumi's voice, though.  He's been sick for awhile and the stupid doctors were treating him for the wrong condition till recently. He usually has a beautiful voice. Anyways, after Hizumi announces Garnet, you hear that squeal in the crowd? That was me, haha. I shrieked suddenly (kinda scared my friend, lol). And I apologize for the video-quality. It was streamed live so... the quality comes and goes, lol.



Ugh, yes.

Anyways, haha. After D'espairsray, I was goddamn DETERMINED to see Plastic Tree, even though they were halfway done already on the other side (L Stage). I ran like a lunatic and YES! I managed to catch the last fifteen minutes, lol!  Man, I love Ryutaro's performance style. He has this bizarre way of moving that involves sorta... flopping loosely like a doll. It's really interesting.  And he has a lovely voice. Anyways, he's also totally adorable in person. My friend Ashley was a little skeptical, but by the end of the set she was like "oh my gawd, he is soooo adorable. I just want to squeeze him and pinch his cheeks!" lol. I was far away, but I could see well on the jumbo-tron. At the end, Ryutaro stood on stage holding a large, black umbrella and sang with it. Then he tipped back the umbrella and you could see that the sky was painted on the underside. Aaaaaw. Also, his MCs were sooo cute. Even after 12+ years in bands, he still seems like he has stage fright. He kept messing up what he was saying or walking away and coming back and giggling like a little girl cuz he didn't know what to say. He was practically shaking, lol! Anyways... have a video! This is one of the few songs I know by Plastic Tree and I really like it - it's really beautiful, and I love the way Ryutaro can sings the high, whimsical chorus. This is "Melt" by Plastic Tree, live at the V-Rock Festival!



After Plastic Tree, I bit my tongue and decided to go check out Moi dix Mois, even though I don't really like Mana. I just felt obligated to see him, sigh.  When I went over there, I actually ran into an old friend of mine from America!  What are the odds?!  Anyways, she was bored, and I said I wanted to see Moi dix Mois. She stuck her finger down her throat and made a barfing gesture, lol. "He's such a bitch" she said. I agreed wholeheartedly. But he's influential and important whether you like him or not, so... I decided to suffer through it, lol. For those who don't know, this guy is Mana:


Yeah, this set was pretty much torture, and my feet were KILLING me by now (actually, I moved back and sat on the floor for the last song or two, lol). First of all, Moi dix Mois' new vocalist is AWFUL (not that I hadn't already been told that by various people).  This new vocalist was just trying WAAAY too damn hard. I couldn't tell if he was trying too hard to please Mana, or if Mana had molded him into some kind of "perfect vocalist". Most of his vocalists run away screaming and then join pop bands, lol. For those who don't know about Mana, he never speaks. Ever. In a totally cheesy act, he started screaming into the microphone at the crowd. My friends and I looked at each other like "whaaaaat? Is Mana making vocalizations?!!" Then Mana stepped back and the yelling continued. It was just Kei facing away from the crowd yelling for him. Sigh. Then the vocalist started this ridiculous chant that was spelling out "D... I... X" with hand gestures, and then the crowd yelled "Dis!" cuz I guess that's how you pronounce it. But I was getting annoyed cuz it was going on and on and on so I started yelling "D! I! X! DICKS!!!" I dunno if anyone could hear me though, lol. Anyways, Mana-sama finally exited in all his flamboyant glory, waving slowly and gracefully like Miss America...

Then we had a fashion show! This show was interesting to me because the totally outlandish fashion just isn't outlandish in Japan. Many girls in the audience were wearing similar outfits to the models... and the people in this crowd were definitely willing to buy and wear these crazy outfits (unlike in America where fashion is for the upper-crust only). Anyways, what made this fashion show great was that each fashion line somehow got a J-Rocker to run the cat-walk and model their clothes! I can't stand SuG, but their vocalist was pretty funny when he came out and break-danced down the runway, lol. But the highlight for me... guess who decided to fucking own the cat-walk? Fucking HAKUEI. He swaggered out onto the runway track in a pseudo-military suit with boots, button-down top, walking stick, and one of those big hats pinned to the side of his head with feathers and stuff. Oh my GOD. Of course girls were screaming uncontrollably, lol. He strutted down the catwalk like he was the greatest thing God had ever created. He posed, he stuck his tongue out at us, he kicked the walking stick over his shoulder, he flicked his hair. Then he crouched down and started taking pictures of the crowd with his cell-phone

So after the fashion show, I decided to leave before Marilyn Manson went on as the headliner (cuz I wanted sufficient time to get ready for Tokyo Decadance). Anyways... I'm glad I left. People told me Manson's performance was just awful. I guess he was drunk and he kept pausing during songs to scream at the staff to bring him a beer. And when they did, he'd just take a sip, spit it everywhere, and throw it at the person who brought it. And he was yelling terrible things at the crowd and making them repeat it, since he figured the Japanese don't understand English anyways. What an ass. Some of my friends said they stormed out (and they said they saw others leaving in disgust). I'm glad I didn't see that. Manson is someone I respect, and that would've been very disappointing. He needs to take a break or something.

So that concludes Day 1 at the V-Rock festival! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and sporadic videos! Now, stay tuned for the Tokyo Decadance post and V-Rock Day 2 (which was even crazier and more awesome than Day 1) - coming soon!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baby!

This weekend went strangely, haha. I knew I needed this weekend in order to prepare for Tokyo Decadence, since I will literally be gone all of next weekend either partying at night in Shinjuku or all the way out in Chiba (which isn't even in Tokyo).

So, to start the day, I decided to look ridiculous for an outing to Harajuku. This picture doesn't show how I actually looked cuz I took this after most of my make-up had worn off, but I kinda looked like a painted whore, lol. Anyways, just keep this make-up in mind for later, lol...

I met up with my friend Geri in Harajuku cuz she's going to Tokyo Decadence and also wanted to do some shopping. While there, I got one of the most expensive and fantastic crepes to date. This is a chocolate strawberry crepe with strawberries, strawberry sauce, cheesecake, chocolate ice cream... yeah, you get the point, lol.

Later on Geri and I also decided to have a mega splurge. There's a Godiva drink shop on Omotesando Street in Harajuku. It is SOOOO EXPENSIVE but oh my gawd is it good. Behold the glory of the following drink: this is a Godiva hot chocolate with caramel, cinnamon, and marshmallows. This, my friends, was sick. It was like drinking liquid sex. But the price is in the vault, haha.

Anyways, Geri and I had quite a bit of luck at Body Line (as usual) and got skirts (pictures of all that later). I came home around 6:00 and I noticed extra shoes in the shoe-area. And I heard suspicious noises. And then I realized... oh shit, the baby! My other host brother (whom I hadn't even met yet, lol) is Takeshi, and his wife just had a baby named Haru. By the way, Takeshi looks a LOT like Satoshi, but kinda more defined and sharp. But they act and talk a lot alike, lol. Anyways, yesterday was Haru's first birthday. I knew the baby would be over, but I'd heard it would be while I was gone (originally it was for noon, then I heard 4:00). I guess they were coming for dinner, lol! My host mother rushes me into the room to see the baby and meet the family. And I'm like... "oh my gawd, my FACE" haha. The wife said hi and smiled at me as we all grinned at the baby, but I was like "oh lord... she's probably wondering what crazy, painted monster just came in the house." Still, no one mentioned it and we all sat around giggling and making funny noises at Haru-chan. Then Satoshi came back home, took one look at my face, looked at the wife, and said "bikkuri shita no?" meaning "were you surprised [when you saw Jamie's face]?" She was like "it's kinda surprising, yeah" lol. Then they all talked about Harajuku and the crazy youth these days, lol (not in a mean way, more in a fascinated way, lol).

More universal constants I've discovered: in all countries, grown men and women will turn themselves into damn fools around a baby and imitate it no matter what weird noises it makes. Haru-chan kept going "uma uma uma appu appu!" and then everyone would do it back. Yeah.......... Even Takeshi, a friggin' doctor, was making every sound and face possible to get Haru-chan to laugh. Oh, babies... they can get us to do anything, lol.

Then we had a celebratory dinner! Look at this beautiful sushi spread! Good sushi really does make a difference. This stuff was just so soft and moist and delicious... worth the fortune it probably cost, lol!

This was the full meal. My host mother made the spicy shrimp I love, and we had a pickled salad, kabocha (the squash I love so much), and a red rice and beans dish that is eaten at celebrations. It's REALLY sticky.

There was a cake for Haru-chan. Here he is picking a strawberry off the cake (I've noticed strawberry cake in Japan always seems to mean birthday cake).

Then he started demolishing the cake.

Oops. Eh, we ate it anyways, lol.

Here's Satoshi playing the piano with Haru-chan!

C'mon... c'mon... say d'aaaw! You know you can't resist!

So then they took the baby home and I quickly wiped the whorish crap off my face, lol.

Anyhoo, concerning Tokyo Decadence, here's the skirt I bought. This thing was only FIFTEEN DOLLARS - I'm not kidding! And it poofs up in the back almost like a hoop skirt.

The outermost layer of fabric is decorated in spider-web designs! Perfect for Halloween!

Unfortunately, Harajuku wasn't very successful for accessories, and I needed a red/black theme for my costume. Anyways, after I took off my whorish make-up and was about to get in the bath, my friend Marina called and invited me to her boyfriend's place to watch a movie. So I hopped in the bath and, at 10 PM headed back out, lol. I knew Mark lived close by, but I was quite shocked to realize he lives like... a seven minute walk from my house, lol. How convenient! Anyways, Marina made delicious curry rice and we drank SKYY Vodka (mmm) and watched G.I. Joe. What a STUPID movie, lol! It was made by the guy who did Van Helsing - no wonder! Why does that man even make movies, lol?! G.I. Joe made NO sense! I mean, the graphics are cool and stuff but... why was I watching, lol?! Anyways, it was driving me nuts that the little Asian kid in the movie looked so familiar. Then he started doing some crazy kung fu and an idea struck me. I looked it up later and found out I was right! Anyone here seen Tropic Thunder?! It was totally that crazy Vietnamese kid with the tattoos who kicked everyone's asses in Tropic Thunder! Man, I hope he becomes the next Jackie Chan, lol!

Anyways, onto Sunday! So Marina told me some good places in Shinjuku to pick up accessories!

So I found this store called Okadaya which had floors upon floors of amazing stuff for costumes! So, we've got some fake eyelashes...

Nail jewelry...

I also bought some red and silver hair extensions for really cheap, lol. The whole outfit is coming together smoothly. I'm using a Hot Topic corset from America and these crazy red and black tights and big platform-boots. Not sure about my make-up yet... we'll see...

Anyhoo, I ran into Marina in Shinjuku (we were gonna hang out anyways, lol) and we stopped off at McDonald's. I finally tried the ebi fillet (fried shrimp burger). Soooo good!!!

Also, not Japan-related but I am SOOOOO hooked on the new Rammstein CD!

Wow... I can't believe in less than a week I'll be seeing so many of my beloved bands... it's too crazy..............

Here's my schedules as it stands so far (subject to major change, though):

Saturday:

11:50 Penicillin
1:10 jealkb (probably won't go, though, cuz I want a good spot for D)
1:50 D
4:25 D'espairsray (yeah, again, haha)
4:40 Plastic Tree (I'll probably miss most if not all, though, cuz it's during two bands I like)
5:35 Moi dix Mois
6:20 Fashion show! Cool!
7:40 Marilyn Manson (I'll probably ditch some if not all to get a good spot for Tokyo Decadence, though... I can see him any time in the U.S. I dunno, we'll see...)

Sunday:

12:10 exist trace
1:00 Merry (oh my god YAAAY!!! I wouldn't miss this for the world!!!)
2:00 The Underneath
5:00 L.MC
6:40 Versailles (this will be such a sad event......)
7:30 The GazettE

This is gonna be CRAAAAZY! See ya'll soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

B-Day Party

I'm back at last! Heaven forbid I don't post at least once every couple of days, lol! Anyways, today was a quaint birthday party for my friend Geri! She's turning 21 on Monday, so she decided to take some friends out for dinner and karaoke!

Anyhoo, we headed off to Shinjuku and did karaoke first. This was a really nice karaoke joint.  One of the big draws of karaoke, I think, is the extensive drink menus, lol. So we all ordered a round of alcohol. My drink was friggin' delicious. I got a Suntory ginger-ale whiskey. After two years of partying at Madison, I really have to say that whiskey and vodka are my drinks of choice. I'm really not much of a beer fan, but a good mixer really hits the spot. For anyone who plans on doing some drinking in Japan, I really recommend a Suntory whiskey-mixer - it's really sweet, but still strong (my fingers were all tingly with just one drink, lol).

Now, many of my friends know I have a bizarre, inexplicable fear of singing, lol. It's crazy because I have no stage-fright as a person. I'm quite comfortable with public speaking, being on stage, or making a scene in public. But I can't sing. Nothing makes me squeal and run from a room faster than someone asking me to sing in public. Even a recording of me singing makes me want to curl up in a fetal position. I don't know why. Who ever heard of a singing phobia, lol?!! I had explained this to Geri, as a way of apologizing for possibly not participating in karaoke. They kept trying to get me to sing, though. I puzzled over what to do. I glanced at my whiskey. Then at the screen. Then the whiskey. The screen. The whiskey. Then I gave a toast to Liquid Courage and selected Glass Skin by Dir en grey. Before that song, I helped sing Bye Bye Bye by N'Sync as a hilarious warm-up, lol. Thanks, whiskey - I owe you one. Unfortunately, I'm too much of a scaredy-cat. I mean, I DID sing Glass Skin. But I was so quiet and my voice was so high and squeaky it sounded like someone had cut off Kyo's balls. Really a shame. My natural singing voice is quite low, so... this was definitely the castrated version of Glass Skin. Weeeell, maybe some other time. I also selected Leech by The GazettE and chickened out and skipped it. I also did a duet with one of the girls to Ain't Afraid to Die by Dir en grey, but I don't even think anyone could hear me. Much to my surprise, though, the machine played the full music video! I always forget how many piercings Kyo used to have on his face, lol.

After karaoke, we hit up a cheap Italian restaurant that was supposed to have a great selection for good prices. This menu actually included cheese fondue! They also had lotsa pastas and pizzas and other tasty things. Of course, being Kita, I had to select the most un-Western pizza possible. Soooo, I got the seafood pizza, lol. Sorry for the lousy picture - it was kinda dark in there. Anyways, this pizza was AMAZING and included shrimp, scallops, squid, oysters, and black olives.

Then there's the dessert menu! Now, I've been fairly good about sweets lately. I'm trying to lay off and not gain a million pounds in Japan. I'm going to take up running again and I'm trying not to eat any sweets during the day (seriously, I've gotten sooooo fat... uuuuugh). But this restaurant is known for its parfaits, and Japanese parfaits were one of the things on my list of foods I had to try in Japan. So I treated myself this one time. This is a caramel parfait. Parfaits in Japan are quite different from America (as I'd heard). This parfait is vanilla ice cream covered in caramel sauce and that great whipped cream in Japan that's totally different from American whipped cream. Then there's the big chocolate piece and an Oreo (yeah, I might've just gotten this for the Oreo, lol). Under the ice cream was corn flakes (yes, corn flakes) and flan-like pudding and more caramel sauce. Fucking DELICIOUS.

Aaaand, I know I swore off food posts, but these were collected over the lat few days, rather than one big binge all at once, lol. This is a Halloween special I found at Nerima Station. This is a kabocha bun. For those who don't know, kabocha is the most common Japanese squash. It's quite a bit like a pumpkin but the skin is green and the flesh is yellow. However, it's sweeter than a pumpkin and REALLY delicious when cooked or prepared in various ways (it's good raw, too). So this bread was covered in mashed-up kabocha, and a small chunk of kabocha for the stem, and the inside was filled with kabocha cream. The whole thing was made to look like a pumpkin. God DAMN was this good. I wish I'd had two, lol. Oh, and it was sprinkled with powdered sugar, too. But it was small, so I don't feel too guilty about it.

Also, just for fun... this is what the cafeteria food at Sophia is like. Seriously, this is the kind of food we can get. This is miso ramen with bamboo, seaweed, fish cakes, pork, onions, and I dumped plenty of chili powder on top, lol. The food at Sophia is soooo good compared to American university cafeterias, lol.


Anyways, after we ate Italian food, we decided to head to an arcade for purikura pictures (those picture-booths where you take glamor-shots and decorate them). I hadn't done that in four years. It's really fun, and we had a bunch sent to someone's cell phone, so hopefully I can get them online and post them on the blog soon!

Tomorrow I'm going to shop around Harajuku a bit to find some random crap for my costume next weekend. W00t! See you next time!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Word on "Culture Shock"

I just wanted to address the issue of "culture shock" because I realized that, in all the millions and billions of blogs about foreigners in Japan, the first few posts generally discuss the phenomena of culture shock. I have completely failed to address that issue - but I have my reasons.

At Madison, we were given entire lectures and booklets on culture shock, complete with seven-step programs and emotional help-lines. Our textbooks included amusing tales of both Americans and Japanese encountering culture shock. But for me, culture shock was something of a moot point.

I was born and raised on Japanese cultural imports. I spent my pre-school years eating up The Power Rangers. In elementary school I moved onto Pokemon. In my middle school years, it was a healthy combination of miscellaneous manga and anime, with some heaping doses of video games (I was definitely a Final Fantasy addict). Obviously, in high school I moved onto (and stuck with) J-rock. However, even the most "otaku" of Japanophiles will still, inevitably, encounter culture shock. In fact, Japanophiles probably receive the worst shock of all, since they usually have unrealistic, often bizarre and mistaken fantasies about what Japan is like (contrary to popular belief, the country isn't populated solely by thin, beautiful models in tiny school girl uniforms who turn into Moon Princesses and fight evil. Also, contrary to what many J-Rock fans believe, this isn't the land of Beautiful Men - though there is a SURPRISING amount of them, lol).

For me, culture shock simply wasn't meant to be. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where people of Asian descent were not only commonplace, they were sometimes the norm. I had easy access not only to Asian imports, but also to Asian people themselves. I was friends with many people of Asian descent, both born in America or having come from Asia. I even went through some years of my life in which the majority of my friends were probably of some sort of Asian descent. I've cooked dumplings with Chinese people, I've eaten sushi with Japanese people, I've shared samosas with Indians. Not only that, but I've traveled to Japan once in the past.

This may sound shocking but, when I got off the plane in Japan, nothing seemed out of the ordinary or out of place for me. When something unexpected occurs in Japanese culture, it's not "oh, wow, I can't believe that's how it is here", it's a matter of "oh, wow, I can't believe I FORGOT that's how it is here." At Narita airport, I rode the trains to Nerima and... nothing in the shape of the buildings, the size of the cars, the looming, distant mountains seemed unfamiliar. The moment I stepped off the plane, I was in complete and total acceptance of where I was and how I'd spend the next ten and a half months of my life. Very little takes me by surprise or jostles me in Japan. Culture shock simply didn't happen.

What they SHOULD lecture us on is "new school culture shock." That was the hard part for me - switching universities. I LIKE the way things are run at Madison. At Sophia, things seem messy, unorganized, often unfair. But that's just the way of Japanese universities. Switching schools is hard. Switching countries was fine but... I still long for Madison, lol. I don't like the shift in workload and I REALLY can't handle the one-and-a-half hour class periods. UGH. Today, I had history class from 1:30 to 3:00. Starting at 2:00, I wrote down what time it was every time I looked at my watch. I'm not making this up, this is what I wrote: 2:00...2:03...2:05...2:10...2:15...2:18...2:21...2:28...2:30...2:32...2:40...2:43...2:44...2:50...2:53...2:55...then she mercifully ended class five minutes early, lol. Welcome to my school life XD

Anyways, since we're talking about culture shock, I'll mention a couple things that DID surprise me (though they're trivial things).

1. Japanese people LOVE mayonnaise. They put it on EVERYTHING. It's normal here to eat raw cabbage drenched in mayonnaise. Very odd.

2. Despite Japan having the most natural disaster of any place in the world, they are total pussies when any natural disaster comes their way. Oooooh, the typhoon's making it windy, let's cancel school, ooooooh! Shut up. Try a Madison blizzard, seriously.

3. You will NOT lose weight in Japan. Japanese people eat as much shit as we do (though they have much better portion control and time-management about the whole thing). You may not necessarily gain weight in Japan (well, you will at first, as many foreigners who travel here know), but you sure as hell won't lose any. Japanese people looooove cream-filled breads, fried food, and ice cream.

4. Japanese subway toilets are dirty. Ew. The rest of the country is spotless - you can eat off the damn streets it's so clean - but the subway toilets are nasty.

5. There are some obese people here (it's pretty rare though, lol).

That's all I've got for today, lol.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Last... Food Post... Hopefully

So, I'm hoping this will be the last food post cuz, um... the whole eating everything in sight thing has to stop, lol. Back on ye olde diet. I've got some serious partying coming up in a few weeks so I need to start getting in shape and stop feeling like a fat cow. So, enjoy the pretty pictures now cuz, uh... this girl's goin' back on the greens, lol.

So today I hung out with my lovely Japanese friend Marina ^_^ We went to Hikarigaoka, even though neither of us had any idea what was there. At the station, we ate at a restaurant that serves various dishes of rice covered in egg and sauces. So we both ordered the same thing: cooked egg over rice with cheese and tomato sauce. It was like a rice-y, egg-y pizza, lol! Delicious! I also had this delicious drink... it was like iced coffee with milk and chunks of chocolate, and the chocolate sorta melted into the drink throughout the meal. Mmm.

Later, after realizing there wasn't much to do in Hikarigaoka, we met up with Marina's boyfriend and went to Shinjuku, lol. We hit up Baskin Robbin's again and I decided to go all the way. This was about seven bucks, but worth every penny. This is the Halloween Sundae, and you get to choose two ice cream flavors from the Halloween ice cream selection. So, to describe this monster... The pumpkin itself is a cream puff shell with an almond stem and chocolate eyes. Inside of the puff is my first ice cream flavor: Magical Mint Night. This was dark chocolate ice cream swirled with mint ice cream and mixed with crunchy, red candy pieces. Alongside the edge of the cup is whipped cream topped with fudge and peanuts, and a little white-chocolate ghost. Under the pumpkin-puff is my other ice cream flavor: Candyman. Candyman is hard to describe but it's chocolate ice cream with various candied... stuff in it. I detected some caramel and definitely some toffee going on. This whole concoction was, um... orgasmic. This was orgasmic ice cream. Possibly the most delicious thing I've ever eaten.

After ice cream, I parted ways with Marina and Mark and went home. However, I suddenly realized that I had never had dinner, apart from ice cream. And I was feeling oddly hungry, despite the sundae. So I decided to give in and try a Japanese McDonald's (Marina and Mark ate it earlier while I was with them, so that must've put the idea in my head, lol). Four year ago I was in Japan for two weeks. Now I've been in Japan for over three weeks. So, in all, I've lived in Japan for almost a month and a half of my life. And not once have I ever tried the McDonald's. I don't really like McDonald's in America but... I figured what the hey... I ordered the "set" which was about six bucks. Here we have a teriyaki burger, fries, and grape Fanta. It was a risk because I don't like teriyaki or hamburgers, lol. But, after biting into my burger, I realized it definitely wasn't beef. Was it pork? I don't know - it was whitish. Everyone always tells me the teriyaki burger is great and, um... yeah, it was pretty damn tasty, honestly. No creepy, beefy meat going on. Mayonnaise, lettuce... It was pretty damn delicious. But I think next time I'd rather try their shrimp burger, lol. Fries were the same as America (which is good cuz I like McDonald's fries). Grape Fanta is great. See, in Japan, soda is sweetened with sugar, not corn syrup, lessening the calories and making it taste way more delicious.

Also, to help me diet, I bought some grape-ish flavored gum. Gum in Japan is ridiculously pricey but I love it cuz it comes with a roll of little sheets you can use to wrap your gum in when you're done, lol. Every time I crave sweets from now on, I'm popping a piece of gum. This is gonna be my Nicorette, lol.

Anyways, some might remember my V-Rock/Tokyo Decadence dilemma in the last post? Problem solved. I spoke with Marina, we looked over maps, etc. etc. Anyways, Marina went to the Loud Park Festival last year, which is run by the same people as V-Rock. She says the festival probably won't start till around 1:00 PM. Then it ends somewhere between 10:00 and midnight. From my station to the Makuhari Messe, it's actually only between an hour and an hour and a half, depending on train route. Anyways, from Makuhari Messe to Shinjuku (where Tokyo Decadence is) it's only about an hour. So yeah, fuck that, I'm doing both. I'll go to concerts all day Saturday, party all night in Tokyo, sleep in an internet cafe in Shinjuku (Marina showed me a good one with an "all girl's" floor) for about five or six hours, then go back to the festival for Day 2 of concerts. Then go to school on Monday. But really, I've done reckless things like this in the past. My friends and I used to go to school on Tuesday, then run home, do homework, change, and go to Club Five and dance for four hours straight till two in the morning. Get home at 4:00 depending on after-party activities, sleep a few hours, then go back to school. Or Dir en grey... We bussed it three hours from Madison to Chicago, waited in line to see Dir en grey for seven hours, spent hours at the concert, went to my house, slept two hours, hitched a 6:00 AM bus back to Madison and made it back with only twenty minutes to spare to get to class. I'm used to doing stupid shit with no sleep, lol. Honestly, I'm excited. This sounds fucking EPIC. Usually, only California girls cracked out on cocaine party for 48 hours straight with no sleep but... I'm going to prove it can be done on nothing but coffee and Red Bull, lol.

A Brief Post

Just a quick post here! Yesterday I went to Harajuku and Shinjuku alone again. Anyways, I snagged a few pictures and had one good story to tell, so here we go!

First we have our weekly (bi-weekly? I dunno) Harajuku crepe update. This was a GODLY crepe. This was a "matcha pudding crepe" (matcha is green tea). It had a large slab of solidified green-tea pudding, doughy rice balls, sweet red bean paste, whipped cream, and the whole thing was smothered in brown sugar syrup. Oh my GAWD.

Also, amusing shout-out, mostly to my mother, lol. I FOUND SPICY GUACAMOLE PRINGLES IN JAPAN. Ahahahahahaha. I always tell people they're near impossible to find in America (my friends have seen me buy them spontaneously at gas stations in the middle of nowhere when I actually do find them). My mom searches for them all the time but, they're like impossible to find. Well, Kiddieland in Harajuku sells them in their "foreign foods" section, hahahaha! Now I'll have an easier time getting these than Americans, lol XD

On the train, I saw the greatest Engrish shirt ever. This is literally the greatest shirt I have ever seen. The best. If I wasn't against having complete sentences on my clothing, I would wear this shirt. This shirt... is perfect.

GIANT DACHSHUND PUPPY COIN LOCKERS!!! Come on, says "d'aaaaaaw" with me, lol.

Fantastic shot of Shinjuku at night:

I decided to give Baskin Robbin's in Japan a try. See, Shinya from Dir en grey once said his favorite ice cream was Baskin Robbin's and, like... he usually has kinda "classy, expensive" taste. So I found it hard to believe that would be his favorite since 31 Flavors in America is kinda... crap (well, maybe I'm just spoiled by Wisconsin ice cream, lol). Anyways, um... I get it now. Baskin Robbin's in Japan is WAAAAY better. It's really smooth and creamy and rich (not hard and cold like in America) and they have so many fantastic flavors you can't get in America (like green tea and Belgian chocolate chunk). And they give you lotsa free samples! Anyways, they had a big Halloween special going on with tons of flavors. They had candy corn ice cream! And they had this one that was mint ice cream swirled with dark chocolate ice cream and red candy pieces. Anyways, being the Pumpkin Fiend that I am, I had to get pumpkin pudding ice cream. With brown sugar swirl! Uuuuugh, amazing!

Then they had a free "scratch coupon" thing that came with your ice cream. I won a free Halloween ballpoint pen, lol!

Anyhoo, back to Harajuku. So I was looking for the Sex Pot Revenge store, because I couldn't find it last time. Well, I found it this time, and realized I had missed it last time because horny black men had chased me away from the street.  This time I found Sex Pot Revenge, where they had an epic freebie. Gara from Merry was actually posing on the cover of Vinyl Syndicate. Uuuuuuugh. Shirtless? Really? Are you trying to KILL me?!!

Oh my GAWD. This was FREE.

Sweet Jesus on cracker.........

The lady working there was kinda being a douche, so I took three copies, lol. They also had flyers for the Tokyo Decadence Halloween party in late October:

Buuuuuuuut, there's a slight problem. This party is on Oct. 24th (Sat.). As some know, that is the same weekend as the V-Rock Festival, which goes from the 24th to the 25th and cost me $200. Now... I'm a firm believer in having your cake and eating it too (obviously, hence all the food posts). So... I might try and see if I can do both. It would require being awake for 48 hours but... I've done that before, lol. See, I would have to go about two hours to Chiba for Day 1 of V-Rock, then catch a train back to Shibuya (hour and a half? Two hours?). Tokyo Decadence starts at 10:30 but goes till 7:00 AM (actually, you can't leave before dawn). Then I would head BACK to Chiba for Day 2 of V-Rock. Tokyo Decadence has a wild dress code requirement to enter but... V-Rock Festival is also probably gonna have some wildly decked out people, so..... hmm.... I could always sleep in an internet cafe, lol. See, V-Rock has over fifty bands, and... Tokyo Decadence will have DJ Sisen as usual and, I don't know how many have heard about this but, um... Kaya will be at Tokyo Decadence this year (along with Rolly. Fifty points to anyone who can tell me what ridiculous Japanese movie Rolly is from ^_^). So yeah... who here thinks this is a good idea, and who here thinks I'm being totally reckless? I would have school on Monday but... the following weekend is a four-day weekend so... I'd catch up on sleep at SOME point, lol XD