Sunday, November 29, 2009

Small Shopping Spree

Well, I've been informed from a few people that my last blog was kinda depressing so... let's perk it up a little shall we? We can contrast starving Africans with an extreme surplus of food in an industrialized country, lol. Anyways, I really didn't feel like doing any homework on Sunday, so Geri and went to Shibuya to just dick around and waste our time (and really... wasting one's time is simply the best way to spend it!!). I wound up opening my wallet a few too many times, but I was overall frugal about the whole thing - honest! Let's just start off with a weekend's-worth of food, lol.

This first picture is tonkatsu curry rice. Tonkatsu is Japanese pork cutlet. Usually in America I avoid pork like the plague because I think it's disgusting. Even in Japan I almost never touch pork. But for some reason... I really, really like tonkatsu - especially over curry rice. I eat tonkatsu curry rice at school all the time, but this was a restaurant-style katsu-curry, so... it was better, lol. This was some kind of black curry, too. Geri laughed in disbelief as I put about two tablespoons of spicy chili oil into my curry, lol.

Later on we found a bakery-cafe that actually had cinnamon buns! Cinnamon is almost non-existent in Japan, which torments and tortures my spice-loving self. Nothing will make me sadder than a holiday season without gingerbread cookies this year :-( But still... this place had apple cinnamon buns! It was soooo good! And I got hot chocolate too! The little green thing is a very Japanese concoction. It's a "mochi doughnut." Mochi is pulverized rice that turns into a sticky paste. So this doughnut had a blob of mochi in the middle, lol!

These next pictures were from today. Geri and I went to an omu-rice restaurant. Omu-rice is a very strange Japanese invention but it's very popular here and very tasty and many restaurants specialize exclusively in omu-rice. Omu is a Japanese contraction of "omelet." So they basically take a big mound of rice (usually buttered rice or tomato-rice) and then cook eggs over the top of it like an omelet. So it's like... a rice omelet? And then they usually put all sorts of bizarre stuff all over the omelet, like weird sauces or seafood or cheese, etc. This particular one that I got was grautin-style omu-rice. So it was a pile of tomato rice covered in egg, and then the whole thing was sitting in a cheesy, creamy sauce. Devastatingly unhealthy, to be sure, but tooootally delicious!

We ate the omu-rice at around 4:00 and skipped dinner entirely. Later on, around 8:00, instead of dinner we went to a dessert shop. This below is a tira-misu parfait. Uuum, yeah, they might as well have put sex in a cup, lol. It had full chunks of tira-misu cake, all on top of whipped cream and a swirl of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and fudge and caramel sauce. And the bottom was corn flakes, lol. Soooo good.

But enough about food! HAVE A HEALTHY, DAILY DOSE OF ENGRISH!!! YAAAAY!!! This was on the back of a sports jacket, haha:

Anyways, as we wandered Shibuya, I wound up making some purchases here and there. But... to my credit, I haven't done that in at least a month! First, I found the cutest little side-hat!!! I had one from Hot Topic in America that cost thirty bucks but... it broke after only one use (the whole clip-thing came off). I was irritated, but brought it to Japan anyways. Well, I'm gonna throw it out cuz this new one is AMAZING! It was only twelve dollars and it's actually way cuter and... instead of one big comb-thing that can easily fall off, it has two, solidly-stapled clips that sit on opposite ends of the hat, meaning it gets secured in your hair completely. So yeah, this thing is SOLID. I'm gonna wear it to a concert for sure!!!

As you can see in the next picture, I bought what might very well be the cutest goddamn gloves EVER. And it's getting cold here so... I feel justified, lol. Plus, they match the equally black-and-white-striped scarf I bought for the winter. They were cheap, too, and the only pair they had. There were tons of gloves like this but... in ugly colors. They only had this one pair of black and white. And they were 10% off! They were only around ten bucks! Aren't they cuuuuuute?!! And they're super warm and soft and fuzzy!

We also stumbled upon this great store that only sells socks and leggings and leg-warmers and stuff... but super, super cute. Stuff you'd never see in the U.S. There was a pair of sparkly leggings with stars all over them that I'm pretty sure I'll buy in the future. See... I wasn't sure if I could buy leggings in Japan because sizes are so limited and... I'm not exactly a small person. But I only own thin, see-through tights or thin, see-through leggings. And it's getting cold here so, if I'm going to wear skirts, I need something thick and warm. Plus... solid colors just look more flattering. The largest size they had was just listed as M-L which was 85-95 cm in the hips. I was like... what does that even mean? I calculated that to be a maximum of 38 inches in the hips. I was pretty worried cuz... I don't think I'm under 38 inches in the hips... but I didn't want to invest in any cute leg-warmers or other leggings unless I knew I could get away with it. So, feeling nervous, I bought a cheap, ten dollar pair of thick, solid, black leggings. And guess what...? They FIT!!! They fit perfectly well! I'm still totally shocked! I can buy shirts in Japan but... I never thought I could buy anything below the waist! I'm still totally amazed! Now I have to go back and get all the sparkly leg-warmers or star-covered leggings and other crazy stuff they sell! It's all decently priced and I wear that stuff almost every day (because I have a weird sense of fashion, lol) so... OMG excited!!! God... I'm so glad I dropped over thirty pounds before coming to Japan, lol XD Otherwise that shit never would've worked! Fitting into those leggings makes me feel a little less fat... Or at least, as not-fat as I'll ever feel without... actually being less fat, haha XD

Anyhoo, I moved onto Tower Records after the department stores because Amazon had failed to understand my address for some reason and never shipped out my special edition Rammstein CD (grrrr). I also knew Dir en grey had been featured in some magazines, so I wanted to check it out. Sure enough, I found a really, really beautiful spread of Dir en grey in Ongaku to Hito magazine but... it was only a few pages and absolutely no other good bands so... I decided not to buy it.

BUT! Dir en grey was totally on the cover of GiGS! Oh my GAWD. This I bought. And it's so cheap, too! If I wanted to buy GiGS in America, I'd have to go to Mitsuwa and pay $15 or more for import price. This magazine in Japan, my friends... 7 dollars. That's it. Seven fucking dollars. Such a steal!!!

Here are my wonderful, sexy boys on the cover!!!


Sorry for the glare but.......... AAAAGH SEXY!!! LEATHER GLOVES - SQUEEEE!!!

Here's Die and Kaoru's page. Man... Die looks PISSED.

Here's Shinya and Toshiya. Geez, Shinya looks like a girl.

And the magazine came with a butt-load of STICKERS!!!


And finally... yay!!! They had one last copy of the special edition of Rammstein's new CD "Liebe ist fur Alle da"!!

Oh, and for my Dir en grey fans here... Tower Records also sells the original versions of Dir en grey's "I'll" single in those tiny little disk formats - and they're only fifteen bucks! Of course, the song sucks so... it's not that big of a deal but... it's an interesting that they still sell that single from 1996 and they still sell it in the original, half-sized format. Well, I thought it was interesting anyways, lol.

Hope this was a perkier post that the last one! Back to school tomorrow so... goodnight, all!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ebisu Photography Art Museum

Back to Ebisu! Geri was invited by a friend to check out the photography art museum in Ebisu and she asked if I wanted to come along. I love art museums, so I happily agreed. Of course, when I told my host mother where I was going, she said "eeeeeh?! Mezurashii yo! Harajuku ja nai no?!" ("Whaaaat? That's rare! Not Harajuku?!!"). Well, it seems I've developed a reputation around here, lol. But hey, better to have some reputation than none at all, lol. But really, I DO like to do more cultured, intellectual things than just clothes shopping and concerts, haha.

Anyhoo, Ebisu was just as pretty and Christmas-y as last weekend:

We went into the museum and paid to see the special exhibit being featured this week. Then, while we waited for some group that Geri's friend Alex was going to meet up with, we walked around the free exhibit in the basement. It was basically just amateur photography. Not particularly skilled work, though I did enjoy a series of photographs of sheep in wigs, haha. There were also some pretty bitchin' photographs of children dressed in bunny costumes reenacting war scenes, lol. The gore was made out of pumpkin guts, haha. I gave the photographer points for creativity, haha. At one point, we found a series of photographs of a guy in a mohawk taking pictures of himself in various parts of the world. There were post-it notes all around the wall surrounding the pictures, and you could write a message yourself and stick it there. Geri wanted to write something but couldn't think of what to say. Then Alex said, "just so you know, the artist is standing right behind you so... keep it PG, okay?" I turned around and, sure enough, Mohawk Man was standing there scrutinizing his own work, haha. Geri, unsure of what to do, just drew a smiling squid and stuck it on the wall, lol.

Well, we had time to kill before going into the other exhibit, so we went to this super-expensive cake shop. The prices are in the vault, but I had an Irish cream cheese-cake, as seen below. Mmmmmm.... the Bailey's lover in me was sooooo happy.

This was some tea I got with my cake. It was a caramel, cinnamon concoction of some sort, lol. Delicious!

Anyways, we eventually went back to the exhibit. The special exhibit on display was Sebastiao Salgado's photography of Africa. This was a particularly special exhibit because it was this famous photographer's last. Anyways, he took 30 years worth of pictures in Africa, mostly in places where no Westerner had ever set foot. No cameras were allowed, but I took this example picture off the cover of the pamphlet - especially since it was one of my favorite photos. Sorry about the glare - it kinda ruins the dusty, ghostly effect of the picture. Still a great shot, though.

There were other great pictures. Some were just pictures of dusty dunes or treacherous playa lakes or zebras drinking from watering holes. There were also pictures of tribal people farming or smiling at the camera. However, most of the photos were meant to show the devastation in Africa over the past thirty years. There were horribly depressing pictures of refugees fleeing their villages or huddling in food lines. There were even pictures of men imprisoned for heinous war crimes and pictures of piles of corpses in storehouses. Many of the pictures were both gruesome and moving. Some were beautiful (a shot of a young woman smiling in a hut with her three young boys around her), some were eerie (a shot of farmers, bare-chested, working in a field while an African man in a trench-coat holding an umbrella observes from the field), and some I would rather forget (any image of starving children). Such photos made me feel bitter as I thought back on the early days of my life when I had wanted so badly to have a career that involved helping others. When I was younger, the humanitarian in me always wanted to work in a field that would help the sad, broken people of the world. But as the years went by and more events occurred in my life, I became more and more disillusioned with the world and lost the urge to even bother with people. Seeing these photos of starving, battered people, I felt anger at all the things that had made me steer away from helping other people.

I left the museum with a dark sense of unease. I felt embittered and irritated. I hated a lot of people for all sorts of reasons. I felt so restlessly angry, in fact, that I couldn't even listen to music on the way home.

But then... as I was stomping home along the main street of Heiwadai, this young man veered suddenly and almost bumped into me. I quickly moved out of the way and continued walking. When he veered again, I realized he was trying to say something to me. I looked up in surprise to see this young Japanese man wearing a gray scarf and smiling imploringly at me.

"Nihongo wo shaberemasu ka?" ("Can you speak Japanese?") he asked. I was so taken-aback that I just blurted out "Hai" ("yes") and then "Sukoshi dake" ("just a little"). He commented that I sounded good and that it must be because I'd been in Japan awhile. As we walked along together, he asked how long I'd be staying in Japan. I was confused as to why this stranger was talking to me, but he sounded so genuinely interested that I played along. I told him I'd be in Japan for a year. He was surprised and ask if I was a college student. I told him I was studying at Sophia and living with a host family. He sounded impressed and started pressing me about my major and where I'd come from, etc., and we walked and talked together for several minutes. Eventually, we stopped at a cross-walk and he told me he lived down the street. He smiled and waved and walked away. I realized, as he was leaving, that he'd likely seen me many times walking along the main road of Heiwadai and had been dying to talk to me. In fact, he was probably hoping to run into me again.

It seemed like such a strange contrast from the death and suffering of the Africans to a bright, cheerful young man coming up to me out of nowhere to talk. To think that a man in a country known for its cold public face would simply walk up to a young foreign girl and start talking... it was so strange. Japanese men never approach strangers, and this man was so incredibly cheerful and friendly. He truly just wanted to talk to me. My escalating anger deflated suddenly as he walked away. I felt strangely humbled.

Well, it's Friday, so I'm off to bed for real for once. Good night, world!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ichinotori Festival

Yup, went to a festival on a weekday when I definitely didn't have time, lol. Satoshi saw on the news that the Ichinotori festival was nearby in Nerima (I guess this is a rare occurrence) and my host mother was trying to encourage me to go. And I was like "yeah but... I have a kanji quiz tomorrow... and I'm way behind on all my readings..." And she was like "it'll only take thirty minutes! Maybe an hour!" I refused and walked away, then felt guilty and agreed to it a few minutes later, lol. I paid for it dearly by having to get up an hour earlier to keep studying this morning, though, lol. Blah, I wish there were more hours in the day... but anyways!

So I guess the Ichinotori festival is some Shinto thing that involves trying to will the gods to give you good luck in the upcoming year. But I think it's actually just an excuse for Japanese people to eat a lot of food, lol. Here's the crowded roadways near Nerima station as people crammed into the festival areas and bargained over outdoor-cooked food.

These shiny things they're selling here are these big, crazy-looking artsy things stuck on sticks of bamboo. I guess you shake these on your house and it's supposed to bring good luck for the new year. It was kinda funny watching people walk around with these cuz you'd see a sea of heads and then these big, shamanistic sticks bobbing up and down in the crowd, lol.

I tried to get a better picture of the stick-things. Damn was it shiny in there, lol. I didn't even have my flash turned on!

Umm... pretty lanterns?

More pretty lanterns? God, I'm such a sorry excuse for someone with an East Asian Studies major with a focus on religious studies, lol. It's like, "oh, you have a BA focus in religious studies? Tell me something about Shintoism." Me: "Oh, okay, um... they have those funny zig-zaggy paper-things..." Yeah, I suck, lol.

Hey, whaddya know! MORE LANTERNS!!! Sorry, I'm dripping with sarcasm tonight for some reason, lol. The whole thing was actually very pretty looking.

This was the big Shinto shrine that everyone was trying to get to. You had to wait in line, and once you got up there, you had to throw in a coin, clap your hands twice, bow, and think up a prayer. I went through the motions and stuff but... not a single prayer would come to mind. Perhaps a wasted opportunity but... I just couldn't think of a damn thing other than "I'd like to lose weight" or "I wish it was Spring Break already" lol. Damn... I really shouldn't even admit to having a focus in East Asian religious studies, lol.

Amongst the miles upon miles of food stands, there were also many of these fish games. Basically, these kids take these thin little nets and, if they can actually scoop up a goldfish and get it into the bowl before the net breaks in the water, you get to take the fish home. And the black fish were big with googly eyes, but they were so heavy I didn't see anyone manage to get one. Honestly, getting even one goldfish is friggin' hard. Some kids were pros, though, and were walking away with several. The kid in this picture somehow got three!

The following picture is some food I tried. Everything looked delicious but my host mother wouldn't let me get anything because we were going to have dinner right afterwards. Some of the food at this event would've absolutely terrified a Westerner. There were whole octopi being tossed around and grilled and there were people biting the heads off whole fish stuck on sticks. But there was plenty of food that would satisfy a less-daring foreigner, such as chocolate-covered bananas, grilled corn-on-the-cob, yakisoba, crepes, etc. But my host mother encouraged me to try this one thing because she figured it wasn't something I would've ever tried before. It was basically grilled rice molded onto a stick and dipped in a sweet barbecue-sauce (similar to dango, for anyone who's tried that). However... it's just not my thing. I really have this issue with the mixing of sweet and non-sweet flavors and it drives me crazy, so a food like this was the epitome of that sweet-non-sweet issue. It's because of that hang-up that I don't like barbecue sauce at all (or corn... or tomatoes... or peppers... or any kind of Chinese food involving fruit, like pineapple chicken). So yeah, this food was saucy with a hint of sweet, which totally grosses me out for some reason, lol. Sweet and non-sweet food should always be separated!!! But anyone who likes barbecue sauce would've found this food to be quite delicious!

Anyways... that's about all I have to say for the festival, actually. I was there for only a half hour or so before my kanji studies slung a noose around my neck and dragged me back to the house.

MY GOD, HE EATS!!! AND HE EATS A LOT!!! Now I feel bad for posting those tanka poems... maybe all the teasing has turned him into a pig, lol. Of course, some people on the internet had to joke that he probably just ate the salad but DAMN. He'd better have eaten every last chili cheese fry, lol! Maybe now he'll actually get fat, haha.
Random light note but: secluding yourself in your room for a week actually does work. I got an A on that fucking horrible kanji midterm! WHOO! HOLLA!!!

Anyways......... back to school-work!!! Wheeeee!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh Lawd, Another Food Post... and Some Stupid Stories...

Oh geez, look who pigged out again and had to talk about it. Thank god my host mother only feeds me healthy food or I'd be so fat by now, lol. Anyways, yesterday Geri and I went to Shibuya for another one of those 90-minutes-to eat-all-the-sweets-you-want places. This one was even better than the other one, OMG. To start off with... PASTA!!! This was friggin' awesome pasta. It was garlic pasta with some Canadian bacon thrown in. Mmmmmm... I had seconds, lol.

Before we dive into the next two pictures, please bear in mind that this food is TINY, okay. This is not as horrifying as it looks, lol. This is a normal-sized plate covered in sweets. My stomach has a limit just like a normal person, lol. So yeah, here's round one of awesome:

Aaaand, good god I went back for seconds, lol. But they had cinnamon cookies! You know how hard it is to find cinnamon in Japan?!! What can I say, I like a side of diabetes with my dinner, lol.

Anyways, while Geri and I were eating, I suddenly came to realize that the view outside the window was.......... interesting. The sweets place was sort of underground, so the window was level with the street and you could watch people walking by. And I began to realize that, since we were a bit down an alleyway, all manner of strange people were walking by. Like, fancy and/or shit-kicker types of people. As I was observing, this one man walks by... and he's kinda short and he's with a super-fancy girl who has long, blond hair in ringlets and a fuzzy white coat and fake eyelashes. And this short guy... he has copper-colored hair, kinda wavy, really long on one side. And he has this sort of attractively-scowling face. And I suddenly got a good look at his face and my stomach almost hit the floor. Mah friends, this man was the fucking SPITTING IMAGE of Kyo from Dir en grey. Like... I watched him with microscope levels of scrutiny for about fifteen seconds before he disappeared, and not one thing about him could lead me to believe he was anyone else. And yet... I was damn sure Kyo was still in America, lol. When I got home, the first thing I did was check online and, yeah... Dir en grey are in America for one more day. But holy shit this guy scared the crap out of me, lol. I wish I had a picture! He was OBVIOUSLY trying to look like Kyo, though. I mean, really... the hair? Why else would anyone cut their hair so that the two sides are a good five inches different in length?

Well, these fellers walking by got me and Geri talking about JRock a bit. And I mentioned that I've always been disappointed that for all the concerts I've seen and all the concert DVDs I've watched, I've not ONCE seen a JRocker sneeze on stage. Cuz like... I think that would just be the funniest thing ever. Well, let's fast-forward to after we leave the sweets shop. Geri and I parted ways at Shinjuku station and I continued on to Ikebukuro. At Ikebukuro, this dude gets on the train...  He was short as hell (maybe... 5'3"?) and he was dressed to the nines, with chains, a leather coat, over-sized boots, over-dyed, super-shocked hair like he'd been electrocuted. This guy didn't walk on the train, he fuckin' strutted onto the train. Now I looked up immediately and I was already scrutinizing... Weeeeell, he saw me scrutinizing and made a strange face and then decided to make shit awkward by sitting right next to me. Sigh. And I mean... so very next to me that he elbowed me continuously since he was the type who obviously "don't fuckin' care cuz he be too cool fo' yo' mama" or whatever. And god DAMN was he trying hard to impress me or something. When the intercom started blah blah blah-ing about not using your cell phone on the train, he purposely whipped out his cell phone and started calling somebody. People were staring at this kid in shock, lol. No one EVER makes a call on their cell phone on a train in Japan. Anyhoo, when this little dude was done with his call, he pulled out his headphones (elbowing me several more times) and I stole a glance at his phone. On the background of his phone was a purikura photo of himself with four other equally over-done guys. Who IS this guy, damnit?! Well, anyways, I was staring at his phone in the rumbling silence of the train when alluva a sudden... this guy let out the most explosive sneeze I've ever heard. Now, sneezing alone is funny. Sneezing on a silent train is funny. Sneezing after you just had a conversation about JRockers sneezing........... oh my god, I could hardly contain myself. I was holding my breath and turning red trying not to suddenly explode with laughter. I was pretty much shaking in a silent fit of hysteria. And just when I was about to get a hold of myself... he nearly pitched off his seat and sneezed again. I'm surprised I didn't just split at the seams laughing. Strange sounds kept threatening to pop out of my mouth, lol. I was almost crying holding it in. I pretty much shook silently till we got to my stop, lol. But yeah, I never did figure out who this kid was... But as a closing tidbit to our short story, when I got up at Heiwadai to leave the train... this kid, for no reason at all, scooted over and took my spot and sat there. Uuuuuuum. Okay. Not too strange, lol. What a sneezing weirdo...

Also, here's a story to be added to my list of "strangest things that have ever happened to Kita." It's a difficult list to compete with, since it includes such events in my life as slipping down a staircase covered in beer, being the accidental cause of a man with his hair gelled into horns cracking his head open on a floor, and Tokyo Decadance in general. Anyways, this story is short and strange. And this is all it is: me sitting at a table of Japanese people cheering while fish skin dangles out of my mouth. That's the story. I was literally reeling a whole strip of scaly fish-skin into my mouth when Satoshi suddenly cried out in elation that the white-girl was actually attempting such Japanese cuisine, and then everyone applauded while the fish skin dangled out of my mouth in surprise. Yeah........ I've led an interesting life to say the least, lol.

Well, that's about all for now. This is me wasting time instead of studying for the grammar midterm that's... tomorrow, lol. Whatever, don't care!!! Tra la la!

See you all soon!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food Post / Sunshine City / Ebisu / Babies

Holy shit on a cracker, I'm back............. Somehow, I survived the Week of Hell and Doom and managed to crawl my way through three midterms and a grammar exam. I think I kinda owned the cinema exam, though. It was really easy, so I probably over-studied. And the grammar test... well, I didn't study at all and I got an A- so... mwahahahaha, lol. The kanji test went fairly well, I think, but that's because I studied myself into a stupor. As for the history test........ that teacher can suck my proverbial balls. That test was EVIL. I studied over twenty hours for that test and I still felt like she was wringing me like a sponge. And she wasted twenty minutes of the test being disorganized with papers flying everywhere and still wouldn't give us extra time to make up for it. Bitch.

But enough about that!!! Now that I'm back, I have a week's worth of blogging to catch up on. Especially because I went somewhere goofy last weekend and never got the chance to write about it. But to start off with, here's a food-post that's been long in coming. For starters, I just had to show off this amazing lunch they were serving at Sophia. This, my friends, is kimchi rice. Yeah. KIMCHI rice. Oh my GAWD. It was sooooo good. Just the right amount of spiciness to get me through the day, lol. I think my host mother has caught onto this because, when she noticed that I hadn't come out of my room in days because of studying, she managed to lure me out of my room with the promise of... kimchi nabe. OMG. I didn't even know such a thing existed. She had this huge pot of vegetables cooking in a spicy kimchi broth. And then... she dumped a whole container of kimchi in there. Ugh, it was to die for. My host mother can't eat it though. Two bites in and she's crying. But luckily the men in the family appreciate spicy Korean food as much as I do, lol. Here's my kimchi rice:

And here we have Royal Milk Tea Kit Kats. Good GAWD. Like I wasn't already completely addicted to milk tea as it was?!!

As for this next item... I'm pretty sure I mentioned it in a previous post. I found these dried cheese snacks at a super awesome discount market. They were only a little over a dollar. In Japan, cheese is crazy expensive and, when you find it, it's usually pretty weak cheese. But this... this was some real, kick-ass cheddar for almost no money. It definitely cured my cheese craving. That is... till a guy sat down next to me and decided to take his blood pressure on some machine that was in the library. I HATE medical shit, so... yeah, that totally nauseated me and I almost didn't finish my cheese, lol.

After that we have this beauty... This is the latest McFlurry to be concocted in Japan. Again, the Japanese tend to have one special McFlurry going on at any given time and right now... it's a strawberry pound-cake McFlurry. WHY do the McDonald's restaurants in America never have these kinds of awesome things?!! It had whole chunks of cake in it!!! And the McFlurrys in Japan are way smaller so... you don't have to feel as guilty, lol.

So, enough about food (well, I'll keep talking about food but... in a more constructive manner). So, last weekend Geri and I decided to go check out this goofy place in Sunshine City (which is in Ikebukuro). The Sunshine City mall is only a half hour from where I live so... pretty easy, lol. Geri had heard that there was a place there that was like a... food amusement park, lol. We had to plunk down about three bucks to get in but... once we were in, it was several floors of a bizzare, Food Wonderland of sorts. The main reason we wanted to go was because there was this whole area of nothing but gyoza restaurants (gyoza are Chinese dumplings, for those who don't know Asian food). And sure enough, in this confusing jungle of a building, we found dozens and dozens of different gyoza shops. We weren't sure how to choose! Eventually we settled on one that had these huge, circular shrimp dumplings. It was sooooo good. But... I'm embarrassed to admit that, in my gyoza excitement, I forgot to take a picture before I ate them. I'm sorry m(-_-)m

But here are some pictures of the gyoza area. I felt like I was in some place where the Rain Forest Cafe meets Spirited Away.

So, after we'd had our gyoza fill, Geri and I went up a floor to where all the sweets were. I guess this crazy place is infamous for really bizarre ice cream flavors, like chicken wing ice cream and such. The spazzy upper floor looked like this:

The whole place was like a maze of weird, confusing insanity. We got lost over and over again. I really felt like I'd stepped into a Hayao Miyazaki film.  Anyhoo, they definitely had some crazy ice cream. They had ramune ice cream (ramune is a 7 Up type soda in Japan). They had Royal Milk Tea ice cream. There was a roasted apple ice cream. But I simply had to go for the big time. This, my friends... is wasabi ice cream:

It was actually green, though the camera whited it out for some reason. Anyways, it wasn't spicy at all, which was a little sad. But it really did taste like wasabi, lol. And I was quite content with it, till I tried Geri's milk tea ice cream. Ooooooh, I wanted THAT. Oh well, next time, lol.

Aaaaand, Christmas has already hit Tokyo so, here's a giant Christmas tree at the Sunshine City mall:

Anyways, that was all last weekend. Let's move on up to this Friday. After my kanji test was over, I pretty much flopped to Geri and begged that we do something that wasn't school related. She had already planned that we go to Ebisu (it's actually romanized Yebisu, but you don't pronounce the "y" and it pisses me off, so I won't write it that way, lol). In Ebisu there's this huuuuge building and there are restaurants at the top of the building with great skyscraper views. So we decided to check out one that was known for its okonomiyaki. But first...

So I guess there's this famous statue in Ebisu. It's famous because there's this really popular J-Drama called Hana Yori Dango ("Boys Over Flowers") and I guess there's some episode where this guy famously waits for this girl at this statue in Ebisu. There were definitely women flocking around taking pictures of this statue. Yuck. But Geri assured me I could make my J-Drama-loving friends jealous if I took a picture at the statue so... BE JEALOUS, HAHAHAHA!!!

Moooovin' on. It was all pretty and Christmas-y around Ebisu so... enjoy some pretty Christmas pictures in November:

Big Ass Chandelier:

So we went to the Tall Friggin' Building with the top-floor restaurants. We rode up 39 flights and I took a picture of Tokyo from up there:

WHOO that city be big, lol. Anyways, so we went to this restaurant that had great okonomiyaki. For those who don't know what okonomiyaki is... um... well, it's definitely a favorite among Japanese people and it's quite delicious. Some call it the "Japanese pancake" or the "Japanese pizza" but I personally think it's nothing like that at all. And it really depends on the okonomiyaki you get. I, of course, went for a seafood mix. So they basically take a batter, and the batter is mixed with eggs, and it's all mixed with seafood. Then they they fry it up kinda like a pancake, and top it with a barbecue-like sauce and fish-shavings (these usually traumatize foreigners cuz the heat makes the shavings dance and wiggle like they're alive, lol). But okonomiyaki comes in many varieties, such as vegetable, or pork, etc. etc. It's really, really good. And we were in one of those restaurants where you take your shoes off, and we sat with a view directly of the city, and the chef makes the okonomiyaki on a hot-table right in front of you. He does it with such artistic precision too, lol. Here's my okonomiyaki:

Mmmmmm. Afterwards, Geri and I had a sweet tooth and went to go find some sweets. We found a doughnut place at the Ebisu station. It's actually a New York doughnut shop, but it's known for being horribly expensive and it was actually less expensive in Tokyo than in New York, somehow. So they had these Huge Fuckin' Chocolate Doughnuts and I couldn't resist. I put my cell phone next to it for size comparison:

So that's all for Ebisu. Now I'm posting this on Saturday, and Saturday dinner was with BABIES. My host mother had informed me that Takeshi and Ayako would be coming with little Haru-chan again. But they didn't tell me that Takeshi and Satoshi's cousin would be coming with a little baby as well. So we had two families and two babies. What madness, lol. The other family was one I'd never met before. They were quite different from my host family, though. Like, Takeshi's an upstanding doctor-type, and his wife Ayako is crazy-pretty. But this other family (I forgot their names like an asshole)... they were adorable for being so not like that. The wife was quite homely, but in a cute way. And the husband... ha, what an adorably scruffy man. He had really long hair and hadn't shaved very well, and he was dressed like he didn't care, but intentionally. Like... his style was "not caring." The image that comes to mind is a wet Labrador Retriever, lol. Anyways, they had a little baby girl, whose name I've also forgotten. There was much banging of pianos and tearing of tissues. It would've been cuter if I hadn't had a bad headache. I hadn't slept all week, and then I slept nine hours so... ow, my brain. But naw, it was still cute. And the new guy, he kept trying to use English with me. And he was trying to teach his daughter English. But his English consisted of "yo! Hey, yo! Whassup?!" Wonderful. We'll teach her ghetto English, lol.

As for the dinner, my host mother made a different nabe dish, this time just straight-up vegetables instead of kimchi. It was quite delicious, of course. She also made this strange eggs-and-vegetables-in-a-cup type dish. It would've been great, but it reminded me waaaaay too much of foods I've lived off of on crash-diets, so it just sorta creeped me out, lol. But the mixed-pot food was good and Satoshi bought me a cream puff later (although... he has this trend now where, whenever I eat something sweet he goes "futoru yo!" ("you're gonna gain weight!!!") in a sneaky voice. Even though he bought the cream puff for me... he still said it, sigh. Like I don't already know I'm a pig, lol). Anyways, yeah, the babies were cute, and all the guests used our bath, as is customary in Japan. There was honorific speech flying everywhere, too. Definitely a different dinner-style than America. Oh, and Haru really doesn't like having his teeth brushed. He shrieked and screamed until Ayako straddled his head and put her knees on his arms to stop him from moving, lol. And the little girl would squat up and down whenever anyone played the piano. Sooooo cute. And I was a tool and forgot to take pictures, so I apologize for that. I promise next time the babies are over I'll remember my camera.

In other, J-Rocky news! So, as everyone knows, I already have tickets for Dir en grey two nights at the Budokan. To add to my up-coming concert list... I will also be attending Beat Shuffle Live Side 2009 ~D.N.A.~ I got tickets for myself and my two friends who are coming to visit Tokyo during Winter Break. The show will be on December 29th and features D'espairsray (yeah, AGAIN), Nightmare, L.MC (yup, again), and Penicillin. So yeah, it's gonna be awesome. It'll be like a mini-festival! And really, I don't need any excuse to see D'espairsray again. As for Nightmare, I'm lukewarm on them, but they're a super-important VK band I always wanted to see them at least once. And my friends love L.MC, even though it's not my thing, but... they do put on a fun and enjoyable show, lol. Also, apparently Merry are planning a concert tour final in Tokyo on December 24th. Tickets go on sale on the 5th. Oh my god... if I can get tickets to see Merry as a headlining band... at a tour final... yeah, I'll pretty much just die of happiness on the spot. I'll keep you all posted if I manage to get tickets!!!

Anyways, things should be a lot less hectic now so... I'll go back to regular posting.  See y'all soon!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Obligatory Food Post

Yeah, yeah, yet another food post. Sorry, lol. But these pictures have been accumulating for many weeks now, and I have virtually nothing else to talk about since I'm usually just stuck in the house studying. Not to mention the next couple weeks are midterms, meaning I'll be even more sequestered than usual. Hopefully I'll find something cool to do, though, so this blog won't decay, lol. But I hope a food post will tide people over till then, lol.
Actually, this post is in celebration of my host mother finally coming back from almost three weeks in Vienna. Good food has returned to the household! My host father... he tries but... he's not a very good cook, lol. His dishes tend to be rather... flavorless. It was a relief whenever Satoshi cooked instead, lol. For example, my host father made oden, which is a sort of Japanese fish-stew, involving a light broth and every type of fish cake imaginable. Japanese people tend to LOVE oden, and I couldn't understand why because it tasted pretty bland and blah to me. Well, tonight my host mother cooked her first meal since returning, and she made oden. Now THAT was oden, lol! Now I get it! When SHE makes it, it's flavorful and satisfying! NOW it tastes good, lol! One night my host father made this sesame green pepper dish but... it just tasted like lousy green peppers, lol. A chef he is not.

It's funny, though, hearing about Western food from a Japanese woman's perspective. When my host mother was telling us about Viennese cuisine, she was like, "all they ever eat is bread! Bread and meats! And cheese! And then at night... do you know what they do every night?" Then she looks around the table imploringly and says, "they eat CAKE! Every night they eat cake!" She then proceeds to look around the table in horror, awaiting the mortified nods of agreement from the rest of the family. At one point, during dinner, she asked if I'd eaten the vegetables yet. I said I hadn't and she goes "eh?! Dame da yo! Tabete, tabete!" (What?! That's no good! Eat them, eat them!") As I was hurriedly reaching for the vegetables to appease her, my host mother declares, "Win ja nai yo!" ("This isn't Vienna, you know!"). Yeah... needless to say, most Japanese are horrified by the Western diet, which they see as nothing but fats and breads with nothing in the way of nutrition. Buuuuut they may have a point, lol.

Anyways, back to Japanese food... To start off with, my friend Geri and I decided to go somewhere very sinful for dinner one night. In Japan, they have these places called "sweets buffets" where you basically get an hour and a half to eat all the sweets and carbs you want. It sounds sick, and you're probably wondering who the hell would go. Um, Japanese people. Lots of them. Mostly young girls. The buffet we went to was hella crowded, and some of those (mostly thin) Japanese girls were stuffing down more sweets than me, lol! But, of course, most Japanese are mortified by the idea of eating just sweets and no real food, so there was certainly real food as well. They had several types of pasta that were really good. In the picture below, we have three types. I believe one was tuna pasta, one was a garlic and mushroom pasta, and one was a spicy pasta (oooh yeah!):

Then I hit the sweets, lol! Unfortunately, I found myself unable to eat as much as expected. My appetite just wasn't very good that night, so I only grabbed the stuff you see on the plate below (these servings were very tiny, btw. The glass in the picture is also tiny, so the size comparison is confusing, lol). Most people at the buffet were eating way more than this, lol. The chocolate cake was particularly amazing.

We went to this buffet during the weeks leading up to Halloween, so the buffet had a lot of pumpkin-themed food! I simply couldn't resist having this particular delight: pumpkin pudding!!!

I think I also had a bit of coffee ice cream, lol. All in all, it was good times. Geri thinks she knows of another sweets buffet, so we might try another one soon, lol!

Moving on! Japan is known for some very good burger joints. Their burgers aren't really the same as American burgers (and tend to be more pricey because they're fancier, lol). Undoubtedly, the most famous Japanese burger joint is Mos Burger. I'd been dying to try it, and didn't get to go until recently, when I quite surprisingly ran into a friend whom I'd shared a dorm-floor with in Madison. He and Geri and I went to Mos burger, where I saw the most tempting of all burgers: a tofu burger topped with avocado. Combine this with the fact that Mos Burger has a huge display of various hot sauces, and I was friggin' jumping for joy, lol! The burger was fab (but what in the world is covered in avocado and NOT fab, lol?), and I drenched it in hot sauce, only adding to the win. Sorry for the kinda blurry picture, by the way. I forgot to turn on the super-focus on my camera, lol.

About a week later, Geri and I tried another popular burger joint in Japan called Freshness Burger. Freshness Burger is famous for its "flavored fries" in which you can purchase fries seasoned in a variety of bizarre flavors. I decided to go for a particularly weird one - "basil fries":

And here's my burger. In typical Kita-fashion, I got another shrimp fillet burger (I just don't like meat that much, lol).

In the world of drinks, here's a beauty I found at the 7/11. Yeah. A tiramisu latte. What asshole came up with this one, lol?! It was kinda pricey considering how small it was, but it was a tasty 30 seconds worth of drink, lol.

This is my latest addiction in drinks: Tea's Tea New York sells chai milk tea. I first discovered this while suffering from severe, rocking-out-induced dehydration at the V-Rock Festival. I hadn't previously known Tea's Tea had a chai drink. When I discovered it, I may have seen a holy light open up above me. I was addicted to chai tea as it is... so who the hell decided to BOTTLE it, lol?! Soooooooo good.

The 7/11 on campus (yeah, the basement of one of the school buildings has a friggin' 7/11) is now selling this beauty: Meiji Rich Matcha. Meiji is one of the leading chocolate brands in Japan, and matcha means green tea. Green tea chocolate is one of my FAVORITE food items, and this "Rich Matcha" brand is like a super-rich, super-green-tea-ified chocolate bar. It also costs two bucks, but it's TOTALLY worth it. It's soooooo loaded with green-tea flavor and it's soooo smooth.

Look at this green beauty! MmmmmmMMMMMM!!!!!!

 And.......... that's all the food I've got, lol.