25 November 2008

A Day in 大阪 & Turkey Substitute (EC Reunion Part II)

It was off to Osaka the next day (Sunday, 23 Nov. 08). I initially wanted to take the crew to Kyoto again to see more stuff, but Saiki had major issues with her Apple laptop, so we went to Osaka to hit up the Apple store.

We dropped off her computer and headed to 風月 (Fugetsu), an お好み焼き (okonomiyaki) restaurant in アメ村 (Amemura - America Village). It was DE-LE-JUSS. I'll let the pictures tell the story~!!!

After finally getting back Saiki's computer, we decided to hit up various stores and stuff around 道頓堀 (Dōtonbori). Naturally, I had to take them to the Glico Man, a well-known landmark, and OF COURSE we HAD to eat たこ焼き (takoyaki) from a street vendor before we left. I wanted to show them more of the area, but alas, we were running out of time (I had planned an early Thanksgiving dinner with them). We finally headed back to my apartment.

FINALLY, time to cook in Papa Noel's Kitchen...EVERYONE GET OUT~!!! Just kidding. Since we were all together and we all were scheduled to work on the day of American Thanksgiving, I decided to plan a dinner for all of us. All the guys took turns helping me out in the kitchen. It was rockin' times - sharing funny moments, cooking & breaking bread together, and telling each other what we were thankful for. And seriously, we were just thankful that we were in each other's company.

The Menu:

Herb Chicken in Mushroom Sauce
Garlic Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Seafood Shumai
Mini Meat Patties
Fish Fry
Brown & White Mix Rice
Alcohol, Juice, & Water


24 November 2008

紅葉が大好きだ~!!! (EC Reunion Part I)

久しぶりやんな~!Geez, it's been FOREVER since I blogged last. I apologize to those who check up on my blog to find that there hasn't been a new entry since the beginning of October. Ok, here we go my fellow beastly friends~!!!
Quick Notes:

  • I miss my family, girlfriend, and friends a lot, but I try to keep busy to keep my mind occupied.

  • Taiko is something of the past in my life, right now. Seriously, who would've thought that finding taiko would be hard in, of all places, Japan!? I would like to say more about this, but for now, let's just say...I hate when my time is wasted.

  • I was sick for 3 weeks in October. I wasted 2 three-day weekends because I quarantined myself. I'm better now (after going to the doctor and getting some J-drugs - powerful stuff).

  • Work's work. More kids are starting to warm up to me. Some still don't care that I'm there. A handful are super rude to me. Many really think I'm cool. Oh well, I really don't mind at this point. Whatever.

Ok, I think that about sums up all the missing info between this post and last. Anyway, last Friday (21 Nov. 08), 4 of my good friends from the Niigata area came down to spend the long weekend (the same peeps from Earth Celebration - Saiki & Susan from Sado, and Yoli & Jay from Kashiwazaki). It was such a fast weekend, but filled with memories I know I'll keep for a long time.

Coming from Niigata to my area takes up a good majority of the day, so the guys didn't make it into the city until 10ish pm. I met up with them at Kyoto Eki, grabbed some wholesome コンビニ (konbini - convenient store) food and headed back to my place to get our grub on.

Saturday was dedicated to touring Kyoto - with a whole mess of people from all over Japan and the world, it was really hard to go around, but we managed to have a good time without rushing.

東福寺 (Tōfukuji) was PACKED with people trying to get the full 紅葉 (Kōyō - colorful leaves of Autumn) experience. The Kyoto area is one of the prime destinations for people all over the world (and especially Japan) to tour around this time of year. The resilient golds, yellows, oranges, and reds among the transient greens were simply breath taking - undeniably something that NEEDS to be experienced first-hand. It's also something that can neither be fully preserved through the medium of photography or videography (although the products of effort are good enough keepsakes).

It was interesting walking from the the station to the temple. With guards and surprisingly clean traffic cones to lead the way, it was still difficult to navigate through the narrow streets as hordes of avid tourists went in and out of town. To accommodate the slow current of people, there were booths selling things - dorayaki (bean paste-filled pancake-like food), tea, mochi, and various dango to name a few. Yes, they were DE-LE-JUSS~!!!

Finally making it to the temple, we cued in a line that I swore was longer than that of any ride at Magic Mountain. It wouldn't have been so bad if people in Japan actually followed line etiquette.

Never cut in front of a group of Americans. NEVER~!!!

Once inside, we took our time to enjoy all the colors of the trees. The smell of autumn, the cool and moist air, and the barrage of visual stimuli was intense. We tried our best to take advantage of every photo opportunity possible. We spent hours enjoying the temple and the temple grounds, but the incessant pushes and shoves of other tourists eventually made us leave. At least we got our fill of the experience.

We started to get higgity-hungry, and the gang wanted to go do some shiggity-shopping, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat in Gion and went to the shopping district along Kawaramachi Street.

After a while of messing around, we headed to over to another popular site for 紅葉 viewing - 清水寺 (Kiyomizudera - Pure Water Temple), but this time we headed over at night. Only during the fall season, temples do what is called ライトアップ (RAITO-APPU - Light Up). Temples strategically place lights under, around, and above trees and parts of the temple to accentuate their beauty during the night. Like the last place, 清水寺 was packed, but it was TOTALLY awesome~!!! It was my first time experiencing ライトアップ. This is ALSO something that MUST be experienced up-close and personal. It was dark, so taking pictures was really challenging!

For dinner, we went to a place in the city called The Lockup for Yoli's super-belated birthday celebration. The Lockup is a theme bar where the waitresses are "sexy cops" in a prison filled with inmates and monsters (the other waitresses, waiters, and workers). You dine in a prison cell. Alcohol is served in either beakers, flasks, test tubes, syringes, or in capsule form. You have to ask the them for water seven times before they give you two sips of water - although I don't think that's part of the dining experience. It was an interesting place with interesting food, but honestly, we were all TOO exhausted to fully enjoy the atmosphere. This place was also too dark for pics.

After dinner, we dragged our asses through the streets, stumbled into the subway, and rolled into the train bound for my place. Yeah, this all took place on ONE day~!!!

EC Reunion Part II soon...tomorrow maybe?