16 November 2009

Yes, I'm still alive...barely...

FUCK THE PIG FLU~!!! I was diagnosed with the damn flu 3 days ago. Now I'm quarantined here at home. Whatever. The fact that something AWESOME is going down this Christmas is keeping me grounded. HURRY UP AND GET HERE DECEMBER~!!! Lord Jesus, be with me...

But man, I haven't blogged since July. Time flies, doesn't it? I guess because I don't know who's actually reading this, I take blogging lightly. It's not that I hate blogging; I don't hate writing in general, but blogging DOES in fact take time and dedication. Though looking back at my previous entries, they've been lists of stuff I've done with just a sprinkling of what I've been feeling about the experience. I guess because I also post pictures that I feel I must explain - and that takes up time and energy. I suppose I should wait for people to ask before I give out any information. Saves me time and effort at least. ;)

Since Mykky's visit four months ago, Matt came over for a while in August. I surprised him with a chance to go to Earth Celebration. Man, was he thrilled. Matt was introduced to Yoli on the car ferry to Sado. Saiki was once again a perfect hostess allowing us to crash at her place. Tons of taiko workshops of course, the show, and a night playing with fire crackers. During that time, I've learned MUCH about myself and, of course, Matt. I'm glad he came, though.

In September, Saiki, Susan and I spent a week going around Kuala Lumpur - my first trip outside of Japan since my arrival. The food was amazing, though most of it was spicy. Stuff was SUPER cheap which made me regret not taking more money to load up on clothes and the like. Man, it was TOTALLY hot and humid, though~!!! I thought I was going to kill myself, it was nasty. But you know, it was really cool because everyone thought that I was Malaysian. It felt REALLY good to feel like I belonged rather than in Japan where everyone thinks I look like a fuckin' terrorist just because I have dark skin and a beard. Get over it Japan. Foreigners DO in fact live in your country. Read a history book. Anyway, KL was a neato place. I'd love to go back one day.

Now this month, I have something I've been planning - an early Thanksgiving get together with Kimi, Mitch, Andrew, Michelle, Lester, & Krystel (along with 2 others that I haven't met before). We'll be staying at a hostel and just kickin' it in Kyoto. We'll each be making a dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Just one thing though. I hope ALL my flu symptoms are gone by the time the first few head on over to the bio hazard site, I mean my apartment. When's that, you ask? IN FOUR DAYS~!!! That's just when the quarantine period ends. Wtf.

Ok, it's time for some soup and some sleep. Until the next blog...

...whenever that is...

27 July 2009

Dancing in the Rain

Before I dive into the heart of the entry, I'd like to mention that a year ago today, I touched down on Japanese soil with the intention of living the "Japanese" lifestyle for the first time. I have yet to, like some lucky friends have, return to the States. Time flies tremendously fast; literally faster than a blink of an eye, but within that fleeting moment, much was learned. It's truly amazing. With all that's said and done, though, I miss home terribly. Despite that, this year I feel is going to be different because I'm going to make it different. No more playing the dumb foreigner. My name will be known for exciting, meaningful reasons because God's blessed me with the talents to do so. I'm done living in the shadows of second guessing. I'm done leaving my talents on the back burner for the lame excuse that "there isn't time."

With that off my chest, let's move on, shall we?

Approximately 2 weeks ago, my older sister, Mykky (in katakana-pronunciation: "MA-I-KI"), came over to visit me for the first time. Definitely, it was a memorable experience. After all, it's been almost a year since I've seen family in person. Though I'm more than thankful for modern day technology, a face to face, real conversation beats that of Skype any day. But anyway, Mykky's visit was something I feel both of us needed to rebuild our personal, forward momentum and recharge our creativity. We needed this time together to really be inspired to pursue, with a new zeal, our dreams and aspirations.

Almost 2 weeks filled with aimless walking in the city, night walking for fun (and plant collecting), shopping around for things to clothe my naked walls, and eating food that you can't get back in the States was something unforgettable, but of course there were moments that stood out more so than others. Btw, anyone who has followed my blog up until now knows how much I love writing event lists. Ok, here we go:

Mykky's Arrival (10 July)

I decided to take a half day at work enabling me to make it to the airport in time to meet Mykky. Like an idiot however, I was waiting in front of the OTHER international gate waiting for her to stroll out. Eventually we met up, grabbed a Coolish at Lawson and...talked on a bench at the airport for probably 3 hours before making it home. That was the deepest conversation I've had all year.

BBQ & Toothbrush Fighting (11 July)

After lazing around my apartment all day, we made it to one of my nursery schools for an evening BBQ with the teachers and the kids. The food was delicious, and yes, they did serve corn. Naturally. The kids at our table were cute. But later on, they got a bit nasty. They started dipping their toothbrushes in their tea and spraying it all over the table, their friends, and us (my face)! So gross.

Cute, but...

Curry Soup (12 July)

Church, as always, was inspiring. Lunch at a kaiten zushi yasan, snacks at Hara Donuts, and much window shopping filled our Kyoto day itinerary. Later that night, we met up with my good friend Kohei for some good times and laughter at a curry soup restaurant. I don't think I can handle chili peppers, but they're SO de-le-juss~!!!

Me, Kohei & Mykky


Spent another hot and humid day wandering the streets of Kyoto. We played a few UFO catchers, ate randomly at Mr. Donuts, Mos Burger, and St. Marc Choco Cro, and shopped...again. What was really cool though was the preparation of the floats for Gion Matsuri.

Many of them were stationary on the street, illuminated with beautiful paper lanterns. We walked down the streets and saw some of the matsuri musicians in the floats practicing their songs on their shime daiko, fue, and atari gane.

Yeah, mitsudomoe~!!!

100en Shop Adventure (14 July)

Right after eating lunch at my apartment, we decided to head out to Joyo to find a 100en shop we kept seeing from the train. Long story short, we ended up walking almost a station away (later realizing that the 100en store was in the OPPOSITE direction) to Izumiya and 100 Ban. Oh well, we were still able to get some stuff.

Later that night at a cafe, we met up with my friend Yuko who bought a set of business cards Mykky designed for her. We talked about how in Japan, instead of giving teachers a needed break from school life, they have to worry about what formations the kids want to make for Sports Day. Sometimes things in this country are just lame. Really? Formations? C'mon~!!!

Yuko, Mykky & Me

Impromptu Taiko Show (15 July)

Headed out to Uji - taiko practice day. Introduced Mykky to RAAK, a Kyoto original shop that sells prints and textiles. We were in that store a LONG time! Soon after, we walked to taiko practice. Just as I figured they would, they invited us to perform for the group. Mykky blew them out of the water with a solo-esque rendition of Suzaku (I on shime daiko support). Everyone was so surprised that Mykky, a girl, could play as hard as she did AND involve movements at the drum. It was such an awesome duet. North American Taiko is freakin' AWESOME~!!!

Tsukiyaki Times (16 July)

One more time in Kyoto to shop for things that would add character to my "typical boy's apartment." After hitting up the Isetan, sushi shop, and Andrew's Tarts, we headed back to my area of town. We had a dinner engagement at my friend Kazu's house - tsukiyaki with the family. It was great, home-cooked tsukiyaki, complete with a crazy dance performance from their wild little girl...and some TV. Fun times.

Gion Matsuri (17 July)

Dressed up in yukata and jinbei and headed out to Kyoto early in the morning to grab a good spot to view the Yamaboko Junko float procession. We ran into Masashi on the train. He was headed to Kobe. It was both our first time witnessing the procession. Those floats were HUGE. Later on, though, it started to look like the same thing over and over, so we decided to just walk around.

That float behind us is taller that you think.

We ended up in Gion to watch the Shinkosai around 6pm. All those guys chanting and carrying those portable shrines - awesome. We even tried to escape the crowd and instead, ended up at the head of the shrine procession. All these guys started really running in the street with the shrine; we almost got run over by the crowd.

Mykky in Gion


On our way home, I started waving and dancing AT people on the passing trains at the eki. THAT was funny.

Trains. TRAINS~!!!


Woke up late in the morning and headed out to Fushimi Inari after lunch for a nice walk through the torii gates. Or at least we THOUGHT it was going to be a nice stroll around the shrine until we started getting eaten alive by all the freakin' mosquitoes. I hate mosquitoes. Seriously, foreigner blood is DELICIOUS to bugs here in Japan. Later on, we stopped by my "local" department store approximately less than 10 minutes away from my house and had dinner there.

Smiles mask our itchy, mosquito-bitten skin.

Kyoto Shopping: Round 472 (19 July)

Back in the city for church. Afterwards, we went shopping for stuff, more window shopping, and back for more sushi. The sky seemed to open up randomly and pour its guts out on the unsuspecting people below. Making our way back to Kyoto eki to head home, we saw some of the Gion Matsuri musicians playing in front of a shrine on Shijo. That was cool.

Bowling @ Round 1 (20 July)

Another lazy day at my pad. We woke up late and ended up watching "My Neighboors: The Yamada's." Later that night, we went out again with Kohei to a famous gyoza chain. Natsuko called later on, so we picked her up and the four of us went to Round 1 for a couple of games of bowling. We even did some UFO catching and played some coin games. It rained hard again that night, too.

Poke & Turn (21 July)

Headed out to Osaka to meet Mykky's friend, Hector, who I found out I knew because I met him before during Chinese New Year in Kobe - small world. Ate at a cool do-it-yourself takoyaki joint called Pizza Ball. The trick = poke and turn.

Hector, Mykky & Me

Shopped (of course) before meeting up with Asako and her husband & baby. We went to Fuugetsu for some okonomiyaki. It rained hard that night; it was AWESOME~!!!

Mykky w/ Mio, Gou, & Asako

I can't believe it's time already. (22 July)

Before heading to the airport, we had lunch at Shakey's Pizza and took some last-minute purikura. We finally headed to the airport, and Mykky departed home at around 5pm. I had a strong desire NOT to return home right away. So instead, I headed to Rinkuu Town to get my mind off of things...feelings and reactions I'll never outgrow, huh?

One more thing about the 21st of August. When it rained hard that night, Mykky and I decided to spontaneously play in the rain for a good 15 to 20 minutes. It was cool because we felt like carefree kids again - splashing in puddles and playing in the torrential downpour. I think this was my favorite moment of Mykky's visit. I think it's my all-time favorite moment this past year~!!!

Reflecting on the time Mykky was here, I know now what I need to do to progress forward. With faith in myself and in Him, I know I can do anything. I refuse to give up. Not here; not now; not ever.

08 June 2009

Asano Taiko 400th Anniversary Celebration

I took a day off from work to head out to the Hakusan area in the Ishikawa prefecture for Asano Taiko's 400th Anniversary Celebration (June 4 - June 7). It was a pretty chill weekend to tell you the truth, although I was sick during the time I went...sucks. But anyway, because I found out about this event later than most people who knew about it, I wasn't able to take any workshops. Or at least I thought.

I ran into Yuta's sister, Julia, and she was able to get me into a singing/okedo workshop with Kodo's most senior member, THE Yoshikazu Fujimoto. It was such an awesome class.

Yoshikazu Fujimoto is SO cool~!!!

I also thought that I wasn't going to get into the concert, but thankfully, I was able to squeeze in. I watched "THE TAIKO CONCERT" from the cry room of the theater.

Other than the workshops and the concert, there were things being sold and mini live concerts at the Asano site. I even ran into Bryan & Maz of TAIKOPROJECT, Tiffany & Kristy of Sacramento Taiko Dan, and Chabo & Megan of Shidara. I was also invited to help carry the portable shrine to bless the Asano site. It was awesome times.

With Bryan & Maz

With Chabo, Tiffany, & Megan

With Kristy

This was SO heavy~!!!

It was a good weekend filled with nothing but the sound of taiko. I'm inspired to really do something with taiko this year. I feel it's time. Wish me luck, everyone~!!!

11 May 2009

Southern Japan: COMPLETE~!!! :D

What an intense 2 weeks. I've learned a lot on this past trip to Okinawa and mainland Kyushu. I took a REALLY long trip with a friend to the south (but in retrospect, maybe it was too long). At any rate, I'm really glad I went.

Btw, there are several links to my photobucket galleries in each of the prefectures I've visited. Please check them out and comment on them if you want. :) Enjoy~!!!

My Thoughts About 沖縄 (Okinawa):

I visited Naha and the Yaeyama Islands. It was such a surreal place with many areas showcasing the magnificence of Okinawa's natural beauty. By far, my favorite place was Taketomi. It literally was like a dream paradise. So many beaches, all of which are accessible by bike, tons of good food, and at least one or two people at their house playing a sanshin (Okinawa's snake shamisen) and/or singing. You seriously hear music while you're going around the island. The waters were crystalline blue and the sunsets seemed to peacefully explode in the sky. People in Okinawa, in general, are really chill people. I've never felt so relaxed traveling. I loved my beard and mustache especially during Okinawa week because everyone else had a beard and mustache! I totally blended in - there was a strong feeling of home. I'd go back to Okinawa in a heartbeat - especially the Yaeyama Islands.

My Thoughts About Mainland 九州 (Kyushu) Prefectures:

I was able to visit all of mainland Kyushu's prefectures. After the trip, I can honestly say that Kyushu is probably the coolest place in Japan as of right now. Just like Okinawa, people in Kyushu were exceptionally peaceful, helpful, and kind individuals. Not only that, but the food was amazing. Visually, the old and the new coexist in harmoniously. Everything in Kyushu seemed so balanced. My favorite place was Nagasaki because it's metropolitan and historical simultaneously. Not to mention the fact that the catholic community is HUGE. Being in Nagasaki made me wonder why I never applied to live there. I should've done my research (but Kyoto's awesome, anyway). On a side note, the Dontaku Festival in Fukuoka was interesting, but definitely not exciting. I wouldn't want to see it again, nor would I recommend someone to see it. A festival like Gion Matsuri would be time and money well spent.

My Overall Assessment:

I love Okinawa, especially Taketomi. I love Kyushu, especially Nagasaki. You should go. Don't go to Dontaku Festival - it's not worth it.

And now for the logistics of the trip (with links to picture galleries). Enjoy.

April 24 - Fri.

After school, I stayed at my friend Taka's house because he was going to drive me to the airport the following day. His family's pretty awesome.

April 25 - Sat.

Landed in
那覇市 (Naha)
Checked into hostel - Base Hostel
Dinner at Afro Nest
Window shopping on 国際通り (Kokusai-dori)

April 26 - Sun.

Booked a Naha tour & went to:
万座毛 (Cape Manza)
沖縄美ら海水族館 (Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium)
熱帯ドリームセンター (Tropical Dream Center)
今帰仁城 (Nakijin Castle)
ナゴパイナップルパーク (Nago Pineapple Park)
おきなわワールド (Okinawa World) & 玉泉洞 (Gyokusendo Cave)
Shopping on 国際通り (Kokusai-dori)

April 27 - Mon.

Went to首里城 (Shuri Castle)
Took a boat to 石垣島 (Ishigaki)
Checked into hostel - Yashima Youth Hostel
Shopping on 市役所通り (Shiyakusho-dori)


April 28 - Tue.

Glass Boat @ 川平湾 (Kabira Bay)
Played around 米子焼工房 (Yoneko Yaki Kobo)
Snorkled @ 米原 (Yonehara Beach)
Dinner @ まーさん (Maasan)
Drank @ the hostel


April 29 - Wed.

Took a boat to 竹富島 (Taketomi)
Checked into hostel - 竹富ゲストハウス ジュテーム (Taketomi Guest House Je t'aime)
Rented a bike and went around:
コンドイ浜 (Kondoi Beach)
カイジ浜 (Kaji Beach)
集落 (Ryukyu Village)
なごみの塔 (Nagomi Tower)
Lunch @ HaaYa Nagomi Cafe
Random biking through the Ryukyu Village
Rode a 水牛車 (Water Buffalo Cart)
More random biking through the Ryukyu Village
Hung out at Kondoi Beach till sunset
Hung out and drank @ Take-to-Me bar @ hostel


April 30 - Thu.

Took a boat to 西表島 (Iriomote)
Checked into hostel - 西表自然学校 (Iriomote Nature School)
Cruised up 浦内川 (Urauchi River)
Hiked to マリユドゥの滝 (Mariyudu Waterfalls)
First onsen experience @ 西表島温泉 (Iriomotejima Onsen)
Hung out with the owner & kids @ hostel
Ate dinner @ hostel


May 1 - Fri.

Bus to 由布島 (Yubu Island) site
Walked Yubu Island @ low tide
Played around the garden, saw some animals, ate stuff
Took a water buffalo cart back to bus loading site
Bus to port back to Ishigaki
Flew to 福岡市 (Fukuoka)
Checked into hotel
Dinner @ ramen stand for Hakata Ramen


May 2 - Sat.

Train to 太宰府 (Dazaifu) area
太宰府天満宮 (Dazaifu Tenman-gu)
Train then bus to 福岡タワー (Fukuoka Tower) & ROBOSQUARE
Hung out @ 大濠公園 (Ohori Park)
Dinner @ udon shop

May 3 - Sun.

Hung around 博多 (Hakata) for the 博多どんたく (Hakata Dontaku Festival)
Dinner w/ some new JET friends


May 4 - Mon.

Bus to 大分県 (Oita)
Train to 臼杵磨崖仏 (Usuki Stone Buddhas)
Check into ryokan in
別府市 (Beppu)
Dinner with JET friends


May 5 - Tue.

Bus to 血の池地獄 (Blood Pond Hell)
Train to
宮崎県 (Miyazaki)
Bus to 鵜戸神宮 (Udo Shrine)
Checked into ryokan - すずや旅館 (Suzuya Ryokan)
Dinner @ local izakaya


May 6 - Wed.

Train to
鹿児島市 (Kagoshima)
Bus to 指宿市 (Ibusuki)
Bus, train, then boat to 桜島 (Sakurajima)
Played in a dinosaur park
Hung out at a lava rock park...thing...till sunset
Checked into hostel


May 7 - Thu.

Bus to 熊本市 (Kumamoto)
But to hostel
Bus to 阿蘇山 (Mt. Aso) & the crater

May 8 - Fri.

Train to
佐賀県 (Saga)
Walked to 吉野ヶ里 遺跡 (the Yoshinogari Site)
Headed over to Ashley's apartment
Dinner @ Jaya's apartment w/ her family & other Saga JET friends


May 9 - Sat.

Train to 長崎市 (Nagasaki)
Took the street car to hit up:

大浦天主堂 (Oura Catholic Church)
崇福寺 (Sofuku-ji)
東明山興福寺 (Tomeizan Kofuku-ji)
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
Atomic Bomb Hypocenter
Nagasaki Peace Park
浦上天主堂 (Urakami Cathedral)
日本二十六聖人殉教地 (Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan)
Train to Fukuoka
Spent the nite @ an internet cafe


May 10 - Sun.

Bullettrain back home

13 April 2009

Kimi's Visit

It was awesome, my first overseas visitor - my really good friend Kimi visited from Vegas~!!! It was her first time visiting mainland Japan, so it was a week of me playing tour guide. Here are the things we did:

April 6 - Mon.
Kimi landed. My teacher and I picked her up from the airport and then had dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant.

April 7 - Tue.
We went around to look at cherry blossoms. They were in full bloom just in time for Kimi's visit. After that, we walked around Fushimi Inari to look at all the torii gates. Meandering throught Yasaka Shrine to fool her, I surprised Kimi with a trip to Gion for a maiko (apprentice geisha) make-over, her belated birthday/Christmas gift. She was really surprised~!!! We took a bunch of photos as we walked around Gion. Later that night, we met up with my good friend, Kohei, and his fiancée (a friend, too), Natsuko, for some awesome yaki-niku. BBQ beef is so f-ing delicious. I could never be vegetarian.


April 8 - Wed.
Went to Uji for some tea shopping and to see Phoenix Hall and Uji River. After that, we hit up Kyoto for some random shopping and people watching. For dinner, I took her out to a yakitori shop I frequent.


April 9 - Thu.
Took a day trip to Toei Uzumasa Eigamura Movie Museum. It was actually pretty neat. It was my first time going there, but I think it meant more to Kimi because this was the actual set where they filmed some old Japanese samurai TV program she used to watch when she was growing up in Hawaii. After playing around there, we passed through Koryuji before finally hitting up Golden Pavilion (of course, a must see if you're visiting Kyoto for the first time). Did more people watching in Kyoto and had dinner at Mos Burger. YEAH~!!!


April 10 - Good Fri.
This day was temple hopping. We went to Kiyomizu-dera, the Hall of the Lotus King, and Nishi Hongan-ji (the mother Buddhist church that Kimi belongs to in Hawaii). On the way, we stopped by this small bakery and had carrot cookies. We ate at a donburi shop and ended the day with coffee at Doutour. Thumbs up for all the staples of Japan, right.

April 11 - Holy Sat. We had a bunch of time, so we headed to Nara to check out Todai Temple and play with the deer in Nara Park. Check out this rad photo! Who else can say they fed a deer under a blossoming cherry tree?

After that, we made our way to Osaka to mess around Dotonbori. We met up with Kohei again for okonomiyaki and takoyaki. We also just walked around the shopping areas in and around America Village.

April 12 - Easter Sun.

After going to church, I met up with Kimi around Osaka Castle. We walked pretty much the entire castle grounds and even ate food at the vendor booths. Finally, it was time for us to head back to the airport so Kimi could catch her plane back home.

This was an awesome week. Good food, good sites, good times, all shared with more than good company. Btw, I never used so much Japanese in one week. Yeah for practice~!!! :D

28 March 2009


Yeah, I turned off all my stuff right at 8:30pm. Alright, now it's the opposite side of the world's turn. HAPPY EARTH HOUR EVERYONE~!!!

LOCATION: Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

26 March 2009

Again, not making fun, but...

Ok, let's lighten the blog's mood with more Engrish (yes, Engrish) from my students. This stuff = golden material. Refer to the first set of Engrish.


1. Who is playing the piano in boy?

2. Do you know she what to doing?

3. I know she doing is Mary!

4. My home in the much book.

5. They names baby & Taro.

6. Well, this year's resolution is "Beaf."

7. Here is daby name the Taro.

8. I like is winter more somer.

9. No, down is resolutions.

10. We have to do yo know resolutions.

11. Burger it's hard for me Yuki.

12. I can spiekes English.

13. Wornig the U.Stars homestyk.


language - larguagen
* You know, I really don't understand your larguagen.

right - helse
* Turn left. No wait, turn helse!

delicious - drilciecur
* I'm in the mood for some drilciecur sushi.

borrow - doreew
* May I doreew this throwing knife?

Friday - froday
* Thankfully, the 80's Party is on froday.

23 March 2009

A Simple Hug - A Heavy Realization

Japan seems to amplify emotions like no other experience can.

My buddy Kohei, his friend Kazu, and I hung out last Saturday night. After walking around looking at the illuminated garden at a temple, we decided to go to dinner together. We had such a great time, joking around, talking about all sorts of stuff (all in Japanese of course...crazy, I can actually hold a conversation in Japanese), drinking, and eating.

Finally, it was time to ship out to catch the last trains. In the subway, right before Kazu boarded his train, he told me it was nice to meet me and how much fun he had. He then moved in for a hug. I was thrown off guard by the gesture, but returned it equally. He boarded the train, and we waved at him as it took off. My first thought, "That was very American of him to do that." (Yeah, I know other people in the world hug, too, that was just my first thought, though).

Since then, I've been in a state of contemplation.

Living here in Japan for this long has desensitized me to something I've been told I'm really good at - hugging. To me, it's more than just an action - it's language. A hug can convey love and truth. A hug can tell a lifetime story. A hug can lift days, months, years of emotional turmoil. A hug is important for stability, security, and self-awareness.

I've grown up utilizing this language in my everyday life, so why was it so easy to forget?

To tell the truth, that hug felt really good. It felt sincere. Maybe because it was a received hug? Take my American/English-speaking friends here, for example. We've hugged before. In retrospect, I think for some of them, we wouldn't have hugged unless I motioned to do so. Nonetheless, we did hug or had some kind of physical language/interaction with each other. However, those times were in the midst of traveling or some major event; the things being experienced at the time blocked out the recognition of feelings in general.

This time, though, it was an easy, laid-back day. I had all the time in the world to notice anything and everything. Maybe it was shocking because Kazu's a Japanese citizen. I've been accustomed to seeing people here bow, or wave, or nod, or NOTHING at all with one another (and yeah, that's WITH friends). Then all of a sudden, someone says goodbye to me the way I would someone else that WASN'T Japanese? What the hell's going on!

Seriously, in that moment, I think the memory of every hug I've given to people in my life hit me all at once. I felt like I was home, but at the same time, my heart felt very heavy because it was looking for something it has been yearning for all this time.

Something so simple can make you think about your whole life.

Something so simple can make you feel so loved.

Something so simple can make you feel really lonely.

March 19 ~ 21

Ok, it's event list time. Enjoy~!!!

19 March:
Attended an elementary school's graduation ceremony. Later that night, I went to an enkai and karaoke bar with my other elementary school's teachers. Yes, that means I drank more. I think most Japanese people get drunk WAY too fast, btw.

20 March:
Headed out to Nara to hit up 法隆寺 (Hōryū-ji) with my buddy Kohei and his cool friend, Yasu. Afterward, we had a たこ焼き (takoyaki - octopus dumpling) party and Kohei's place - Kohei's super nice fiancée, Natsuko, joined us.

The Chūmon (Inner Gate)

The 5-Tier Pagoda

Me w/ Yasu & Natsuko

The Takoyaki

21 March:
Went to my friend's boyfriend's joint photo exhibition. Later that night, I met up with Kohei and his really cool buddy Kazu. We trekked to 高台寺 (Kōdai-ji) to experience 花灯路 (hanatōro), or "flower and light road," which is the spring version of the Light-Up event in autumn (refer to the EC Reunion Part I). Later, we went to a 焼き鳥屋さん (yakitoriyasan - BBQ skewer bar) called すみ家 (Sumika)...yes, we drank. I drink a lot in Japan...that's good AND bad.

Kazu & Me (...man, the lighting sucks...)

The Food

18 March 2009

四郷千両太鼓 Weekend

Last weekend (Saturday, March 14th), my friend Asako invited me to her home town in 和歌山県 (Wakayama prefecture) because the group there, 四郷千両太鼓 (Shigo Senryo Daiko), was having a concert. Shigo was the group my older sister Kamille joined when she was a JET ALT back in the day. It was also the beginning of her love for taiko.

Anyway, it took almost 3 hours and 3 train transfers to get from my apartment to 和歌山県. But that was after I went to Uji - 15 minutes from my house in the opposite direction - to get some omiyage for Asako's parents and for Shigo. I didn't mind though; it was all for taiko. Btw, here's a random picture of Asako's mom's hina matsuri doll collection.

Crazy, huh? Pretty awesome, I say.

Interestingly enough, my "day trip" to Wakayama turned out to be an over-night stay, hence why I got Asako's parents omiyage. They graciously allowed me to crash at their house, which by the way is less than a 5 minute walk from Shigo's dojo. CRAZY~!!! I bought omiyage for the group, too, because I was invited to their after-party to mingle, eat, drink...and play...maybe?

There was a VERY small problem on the way there. You see, I had used my ICOCA card which is similar to the Kanto region's SUICA card and Hokkaido's KITACA card - a debit like card for riding the trains so you don't have to fumble around with coins and bills to buy train tickets. I didn't realize that the area I was going to was SO 田舎 (rural) that the card wasn't acceptable anymore. Thankfully Asako was there to help me through that (I met up with her and her baby, Mio, in 橋本市 [Hashimoto City], the city where my sister lived).

I didn't have time to drop my crap off at the house, so I brought everything to the concert hall in かつらぎ町 (Katsuragi Town). There, Asako and I ate bentos (from her parents' bento shop) before the concert - it was DE-LE-JUSS bento times~!!!

The concert was pretty awesome. They played a few original pieces, some kids performed a piece, and a number of pieces made famous by 鼓童 (Kodo), the world's premier taiko ensemble, were performed. Anyone who lives in Japan and plays taiko knows that virtually ALL the taiko groups in Japan play 2 or more pieces from 鼓童. But I was indifferent to that; just being able to be AROUND taiko is a blessing. Check out their original piece entitled "Mドリーム" (M Dream).

I was able to briefly meet the 2 ALTs that were currently performing with Shigo. They were pretty nice people. I was hoping to get to talk with them a little more, but they had a prior engagement and was unable to attend the after-party.

After the concert, we finally headed to the house where we relaxed until Shigo was finally done cleaning the concert hall, packing up, and unloading the gear back into the studio. I didn't head over to meet them at the dojo till about 12:30am.

There was beer, bento, sushi, beer, fried-food platters, beer, pizza and beer. Everyone seemed so nice ESPECIALLY because they knew I was Kamille's younger brother and that I'm a seasoned taiko performer. Everyone was busy laughing, drinking, smoking, eating, and drinking when they started passing around the comment papers from the audience.

Yes, they read EVERY single one of them. While they were reading, I took a picture of their cool HUGE okedo odaiko. They finally finished reading all the comments at around 2:30am. Seeing that my beer glass was empty, one of the group's top players, Hiroshi, asked me to sit next to him as he poured me more beer and talked all night about our passion for taiko. He's a pretty cool cat; I'd love to hang out and play taiko with him in the future for sure. I didn't get to sleep until before 4:00am. What a night~!!!

What a DOPE drum~!!!

Me & Hiroshi

When I finally woke up just before 12:00 noon, Asako's mother prepared a GIGANTIC lunch. I should've taken a picture, but I wasn't fully awake enough to remember to bust out my camera. We had オムライス (omelet rice), clam soup, 焼きそば (yakisoba), tofu, grilled ハマチ (hamachi), 海老天ぷら(shrimp tempura), サツマイモ天ぷら (sweet potato tempura), and some kinda snail meat. You think that's enough food~!!? It was so good AND all homemade from their shop (their shop is part of their house)~!!! I couldn't finish it all~!!!

They sent me away with some homemade sushi. Man, that was good, too.

Finally getting back home, I was inspired to really get off my thinking block and get to work. I'll be on an artist-kick for a while...I hope. WISH ME LUCK~!!!

11 March 2009

I'm really pissed off right now~!!!

It's so STUPID how this happened, but I have sprained neck~!!!

So, I was fine this morning. Woke up, made breakfast, dressed, but I had in itch on my back. I couldn't reach it (or figure out its exact coordinates), so I tried using the mirror to see what might be causing it (something I've done before, so in my mind, it wasn't an issue).

I was turning and trying to figure out where it was until I heard a pop-like-tear followed by excruciating pain on the right side of my neck. I fell to the floor and doubled over on my bed. I got up and I wasn't able to turn my head at all.

I walked to school, no problem. Over time, however, the pain got worse and worse. It felt as if a knife was jamming itself into my neck at random times. Toward the end of the day, it was so bad that it literally prevented me from moving. Seriously incapacitating.

My English teacher called my supervisor, and he took me to a specialist. The doc did a few x-rays and junk. Sent me home with a prescription (4 different pills and a compress which they're sending me through the mail). They told me it's not a sprain, but they never told me what it really is.

At this moment, it REALLY hurts. Like BAD. Like, I want to die or go insane or kill someone kinda pain. I wouldn't wish this on anyone~!!! I can't even COOK anything without wanting to yell and curse~!!!

So, that's my neck sprain story. This is bullsh!t, because I REALLY wanted to go to taiko practice today. I looked forward to today all week, and next week's practice is canceled.

Not to mention that last week, I was suffering from allergies (even thought I was coughing up blood - thankfully it wasn't from my lungs). The week before, my body was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Each event I told myself that I wasn't going to the f*ckin' hospital; that I wasn't going to LOSE to this sh!t; that I just need to get over it.

Seriously, transitioning from a dry-ass desert to moist-ass Japan has been hard on my body. And now THIS bullsh!t. I'm really pissed off right now~!!! This is my 3rd time in less than a year that I had to get drugs for something. I NEVER had this many problems in the States~!!!

I'll get better. I won't lose to this~!!! I'm sure it's a sign for something.

On an up-note, I finally got a hair cut yesterday. Doesn't look bad at all. I feel 1,000 lbs lighter.

04 March 2009


Can you believe it? It's freakin' MARCH~!!!

I know spring's coming because I've been sneezing ALL DAMN DAY...they started cutting down the plants in the river near school, so all the pollen's airborne. I hate allergies.

Anyway, I got back from taiko practice like an hour and a half ago or so~!!! Yeah, I'm back in taiko. It's been like almost over 4 months since my last practice. I started going to this awesome, energetic taiko group in Uji last week. I think the people in it are cool - a good mix of old and young people/men and women. Haven't had taiko blisters in a LONG time. Bittersweet nostalgia. I think I'm going to like this group~!!! Wish me luck. I need to buy my bachi soon.

Good news at my JHS. I coached 3 girls (2 Freshman and an 8th grader) who had a major English interview in Kyoto city. I was nervous because 2 of the girls were really shy and seemed to not believe in themselves enough to pass. That dissipated when I found out all 3 girls passed~!!! AWESOME~!!! I coached 3 boys and 1 girl last year for the same test. All 4 of those kids passed, too. I'm so proud of all of them.

On a general note, I think I've been going through so many changes. There were times where I would be SO down that I didn't even want to wake up. Other times, I would wake up laughing because I would be in such a good mood (sounds like I'm going crazy, yeah?).

Seriously, living outside of your daily norm changes you. Unlike my old self, I'm accepting the changes rather than fighting them. My eyes open more and more everyday. And now that it's still kind of the beginning of the new Lenten Season, I'll be expecting many more changes along my journey.

One thing I know is, I'll be more diligent when it comes to my blog. Updating events in a 4 month period bites.

Until the next blog~!!!

16 February 2009

北海道に行くぞ~! (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2~!!!

10 Feb 09:

Slept in finally. Woke up; Yoli & Andrew left early to take a day to snowboard. Tricia and I took the bus out to
札幌つどーむ (Sapporo Community Dome), home of the tube slide & snowman making station, as well as more sculptures.

Me & Wall-E

If you wanted to make a snowman, there was station dedicated to making your own. They had a station to give your snowman a name card/message card. They also handed out wooden blocks to make the face as well as 2 different sized metal bowls to help the process of making the snowman tiers easier. I made the most WICKED snow BEAST ever~!!! He had spikes on his head; even gave the little guy wings. It took me a while to finish him. I wanted to be different from everyone else - with their cookie-cutter snowmen. MINE REIGNED SUPREME OVER ALL SNOWMEN~!!!

HAD to go down the tube slide, too. It was AWESOME. It was faster than it looked. When my sister went down the slide years back, they didn't have tubes to use. Just your ass on ice.

Took the bus back to the city to finish up looking at all the snow sculptures. Some were REALLY awesome. Some were...well...look at the pictures.

Yume ~ Dreams ~

キン肉マン (Kinnikuman)

どーもくん (Domo-kun)

Monkey...with Corn...

目玉親父 (Medama Oyaji)

ドラえもん (Doraemon)

Me & Stitch

A big-ass snow train~!!!

Look at the detail~!!!

(An Android from Laputa: Castle in the Sky)

Pon de Lion
Mascot of Asia's Popular "Mister Donut"

Northern Animal Family
Live Forever, the Forests

Isn't that a dope snow dragon~!!?

World Snow Sculpture Competition: First Place
(forgot which country in S.E. Asia.)

U.S.A. didn't even place.
Look at this~!!! What the hell IS this crap~!!?

Everyone. "Be anbitious."

DBZ: "Kamehameha~!!!"

This is supposed to be a "hug." Riiiiight. Booty.



Everyone LOVES Snoopy~!!!

Friends in the Southern Ocean

Me & a まんぼう (sunfish)

Oh yeah, Tricia and I were watching people ski down a man-made ski jump and do tricks, but then some random lady cut in front of us. I was gonna be all "What da heck LADY~!!?" That was until I noticed her fur-lined jacket hood~!!! I touched it lightly.


Met up with Yoli and Andrew at the Sapporo TV Tower. It was pretty cool up there. WAY too many people in such a small place, though.

A marimo guy in the tower.

Went to dinner near Ramen Alley at a place called SHO-RIN. Had RAD-ASS soup curry. I wish I ate that a second time; that was some freakin' GOOD stuff, man~!!!

11 Feb 09:
Last day in
北海道. We split up again. Yoli & Andrew went to finish up snow sculpture viewing. Tricia and I went back to すすきの to finish the ice sculptures.

Ice-cold beer, man~!!!

Is that...fish blood?

Yeah for Greenpeace~!!!

Ode to Portland Taiko's Fish Face

No, not "tortoise," but "tortise."

ダブルまりもっこり (Double Marimokkori)

Afterwards, we met around Sapporo TV Tower and subwayed to サッポロビール博物館 (Sapporo Beer Museum).

Before going in, we had lunch at a place that served ジンギスカーン (Genghis Khan), a famous BBQ lamb dish. It was good, but I couldn't get past the gamy/soapy taste. At least I can say I tried it.

Went into the museum; all these cool old cans, bottles, and signs. It was a pretty dope place. Had a bar there, too. Was able to try different kinds of beer. Did a "snowball" throwing contest and won a bag of Sapporo soda. I'd love to go back.

Let's learn about beer~!!!

Malted Barley: White & Black

"Yoli, EAT SOME NOW~!!!"


Bottoms up, ya'll. Gangsta.

Poor Andrew didn't win. 残念な。

Finally, we headed to the airport, did some last minute shopping, and split up to go home (Andrew's and my flight was before Yoli's and Tricia's). 北 海道 was such an amazing place. It's well-developed, yet still has the feel of Japan. The food was amazing, the people were stylish in a good way for a change, the music was poppin', the sculptures were off da hook, it was just awesome being there.

Maybe I should've applied to live in Hokkaido. AHAHAHAHAHA~!!! I'll be back again one day. Until I see you again,
北海道, I'll be missing you from my little rice field in the Kansai area.