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~!!!