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Monthly Archives: January 2008

Right then, back on schedule.

KARUTA

One of the best aspects of my job is getting to see and participate in all the special activities my school puts on. I think more than anything else this is the biggest insight into Japanese culture. I get to see what Japanese people do as they grow up. Unlike my shrine visits this is simply something a tourist never gets access to.

So I was really excited last Friday afternoon when Kosuga-sensei asked me if I would come watch the students play cards.

Yes you heard me, watch them play cards.

The game was karuta (literally card), specifically “iroha-garuta” which is the original karuta game and something of a Japanese tradition.

Karuta is a sort of listening version of snap. Students sit in small teams surrounding a set of cards placed face up. One person (i.e. a teacher) reads out a word or phrase and the students have to grab the corresponding card. I use it all the time in classes, say by putting a load of pictures of emotions on a table and saying “I’m happy” so the students have to grab the “happy” card. However “iroha-garuta” differs slightly from the way I play it. In “iroha-garuta” one person is reading out various tanka (or poems). He reads the first 3 lines of the poem and the students have to find the card with the last two lines.

The students study tanka in their Japanese classes so playing this game is the culmination of a lot of months hard work memorising poems.

This just sums up Japan so much for me. Not just taking time out from lessons to play a card game but actually studying it in lessons in order to prepare. And for no other reason than that it’s a tradition.

It was a pretty fun afternoon too. Of course I had no idea what the teachers were reading out but the answer cards were written in hiragana not kanji. This meant I could have a go at reading them (although I didn’t have a chance in hell of understanding them) and I was pretty pleased with how well I was doing.

The kids seemed to be having a ball too. One group of boys did the respect fist every time they won a card. So of course after a while I came and joined in.

Traditional school card games. I love this country.

JAPANESE CRISPS ARE WEIRD: PART 2

Ladies and gentlemen these are Strawberry flavoured Cheetos.

Some madman has combined the flavours of cheese, potato and strawberry!

This truly is the upper limit of weird food, surely.

Nothing more insane than this could possibly exist, could it?

Dare I eat them.

I must, for how could I pass up something so tremendously bizarre.

If I do not taste them now I shall forever wonder.

They shall haunt my dreams forever more, a nightmare vision in pink.

And so I must.

Yet, I still fear.

But what is man if he cannot overcome his fear.

Pray for me friends.

*crunch*

Actually.

They’re quite nice.

To provide some explanation for this. In Japan pink is considered to be a lucky colour. It’s a mix of the red and the white of the imperial flag. After the New Year everything turns pink for the whole of January and a startling amount of pink food goes on the market. My sakura crisps were one example of the pink food phenomenon but I’ve also seen a huge variety of pink crisps, sakura flavoured kit-kats and lots of stuff made with prawns.

G-GUNDAM

I usually don’t talk about the Manga (comics) and Anime (cartoons) that I’m into at any moment in time because I generally assume that the people reading this blog either a) already know about them or b) couldn’t care less.

G-Gundam is an exception because it is profoundly and gloriously stupid.

Gundam is a catch all title for various series all about giant robot vehicles called “mobile suits”. If you want to know all the details then by all means check out wikipedia but take it from me, you don’t want to know all the details. My friend Ryan is obsessed with Gundam to the point of frightening normal people but I can’t judge because I find the series to be quite cool myself. I watched “Gundam Wing” back home in England and bought a Shenlong Gundam model (my favourite gundam) shortly after I arrived. I even sent some gundams to my nephew for Christmas.

G-Gundam is set in a universe where most of the countries of the world have established colonies in space and given up on life on Earth. To avert the possibility of a catastrophic war between space colonies they hit upon the idea of deciding all conflicts by gundam combat. So once every 4 years each colony competes for the right to rule the entirety of space in a pitched gundam battle. Earth is the battleground and anything goes.

So far so laboured but serviceable set-up to watch robots hit each other. However, it is the designs of these robots that sets G-Gundam apart from its more normal sister shows.

This is the robot of Neo-Japan. It looks like a standard gundam. Humanoid, coloured in red, blue and gold with a white body. In every gundam series there will be a robot that looks like this and it will be the hero.

In sharp contrast here is the Mexican “Tequila Gundam”

That there is a robot with a sombrero. A giant robot sombrero.

Yes, you guessed it. The whole series is little more than one national stereotype after another. But the humour comes from seeing what the Japanese think about other countries. For example China and Hong Kong get relatively sensible robots. But Denmark.

They get a robot dressed as a fish. The “mermaid gundam”.

America fairs slightly better with an American football themed robot.

That transforms into a topless boxer.

I’m not even going to touch the Spanish “Taurus Gundam”

What have Sweden got?

Why yes, a leggy blonde, of course.

Japanese people love France and the French “Gundam Rose” is actually pretty dignified and cool. Although the Napoloen hat cracks me up.

And of course now I’ve shown you France you’re all curious what the English gundam looks like right? Well presenting the “John Bull Gundam”.

Yes, they gave us a robot bearskin. You’ll be pleased to know that we beat up the French Gundam, but then the Japanese guy kills our pilot (we’re baddies in this series).

But undeniably the king of the stupid is the Dutch Gundam, or “Nether Gundam”

Plus the theme tune features the phrases “bright you now” and “shining finger”. This is obviously hilarious but unfortunately the theme tune is incredibly catchy. This means I’ve been wandering around my house and school singing “bright you now” without noticing. Damn catchy gibberish.

GAMERA

Mentioned in the Aquarium post was Gamera. Here he is again.

Gamera is an enormous turtle. He breathes fire, he can fly by retracting limbs and shooting fire out of the holes and he is amongst other titles “guardian of the universe” and “friend to all children”.

I have recently been watching a lot of Gamera and again I wouldn’t mention it, except that recently I watched a film called Gamera vs Barugon.

This was much like any other Gamera film, in fact all told it was a pretty poor Gamera film (right up until the part where barugon shot rainbows from his back that somehow destroyed missles) with one exception.

At one point Barugon destroys Kobe.

You have no idea how much we cheered.

Having seen years of asteroids destroying the empire state building, aliens blowing up the white house or the Eiffel tower, dragons eating London or Godzilla stomping Tokyo I finally got to see something I know and love destroyed on camera.

It was awesome. Nothing makes a disaster movie more fun than recognising what’s been destroyed. I’m sure there’s the basis of an interesting essay in there but at the moment I’m just too happy to think about it properly.

I mean a giant lizard knocked over Port Tower with his tongue. Glee!

The other cool thing about Gamera is that the film company that makes his films, Daiei, is the same company as my supermarket.

And finally.

I have been sick recently and bought tissues. Hilarious tissues.

Aroe? That isn’t an ingredient, it’s what my kids say to greet me in the morning.

There is, after all my work, still something wrong with some of the videos.

I’ll fix it tomorrow.

Well sorry everybody for the state of last week’s blog. As I write this I am sick as a dog and only really just got out of bed but here is the entire epic post that I complete last week with all the videos and photos attached.

What follows is all from last week.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For everybody that was on the edge of their seat my last minute rushed class actually worked out okay. In fact it’s probably one of my more successful classes to date in terms of keeping the kids attention (I question its educational merit but the JTE came up with it and she knows more than I do). It was a bit of mess today though. Between a visit from the local elementary school and the fact that it was snowing it was virtually impossible to get the kids to focus on anything.

Oh until I showed a picture of my friends and they all asked me if the girl in the picture was my girlfriend. Despite the fact that they’ve:
a) seen a photo of my girlfriend
and
b) know that my girlfriend is half-Japanese

One bonus of the elementary school visit was that a boy I got to talk to a boy I see everyday on my way to work and who says hello to me everyday.

Anyway enough work natter lets move onto

EXCITING THINGS 4: OSAKA AQUARIUM

Osaka Aquarium is one of the best aquariums I have ever been to. Not the best, that’s Seaworld, but Seaworld is more a sort of amusement park. It has rides and shows and that’s what puts it over the edge. In terms of simply having really cool fish to look at Osaka Aquarium edges out. I mean it has a whale shark for god’s sake, A WHALE SHARK. THE BIGGEST FISH IN THE WORLD!

I had wanted to see the whale shark for some time now but what actually prompted me to seek out the Aquarium was a mission I was sent on by one of my Nakayoshi kids. Sannai is obsessed with penguins and she’s autistic so she can get properly obsessed with things. People might joke about being obsessed but Sannai really does border on it. She has a stuffed penguin pokemon doll that she has in class with her everyday and she involves it in nearly every activity, if she so much as hears the letter p she yells penguin, basically she really likes penguins.

Incidentally she’s really, really good at cards. We’ve been learning the alphabet recently and playing matching games to practise the lower and upper case versions of letters. You know the game where you have a load of cards face down and have to pair them up? She beats me every time. I used to let her win but now she beats me even if I’m trying. It really is like Rain Man.

The link between penguins and aquariums is of course that Osaka aquarium has penguins. More than that though, for a limited period they have a “penguin parade”. Sannai had seen the flyer for this and really wanted to go but her mother was too busy to take her. Well being something of a penguin fan myself I resolved to go and take as many photos and as much penguin video as I could.

Taking my travelling crew of Ryan and Patrick with me we set off bright and early and got to Osaka around lunchtime. On our way to the aquarium we got stopped by some kids who started speaking to us in English. After a brief and awkward chat (an occupational hazard I’m afraid) one of them randomly shouted Fantastic Four at us. Ryan pointed out that there were only three of us and I corrected him that this was because the fourth member, the invisible woman, was invisible of course.

Before we got to the aquarium we stopped for lunch in some strange marketplace that was made out to look like Japan in the 30’s or 40’s. Complete with old film posters and old cigarette packets. It was really quite cool and completely unexpected. Had we not been on a mission we could have easily spent hours wandering around there. As it was we had a quick lunch of ebi tempura and soba (prawns fried in batter and noodles) and headed on our way.

The penguin parade wasn’t due to start in about half an hour leaving us in the awkward spot of not being able to do anything but having to wait. Fortunately the aquarium had laid on some street performers to keep the waiting kids entertained. The guy we watched had a signature act consisting of giving a rubiks cube to the audience to randomly scramble up then finishing it in less than 30 seconds. Impressive but odd. Then he put a rubber glove on his face and blew it up…….only in Japan.

However, not long did we have to wait for soon the penguin parade began and luckily for you I have videos of such a magnificent spectacle.

Yup, it was completely naff.

Basically the guards put out some crowd barriers between two pens creating a walkway and then chased the penguins down it. As Patrick said, “it was less the march of the penguins and more the leisurely jog of the penguins.”

Still naffness aside we still got to see some penguins and Sannai was delighted when she saw the video.

Most rewarding part of this job? Seeing kids when they’re happy.

Penguins dispensed with we headed onto the aquarium proper which was significantly less naff. Our first amazing sight was this replica of a fossilized Giant Sea Turtle shell. This thing was HUGE! Ryan said it reminded him of Gamera and I had to agree.

This is Gamera.

Gamera is a Kaiju. Literally a Sea Monster but more truthfully a film genre in which blokes in rubber monster suits hit other blokes in rubber monster suits while a really tedious/mad human story happens in the background. Godzilla would be the Kaiju most people are familiar with but Gamera has the distinct advantage of “being friend to all children.”

No really, that’s his catchphrase. Giant fire breathing sea turtle monster thing, friend to all children. In Japan that makes perfect sense.

I am quite a fan of Kaiju films and weirdly myself and Ryan had watched one the night before that unbeknownst to us was set in an aquarium. Ironically though it was sea world (and at not point in the film did they explain why the last defence of the planet earth was being co-ordinated from seaworld.)
After a fairly dull “Japanese Forest” exhibit we moved on to the cool stuff. Sea Otters!

Look at ‘em go. Pay special attention to the little girl in the tank with them. This was feeding time and along with the 2 members of staff they had clearly got some little girl to volunteer to help them. The problem being that the little girl was absolutely terrified. She was too scared to even cry. She was just frozen to the spot staring at these enormous monsters within inches of her. Although as Ryan quite correctly pointed out they are about 3 times the size of her. I know I’d be shit scared of an otter 3 times the size of me.

A sloth, living up to the stereotype.

I have decided that Porcupine fish are very cute. Look at his face, he’s smiling. Awww who’s a cute widdle smiley fish, you are, you are.

An absolutely demonic looking crocodile.

The single ugliest living creature I have ever seen. It’s either some kind of turtle or a genetic experiment.

Rockhopper penguins. Made all the funnier by the description on the website.

“King penguins, gentoo penguins and rockhopper penguins are displayed in KAIYUKAN. You can easily distinguish their differences by their figures, as well as their feet colors. King penguins have black feet while gentoo penguins have yellow feet and rockhopper penguins’ feet are pink.
Their characters are also different. King penguins and gentoo penguins have rather mild characters. On the other hand, rockhopper penguins show an aggressive nature, featuring red eyes and decorative yellow feathers. Being fond of fights, they may tend to fight even with human beings. So, watch out not to fight with them.
Penguins are monogamists. Like human beings, they select their own partners. They sometimes divorce or get remarried.”

The fighting with humans thing is true by the way. When we were watching a woman came in to take the temperature of the water. The penguins clearly thought this was feeding time and wandered over to her. All the swimming penguins leapt out of the water and landed on the ice. However one leaping penguin smacked her right in the shoulder and knocked her back. She did not look best pleased.

The fluffy penguin is an adolescent before his feathers have moulted. So he’s big AND fluffy.

Nemo.

Patrick should have a career narrating nature documentaries. Here he proceeds to make stuff up on the cuff for ages about some phenomenally big and ugly fish. Ryan believes everything he says.

Okay this was more than a bit freaky. When we came to this tank the fish were swimming against the current. What this looked like though was loads of perfectly still fish all looking in the same direction. Now that is creepy.

Especially when we saw that they were all looking at one fish pointed in a different direction. Was he making some kind of a speech? What are the fish planning!?

It was of course at this point that my camera’s battery gave out like the useless piece of crap it is. So from here on out we’re camera phone only. Sorry folks.


This is a Sunfish and its one of the strangest fish I’ve ever seen. It looks like most of it is missing. Also the museum guide for it is hysterical.

“The popularity of ocean sunfish is as high as the whale shark. Visitors love its innocent charming expressions. At the time of feeding, it rushes to the feeder keeping its mouth small and round eyes wide open.
He skillfully eats a mixture of ground shrimps and squids in small bite sizes. When the feeding time is over, it looks disappointed.”

I think in this photo we really captured his disappointment.

Ryan also looks disappointed when feeding time is over.

This Manta Ray was huge! From tip to tip he easily cleared 10 foot. I could have watched him for ages moving lazily through the water, he seemed tso majestic and alien and just plain cool.

There is a Pixies song called “Manta Ray” in which Frank Black screams “fish no swim, fish fly”. Watching them in motion I totally agree. It seems to be swooping through the air not paddling against currents.

Eels scare me.
Unless I’m eating them.
Mmmmmmmmmm Unagi.


There were some awesome (and again huge) Sea Turtles in one tank. I dunno if its because of their age but turtles always seem to look wise to me and kind of melancholy. They’re absolutely beautiful to watch swimming though.

This guy was a “cowfish”. He looks grumpy.


Ryan’s favourite exhibit was the “Japanese Deeps” feature. I’ve used the word alien a lot in this post but it’s entirely appropriate here. These crabs were freaky. The exhibit had some really odd fish too but the stars were these enormous Spider Crabs that littered the floor and walked across it like the alien tripods in War of the Worlds. At one point two even had a fight.

Easily the most disturbing part about them though was that in addition to their legs and claws they each had a miniscule set of pincers above their mouth constantly snapping. And their jaws were just another complicated set of claws. All told we counted about 12 limbs! The things seem to be made of nothing but claws.


Many weird and wonderful Jellyfish.



And here he is, the man of the hour, KAI-KUN the Whale Shark.

Whale Shark’s are the biggest fish in the world, FACT.

“Kai-kun swims in the Pacific Ocean tank very well.” FACT (according to the guidebook)

Unfortunately he wasn’t as cool as the crabs. Still he was mightily impressive. I don’t think my pics give a proper sense of scale so try this video to appreciate just how massive the guy is.

Also take note of the other fish hitching a lift underneath him.

So that was it. I hope you enjoyed looking at fish. I certainly did. However when we left the aquarium we were greeted by an even cooler sight.

POP-UP-PIRATE!

Everywhere I go in Japan Pop-Up-Pirate follows.

I leave you with the cutest fish photo ever.

Awwwwww who’s a cute widdle smiley fishy.

Looks like my Aquarium post is shaping up to be a bit of a monster. There’s absolutely loads of videos involved and Youtube is being incredibly slow and not letting me upload anything. I’ve got the gist of it written and all the photos done (which is usually the hard part) but until youtube speeds up I can’t really post anything. Expect a truly epic post on Tuesday or possibly earlier.

As an apology for this weeks lack of updates here is a cow I saw in Sannomiya recently.

Sorry everybody but despite my New Year’s resolution being never to skip a blog post I have no choice today. A combination of a changing schedule, a procrastinating JTE and an ALT meeting means that tomorrow I have a lesson and no particular idea what exactly we’re doing although I do have a general idea. Accordingly tonight I’ve had to make loads of resources and haven’t had time to blog.

I probably won’t be able to pick up the slack Wednesday either as I have to complete my Japanese exams and that is my night set aside to study Japanese.

So to tide you over here is a picture of some Engrish I noticed recently.

“It is strong in time and it is gently to time tough at time”

Also here’s something I’ve been meaning to post for a while.
Pan-kun and James is the story of a chimpanzee in overalls called Pan-kun and a Bulldog with a backpack called James. They live in a house with a man who makes them complete human tasks like buy lunch or join the fire service.

Here they are tasked with buying some shoes.
This is easily my favourite TV show in Japan as unlike the anime I enjoy I can grasp the plot of this even in Japanese.

Also I get to see the spectacle of a monkey wearing high heels and who doesn’t love that.

See you Thursday folks when I’ll be showing you my Osaka Aquarium photos. I promise a penguin parade.

So if you were all curious about my Cherry Blossom crisps then I’ve come to let you out of your misery. They were nice. Very nice. Very, very nice but they had a flavour that’s hard to describe. Mostly they tasted of potato, olive oil and pepper but there was something else there that wasn’t even remotely like cherry but was definitely pleasant. It’s subtle and hard to describe. I certainly recommend getting them if you come to Japan in Spring.

I also picked up this little curiosity recently.

Yes, beer flavoured toffee. I have already had one product from this company called “Genghis Khan Toffee” which had pictures of grilled caramelising meat on the front. The Genghis Khan toffee did indeed taste like meaty toffee. The first one was quite nice but for some reason all subsequent pieces I ate tasted horrible. In the end having sat around my house for months and occasionally being nibbled on I gave on. Beer Toffee though was too weird to pass up.

How does it taste? Like toffee that has gone off frankly. It has that vaguely sweet taste I associate with rotting; horrible stuff. I’ll see if I can fob it off on a teacher.

Pu-ro-re-su

I may have mentioned Hard Gay on this website before and if I haven’t here’s the short version.

Hard Gay or Razor Ramon is a straight man who acts like an outrageous homosexual and is dressed in biker leathers. He’s a sort of Japanese Sacha Baron Cohen who goes into the street doing good deeds and then simulates buggery afterwards i.e. helping and old lady cross the road and then thrusting his crotch at her after he does so. He is huge in Japan and mildly funnier than most Japanese comedians although still not exactly my cup of tea. My girlfriend’s brother loves him though and I bet my brother would too.

His funniest and best stunt ever was going into the Japanese Hasbro offices and convincing them to make a Hard Gay version of pop-up pirate. And they did!

And here it is.

What I didn’t know until recently is that Hard Gay used to be a wrestler! This set wheels turning in my head. I have never really been a huge wrestling fan (too much macho shouting and sweaty men) but if Japanese wrestling features men pretending to be outrageous homosexuals then maybe it might be some glorious spectacle with tongue firmly placed in cheek.

As usual I underestimated the Japanese madness.

D.D.T and it’s sister league 666 are one of a vast number of competing Japanese puroresu leagues. Some of these leagues actually aren’t faked and feature prper competitive wrestling of a type not really seen anywhere outside the Olympics. D.D.T is not one of these leagues.
D.D.T has a title called the Ironman Heavyweight Title. The rules are simple. The belt can be challenged for at any time in any way so long as there is a referee present. Initially it started off as a parody of American wrestling but very quickly this competition went in a truly insane direction.

The D.D.T. Ironman Heavyweight Title has been won by

A wrestler called BIO-monster DNA

Masashi Kakuta – a man who is not actually a wrestler

The Great Mampuku – a character from a Kids TV show

AD Yamamoto – Mampuku’s enemy in the same show

Seito Kaicho – the president of the Japanese Student Association

A ladder (it fell on the title holder and was granted the win)

Shouichi Ichimiya – a man who subsequently had t wrestle a ladder and took it completely seriously, faking hits from the ladder and acting like any other match.

Erika Yamakawa – a Japanese pop-star. Basically imagine Katie Melua in a wrestling match

Another ladder

Someone known only by the rather cryptic name of Susan

A taxi driver

A monkey named Yatchan, who then fought in a 5 man battle royale

Yuka Nakamura – an actual wrestler who pins the previous title holder at a bus stop

Tannie Mouse – an actual wrestler who pins Yuka Nakamura in a ladies toilet in a service station

A chef – who pins Tannie Mouse at a hot springs resort she was visiting

Haruka Matsuo – who pins the above chef WHILST HE IS ASLEEP!

Kaori Yoneyama – who won it legitimately but decided that ebing the 199th Champion was too cumbersome so immediately gave up the title for a free for all.

DJ Nira – a DJ

Kitty-Chan – a HELLO KITTY STUFFED DOLL!

Mah-kun – another stuffed doll.

A television camera

A wrestler called Lingerie Mutoh

President Ramu – a 12 year old girl and president of the 666 group who routinely lifts grown men up and choke slams them. She gives up the title because she thinks it would be “cool” if the 666th champion is someone from the 666 group.
However she is the 293rd champion so what happens is that Shinobi and Yuukoh Miyamoto swap the belt in a game of rock paper scissor 304 times.

Sayoko Mita – a news presenter (can you imagine John Snow wrestling?)

Naoshi Sano – who puts the belt up for auction.

One more ladder

Cocolo – a miniature dachshund

Megumi Grace Asano – a referee

A baseball bat

And finally Reiji Azuma – an elementary school boy who is then beaten by three elementary school girls.

Nowhere else in the world can you see the spectacle of a grown man pretending to fight and then pretending to lose to a Hello Kitty doll.

And since this is an odds and ends post here is President Ramu.

Nothing especially exciting going on in Nihon at this moment in time. Monday was “Coming of Age” day but I missed out on it for various reasons, tomorrow is my re-contracting interview, and after that there are no big festivals until mid-February so here are some odds and ends I’ve been meaning to get around to.

I survived my first earthquake.

Friday January the 11th at about 3 o’clock. I was sitting at the computer, dossing basically, waiting for the week to end and not really prepared to do any useful work with only 20 minutes left in my working day (technically 50 but I help out in cleaning time which starts at 3.20) when I noticed the computer screen beginning to shake.

Now at first I thought that I had just knocked the computer but this shaking didn’t stop after a good 3 minutes and eventually I figured out what must have been happening. The computer was an old fashioned box monitor on a wheeled trolley so it was never particularly stable to begin with, and not much else seemed to be shaking but I put a pen in a cup and this confirmed it. I was sitting in the middle of an earthquake.

It was pretty cool.

Japanese Crisps are weird.

Pictured is a packet of Pringles, not especially weird I’ll grant you but “Winter Salt” flavour? What exactly is winter salt, how does it differ from ordinary salt, what is it doing here and what does it want.

Other strange Japanese flavours include crisps including bits of real cheese (that are horrible), squid flavour (pretty good) German potato flavour (again it raises many questions but continues to be an enigma) and pickled ume (plum) flavour which I have not yet had but I have recently been informed tastes a lot like salt and vinegar. I always intended to eat some but now I am actively seeking out my pickled plum crisps.

However I think these easily take the cake for weirdest flavour of crisps ever.

CHERRY BLOSSOM FLAVOUR CRISPS!

No I’m not mistaken, it isn’t just a pattern they really are cherry blossom flavoured.

I haven’t eaten them yet but rest assured when I do you will get all the details.

Random left over photos.

Mentioned in another post but I forgot to put up the picture. Here is my lucky New Year bow and arrow.

Kate Roy rocking my new Trilby. People love to steal my hats.

Another refugee from a former post. I mentioned a high class shoe shop with a huge display of Ultraman toys in the front. Well here he is, dressed as Santa. Trust me on this, toys really are cool in Japan.

“Gaylord” is a famous Indian restaraunt chain in Japan and a source of constant amusement to me.

Whilst shopping for Christmas presents I was attacked by giant monsters (Kaiju). Fortunately the Power Rangers (or rather Sentai Ranger) saved me.

Things my students do.

So one kid asked me on my first day to call him Michael. This isn’t his real name and is actually a bit of a racial slur, akin to us calling a Spanish person Pedro or a French bloke Pierre just because of their nationality. However I have real trouble remembering kids names, particularly Japanese names, so I’ve been calling him Michael since then.

Recently he started asking me if “I have two golden balls?” Following the unofficial JET code I pretended not to understand what he was saying and feigned that he was talking about David Beckham. However recently he has added “do you have a penis?” but pronounced “pen” as in the tool you write with and “is” as in the first part of the word easy. Well, I thought toy myself, if he’s bothered to learn the word I may as well teach him to pronounce it properly.

Today he yelled it at me in the middle of cleaning time across a crowded room whilst the homeroom sensei was in there.

It was good luck she doesn’t speak English.

What I’ve been up to recently.

I had a FANTASTIC weekend recently. I mentioned on this blog previously that one of the big ALT past times in Kobe is Airsoft. Basically paintball but with small bb pellets instead of paint. I mentioned my almost fatal collision with a tree and my fall down a mountain (which has earned me the nickname “the Lumberjack”) I even went so far as to buy my own gun.

And here she is, her name is Mariko.

Well Saturday one of our resident drunken Scots Johnboy held a party in Hanyama, the other of the two major ALT residential areas (I live in Gakuentoshi) which just happens to be where the mountain we shoot on is.

So after a night of drunken debauchery I got up bright and early to run around a forest pretending to be a commando. No actual hits this time (although I got shot plenty) but I did manage to win one game by capturing the flag and put in a respectable performance tactically.

Following this we went to Yaki-niku for all you can eat fried meat and drinking.

Beer, guns and fried meat, could there be a more manly way to spend a day.

Maybe if we’d done some heavy lifting as well.

This is a picture of the lot of us tooled up and ready to rumble.
From left to right.
Top Row
Bryan “The Lion”, Jason “Deuce” Bigalow, Ryan “G-man” Glasnovich, Brindley, James “Poncho”, Adam “the Lumberjack” Halls, Patrick and John (no nicknames yet)
Bottom Row
Jim “the Grim Reaper”, Adam “the detonator” Debter, Kevin “Sarge”, “Alaska” Dave and
“there but for the” Grace “of god” also known as “Fallen from” Grace and “the snarling beast”.

This was followed by yet another party the highlight of which was Songstar a karaoke computer game and thus something I intend to own at any cost.

I am mildly famous.

At University I dedicated a ridiculous amount of energy helping to run a website called www.superdickery.com Cast all dirty thoughts from your mind immediately for this was not a porn site but rather a shrine to Superman and how much of a dickhead he is.

No I’m serious, go look at the site. In the 60’s Superman dedicated nearly all his time to playing elaborate head games with his best friend and girlfriend for no reason other than that he could. My job was to scour comic bins and websites for examples of so called “superdickery” “batdickery” and other general weirdness. I never ran the site but I was heavily involved in the forum (under my nom-de-plume bbsr) and wrote many of the captions and comments as well as finding many of the covers featured.

My University friends were totally apathetic towards this site and never once checked it out. However in Japan the subject has come up a number of times and everyone I mention it to has either heard of or read superdickery themselves.

And since this is a blogger blog and this is a bits and pieces post I am obligated by the rules of the internet to post some videos. Here is a frankly disturbing advert for Kewpie doll phone charms and a Malice Mizer video. The first to freak you out and the second to frankly marvel at the visual kei costumes.

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