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Dragonball

Some of you have heard of Dragonball Z. Dragonball and Dragonball, for the unenlightened is the most awesome anime ever created. Now don’t get me wrong here, by no conventional standard is Dragonball what one would call “good”. However this matters little because it’s awesomeness transcends feeble notions of “quality” or “making any damn sense”.

Fox is currently engaged in making a Dragonball film, however thinking about the sheer travesty they have produced for any length of time makes me want to drown my head in the toilet. Instead please watch this, it is better than any Dragonball film that ever will be made.

(I lose geek points if I don’t mention this but Gohan’s costume is wrong. He is dressed in his disguise as the great saiyaman, a piss-take of western super-hero comics that Akira Toriyama decided to randomly throw in during a tournament storyline because he was bored. Gohan only wore that costume in one storyline and it wasn’t this one. I’m willing to let it slide though becasue the great saiyaman and anything to do with the great saiyaman is also awesome. Here endeth the lesson)

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Hello again tonight I aim to finish up my talk about Kyoto.

But first.

BLOODY HELL THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE LAST NIGHT!

Alright fair game, it was a piddly little earthquake. It was a 4 on the ricter scale. To put that in perspective the earthquake in Lincolnshire earlier this year was a 5.0 on the ricter scale. The only damage I know was that my friend Laura’s chair fell over.

I mention it mostly because I’m annoyed. You see I slept through the whole bloody thing. This means I have slept through an earthquake and a hurricane and walked through a bloody tornado without noticing any unusual conditions at all. I’m a bit like Mr Magoo, blindly stumbling through a world of disasters.

Anyway Kyoto.

Finishing up at Kiyomizu-dera me and Fran went into the main temple hall and onto the veranda to look at the views. Both Fran and myself have seen the temple hall before and it is largely unimpressive compared to some of the ones I have seen so it didn’t really draw much interest.

By far the most memorable part of the entire hall was this little chap, a picture I took on my last visit.

Isn’t he just adorable. Ah Japan, sometimes you’re so deliciously oblivious you make me smile. Actually he reminds me of Mr Popo from Dragonball.

Although apparently he isn’t even meant to be a black person. He’s modelled on one of the ancient Japanese deities, the one that’s in charge of wealth I think.

Leaving the temple we nipped into one of the tents at the approach to the temple and had some lunch. This was easily the classiest tent I have ever eaten in. For starters we had to sit on tatami in the Japanese sitting position (you know the one, on your knees with your bum on your heels). I had soba (buckwheat noodles) and Fran had udon (wheat noodles) and we both split some tofu.

Now a lot of people badmouth tofu and I’m here to defend it. Tofu is bland and flavourless, yes, I agree but that isn’t the point. It’s healthy and a good source of protein and has an interesting and delightful texture. You add flavour to it. It’s basically savoury jelly. Jelly is flavourless too until you add fruit but nobody ever complains about jelly. Well actually I do, never really did like it, or custard, or cream and I’m indifferent to sponge. In fact when it comes to desserts you could say I’m a trifle picky.

Anyway this particular tofu was great. It was served in a bucket of hot water. You sieved the tofu out of the water and put it into a bowl containing soy sauce, chilli powder and sliced welsh onions (negi). Good eating, actually it’s one of my favourite snacks.

Having gathered sustenance we had a flick through our lonely planet guide to decide where to head next and chanced upon a walking tour included in the newest edition. This promised to take us down some odd, old and interesting streets. Being a fan of winding ancient alleyways I jumped at the prospect and off we set. First stop teapot lane.

Teapot lane is so called because of the vast numbers of potters plying their wares along it. The entire street is given over to touristy shops but classy touristy shops. Cheap tat (which I am not criticising at all because Japan has the best and most interesting tat in the world) was prevalent on the parallel road but teapot lane is full of artworks, expensive but gorgeous teapots and cups, beautiful delicate fans, Yukata and all the other delicate works of art that people associate with Japan. It’s a fantastic place to wander and window shop and Fran was instantly taken with it.

We followed the advice of the guidebook and turned off teapot lane heading towards Maruyama-koen, a park which is famous in the whole of Japan for it’s sakura. The street we were headed down was amazing my dream Japanese street. Thin, crowded, twisty with ornate slated roofs overhanging into the street and everywhere dotted with sakura. Furthermore the shops continued in the same vein as teapot lane, quirky and very, very Japanese. It was bliss to stroll down it and it was very nearly perfect.

Then it got perfect.

As we started to reach Gion we spotted two geisha wandering down the street and after seeing a young Japanese couple get their photo taken with tme Fran plucked up the courage to do the same.

Geisha, sakura, slate roofs, twisty alleys, beautiful pots and a lovely sunny spring day. Perfect.

We paused in our advance to nip into a tearoom and partake of a parfait. A complex Japanese sundae-esque desert. Mine consisted of green tea ice-cream, milk ice-cream, anko (sort of a sweet kidney bean), brown sugar ice-cream, cinnamon biscuits, pudding and warabimochi. I removed the pudding (crème caramel, see “a trifle picky”) and dug in.

Mochi is a very, very sticky dumpling like confection made with pounded rice. Warabimochi was advertised as being “bracken mochi” which intrigued me. What it actually was, was bland jelly. I ate it but I wasn’t happy. The rest of the pudding was delicious though. Green tea ice cream is slightly bitter but fantastically refreshing, milk and anko are a nigh on perfect combination and I would kill for those biscuits again, particularly covered in brown sugar ice-cream.

Japanese people love their sweets, I love certain sweets but it seems that may tastes do not match up with those of the Japanese people. So until then I had never happily eaten a dessert in a Japanese restaurant. But, MY SWEET GOD was that pudding nice.

We ate happily, drank tea, people watched the young girls wandewring by in yukata and spotted more Geisha than I have ever before seen in my life.

Further sated we continued to amble through glorious scenery and eventually made our way to Maruyama-koen.

Hanami can be done in two fashions, we were trying to accomplish both in one day. The first is to amble along lanes underneath sakura looking at the trees. The second and more popular is to find a park and picnic in it sat underneath a sakura tree. And by picnic I mean drink copiously.

Maruyama-koen was packed by the time we got there, absolutely full to bursting with Japanese people of all ages partying wildly. Sitting, dancing, singing, running, playing games. Seldom have I ever seen a Japanese crowd so relaxed and free. Some students had set-up a mixing desk and some speakers and were running an impromptu disco. Well they were, until the police shut them down. Their fun and infectious tracks were then replaced with the same students singing (well, making a sort of noise anyway, an animalistic one) loudly to inaudible songs and inentionally badly, and off key. Nice one mister policeman, this is so much preferable than the music.

We made a circuit of the park to take a photo of the famous “weeping” sakura tree in the centre of the park and then headed off to go get food, drink and join in. Having procured some beers, chu-hi and tako-yaki we started looking for somewhere to sit. There were tarps everywhere but there were also people sitting on tatami and piles of tatami everywhere. I went to grab some tatami and was shouted at by a man.

“hey, hey you have to rent that.”

“oh, never mind.”

Sadly we were on a time-limit to get home and I wasn’t going to rent a tatami for an hour so I put it back.

He then started speaking in Japanese which Fran tried to translate. The gist of it seemed to be that he was inviting us over. We went over to see him and he explained that he rents the tatami and he was inviting us to use some of his for free.

So we sat and chatted (alas awkwardly) and generally had a pretty nice time. He and his friends gave us some free umeshu (a sort of plum wine/liqueur which you drink diluted in summer. It is delicious and Fran is mildly addicted). He also gave us free peanuts despite me explaining repeatedly that I a) had some takoyaki and b) didn’t really like peanuts. I ate some anyway to make him happy.

They were really, really nice people and I wish I could have stayed all night drinking and chatting. The whole thing reminded me of being a student, going to the green festival and just spending a day in a park getting hammered without a care in the world. But we were on a time limit, I had work the next day (in fact I needed to try and get back home before the dry cleaners closed so that I could retrieve my suit) and we needed to get a train back from Kyoto.

Before we left we were treated to one final absolutely magical sight.

I can honestly say that bar some of the stress of trying to get a train home in time (we didn’t manage it in the end and had to get a friend to pick up my laundry) this was one of the best days of my entire life. I will remember it fondly.

So apparently Tuesday was the busiest day this site has ever had with more new visitors than ever before. I credit this to the frequent mentions of naked men and so I shall be sticking the phrase “naked men” in as many posts as I can get away with. Now I just need to sign up to google ads and I can get some cash from all these poor deluded porn seekers.

In actual news, erm, not much. Work has been quiet but consistent and so bar nudist adventures in Okayama I haven’t really been able to go out and find new material for blogging. So I’m resorting to two old standbys, posting lots of videos and talking about my kids.

My Kids are Adorable.

Recently the big project with my Ichinensei has been to do a short speech about a famous person. They get to pick the person. Most of the choices are athletes or Japanese celebrities but every so often my kids surprise me. One kid desperately wanted to do Elton John (his group overruled him), one group is doing Marie Curie, another the Wright Brothers and one group of complete dossers opted to do “Son Goku” i.e. the hero of Dragonball Z.

I think they did this to impress me as they know that I like Dragonball. Plus it means that I can translate all the names for them (any time one of the groups doing a Japanese celebrity has a problem I just shrug and go get the JTE).

BTW for those not in the know here is Son Goku.

My favourite groups are those doing Japanese historical figures because I get to learn something too. However my kids have only just started learning the past tense so they’re really struggling to turn all the statements into past tense statements. My favourite example is the question they all have to answer “where does/did they live?” Pretty much all of the students opted to try and skip answering the did part of that statement (even though they theoretically know it) which posed a bit of a problem for the kids doing dead people. However ingeniously they all came up with the answer “he lives in Heaven.”

All together now, awwwwwwwwwwww.

My Kids are Significantly Less Adorable. In Fact they’re Little Shits.

So one day one of my kids asks me “do you like pornography?”

Now of course I burst out laughing prompting all the assembled boys to ask what is so funny. So of course I tell them what it means in Japanese (for all those curious it’s either Ecchi or Hentai) and they laugh even harder.

This was a mistake, now EVERY DAY I get asked if I like pornography. EVERY! DAY! My kids can’t do a joke just once, or in private, oh no. If something is funny once it’s funny a bazillion times. I’m keeping in good humour at the moment but eventually I will snap and put a child through a door. That is not an actual threat by the way, my kids are obviously adorable cherubs.

(just covering the bases there)

Worse, I now know that the kid didn’t say “do you like pornography?” but “do you like porno-grafitti?” who is a Japanese singer.

Yes it seems the new game is “see if we can get Adam to say a rude word.” Now I am perfectly happy to play along with this to some extent but not when other teachers are around. Also kids, don’t insult my intelligence. My Japanese is awful but even I’m not going to fall for “her name is Baka.”

Speaking of my kids being annoying this project has done something incredibly beneficial. It has allowed me to put a name to the Sonna no kankei nee guy. Kojima Yoshio I now know who you are and my vengeance will be swift and terrible.

Need some context? Okay. Kojima Yoshio is a Japanese “comedian” (and I use the term comedian very, very loosely) whom is my mortal nemesis. He does a routine called Sonna no kankei nee or “but that doesn’t matter.” My kids are OBSESSED with this idiot and quote him constantly, ask me if I like him, do his routines, try and get me to do his routines and generally driving me up the wall with constant references to this unfunny nuisance.

Here is an example of his routine. The bit where he looks like he is playing a guitar or hitting the floor is the Sonna no kankei nee part.

And no that isn’t me laughing.

Finally recently one of my students has been introducing me to some actually good J-Pop! I think it might help that I can’t understand the lyrics but I really, really like some of the artists she’s been introducing me to recently. They may be pop but they’ve got some awesome guitars, really distinctive vocals and a nice driving tempo. Fine art it ain’t but fun music, definitely.

In paticularly Tommy Heavenly (slash tommy february slash brilliant green, she’s a bit like David Bowie) and a lady known only as YUKI. Both are a bit like Avril Lavigne (with the benefit that I can’t understand them) with the difference that they’re both unconsciouss post-modern geniuses in the way that only japanese people can be.

This is Tommy Heavenly with the fantastically Japanese title “Lollipop Candy Bad Girl”. This may be one of the most hysterically bad videos I have ever seen. The opening part of the song is just for the video (and this is the short version) and the real song kicks in when the weird evil santa-gomes appear. The girl in glasses that shows up halfway through is Tommy February. Tommy Heavenly is a dream that Tommy February had of the perfect pop star. Again a bit like David bowie and Ziggy Stardust.

And here is YUKI with a MUCH better video for “The End of Shite.” That’s pronounced shee-tay but it’s okay to giggle. I did.

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