Things which will be missed by me

Monday, 23 June 2008

Thursday, 19 June 2008, 04.30 pm JST

sotd: 宇多田ヒカル, Prisoner of Love
cotd: R35 Nissan GT-R Premium Edition

So although this blog has basically been left on a freezing wintry mountain to die a pathetically miserable death, there are still ways to see what I’ve been up to. Here is probably the easiest, and even then it may not make many of you out there into fans.

1. Go to my other website. The one that has pictures.
2. Bookmark it.
3. Wait several months for me to upload newer pictures.

Well, there you go. I thought it pretty simple, too, now that you mention it.

With exactly fifty days left in the increasingly sweltering heat in this country, and exactly fifty days until I return simultaneously to my country, my state, my city, my (parents’) house, and my room, I thought it fitting to make a passing reference to small parts of this country that I’ll miss instantly upon surrender of my gaijin card to the faceless, nameless immigration official. (Well, forty-six days now as I didn’t publish this post immediately.)

1. Expressways

This only comes up first because I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) recently within the jurisdiction of the Nippon Expressway Company, and will probably be pouring more such time and money into their coffers over the next couple of weeks as I try to extract the maximum amount of touring possible before permanently returning to that little island in the middle of the ocean where road trip means covering the entire circumference of O’ahu in two hours. It’s not that I particularly care paying the exorbitant rates that increase proportionate to distance traveled, but it’s made for bullet-like point A to point B travel in getting Kristine and me to all corners of the Kansai region, and even OTHER ISLANDS OF JAPAN like Shikoku and Kyushu. Plus, service areas rock my socks.

[This entire section can also be applied to trains. Haven’t ridden much of those lately, though.]

2. Melon everything

Like balls of melon ice cream and Fanta Melon Soda. A taste unlike anything previously encountered, and which will be hard to come by after going home. Though there are goods of the kind imported directly to Daiei, they only bring in the cheap, unmentionable stuff, and so it is not worth lavishing my time on here. At least we get real Calpis, expensive as that also is.

3. JDM

Despite coming with funny names like Toyota Ractis and Honda Stepwgn (and really, those are two of the tamer ones), Japanese Domestic Market cars come with ten times the goodies cars in America do (including cars from these very Japanese companies!) and for the best prices possible (since, of course, they don’t have to export them anywhere). With features like automatic power-folding mirrors and 50GB hard drive-based user-updatable navigation systems available on even the smallest, most anemic cars, I’m a SUV and fullsize truck-averse citizen of the USDM wishing I could uproot and take the entire JDM back with me. Except kei cars. Those can stay.

4. Sending e-mail by cell phone

And no, I don’t mean that to include more limited SMS text messaging services that the few readers of this site may be more familiar with. I’m talking about sending real e-mails from a real e-mail address with @ and all to any other e-mail address on the planet FROM THE PALM OF MY HAND. Virtually identical to your gmail or hotmail. I guess I don’t mind using a phone to talk (actually, that’s not true…I don’t really care for talking on the phone, necessary and emergency situations aside), but being able to type out a message in seconds, send it off, and wait for the other party to respond with a similar text-based message in due time while carrying on with your day is real nice. Sure, there are inconveniences given the limitations of a cell phone keypad, but the portability can’t be beat. Another thing which I won’t be able to do once home. Not for a while, anyway.

5. Japanese bookstores

Filled with so much knowledge and information that Japanese people themselves can’t be bothered with (Why read about history or literature when you can read manga instead?…but sorry, that’s a topic for another day), bookstores in Japan are my one-stop shop for car periodicals (of course), domestic travel information, 漢字検定 practice books, and recently even Japanese legal volumes. Not that wallet-killing trips to bookstores are nothing new for me, but I sure will miss the vastness of J-bookstores and the impeccable ability of Japanese bookstore clerks to wrap (for free, mind you) your novels and other paperbacks in 4.7 seconds, no questions asked. Surely, there’s nothing there that I can’t or don’t already find via the internets, but hey, I’m a dork. Those who wish to doubt or make fun of me and my books will not be receiving invitations to the future Leong Library.

Five is a nice round number, so I’m stopping here. Plus any more time I spend investing in this first blog entry in months may push it back until after I get back to Hawaii. So I hope you enjoyed. Pray for another entry, if you so desire it.

Blogging (sort of) from Kristine’s house

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Saturday, 29 September 2007, 12.15 am JST

sotd: 宇多田ヒカル、Beautiful World
cotd: ZSP110 Toyota ist 180G

After a year (plus) of living in Japan, Kristine finally decided to bring her humble abode out of the digital stone age and recently decided to sign up for broadband internet through SoftBank‘s Yahoo! BB service.

Although it came to the house on Wednesday, it was not properly set up until Friday night when I arrived at Kristine’s apartment for the weekend. Why the two-minute installation process had to wait until I came is a mystery, but now we can do things like blogging and watching too many YouTube videos from the comfort of her bedroom.

That’s all for now. Real posts still forthcoming. Maybe.


Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 10.00 am JST

sotd: Clazziquai Project, Come To Me (Mellotron Remix)
cotd: TNT31 Nissan X-Trail 25X 4WD

Summer is over. (The vacation, but definitely not the weather.) School has begun. I know I haven’t written anything new in all that time, so once again, my apologies. I’m also still behind on organizing my Fotki pictures. Summer vacation has enabled me to catch up a great deal, but even on that site I’ve caught up only to the beginning of our Shikoku trip.

As always, for more regular updates, go to Kristine’s blog. It comes complete with pictures.

In the meantime, I will try to catch up as best as I can and maybe even have something worth looking at here. Perhaps shorter, easier to write posts are in order, so look forward to some experimenting with that in the near future.


DJ, play that music louder, お願い

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Thursday, 26 July 2007, 11.00 am JST

sotd: m-flo loves melody. and 山本領平, miss you
cotd: MHU38 Toyota Harrier Hybrid L

For the first time on this blog, I’m going to recap events of last weekend as a photoblog. It’s what sites like these are meant for, and it’s about time I got on top of things. Good thing I’ve got all the pictures uploaded.

Friday, July 20

Our epic journey begins, like most, with my customary 1.5-hour drive to Miki. After getting dinner, Kristine and I showered, cleaned, and finished packing, before heading out in the muggy rain to Shijimi Station. Roughly 60 minutes later, we walked into the Sannomiya Bus Terminal, joining our travel companions Heather and Dylan. Boarding the awfully cramped, slightly uncomfortable 青春ドリーム bus at 10:00, we were off for the Great Kanto Plain. Our only relief from the bus came around midnight, when we pulled into the Kusatsu Parking Area of the Meishin Expressway in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. Hooray for Mini Stop.

Yo yo yo highway style.

Saturday, July 21

At approximately 7:30 in the morning, feeling not at all rested, we thus arrived at the one, the only, JR Tokyo Station.

Ah, city life.

From here, our two couples split up, Kristine and I opting to shoot immediately for Ikebukuro and reunite with a long-lost love: Burger King.

Three minutes before we Had It Our Way.

Remembering that the point of our trip was not to camp out in the middle of Tokyo sprawl, we jumped back on the train and headed for Yokohama.


Swiftly escaping from the mess of the underground exit, we passed through Sogo and headed over the pedestrian walkway to the Yokohama Bay Quarter.

This generic facade belies the plethora of Hawaiiana inside.

Once there, we immediately found ourselves drawn to the smell of fresh-baked malasadas, courtesy of this odd-looking Ford van:

And then we chowed down:

We even had lunch at a place with stuff like this:

Afterwards, we headed to Sakuragicho to find our hotel:

And then set off for the Yokohama Arena:

To rock out for three straight hours with thousands of our best friends to m-flo and almost everyone who’s appeared in the Loves series.

Afterwards we walked down the street to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, to have some ramen:

And show off our shirts:

And then we took the subway back to our hotel and slept very well.

Sunday, July 22

After we checked out of our hotel, we started with breakfast at Cafe de Crie.

We then went to Chinatown:

Where we saw this giant temple in the middle of everything:

And met this crazy-looking guy:


After grabbing a reasonable buffet lunch in Chinatown, we walked over to the Motomachi shopping area to see the shops:

And head up the hill to the Yamate area (read: Foreigner Area) to see some of the old buildings and lookouts.


We also got to see Taka’s school, St. Maur International School.

And after that, we walked over to the 港の見える丘公園 (Minato no Mieru Oka Koen, Park on the Hill from which you can see the Bay):

The Yokohama Bay Bridge.

And after that, we came back down towards the bay to see 山下公園 (Yamashita Park) and enjoy the bay for a bit:

Shipping container art.

The Hikawa Maru.

 At the end of the park we came upon this curiosity:

I was at a loss for words.

Inside, Taka demonstrates about 57 reasons why this kind of establishment could not exist in America:

Yeah, that’s a gin and tonic he’s holding in front of the kids’ playground.

After that delightful stop, we made our way to the 横浜赤レンガ倉庫, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses. Originally constructed as a symbol of the modernization and development of the port of Yokohama, today they are nothing but. . . a shopping mall.

After this, we headed back to Sakuragicho area, where we got to see the famous graffitti wall that is located on the back side of the station.

After viewing the wall, we got one last look at the Landmark Tower

And then pretty much headed back to Tokyo.

Having been taken back by Taka to Yurakucho, one of the “locals” areas of Tokyo, we wandered around a bit until finally settling in at a pretty awesome yakitori stand.


We also went [were taken] to Hub, this time the Yurakucho branch.

Oh dear.

From there, we left, Taka heading back to his house, and the two of us heading back to Tokyo Station to get on the cramped, uncomfortable 青春ドリーム神戸号 night bus. All in all though, an incredibly AMAZING weekend. And hey: yay for pictures.  All the above and more can be found here.

But now, for some real traveling.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Friday, 20 July 2007, 02.00 pm JST

sotd: m-flo loves Crystal Kay, Love Don’t Cry
cotd: GH8 Subaru Impreza S-GT Sport Package

Today, Friday, July 20: End of the first term of the school year.

Tonight: We will be on a bus to Tokyo Station, then heading to Yokohama to partake in the bound to be absolutely amazing m-flo Cosmicolor finale show at Yokohama Arena.



More later. Like, after we come back.

Time To Get Packing

Friday, 13 July 2007

Friday, 13 July 2007, 04.00 pm JST

sotd: Clazziquai Project, Fill This Night
cotd: ZRR70 Toyota Voxy ZS

Apparently we’re going to China. Who knew?


Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 12.30 pm JST

sotd: m-flo loves 日之内絵美 & Ryohei, Summer Time Love
cotd: ZRT260 Toyota Allion A18 S

For this time, I have three big events to report on.

1. Kristine’s family came to Japan. After roughly ten or so months of living in the Japanese ee-naw-kah (countryside, in English), with only ourselves, a few other gaijins, and even fewer English-speaking Nee-hawn-jins (Japanese peoples), suddenly we had an entire weekend with people we knew from Before Japan. Five of them, no less!

Since Kristine’s site already has a much more in-depth description of the weekend than I need to include, I should just say that it was nice to see them–ALL of them!–and show them around some of our oft-visited areas.

Yay for pictures!


2. m-flo had a concert in Osaka, and we went to it. No kidding. With an odyssey that started in March, coinciding with the release of m-flo’s latest and greatest, “Cosmicolor,” we managed to snag some tickets to their live concert on June 16 at Zepp Osaka. Because words cannot describe seeing my most favoritest musical group ever live, I will only say (1) my sole reason for coming to Japan has been fulfilled, (2) the tour finale in Yokohama which we will be going to next month will rock a hundred million times harder, and (3) it was absolutely ヤバイ.



3. For the first time ever, my entire house is clean. And for once, I’m totally serious. Granting a few loose articles left on the floor and not owning a vacuum cleaner, Kristine and I over the course of one Saturday (we originally budgeted both Saturday and Sunday to the effort) managed to clean practically the entire interior of my house, including the upstairs balcony, downstairs front and rear entrances, bathroom, toilet, and all rooms, AND THEN moved a whole ton of crap around until it morphed into an altogether much more suitable living arrangement with a general feeling of openness and organization.

But? No pictures on this one. At least not yet. Once I clean the rest of the books off the floor I may get around to that.


To come: summer in Japan, and the horrors of obtaining a Japanese driver’s license.