Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bon Bon Bon!

This summer break I went on a 5 day trip to Nagano prefecture. It's located Northwest of Tokyo prefecture (see above map for more detail). I've been to the prefecture before but that was to a different area. Anyway, the first few days I went to Matsumoto. It took about five hours by bus to get there. I don't remember much of that city, but here is the one thing I really do remember: the Matsumoto city theme song that was blasted on repeat for over 5 hours from speakers that hung from light posts around the city streets. ( Note to reader: I don't know why everything seems to be in five's in this blog post, but I will try to continue this trend now that I've noticed it.)

"Bon bon Matsumoto Bon Bon Bon. Bon Bon Matsumoto Bon Bon Bon."

So simple. So pure. So genius.

It's my fifth new favorite song and it will never leave my head, at least not for the next five months. For your own amazing experience of the Matsumoto Bon Bon festival, watch this video below. (Watch it five times if you please.)

After the festival, I remember seeing a castle that I assume was called Matsumoto Castle. I climbed to the top, I think there was probably a beautiful view. Mostly I waited in the dark unlit interior of the castle behind a long snake of people, as I waited to climb the dozens (or maybe there were five?) of identically steep and narrow staircases up to the top. I also remember going to a hot spring on a roof with an amazing view of the city and the mountains surrounding it. I was naked on the roof of a building. I have no idea if people could see me, but I guess in Japan they don't care about those things. Apparently I took pictures, more than five. (Are you sick of it yet?)

After Matsumoto, I went to Kamikouchi. It didn't take five hours to get there. It took one and a half. I stayed in a Japanese style inn (called a ryokan) with the traditional tatami mat floors. People wore the casual kimono (actually called yukata) and slippers around the place and took advantage of the free hot spring. I'm just crazy about hot springs- they are super relaxing. There is nothing like scrubbing every inch of your body clean and then soaking in a hot tub of water. There was also another private onsen you could use for free. They had to drive you to it cause it was in a cave. A cave I tell you! How cool is that?

But seriously, Kamikouchi is a beautiful place. It's situated in a gorgeous river valley among the something-something Alps (in case you couldn't tell, I can't remember which Alps because just about every mountain range in Japan is called "the blabbity blabbity Alps"). The river's water was so clean and clear you could see right through to the bottom and it was a gorgeous green color. It was also extremely misty, which made everything very mystical and mysterious. The weather was also extremely cool. We were able to sleep with our windows open to let the cool breeze in at night. It was quite a relief from living in Tokyo, where the heat is simply brutal.

Also, where else can one eat an ice cream cone, in the rain, while hiking in the mountains? Yes, there was a souvenir shop selling ice cream. I couldn't help myself. And it wasn't raining until I stepped outside of the shop with my freshly bought cone. Call it bad timing, or denial of iffy looking clouds in the sky. Either way, I felt a bit ridiculous, but also really enjoyed my ice cream.

The other exciting part was eating at a restaurant where I watched the staff pulling fish out the river, sticking them on skewers in one, big, violent thrust, then ripping out their organs, and putting them on an open fire to cook. A good while later at my table, a delicious set lunch of grilled fish, rice, Japanese pickles, miso soup, and other assorted goodies was set before me. I was told I could eat the entire fish-- head, tail, fins and all. You could even eat the eyes, the bones, the teeth! Oh my! My companion just bit right into the head and ate that whole darn fish in a few gulps. Craziness! I managed to eat everything, but the head. It was a mighty delicious fish, though. I've never had fresher.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Actually Write like...

I actually write like
a moonstruck lunatic possibly actually wearing a straightjacket

I Actually Write Like Analyze your writing!

Is THIS what I look like?

I do not understand the Japanese custom of ooohing and ahhhing over people right to their faces. I went with a Japanese friend to hear his friend perform at a live house. The crowd was not your bubbly giggly crowd by any means, but as soon as he introduced me to a couple of his friends, the girls turned into cooing, squealing old ladies. It was nuts, I tell you!

"kawaaiiiiii!! Ningyou mitai ne! sugoiii kawaiiiii!"
{translation: cuuuuuute! She looks like a doll! SOOOO adorable!!" }

For one, I was a bit offended to be compared to the likes of something I find rather creepy (see photo above). But also, couldn't they have waited for me to go buy a drink or something, before making me want to die of embarrassment? And they didn't stop. I'd say thank you and hope that would be the end of it. The conversation might wander off for a bit, and then there would be a lull and "OOOOHH KAWAIIIII!!!" It would start all over again. Maybe they were just trying to be nice. Maybe they had nothing else to say. But holy geez! Just cause I have pasty white skin, blue eyes, and hair that isn't black? Get over it!

I mean, if I was back in the U.S. and I met someone from a foreign country--actually, if I met anyone really-- and I was to ooh and ahh over them like that they would probably smack me, or put me in an insane asylum, or maybe just call me a freak. Either way, it's not something we consider normal.

To make matters worse, one of the girls found out that she knew my roommate, who is also Japanese. Later that night she was text messaging my roommate, letting her know she had met me and that I was super cuuuuuuute and looked like a doll. What's with this doll stuff? I'm a human, okay? If you wanna call someone a doll, do it behind their back.

It's been suggested I sell my recipes to McDonalds...

The hamburgers have gotten out of control...

Yes, this is what I did on my day off. And yes, I plan to do it again.

Who is William Gibson?

So I just heard about this website, forgive me if it's totally old news, I live in Japan.... so sue me. Anyways, you plug in a sample of your writing, hit a button, and the site analyzes your writing to tell you which famous author you write like. It said I write like William Gibson. Too bad I've never heard of him. But according to he is a science fiction writer. Already I am displeased. Here is a list of some of his titles: Neuromancer, Johnny Mnemonic, Pattern Recognition, Count Zero, Burning Chrome... I can honestly say I've never been less interested in reading someone's books before.

The sample of writing I used was simply a blog post from this very same blog. Imagine that! Who knew this was a science fiction blog!

Anyway, here's where you can find out who you write like:

I write like
William Gibson

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!