Friday, October 30, 2009

V-Rock Fest '09 Day 2!!!

Well, let’s see, where did I last leave off? I think I got through the first day of my V-Rock Fest, right? So then, I suppose for continuity, I’ll start this e-mail with the second day. Well, truth is, I’d set my clock so I would get up in time to take the hour ride over there and be at the place with about 30 min. of cushion time before the first band started (of course they would put a band I want to see first!), but unfortunately, the fatigue and hairspray of the night before kept me glued to my pillow a half an hour after the alarm went off. So, rather than waste time dolling myself up for a dark concert hall, I sort of tried to attempt to get a brush halfway through my hair, through on a longsleeved shirt and vest (I’d wisened up from the day before), and headed out, and quite luckily, I got there in time and walked right in and they started. The first band was Kagrra, and they really put on a good show. Because their style is traditional with fans and kimonos, the lightshow made them look even more awesome; I was rather crestfallen to find out later that at their merchandise booth they didn’t actually sell fans with the logo on it (and why they don’t, I can’t understand since that’s their symbol and all their human fans bring fans with them to the concert). Oh well. I can’t remember who all I saw after that (I’d have to look at my booklet), but I bought some merchandise and then, despite the fact that I’d expected it to be a boring day (most of the bands were little name, independent groups), I think the second day was actually more fun than the first. Part of it probably was the fact that I didn’t have to stand around for 2 and a half hours for it to start, so it seemed to move faster. The only downside was that there were a lot of screaming/loud bands, which isn’t my style at all. But I did get to see Kra, (adorable with his little scarf and hat and corderoy jacket), Ayabie (who seemed to get along real well together), Duel Jewel (by far the most fun band to watch, full of energy and laughs), Daizystripper (fun in a nutball sort of way), Angelo (very aging rockstar) and then other bands I don’t care about like Sadie (screamer), D (crazy red eyes and black leather), Plastic Tree (the only person there on drugs), some Japanese lady I wasn’t keen on, and some really old fellow with long, princess-y hair that more or less only played guitar, despite having four other guitarists with him; he changed guitars every time and each was gaudier than the last (like the Liborache of guitars). I did sort of see Vidoll, though I was farther away and somewhat tired by that point. And, oh my gosh, I saw LM.C, the band that I was supposed to get to see in Texas (the ones I actually WENT to Texas to see), and who couldn’t make it because of swine flu. So I got to see them and they were…amazing. I mean, amazing. Fun and wacky and totally wonderful and energetic and I hope I get to go to a real concert of theirs. I mean, the lights dimmed and the ‘We will, we will rock you’ song started, done in lamb ‘baa’s, and then their mascot guy, with the silvery skullish mask thing came out on those bouncy stilts, and everyone filed out and they sang Oh My Juliet. And Aiji looked crazy awesome and played crazy awesome. I mean, anyone who can play Fur Elise on his electric guitar, wins in my book. They sang Oh My Juliet and Funny Fantom and something else that I can’t remember the name of where everyone on stage got a searchlight and they dimmed the big lights and everyone was moving around on stage with their flashlights. They sang about five songs and closed with Rock the LM.C (of course). While Maya was running around singing, the skull mascot guy was bouncing around on his stilts, the crew was inflating a twenty foot tall rabbit balloon (like their logo), and Aiji was standing all cool center stage while more crew members stood behind him on either side waving mock Japanese flags of black and red. It was truly freaking awesome! So, that was my favorite part of day two. After LM.C, I immediately went over to the other stage and plotted out my spot for The Gazette (they were playing last), even though it was over two hours before they came on, and it was a good thing I did, because the place filled up in no time. The only thing that kept anyone away was the fact that Versailles was playing in the other room. So I stood around for…ever, until finally a bunch of red lights started flashing over the audience, and the red “The Gazette” banner was lit up on the stage and one by one, amid gutteral growls (something that is particular to Gazette fans to imitate that growly scream Ruki does I guess) Kai came out with his fake dread locks or whatever their supposed to be, and then Uruha (looking good but not as good as I’d expected; much more manly), then Reita and Aoi (who looked a lot cooler than I’d expected; he cut an amazing silhouette when they lit the stage up behind him red), and finally the most popular of all, Ruki, came out with his weird neck makeup thing that he does, and his hair crimped, wearing an inverted version of what Shou had worn the day before. And then, without any further ado, they started in on Filth in the Beauty (the only song I actually wanted to see). Now, The Gazette is loud, and their fans like to headbang, and I do not like to headbang, which presents a problem. I’d been very tempted to leave early, but had vowed to stay because I would never get another chance to see them live (I certainly wouldn’t go to a full concert), so I did stay, but about halfway through, when I was past ready to bug out, I glanced behind me to see hundreds upon hundreds of people and no way out. So I stayed. It wouldn’t have really been so bad except, I don’t really know any Gazette songs but three, and they only played one of those, and with everyone packed in like sardines, especially jumping around and slinging their hair around, it was hot. It was beyond hot. The entire two days I had been warm, but I hadn’t sweat. I was sweating. I mean, I was finally glad to be tall so that I could at least get some air. The Gazette was the only band that had people actually passing out. I mean, it was the same temperature as the bathroom is when you’ve taken a steamy shower, before you give up and open the door to let air in. For two hours. They played longer than anyone else, and they came back for an encore. On the upside, they were really good, and very kakkoii (cool) and Ruki was less grrr than I’d expected him to be. So anyways, after that we all filed out (at least it wasn’t raining this time), and as is usual in Japan, all along the walk back, the path was lined with guys giving out tissue packets and pamphlets (though different than usual was that they were all young guys in independent jrock bands giving out pamphlets for their bands. And then I got in the train with everyone else and made my way back home, exhausted. But it was so much fun! And though it's the wrong day, here's the comment part of Alice Nine's performance:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

V-Rock Fest '09!!!

So, first of all, I apologize for not posting in a while. I keep meaning to do it, but then I get busy with teh tons of books my professors are giving me, or trying to get yet more money issues worked out over here. Btw, if you bring a money order, have someone else fill it ALL out from your US (or wherever) address to you Japanese address. If you fill this info out, they won't cash you international postal money order. So, that's good to know. I also learned how to buy tickets from the ticket machine at the Lawson's convenience store. There was a step by step guide I found on one of their sites that shows you exactly what to push, though it's all in Japanese. If you're coming over here and need help, just PM me. Anywho, so yes, today was the first day of my 2 day Visual Kei Rock Festival. Very exiting. I started out small, watching a small indie band called Toon Factory, then SuG on one of the minor stages in a different hall, then quickly perused what little merchandise they had (I could only see stuff that said VROCK FEST on it, not band merchandise), and then I went into the main hall where they have to huge stages set up, side by side. I got in the fairly empty area for Kra, and watched the other stage diagonally while Penicillin rocked out in that old rock star fashion. Then Kra came on and played about 6 songs/30 min., playing harder songs that I thought they would. After that, I fought my way over to the stage on the right, where hours from then, I would get to watch alice nine. What surprised me is that people didn't really pack in ahead of time, and they aren't all trying to weasel their way up front. Everyone at the concert today just came up to the back of the mass and was content where they were, and didn't really get close to each other either.

I have to say that one thing that was hard to get used to, was the hand movements. I mean, I'd heard that the Japanese rock people did this, and thought I knew enough to get by, but let me tell you, there's a lot of pressure with all the frickin' hand movements the fans do at practically every chord change in the song. Sometimes the band will show you what to do (I now know what Shou's doing in the concerts; before I thought he was just flailing around). Anyways, I watched Jealkb on my stage, watched D diagonally and was overpowered by the loudness. I also saw Angelo diagonally (quite good, and he tried to pass all the members off as 26, though they're well over that). Oh, and diagonally I saw Plastic Tree, whose singer was the only one there who was on drugs, which I guess isn't to bad, when you've got that many bands. He was flailing around and didn't know what he was talking about, and playing with some umbrella, but that's what that band is about I guess, so whatever. Their music was good though. On the stage I was at, I watched, like I said, Jealkb, and then Breakerz (with Daigo, a TV talent). He was actually rather charming indeed, and apologized for being the only band not 'Visual Kei' at the Visual Kei concert, but insisted that he'd put on some eyeliner for the occasion, and had the camera man zoom in to show it. His songs were, naturally, a little more poppy, but it was fun, and he actually taught the audience a dance before hand, so I wasn't fumbling around, watching the people beside me to figure out what to do. Of course, the reason I watched Breakerz, was not for Daigo, but for Akihide, the guitarist, who is also the guitarist for Acid Black Cherry. I secretly have a crush on him, as he reminds me in the face of a younger Hyde, from L'arc en Ciel. He and Daigo were singing a part together when Daigo laid a big wet one on him and everyone laughed. So, that was entertaining and they really seemed happy to be there. After that, was Alice Nine...

Because the standing room area things mostly empties out after every performance, I managed to get almost to the front bar, but as time drew closer, I depated on trying to get through the special line that lets you go up to the very front of the stage, and after about 10 min. of debating, I bit the bullet and went over to the guy with the Staff shirt on, and he let me through to the crowd at the front of the stage. And then Alice Nine came out. And they were amazing. There was a slight Microphone mishap at the beginning, but Hiroto (sporting a bleached hair style I don't love), took centerstage while the Crew worked on show, and then everything went smooth. They looked amazing, just like they do in the pictures (so did SuG); just gorgeous. Shou was in a sparkly red shirt with scarf covered by a sparkly black jacket; Nao was in Red, but never really got any limelight; Tora was looking spiffy in dark gray pants and a dark greenish/grayish jacket; Saga was in a black shirt, some weird Hammer black pants and a white leather jacket with his hair teased out a mile, and Hiroto was in hot pink pants and a white vest (I think). They first played The Beautiful Name, then went into Rainbows, then some song which I know, but the name of which I've forgotten, then their old classic, Shunkashutou, then GGG (can't remember the full title off hand; three words starting with G), which was the head banging song, then finished with something Shichigatsu Nanoka (again, can't remember all of the long title off hand), which we got to sing along with. They were amazing live, as good as on the CD, and Shou was all smiles, and everything was great. After watching them, I filed back into the regular standing area to wait for Abingdon Boys School (watched Plastic Tree diagonally), and then finally ABS came on, and much to my surprise, they put on the best show of all (minus A9, of course), and it was PACKED with people, both sides brimming more than they had for anyone else, which I hadn't expected at all. Their stage set up was cute; follwoing the english theme, the stand/step thing for TM (the vocalist), was fashioned like a Mini Cooper, complete with working headlights that were part of the light show. TM turned out to be a good MC too, quite charming and friendly, and he spoke in the most formal language, which was strange I thought. I knew most of their songs, but by the end of their set (they'd started late and ran long), I was about ready to go. Starving, thirsty, with a headache and a backache, all I wanted to do was go home, but I pushed myself to go outside where, according to a map, there were more goods to be had. When I'd seen earlier in the day that there was no band merchandise, suffice it to say, I was a bit disappointed, but as I trudged out from the oven-like, smoky sauna (the air was a hazy gray inside), and into the rainy outdoors, I found a line of stalls, all with a band name on the top, where you could buy their stuff. I, of course, opted for alice nine, and bought a hoodie, a phone strap and a water bottle thing, all vastly overpriced. I debated over getting an Abingdon Boys School towel or something, but eventually realized I'd spent too much on the alice nine stuff already, so I didn't get anything else. Well, that's the news for now. Tomorrow is round two and another really long day because they've put the bands I most want to see as first and last, so there's no skipping out on Marilyn Manson tomorrow. Well, again, sorry it's taken so long for me to post, and sorry I don't have any pics (they won't let you take them inside). Talk to you again soon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Late Post

Hey everyone! Sorry it's been a while since I posted, but I've been busy. The one bit of good news that I can offer is that finally, at long last, my trials and tribulations with the banking situation have come to an end. I do still have my bank account with the Post Office (which my scholarship goes into, because it's from the Japanese government), but as I had suspected, the Post Office Bank (aka the JP Post), does NOT accept international transfers/wires. So, that sucks. My advisor at the school went with me to Mitsubishi UFJ, whom she had called a week ago and who had told her I could make an account without living here six months. After a sizeable blowout between them and my advisor, we stormed out in a rage and next went to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., which gave me an account without batting an eyelash. With them, the only time the 6 month rule entered into account, was that I can't do online banking or use convenience store ATMs until I've been here six months, but I still have an account. And just FYI, to wire money you need the banks name, address (not the corporate address), a SWIFT code, a BIC number (I think it's called), and your name and account #. So, that was an ordeal.

In other news, I went with a friend to a local talent show, which turned out to be the place to be on Saturday nights for the older crowd. Even so, there was an amateur magician, an accordian player, and a bunch of Rokugo (traditional storytelling comedy) people there, though I hardly understood one word of the Rokugo. Afterwards, my friend and I went to the Setagaya park and watched some guys playing baseball, cheered for them until her team (the blue team) won, and then listened behind some bushes to two guys playing guitar and singing. It was a lot of fun, but it's starting to get chilly here, so I hope I have enough sweaters. Btw, there's a FrancFranc store in Shibuya that is a must see. They have such awesome homewares and stuff. It was really cool and I highly recommend visiting, just to browse. Well, I'm off. Oguri Shun's new drama, 'Tokyo Dogs' starts soon and I want to be sure to catch it. Talk to you guys later!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Frickin' Bank Problems

So, I'm having some more frickin' bank problems. It would appear that you cannot wire money into a Postal bank account. I'm not 100% sure on that, but I'll find out tomorrow and I'll let you guys all know. In other news, I went to the Ramen Museum, which was much more fun than one would think, as it was a complex set up and decorated like the 1940s backstreets of Tokyo, complete with air raid sirens that go off at certain intervals, and they have delicious ramen of all different sorts. I even tried Curry flavored ramune (like a soda), and it wasn't terrible.

Also, we had a get together at the school where we all helped handmake soba noodles, and a rather dashing young soba master let me roll and cut my own soba, and I didn't do half bad. My only regret that day was not dressing up, so I was stalking around like a lumberjack, looking like a troll. Even so, fun times and I made a few Japanese friends (one of whom works at Disney Sea!). Anyways, after this I'm going to upload some Soba-making pics, and I'll talk to you cats later!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wife and Mother for a Day

Well, today was rather eventful because me, my host brother and my host mom took the two neighbor kids to Disney Sea today. That handsome young chap in the picture with me there, is my host brother. It's not a very flattering picture because, like a dumbass, I forgot to put the flash back to manual, so our faces are smeared everywhere. Well anyways, because he and I had the kids all day, and since we are similar in age, it only follows to any onlookers that we are a married couple taking our kids out (which a nice lady from the neighborhood/friend of my host mom pointed out when she asked him if this was his family). But, I have to admit, having random strangers think that Taka is my husband and the adorable twins with us were mine is a major compliment. I must be getting towards those dreaded childbearing years, because I was actually not minding taking little kids around a very packed Disneyland.

Anywho...So in Tokyo there is Disney Land (Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, princesses, etc) and then there is Disney Sea, which is where we went. Within, as go the Disney parks, there are different little worlds. There is a place like New York, with a broadway play house for shoes, and a New York deli and department store where you can get Duffy (a stuffed bear only to be found at Disney Sea; he is their trademark). There is the Tower of Terror, which has a different backstory than ours, a huge ocean liner that seemed full sized to me, which I think harbors a stage as well as a restaurant, there's a section that looks like Cape Cod (just like it), then there's Indy land (Indiana Jones), and then Little Mermaid Lagoon (with a good-sized castle built like Triton's in the film), Arabian Nights (or whatever it's called; it's Alladin's world), and then a 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea place which is where the Volcano is, and in the middle is the huge, open lake where they have the light show, similar to the open water in Epcot, but smaller. Because it's getting near to Halloween, the place was decked out with pumpkins and masks and all sorts of Halloween decorations. When you're there, you have to get a stuffed Duffy bear, because if you don't, you're not one of the cool kids. Everyone has them. The merchandise is all uber cute compared to what I'm used to, but true to form, very little, if any, is of the princesses. The big characters here are Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Goofy and Stitch. If those aren't your favorites, be prepared for a bit of a let down (merchandise wise). Word to the wise, Fast Pass the Journey to the Center of the Earth or the Indy Jones ride, because if you don't, you'll be in line for at least two hours (literally). One thing is, I expected lines, but we only found one that was under an hour, and that was a kiddy coaster. So, be prepared to wait. One thing is, in Japan, you get in a hurry to wait. Well, that's all for now. I put a new folder up on my photobucket for today's trip. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


So, hey there everyone. I can't really remember the last time I posted, but I hope it hasn't been that long. I went out to Tower Records today, and they have an entire floor of books in English of all sorts (Twilight, Water for Elephants, Philosophy books, Sports books, everything just like an American book store). And what's better is that they have a sizeable selection of books written by Japanese people that have been translated into English. While I was there, I got a book for school and this other book that just had me cracking up because it's so absolutely true. It's called, "You know you've been in Japan too long..." So, one that had me busting a gut was, "You know you've been in Japan too long when you started gawking at other gaijin (foreigners)," and it's so true. I mean, I've done that. So, in other news, I'm going to Disney Sea tomorrow, since it's some sort of holiday and I have the day off. Btw, if you ever want to see foreigners, just go to Shibuya after 10. You're almost hard put to find a Japanese person on the streets at that hour, but there are more than enough foreigners, me included. So, I found out that Kagrra, one of the Jrock bands I like, is going to have a small performance at Tower Records next month. I'll have to look into that and see if you need a ticket to go. I found a lot of CDs I wanted, but didn't buy any because they're all so freaking expensive. You're hard put to find a CD under 30 bucks here. So, suffice it to say, I didn't buy anything but the books. I was impressed with their selection of Visual Kei music. Compared to HMV's one, tiny corner shelf, Tower Records had a whole section on the second floor, with concerts and CDs and flyers promoting new CDs, and a really spiffy display for The Gazette's new CD down on the main floor. So anywho, that's all for now I suppose. Talk to you later

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Typhoon No. 18

In other news, today was the biggest, strongest typhoon in this, the Heisei era, and it was so bad that I actually got off school for it. The only thing was, it really wasn't that bad at all. I was expecting it to be like Florida in a Hurricane outside, but it was more like the wind on the cliffs in Ireland. Sure, it was blustery, and could make you veer one way or the other if it really tried, but it didn't rain for long, and mostly it was just kind of windy for a few hours and then around two, everything calmed down and it was the most gorgeous day ever. I have to say, I was disappointed. I was expecting something spectacular after all the big talk before hand, the warnings and worried faces. I've driven through worse weather. At its worst, it knocked a few signs and a few bikes over

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Edo, Meiji, and Fashion Street

So, you shall never guess who I saw today as my small field trip party finished our fabulous lunch of 'Chakko Nabe,' which is the dish sumo wrestlers eat every day, in a shop that is owned by a retired sumo wrestler. Yes, it tasted mostly of chicken soup with cabbage in it, with a side of eggplant and rice and it truly was delicious, and worth every cent of the $8.20 I paid for it. But first, let me preface the following encounter with the fact that we'd tried to go to the one, the older one, across the street but were sent away to the one we ended up going to, though it was lunch time and the place seemed entirely empty, though I thought I'd caught a whiff of English being mumbled inside. So, after paying our small bill, we all piled out into the rainy street and saw that a heavy set man and a second man carrying a very large, very expensive camera, were just coming out of the restaurant opposite. We all gathered together on our side of the street to oogle and gape at the camera, and finally, when we'd seen enough, we turned to leave. It was only as I cast a lazy, backwards glance that I noticed that, in fact, the heavyset man with the cameraman was in fact our very own Travel Channel Star, Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmer.

A few days ago, we went to the Meiji Jingu, aka the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku. As we got off the subway and started to cross the bridge to the shrine (where all the cosplay people supposedly hang out, though it was a disappointment again at this time, and it was 2PM), there was what looked to be a Visual Kei street band just finished with their concert. I was sad I missed it, was all good, because my host family took me through the shrine and explained a few things to me as best they can. It was a special day too. I forget the name in Japanese, but the signs in English said Thanks Dolls Festival Day, and my host mom explained that, rather than throwing old, beloved stuffed animals or dolls away, on this day, people from all around bring their dolls/toys there (pay a fee I'm sure), and line them up together along the front corners of the inner courtyard of the Shrine; then, they offer thanks to the god, I think, for the doll (for being a loyal friend I guess). My host mom was too creeped out to go near them, but my dad took me over and we looked, and there were all kinds: Hello Kitty, expensive-looking geisha dolls, those wish face things, regular kid's dolls. Quite a sight. Also, there were three weddings going on while we were there, and we got to see the procession of one of them. Evidentally, the close relations of the bride, for the wedding, wear these long black kimonos with either a koi fish, or a dragon or some golden design on them, and of course the bride wears a white kimono with this weird pocket thing that goes over her head, and her makeup is done like a geisha's, and the groom wears a certain traditional black and gray kimono-outfit thing with a fuzzy white ball on the front. Evidentally, when 'Erika-sama', aka Erika Sawajiri, aka the girl from 1 Liter of Tears, got married, she got married at the Meiji Shrine. She's been on the news a lot lately because her company nulled her contract, supposedly over questions of drugs, though she's been a bit of a bi-atch to the media all along, so she's always been a thorn in their side. But, anyways, I also found out that there's a thing that when boys are 3, 5 and 7 years old, and when girls are 3 and 7 (I think it is), they dress up in a certain kimono outfit and go to a shrine and there's a ceremony. Dunno why though.

So, after we went to the Meiji Shrine, we backtracked and my host mom wanted to go to some of the big, popular stores. I don't have the faintest clue why, but yet again this time, when I went with them, the place was PACKED. I mean, it was nuts. It was all I could do to keep up with them in the crowd (and that's saying something, seeing as I'm like, a foot taller than everyone else). We went to Kitson, which is the newest brand, and the one my host mom most wanted to see, but it was packed and crazy expensive, so we left fairly quickly. We went next to H&M, which was even more packed, but a much larger store. And then we went to Forever 21, and you've never seen real madness until you've seen that place. For anyone who even remotely likes to shop, I suggest you try this 'shopping in a popular Harajuku store' thing at least once. It is an experience.

Also, worthy of mention...if you're into Japanese TV and stuff, some places to go are FujiTV studios in Odaiba, NHK studios which is on the main road in Shibuya (the road on the right of the Starbucks at the crosswalk), Ameba (the online music site), which is located on the right side of the Omote-Sando in Harajuku (they sometimes have guests), and J-Wave radio, which is in the fifth floor (I think) of the HMV store in Shibuya, same street as above. If I find anywhere else, I'll put that up. NHK is big for kids' shows and jidaigeki (period dramas), but I HIGHLY recommend FujiTV's place. It was a lot of fun when I went.

Oh, we also went to the Edo museum today, as a field trip, but I'd say, unless you really love Japanese history, it's a pass. I mean, it was really neat to see, but I wouldn't have gone that far out of my way to see it. It does cost, and most of the explanations are only in Japanese (only the labels are in English). I forgot to mention that Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge were lit up the Olympic colors the other day, when the city still hadn't been decided, so, that was cool. I've uploaded some more pics in the general First Few Days file, so check those out when you can. Well then, talk to everyone later!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Hello everyone! Well, I've just gotten through my first three days of 'school,' though really all we've done so far was orientation, but still, it's tuckered me out. I won't recount the full thing in detail (especially since we hit a rough patch on day two), but overall, I've survived, got a basic outline of my classes, and am more than ready to get this beast underway. As it happens, I'm going to be taking three Japanese classes (the Japanese language), one about Japan and the world, a Comparative Culture class, a Regional Sociology class, and two independent study classes, so that should be interesting. We got our full tour of the library and I've already managed to check a few books out, we got a tour of the healthcare center/nurse's office, where I got a free thermometer (score!), and then we got a self defense class, where we learned how to assault perverts, should we be accosted by any, getting to practice on each other. Also, we had our opening ceremony, which we managed to be one minute late for, and got our sweaty pictures taken about a hundred times with various members of the faculty, though we did get three very nice bentos out of it (complete with sliced duck). But, more than all the school crap, what was really fun was getting to hang out with my fellow whiteys and explore the Grandberry Mall by the station, and the 109 movie theater, and best of all, the Tokyu Supermarket, which is the size of a home depot and has every kind of food or kitchen ware you could ever even imagine needing. That place has been a real exercise in restraint for me, because I still have food in my apartment, but everytime we go, I want to buy more (they have purple sweet potatoes roasting before you on a grill that you can just pick up and eat!). I've managed to skate by without spending too much, but I've learned that, contrary to everything I believed, I have fallen in love with Natto (the fermented beans). They were the highlight of my lunch today (which is saying something, since I bought fried beef and mashed potato pancakes). After this hard, albeit short week, I took last night off, having myself a pretty dessert I'd bought, some irish coffee (homemade), and watched a movie, which was so nice.

I've managed to figure out the bathtub contraption on the wall, which up until this point has remained a mystery to me. It seems to monitor the amount of water in the bath, and plays a tune when it's done. So, that's good to know. Also, I got a bank account with the post office (JP), but for anyone planning on studying here, don't try it with the post office, as they too have the six month rule (though the fudged it for me). My recommendation would first be the Sumitomo bank, which I've heard you can get easily, without a stamp (inkan), or to buy a stamp (at a stationary store, an inkan store, or ask you school for help), and use the Mitzubishi UFJ, which should let you get an account. Anyways, somehow it sort of worked out, I think, but I'm not entirely certain. In other news, I bought some Tajomaru movie merchandise like I've been wanting, and hope to see the movie again before it goes out of theaters this Friday, though we'll see if I can. And this morning I had a political discussion with my host brother about Obama, Abortion, Bush, North Korea, the KKK (he couldn't believe it still exists), Racism/descrimination and illegal immigrants. Of course, all of this was discussed in a mixture of English and Japanese, as I'm not nearly good enough at Japanese to hold a candle to really explaining American politics to anyone in another language. The hardest thing to explain is what a redneck is. Yeah, just try it. He explained to me the relationship between Japan and North Korea, saying that he hopes someday that America will help fight N. Korea, because as it stands, N.Korea shoots missiles at Japan frequently, comes over in boats and abducts Japanese people, then takes them back to N.Korea to brainwash them or hold them as POWs, sort of, and yet Japan is still bound by the sanction (or clause or whatever) that America put on it after WWII, so it is unable to rearm itself and wage war on N. Korea, and South Korea is unwilling to help out. So anyways, it was a very interesting, very educational discussion for the both of us. Anywho, I'm going to go (I've got tea ceremony today), but I'll try to post whenever I can. TTYL!