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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years New Fears!

New Years is a funny time in Japan.
I wish I could remember many of the fun times, but alas most of them are a complete blur.

I recall throwing up in a ditch once or twice. Not completely positive memories (or maybe half memories I guess).

Sounds about right.

Onetime a nice family invited me to a traditional day of making rice cakes. Awesome I thought.

I made the rice cakes by hammering the hell out of this big wooden stump the rice was being held in. IT was cool (and prelude hot), except that my technique must have been wrong and hot boiling rice sprayed my companions (cohorts) in the face. Ouch!
They laughed with a hearty but fake laugh as their skin received 3rd degree burns.
Oh the foreigners are funny aliens I thought to myself. We do the damnedest things.


It also tends to be very cold around New Years. Most of my stories are about how hot it is in the summer, but let me tell you Winter is another season unto itself.
Its like hell freezes over. Everything is cold and deadly. It reminds me of those ghost things in Harry Potter that suck your soul for fun. I forget the names, those ones from Prisoner of Azkaban, those dudes. They fly around. The air gets cold and you are screwed. Harry Potter shoot this like Unicorn thing to stop them. But I don't have a wand so I'm ATBS (about to be screwed).
Its totally like that, only no magic (or ghost dudes), only weather related similar.

And in that type of weather you see all these girls wearing short skirts and you think WTF hot! But cold. You catch my drift? Hot, but cold. Funny? ...... I guess not.
And as you see these girls wearing their short mini skirts, I'm wearing one layer of long johns underneath my jeans and I'm still freezing. They can totally see an outline of my old man long-john's. What kind of a guy who is 25 years old, wears long-john's? Me myself and Irene (its a movie reference).
I remember one kid used to slap my butt a lot and say "MUTSU?". I didn't know what that meant but I looked it up oneday and it meant diaper. I guess my butt was so padded he thought I had a diaper on.
But you know what, if it traps in the heat, I was willing to try it. LOL. Embarrassing!

I even wore those Japanese heated sticky pads in my pockets and shoes to stay warm. Sometimes the heating pads rubbed a little too close to my groin and I'd moan as it burned my privates. I guess that's YIN and YANG, hot and cold.

Another semi good memory is the smell of kerosene. Emphasis on the "semi".
You see in Japan most people use kerosene heaters.
Heat up by your kerosene heater and hope you don't die from the fumes. Those are good times.
More than once I would pour kerosene on my clothes (usually my pajama's and yes not on purpose) and I'd think if someone smokes near me or I'm roast marshmallow. Like those ones that catch on fire and burn down to charcoal. They don't taste that good (incase you didn't know). Although there are sicko's that are into the burnt ones (hope you aren't one).
I also smelled like kerosene all night that I filled up the heater.
I believe now wholeheartedly, I may have lost a few brain-cells.

Someone once asked me, "Don't you air out the poisonous kerosene laced fumes every few hours as the heater says on it?". "No", I responded.
Even if I did, my clothes will still smell like it. So either way I can't win.

.. Happy New Year Mofo's!

LOL. My resolution is to not do something stupid this year. Perhaps its impossible.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Halloween's a bust yo!

Now that Halloween is long past and out of everyone's mind, I thought it might be a totally inappropriate and inopportune time to post a story about it.

Incase you didn't know, in Japan and in those days Halloween didn't mean much (although I heard the last few years its been becoming bigger and bigger).

I didn't know if I had the merchandise to pull off this costume.

As foreigners we already stand out like a sore thumb so adding witch, ghost or other costumes just make us look crazy (or perhaps crazier?). I don't even think most people realize its Halloween and think the foreigners in Japan are pretty weird. Its true to a degree.

Whilst I was a student in Kobe I was going to a Halloween themed party.
Now for me I didn't think about wearing a costume on the streets, the thought didn't even cross my mind. Ten of us gaijin (foreigners) walked together to the hall for the party.
We put our costumes on once there.

After about an hour someone came and said they thought they saw one of our class mates with the police (of course a gaijin one). I was like what did he do?

He called his girlfriend who was at the party.

He was a tall black male and was walking around town in a toga.
Yes a toga.

He was showing a lot of skin. I'm not sure if the police stopped him and thought WTF, or someone complained about him saying there a gaijin nutter walking around in half robes.

Regardless I laughed.

He showed up late (not fashionably) and told us he had to show his gaijin card (foreigner card) and explain he as a student and it was Halloween. The cops didn't get it and assumed he was a nutter (he was). He didn't get arrested but thought he was about to be.
Since he didn't bring clothes, I hoped he would be arrested on the way home after the party.
Unfortunately it didn't happen, it would have made the story better.
I realize now I should have placed an anonymous call stating his whereabouts and carrying a shield and spear like a gladiator. For sure he would have been arrested.
Leave and learn I guess, I'll know what to do next time.

Probably like this one but taller, darker and nuttier.

I quite enjoyed that party. I wore a white shirt and white pants. On my shirt I wrote in Japanese "I'll eat your soul", and also in English below it.
I asked my hostmom for some sort of white skin colouring to make me look ghostly. I didn't realize but I found out later I had been slathered with expensive cream which contained nightingale droppings (yes excrement of bird).

What's that smell? Well its good for the skin I guess. Slightly acidic?

For some reason I thought only geisha used that.

That's nice. I was covered in sh%t.
Not figuratively, actually.


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Holy Time, Holy Crime!

Holy Time Holy Crime!

Its a rhyme...sorta.
No offense to my Buddhist friends in this story.

I was once on a trip to a place in Japan called Koyasan. It is essentially the most religious place in Japan. I was with around 20 other foreigners on a short trip. Koyasan is up this big mountain and has a number of religious sects (Buddhism of different varieties). They also have signs stating its a religious place and drinking is not allowed. I did know a monk or two who could drink so I wasn't sure if that was for the locals or the dirtier foreigners like myself coming to invade the holy land.

I should let it be known Koyansan (which means Mt.Koya) is up a really high mountain because it plays into the story. If I recall correctly it was an hour from Nara up this weird ancient cable car, that cut through a jungle or forest. My memory isn't great, but for sure it was an ancient cable car that creaked a lot. I was hoping we didn't fall into the abyss.

Anyways…. The point of the trip was to learn some Japanese religion. Somehow we didn't seem very interested. Unbeknownst to be, there were rules for this trip. No drinking and no fornicating. The fornicating is always going to happen with someone. I don't mean with me, I only hoped it was going to be me. Why not introduce a little liquor into the equation. 
Get this not so enlightened party started!  
Maybe if I added in some liquor my chances would go up too? Bonus!
Throw a few glow sticks in for good measure? Some rave music? Roll some Buddha beads.

I saw a liquor store, and althought I don't recall, I was told I said "Let's have a drink. What else are going to do?" I know I won't be seeing the 9th plain of enlightenment, because when I think I'm reaching nirvana the blood circulation cuts off in my legs my legs fall asleep. It hurts like you wouldn't believe. I recall a story about one guy who broke his families tea sets that had been in the family since the beginning of time (before dinosaurs). Maybe not that long, but fairly close to it.

What I learned at Koyasan. Oh and to drink as well, my idea? Hmmm.

We started to enjoy a few drinks. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, but I recall a very terrible hangover and a dong waking me up at 6AM. As the monks chanted mantras, I chanted that I get through the day...alive. As they informed us we only need light to survive and the will of the Buddha, I needed water and possibly some greasy McDonald’s to get me through. I wondered what my chances were of finding a McDonald’s nearby. Afterall, I did find liquor.
For breakfast we had steamed vegetables so that didn't really help with the desire of the greasy meat. It was purifying my (perhaps evil) toxic foreigner soul. I had a feeling I was going to go through the 20 layers of Buddhist hell (as a sidenote I'll probably see some of you there. Something to look forward to).

A year later after returning from Canada, I met a student that had just got back from the same trip as me. One of the other schools kept tabs of all the issues of previous trips and how to improve them for next time. Somehow my name was etched in history. “THIS CANADIAN MALE elicited heavy drinking while on a trip in the most religious area of Japan, Koyasan. He had been warned no drinking at any time was allowed, but decided to peer pressure the other members of the group into a long night of debauchery (it means heavy drinking). He refused to eat breakfast and complained he wanted McDonald's, which was culturally insensitive to the hospitalable monks”.

I liked that, although not entirely true, at least I was remembered by future students, in a somewhat positive light.
I did remember when I went back to the school one of the teachers mentioned,

"So everyone had a great trip, but I think you in particular!"
HA! I wonder if he was the mother trucker who wrote the slightly alerted tabs of the trip.

I like this. Something magical about it. But where is McDonald's seriously?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mr Roboto and Square Watermelons

Square Watermelons WTF?

The cost? A very reasonable $150. The taste? Sadly the same.

I think the Simpson's brainwashed me. After seeing an episode where they go to Japan and eat a square watermelon I assumed this was commonplace in Japan.

Upon reaching the shores, my assumption was deemed erroneous (as are most things in my life).
The square ones turned out to be unique to only one place in Japan and no Japanese believed me except all the other Gaijin (foreigners) who had seen that Simpson's episode.

In Japan giving fruit is considered a great present. The fruit is individually packaged and looks beautiful.
On top of that, costs a fortune.
Somehow I came into the knowledge that melon's are good to give as gifts are pricey MOFO's (especially those damned square ones).

Its only $84 for one mango. Seems reasonable!

My thought was to give a melon and get some brownie points with my host family for all the terrible things I did. I used the shower and prevented them from accessing the bathroom to brush their teeth, put my body hairs in the bath that has been reused 100 times, broke two hundred year old tea sets etc etc. I'm sure the tea set is easily replaceable though, not overly concerned about it. I'll pick up a new one at the dollarstore.
The only thing related to brownie points figuratively was the melon. It was soft, just like a brownie.
Usually the cost was outrageous, as in up to $100. I wasn't even sure about a square one. I see $150 and upwards online.

I found a nice looking melon among the rotten ones on a day trip to Osaka (this sounds like some sexual innuendo, but no I'm not going there).
Discounted to a still rather expensive $20 (2000 yen).
I headed home with a rotten melon in my backpack. I guess I should have been using my brain and thinking to put the melon in the fridge or perhaps freezer (to make it appear more solid), but instead being me, I left it in my backpack and threw it in my closet. Threw, and I don't mean figuratively. I mean I actually threw it.

It was already slightly soft, but since I forget it, threw it, and left it in my closet it got even more soft.
I pulled it out after two days and my fingers mushed through like fat skin.
I handed it to my host family.
"OH I bought a melon, strangely it went soft, hmmm... Well its the thought that counts".

They cut it up.

Does it taste good to eat rotten melons? I'll let you know it does not!
Its as terrible as it sounds, rotten, over the top foul and slightly mouldy.

I handed them the melon. It looks "OK" I thought. They might not notice its rotten.

I hoped they appreciated the thought behind it, because the taste was horrendous and I had to join in to pretend like I wasn't aware it was rotten.

I mumbled "Yum delicious", as I tried not to throw up.

Rotten melon, I'm SO NOT loving IT!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Spirited Away into the the Matrix

Spirited Away into the the Matrix

I sometimes feel like my brain has left my body. Possibly my brain power being harnessed by robots. And by this I mean my brain is out to lunch (semi permanently).
And this Spirited Away refers to an Miyasaki’s most famous anime about wild animals, including an evil boar in a fantasy world (foreshadow of this blogpost for you smartypants types).

Oh sh#t! Not again! 
No more pills this time.

I was thinking about how I used to live in a fantasy world too, after so many unbelievable things in Japan. It was like some glitches in The Matrix. I'm like Neo, only not cool (and my sunglasses are the dollar store variety).

These are cooler than the ones I had. 
But probably the same price.

You see on my way to University in Japan I used to see a sign that said in Japanese, "Watch out for wild boars". And it was a big picture of a boar with tusks. It was almost comical (except they were dripping in blood. Actually that's not true, but it would be funny if they were. Imagine little kids being utterly horrified). 
If you don't know what a boar is, its like a pig but hairier and ready to impale something with its tusks (and not impale me ideally). I wondered where I needed to enter The MATRIX to see this boar. 
Or if there was some magical forest nearby. Surely it can’t be nearby as everything is just endless cement. 
I wondered why and where a boar might come from to warrant such a a sign in the middle of a city.
I often had a laugh about it and pointed out to my fellow students “Watch out for the boars, hahaha what a joke!”. The Japanese ones never laughed. Perhaps I should have taken as an omen (death sign or a death note was written about me by someone. Death by boar).

One day as I was walking by myself & I heard some weird sounds, huffing and snorting. And then some trampling, like horses galloping towards me. Rather odd I thought.
I looked down and saw a massive boar snorting and looking around. He seemed to be sniffing the air. Perhaps he noticed my unique gaijin (foreigner) scent or my B.O. smell. It was perhaps stronger than the locals due to my hairiness (ape like). At first I considered running, but I thought if it knew the area he knew all the shortcuts and might impale me (like Wolverine minus the adamantium claws). 
I considered slowly moving behind a building and following it. I wondered if it would it lead me to some truffles or Narnia (or was that pigs for truffles?).

He looks friendly enough, perhaps he will lead me to some truffles?
Or kill me, either sounds good.

I told one of the other foreign students I had seen a boar the other day and they should be careful walking down that road. 
He was an Aussie and his response was priceless.

"Mate. Go get bent".
I believe this to mean "Go F Yourself" or more literally yeah right I don't believe you.
But based on his personality it may have been more towards "Go F Yourself" I think.

I saw this shop for the first time. I realized I entered The MATRIX for sure.
And entered in the right spot too.

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Terrible Advice

My Terrible Advice. 
Or I guess more aptly put about my terrible advice "what else is new".

Enjoy all that!

I had student that was a little touched (I don’t mean touched by an Angel, I mean touched by special needs). He was a great kid.

He was not only a student at the school I got beat down at (or should I say taught at), he was also on the city Judo team I was a member of. Too bad the Judo didn't help me from being abused by students. I should have taken RIOT control training (the armour would be useful as well. I'd even take knight armour and use a lance to keep those rioters away).

My special student's name was Genki. If you don’t know the word “Genki”, it basically means "healthy". A deeper meaning is enthusiastic, energetic, lively.

Genki was energetic about only one thing, passing gas. He was like a flatulence machine. I wondered if they could run a city off his gas, and time wise I'm thinking... for at least eternity.
During Judo I would try to be nice and let him get me in a hold (big mistake). Shortly after, I would be tapping or suffering due to the air becoming most detestable (rather sh#tty literally). 
I remember a few times he went to throw me and he would push so hard gas would erupt like a volcano spewing ash on Pompeii (the movie just came out on DVD by the way). The mats around him would clear as the smell would kill all living things in its wake (that's not sarcastic, its a lie).
I wondered if perhaps the mats may have been sprayed with anything else besides gas based on the smell. Since we wore white judo gi's (uniforms), it should show up easily unless it fell through the joints of the reed (tatami) mats.

I should mention I just did a quick Google search on human flatulence which says human gas is composed of mostly non-smelly gases (and the normal stinky ones).These include oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and of course our smelly friend thrown in, methane. In his case I wondered if his was slightly more smelly than the average human (Obviously also contributing heavily to the GREENHOUSE effect, infact he may be the leading cause). 

Auto carrot! Ha love it.

Here is a poem line I added from Shakespeare with my own spin.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". This is meant to be some sort of wordplay as well.  I'm not sure if I could somehow change it to 
"Gas by other person would smell as bad, but as I can verify, not quite".

By the way if interested the scientific study of flatulence is called “flatology”. There must be someone out there who is down to study it (down is an attempt at wordplay again, but its not that amusing perhaps). I see now why I was an English teacher.

I think that's a real sign. Straight outta Compton ya'll!

Back to my story.
I semi-mentioned this in a previous blogpost.
Oneday while walking the school (and hoping not to get knifed in the back) I came across three of the worst kids at the school who looked to be about to beat the heck (actually sh#t) out of Genki (was a maybe to being both literally and figuratively).
No teachers around to save him.
Oh sh%t I remembered I was a teacher, but I didn't still didn't want to mess with those mofo's.

I decided to play “The crazy foreigner card” because that’s all I had and I didn't want to have the sh$t beaten out of me too. I suddenly remembered that one of them had kicked me in the face on my first day of classes. So I knew he would be more than happy to do it again. I semi contemplated revenge but the numbers were not in my favour at this point.

I walked up. “Hey there Genki? Should I kick your ass at Judo again?”.
The bullies snickered. I pretended to throw him and put him in a headlock.
They seemed bored, said something about how I'm an as$hole for ruining their fun and left.

I cornered Genki.
“Umm, you do Judo. You should hurt them. And hurt them bad, that's why we learn Judo”. Probably not advice that should be given by a teacher. I'm sure other people learn Judo for other reasons but in my case, it was in hopes of staying alive.
I considered mentioning throwing sand in their eyes and kicking them in the balls as well.
He bowed to me. I don't think he realized I had helped him. I think he thought this is my teacher and even if he a stupid foreigner (and gives crap advice), he still had respect for me (he was one of the few).

If you have the skills you might as well use them.
As Spiderman's uncle Benny or Jerry (not the ice cream) once said "With great power comes great responsibility Peter, GENKI (whatever your name is)".
My motto was with bullying comes side effects, you threaten me, I throw sand in your eyes and kick you in the balls. Ideally I don't get knifed later.

I took a hard look at Genki and realized my advice was lost on him. I decided to simplify it.

I suggested next time he came in contact with them he should just pass gas. If they start saying bad things just let it loose like he did at Judo, it will shut them up for sure because they can't breath.

I could vouch for that.

Maybe I should have suggested throw a match and run too.

I haven't ever tried that one, but it sounds like its worth a try.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gluten & Glutton Conundrums

This is a short story (or should I say sh*t story) about me that my friend reminded me of, and I thought was slightly entertaining.

This is my life. Seems kind of funny till it happens!

I had a lot of bowel issues in Japan. It wasn't unique to Japan, but it definitely occurred quite often there. I'm not entirely sure what caused it so often, but it made for some pretty awkward situations. 
I remember more than once jumping off trains running for bathrooms, I found out near the end of my 3 years that some trains often had one toilet on the first car. Who knew! Would have been nice if someone had told me.
While most people would have 1 to 2 bowel movements a day, I was pushing 15-20. This is not a joke or exaggeration by any means, but it is kind of funny.
Toilet paper was costing me a fortune. I considered going to McDonald’s and grabbing 600 napkins. And by grabbing 600, I meant per day, not per month. As for costing a fortune, I did not buy the premium HELLO KITTY versions if you are wondering. I hoped some weird people didn't like HELLO KITTY so much they would use it then hang it to dry (slightly stained).
I didn't really like the napkins at McDonald’s or at most restaurants in Japan. They didn't have the ability to absorb a liquid like the ones in Canada do. They felt like they had 50% plastic in them. I’d rub ketchup on my lips and it would just spread over my face (not absorbent at all). Some people have just thought I was involved in a crime. Perhaps not useful for bowel movements I quandaried, yes quandaried! (that's an amazing word, that essentially means wondered in this case. Hopefully the past form of the verb is correct).
Anyways, I didn't know what my issue was, but curry, beer and other gluten type things (and gluttony as well if you get the joke, caused me issues).

I sometimes hoped I would get the LSD one.

I remember one time being late for a meeting in the provincial capital (called Otsu if you care). We were one stop away, but I knew I wouldn't make it. I remembered the next stop didn't have a toilet anyway so I was in big trouble. I clenched.
I told my friends I was going to get off one stop before the final destination (not like in the Final Destination movie I hope). I had to think of an excuse why, I told them because I needed a walk. They said its a 20 minute walk and we were already late. A good point they had. I need some exercise, so don't worry about it.
Got off the train and ran into another friend, he asked me why I was in such a rush. I told him I had to go to the toilet, he said he’d wait. I told him don’t wait it might be a while (as a non so subtle hint). Got to the toilet, no toilet paper. I didn't bring any (as I should have. Always need to be prepared). For the first time in my life I used a toilet paper dispensing machine and paid the $1 for 10 tiny tissues. It was a disaster, I should have bought more. I looked through my bag, hoping for something. I found some regular notepad paper, but it was hard. I considered chewing on it then spitting it out in hopes of softening it up. Seemed like a great idea. The taste of paper is not good though, its like inky and chemical tasting. I wondered (or should I say "quandaried" if my tongue would be blue from the ink).
I found a few McDonald’s napkins on the bottom of my bag. Not great, but better than nothing I thought.
Terrible idea. I was correct about the absorbency factor. More of a spreader, like a knife spreading peanut butter on toast (but not sharp and doesn't taste like peanut butter). I didn't try the taste fyi.

Oh no girl! No you didn't!

The prelude to the story that is soon to follow I should mention my friend was convinced I had some sort of gluten allergy, but once home in Canada, they claimed negative for everything and decided it must be IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  I was irritated that it was irritable and left it at that.

Here’s my friend’s short story referring to me I wanted to throw in to close. Its written in first person.

Almost every time we would go out for food or drinks, from the curry restaurant to the bar, he would get the sh*ts.  One time we met him and his girlfriend at the bar after they had gone to a big dinner.  He said, "Hey guys! I ate this crab sushi and I think it gave me the sh#ts!"
"Dude, that's pretty gross.", I responded
"I know, but it was good so I ate more of it. Oh, I gotta go!" he grimaced and made a mad dash for the toilet.

I hope this blogpost wasn't too sh*tty for you. Ha.

Black is always safer.

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