Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I see dead people... frequently

Ti's the season to die... if you're living in Japan. In the span of less than two weeks, I've had to attend two funerals for the fathers of the school nurse and vice principal. I do appreciate the fact that they feel I am a close member of their faculty now but it really is difficult for me to swallow the bitter 3,000 yen wake donation. I feel bad for the vice principal and school nurse loosing such a close family member at such an important time of the year for family. I now have a great respect for what Japanese have to go through for their funeral ceremonies and such. I really hope for my sake and the living's sake that I don't have to attend another funeral for many many years to come.

Now that all the gloomy stuff is aside, I've been in pretty good shape as of late. Nothing incredibly interesting or even worth mentioning, hence the reason why I've been neglecting my blog for the past few weeks or so. Yuko has a lot to do with my disappearance from the net. We spend a lot of time together and it has been really good for me because it's better to socialize with real people rather than sit on my butt and watch my beer gut expand while surfing the net.

This week at school has been really good. I click with just about every student at school, even the catatonic ones I mentioned a few posts back. I am really doing a good job keeping my popularity up on both fronts, teacher and student alike! Maybe it's my teaching style or my childish personality, who knows but whatever it is, I'm glad I have it! Holy moley run-on sentence! I'm really looking forward to starting my winter break and I am especially looking forward to receiving my mother's Christmas present being sent via my former employer FedEx Express. I may be tough on my mother but she really does come through when it matters. I know for a fact she spent more on express international postage than she did on whatever she sent me most likely. It's nice to know I got somebody out there who cares for me even though at times it really is overwhelming to the point that I often loose my cool. Thanks mom!

Next week is Christmas and I'll be spending it with Yuko as planned. We probably won't be doing anything special that day because she knows I don't have enough money to make it that fun so we'll have fun new year's eve/day instead. I'm also looking forward to seeing my good friend Enoch and his wife Sanae in Osaka. It will be nice to see a good friend from San Diego over the holidays.

So, that's about it for this post. It might be another couple weeks till I manage to squeeze another post out of my brain. Till then Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Good news and a funeral

Of all the things I haven't experienced in life, I didn't expect I'd attend a Japanese funeral. Let's rewind back to yesterday morning where all this started... Yesterday was a day just like any other for me, I ate breakfast, showered, and walked to work in near freezing weather. After arriving at school I sat down at my desk and noticed something wasn't quite right in the staff room. I found out quickly enough what was up when the principal called the staff office and asked for me. Apparently the Nurse's father passed away the evening before and the principal had invited me to attend the nurse's father's wake.
To my relief, I studied many aspects of Japanese society and ceremonies while attending college. Thanks to my Japanese professors, I knew just about all there was to know about the do's and don'ts of Japanese funerals. The Japanese funeral is incredibly formal and rigid in how it's carried out but it is also very well organized and goes really quick for non-family attendees. I was a little nervous about how I'd look in the ceremony but it turned out just fine. I did every thing expected of any other Japanese person and didn't stand out much in the crowd. I think the strangest aspect of the wake is that every attendee is required to give 3,000-5,000 yen in a ceremonial envelope with your name on it. One good thing that came out of this experience besides saying I've experienced a Japanese funeral is that I got some expensive tea as a parting gift.

Moving along; It's been a few weeks since I last posted on my blog. The reason behind my disappearance from the net would have to be my recent acquisition of a social life. Thanks to my newly found GIRLFRIEND Yuko, I now spend most of my time with her. We spend just about every other day with each other, going out and having dinner together. We met through one of the teachers I work with at my school and things just ended up working out between us. So now I won't be alone for Christmas. Yay.

The year is just about over and I can't believe that life in Japan has been fairly comfortable and irritation free. The only thing I wish I had more of was money, but I suppose that's just about every body's problem. I'm looking forward to meeting my friend Enoch and his wife Sanae in Osaka in a few weeks. Travel isn't cheap and it will most likely be the end of my petty cash for at least until the beginning of January. Hopefully this month's pay on the 31st will be my first saveable paycheck.

Well, that's it for now. Things are going well but there aren't many new details besides Yuko.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A really fun weekend with Yuko.

No, those aren't scratches on my car, that's ice! It's getting friggin cold here and I heard from people at school it will get even colder! Down to -5celsius! I am really glad I have new WARM clothes now or I might have caught a bad cold by now. It's been about three years since I wore winter clothes and I kind of missed them. I like dresssing in layers although it is kind of troublesome when you want to just take them off to go to bed or something. Hopefully my running will allow me to drop a few pounds in my face so I don't look like a fat rolley-poley in my winter jackets.

Contrary to the weather being cold, my social life has been really hot! Man, this has been a good weekend. I have done something every day and managed to spend more time outside of my apartment than in! Thanks to the help of two good friends I have blown through a big wad of cash and didn't even realise it because I was having too much fun. I'm glad payday is this week or I'd be in serious trouble.

This week went by super fast because we had two holidays this week, one on Tuesday and one on Friday. Friday was the start of my very long weekend and it just kept getting better from there. Who am I kidding, this weekend isn't even over yet, it's only Sunday morning! I actually thought Friday would kind of suck because I wasn't really that interested in going to the Yamanashi Teacher's Union new teacher's festival. I agreed to go a few weeks ago when I was having dinner with Takako (one of the teachers I work with). To my surprise it really wasn't bad. In fact, the festival was very fun even though a lot of it was work like helping with traffic control/parking and singing a song in Japanese with a choir(after only one practice!). The real fun actually happened when I was alone with her in her car. We talked a lot about random things and just seemed to really connect. I think we made a real break though. I already knew she was somewhat interested in me somehow, but now it is obvious and I'm going to pursue this opportunity with all I got. Hopefully after this week is over, she'll finally have some real free time on her hands, at least she said she would. I'm hoping to spend more time together with her now that I know she wants to be with me. The best part of all of this is that she sent me a cute text mail on my phone which really dropped a big hint there is something goin' on.

Now on to my other half of Friday.  I had plans to do something with Yuko during the afternoon/evening. It seems now that I can expect to spend the whole evening with her if we end up meeting for lunch. She really likes just driving around and doing random stuff around town with me. Friday and Saturday were no different. We spent a lot of time and money driving around, sight seeing, shopping, and dining. We also went bowling and I managed to get Yuko to have a good time despite the fact that she told me she usually gets frustrated playing because she isn't good. I did a good job helping her with her technique and managed to get her interested in bowling again. I usually would be super tight and frugal with my money near the end of the month or even during any time of the month, but we have such a good time together I really don't mind or regret spending so much.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about what Yuko and I did but I will briefly list what we did so the pictures I display here make more sense. On Friday afternoon, I went to see my school's boy's soccer team play a championship soccer match. It was my first time ever watching a soccer game in person and for the most part I enjoyed it. Regrettably, my school's team lost by one point so their dreams of winning the regionals is over. After soccer we went out for dinner at a steak house and a nearby arcade for a little music game fun with Pop n' Music.

Saturday we spent ALL day together and drove all over town in my car. The biggest part of the day was going back to Shosenkyo during the afternoon to get better pictures. The night time was followed up with a little window shopping at a couple of stores and a light sushi dinner. We finished the night off with a cute movie at my apartment called Ratatouille. It was kind of nice having a REAL friend stop by my apartment for once. Hopefully this will happen more often.
I hope I can do something today (Sunday) with somebody. I am worried about asking Yuko to go out again because I don't want to wear out our relationship so quick and get tired of each other either. The nice thing about Yuko is that she ASKS ME to go out. So maybe she is OK with spending lots of time with me. Anyway, things are going along just fine in my little town and I am glad I will have good friends over winter break. I can't wait for Christmas! It's only a few more weeks away!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post too awesome to title gets no title.

It's been a rough couple of months starting my life off here in Minami-alps. It's not that the actual city is bad or the people are horrible, it is that there isn't really any nightlife to speak of and it lacks the population of twenty-somethings I really need. Well, things have really turned around for me in the past week. I met a girl named Yuko by chance through a Japanese travel information website and it just so happened that she is friends with one of the nice ladies that teaches at my school. So it was really easy to just meet since she knew I could be trusted. Ever since our first dinner out together, we've been having a lot of fun together. As a matter of fact, the past week has been a very enjoyable one for me. Yuko and I have really connected well and we're meeting just about every other night. It's been a great time getting to know her as a friend and I think she's going to be a real good one. What really makes things great is that we don't need to throw back a couple of cold-ones to have a good time. That's a relief, seeing as how we live about 30 minutes apart from each other by car.

Yuko and I spent the whole weekend together shopping and dining. I ended up spending about 21,000 yen ($180) on a whole new winter wardrobe that I really did need to buy. The clothes I brought with me from With some advice from Yuko and some free spending, I was able to dress myself well. We also checked out a nice little waterfall in the nearby mountains in Shosenkyo. We didn't make it there till sunset so my pictures are kind of crap, so we plan to visit there again for an afternoon maybe next weekend or whenever.

School has been pretty enjoyable too. The students are used to me now and seem to be comfortable with my teaching style. This week will be kind of interesting seeing as how I don't have any more classes the rest of this week. I had all my classes on Monday and the rest were cancelled due to being a little behind in other courses. So I will be sitting in my chair most of the day on Wednesday and Thursday. At least I have Friday off this week, maybe I'll make the most of that wasted time up on Friday doing something on my own. Next week is midterms week for my students and if it is anything like the last testing day, all my classes will be cancelled. I am going to see if I even have to show up to school on those days. If I don't, I may just screw around hiking in the nearby mountains or something.
Speaking of hiking and getting out, I've been running about 5k every night. I am starting to notice a difference in the amount of energy I have during the day and how my body feels. I still haven't lost any extra weight but I know I eventually will. I'm looking forward to that, it is a little embarrassing to see my stomach slightly bulge out when I sit. Either way, meeting Yuko has really inspired me to shape up and that is exactly what I plan to do!

Finally, we're near the end of today's post. My computer's been on the fritz as of late. My power button has been working sporadically for the past few weeks and it finally gave out Sunday morning without warning. When my power button stopped working, it also took out my integrated microphone and speakers. I was pretty bummed out about it so I took matters into my own hands and carefully opened up my laptop. I found that my laptop was built and designed very well and is very easy to repair, at least easier than older ones I've screwed around with. After taking out three small screws, I popped off the top trim media bar and found the problem. The primary power ribbon cable that connects my power button to the motherboard was severed slightly due to being bent beyond it's limit. So the thin wire has a bad contact. To my luck, the media bar control panel has the same gauge wire so I just swapped them temporarily. Now my speakers and mic work like a charm but I lost media bar functionality till I get a replacement in. I'll probably end up asking Matt or Enoch to send me a replacement in the mail. I just have to buy it somehow first. I found a replacement on ebay so I'll probably buy it that way and have it sent to one of my friend's homes. Shipping to Japan shouldn't be so bad since it is lighter than a sheet of paper and as long as a pencil. Either way, I am very happy and blessed it was an easily solvable problem.

So that's it for now. I got another dinner with Yuko this evening. We'll be going out for a little Yakiniku (Korean-BBQ) hopefully. It's been a while since I've had real good grilled meat. I'm not sure if I'll get a picture of Yuko any time soon but I probably won't post it on the blog either. So if you want to see it, you'll have to ask me to show it (ahem Kherri). Since my blog is public, it's probably best this way. I may eventually make my blog private, but I have noticed though GOOGLE analytics that people from Australia and New York read my blog too. I know one of my friends, Dave, in Australia reads it but I am getting more than just one hit from Australia. And New York, New York is just strange, I don't know anybody there. So, mystery blog visitors if you want to keep this public, speak up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Like a finely aged bottle of wine.

Before I get into my newest personal discovery, I want to give a little break down of what's been going on since last week. It looks like my blog may become just a weekly deal by the way things are going here. I just don't sit in front of my laptop as half as much as I used to. Maybe if more stuff happens during the week that deserves it's own post, then I'll have an extra one or two posts a week.

Saturday was a kind of flop of sorts. I was expecting to hang out with Sayaka and her friends at their school festival for the day but plans changed. They forgot to mention that they were running a booth at their school and they weren't really free to go and do stuff with me for the day, so I ended up wasting part of my day waiting around to find that out. So in order to save the rest of the day, I decided to wander Kofu city. I made the most of the rest of my day checking out the castle ruins, which probably looks really awesome at night because it is decked out for Christmas with lights. I also wandered up the local hills and saw some really cool abandoned homes and other buildings. I bet that area would be super fun to check out at night if you are into 'haunted' stuff like I am.

That night, I ended up spending the evening with a few people I met during the Halloween party. A guy named Travis and his friend Nisa, kind of took me under their wing and showed me their town's night life. I had a great time wining and dining with them but blew a huge hole into my wallet. But, when I look back at all the stuff I ended up doing, it was well worth it.

Finally we get to this week. Nothing really special happened this week, it's pretty much another ho-hum run of the mill week with a small twist. Apparently my friend AD on a Japanese travel site was answered by a lady named Yuko. Yuko also happens to be a friend of one of the ladies that works at my school. So last night (Wednesday), we went out for dinner for our first meeting. We ended up spending about three hours just talking about random stuff. Yuko seemed pretty happy to meet me and I am glad to have met her too. She wants to meet me for dinner this Friday again, so that's pretty cool. As I get to know her better, I'll share more. Until then, Kherri, no pics/gifs/divx.
Now, back to the meaning title of this entry. I was just glancing in the mirror when I noticed something shiny in my hair. I thought I had something stuck in my hair so I ran my hand through it and found that it was a pair of silver hairs. I decided to leave them in there because they are under the top layer of my hair. I wonder how they got there in the first place. Could it be natural ageing, or was it stress? Who knows, but it looks like my body's showing its true mileage a little earlier than I expected. It looks kind of cool, but I am sure as more pop up, I'll probably not enjoy their presence as much. I'm only 26 for goodness sakes! At least I'm not balding...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Today was super fun.

I had an unusually good and very short day at school today. I was expecting today's class to suck because it was with my only quiet class. Getting them to say anything is like trying to put a cat into a bag. It just doesn't happen easily....

Today I had a breakthrough of sorts with my 'problem' class. The actual class was kind of dry and borderline sucky like it usally is but today something was a little different, today they talked to me after class. The found out I am an otaku. An otaku, for those who aren't familiar with the Japanese term, means fanatic (like a starwars nerd or Trekkie and the like). I don't openly share this particular hobby with many Japanese people I meet but they found out through subtle hints I contiuniously dropped during class. They finally got enough courage to just ask me in English and from there I knew I had a breakthrough. As a matter of fact, people I didn't expect to talk to me just opened right up and started to try to speak English with me. It completely blew my mind. So from now on I won't keep my hobby a secret from my students, but I'll still be careful about it around regular Japanese adults. It just isn't 'cool' to be an otaku, as a matter of fact some people would look down on me if they found out. That kind of sucks...

In other news, my friend Naoko made an unexpected visit to my city today. By coincidence, she came to Kofu on a business trip to check up on a branch shop of hers and met up with me for dinner. We ended up spending a couple of hours just chatting while eating delicious sushi. Naoko is a really nice friend, she always has a way of really cheering me up. I need more people like her around me. It was a nice way to finish this great day off.

This weekend I'm supposed to meet Sayaka and her friends at their college festival. Hopefully we'll get to hang out for a little while. I want to make more LOCAL friends here and they seem like the right kind of people. Maybe I'll even be able to meet more people at their school, which would be equally good. A male friend would be really helpful for improving my natural Japanese communication but girls are just as good too. Hopefully this weekend will be interesting and not too expensive. >_<

Monday, November 5, 2007

Best weekend so far

I've been incredibly busy over the past week and never thought of writing a blog entry until now. I think its been about a week since I posted anything. Sorry to anybody out there that actually enjoys reading my thoughts on a daily basis.

Nothing really happened during the work week. It was a pretty average week with the exception of attending a speech contest on Wednesday evening. My second grader got an honorable mention and probably would have placed in the top three if it weren't for a little slip up she had near the end. All in all I am very proud of how well my students did and hopefully the next time I have to coach for a speech contest, I will be able to give better advice.

The icing on the cake for last week was my weekend. I was pretty excited about my weekend for once because I had both days planned out. I went out for dinner/drinks with a couple of the teachers from my school on Saturday night and on Sunday I went to Tokyo to visit Naoko. Saturday was pretty fun and I got to know a couple of the teachers I work with a little better. I hope I can go out with them again soon but I'm not keeping my hopes up. The life of a Japanese school teacher is full of stress and hard work. They spend most of their days and evenings at school regardless of whether they are having classes or not. I feel sorry for them in a way but at least they think I'm worth the trouble to take a little time out of their busy lives to chill with me.

As for Sunday, it was pretty fun despite blowing about 100 bucks in one day. I wasn't intending to spend so much money but travel to Tokyo from where I live is very slow and expensive. I also got gouged for money at a day parking lot near the station where I left my car. Most of the money I spent on Sunday went just to the train trip and parking.

Naoko is a really good friend of mine. We've known each other since I was a Sophomore in college. I used to tutor her English conversation when she was studying abroad at SDSU. Now she works for Coach and seems to be really happy with her job. She was really happy to see me again and complimented me on how much my Japanese has improved. I honestly haven't noticed any improvement but I guess living out in the ol' boondocks really gives me the crash course in Japanese I needed. We ended up visiting a few places around Tokyo. I got to see the new Tokyo Midtown towers in Roppongi, and I did a little clothes shopping in Ueno. Near the end of the evening we went to a nice little Thai restaurant called "Golden Flame" in Shibuya. It ended up being some of the best and cheapest food I've eaten in Japan yet and I'm not particularly fond of Thai food either! The restaurant was a little hole in the wall restaurant off the main road. We would have never found it if it weren't for Naoko's keen sense of taste and direction. We ended up spending most of our time together eating and talking at the restaurant.

After dinner Naoko had to rush me onto my train because I had to work the next day and need to get home fairly early. I really wish I could have stayed longer or even for another day because we really didn't get to do much together with the short time we had. I think I spent more time on the train than I did in Tokyo! Next time I go to Tokyo by train I will fork over the extra 4000 yen to go by express train. It is well worth it because it cuts the transit time by 3/4! Instead of taking two and a half hours on the he regular train, the express train gets there in just an hour! I will also park in a cheaper area next time.

So that was it for my weekend. I ended up doing something for once that wasn't by myself! I hope I can keep doing at least one thing with another Japanese person on the weekend from now on. I hate being alone.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wearing pajamas in public gets you chicks

I've spent quite a bit of money over the past week and I can't exactly remember why or how. I should probably not withdrawal so much at once and keep it to 3000 yen increments at a time. For some reason it seems easier to part with money in Japan than it was back in the states. Maybe it is how the money is designed and smaller change is actually larger bills like ones and fives that Americans would have. Either way I have been enjoying myself as of late and last night was the icing on the cake.
For the first time since I got back to Japan I went out to a local bar. My friend Josh told me that there was a Halloween costume party at a couple bars in downtown Kofu. Being a big fan of Halloween and any opportunity to wear a costume, I gladly volunteered to be the designated driver for the night and I am glad I was. I bought an adult sized frog pajama suit complete with a frog head hoodie. The tag on it called it pajamas, but I really don't know what kind of man would wear it to bed... well I did eventually but that's because its warm.

I was supposed to meet another girl named Sayaka at the bar for the first time. I really didn't know what she looked like and I honestly didn't have my hopes that high. All I knew about her was that she was in college and she liked talking with me via emails. Either way, I saw last night as a good opportunity to meet new people and maybe even make a couple new friends if possible. After sitting at the bar for about twenty or so minutes Sayaka came out of nowhere and introduced herself. She was dressed as a cat girl and she was pretty darn cute. Sayaka also had a couple of her good friends/classmates in tow.

Sayaka and her friends ended up sticking around me for the remainder of the evening having a couple of drinks and talking about all sorts of stuff. They seemed really happy to meet them but I was even more excited to be talking to other people besides the kids at my school. Having a real social life outside work gave me a really good feeling inside and I've been riding that wave ever since. I also ended up meeting another couple, Nisa and Travis which also live in Kofu. Nisa invited me to hang out with her and Travis on Thursday for a little party and some time at her friend's club. I don't know if I'll be able to make it since its the middle of the week and I have school the next day, but I'll definitely keep that option open.

All in all the Halloween costume party was a ton of fun. I got a lot of compliments on how cute my costume was and I made a ton of connections. I'm not sure if they will turn into true friendships but I'll pursue it until they lead to wherever they may. Hopefully Sayaka and her friends will continue to be interested in hanging out with me. They said they wanted to hang out again soon, so who knows, maybe I finally got the break I was looking for.

So that's it for now. This week at school I'll be teaching my Halloween lesson so I got most of my work cut out for me but I also have to attend a speech contest with a couple of my students on Thursday which I am not really that excited about. It's not that I don't care about the students, I just wasn't given much time with the students to make a real difference. I hope what coaching I have given them will help them at least advance a round or so.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm too old for this shi-

My body really is starting to hate me I think... I really pushed myself extremely hard today. Unlike every other day here, I actually went out and got some real exercise. The only downside to something that is supposed to be good and healthy for me is that I didn't train for it. f(^_^);

Of all the teachers at my school, only three ran, the other two female English teachers and me. The other teachers either said they were too old to run or were running checkpoints. I was running just for the heck of it and to better connect with the students anyway, so I really didn't care if all the teachers did it or not.
As with all informal school events, I came in a t-shirt and sweatpants. I seem to be building a strong reputation in the school as the guy who has friggin cool t-shirts. Today I wore my blue "game over" t-shirt which has a silhouette of two guys sword fighting and one about to get cut in half. The students thought it was pretty funny and were just as interested in it as my "exit" shirt I wore during the school festival.

I decided to run the full-course 8.679 Kilometer course with the boys because I didn't know better. What would normally be easily doable for me if I were back in San Diego, turned into a hellish beating of my legs and poor lung capacity. The boys started 10 minutes after the girls started but I really didn't see any girls until the end of the race. What I overlooked before agreeing to join the race was that most of the course was UPHILL at about a 6% grade. For the first three or so kilometers, I was doing fine but my legs started to give out on me and I had to slow my pace down to a really slow jog. Just about every boy passed me except for three which I made sure not to pass me up. Another thing that kept me moving was that I wasn't going to loose to a couple of the heavier girls who seemed to loose all energy about 3/4th into it.I am glad I caught up with the girls at least or I really would be pathetic.

I ended up finishing the race in a dismal one hour and four minutes. Most of the students charged through the whole race and ended up finishing in half that time. One thing I realised after the race is that I am horribly out of shape and I might just be getting too old for this stuff. I now see kids half my age with twice the energy and stamina I have. I think its time I look over my lifestyle and see if I can change a couple things to get me back into better shape. Hopefully I'll still be working here next year and I'll be able to put in a better time next year. I guess it wouldn't hurt to train myself (punish my body more) to get a better time and shed a couple of pounds while I'm at it.

After the race was done, I was allowed to go home early for the day. I ended up crawling into bed and sleeping for about four hours until sunset. I was really wiped out after that race and even more sore than I remembered before I took a nap. Stupid old body, why won't you work like you used to? Anyway, thanks to my car, I decided to treat myself to a sushi dinner. It was nice to just drive down at my leisure and have dinner where I wanted. After dinner I decided to drive out to Kaimasu to look at the figures and see if there were any more cheap posters I could snatch up. I spent a good hour and a half just rummaging through aisle upon aisle of anime figures and merchandise. I ended up buying a Bright figure from Gunam 0079(modeled in the top picture) for about 400 yen, a Yuki Nagato figure, and a limited edition manga pack-in figure Misaki from Welcome to NHK.

Yup, I'm an otaku. Its hard to resist buying nicknacks and posters for me. Maybe things will change when I meet a girl... Nah, I'll probably keep my hobbies if she really is the girl for me...maybe she'll even like playing a game once in a while.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday drivin' and the fuzz.

Today I started my day with a delicious breakfast. Thanks to my car, I was able to buy food I typically wouldn't be able to carry home on my bike. I made myself pancakes this morning and it sure did hit the spot with a cool glass of Meiji milk. I've been having eggs and toast every morning for breakfast for the past couple months and it was a nice change of pace.

I ended up getting out of my apartment around noon. I didn't set any goals or destination but I knew I needed to explore, and that is just what I did. I went beyond where I have explored by bike by many miles, to the point where I got lost actually. I somehow wandered my way into Chuo City, which is south of my city by about 15 kilometers or so.

As I just about regained my bearings and turned myself around thanks to my natural sense of direction (although it can put me many miles off course at times), I passed by a speed trap or something. Of course I didn't have anything to worry about because I wasn't speeding but I was the only person on the road at the time. So when I passed the police car, I thought nothing of it and continued on down the road. To my surprise the police car caught up with me about a half a kilometer down the road at a traffic light. At that moment one of the police in the car got out of the car and approached my passenger side window. So I rolled down the window and the police officer kindly asked me to pull into the convenience store parking lot across from where I was stopped. So without any hesitation, I parked in the parking lot and waited to find out what exactly they wanted.

Apparently my car is brand new and I am a foreigner so that was all the cause they needed to check me out. They asked for my alien card and driver's licence. During this whole experience I didn't feel any anxiety or anxiousness at all, as a matter of fact I felt pretty comfortable. Japanese police just aren't as intimidating or scary as California traffic cops, so that is probably why I felt so comfortable getting stopped randomly by them. After the police looked over my ID and asked me a couple of questions in Japanese they kindly apologised for stopping me and wasting my time and let me go without any other word. All in all the police were pretty friendly and I ended up thanking them even though they stopped me. Go figure.

So after my time with the police I found my way back to a familiar main road and decided to wander around a bit more. I ended up driving all the way to downtown Kofu and then back home. On the way home I bought some cheap NewBalance running shoes at a local shoe shop on sale for about 2,800 yen which is pretty cheap. I am also shocked I found a pair of shoes my size for so cheap, must have been destiny.

So that was the end of my Sunday drive, except for the police encounter it wasn't that interesting. I'll probably buy a map or download one sometime this week so I can find stuff easier next time I meander off onto a side road and loose track of where I am going. I think I have finally adjusted to driving in Japan, my last and biggest skill test will be on the toll highway. I'm not sure when I will try that out but when I do I am sure it will be just as trouble free as my first couple days driving. I should be fine.

This week at school will be interesting because its midterms week and most of my classes are cancelled. I also will be participating in a school marathon on Wednesday, which is the main reason I wanted running shoes. The marathon will be about nine kilometers, which I am sure I can survive because it's not a true marathon. I'm looking forward to running on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Freedom on four tiny wheels.

Last night, during one of the worst rainstorms I've witnessed since I arrived in Japan, my car was delivered. To my disappointment the car came with an empty tank so it was clear I was going to learn how to do a lot with my car the first time I actually got around to driving it. I did get a short chance to drive it around the block against my will because when I was parking in my apartment's parking lot another car came in and forced me out. So I ended up driving the car without knowing its dimensions or how well it handled normally. It was an interesting experience although not exactly how I wanted to drive it the first time.
Today, I got my wish and was blessed with a clear and sunny day. I was pretty nervous about taking my car out for a spin because of what kind of driving I have experienced over the past few months while riding my bike. Before I get into the details of my day-long feel for my car I should probably go over what my little car is like. I got a brand new car right off the factory line from a car leasing company. I seem to be only the second person to ever drive the car besides the Japanese guy that delivered it to me. The seats were still wrapped in factory plastics and the engine bay was immaculate. I wasn't expecting to get a new car and it is actually my first time to ever drive a brand new car so it is a nice feeling.
As for my car's specs, it is a Suzuki Wagon R 2007 4 speed automatic. The car is a five door and is incredibly spacious. It is just a tad bigger than my car I had back in San Diego, a Toyota MR2, so it was fairly easy to get my bearings on the dimensions of the car. The car came with fully loaded with a CD Player, Radio, power windows/locks, retractable mirrors, and a remote entry system. Pretty cool for such a cheap car I'd say. Despite how small it looks, it feels really roomy inside and is fairly easy to navigate. The car also came with alloy wheels with winter stud less tires which will probably be installed in a month or so from now once the weather gets crappier.

After adjusting the mirrors and making sure everything was right in my car I head out on a test drive that lasted until sunset. The first thing I did was get my car filled up at a full-service gas station. It was pretty cool to pull up and have a crew of guys clean my windows and fill my gas tank up. It cost about 4,700 yen to fill up my tank which is fairly cheap and pretty good because my car sips gas meaning less trips to get gas. After getting gas I went down the road about six kilometers to do a little weekly grocery shopping. What would normally take an hour by bicycle round trip took about fifteen minutes. I can already tell my car is going to be incredibly useful.

After getting my groceries, I felt fairly confident in the dimensions of my car and the left side of the road so I ended up driving out to Isawa. I made it to Don Quixote in less than thirty minutes compared to four hours by bike which really put things into prospective for me. I was really crazy riding out that far about a month ago. I ended up buying a couple things to keep my car clean and a new pair of cheap cargo pants for 1000 yen. After I had enough of shopping I decided to head home.

Driving is pretty fun and relaxing contrary to what I expected it to be. I am happy that I finally have the freedom to go anywhere I want to now and I plan to drive a little bit more tomorrow. Maybe the car will be the chance I needed to spread my pool of friends. Now its just a matter of time before I get a chance to meet more people. Hopefully sooner than later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kei-car, what's that again?

I actually know what a kei-car is but I thought it would make a catchy title, so I used it. Today during my final prep period of the day I got a fax and phone call from my company. I was told my leased car will be delivered Friday night and that I should be home if I want every thing to go smoothly (ie get the car on time). I was ecstatic after hearing this good news which came just in time right after I started getting bitchy and whiny about not being able to do anything on the weekends. Well, now I can!
Thank you God, may you continue to bless me when I drive the darn thing in the evil, poorly designed, roads of Japan. Rather on the contrary, I am more afraid of Japanese drivers than I am of the quality of roads in Japan. Japanese drivers, especially Yamanashi-folk are well known within Japan as ranking high on the worst drivers list. I thought California was bad on a rainy day, man Minami-alps takes the cake and makes my toes curl in my socks every time I take shot-gun in a car. I can't remember witnessing such a blatant disregard for safety and fundamental traffic law. I prayed every night when I drove my big-assed FedEx delivery truck in San Diego, and I plan to shave my head and become a friggn' Padre to survive in Japan.

If you one of the unfortunate law biding citizens who prefer to follow the overly strict traffic law system in Japan you'll probably go loony and lock yourself up in a closet or something after some jack-ass sideswipes your car or blinds you with high beams from tailgating you for 20 kilometers on a two lane country road. A large majority of people here, Minami-alps, tailgate like their car is tied to the car ahead of theirs with a three foot rope, and I'm not joking at all about this. Furthermore to complicate things beyond any sane person's imagination, these numskulls will park on the side of the street to go take a leak or buy a pack of cigs just because that's how its done in Japan even though there aren't any public parking places on public roads (even if there were there isn't any shoulder to do it in which makes it even harder for the lowly pedestrian to survive around here!) So when I am on my bike I end up risking my own life swerving into traffic to avoid these Darwinian rejects. Its tough business and I wish I didn't really need the car after all but it is a necessary evil I suppose. I just hope that I have protection from what others around me do, I'm not too worried about my own driving skill. I see it this way, if I could drive a FedEx truck and parallel park the sucker and back it into and drive through tight spaces daily for a year, I can drive fairly competently... maybe.

Onto topic two for the night, which feels like just another topping on the good ol' rant cake this evening. I like my Japanese to be corrected when I make mistakes but I don't like how one particular person does it... Her name starts with an "M" and she is wearing my nerves thin. Most people who are friendly and care will politely get the attention of their friend who made the mistake and let them know how to correct it instead of interrupting abruptly and shoving it in their face as if they are shoving a dog's face into it's own doo to not crap in the house. Not cool I say, not cool at all. I have helped many Japanese people, friends and acquaintances with English and never once have I ever told them they just flat out suck, which is the impression I get every time I get corrected by her. I am in no way professing that my Japanese is worthy of any praise but its not that bad and I didn't join a language boot camp, so I would appreciate a little slack....

Of course I can't say that to her face lest I get called an absolute direct American pig that knows nothing about how to conduct yourself in Japan (which I do have for the most part thanks to my good college Japanese profs and study abroad life). I am glad we've backed off from each other lately and haven't met that much as of late. I think its just time to see each other less so we don't end up saying something stupid (me) and making things harder to bear living in this city. News would travel quite fast in this small town and I really don't want that to happen either... I like my life and school here and I'd really like it if I keep my job here for a couple years more.

So that's my 10 percent good news and 90 percent bitch session. Kei-cars are great, I just hope I don't freak out and decide to get rid of it because I can't be aggressive enough as a driver to hold my own in this crazy town.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm living in fat city, literally.

I haven't made any blog entries for the past few days so I figured I might as well recap whats been going on just for my own records. This is sort of my journal so I'll be reading this some day in the future... maybe.

I think I have just about completely recovered from my insomnia and exhaustion. I don't have any more headaches or any weak spells, so I am looking forward to this weekend when I can crack open a can of beer again. I probably won't have anybody to drink with but at least I will be healthy enough to kill more brain cells. Funny how that works huh?

Anyway, my health isn't what really motivated me to write today, its more of a rant I want to get off my chest. I don't really have anybody I can talk to here casually, so I'll just unload here. If I were dropped in my city without knowing anything about Japan I'd swear the average Japanese woman was fat and mostly unattractive. Maybe its just the mountains and lack of any real motivation to exercise because EVERYBODY has a freakin car but there are some real fat chicks here. I have never seen so many dumpy looking people since I left America. Haha, maybe I'm being too critical but I can't believe what I see every day here. So I'm ranting about it! I'd complain about fat Japanese men but they aren't as common as fat women here.

So, what gives? Am I just not getting a good representation of the average country folk or is it a local health problem. I'm leaning towards local health problem. I brought this up mostly because for the most part fat Japanese women seem a little more stuck up and annoying than the average woman. Too much Mc. Donald's and KFC? Who knows but I know I am stereotyping and that's what I'm sticking with. I am a credentialed jerk so I'm entitled to my opinion.

Well, that's the end of my rant. I think that's the first time I've had such a negative thing to say since I arrived but its been bugging me for about a month. Bottom line is I'm a biased pig and I'm completely comfortable with it. ^_^ Fat Japanese guys are cool but women aren't. Weeeeeeeeee. PS I'm a fatty too.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

On the ropes. I almost had the towel thrown in on me.

Yesterday during the first prep period at work I decided to send an email to my scheduler at Interac. I sent the email and told her about all my symptoms and especially my horrible insomnia I have been experiencing. By about lunch time I was feeling pretty crappy, just about at my limit and I knew I should probably look for a doctor that weekend. To my luck, during my last class, my dear scheduler called the office at my school but did not leave a message with anybody. So when I got back into the office and flopped into my chair, the cute librarian told me my company called but didn't leave a message. So I figured they were just following up with my cryptic email or something.

Around 2:10 I finally got a call from my scheduler and she sounded pretty concerned. She arranged for me to have a doctor's visit at the closest clinic three miles away down the hill. I had to cancel my speech recital coaching for that afternoon but the teachers understood my predicament after my company and me explained my recent problems. I think I made my co-workers pretty shocked too, because I did a really good job hiding my feelings and condition because I didn't want to visit a Japanese clinic (I am terrified of Japanese hospitals for some dumb reason.)

My local assistant housewife Kyoko picked me up and took me to the doctor's office. It was nice I didn't have to seek out help myself, I am really relieved my company cares and takes good care of people they think need help. Kyoko seemed pretty concerned about me too and it was a nice emotional boost to see so much concern, it actually made me feel a little better. After an hour of waiting in the reception hall at the clinic, I got to see the head doctor there. He checked my pulse, temperature, and breathing which all seemed to check out fine. Then he felt my stomach and chest for any noticeable abnormalities which turned up nothing also. So he had me pee in a cup (yay) and drew my blood for white cell count and other stuff. Since they had a lab in the office they got the results back within minutes, internally I was fine too. But the doctor was shocked to see my eyes, they were incredibly blackened and swollen like a boxer's after a 12 round slug-out match.

Ever since I was about 17 or so, the color under my eyes has darkened a tad due to allergies and the curse of my father's genes. Whenever I feel sick or exhausted, it will immediately show up on my face. When I was at the doctor's, my face was giving the biggest sign it could make that something was wrong with me. The doctor and nurse were really compassionate and concerned about my condition and took good care of me during the checkup. The doctor finally came to the conclusion that my two week's of sleep deprivation had reached a peak and my body was paying highly for it. My headaches, weird light-handedness, and fatigue were all from my insomnia. Where it came from, he couldn't figure it out but he did prescribe some medicine for me.

I ended up getting seven day's worth of Japanese sleeping pills which are incredibly effective. I decided I was done with my day around 8pm and took my first dosage after finishing an email to one of my new email friends in Japan. I literally fell asleep immediately after I pushed the send button on my phone...because when I woke up it was still in my hand. I decided to read the last few email messages on my phone when I woke up to see how groggy and out of it I was, oh man was I loopy. I garbled a few words and sounded really lovey-dovey and sappy in the email. I hope I didn't come off as if I was making a pass at her because it wasn't my intention. Either way, I slept for a solid 11 hours till I woke up at 6:30am. I feel so revived, like a new person. I won't be going out on any bike rides or excursions today because I want to continue recovering. I'm just glad it was a simple problem that could be solved by sleep. It's been a long time since I've dreamt and not tossed and turned in my sleep and it really feels great.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I don't look like a bum anymore!

I haven’t written much this week because I’ve been exhausted after work every day. I haven’t particularly done more than I usually do but for some reason I get a stupid headache in the back of my head and I feel completely drained of all energy by the time I get home. I might have a cold or something, I really don’t know. All I do know is that it is getting cold at night which means fall is upon my city, and from what I’ve heard they’re pretty cold and windy.

So I ended up doing a little winter clothes shopping last night after work despite feeling very tired and weak. I bought another pair of work slacks and a couple of shirts to add to my bland collection. I came with business suits but I don’t have to wear them at school, so I’ve been slowly rebuilding my work wardrobe to better match what the other teachers wear at my school. Some casual slacks, a belt and a collared shirt tucked in. Personally, I don’t really like tucking my shirts into my pants but it’s a job I guess…

I also was getting pretty tired of shedding my long, shaggy hair everywhere so I decided to go to a local salon near my apartment. For 3000 yen (about 28 bucks) I got the works, an hour’s worth of meticulous styling and cutting followed up with a relaxing shampoo and hot towel on my face. It felt good and my head literally feels a pound or so lighter. I was surprised how much hair I had on my head when I saw most of it on the ground below me. I had a pretty good conversation with the lady hair stylist who worked on my hair. I guess her husband and her own the salon that is attached to their new house. It is a nice place and I’ll probably go back again despite not really being too keen on paying 18 dollars more for a haircut. But the service is so good, I kind of forget about the price. It’s only once a month, I’ll keep going there I guess. I got to start some kind of regular routine and keep my appearances up.

One last thing that’s happened recently is that a couple of Japanese people have replied to my friendship email ad on a Japanese friend making website. I have been talking to them for about a week and it is looking pretty good. They live locally and we might end up meeting if I play my cards right. I need some more friends my age, and this is the best way to do it. Thank you internet!

That’s it for today. I probably won’t end up doing much this weekend. I’ll probably stay home and play Halo3 and PGR4 with my friends on XBOX Live. I’ve had plenty of exercise lately and I think my body is telling me to take a break and relax. So that’s what I’ll do.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Found some cheap posters and my 360 headset.

Today I planned to ride out as far as Isawa again but as I was riding further and further away from my apartment I realised that I really didn't need to go out that far to find interesting stuff to do. I ended up going about three quarters of the way out to Isawa instead and bought my 360 headset at a Toys R Us of all places. I was amazed at how many places carried Xbox 360 software and hardware but didn't carry any XBOX live accessories. I understand that the 360 isn't a popular system in Japan but if you sell it, you should support your customers somewhat...

After I secured my 360 headset from Toys R Us, I headed back home but decided to make a detour at Kaimasu which was about four miles out of my way. I could spend hours there just staring at cool figurines and classic hard to find games they have but I decided I'd rather play Halo 3 with Matt before he went to sleep so I cut my search short. I happened to come across a really cool signed movie poster of the Zeta Gundam New Translation which was being sold for a mere 50 yen! I couldn't resist since it looked pretty good and had a signature by Tomino so I bought that and a Ninja Gaiden Black poster. I also found a limited edition copy of Dead or Alive 4 for only 1000 yen so I got that too and rode back home feeling pretty good about my purchases.

Having posters on my walls makes my apartment feel more like my own place now. I will probably buy even more posters to decorate my walls as the months pass since I'm a bachelor and nobody really ever comes over to visit. Even if somebody did visit, they'd know who I am already so the posters wouldn't be all that shocking though they'd truly know I was a fan of anime and games when they finally do see my room.

I ended up playing the last few levels of Halo 3 with my friend Matt over XBOX Live. It was pretty good, almost like he was in the room with me. I look forward to playing more games online with my friends back in San Diego. I never thought technology like this would be found in a simple video gaming console.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Woo! Today's 3-3 (senior class) bombed hard!

I finally had a lesson fail on me. I'm not absolutely sure if it was how I designed it or if the students just didn't want to pay attention today. Class 3-3 is well known for their rowdiness and can get particularly wild compared to the other classes. I have met with 3-3 four times already and I thought I had seen their worst, but today was way off the crazy meter. Half the class ended up ignoring the lesson all together and the ones that tried to pay attention lost all interest after the first ten minutes. By about 20 minutes into the class I was feeling pretty annoyed and restless to get the class over with. So I bent to the will of the class and ended up ditching my planned lesson for a game of politically correct hangman using the vocabulary I took from their handouts. The class ended pretty well after the hangman but I just felt drained and really embarrassed after class.

For the next couple of hours after 3-3's class I was really down especially since I thought they liked my teaching style. I did ask a couple students what they'd like me to do in class and games seems to be the general consensus, along with a little English Q&A at the end of class. So maybe next time I'll scale back the lesson a little bit and give them a game they will enjoy. I should probably do that for the other classes and grade levels also. I think my lessons are useful but I should get them a little more interested in learning with a fun activity or game that could be related to the day's grammar/vocabulary. It means more work for me but if it makes the day go faster and the students more happy to have me in their class then so be it.

I feel fine now, and actually am a little glad today's class sucked. This gives me the kind of feedback I needed to lead me in the right direction for lesson planning. I don't take 3-3's behavior as directed at me because I know they like me as a person, I just have to get them to like my classes too somehow. I guess that's it for today. Not a very charming entry into my daily log but I guess they can't all be warm and fuzzy.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A much needed surprise.

Today went along fairly quick at school. My schedule seems to be getting easier to handle as the weeks pass. I didn't feel too exhausted when I went home today, maybe because I slept pretty well the night before but when I got home I crawled into bed anyway and hibernated for a couple hours. I had some pretty odd 'daymares' if I can call them that... I'm not going to go into any details but I will say I have an incredible subconscious imagination and it scares me a lot.

I decided to go get some food from the local supermarket because I ran out of breakfast stuff so I took my trusty bike and went down the hill for an hour or so. On the way to the supermarket I decided to stop by the post office to withdrawal some money from my Postal Savings account. Today is the first day of the full privatization of Japan's postal savings bank I guess because they had switched to all new logos and stuff. Good for them I guess, I still get free banking anywhere in Japan I want so I don't really notice any difference.

Now for today's surprise, after I withdrew a little cash from the ATM I decided to peek at my bank book to see how much money I don't have till the end of October. To my surprise, my bank account grew about 56,000 yen bigger (about 500 bucks). I wasn't expecting any income from Interac till the end of October but I forgot that they owed me money for the travel I did during training and my ride to Minami-Alps. So I ended up getting a little cash from August I guess. I won't see my September check till November 1st. That seems a little ways off but the way time passes here it will be November before I know it and I'll be rolling in the dough again.

So that's about it for today. I'm hoping that I can do something with one of the English teachers this weekend or something. I'll try to push for dinner or something just so I can hang out with somebody besides Maki. It's not that I don't like being around Maki but I don't want to get bored of her or snap at her. I've felt a little agitated around her lately probably because I've seen her too much. It's just like seeing your friends every day, sometimes you just need some change. Enjoy the weird pictures I snapped with my camera phone at a local anime/game goods shop? My favorite is Pikachu getting taken out by a pokeball. That is exactly what I expect to happen to those poor creatures when you throw plastic capsules at them...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Halo 3 in Japan

My first month of teaching English in Japan has finally come and gone, and I am glad that I was able to get the hang of living in Japan again so quickly. I am still a little nervous sitting in the teacher's lounge at school but I'm sure that will wear off too. I leave work daily with a mild headache for some reason and it mysteriously dissapears when I get home. I'm not sure if its exhaustion or if I'm just going crazy, but it really bothers me a lot.

I've finally made some progress with one of the female English teachers at my school. On Thursday afternoon she asked if she could talk to me alone, I was fearing the worst like she was going to criticise my lesson or something. To my relief, I was wrong and she asked me if it was ok to get to know each other better outside school. We exchanged contact information and our cell phone email addresses and have been messaging each other ever since. I'm not exactly sure what will happen through this but I'm not expecting much. The main reason we exchanged information was so I could be her English conversation partner and help her improve her spoken English. If anything else comes from it, I'll be purely surprised. Hopefully we'll start to do stuff together in October. She seems very excited about our new relationship so maybe I'll have a new friend at least.

In other news, I broke down and bought a Premium XBOX 360 and Halo 3 Limited Edition today. I was originally going to wait for the Elite version with HDMI and 120GB hard drive but I figured I probably wouldn't keep my 360 when I finally do leave Japan so HDMI isn't that important right now. I can use the D-Terminal connection instead which goes up to 720p which is absolutely fine with me so I'll probably end up buying a used 30 inch TV with a D-terminal connection for 100 bucks or something the end of October so I can better enjoy my system.

Halo 3 is pretty cool but I have the Japanese version so the voices are in Japanese but the menus, subtitles, and screen commands are all in English. Its not bad but I am more used to hearing Master Chief and Cortana's voice in English, but I'm sure I'll manage. I bought my Premium 360 at "Kaimasu" used for about 29000 yen which is a steal considering new ones go for 39000 yen, I also saved about 1000 yen on Halo 3 because I found a store that had a promotion sale or something. So I ended up saving money in the long run. I was eventually going to buy a 360 anyway, I just ended up buying it a little earlier than planned. Unfortunately I am currently playing my 360 on my tiny 20 inch standard monotone Sharp TV. The TV came with my apartment so its better than nothing I suppose. Hopefully I can play on XBOX Live with my friends back in San Diego because I suck at games like Halo and have much more fun playing with friends.

So that is about all that's been going on lately. I am going to go into ultra frugal mode for the next three weeks before pay-day to play it safe after my game system purchase. I still have a lot of money, probably enough to live another month, but I want to start sending some back to pay off student loans and my credit card. Once November rolls around I'll be back in the money again and hopefully planning my holiday travels in Japan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good news arrives unexpectedly but way too late.

This morning I had an extra hour to get ready for school because I have a long block of teaching periods today. So I took advantage of the extra hour and rested my eyes for a little bit. I would have fallen asleep if it weren't for this odd urge to check my email. Apparently, I was given an offer by the JET program for an ALT position in an undisclosed location in Japan. This news came about two months too late because since then I've been working for another ALT service called Interac.

I guess it is nice to know that I finally did get the offer and that I did actually have the 'right stuff' to become a JET. Although I'm not absolutely sure what that 'right stuff' is, Interac saw it in me first I guess. It would have been nice to become a JET ALT because I would have got about 500 more dollars a month to burn along with free round-trip tickets and possibly subsidised housing. Oh well, I'm absolutely happy with Interac and I am fairly certain I wouldn't have received such a cushy position through JET. Getting just one school is very rare, especially in a fairly urbanised area.

So there it is, smack dab in my face. I made it but I had to decline. For all that effort and time spent working at FedEx Express not knowing if I'd ever go to Japan or not, I finally find out long after I had given up any hope for JET. I'm sure the path I've taken is just as good, if not better. Hopefully I will be able to live here long enough to find a special person to spend my time with too...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tokyo Disneyland with Maki

Last week, over a few drinks with Maki, I brought up my desire to visit Tokyo Disney during their Halloween festival. Maki seemed pretty excited to hear I wanted to go to Disneyland because she had wanted to for a while but hadn't had a chance till recently. So without any real delay our plans were set in stone and we decided to go on Monday the 24th. It's really cool that she can be so flexible as to make plans like that without much trouble.

I woke up without fail around 5am on Monday mostly because I tossed in my bed for six straight hours. I psyche myself out so badly that I might as well not sleep sometimes and find a book to read or something... If I actually had a book to read. I'll have to order some books from or something for nights like that... Anyway, we ended up leaving little ol' Minami-alps around 6:00 or so because Maki really isn't a morning person and she had a little trouble getting ready.
The morning was a wet one as we drove through three separate prefectures to get to Chiba, where Disneyland is located. The drive went pretty good and I can't recall any awkward silence or anything which is unusual with Japanese people usually. The drive to Disneyland took about two hours and cost about 4,000 yen or so because all highways in Japan use a toll system which is really inconvenient and explains why many Japanese rarely travel cross prefecture/country distances by car, not to mention fuel costs are substantially higher.

We arrived at Disneyland just in time for opening at 8:30am. The weather seemed to be better in Chiba because the clouds were lighter and there weren't any puddles anywhere to be found unlike my city. Tokyo Disneyland is a little different to the one in Anaheim I am used to. For example, the basic layout is different and it's missing a few key rides like the Matterhorn and Indiana Jones. Those other rides are in another adjacent park called Disney Sea which is probably a lot like California Disney but with more stuff to do and 100 percent more Asians. I've been to Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland in California many times before but I have never been to a seasonally themed Disneyland before. Japan is really into "The Nightmare Before Christmas" with Jack Skellington and it shows, because the whole place was decked out in Tim Burton fashion stylish cutesy goth I guess. I don't remember that film being done by Disney but maybe they bought the rights or something... Either way, I love Halloween and Disneyland, so it was a good choice to check it out because most rides were spiced up and reworked with Halloween themed regalia. Maybe next time I'll hit Disney Sea, hopefully with a girlfriend or a girl soon to be my girlfriend haha...
We spent a lot of our time in lines because fast pass tickets became useless by noon as all line waits were a tad shorter than grabbing a fastpass ticket. We got to ride Big Thunder Mountain, the canoe adventure, Mark Twain Steamboat, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the haunted mansion a couple times each. I took about 100 pictures and got to screw around with my shutter speed and flash settings a lot too. I still suck at taking pictures at night but my camera helped a lot. I will probably invest in a tripod so I can get night shots without moving my camera and screwing up the exposure.
Maki and me ended up leaving Disneyland around 9pm thoroughly satisfied and exhausted from non stop fun and standing in line all day. Maki wants to try Fuji-Q (roller coaster theme park in Yamanashi nearby) or Disney Sea some time which means I did a good job not boring her at Disneyland.

I have to go back to work on Wednesday, so I will spend all day Tuesday resting my body and do a little grocery shopping for the week. I was kind of looking forward to getting paid this month but I won't be paid till the end of October. I'm glad I saved a lot of money before I left or I'd be absolutely screwed and hating life right now. I'm amazed at how little I've spent over this month despite all the stuff I've done and 6-packs I've devoured. Here's to another good month in October and hopefully some more female prospects.