chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

Embarrassment of the Week [2005年4月26日]

In an almost impossible move, I manage to trump my performance from last week...

English Teacher: "Okay, everyone listen to Chris sing!"

Me: [Thinking it was more of the ABC song... Which I feel more comfortable with now.]

English Teacher: [Whips out a stereo and starts playing a rap beat.]

Me: [Burst out laughing.]

Stereo: [In rap fashion.] "A is for ah-ah-apple. B is for ba-ba-bear. C is for ka-ka-cow. ..."

[In unison:]
English Teacher: "D is for da-da-dog. E is for eh-eh-egg. F is for fa-fa-..."
Me: "D is for da-da-dog. E is for ee... ehegg. Fisfor fa-fa-..."

Me: [Terrified for the next random song to be introduced in the middle of class.]

Embarrassment of the Week [2005年4月19日]

In my second week of classes with the new students...

English Teacher: "Okay, let's sing the ABC song! Chris..."

Me: [Almost wanting to laugh out loud at the ridiculous notion of me singing in public outside of the drunken/safe environment of the karaoke bar...] "A, B, C, D..."

[Forgets the end of the song.] "Is it, now I know my ABCs...?"

English Teacher: "Okay kids, repeat after me..."

Me: [Officially fail as an English teacher.]

What's that smell?

I just made a disturbing discovery! Maybe it's disturbing... My neighbor just had a shower, and of course I can hear it. Japanese walls are very thin. But I swear I can smell the soap and water in the air! Either I'm imagining it (which is quite possible), or somehow the vapor from the shower is making it over to my apartment! There are no windows open... So weird!

Japan, you need to learn about insulation.

★ Article: "China suffers memory lapses too"

A different point of view on the whole Sino-Japanese thing right now. China is not so innocent. It's still absolutely corrupt and controls every aspect of the public's life.

★ Article: "Textbook crimes"

A good article about the reaction in Japan to the protests in China. The Japanese PM apologised, finally. (Although the Japanese government has apologised before...)

In more happy news for me, apparently a third, or up to a half, of the passengers originally flying to China from Japan this month have cancelled. Looks like my flight to Hong Kong will have a lot of leg room! :)

★ Article: "Japanese MPs visit war memorial"

WHY?? Why would the Japanese government provoke the Chinese when they're already pissed?!


Every spring in Japan, the cherry blossoms (sakura) bloom for 1 week. It's a fantastic event that brings people out of their winter sleep and into the park for some food and drinks! A major part of sakura season is hanami. 'Hanami' roughly means 'flower viewing.' Hanami, in reality, is a picnic in which you gorge on food and get really drunk!

I 'hanami-ed' several times this year! It was hilarious watching the ridiculous antics of hundreds of drunk Japanese in a public setting! Oh, and the flowers were beautiful... :)

Japanese Truth [第3]

Japanese couples do not walk side-by-side, but rather, the woman walks 1 to 2 metres behind the man.

Random Thought [第6]

It's probably time to start driving a car once you've developed super-human, acrobatic skills on the bicycle.

Suggested Feats:
- Riding whilst using an umbrella.
- Riding whilst eating a banana.
- Riding whilst drinking hot coffee.
- Riding through a typhoon.
- Riding through a snow storm.

Japanese Truth [第2]

You will never buy, and lose, as many umbrellas as you do in Japan.

I started with 3 umbrellas, purchased 7, and have only 3 left in my possession.

Japanese Truth [第1]

Quite possibly the only thing that is cheaper in Japan than anywhere else in the developed world is dry cleaning.

1 wool sweater = ¥280 (C$3.25)

DJ in Kanazawa

Sarah and I went to Kanazawa Saturday night to check out a DJ. His name is Towa Tei, and he was the DJ in Delite! You remember Delite. "Groove is in the heeeeart! Groove is in the heeeaaararaart!"

We had dinner beforehand. Of course it took at least 30 minutes to find a decent restaurant. In Japan, there are no street signs, and the roads wind in twists and turns. So, it's nearly impossible to find a place you've only read about! (I have spent perhaps 4 hours of my life so far looking for restaurants in Kanazawa, Osaka, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Sapporo...) Eventually we settled on Italian.

Sarah and I
Sarah and I on our 'romantic date' eating Italian. (Not for real!)

Afterwards, we got our groove on at the club. The DJ was pretty good! A mix of old house and new stuff.

A Japanese dance club is something to experience. When the dance floor becomes crowded, people behave as though it was a concert. Everyone faces the DJ whilst dancing. So weird! Sarah and I would resist facing forward whilst dancing, but it was hard when everyone else was looking in the same direction! It's especially creepy when everyone starts moving in sync. So cult-like!

We ended up staying out all night and caught the first local train back to Takaoka. Good times being exhausted. But it was worth it!

Can I just share with you a typical budget for a Japanese night out? Okay.

Train to venue: ¥820
Starbucks: ¥1,000
Dinner with wine: ¥2,200
Club entrance fee: ¥3,500
Drinks: 6 x ¥500 = ¥3,000
Early morning snacking: ¥500
Taxi to train station: ¥1,100
Train back: ¥820

TOTAL: ¥12,940 (C$149.85)

Daaaaaamn! I think Gillian would agree with me on this budget. (She often goes to Fukuoka for all-nighters.) I'm glad I have an inflated salary to make up for it!

★ Article: "The Rape of Nanjing"

An important article on the event Japan refuses to remember.


Last night I had dinner with my Japanese friend, Mika. We both had our birthdays within the past week, so it was a mini-celebration. Mika invited a friend to come along. At first, I thought that it was perhaps some sort of set-up! Especially when I met her friend in person! But, I was wrong. *Whew* It turns turns out her friend, Nuun, also had her birthday last week! So, it was the three of us celebrating ourselves! :)

It was an interesting night! Nuun is actually from Thailand. She went to university in the US for 5 years, so she speaks English well. She has been living in Japan for 2 years with her Japanese husband, so she can speak Japanese on a conversational level. Quite an interesting mix! I must admit -- I'm jealous.

We went to a Thai restaurant in Toyama City and had some oishi food! I had some dishes I didn't even see when I was actually in Thailand! So good! The best part was the conversation, however. You can imagine the mix of languages -- a native English, Japanese, and Thai speaker in the presence of other people who know their respective language (the owner spoke Thai)! It was, at times, confusing (to say the least)!

Happy Birthday Mika and Nuun (I hope I'm spelling that right)!

My Next Project

As part of my job, I am required to join a school club. All junior high school students in Japan have to join an after school club, be it sports or the like. Last term, I was 'a part of' the kendo club. By 'part of', I mean I showed up once a month when I realised I was supposed to go. It's not that I didn't go solely because I am lazy (which I am), but it is difficult to speak with the kids when they're screaming their heads off. (Google "kendo" for an explanation on that.)

This term, I've decided to join the art club. I visited it yesterday and found it to be quite enjoyable! Generally, the type of kids who join the art club know a little bit more English than others. (You know the type I'm talking about.) Also, it is much easier to hold actual conversations when all you're doing is drawing or painting.

One problem: I have never done any sort of formal art before! None in junior high school, high school, or university. Unless, of course, if you count finger painting in elementary school... So, it looks like I'll be picking my pencil or paint brush, and venturing into a whole new world of mediocre!

Embarrassment of the Week [2005年4月13日]

At the enkai last night...

Me: "Oh, this is really cool." [Referring to the item on my dinner plate.]

[I eat it.]

English Teacher: "Oh... I didn't know that was edible..."

Me: "......"

My Birthday

April 7th was my birthday! The big 2-3! Yikes! I don't feel any older... I went out for drinks and snacks with the crew to Da Friendz. But the real party happened on April 9th.

It's sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan! For a few weeks in early spring, all the sakura trees in Japan blossom at the same time. Entire parks are filled with people trying get a glimpse of the temporary pink forest! To start the season right, I decided to have a picnic party in the park as a sort of birthday party. (Really, you never need an excuse to hang out in the park!) A ton of people came! I was actually surprised! It was a pretty fantastic day, though. We ate, drank, played frisbee, etc.

Sakura BudsJamie and Sarah in a finale!

Afterwards, the crew and I moved onto karaoke and an inzakaiya. I had a complete blast!

Random Thought [第5]

You know you've been in Japan too long when you realise one morning you've been unwittingly styling your hair with a new edge...

Suggested Warning Sign:
Flock of Seagulls


Hokkaidooooooh! Yep! I went to Hokkaido this past weekend. Just two days! Nuts. ANA offers special fares for domestic flights in Japan for you and your friends around your birthday! So, Sarah, Shelly, Jamie, and I flew from Toyama to Sapporo on April 2nd, and flew out the next day!

Since we only had literally 24 hours, we had no time to waste. Once we arrived, we went straight to the hotel and had lunch. The first sight-seeing location was Sapporo's TV Tower. What a tourist trap! It wasn't even that tall! But, it did offer a good view of the city. It's one of those things you are 'supposed to do' when in town. Like the Statue of Liberty in New York or cosmetic surgery in Los Angeles.

TV TowerView from the TV Tower

After experiencing the awe and wonder of the TV Tower, we made our way out of Sapporo into a town called Otaru. This town is quite cute and European-looking. But the best part, by far, is the Otaru Beer Factory. We had some okay dinner and excellent drinks at this establishment. The highlight (besides the beer) was the live entertainment. It consisted of a jazz band showcasing a ballet dancer. Sweet.

That night, we trained it back into Sapporo and sought some local watering holes. The first place we found was a bar on the 9th floor of a building on the main street. It offered a great view of the city, along with amazing (but pricey) cocktails.

Sapporo is 'known' for its hairy crab. So after the bar, we decided to sample some. After wondering the streets for hairy crab, we eventually found an izakaiya that offered to make us a hairy crab borrowed from a restaurant next door. Nice! It wasn't that great. Needed butter. (It reminded me of my fugu experience in Shimonoseki.)

Sarah and I went on the prowl after Jamie and Shelly went to bed. We eventually found this sweet ghetto bar called Booty! It had a ton of "black" Japanese peeps, and some local gaijin (foreigners). I had a blast grinding with my playaz and hoz! :P

The next morning, we hit up Sapporo's other 'must do' sight... The Clock Tower. What a scam. Two storeys of boring! But, it's done.

The next visit more than made up for the Clock Tower... The crown jewel of any visit to Sapporo... The Sapporo Beer Museum & Garden! Okay, the museum was kind of boring, but the bar at the end was great!

Shelly, Jamie, Sarah, and I at the Sapporo Beer Museum
Shelly, Jamie, Sarah, and I at the Sapporo Beer Museum Bar.

Afterwards, we enjoyed beer and jengusu kaan (Japan's name for lamb -- it's supposed to be Genghis Khan) at the Sapporo Biergarten! You can get an 100-minute nomihodai (all you can drink) with an amazing meal. So we did! I managed to down only 4 steins though. (I've heard stories of some Toyama peeps downing 8... Amber!)

Since we had to fly back that evening, we went straight from the beer garden to the airport! Yikes! Jamie has video of our embarrassing display running to catch the plane! I may put an edited version of it on my website soon...

So that's it! Check out the photos!