Saturday, November 27, 2010
As a side note, my new favorite word is delase. Coined by Motto, this word is a combination of "delete" and "erase" that only a nihonjin could think up.
(Hint: because R's and L's are interchangeable to them.)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Then I wanna bring her here so bad.
Dirty glasses, tarp sheets as walls, old oden. How did this become my weekend hangout? None of my friends really come here, except when urged by me (or you're Beth-san). No one enjoys Antonio's brashness, lack of teeth, and random conversation like me and Motto.
But when we want a night out yatai is the first place we think of coming. Strangers up for conversation, 711 wine. Peanuts.
Motto just told Antonio I am trying to transfer to Fukuoka. He looked so sad. No one comes to this wooden ramen shack anymore.
Antonio just said he's expecting his first grandchild. すごい！
Yatai entertainment center.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It was one of the most fun things we'd ever done together. We woke up early and drove to the community center. The instructor was apparently a big famous ink painter who really wanted us to learn how to paint asparagus.
Neither Motto nor I really knew what was going on in the beginning. I didnt because I couldnt understand what anyone was saying, and Motto didnt because Japanese people are confusing. We had the wrong supplies. Instead of our bottle of ink we actually needed a black stick (charcoal maybe? condensed ink?) and a block to rub it on. We spent 10 or 15 minutes rub rub rubbing the stick on the block with a splash of water. Then, viola! Ink!
After the ink materialized there was a long explanation that bored me to death as I was itching to pick up my paintbrush. Enjoy the video below to see what I mean.
Finally we were allowed to start copying the teacher's technique to paint asparagus, eggplant, and cucumbers. The teacher painted an example on my paper and then a bunch of old ladies came over and told me it was really good.
After 5 minutes of painting vegetables Motto was doing quite well, creating things fit to be hung on our walls, but my veggies sucked and I was bored of them. So I started painting the teacher (I had been staring at him for 20 minutes with a paintbrush in hand, couldnt resist) and then the girl sitting across from me.
And I almost got away with it. Let's just say there was applause. But I'll never know if they were impressed with my paintings or with a foreigner who knows how to apply ink to paper. Motto acted like the whole putting my painting in front of the class and asking me to sign it and a famous ink painter taking it home as a gift thing didnt even happen. I'm not kidding. He didnt say a thing about it. Which leads me to believe it could have been an elaborate hallucination brought on by owing $18,000 in student loans to an art school.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
This past weekend Motto and I went to Fukuoka for a little getaway (my two week vacation in Texas the week before wasn't getaway enough, I guess). We left Sunday morning and decided to drive to save money. We didnt take the highway to save money. We added 3 hours to the 2 hour drive to save money. Money saved, lucky me.
Our first stop was Mana Burger. Motto knew after that drive I needed to be fed. Being vegetarian in Japan, I find few places that serve real food I can eat. Yes, I can find french fries and iceberg lettuce most places, but everything else is covered in meat or fish juice. Honestly, the majority of people in Japan have never heard of vegetarianism, much less met one. Youre not allowed to go against the flow here.
Mana Burger advertises themselves as "Natural Junk." The menu includes 8 veggie burgers, 2 veggie dogs, french fries, tempeh fries, nuggets, soups and salads. I ordered the Garden Mana, which is totally vegan and is topped with sprouts, avocado, and dairy free Island dressing. The burger itself was good and didnt taste like one of those disgusting Burger King veggie patties. And I was totally willing to fork over the 780¥ (about $9USD) for something I could put in my mouth that wasnt deep fried or bland as hell. (Regular burger is just 580¥)
The Mana Dog on the other hand, meh. It tasted like a nuked tofu dog on a big bun. They also put a big pile of sauerkraut on top, which seems weird. C'mon, isnt relish vegan? But I may just be spoiled from having just been in Texas eating tofu dogs whenever the mood hit me. I could see myself craving those 530¥ weiners in a few months. (They were no Vancouver street dogs by any means...droool.)
I did like the copious amounts of ketchup and mustard available! A rare thing in Japan! They also sell vegetarian food, like ramen packs, tempeh, beans, etc.
Next we went to the mega outlet mall Marinoa City. This was Motto's main reason for wanting to come to Fukuoka. It was pretty cool, I mean if you look at the website there is a Ferris Wheel, Smoking Corner, Children's Restroom. What's not to love? Having just visited America for two weeks I wasnt super impressed, but I could see the appeal if I really needed to get my shopping on. Not like any of the clothes in the entire place would fit me, but there are always accessories and snacks!
Places of note include the LEGO store, Muji Factory Outlet, ABC Mart and Starbucks. Even at discount prices things seemed expensive. Nothing to drive 5 1/2 hours for, especially in the age of internet shopping, but nice nonetheless.
Looking for the cheapest hotel possible, but something with a private bathroom and locks on the doors, we found Super Hotel. Located downtown and costing only 4,100¥ for two people (with Motto's student discount), and 700¥ for parking it was a pretty sweet deal. The bed was kind of small but the room had everything one needs: a fridge, hot water and tea, a blow dryer, air filter and a unit bathroom. The room was clean but the bathroom had mold in the cracks. I knew that wouldnt be good for my ritual hangover bath.
There was a buffet continental breakfast that Motto *loved* but I didnt bother waking up for, since it was not vegetarian-friendly (or appealing?). Miso soup, rice, boiled chicken, pickled vegetables, kimchi, octopus calpacho, eggs, fish, hamburgers (that just means round ground meat here), and drinks.
Contemporary Bar 「瀧商店」
We didnt know what to expect when we arrived at Contemporary Bar for our 7:30 reservation. Motto just booked the place (we were meeting up with his old university friends) because they had a 2,000¥ (24$USD) nomihodai (all you can drink for two hours*) that included three food options. Plus he called ahead and they said they can accommodate vegetarians.
We were a little nervous when we went inside. Motto explained it was in the "bad boy" part of town (a store called Four Twenty across the street). It wasnt a big izakaya like we expected, but a small place with seating for two parties and a few stools at the bar. It had a nice atmosphere though, and interesting, funky decorations. A milk bottle lamp hung between the red sofas where we sat.
But we had nothing to be nervous about. The cocktail choices for nomihodai were awesome (my favorites, Absolut Vodka and Disaronno were available) and the two guys working were friendly and casual (you can see one sitting at the bar in the video). They didnt make us feel guilty for making them fetch our drinks every 10 minutes. The food was really good too, surprisingly. First a big salad with an array of vegetables, then minestrone soup (creamy and oishii!) and finally a big plate of french fries. It was all included in the 2,000¥ each. There were five of us there and enough food for all, although we did order more because we felt obliged to given how little we had to pay (and we drank all their beer).
And let me tell you, the drinks were strong. I think I had a rum and tonic, three Bulldogs (vodka and grapefruit juice) and two amaretto orange sodas. But it could have been more (who knows at that point). You can see the direction the conversation was going in the video (meaning: Japanese) and for the first hour I just kind of nodded my head along, but I swear by the end I was fluent and the funniest person in the room!
*Japanese people dont seem to see that as a challenge.
We took a taxi to a yatai so the boys could eat ramen and drink more. I ordered sho-chu (god knows why), took two sips than wondered up and down the yatai-lined street looking for a toilet. I did eventually stumble into a kombini and use the toilet. I think I may have eaten grilled mushrooms, too. I do know that I was to drunk to argue in Japanese about how I shouldnt have to split the bill. And I didnt want to embarrass Motto in front of his friends.
In the morning I put on my sunglasses, my clothes from the night before, swung by Subway for a Veggie Delite and endured the nauseating ride back to Tokuyama.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sometimes I wish I didnt understand so much Japanese.