Sunday, April 30, 2006


Wow, so mom has been keeping me plenty busy. Yesterday we headed out for the fish market. She went on Friday too, but one day of fresh fish just wasn't enough for her!

It was a pretty amazing sight, certainly unlike anything you might find in Denver. We looked around at all the myriad offerings, unsure of what a good 90% of it was! The lunch lines outside the sushi bars were pretty long, so I went and got a haircut, and we came back later. The salmon sushi was, as we both admitted, the best sushi we had ever eaten. It was like butter. So goooood.

After that we walked down to the other side of town, and the Eastern Geisha district. As we paused for a quick vending machine drink my student Yumiko came dashing up to us. Her friend and fellow student had seen us walking along, they both live nearby, and had sent Yumiko a text message on her phone. She ran out of her house and down the street to catch us and say hi. She wanted to meet mom and give us some onsen (hotsprings) information. I was rather touched, but also worried that I have a spy ring dedicated to tracking my movements!

We walked around a bit, saw some really great sights like these huge Koi and a festival dedicated to children. If a family has more than three children, the government will pay them an extra stipend, and this festival was a way of celebrating that, and children in general.

After a short rest we met up with Paul and his girlfriend Leica and went to another sushi place, also conveyor belt style. This is the one with all the crazy rolls, like fois gras and salmon and cheese. It was delicious, but maybe not quite as good as the simpler, fresher fare at the market. I'm not complaining though, it was still pretty fantastic.

An interesting Iris we saw on our excursion

Then, I managed through two days of wearing down defenses to finally get mom to go to Karaoke, and even sing a bit! While she will never be as Karaoke crazed as Matt or I, she allowed as how it could be kind of fun.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Let the holiday commence!

And so ends my work week.

And so begins my Golden Week holiday, 9 days of bliss.

Well, as blissful as a holiday can be, when you are sharing your coffin with a woman who wakes up with the sun. Argh!

Today was a gorgeous day, absolutly wonderful. Warm, sunny, perfect in every way. The kind of day that you just don't see in Hokoriku very much. I mean, it didn't rain AT ALL. Not once throughout the 24 hour period that was Friday the 28th of April. This is a major breakthrough for Kanazawa weather this spring, one that I hope is repeated often through the weeks to come.

I of course worked all afternoon, but mom, after rejoicing that her luggage had arrived safe and sound, meandered the town. She went back to the garden to see about artistic opportunites (she found none :-( ) She went to the fish market, and enjoyed that quite a bit. And she took a nap, because she woke up at 6. Sadly, I was at work, and couldn't indulge in any sleeping, so I got a Starbuck Sleep in a Cup instead. Not quite as satisfying, but (mostly) did the job of keeping me coherent during my classes.

After work the Denver contingent joined up with the rest of the Kanazawa crew and went out for Okonomiyaki. The hellfire habanero ones were as spicy delicious as always, and the kimchee seemed to have a bit of an extra punch as well. We were all sweating a bit. Mom was pleasenty surprised by how good a cabbage pancake can actually taste, and of course she loved the pan fried squid. Some peope will eat ANYTHING.

Well I guess thats it for today, we are heading out for more sushi and such tomorrow, and a putting together a quick trip to Kyoto early next week before the holiday crowds descend.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mom's Epic Tale

On Wednesday I was on pins and needles all day, awaiting the coming call from my Mom. I knew she would call sometime around 6ish to tell me which train she would be on out of Nagoya. So it was no surprise when around 5:50 my phone started buzzing.

Me: Hello!

Mom: Hi Grant, I'm in Tokyo.

Me: ???!?!??!?!?!?

As things turned out, the flight from Denver had been delayed about an hour, and she had a layover in San Fran of about an hour... I'm sure you can see where this is headed. Luckily for her there was a flight from SFO to Tokyo leaving shortly after her missed connection. Unluckily for her that flight was also delayed, so that by the time she reached Tokyo her new Tokyo to Nagoya connection had also left without her. So she called me from a payphone in Narita airport relaying her tale of tragedy and woe.

She did catch another flight, and made it to Nagoya with barely any time to spare if she was going to make it to the station and catch the last train from Nagoya to Kanazawa. With a lot of timely assistance from a passing business man, she made it to the proper train and the proper platform. From there it was a mere three hours, and one train change, to home sweet home. She staggered off the train with a gaggle of business men, having been en-route for over 24 hours.

Of course her baggage is *still* en-route. Hopefully it will arive sometime in the next hour or so. The upshot was I got to take her shopping at Uniqlo, the coolest clothing store in the galaxy. The downside was, I had to go clothes shopping.. with my MOM! Bummer.

Well the day is glorious, it would appear that all that bad luck was required to bring a bit of good weather here for her vacation!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Photoshop is Fun!

Lately I have been doing a lot of experimentation in photoshop. More than just running photos through a simple filter, now I'm working on sandwiching, blurring, and of course a wee bit of color modification. Its tricky work, but a ton of fun. Most of my creations aren't suitable to show a soul, but a few have come out looking rather nice.

On another slightly stranger note, I had a bit o' chicken sashimi the other day. It was actually pretty good, despite how scary raw chicken sounds. Now all I need to do is track down that raw horse meat they serve in Kyushu...

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Very Wasabi Easter

So after a raucous party that included such wonders as a whoopie cushion and a super wasabized piece of sushi, the next day, Easter Sunday, dawned bright and warm. The original plan had been to go to Joestsu, and see more Sakura, but it had been pretty cold, and so the blossoms wheren't quite ready for viewing yet.

So instead we went to nearby Matsumoto and hopped a rickety little local train that took us, being Zach, Sanami and Myself, deep into the wilds of Nagano prefecture. Our eventual destination was the town of Hotaka, known for the purity of its spring water. They say that pure water is the first step to growing that most wonderful of plants, the Wasabi plant. I have been known to say that I don't eat sushi for the raw fish. I eat sushi for the subtle flavor of wasabi. Well that and the glory that is pickled sushi ginger. Especially now that I have been deprived of spicy food, I find solace in the white heat of lots of wasabi.

Arriving at Hotaka we rented some mountain bikes and set off, dodging cars and the occasional wedding. Yup, Zach got a vision of his future, maybe. There was a full shinto wedding party at a local shrine, and the groom was a rather nervous looking white guy.

It really was a great day to be out, warm enough that it actually felt like spring. Unlike Kanazawa, home of the Worst Weather in the World (TM) (except for Antarctica, they have worse weather).

So after dodging a few tour busses we made it to the edge of town and the wasabi farm. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was very pleased with what we found. The rows upon rows of cultivated irrigated wasabi were very pleasing to the eye, and the piped in classical music added a bit of a festive air to the whole thing.

While the day was nice, one look at the trees was enough to know that winter is not very long gone. Luckily, we had plenty to keep us warm. Almost anything you could think to add wasabi to was on offer. Wasabi katsu don, wasabi crackers, wasabi beer (didn't try!) wasabi juice, wasabi ice cream (did try!) and more. Actually everything I tried tasted wonderful, and no the ice cream wasn't spicy. The fresh ground wasabi that went with lunch was though!

As we rode back we caught a glimpse of a field that had a metric ton of medium sized hawks soaring and swooping around it. I had never seen so many birds of prey in the same place at the same time. I desperately wished I had brought my Nikon with me, and my 300 mm lens. Alas I didn't so the photographic record will remain incomplete.

Wasabi Juice is good!

Back in Matsumoto we hit up MOS Burger for lunch. In a fit of wasbi frenzy I ordered the Avacado Wasabi Burger, a special offering that is hard to find. It was delicious, and a perfectly spicy cap to a spicy day. But unknown to us, our day was not yet over...

We decided to check out Matsumoto Castle, one of the few remaining original feudal castles in Japan. After getting lost, we found our way to the fortification and discovered that they had a special event that night. While we watched the sun go down we were treated to live music and the gradual lighting of the structure, and adjacent sakura.

It was beautiful to watch, but without a tripod it was very, very difficult to photograph. Out of the few dozen pictures I took, these are some of the few that don't look like a blurry mess. Well live and learn. Always carry a tripod!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Theory of Zach

This past weekend I went up to Nagano for Zach's 25th birthday. Yup, a quarter century, a nice, sizable milestone. One that I'm looking down the throat here pretty soon to. While eating sushi and birthday cake a tremedous thought hit me, that I have known Zach for over 10 years. A whole decade of Zach. Yikes!

I still remember the first day I met him, it was High School, Literature X, second semester. I sat down in class after coming back from Christmas Break, and heard the discussion of several boys behind me. They were talking about TIE fighters, those nasty little ships from Star Wars. They, like me, spoke Geek. I was overjoyed, and promptly turned around and said hi. Those three people were Zach, Mark, and Gil, and were soon to form what became my core group of friends, along with Jessica, Colin and Seth, throught the next couple of years of High School. Of all of them, the only ones I'm still in contact with are Zach and Seth, the rest have all fallen by the wayside of life.

And of course, if it weren't for Zach, I would never have made it to Japan. It was his passion that brought him to Nagano two years ago, and his generosity that brought be here on vacation a year ago. No Zach, No Grant in Japan. Life is pretty crazy sometimes, isn't it?

Well, Here is to Zach, and here is to another 25 years that are as fun and interesting as the first 25 years! *Raises glass of Asahi*

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kenrokuen at night

In celebration of spring Kenrokuen was lit up at night. Despite the fact that I had been through the garden twice in the past week or so, I just had to go see what things looked like in the evening. The fact that garden admission was free all week was certainly a bonus. So Friday evening I had some time free between classes and I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed on up.
I was certainly impressed, the beautiful flowers and atmospheric lighting combined really well. Of course not everywhere was very brilliantly lit. It was a pretty dark night too, so I got lost more than once!
Also, I was far from the only one with a camera and tripod. Indeed it sometimes seemed that those without digital cameras were in the minority. There were some pretty impressive photographic setups walking around the garden. I felt distinctly outclassed. Of course there were plenty of people making due with their camera phones.
I recently ordered a pair of photography books from Amazon, and they arrived on Thursday, a week early. This made me gloriously happy, and I am also pleased to report that the books are great. Especially the one on digital photography, I have modified many of my DSLR shooting habits already. Despite this advice, and the fact that I filled a 1GB memory card at Kenrokuen, many of the photos I took were not up to snuff. I guess thats the good thing about taking 100 photos in one evening. You'll be able to find 5 that are fit to be seen in public! I don't feel too badly about that, as we all know that night and low light photography is HARD. Well practice makes perfect, and lord knows I have been practicing lots.
After work we all headed out for some Hell Super Spicy Habanero Okonomiyaki. It was great! It had been so long since the subtle flavors of the Habanero pepper caressed my palate. Hmm that sound wrong. Ah yes.. It had been so long since the violently spicy flavors of the Habanero pepper assaulted my palate. Yes thats more like it! Still, joking aside, it was great, pretty spicy but not too bad. Of course the rest of the table was in pain, but I liked it quite a bit.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A real teacher?

I rarely talk about my classes and such, but I have a quick little story that I thought I should share.

I have one class with a pair of late middle school age girls, I think both are 13 or so. One has been in the class for 11 weeks now, and has of course gotten used to the hairy scary gaijin. She is also pretty sharp, and has a background in English study. The other girl just transferred to our school from Sapporo a couple weeks back. She is really shy anyway, and the move probably hasn't helped much.

Anyway, last week I had them write a short paragraph about their best friend for homework. The girl I've had for a while turned a perfectly fine paragraph, a few minor mistakes, but only 3 sentences. The new girl turned in a page. We are talking a mini-essay here. It was shot through with errors, but that didn't matter. She wrote this long piece on her friend that she left up in Sapporo, and how great her friend was, and how happy she was that her friend came to visit over vacation. I have to say it really touched me. I felt bad marking the hell out of it in my red pen, so I made sure to write a big smiley face and "great job!!!!" on it too. I was really impressed with the effort she went to, and it made me feel like a real teacher.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Hanami Party

Our date with the cherry blossoms went off last Sunday without a hitch. The weather gods smiled on us, for once, and we were blissfully rain free. I had been worried when I awoke Saturday to a horrific thunderstorm, complete with Noah worthy rains. However Sunday dawned bright and clear, if a bit chilly and soggy.

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The Group. Please note my way sexy Domo-kun shirt.

We all met at the school, then paraded down to the Sai river for some picnicing. I had procured a loaf of french bread and some brie and pepper gouda. However, silly forgetful me did not in fact bring such useful things as a knife. I was left to tearing great chunks out of the bread and scooping brie on to it. It was a bit pricy, buying imported cheese in a land not known for its love of dairy products, but well worth it. It had been a while since I'd gone French for lunch. Sadly the importers were out of Orangina, so I had to make due with Life Partner Dakara, a Japanese sports drink.

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The birds of prey were out in force. They outnumbered the pigeons! I got this shot with my 300mm lens.

With lunch wrapped up the more active people tore into a rather heated game of dodgeball! I haven't played dodgeball for at least a decade, and was understandably rusty. I was in fact the very first person to be hit. This may be because I was deep in conversation with Nick at the time. Oops, that is what I get for not paying attention. It was great fun, but we had to be pretty careful, the wet grass did not have much traction, we had a couple really good wipeouts.

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Kanazawa out in force.

Once we wrapped everything up, everybody split off and went their own way. Some of the visiting Managers and friends went to Karaoke, Paul went off with his Girlfriend, and Nick and I headed for Kenrokuen for more Cherry Blossoms. Admission was free to residents, but we had to argue a bit at the gate to have the lady let us in. She was not about to let two tourists sneak in on her watch! Luckily we had our ID cards, so we saved the princely sum of 300 yen. Hooray!

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Nick and I in Kenrokuen

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Flowers are nice.

After that we moseyed over to the Castle, where we got a nice view of the city from an overlook on the old castle foundation. The keep has long ago burned down, but the massive foundation is still there, looming over that section of town. It really is a shame the structure is gone, but the dense forest is kind of nice too.

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The Castle. Or at least whats left/ been reconstructed.

With the sun going down and the evening turning chill, we thought it wise to seek out the okonomiyaki restaurant. I tried the curry flavored okonomiyaki, which was surprisingly wonderful. I keep eating 'non-traditional' okonomiyaki flavors, and when I tell Asuka about it she gives me the weirdest looks and refuses to believe that they taste great. Actually tomorrow we are going back there, Asuka, Hiroaki, and I, and we are aiming to try the Capsicum-Okonomiyaki, made with Habanero peppers. I am really looking forward to this...
Also this weekend I am dropping by Nagano for some birthday party thing, so that should be great fun. Also, Less than two weeks till Ekelund Female Wave 1 hits Japan. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We are controlling the transmission.....

Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We control the horizontal and the vertical. Other sayings to keep you off balance.

You have entered.... The Twilight Zone (wwwhhhooooo)

Hi, this is the famous Matt. Yes, that loveable gaijin who is now stuck back in Denver after visiting my good buddie Grant in Japan.

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Composing a theory of Okonomiyaki

Grant is still there. In Japan. And I'm not. Zach's still there too, but that's not such a big deal. (that s.o.b.)

Grant asked me a while ago to do a little guest spot on his blog. As he's finished his account of the trip, I figured I'd chime in. *chime*

At 23, this was my first real trip without family or friends the whole way. I packed my own luggage, bought my own tickets (well, almost), wandered through three airports all on my own, heck, I even took a train in Japan all on my own. And got off at the wrong stop, again, all on my own.

Well, what can I say about the trip? I could say it was fun, seeing a good friend of mine once again, checking out the sights, and wandering around a place where I can't even read the street signs.

I could say is was exciting, going someplace so different than the US. Being on a plane for longer than humanly possible, deciding that coach is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

I could say it was scary. Being in a place where no one speaks the same language as myself, and even uses a different form of writing. Where would I go for help if I, say, got lost in the Osaka Train Station? (twice)

Yeah, I could say all of those things. But instead, I'll say it was a #$%*ing great time!!!

I was dropped off at Denver International Airport on March 10, sometime around, oh, 630am. I had the joy of waiting in line to get my boarding passes, and then I got to wait some more, for the security check. I got to wait even more, as they searched through my carry-on, and patted me down. I ask you, do I look dangerous?

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Dangerous? Nooooo.

I then waited to get on my plane. The 777's are the coolest planes ever. EVER. Each seat has it's own personal video screen, from which you can choose from five or six movies, or check a map to see how far you've gone, and how far to get where you're going. Even coach has leg space. Of course, for my first leg, Denver to San Francisco, I was on a 757 I believe. They suck.

As I got off the 777 at Central Japan International Airport (Now with new berry flavor!!) I couldn't stop a grin from splitting my face. I had made it. You see, I've been dreaming of a trip to Japan for years. And by years, I can't remember a time when I didn't want to go to Japan.

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Best Buds

The smile widened when I saw Grant, just outside the arrivals gate. This guy has been my best friend for years. It's been quite boring without him in the states to keep me occupied.

The highlight of the trip was meeting my friend Yuko in Osaka. (sorry Grant) Last fall semester, Yuko was a roommate with my friend Tiffany. I met her at Thanksgiving dinner with Tiffany's family, minus Hans, another of my good friends, dating back to elementary school. "What luck!" I thought, meeting Yuko. My trip to Japan was already in the works, and I was trying to figure out what to do over there, when I got sick of Grant.

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Matt and Yuko sitting in a temple, t-e-m-p-l-e.

We exchanged email addresses, and promises to meet when I got over there. To my surprise (and Grant's, I suspect) she kept her part, and played the part of tour guide for a day. Oddly enough, she just started a job as a tour guide. So, if she reads this, GREAT JOB!!! And if her boss read this.... well, I was going to say "give her a raise" in Japanese, but with my luck, she'd probably be fired.

Of course, most of the trip I was at least damp, due to rain and snow, but that didn't bother me much. I've always loved the rain, and there's been much too little snow lately. Plus, I got to throw a snowball at Grant :-D

So, that's my blurb, on Grant's blog.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Sakura in the Rain

If there is one thing the Japanese love more than Asahi or Natto, it is Cherry Blossoms. The short spring blooming of the Sakura is a subject of national importance. For weeks ahead of the trees flowering people speculate about when the peak time for viewing will be.

All this enthusaism has rather rubbed off on me, and so I was really looking forward to Kanazawa finally being inundated by pinkish white blossoms. It has been a bit chilly lately, but it was warm enough that we are getting the first wave of blooms now. I was all set to go out and run my camera through its paces some more on Wednesday, but when I got up it was pouring rain. Again. It rains a lot in Kanazawa!

Undeterred by the bleakish weather I headed out anyway, with my umbrella in one hand and my Nikon in the other. As things turned out, I got some very nice pictures, despite the crummy weather. The water drops on the the flowers lend a certain atmosphere that wouldn't be present in a more typical 'dry and sunny day' picture. Though luckily the yesterday and today were both quite warm and sunny, and I have a some nice 'dry and sunny' pictures too.

The buds aren't all open just yet, this weekend and early next week should see the peak blooming. Our Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) party is this Sunday, so we got that scheduled just right!

In other news the female contingent of my immediate family is coming to visit! My dear Mum will be here for Golden week, with my sister following the week after. They have to come one at a time as I don't have room for more than one house guest. It *is* a rather small apartment. I'm rather excited, to say the least, it will be nice to see them after an absence of 7 months. Mom is worried I'll be too tired by the time Liz shows up, but I think things will be fine. I'm too overjoyed to be worried about that.

In other other news, I have finally crossed over to the Dark Side. I have.. I have... *sigh* I have read and sort of enjoyed the first Hairy Pothead, er I mean Harry Potter book. It was what it was, a fast wish fulfilling escapist read for kids. Nothing that special for a 24 year old Japan bound male, but also not the horrible story that I expected after watching the atrocious film adaptation. I checked it out of the local library, as there isnt much in the local library, but they have Potter! I suppose I will have to get the next book out this week. Alas, save yourselves, its too late for me!

And now on to the Sakura...

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Monday, April 03, 2006

The Magic of Miyazaki

In a recent class my students had to name who they thought were the 5 most famous Japanese people in the world. Their choices ran a pretty wide range, but most lists included master animator Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is perhaps best known for his Oscar winner "Spirited Away" but every single one of his films is an instant classic. He is gaining quite a following outside Japan, and inside Japan he is practically a patron saint of animation! Miyazaki is in fact so popular that he and his Studio Ghibli cohorts set up a special museum south of Tokyo.

The Ghibli musuem is amazingly different from any other childrens commercial enterprise I have ever encountered. You can only buy tickets in advance, and all tickets are for a set arrival time. Visitors are spaced throughout the day, so that everybody has an uncrowded and pleasent experience. The tickets are a mere 1000 yen, (less than 10 dollars). With your admission you get a keepsake piece of actual film (I got a bit of "Totoro" and the chance to see one of 6 special short films that show only at the musuem.

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Unlike Kanazawa, it is warm and pleasent near the Ghibli Museum

The museum itself is a maze that encourages and rewards exploration. Like Miyazaki's films, the place is not just for kids, but for the child in all of us. Cliche, yes, but also wonderfully accurate. Wandering around the rooms brought about a glorious sense of childhood wonder. There is an excellent visual primer on how animation works on the main floor that just blew me away. They had a series of models in different poses, that when spun and lit with a strobe appeared to be moving, some in the opposite direction!

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Totoro points the way

There is also a look at the actual animation process, with the painted backgrounds and the individual cells that are used for movement. There was also concept art and photo refrence material for the newest Ghibli production, "Howl's Moving Castle." There was even a mini version of the Cat Bus (from Totoro) for kids to play in. On the roof is a spectacular life-sized version of the flying robots from "Castle in the Sky."

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The museum.

There is so much more, stained glass windows from each movie, and of course the short film. We saw one where every sound effect, from cards to rivers to monsters to wind to rain to bugs...all of it made with the human voice. It was fascinating, and of course tons of fun to watch. We were actually rather bummed out that we would be unable to see the other 5 films, I imagine they are all great.

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Hi! Me and the Laputa Robot

The Ghibli Museum was hands down the most fun we had in Tokyo. All three of us had a blast. It really captured the innocence and wonder that is childhood, the same innocence and wonder that come through so well in Miyazaki's films.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Shinjuku: The Dark Heart of Tokyo!

This marks my 100th post! Wow its been a long wacky road eh? Ok, now back to the Tokyo Story Part 5? 10? Oh heck, on with the story.

Our next stop in Tokyo was Shinjuku, home of the busiest train station in the world with around 3 million people passing through daily.

And I thought Tokyo Station was bad!

Once again we circled a few blocks looking for the capsule hotel. Thankfully Zach asked for directions much more quickly than earlier in the day, and we got there with a minimum of fuss/ sore feet. I was absolutly overjoyed to find Nagoya based chain Yamachan and their spicy-teriyaki chicken wings right next door.

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Shinjuku in the daytime. Looks peaceful huh?

We dropped our bags in the overpriced *special* capsules (The section was segregated by a soundproof door from the rest of the hotel. This did not save us from the man snoring next to Matt.) and headed out to explore the metropolitan madness that is Shinjuku.

I advocated a trip to Yamachan for dinner, but there was a rather lengthy wait involved, so we struck out for greener pastures. Luckily for Matt we found a conveyor belt sushi place nearby. I always figured that conveyor belt (kaiten) sushi is one of those things that tourists just have to try when they come to Japan, even if I was still a little worried about getting my own personal 8.8 meter tape worm. Well the sushi was delicious, and I *think* I'm still tapeworm free!

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Shinjuku at.. wait for it.. night!

We moseyed through the glittering lights looking for a decent bar, but we had to contend with the many large black men who thought we should go to *their* bar. Or at least the strip club they represented. Yup, there are reverse bouncers all over Shinjuku and Roppongi too, I hear. They are mostly Nigerians, and their whole raison d'etre is to get gullible foreigners into their dens of iniquity. They promise a deal, but once you go in, be prepared to spend a lot of money, as they won't let a flush with cash tourist go cheap! (Or so I hear.)

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Zach puts his dukes up outside the Fight Club. Too bad it was closed! Where is Brad Pitt when you need him?

Well of course, after a beer or two at the convenience store as we still hadn't found a good bar Zach made a big mistake. Rather than just keep walking, or feign ignorance of the English language (Je ne parle pas d'Anglais! or something to that effect), he asked one particular Nigerian "how much?" Oooooops. At the slightest shred of interest shown, Zach's new best friend pounced. Three flush with cash tourists, bingo! Matt and I voted for continuing our search for a bar, and so we left the poor reverse bouncer to continue his quest.

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Zach's new best friend!

Well a half an hour later after circling the station, we are walking down the street when we see him... and he sees us. We duck down another street, and he follows! He smells money on the air. We actually talked to him for a while, but despite his most desperate bargaining we remain unmoved, and so he searches out more gullible gaijin.

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Why yes, we are from Colorado, and we are COOL!

We settled down back in Yamachan, had some wings and a beer and marveled at the automatically raising toilet seat. We then headed home for the night. Not before swinging by the arcade and playing some DDR (Dance Dance Revolution for the uninitiated), Taiko no tatsujin (Drum Game), and Mario Kart Racing. We also hit up a photo booth and printed some awsome stickers. On our way out we discovered porn Mah-Jong. What will they think of next? Thankfully Zach did not proove to be an expert Mah-Jong player, and he didn't feel like investing another 100 yen.

Our night of lurid temptations was now over, and we would be fully cleansed the next morning with the final day of our Tokyo Adventure, and a trip to the totally family friendly Studio Ghibli museum.