Sunday, August 31, 2008

BBQ and fireworks

Tonight I went to a BBQ in a park in Kanoya and ate yaki niku (Korean BBQed beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops, and vegetables). It was delicious and we got to light off fireworks. It was a great combination!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunset and sunrise

Last night I went to a beach party in a town called Kokobu. It was great and very beautiful there. Afterwards a group of us went back to Kagoshima City, had some drinks, and sang karaoke for 4 hours straight. I saw both the sunset and sunrise at this point. I was so exhausted that I kept going in and out of consciousness during my trip home. I think I'm getting old!

Why cell phone coverage is so good in Japan

The country doesn't mind having hideous 300 foot tall towers in the middle of its big cities.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just sit back and relux

Here's some more beautiful English to appreciate! There's nothing like a bar that serves premium, healthy, alcoholic hormone drinks where you can relux, be happy, and have fun. I'll make sure to post something when I take my first sip of premium hormone. Until then you'll just have to imagine how amazing it must be!

Gambling or not? You decide

This is called a Pachinko or Pachislo parlor. They are everywhere and generally full of crazy old people throwing their money away for temporary entertainment. Since traditional gambling is illegal in Japan, the brilliant Japanese people found a way to get around the laws. Basically you put money into a slot machine or some sort of game and are rewarded with small metal balls when you win. There is no actual cash value for these balls inside the Pachinko parlor. It you go outside though, there is a booth or store that will buy the balls for cash, thus creating a loop hole and making gambling legal in Japan. Ta da!

And you thought gas was expensive in the US!

165 yen/liter = $7.50/gallon - Ouch! It makes me glad that I don't drive a car here. It also really puts things in perspective. The US shouldn't be complaining when every other country pays more for gas than they do. Now you know why Japanese cars are so fuel efficient.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Raw chicken with a side of gizzard

Last night after playing frisbee I was really hungry and ready to eat just about anything put in front of me. A few of us went out for food and drinks at a near by izakaya (Japenese style bar where they serve all types of interesting foods in small portions). One guy insisted on ordering the food for everyone, and the first thing that arrived at our table was raw chicken. Before moving to Japan I would have thought eating raw chicken was insane! Apparently, the standards of meat handling is so high in the area I live that they are confident in eating their chickens raw. The texture is very similar to raw fish and, when dipped in soy sauce, it actually tastes pretty decent. The next thing that arrived at our table looked like little chunks of steak (beef) on a stick. I quickly shoveled a couple into my mouth and immediately noticed a sort of awkward toughness. I didn't care at the moment because of my strong hunger pains, but later when I inquired about the origins of the meat I found out it was chicken gizzard (some sort of meaty digestive tract organ). Yum! Well, I'm still alive.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The longest walk of my life

Last night, after 2 hours of playing Ultimate frisbee, I watched The Dark Knight in Kagoshima City since it finally came out in Japan this week, and there isn't a movie theater in my small town. I caught the last ferry boat home, which left around 10:30pm, and I assumed there would be a bus to greet the last passengers of the night on the other side and take them home. Apparently my assumption was wrong.

Upon arrival at 11:30pm, I found out that there were no more buses for the night and the next bus would come in around 7 or 8 hours. I wasn't aware of this at the time, but I live about 35kilometers (22miles) from the ferry port. The taxi driver offered to drive me home for 10,000 yen ($100US) but I only had 5,000. I called a couple students to see if any of them could give me a ride (at this point it was almost midnight) but they were either all asleep, drunk, or their phones were turned off. I was contemplating sleeping at the (now almost pitch black) ferry port but I kept hearing these crazy insects crawling around, so there was no way that was going to happen.

I decided to walk home, having no idea at the time how far it really was. I figured, "Hmm... maybe a 2 or 3 hour walk (10 miles), which would suck, but I'm young right?! Hell, let's do this, it'll be an adventure!" I guess my late night math wasn't too sharp since it usually takes a bus 1 hour to take me home.

Over the first two hours I came across a few convenience stores and picked up some water and food. With my broken Japanese I found out from one of the clerks that I still had a long way to go. He laughed when I told him I was walking home. He probably thought I was insane. I continued walking and dodged numerous massive spider webs and spiders, swatted at some flying beetles, saw a stray kitten, and watched a massive, flying beautiful white/yellow butterfly's wing get destroyed by the rain. It was so big I thought it was a bird at first. Thunder and lightning was constantly going off in the distance and the rain poured on me numerous times throughout my journey.

After about 3 hours, the flat, beach side land gave way to steep hills. I walked for another hour through these pitch black, roads in the hills, using my cell phone as a flash light and the ring tones as a source of music. I even made up lyrics and was singing to the ring tones. It was both peaceful and terrifying. I was pretty scared and lonely at that point.

After about 4 hours my feet and legs were killing me. I got lost twice in the hills and luckily ran across an old lady who had just parked her motorcycle in her front yard around 4:45am. She pointed me in the right direction. About an hour later I saw an illuminated Christian cross, a McDonald's sign and some mid summer Christmas lights that gave me hope that I was getting closer.

After about 5 1/2 hours I saw a building with a painting of a family walking on a metal door and a building that said "You can do it!" on the front, and I got new found motivation, knowing the end couldn't be far away. The morning light began to illuminate and I started to take pictures of what I was seeing.

After 6 hours I finally arrived home. My legs were completely cramped and limping up the steps to my apartment. I had made it 35 kilometers (22 miles) in 6 hours. I never felt so happy to sit down in my entire life. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and went to bed. It feels like a dream now that I think about it.

Morning light

My legs may have been cramping and I was only about 1 kilometer from home at this point, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to capture these colors. It was my reward in a way.

Frisbee playing location

This is where I play frisbee on Sundays. It's in Kagoshima City, so it takes me about about 2.5 hours to get there, but so far it has been worth while. The shopping area is called Dolphin Port and is generally full of friendly people on the weekends. The builders were kind enough to install a big public grass area and a lot of water fountains where little children play when it's warm out. You can't ask for a better setting. It's right on the ocean and overlooks the awesome volcano, Sakurajima. It's easy to get caught up in the frisbee match and forget to appreciate the surreal environment.

A few Kagoshima City streets

This is the big city I go to on my days off. It takes about 2 hours to get there since I live in quite an isolated town. There are tons of people walking on the streets in the shopping areas, but I took these in a very quiet part of town. The shopping districts are insane. I'll take some pictures of them next time. I still haven't really explored this city much, but as soon as the heat calms down I plan to walk down every street I can and into every store that looks interesting. At this point, that's basically every store I see. Of course I will take pictures when those days come.

Interesting car

There are many interesting cars in Japan. I want to take pictures of all of them, but this one in particular really stood out. It was light pink, the shape was really futuristic and I had never heard of the manufacture. It's still a mystery.

Bus info

This was my bus driver today. The box with red numbers displays the cost of everyones bus fares. In Japan, you take a numbered ticket when you get on the bus. When you get off you pay the amount in red under the number on your ticket. It's pretty simple.

Some neary by streets in my small town

This is what I look at every day on my walk to work. The power and phone lines are all above ground in Japan. Some people may think of it as an eye sore but I think it adds a certain atmosphere to the country. These pictures certainly aren't of interesting buildings or parts of the city. I just wanted to show what my regular view looks like.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Kyushu East China Sea coastline quite beautiful. Unfortunately it's very unpopulated due to fear of tsunamis. Not many people go swimming in August due to the large amounts of poisonous jelly fish.

Street legal?

I've seen two people actually riding these around the streets here. I don't think they're street legal, but the cops aren't very strict or plentiful around my small town so I guess it doesn't really matter.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fried Octopus for Lunch

Today I tried takoyaki, which is basically a chunk of octopus tentacle fried in a bread ball, and covered in some sort of green herb, brown sweet sauce, mayonaise, and dried fish flakes. You eat it with a super sized tooth pick. It costs about 300 yen for 8 balls, which equates to around $3US, so it's pretty cheap. It's quite delicious and the people who work at the takoyaki shop were really nice, so I'll definitely be going back for more one day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I finally have the internet!!!!

Yes, it has graced me with it's presence in my own apartment. I finally feel complete again. I am a real boy now!

The pain is fading quickly.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Work attire

This is what I look like at work. I'm not wearing my suit jacket because it's too hot right now. I also have slip on dress shoes because I'm lazy. They look all seemless and stealth. Besides that, I bought a cool Japanese tie clip at the local suit shop. It's pretty much the only bling I roll with on a daily basis.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Insects are everywhere!

Yeah, so today it felt like I was running the gauntlet when I came home. There were beetles, butterflies, spiders, and even a cockroach on the 3 story climb to my apartment. I'm getting good at killing insects with my feet. Oddly enough, I think I'm the only one who kills them. The only dead bodies laying around are the ones I've massacred. Maybe there is some special insect protection law that I am unaware of and breaking on a daily basis. In the morning there are these stealth summertime insects that hide out in the trees and make an insane amount of noise as they all chant together. At least some of the insects are nice looking. I let the pretty ones live!

Sunday adventure

I took the bus and the ferry to Kagoshima city today to play some frisbee and explore some more. I thought I'd post a picture of the bus, bus driver, and ferry I ride on just because I can. Oh yeah, it was really hot today! About 96 degrees. Ouch! I'm not sure how I still exist because I swear I sweat my body weight in water today.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

They're everywhere!

Even in tiny towns in Japan!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dreamy World

Beautiful vending machine English. I love it!