Monthly Archive for July, 2009

Page 2 of 12

Day 6 in Japan: Kabukichou is Overrated

I’m starting to really feel the fatigue from the insane amounts of walking done over the past few days, and it doesn’t help when one of the 2 lectures is a 3 hour long bore fest.

We had yet another 2 lectures. The first was by a U of Washington prof who specialised in Political Science/International Relations, and she did lots of work in Myanmar. Her lecture was interesting but pointless, and totally fits the stereotype of liberal arts professors. Basically, she talked about her work in Myanmar, a few political science concepts and then brought up a case study of invasive species in Australia, the Cane Toad. 3 totally unrelated things! Nevertheless, I learnt quite a lot on Cane Toads, despite her "teaching" being merely showing a 40 minute long video of a documentary on the subject. Apparently these toads were declared by scientists back in the 1950s or so, to be excellent natural pest control agents for the cane beetle and worm, which plague Australia’s sugar cane fields in Queensland. So 102 toads were brought into the country and set free, and each time they mate, 40 000 eggs are produced. These toads have no natural predators in the country and to make things worse, are actually poisonous as they secret toxins through glands on their shoulder, killing any would-be predator. As such, while 2 out of 40000 survive to adulthood back in their Hawaiian habitat, essentially all 40000 survive here in Australia. You can imagine the Zerg swarm forming. To top it all off, they don’t even eat the pests! Speak of a completely fucked up ecosystem modification by humans.

The other lecture was by a Korean professor of Food and Resource Economics. This one was truly a WTF lecture, as he was really technical with loads of graphs on economic concepts, full of assumptions that don’t really apply to the case study (the Aswan dam) at hand. I sort of stopped listening after a while, and the Americans were full of fight as usual, challenging every point and raising their hand every minute to argue among themselves over pedantic issues of economics, regarding definitions and such. The poor professor, unused to this, was really quite flustered, and himself admiitted that in his 10 years of teaching (he was pretty young), he had never come across such a class. He possibly meant it in a good way. Meanwhile, I was busy checking this interactive map of Akiba, preparing for my journey there this Sunday. One of my friends from NUS, whom with I took a Japanese studies module together, happens to be working in Japan and by a freaking coincidence, lives in the same area as me.

The main afterschool activity was supposed to be rest, anime and laundry. I needed to do my laundry as I had used all my shirts. The SG girls came by and asked me to go to Kabukichou with them and 3 Americans. I suspect they need me along because they can’t order food without me.

I grudgingly agreed, since Kabukichou is supposed to be a nice place to see. In a sense, that is true, but it’s not very fun if you’re a foreigner. I’m sure visiting with a rich Japanese friend familiar in the dark arts would be so much more awesome.

Just like in Shibuya, there are lots of these "Information Centers", which are basically fronts for pimps. You step in, they have lots of posters and pictures of the nice brothels, cabarets and bars which they will lead you to, probably for a commission. I stepped in, since my Japanese friends had told me that there were nothing but computers there, but I found myself facing a ponytailed Japanese man, who asked if I needed anything. Feigning the good old gaijin, I asked what was the purpose of this place. He cheekily explained that he could bring me to cabarets, and he pointed to a poster with hot girls and said, "This is a bar where you drink beer and touch breasts." EXACT TRANSLATION. I laughed out loud on the spot but had to decline his offer.


Kabukichou entrance.


Inside of sacred information centre, there are like at least 20 of these all over the area. I wonder how the economy here works. I just noticed it says no pictures.

The night life wasn’t as hot as we expected, and there weren’t the fabled Nigerian bouncers or slutty girls, but perhaps it was just too early in the night. The SG girls dragged everyone around, to lame places like the Koma Theatre and Hanazono Shrine. The SG girls spotted a moe maid bar, and insisted on going in. I was pretty annoyed by this as I knew they would kick us out for being gaijin. Sure enough, the two bouncers stared really hard at them, and they then pushed me to the front to communicate. I gave a feeble "Can we go in?" in Japanese and they made giant X signs with their hands, shouting "DAME!"


The Japanese seem to all look the same. There are signs advertising the various bars/brothels.


It’s really expensive though.

We saw the famed male hosts though, they’re not really pretty boys, it’s just a lot of makeup and photoshop. In fact, Shibuya has a lot of better looking people, but I guess the good looking whores wouldn’t be standing on the streets, would they? I’m getting disturbed by the fact that the SG girls have been looking to go to nothing but seedy places.

There was another incident which highlighted their stupidity. Monkey (remember her?) saw a Takoyaki stall and decided to order some. She was showing off to the Americans, who hadn’t heard of it, that she eats "TAKOPACHI" all the time. I told her, "It’s takoyaki." and she glared back, retorting, "NO LEH, IT’S TAKOPACHI I EAT IT ALL THE TIME." I sort of accidentally raised my voice, "That’s just the brand name!"

Indeed it was. Takopachi is just the name of a store in Singapore which sells Takoyaki.

I decided to eat some fast food, to compare the differences between Sinaporean-localised and Japanese-localised fast food, so I went with Druggie to Wendy’s, though I really wanted McDonald’s instead. It was expensive, at 650 yen for a set, and pretty much sucked. No more Wendy’s.

Day 5 in Japan: Shibuya is Awesome Heaven on Earth.


Shibuya is a nice place.

The key to enjoying Japan is actually to get one of those powerful accessories to equip – one that increases your power levels. How do we get such a thing? Simple, just bring your own white boy!

See, the Japanese are really in love with/in awe of caucasians, especially the better looking ones. I, not physically distinguishable from a Japanese guy or even a Chinese, do not wield the power to influence the Nipponese that much. With this trick I’m going to teach you, you can make new friends in Japan very easily!

1. Bring your own white boy or girl. Preferably boy, because I assume you want to be meeting females.
2. If you see a decent-looking one or anyone who’s caught your eye (and does not have a samurai boyfriend beside her), go up to her and make sure you say your first line in English. This is really important! I made the mistake of saying "sumimasen" once prior to asking for directions and I got ignored, but when I said "Hey excuse me!" they got really attentive. This is because they think any Japanese that talks to them are either trying to hit on them (nanpa), make them join a cult, or sell products. Sometimes all 3.
3. At this point, their reaction will almost always be a look of shock, fear and then followed by either frantic hand-waving or flustered broken English sentences if you’re lucky. They will almost always say, "Sorry I don’t know English."
4. This is where it gets good. You will now need to speak Japanese, but not good Japanese, at least at first. You must use simple sentences and look like you’re trying really hard to help them understand you. This will really impress them and make them want to talk to you, since it’s like doing them a favour. You’re putting in effort to helping them alleviate their fear of English!
5. You can gradually improve the quality of your Japanese, but make sure not to appear like you’re a weeaboo or otaku. Rather, give out the impression that Japanese is easy and you picked it up with little effort since the natives can’t speak English, and you’re so well travelled.

Yeah, so this is the sure-win way of making Japanese friends on the street, or asking to take pictures of/with hotties.

Of course, since my girlfriend reads this blog, I must state that I did not actually perform the above trick in real life and this is all a theoretical plan. Maybe.

Today was yet another day of lectures, and I shall spare you the boring details. The speakers were Prof Kevin Griffin from Columbia, and Prof Chou Loke Ming from NUS, on ecology and marine biology respectively, basically hard sciences. None of the students except the 3 Singaporean girls were biology majors so most of them had no idea what was going on. I took a lot of life sciences modules and have always been a sciences person, so it was pretty simple. It was funny to see the Americans, who on the previous day, were so eloquent in their discussions of economics and politics, become bumbling fools who failed to grasp the concept of using isotopes of elements to obtain scientific data, and other fundamental science stuff. The poor Koreans and Japanese were partly aware but because they took their sciences back in high school, in their native language, found it difficult to understand as they had not learnt the scientific English terms.

Besides that, the interesting thing was the contrasting styles of Asian and Western professors. Since the seminar was supposed to be really open to discussion, the professors were required to stop and answer questions whenever the students raised their hands. They were also to provide opportunities for group discussions. The Columbia professor did this brilliantly, probably because he’s used to this. On the other hand, our Singaporean professor, who has been in a system of top-down education where the students are lifeless drones absorbing knowledge to barf it out onto the exam table, got irritated when students kept interrupting him with questions that he found retarded. He’s not very good at hiding his feelings, and when people make scientifically unsound or uninformed statements, the faces he made were hilarious. It ranged from the "WTF, are you retarded?" face to the "Erm, ok, thanks for interrupting me to spend 5 minutes talking about nothing" face. The columbia professor on the other hand had a friendly face no matter how dumb the things he heard, and constantly lavished praises like "that’s interesting!" or "Great point!" when it obviously wasn’t.

Each method has its pros and cons, I find that with the American one, classes are really slow-paced and meandering. With the Asian style, there appears to be only one correct answer for scientific problems.

The main highlight of the day was the Shibuya trip. A bunch of us, Americans and Singaporeans, were about to leave for Shibuya, when Talkieman, a fan of museums, showed up and said he was going to the Bridgestone Museum, which featured some artsy stuff. Most of the Americans decided to go with him because they thought Shibuya was like Shinjuku. Big mistake on their part. The Singaporeans and Druggie decided to head to Shibuya instead. Tip: Skip Shinjuku, just head to Shibuya if you’re into shopping. Anyway, stuff are expensive either way but Shibuya is a lot more interesting to window shop simply because there are FUCKING HUGE AMOUNTS OF HOT GIRLS WITH GREAT BODIES WHO WEAR NICE CLOTHES THAT SHOW BOOBIES.


This shop at 109 building basically sums it all up! TITTIES!

Admittedly, a lot of make-up is involved and possible plastic surgery too but you know those JAV actresses or gravure idols with large boobies? Those are real. You can actually see normal girls with such chests on the street. I really think it’s the food or genes in Japan or something, but Singapore doesn’t have these types of girls at all and I’m annoyed at that.

We went to the 109 building in Shibuya, which is essentially the HQ of the garu (gal) culture in Japan. It has 7-8 stories of nothing but trendy clothes for females, and even on a weekday like today, there were tonnes of girls slinking around in their fashionable clothes. There was a shop which had a liason with Gainax or something, and had Evangelion clothes. This you must see, so I have posted the picture below.

 
Basically tank tops with the plugsuit designs, it’s pretty ugly though. The models are hot.

Pity the clothes are insanely priced, like ranging from 6000 yen to 10000 yen for just a top and 8000 yen for a bikini set. It’s crazy money.

We wandered around aimlessly, with the loose intention of going to Harajuku but instead found ourselves lost in a seedy neighbourhood. I then mentioned that Shibuya had a massive district of love hotels, and the girls were really excited to go there to see the fabled themed rooms and vending machine checkins. I found it really embarrassing to ask "Where is the love hotel area?" but thankfully, we have the bold and shameless girls to thank for that and they just rushed up to people asking that. It’s really awkward for me and Druggie because there were 2 other girls, and the numbers fit. And they weren’t very pretty. Or even at all. And that’s an understatement. It’s like implying we have no taste in women and are dragging any lame mutt to the love hotel.

Anyway, thanks to their zeal, we found the district and it was pretty cool. You can see couples entering and leaving the various hotels and there are like 30-50 of them. We went into about 10 of them and the girls insisted on taking photos of themselves in the lobbies.

I suppose all that was an unforgettable experience. BUT WAIT, we then came across this place called the Alcatraz ER. It looked like a stripjoint from the outside, but was on the 2nd floor of a building beside a love hotel. One of the girls insisted we go up, and we did and when the lift door opened, we were greeted by the sight of iron bars, corpses and generally very creepy atmosphere. There were 4 buttons each labelled with a blood group and a sign read "press your blood group".

The same girl, let’s call her Monkey, did. The door slid open automatically to reveal a blood-stained hot Japanese girl in a really revealing nurse outfit, complete with uber short skirt, exposed shirt showing off her bra and rather large boobies, and she asked us if we had a reservation. We were really shocked and thought it was some kinky fetish parlour, and turned to flee but Monkey instead asked if we could go in and take a look! Hottie Nurse surprisingly smiled and let us in. It was actually a theme restaurant! Individual dining rooms are jail cells, or operating theatres and the ambience was really authentic. The waitresses were all sexy females clad in that nurse costume, and the chefs were all decked out in full blue operating theatre gowns. We didn’t eat there as we had dinner already, but I’ll be sure to return there. You can check out the website at http://alcatraz.hy-system.com. Online reviews state that the prices aren’t cheap (expected) and the food was shitty (well it’s a prison?) but I suppose the main thing is the wtfness of it all.


Your dining table.
 

Your chefs.


Finally, another anime reference.