2011 (full set on flickr)
So after the GREAT SUCCESS of 2010, I took an twice/week evening course in moon language for a few months and tried to figure out how to do it again. So after 2011's WWDC (apple dev conference ) in San Francisco, I flew to Sydney and spent a month with my parents, got a more steady job, and then it was off back to Japan!
I now choose to read the おかえり part instead of the "Welcome" bit :cool:
OK so my arrival didn't start off great. Jetlagged as I was, I totally forgot my checked bag at the ATM when I went to pick up my rental SIM card, and suddenly realized I didn't have it, and ran back to the ATM... where 20 minutes it was still standing there. PHEW.
This year I got a Sakura House apartment again, this time more centrally in Tokyo, in an area called Kagurazaka. A street full of nice little restaurants and drinking establishments I never went to because it would be too lonely. It was nicely situated 100 meters from the most useless tokyo metro line (tozai), but a metro line nontheless!
I love the japanese horror film aesthetic with concrete, rust and dead clinging plants over water towers. Whenever I got home at night I kept expecting a girl with long black hair covering her eyes to stand furthest away.
Hours after I moved in, and old guy and a young guy came in to replace the old CRT TV in the apt with a new LCD (since the analog shutdown had just been), and I got the chance to ask if the antenna was OK in the rain (which they misunderstood but yay I spoke japanese to someone despite horrible jetlag!)
First things first, japanese groceries :D I love going grocery shopping in japan. It's the little things!! You could only buy 2 big bottles of water per time due to rationing after the 3/11 quake, so I made sure to always buy one to stock up in case.
I soooo regret not buying this fan! 5 hours of emergency battery power, MP3 player, FM radio, USB/SD card reader and a lamp on an articulated arm! Rebuilding JAPAN!
This is the kind of service I only see in Japan. "Oh that bag you're carring looks heavy, do you want me to wrap the handle?". No more red lines on your hands!
In Japan you are required to always carry your passport (or if you're a resident, your alien reg card), and in the sweaty balls hot summer, it makes it desintegrate in no time. So I got this nice passport holder, which I'm still using now. The front text of the passport has now worn out COMPLETELY though, making my passport anonymous and cool.
Also had to get a new wallet as japanese money is omghuge compared to european bills. Also I've long been hunting for the ultimate slimmest wallet, and this one gets close as it's just a money clip + card holders.
Another great Tokyu Hands find: Beer stein filled with water, so you stick it in the freezer so when you use it, it keeps your beer ice cold!
Garbage pickup schedule for the new apt. Retard gaijin neighbors were just as retarded and gaijin, but the garbage people here were more lenient and picked stuff up anyway.
Next step was to get a gym membership! I loved my gym so freaking much! Everything was kirakira brand new, and the bikes/treadmills all had video games on them that tracked your progress (like "bike across japan and see local landmarks!"). You got an RFID armband that you held up to the machines so they'd greet you by name and log your progress so you could see how you got better.
They also had super cute staff <3
In my ongoing quest to Be More Like Living In Japan, I used my newfound language skills to get a Yodobashi Point card! 10% back on any purchase made at Yodobashi camera (I buy a lot of shit at yodobashi, I think I'm up to 20,000 yen credit now). 10% back only applies to cash or Suica purchases. Credit card purchases are only 8%. But I found a workaround - I had mobile Suica on my phone, and I could charge THAT with a credit card...
The first thing to get with my new card was a RICE COOKER. Which oddly this apartment didn't come equipped with! I got the most expensive one of course, with a program of 3 levels of pressure cooking. This thing makes HEAVENLY rice. Always 100% perfect. Never had better rice. Downside is the pressure cooking stuff means it doesn't do bread baking as the cheaper ones do.
Another fun Yodobashi toy: mini USB-powered Wifi router. This is now essential packing for me when I go traveling for hotels with crappy public wifi. It's so tiny!
Next up: Osaka...
...for what else but a capsule release party!
Food tip for hot days: zarusoba
It was surprisingly hard to get used to the controls on the arcade version of Project Diva after having played it on PSP for so long. Also, there was always a line of people waiting to play...
Cute beer vending machine :3
In 2011, Mos Burger had the best mass-produced fast food burger I've had - the BLT burger. Ingredients so fresh, it was delicious.
After Osaka I took a short hop to Nagoya to meet up with these two nerds
I came to nagoya to meet them and go to the SKE48 pareo ha emerald handshake event, my first handshake event ever!
While I missed most of the minilive performance due to a mix-up of times (I had looked at some other page that seemed to say all the events started at 12 - this one started at 11), I did get to see 1234 Yoroshiku and Pareo wa Emerald, which may be my favorites anyway. Approaching the area I could hear the music blasting:
I had three tickets (one limited edition CD bought=one ticket), which I spent on Jurina, Furukawa Airi/Nakanishi Yuka and Shawako/Riho Abiru, When I was in line for furukawa/nakanishi, Haruka Ono waved at me and said "hello" from the line next to it... so I felt obligated and bought another CD so I went to their line as well :D
The events nowadays are too busy to have on-site CD sales for extra handshakes.
Waiting in like for Jurina with Naruse. It was super sunny and bright, and I had prepared for the rain from the weather forecast! Ended up using my umbrella as a parasol to avoid getting burned too badly. I still turned red as a lobster :( Not as bad as Rock in Japan Fes 2009 though... Some other poor guy fainted while waiting in line.
Aside from Jurina being the cutest, Shawako may have been my best experience, since she held onto my hands even after the guy pushed me out of the booth :DDD
After the event we went back to Sunshine Sakae to check out the shop
Photography is forbidden but coming up the escalator I managed to snap this photo. Naruse tried the same feat with his gigantic iPad and they saw it right away and stopped him.
This was the only photo you're allowed to take
Back in Tokyo I met up with anarchangelic and we did some stuff like go up Tokyo Tower (my first time, since I usually prefer going up places to SEE tokyo tower instead of seeing out from the tower itself)
Under the tower during the summer there's a beer garden, and I love beer gardens. This one had a phone number to the local Domino's pizza where you could call them up and order food by saying your table number. First (and last) time I've ever spoken Japanese on the phone. I could barely understand anything, but somehow we got food! And FANCY SAUCE
and a maid cafe.
Ekiben going home
I made it to 2 days of Comiket. I'm not a big anime person but how could I avoid taking pix of cosplayers?
I got to eat at Wagnaria, if any of you have seen WORKING!
Cosplayers! I actually took these with a 3D camera, MPO files available by request
My local haunt was a great restaurant called Mos Burger Classic. It's a pilot test Mos Burger are running for a more sit-down, freshly made hamburger experience. Big, delicious burgers! I had a point card here, and when I left I was one stamp away from a free burger ;_;
I was planning to fly to Sapporo to go to the Hatsune Miku live (had plane tickets and everything), when I woke up deaf in one ear. Scariest goddamn feeling ever. Fearing I was gonna be deaf forever, some research online turned up it was *probably* only an ear infection. Luckily a Japanese friend who lives in Singapore just happened to be in town to visit her grandma, and she helped me into the medical system and we made it to an ear specialist who was open on sundays. Luckily the doc himself spoke english. I also got to familiarize myself with the japanese pharmacy system! Everywhere you had to fill out forms about what allergies you had etc. Lots of big scary kanji I'd have no chance in hell of reading.
When you're perscribed something in Japan, you get a little book like this they paste your perscriptions into. Behold my crappy handwriting.
I love how everything in japan is 10x more cute. The frying pan has a smiley!!
Las Cola. Zero. Los Angeles Sunshine. Engrish.
Famichicken: Only edible at midnight while really drunk. Too bad they stop selling the stuff around then! Tried eating it sober once, it was gross.
Kirin autumn brew: Cool can, good taste.
Taito Station have awesome tote bags
Google Maps 3D <3
I got asked on IRC if I want to go with these two fags from some stupid internet forum to climb Mt Fuji. For some reason I said yes.
Now, I was woefully unprepared for this. I skimmed the Wikitravel page and gleaned "it's kinda cold at the top so bring a warm jacket and long pants. bring something to eat and drink." So I brought a soda, vitamin water and water bottle, 3 konbini onigiri, and got on the bus...
The plan is to start walking in the evening, so you arrive at the top in time to see the sunrise. Then you spend the morning walking down.
Oh yeah: naruse and I brought Mayuyu pix, with a plan to build a shrine at the top.
So at the base camp I had to gear up more properly: Headlamp, gloves, walking stick, spare battery for my phone.
And set off...
We took the yellow line (click for big)
I kept my progress with my android phone. Pollinic kept track of something else..
And almost right away I finish off all the food I brought. D'oh.
On the way up, there are a bunch of "stations" with some drinks, snacks, a place to sit, 3G transmitters, and you can get your walking stick branded with your progress. Oh, and a place TO SLEEP. I wish I had that :'( 7th station here.
As it got later and later, it got more and more crowded. In the first picture here all those lights are the headlamps from other hikers.
The mountain was taking its toll on us. Pollinic was taking longer and longer rests sitting down silent with his head between his legs, naruse was just karaokeing to AKB singles on his own, and I was beginning to starve to death. We all got varying degrees of headaches from the altitude sickness. The chilly wind and smattering of rain wasn't helping either...
We decided to stop off into the 8th station to warm up before the final leg to the top. I ordered an 800 yen bowl of ramen, and others followed my lead.
The last 400 meters were the longest fucking 400 meters ever. I swear it's actually at least 3 km.
But we made it!
600 yen dixie cup of instant coffee never tasted so good
Everyone huddling in the cold wind waiting for the sunrise...
Which finally came. And so did we, at the view. BTW this photo is pretty awesome in 3D (MPO file available)
The team at the summit:
Obligatory vending machine at the peak
Pointing and laughing at the stragglers who didn't make it to see the sunrise:
Of course, now we were all so dead tired that we totally forgot any plans of shrines or any shit and just wanted to get back down.
Right after departing the top, I realized how amazingly fucking hungry and starving I was. I was feeling sick from starving so bad (climbing a mountain on 3 onigiri and a tiny bowl of ramen = NOT RECOMMENDED), and Pollinic wasn't doing so well either, so naruse and the other swede quickly pulled ahead and disappeared while Pollinic and I struggled, resting often. Polli so generously gave me a melonpan which I had to eat ever so carefully.
But we made it down!
First thing I did was stuff my face with yakisoba. OMG FOOD. NEVER LOVED FOOD SO MUCH BEFORE. Of course, naruse and the other swede were nowhere to be found, and wouldn't respond to tweets, mail or texts. We were just sitting around waiting when some tourist representant chick came over to survey us what we thought of how well everything was set up, if there was enough english, etc. We told her our predicament, and she got Pollinic on the PA for the whole base camp to ask for them. They never showed up (turns out they ditched us to return to tokyo long ago), so we just got on the next bus home (I had to spot pollinic the money for the bus... didn't bring enough...)
And at the end of the bus line it was POURING rain. Great way to end :(
After 4 days of solid rest, I went to the Panty & Stocking (it's an anime with a freakin AWESOME soundtrack) NO PAN night club event, headlined by TeddyLoid and Taku Takahashi. It was freaking awesome. On the way back I met Loserbait without knowing who he was.
It was packed with hot cosplayers in skimpy outfits. And I caught a heaven coin from one :hearteyes:
After this I had been in Japan for two months. I then headed out for two weeks in Singapore and Hong Kong (where I met up with Gorm) and when I came back to Japan, my tourist visa was reset so I could stay another 90 days!
Too Much Meat
In Kagurazaka every weekend there was something going on. If it wasn't a festival (first pictuee), they'd make the street pedestrian-only and let the shops put out tables in the street for a more personal presentation of their wares (second pic). A very nice neighborhood.
Japanese cold meds: second only to american ones. Never had anything as effective in Europe.
Sometimes my TV sent me email (here it was a frequency rearrangement)
One day I felt a bit emo and decided to perform some retail therapy at my favorite place in the world (Yodobashi Camera). Got a 3D monitor and a white PS3 Slim :D 3D may be a gimmick but it's one that I love. Suggested purchase: The Idoling 3ding blu-ray. Managed to get the monitor home delivered using only Japanese :D
2011 was the Year Of The Retro Bottle in Japan
Here's some news: stoves can run out of battery!?
Hit the image limit again, TO BE CONTINUED when i'm able to make another reply
On September 28(?), the AKB café opened, so I went to check it out
And get some donuts
Returned later in the day with Pollinic for some shopping
We also had an appointment for the Harajuku store the next day. Shortly after this they stopped requiring appointments to get into the main and basement floors, and I believe now appointments aren't required at all.
Dinner at a great Hawaiian burger joint near shibuya
I had to go back to the AKB shop to get a roll cake just because it was such a ridiculous concept. It wasn't very tasty :(
Another artist I like is the anime seiyuu Momoi Halko, who has some nice more otaku-themed music, so I went to DoriPa where she performed.
Got a good number in the line! It was a good live (for such a crappy venue - just one o the halls at Tokyo Big Sight...)
Last year I mastered The Art Of The Konbini Payment. This year, I leveled up and managed to do A Japanese Bank Transfer, unlocking even more online stores! You can't imagine how excited being able to do these ordinary things makes me :D :D :D :DD
Since a lot of TV is on at shitty hours, I went back to The Happiest Place On Earth and bought a japanese ISDB-T DVR with a 500 GB harddisk (marked down since the current model has 1 TB)
With it comes MY VERY OWN B-CAS CARD OMG :D :D yeah I'm a huge nerd sosumi
7-11 pedo-bento is pretty damn tasty, had it a few times. It's for pedos since it was picked out by 愛菜ちゃん
Autumn fades into winter...
Wait a minute, it's still fucking 36 degrees and 90% humidity out?!?! Why the winter beer?!?!
Seen these at akiba train station too many times. It's bread in a can. How can you resist buying it?! It wasn't bad, but it not that good either. I guess like mediocre store-bought bread?
Side streets <3 This one was one the daily walk to the gym
Since this was the year of the big earthquake, you found little "Ganbarou Nippon!" signs everywhere, this one at Waseda station
When I was in SF, wil tipped me off to a pub in Tokyo called 40 beers on tap. Well, when I got there they had expanded to 60 beers on tap! Expensive, but really amazing beers. Really nice staff too! If you go, I reccomend you drink the smaller sizes so you can try more types! Feel free to ask the bartender for recommendations too.
Staff wanted me to make them an iPhone app... too busy with other work sadly...
I had kept my eye on an Oktoberfest event in Yokohama, and finally made the time to go. It was a blast! Delicious, delicious german beer in 1 liter steins...
Guess which one is kalleboo-sized?
I stood at a random table and started chatting with two japanese dudes who were there, and then tagged along with them back to their town nearby for loads more drinks and food with their friends. Missed my last train connection home and had to take a 6000 yen taxi which I paid with my suica...
Think! The Earth!!
Keep! The Morality.
Back home in Europe I never do anything, so I have no need for a calendar or anything. But in Japan there was something to go and do or buy every week, so I eventually bought a whiteboard at a 100 yen store to keep track of everything
You may have noticed the seibu dome handshake event on the whiteboard :D This was my first AKB hanshake event, and I met up there with Pollinic. I bought the huge DVD box and two copies of some magazine and lucked out on good with the included random pix! Stalked pollinic for a bit to figure out how the photo trade worked and did a few trades of my own. I think being a huge white gaijin is enough of a novelty that some people really wanted to trade with me even when I didn't have anything they wanted, so I got a few quite valuable trades.
This was also the event where HKT were introduced. I tooootally noticed the russian girl before anyone else.
AND I GOT TO SHAKE MAYUYU'S HANDS FOR THE FIST TIME OMG SO CUTE OGMLGKDAFÖLGJÖLSelkn<agsklhdfhklgrhläläklädgkl
edit: found the trip report
Had a great time today at the seibu dome AKB48 handshake event!
Got there at about 10:30, heard from Pollinic who wasn't going to get there for another 15 minutes so I went to the goods line and bought the complete box (which was sold out the day before at the theater). None of the other goods looked interesting (just some towels and the usual, boring design). Heard from polli that he had gone in and taken his seat so I went in as well.
The stage event started at 11:30 and went on for an hour and change. The introduced HKT48 for the first time, they're avg age is like 12.5 or something. Youngest is 11, oldest is 16. The nemousu member question thingy was pretty funny of what I understood of it, sasshi made fun of how kojiharu acts in front of the camera in ebikatsu.
After the stage event there was still almost an hour as they prepared for the actual handshake to begin, so we just hung out for a bit. There was a group of people in wheelchairs who got to go first, and a little kid in really poor shape on a stretcher with blankets and an IV and everything, and a huge sign that said "SASSHI AND ACCHAN OSHI". Heartbreaking.
For the first handshake they brought in groups of people by their seating block, the first blocks to go were the ones with families, couples and girls. Finally polli's block was called, and then soon after mine.
For my first handshake I went straight for mayuyu. There was already barely a line for her. People were moving through quickly at walking speed, and they were calling in the blocks slowly since Acchan and yukirin had these huge masses of people in line already. Mayuyu is an angel. I just said I was from sweden and I was a mayuyu oshi and she said thank you, and then it was over (these were really really quick, you didn't even have time to stand still). LEft with an amazing afterglow.
After the first handshake polli and I went out to spend some time before the next ones (that wouldn't start until all blocks got their first one). He did some trading and I went back to the goods area and bought some mooks (the guam one came with a special handshake event random picture). I started doing a little bit of trading as well but was still pretty shy at that.
After a couple hours of that we went in for our other handshakes. Still mainly only lines to acchan and yukirin. I debated just going back to mayuyu, but I have a ticket to her for the kazefui handshake next week and I figured this was my only chance to meet any other girls before I leave japan in november.
I went to Sasshi this time, again told her I came from sweden, yoroshiku. She ended with a swedish "hejdå!". I think that's what I heard at least, things move so fast and your brain is going at 100 trying to remember every detail. I didn't process it until seconds later when I was out of the booth, all I could do was say a loud "sugoi" over the barrier and hope she got my drift. Again, huge smile on my face :D
After sasshi I went for Sae and Yokoyama. Cute, but nothing special happened. "Sugoi!" and "Thank you" again. These things move really really quick.
After this I was hungry so I went to food tents, got fries and cow tongue sausage. I was reeking of wota as well from standing in the hot sun, so I went to the FamilyMart and got a gatsby paper. Met up with polli again, and we got back to trading. Now I actually got a lot of it done as well, and ended up with a really good haul to show for it. I also got a new twitter follower.
Oh and polli is a japanese TV celebrity now. I was standing around while he was trading with someone, and heard someone mention sweden behind me. I turned around, they asked if we were swedish, and who our oshimen were. So I told them and when they heard polli was a kojiharu oshi they went up to him and said “aah! chinchin densha!"
Throughout the whole day the seibu dome security people had been breaking up the photo trade, but halfway through the day everyone had started ignoring them completely. Now as they closed up the dome and the sun had gone down, they had gotten really really irate and finally forced everyone into the train station.
Desperate attempt to get rid of tainted fukushima apples. Tasty though.
This year I got the same $260/month unlimited data rental SIM I had last year, when I read in a HackerNews comment about b-mobile, which I ordered right away. Generally to get a SIM card in Japan, even prepaid, you need a residency card of at least 6 months. Apparently, this really only applies to contracts that can make phone calls. And in the past year, there have popped up a few docomo MVNOs with data-only SIM cards which don't have this restriction! B-mobile is one of those MVNOs.
SO I GOT MY OWN DOCOMO SIM CARD! As a mobile phones nerd for 10 years, this was like a dream come true. My. Very. Own. Docomo. SIM. :D :D :D
After my trading experience at seibu dome, I wasn't quite as afraid of it anymore, and when Pollinic asked me if I wanted to go to the monthly theater photos event, I said yes. Hmm was naruse here too? Or zabitan? I can't recall who... You get in line, get a number ticket, and then stand in line for a few hours more.
Then you're let in, and you can buy up to 5 packs of 5 photos each. Each pack has random photos from a team (so you say, for example, "I want 4 Team B packs and 1 Team 4 pack") with kenkyuusei mixed in to piss you off and reduce the value of everything.
Then you're led into the theater waiting area, where you have one hour to trade like you've never traded before! I bought only team B packs, and good thing because it seems a majority only trade within "their team". I lucked out and got a few high-value girls (like Yukirin), and managed to reach my goal - all 4 of the Mayuyu pix of the month! If you want to do more trading, you can return the next two days wearing your armband for one more hour of trading per day (or just trade out on the street outside the place like everyone else...).
edit: found the trip report
Together with @Pollinic and @adun50, stood in line for 3 hours for this month's AKB48 theater pix. While waiting in line we chatted, and looked up what store-specific bonus pics we wanted for kazefui. Right there in line I ordered CDs online from HMV (Mayuyu pic) and Shinseido (Rena/Mayuyu) using my phone.
After being led into the theater and buying our pics (I bought 25 Team B pics), we then spent an hour and a half on the theater lobby floor trading with other wota. It was really tiring trading - the place was really packed and loud, and using Japanese is always a bit mentally tiring. Still, I persisted and managed to get together the full set of mayuyu pics! http://imgb.mp/gzy.jpg
Then we went around to a few stores that had good kazefui bonus pix and bought copies. I got one at Tower records and later one at Tsutaya. http://imgb.mp/gzv.jpg
After that we went to the AKB48 café. It was maybe a 30 minute wait to get in. I ate mayuyu's recommended Taco Rice: http://imgb.mp/gzA.jpg
Food was decent (better than the maid cafés I've been to…) and not *too* overpriced - 1300 yen for a main, side and drink bar. The café also had a bunch of random AKB magazines/photobooks/mooks to browse. Cute drawing abound: http://imgb.mp/gzD.jpg The exit leads through the store and I bought some stuff that wasn't there the last time I went (oshi tumbler, sasshi headtowel): http://imgb.mp/gzw.jpg When we got out we saw that was a much much longer line to get in.
After eating, Pollinic and adun50 went back to the theater to do more trading, but I had started to get a bit of a headache so I headed home, stopping off in Shibuya to go to the aforementioend Tsutaya.
Well home I see that my Kazefui theater edition CDs failed delivery at 18:30, time to book a redelivery tomorrow.
After the photo trade, went to the Café for some mayuyu-recommended taco rice
MAYUYU!!! <3 <3
Aaand now it was time for Kazefui release! Which means time to buy 30 copies of the same CD
Because this is the gold you want
Met up with firefox114 who was in town, walked around, chatted a bit, had dinner
Another weeaboo superpower: Preordering a video game in person at 7-11. They didn't know WTF game I was talking about even when I showed it on their website in my phone, they spent 10 minutes poking on the cash register, when the game I wanted came rolling around on the TV screen on the front of the damn register! I pointed it out to them and at least they realized I wasn't insane. But I did it!
Went to a BREMEN gig and they had this lady painting to the music throughout the thing. Interesting concept..
(that's my fat fucking head in front of the camera)
Kazefui handshake time! Went with Pollinic and zabitan. Had like a millionx3 myao handshakes, 2x3 with moeno, 1x3 with sakaya and 1x1 mayuyu <3.
Here's the trip report:
Got there at about 13. Oriented myself around the various halls and met up with Pollinic and hachibe (a japanese guy I/we met last weekend). Hachibe had the kazefui theater version mayuyu I wanted, and I had the yukirin he wanted, so we traded them, and then sat down in the trading area and did a bunch of trades with random people. It then came time for Pollinic and Hachibe to go to some handshakes and I sat around and did some more trades with random people until about half an hour before my first handshake when I went down to use the loo and find the right lane.
Block 4: 15:30
In this block I had 5 tickets for Moeno. You can use at most 3 tickets at a time. Each ticket is approx 10 seconds (using the "one thousand one, one thousand two" method I determined they start shooing and then pushing you away at something like 6-8 seconds, but the girl will have your attention the whole time and wave bye-bye).
When I was 2nd in line, I saw her glance over to the line and when she saw me her eyes lit up a bit and she sat up a bit straighter before turning back to the next customer…
My first round with Moeno I used 3 tickets, I introduced myself (told her my name and that I was from Sweden) and then said I was friends with Zabitan and did she remember him. She said she did, so I told her to say hi to him for me next time she sees him. I did these in english.
Second round with her I asked if she remembered my name, she just said "Sweden… eee tooo" and I had to remind her. Trying to get a Japanese person to say "Karl" is basically impossible, and it's even more confusing if I try to explain it in both english and japanese because the katakana version sounds so different to them. It'll be interesting to see what she says to zabitan… You should ask her what my name was instead of offering it up :) On my way out, I think she asked me if I had more tickets for today/if I was coming back (in japanese), but I didn't really understand this until it was too late to reply.
The air and noise in the main hall was giving me a headache, so I went back up to the trading floor and had a drink and a snack (hotdog, they were out of yakisoba) and then sat outdoors where the air was good. It was drizzling outdoors though so I had to sit under the lip of the building. Soon it was time for the next round.
Block 5: 17:00
I had 5 tickets to Myao in this block.
In the first round with Moeno it was a bit hard to fill out the time, so I started out with only 2 tickets this time. In line she had a little bit of a reaction seeing me, she smiled with her face a bit.
First Myao round I started out in english and introduced myself. IIRC I then said something like "kawaii!" and she asked me if I knew japanese, and I said "a little bit" and said my teacher was Shukan AKB.
Second Myao round, 2 tickets again, I told her (in japanese now) I followed her on twitter, and that I mostly understood her japanese, but that understanding korean was impossible, and I asked her if reading korean was hard to learn. The din in the hall was pretty loud right now, and I wasn't speaking loud enough to cut across the crowd, so we had a bit of a misunderstanding. She asked me "how long", referring to how long I had been studying japanese, but I thought she was asking how long I was following her. It was kind of a mess. She then asked me again where I was from, offering up like "australia? england?".
Third Myao round I had one ticket left. I asked (in english) if she knew my friend from new york. As I know now, she probably doesn't ＞＜ More misunderstandings, she only picked up on the "new york" part, and spent the rest of the round trying to explain to me that she had gone there.
The terrible air had started up a headache again so I went back up for another snack, liquids, and sat outside for an hour in the cool cool air waiting for the final round, the biggie…
In this block I had 1 Mayuyu ticket, 5 Sayaka tickets and 5 Myao tickets.
Mayuyu's line was *long*, and she didn't arrive on time so for a while it didn't move at all. Took 45 minutes to get through to her. The next lane over from her was Fresh Lemon. First time I've seen her up close. God DAMN that girl is *tiny*. She literally looks 12, the image enhanced by her wearing an adorable pumpkin outfit. She really is the reverse Jurina. While in line I saw at least 3 people get her to do the "fresh lemon ni naritai no" bit. Also, fresh lemon fans are hardcore, saw several fans with those yankee-style name coats. In line here I was getting a headache already. I put on earbuds without any music in this just to block out a lot of the din. Also since I'm so tall I could just look up the ceiling and I was far enough up to get fresh air.
Mayuyu was sooo damn cute. She was wearing a cosplay of some character with a frilly dress, and was wearing a long-haired blond wig :D When she noticed me in line, the look a split second was that typical japanese "oh crap am I going to have to speak english now oh god I'm so scared" look (I was expecting this though, it's totally her. when she comes back from a trip sometimes she blogs like "ahh finally back in japan. japan really is the best isn't it?" it's another reason I love her).
Well for Mayuyu I had prepared a little intro. I drew in the air with my index fingers a circle, starting from the top, saying "世界の果てまで・・・" (to the ends of the earth…) and when I got the the bottom, turned my thumbs inwards, turning it into her Oshiri pose and ended with "Oshiri!" (so, to the ends of the earth… butts!" and she giggled and did oshiri. I then (in japanese) introduced myself as a swedish mayu oshi, and complimented her on how cute the cosplay was (this cosplay is so cute… i don't know it but it's still so cute) to which she thanked me and then my time was up and we waved bye bye.
Since the mayuyu line had taken so long, time was running out. The block runs until 20:30, but they start closing the lines at 20:10, and sayaka still had a bit of a line to wait in. Since time was running out and I might not get another round, I went ahead and maxed out and used 3 tickets.
Good thing too, since Sayaka was really easy to talk to. She was easily the most interactive one, physically reacting to what I said and laughing and such. I did everything with her in english, and she understood it perfectly. I introduced myself, told her she was really cool and that they should have let her "kick more ass" in Majisuka, to which she gave a hearty laugh, agreed and thanked me. I then said she has a lot of international fans, online ("thank you" again) and that she should try tweeting in English sometimes, to which she cutely receded a bit, and did with her hand like a "no no" humbly saying she's no good at english, but I insisted. Time was up and I said bye, otsukare and she was really shining and smiling and looked amazing. She looks so much more beautiful in real life than in pictures.
It was like 20:03 and I dashed over to Myao's like, pulled a pile of tickets out from my backpack and ran up to the ticket check desk and maxed out with 3 of them. There was nobody before or after me in her line, things had quieted down a lot in this section, I think she was a bit calmer and more focused now, and this round went super-smoothly. I did it all in japanese now. When I got up to her, she pulled over Masuda Yuka who was the next aisle (back to back to her), and said "hey, it's the swedish guy!" and so I got two handshakes for the price of one :D I said thanks for today (otsukaresamadeshita), I had a lot of fun, etc. I then asked her if she feeling OK, since the air in here is so bad and such. She said she was fine, and then asked if *I* was feeling OK.
I then went back to Sayaka, but her lane was closed, and back to Myao, and her lane was closed. So in the end I had two tickets each for them that never got used since I ran out of time.
I then found pollinic in the trading area again, did some more trades, then we went to eat and went home. Then I wrote this. Then I wrote that I wrote this.
I was following this girl, Maki, down south in Kagoshima on Twitter for a year or two (I think I found her by randomly trolling #eigocafe or #twinglish or something), and I had promised to come visit her in Kagoshima. Well, the numbers of free weekends I had in Japan were dwindling so it was time to take her up on it.
Haneda's business class lounge has this wireless phone charger... which works with like 3 different models of phone, all other phones you need to plug in an adapter, completely missing the point
I timed my visit for the Ohara matsuri, which is some festival for some reason with people dancing and shit. The first night we met up and went out drinking, met her friends, and kept on drinking. I impressed some old geezer by drinking imo-shouchu, which is a local spirit made from potatos.
Kagoshima lives under the active volcano Sakurajima, which every summer spews out lots of glass-sharp volcanic ash to hurt your eyes. So we had to go check it out.
The ask on the ground lays thick
We went up to a vantage point close to the volcano, and after 20 minutes, this much ash had landed on the windscreen of her car
I look like a fucking mook, I want to die
This shrine's torii was one NOT buried in ash... Then Sakurajima has an eruption.
We went out for dinner and I had sashimi for the first time. It was quite expensive but really, really awesome. The textures of some of these fishes were unreal.
Had a day to myself since Maki had to go to work, so I had lunch at the revolving sushi place. They had the LCD touchscreens and a sushi shinkansen to deliver your special orders :D
Inaka roads <3 I don't have a driver's license myself (never bothered since anywhere I go either has excellent public transport or someone I can mooch rides off of) so it was nice to see some of the country that's not served by trains and harder to access.
Went to the museum at Chiran, built to honor WW2 suicide pilots. All the text was in Japanese, but it was still pretty interesting.
We then went to some famous old gardens
When on the road you learn to work from cafés and restaurants. Dotour is good. I hadn't gotten a wifi account yet so I had to tether to 3G, slow as balls.
Flying home to Tokyo. I love airports with observation decks!
2011's "crazy pepsi flavor": Pepsi Pink
Went to another Momoi Halko live. At this one during one MC she asked if people had come from far away, so I was an obvious target XD. It was a really great live though, full of energy. It's now been released on some obscure new video cassette format (iVDR) that i've have to order together with a special player device... stupid.
At this event some foreigner girl came up to me and asked where I was from, and I immediately recognized her english accent as swedish, and replied in Swedish "I'm also from Sweden" lol. What are the odds? I befriended her on FB and she married her japanese boyfriend and it's been an interesting story to follow. Meeting people is fun!
SKE48 had their Okidoki handshake at Makuhari messe I had tickets to. I went for Jurina, Shawako and The Beast. The minilive was awesome too. I had a trip report for this too that was also swallowed up by the deletion of the old hateorade thread. Pollinic went too and since the goods like was maaaassive I had him buy me a t-shirt since I had to go to...
A niconicolive disco that the aforementioned swedish girl invited me to. Lots of vocaloid music and various japanese internet memes. More importantly it was nomihoudai - all you can drink! Truely heaven. Danced with a fat japanese chick.
At some point did some shopping and desert at the AKB Café with zabitan. They didn't have the real desert, so they made something out of leftover and donuts. Not too bad though.
<3 box cat maru
Maki was in Tokyo for one day for a conference, and we met up for a 15 minute cup of coffee before she had to rush off for her flight back down south. I had had so much fun with her in Kagoshima, that I said I wanted to go back and visit again. At the train station I gave her a peck on the forehead and said it was a promise. So the next weekend...
This time I didn't book a hotel and stayed with her in her apt.
We went to a park with a nice view of Sakurajima, which also used to be the home of the old Feudal lord, so they had some themed stuff. I got to borrow this guard's sword. Everyone took a deep breath when I whipped it out...
Went out for drinks and yakitori with her friends that evening, and I folded an airplane to rest my chopsticks on, which triggered the deep-rooted origami instinct
They can make some damn tiny cranes...
Back in Tokyo. OBSTACLE THING (=suicide).
It's now nearing the end of November, so all the christmas lighting is up, including this weird-ass shit at Tokyo Dome
Went to Nakano broadway to find an Arupakasso for naruse to impress on some girl, but didn't find the store he told me about. I *DID* find a store with only Formula-1 racing stuff, and got some good christmas presents for my dad.
It was starting to get a bit cooler now, so the hot drinks were showing up in the vending machines. This is my favorite <3. Of course, "Teas' Tea NEW YORK" has nothing whatosever to do with New York.
It was the end of this year's 4 month tenure in Japan, so I had to get packing. Cleaning out my box 'o' receipts, these were all the ones from Yodobashi Camera
Of course, last minute Yodobashi Camera purchases: two suitcases to put all the crap I bought in
2 nights before takeoff, one last dinner at the AKB Café with Zabitan and Pollinic. They allow photography now, so more pix!
We got the booth with mayuyu's signature <3
Takamina is so tiny lmao
I unloaded upon zabi/polli any AKB goods I didn't want/need (zabi's selling off the PSP game posters I gave him here), and the leftover Kazefui theater CDs I put out to garbage...
Since my flight was at 10 AM and checkout from the apartment takes a while, I spent the last night at an airport hotel near narita. Since I had 3 checked bags and a carryon, navigating the metro and trains and shit didn't seem appealing, so I took a taxi. Ooops. 1 hour taxi ride, 23,000 yen... yay for credit cards?
LOL California Roll at the restaurant at narita
I had upgraded my flight home on SWISS air to business class to dampen the depression of going home.
At this point, it had been 6 months since I left Sweden. I had been in the US 2 weeks, Australia a month, Japan 4 months, and Singapore/Hong Kong a week each. I knew I hated Sweden. It's boring as fuck. I knew going back I'd be depressed, so I had booked a trip back to Singapore for 2 weeks of unwinding and soul-searching. After those two weeks I went back to Sweden to move out of our apartment that we had to be moved out of by January 1. So, now I was homeless. I spent Christmas with family in my parents new home in Greece.
And then it was 2012. I had to go back to Japan. I had to visit Maki again. And I don't want to g back to Sweden ever again...