Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ichi Nen, Uno Año, One Year

Well, here we are. It has been one year since I landed in Japan. Crazy right? It has felt like 2 eternities and 2 months at the same time. I don't have time or the energy to say what the year has meant and all that stuff, so I will instead update you on what is happening. Today I am cleaning my apartment and packing. I am cleaning out my car and doing lots of paperwork and errands. I changed all my spare change into real people dollars and found that I had a staggering 700$ in spare change. For real. Japan doesn't mess around with change. I also paid tithing for the first time in a year...that was interesting. 

Other things: I went to the 7-11 where I got a call in the parking lot about my insurance policy on my car. I was talking to the lady and in so doing, I evidently destroyed the decision and short term memory part of my brain. I went into 7-11, forgot the bill I was taking to pay and I had to run back out to my car. After coming back in with the bill, I realized that I had left my wallet in the car and made the trip again. After leaving the 7-11, I found out that my car keys were no where to be found. I went digging through the 7-11 recently emptied trash for a while before going back into the store to see if they had found them. Someone had when I tried to throw my keys away. Yeah. 

Moral of the story? Check inside the store before you dumpster dive. It has been one of those days. I am now down to hours before I say goodbye to Yamanashi-ken...possibly forever. On to new things though!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bye Bye BBQ

Last week, the English Society had a goodbye BBQ for me to celebrate all of my wonderful achievements to the field of English language in and around the Kiyosato region. It was a nice party that they threw. I figured I will share the pictures. I didn't take these, so I don't deserve any credit. 
 It was a lot like a regular BBQ, but with fewer hamburgers, and more carrots. 
 You can see the dual charcoal grills going on. They cooked up octopus, beef, chicken, cucumber, carrots, onions and potatoes. 
 You can see in that picture that there is a side-mounted fan on the grill. Evidently this is to stoke the flames and keep it hot. Also, it helps to keep the smoke away from your face. 
 See those whole fish that they are getting ready to cook up? Yeah. I don't mind me some fish, but I prefer not to see its eyes looking at me. The biggest problem with whole fish is the bones. I get really sick of having to pick fish bones out of my mouth...
 Don't I look like I am having a wonderful time!? I really was, but it was starting to rain a little. 
 When it started raining a whole lot, we went inside to keep out of the torrential downpour that started. You can see my hands in the right hand (pun!) part of the picture. 
 Some of the members of YES.
 More members. 
 Hello. My name is Jeff. I ruin pictures. 
 They were really sweet and gave me a decorative fan that you can hang on the wall. It is gold and has a scene of cherry blossoms. I was very surprised. 
While generally a terrible picture of me, it is one of our only group photos. I will have you note that I really am the tallest, I just don't have all the hair that the guy on the left has...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Birthday and Hanging with Don Quixote

In Japan, there is a store. The store is called Don Quixhote. Or In Japanese phoenetics, Don Keyhoetay. Surprisingly, it sounds pretty good. Why it is called that, the world will never know. It is an interesting place. It is full of a lot of things no one has never really wanted until they visited there. It is kind of like a store full of infomercials. There are Shake-Weights and all the crap you find on TV at 2 a.m. The crazy thing is that they also have random American things, which is awesome! 
 A cool remote holder. It is a giant hand (in case you couldn't tell). 
They do have some pretty cool things to see though. You can see speakers that make cool bubbles as an equalizer! Cool right?! I wouldn't mind a set of these for when I need to have an impromptu rave party in my living room sometime. The video you can't see very well, but it is a white guy rapping in a Japanese with a Japanese guy. 

Look at that! I found the video of it! Here you go...I have to admit, it is a catchy song...
I love how especially white the guy is. I perhaps missed my calling in life, I could have been this guy...I could have been a national sensation! I could be played in Don Quixote! 
I saw these keychains and thought they were cool so I picked them up and took a tiny picture. It was one of those shocker keychains. I felt a little embarrassed, and thought seriously about buying them all so that I could smash them. I hate things like that...I believe only serial killers enjoy them. 
 They had cool airsoft guns. I had to restrict myself from buying them all. I did take a picture of this cool Desert Eagle with 'Electlic Blow Back.' 
 Who wants a King of Banana throw pillow? 
 Sweet American sweets! M&Ms, Cadbury Chocolate (even thought it is British), and good potato chips. 
 See all those flavors of Pringles? Very nice. Although underneath that there is a Japanese brand of chips that are beef jerky flavored.
 The drive to Fujiyoshida. It is all green and beautiful. 
 Mountains and forests. 
For my actual birthday, we went to the Brazilian BBQ restaurant. All the missionaries and some other ALT's came to have lunch. It was good as always.
 I am pretty sure the missionaries got to count this as contacting as well. 
 The Harger family and Sister Agren (on the right).
Brother Agren who owns the restaurant and the Hargers on the left. Brother Agren is from Brazil and owns the restaurant. 
I also got this SWEET birthday cake! It was fruity and layered and had fruit in the middle! All around the outside were traditional Brazilian caramel snacks. I don't know what to call them, but they had sprinkles on the outside and it was pure soft caramel. The candles were also the trick kind...that was...hilarious. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wonders and Horrors

I have collected some wonders and horrors over the month of June. Check this out. I will start (as usual) with the horrors. 

I know that I have said some spiders were huge before, but this one takes the cake. Sorry the video is a little long, but it is worth it. I saw this demonspawn when I was brushing my teeth. Ick. 

These...are awesome. I found some Doritos that were flavored like salami. They are supposed to be served with beer, but they are pretty delicious. 

I didn't try these bad boys...The flavor? Anchovies and Garlic. I am all about the garlic, but anchovies can kick rocks. 

I got this to commemorate my sister who lives in England. British Lemon tonic. I decided to try it. Turns out it is TERRIBLE! Seriously. It was pure lemon and carbonation. It was akin to drinking Pine-Sol.

On to the even more awesome! I took a day off to visit Fuji-Q Highland. It was all sorts of wonderful. this is the view from the parking lot. 

I didn't ride this rollercoaster, because it looked lame. 

Unlicensed Disney usage on this park. The boat rocks back and forth, but it is for kids...not men like me. 

Big Red here is a rollercoaster that you would wrap your head around. Unfortunately it was closed that day...it super sucked. 

Also the carousel was closed. Here you can see the carousel...totally devoid of magic. 

This coaster is called Fujiyama. It previously held the record for the longest steel coaster. That was back in the day though...it no longer is the longest in the world. 

Speaking of world records...

This ride is called Takabisha. It is the world record holder for most inverted free fall. The angle of freefall is 120 degrees. It is pretty scary. They stop you at the precipice for a while and let you look down at the lack of track below you. Then they take your picture. Then they drop you. Overall it wasn't my favoite because it had a lot of twists and inversions that hurt my head after a while. 

In reality, this is all I really wanted to show you. One ride destroyed all other rides with it's mighty powers. The ride is called Dodonpa. It was recommended to me to go on right at the beginning. The lines routinely get up to 2-3 hours per rides at Fuji-Q (because of Japan). I rode it 3rd and didn't really stop riding it. I rode this thing 5 times. It. Is. Amazing. 

Here you can see the course track for Dodonpa. It starts out rocketing you out of the gate, then a big turn and then straight up and down until you are pretty sure your internal organs are going to leak out of your nose. Accompanying the jelly-organs is an incredible sense of euphoria usually reserved for those who are dropping acid. 

Best 60 second ride in the world! This rollercoaster goes from 0-107mph in 1.8 seconds. 1.8!!! If you have been on California Screamin' at Disneyland, this is about 2x as fast. Imagine that. The first time I rode it, I didn't know what to expect. It is unlike any rollercoaster I have ever ridden. It is so terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. For those 1.8 seconds, your brain ceases to function and the air is pushed out of your lungs in a scream you didn't think was possible by anything other than a wolf-man. The air rushes past you so fast and so deafeningly that you can't even hear yourself scream. I didn't realize I was screaming until I got into the first bank and realized that I hadn't breathed since the ride started.

You can see Mt. Fuji peaking (get it?) over the top of the Launch Tube. 

Nice of Fuji to come out and say hello for a couple hours or so. 

In the park, they have a mini-Fuji you can climb in the shadow of the real Fuji...I don't know why. I think it brings love or something...maybe wrath. 

The video from the top of the mini-Fuji.

You can see just how dead this park was. Seriously, there should have been 10x as many people at the park. 

A great addition to the hall of terrible Japanese fashion. This guy looks like a literal clown. He is wearing capris with a sport coat and a fedora. George Michael and WAM! called and even they are embarrassed.

Don't forget the silver shoes. *Vomit*

A look at Dodonpa and Takabisha.

CHURRO! It was neither as expensive or as delicious as they are at Disneyland. 

I love this. Bending machine. It was supposed to be vending machine. 

I got some Dippin' Dots. I got the Strawbrry Cheese Cake flavor. I am more and more convinced that Dippin' Dots are awful. They are too cold, and it is supposed to be the 'Ice Cream of the Future." I used to believe that when I was 12. I am now 25, and I want to know what the new ice cream of the future is. 

They take your picture when you buy a ticket and you have to show it for each ride. I look really weird in this picture because the picture machine was about 4 feet tall. I had to bend down and get the picture taken...it was awkward. 

You can take a picture with a fake version of the ride with a fan blowing in your face to pretend like you are really on the ride. In the background are classic Japanese scenes. 

Entry 2 in the Japanese fashion hall of horrors. This fine specimen is a man. Yes, he is dressed like he is going to be sweating to the oldies in leopard print. Pink floral pants...and to top it off.....

Pink Toms. The kid that got the other free pair of Toms in a developing country wouldn't even wear the pink Toms. 

Entry 3 in the hall of horrors! The guy in this video has to be at least 59. He may be old, but boy is he cool! Right? Pink flip-flops. 

Don't I look happy? I had ridden about 15 roller coasters by this point and I am not entirely sure that my eyes aren't crossed. 

The white part you see in the picture is the up and down hill that Dodonpa takes at about 60mph. 

The final entry in the Japanese fashion hall of horrors. These are all men. Bleached hair, emo pants that are sagged down to their mid thigh. Google Japanese fashion, it will ruin your night.