Friday, May 07, 2010

Saturday May 8, 12:09 p.m.

Taking a quick break from the odyssey to talk about the day at hand. Yup, Spring has finally come to stay. It's sunny and warm, though, I hope the humidity isn't anything like it was yesterday.

I have 2 lessons at Speedy's of which I've already completed. The Intellectual seemed rather jittery...wasn't quite sure if he were in need of a bathroom break badly, but he managed to hold it all together until the end. And I've got The Businesswoman in less than an hour.

Yesterday was pretty wet out there...which didn't help things in terms of humidity. I had The Bass, Swank's husband and the juku. It looks like The Bow is out of the loop for the foreseeable least until July, she says, since she has a temporary job for the next several weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if she were actually kissing me off, though.

Saturday May 8, 11:58 a.m.
Continuing with Part 3 of my great odyssey from Asakusa to Shibuya in 6 hours...
After I'd escaped from the right wingers and their megaphones in Ueno, I walked briskly into the Akihabara area. Naturally, Akiba can take up its own section of the the pictures will allude to.
The first picture up on the upper left (at least, the way I'm looking at it right now) is a shot I took of one of those trucks with anime designs emblazoned on the sides like a huge mural tattoo. If there's anything that could cause the ranks of waiting otaku to cry out "MOE!", it's this thing. The second picture in the centre is of a pillar by one of the big stores showing a mere fraction of the AKB 48 lineup. Unless one is a huge fan of this group of girls/women, one would need a fairly thick pamphlet to keep up with the names.
And then there is the picture right beside all this text....this is The Gundam Cafe, so named since the theme is the beloved robot anime franchise. It opened just a couple of weeks ago, but it has garnered huge lineups to get into the place. I'm sure the menu isn't the priority....watered-down coffee and mediocre sandwiches are probably the norm...the main thing is the fact that you've got tons of Gundam figures inside and perhaps even staffers who are quite moe about folks like Amuro Ray and Char.
I didn't bother waiting the 2 hours to get inside The Gundam Cafe. Instead, I did the oyaji thing and went to Sushi Zanmai up on the 8th floor of the Yodobashi Akiba electronics shop. Next to my Doner Kebab stand, Sushi Zanmai is probably the 2nd-most popular foodie emporium for me in Akiba. I filled up on my toro, anago and the like to ring up a 2,740-yen bill. Yep, over my daily budget but once in a while, it's nice to splurge.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Thursday May 6, 7:42 p.m.
The first leg of the odyssey was pretty uneventful. But when I reached Ueno, that's when things got lively. There's a bit of a subtext in my marathon walk from Asakusa to Shibuya, and that was represented by black trucks and belligerent voices. As you can see from the right picture, you can see one of those trucks with the Hinomaru flag emblazoned on the sides. I was wondering what the ultra-right wing nuts were doing out at this time of year since I usually imagined them as more of a summer phenomenon nearer to the anniversary of Japan's surrender in WWII.
Then, I remembered the holiday. May 3 just happened to be National Citizen's Day, the one day of Golden Week that the ultranationalists would trumpet their cause. And trumpet they megabels of volume. Screaming epithets at the bulwark-like riot police at Ueno Station, and exhorting the masses to rise up in revolution, it was pretty much a case of their bark being worse their bite. The wingnuts may have sounded like very irate itself a cause of some alarm...but as far as I could tell, they stayed very securely within the confines of their metal tanks. I would've stayed in Ueno a bit longer but with those guys adding to the usually ambient noise pollution, I got out of Dodge rather quickly. A pity, too, since I'd wanted to take a further look into the famed Ueno Park. However, that can wait for another day.

Thursday May 6, 7:36 p.m.
And thus, my telling of the Monday odyssey from Asakusa to Shibuya begins with the half-hour leg between Asakusa to Ueno.
The weather was good and the tourists were indeed out en masse invading the shopping streets, rickshaws and photo ops. I made my out from Asakusa at about 10 a.m. and started walking. I did good time along the way through Tawaramachi and Inaricho on the Ginza Line, the subway on which I based my walk. At Tawaramachi, I was also in the famous neighbourhood of Kappbashi, known for its sales of plastic food and kitchen goods. Unfortunately, being a national holiday, all of the stores were closed but at least the famous symbol of the area, the Niimi Chef's Head, was there to greet all who crossed his path.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Thursday May 6, 9:35 a.m.

Well, Golden Week has gone for another year. I'm paying the price for my ultra-walk between Asakusa and Shibuya on Monday....ended up with a strained back on Tuesday....which meant that I ended up not going to The Bass' gig in Otsuka. Sent him an apology letter. So, basically I was out on said back for most of Tuesday and started moving like The Hunchback on Wednesday. I'm wearing that brace The Matron gave me years ago for a similar problem.

Not too bad schedule-wise for the first day back from the first major holiday season. I just finished with The Patent Attorney...always great with him...the hour just flies by. Grandma Dynamite makes her first appearance of the year after several months away again. And then there is a huge donut of several hours before Mr. TOEFL and The Music Man come by in the evening.

Managed to catch a couple of solid flicks on cable over the past couple of days. I first saw John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" with John Cusack and John Mahoney. It was about "The Black Sox" scandal of 1919 with the A-lineup of The Chicago White Sox being accused of throwing certain games in The World Series. Nice solid movie...especially liked pre-"Frasier" Mahoney as the sympathetic coach Kid. It was also interesting seeing a freshly minted Cusack a couple of decades before he became the poster child for disaster movies as an unfairly doomed infielder.

The other flick was 1995's "Casino", another in Scorcese's crime drama masterpieces. Of course, the actors and director will dissent terribly but I think it's almost an alternate-universe version of "Goodfellas", with Joe Pesci's psychopathic role being the lynchpin. A lot of meat for the actors to chew on, especially one visceral fight scene between Sharon Stone and Robert DeNiro. Frankly, all of the main characters were psychos in one way or another.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday May 3, 6:27 p.m.

Well, halfway through Golden Week, and I carried out what I'd said I would do today, and that is to walk from Asakusa to Shibuya. For those not familiar with Tokyo, we're talking about 10 to 12 km. And with all of the stops for lunch and drinks and just some time to rest my weary dogs, I was able to pull it off in about 6 much as I'd expected. Luckily, the weather was fine. Unluckily, because today is known as Citizens' Day, the ultra-right wing was out in force and in their super-loud bullhorns and black trucks to basically scream abuse at the riot police in Ueno and Shimbashi and exhort the rest of the normal citizenry to rise up against the West.

I'll provide detail and photos on Thursday when I'm back at Speedy's but I'm just too doggone tired right now.

One thing I will tell you is that when I stopped off at Omotesando Hills, I did go to that exhibition by photographer Leslie Kee. His latest project, SUPER TOKYO, had him photographing 1,000 of Japan's elite in the entertainment industry...on condition that his subjects would go au naturel. The latest issue of METROPOLIS provided an article breathlessly pointing out this fact. Some of those 1,000 included singers such as the Queen of J-Pop Yuming, model/TV personality (and a target of hate by Nicole Kidman) Ririco, and even blobby comedian Shofukutei Tsurube. There was also the limited edition photo book going for 15,000 yen (!). Well, I gotta say....naked entertainment elite...Wow! However, the wow factor was a bit underwhelming, say to say. As a guy, I wasn't too thrilled to see more naked men prancing about than women (but then again, Kee is gay so I'm sure he was happier than sin). Plus there was also the fact that the 1,000 may have been elite but a lot of them were not household names at all, so frankly I did a quick pass on those. And finally, considering the hype that these folks were all taken naked, contributions by the household female names such as former aidoru Miho Nakayama, actress Narumi Yasuda and hip-hop singer AI were all just head shots. Do you really expect me to believe that these folks stripped to their birthday suits to only have their faces photographed? I'd think that the ladies would've felt a bit cheated. I certainly felt so. But then again, I think their agents probably put up crossed arms right in front of Kee's face at the thought of shooting them au naturel. And as for seeing Tsurube-san smiling and laying out like a Playgirl model....uh, too much information, guy. Basically, it was a case of sizzle over substance.

Anyways, yesterday, I went to a party held by 002 for the first time in 2 years...since our little falling-out due to Speedy's anal-ness. I'd even forgotten 002's apartment number so I couldn't buzz in...luckily, a delivery guy had the door opened so I quickly scooted in right after him. Well, it kinda felt like old times when me and 001 used to go there fairly regularly to partake in food and humourous banter. I was a bit cautious, though, but the party went off well. No mention of the sour notes from before and 002 at the end told me that she and her hubby hoped that I could come back for further parties in the future. I told them that I would adjust my schedule to fit them in...which was pretty much a statement that everything was hunky-dory between us again.

Now that Golden Week will be starting to close up shop for another year...I've been thinking about my future with Speedy. For the past several months, I've been pondering about leaving the place since I'm getting just a little tired of getting home at midnight 2-3 times a week, and sometimes even having to come in some 8 hours later with less than 6 hours of sleep. I realize that the bossman really pulls his weight for us and the school, but I don't know if I can really enjoy my job this way. Plus there's the fact that Speedy and my private students are starting to compete for my shrinking availability. When that sort of thing starts, I know that I'm gonna have to think of some sort of ultimate resolution. I've been at the school now for over 6 years; I could use a change, although the loss of salary wouldn't be small. I figure that I'll come to some sort of decision by June.