Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday January 9, 10:49 p.m.

This is the 4,185th entry since I started this blog all the way back in 2003. And this will be my last entry as well since the title is no longer relevant to my current situation. I'm back for good in my hometown of Toronto, Canada. Yup, I'm now currently an unemployed teacher in The Great White North, trying to carve out some sort of new life in an old city in my middle age....almost sounds like a premise for a new sitcom. In any case, that's old Narita Airport out there.

And this was my final meal in The Land of the Rising Sun....a plate of Japanese-style hamburger topped with grated daikon and ponzu. Not exactly the most traditional way to finish off my nearly 2 decades of culinary life in Japan, but then again, I was eating karaage bento 3 times a week. I will definitely miss my fried chicken with rice...along with kaiten sushi, tonkatsu and tonkotsu ramen.
Japanese food may exist all over the world now but nothing beats the real thing.

I will also miss truly convenient convenience stores, the vending machines on every street corner, near-absolute safety and subways/trains that actually come on time. But most of all, I'll miss the students and friends whose lives I was allowed to enter since 1994. The profession of English conversation teacher has been an invaluable one for me. I don't think I could've been exposed to such a large swath of Japanese society in any other type of career. I can consider myself lucky that I will still be able to have contact with a lot of them via other media such as Mixi and Facebook.

Although I finish this blog, I've already launched the sequel "Tokyo To Toronto"on . If some of you Americans or Russians would like to know what happens in Toronto beyond episodes of "Flashpoint", come and visit me there. I just have this need to ramble on and on and on.


Saturday, January 07, 2012

Saturday January 7, 8:31 a.m.

Before the scouring of my apartment began in earnest, on Sunday December11, the Movie Gang became the Hooters Gang for one night. Yup, MB, The Sylph, The Satyr (without Miss Ivory...the two did indeed break up), Skippy, The Wedding Planner and I made our last trip together not to a movie but to the lone transplanted version of one of America's pop cultural institutions. Strangely enough, the Tokyo branch of Hooters was placed in the somewhat tonier and less skankier area of Akasaka-Mitsuke.

But then again, Japanese pop cultural customs dictate that any importation of foreign culture be given that Japanese twist. So, Tokyo Hooters was more sexy/cute than skanky. The waitresses were far less voluptuous though attractive. It was like being served by AKB 48 in less clothing....that's not exactly an insult, by the way. And I'm not sure if the original American Hooters branches also have the same rule, but the Tokyo branch requires that permission be granted to take pics of the girls. Mind you, I couldn't really see the locals in the States going on a major photographing spree in a Hooters.

The other thing that made this Hooters quintessentially Japanese is the walled booth that we got. It seems that a lot of manga artists have visited the place, so there were pictures of saucer-eyed manga girls and Gundam robots drawn all over. That's about as raunchy as it got.

I guess because of the toned-down nature of the women there, we could focus a bit more on the food which was typically diner fare. I was OK with the deep-fried pickles although I was far in the minority. Although I very much doubt that the Movie Gang will make a 2nd visit in the near future, at least I can say that I was finally able to visit a Hooters before I left Japan.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday January 6, 8:19 p.m.

Almost a month ago...December 13, to be exact...Operation Exodus had its most tumultuous stage when the boys from Dustman descended on my 17-year-old home and scoured it clean.

Dustman is the Kanto-wide recycling and disposal firm I'd hired to do a lot of the heavy lifting of things such as my furnishings, appliances and my air conditioner. Two friendly fellows first, I'd thought that with just two of them, it would take the better part of the afternoon to get rid of everything. However, Dustman got everything done within 90 minutes. They were more ruthless than the Borg. Considering how quickly they literally scoured through nearly 2 decades of stuff, I had to ensure that they wouldn't throw away stuff I actually wanted to my passport, remaining clothing, etc. They didn't come cheap either, although I was grateful for their help. Cost me about 100,000 yen. That included dis-installation of the air conditioner and an extra charge for going down 2 flights of stairs. Just goes to show how much moving can cost.