Thursday, 11 December 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Article

Hello fans!

(and all the rest of you)

I'm afraid this is not going to be much of a post. I promised you a nice newsy update at the end of my last post, but the sad thing is there is not much news to tell. I have been going to school some days, not going to school on others. Doing homework some days, failing to achieve anything productive on others. I've been getting drunk at the weekends, and sometimes accidentally getting drunk on schoolnights too, but apart from a couple of fairly embarrassing/tedious episodes involving me falling asleep on the train home because I was drunk and waking up several hundred miles away from where I had hoped to be, not much of note has happened. I somehow managed to repeat this ridiculous process twice in a single weekend! I 'accidentally' went clubbing in Roppongi on the Friday night: left the club around 3/4am, finally got home at 11.30 (it's usually about an hour, at most). I spent Saturday nursing a brutal hangover, but somehow managed to let myself get talked into going clubbing AGAIN... It was actually a really good club, and the music was awesome (Dubstep an' ting), but yet again I somehow managed to completely fuck up getting home - left the club at 4am, got home around 1pm the next day. D'oh!

So that's about it. Other significant notes about my life:
  • I'm still not smoking - about 2 months, ish? I haven't even bothered keeping track.
  • I'm currently drinking heroic quantities of coffee every day
  • A sort of vaguely-healthy-eating/diet type thing which I had been pursuing has long since fallen by the wayside
  • I've been going to the gym thrice a week (6 times a fortnight) for the last month or two, which is nice
  • I'm falling way behind on Kanji and other homework
  • I've trimmed my moustache into a ridiculous Hulk Hogan/James Hetfield/Leather Dude out of The Village People big gay handlebar
  • I just cut my hair (I don't really know how it looks yet, but I think I might be balding rather disastrously)
Apart from that, natalatagwan to be honest. I've started doing some Christmas shopping. I've got some 'hilarious' (retarded) little nick-nacks to bring home for some of you lucky people. I've also just gone and bought myself my traditional Christmas bottle of Baileys. This has become something of a Christmas tradition of mine over the last few years, and it goes a little like this:
  1. As it approaches Christmas it occurs to me that I secretly quite like Baileys, and it is Christmas after all, so I go and buy myself a bottle of Baileys
  2. I pour myself a nice chilled glass of Baileys and watch Disney's Robin Hood or The Box of Delights or something similar
  3. I enjoy the delicious rich creaminess and wonder why I don't drink Baileys more often
  4. I finish my first Baileys and pour myself another. I gag on the cloying rich creaminess and, beginning to feel rather nauseous, I remember precisely why I don't drink Baileys more often
  5. I force myself to finish a whole bottle of gross, cloying, sickly-sweet Irish muck over a week or so
  6. I find out (too late) how many calories there are in a measure of Baileys and weep, swearing never to drink it again
  7. Until next year
So far, my bottle of Baileys remains untouched in the fridge, so I'm actually quite looking forward to it, but I'm sure within a day or two I will be ruing the day I decided to buy it. At least it's not as expensive here as it is in England.

Incidientally, yes, I have drunk Baileys from a shoe, but no, I don't want to go to a club where people wee on each other, thank you very much.

So anyway, not much going on. But that's not the real reason I wrote this post. The real reson is that one of my friends in Sheffield edits/produces/curates a sort of magazine. I guess you could call it an arts/culture/fashion/music/current affairs/amusing nonsense sort of magazine. It's called Article, presumably because that's what it contains. Anyway, I wrote an article for Article recently, and Article issue 4, featuring my article, has just been printed.

If you are in Sheffield, keep your eyes open for real live hard copies of Article, but for those of you living further afield it can be found online in an eco-friendly version here:
although as I type this, their myspace claims to be undergoing routine maintenance and is inaccessible. Should you have trouble with this one, please seek for the magazine here:

Mine is the cheery piece on suicide on page 26 (page 14 on the pdf because the pages are double-scanned), but you should definitely take a look at the rest of the magazine too because it's usually very entertaining (I haven't read this issue yet).

(Watch this video as you read the top of the third column of my article)

If you enjoyed anything you found written in Article, or even if you didn't, please go and list yourself as a 'fan' of Article magazine on facebook:

The more people sign up as fans, the more they can charge for advertising, the more money they get, the more content goes into the next issue. There's even talk of printing parts of it in colour, which is very exciting.

Now I'm about to something very unpleasant to all of you, but can I assure you that it's not my fault: blame Evil Ronnie for this one (I knew there was a reason his name's 'Evil').

Get ready for the Jingle Bass!!!

I apologise for that. Truly I do.

Much love,
Genghis Claus xxx

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Arianna Huffington

Dear World,

I have just watched today's edition of The Daily Show with John Stewart (if you don't already watch this programme religiously - or at least cultishly - you really, really ought to. It's the only source of American political news I trust.) On today's edition (December the 3rd; actually yesterday thanks to the 15 hour time difference between me and New York) a lovely lady called Arianna Huffington appeared to promote her new book about blogging. She told me that the key to blogging is spontaneity and not thinking too much about what you write, so here I am, spontaneously not thinking about what I'm writing. Apparently blogging is supposed to be like an intimate conversation, without any of the intimacy (it's so convenient having someone tell me exactly how I'm supposed to act and think - it was getting confusing having to work it out on my own.) So I'm going to try a semi-spontaneous off-the-cuff post, currently having little idea what the actual content of this is going to be.

Because that, apparently, is blogging.

Also, spontaneous stream-of-consciousness blogging rather precludes self-censorship, so if anything unsavoury comes up: sorry, parents.

I have recently been amused by the merry spin Japan puts on alcoholism. Firstly, alcohol is advertised widely, proudly and without 'drink responsibly' tags attached to all the ads. As far as I can tell there are no real regulations to alcohol advertising, and on my way to school I pass many 30-foot-wide billboards extolling the virtues of Japan's many fine beers. Which can, when I am trying not to drink (a frequent struggle) be more than slightly troublesome, although I have to say I feel it more keenly on my way home from school in the evening than on my way to school at 8.30 in the morning (I'm not THAT bad... yet...)

Secondly, there are the wonderful, uplifting messages printed on Japanese beer cans which make the whole idea of getting drunk seems so much more appealing. Asahi Clear have clearly paid someone who can actually speak English to write theirs:
Clear Asahi is brewed with select barley malt, hops and grains by using our pure cultured yeast. Its unique brewing process creates a distinctively bold, clear and smooth taste.

Now that sounds pretty damn tempting, and not at all retarded.

Kirin, thankfully, has no such compunction about asking a genuine English speaker to tell them whether their beer slogans sound retarded or not.
Kirin Tanrei:
Sheer refreshment! Open up the good taste that goes perfectly with good times.
Kirin Green Label:
Green label brings you a comfortable time. The refreshing taste cheers your mind.
Kirin Nodogoshi Nama (their cheapest beer-flavoured brew):
Kirin's brewing technology elaborates the Nodogoshi!
And my personal favourite, on Kirin Strong Seven (that's their tramp-flavoured 7% ABV beer-flavoured beverage):
This hard and clear taste brings you the great feeling. (No messing. No apologies. Hard. Clear. By 'great feeling' I presume they mean 'numb to the outside world')

I honestly didn't think anyone could make super lager sound appealing, but somehow these tricksy Japs have achieved it (nom nom nom).

To continue my discussion of how GOD DAMNED CRAZY these people are, allow me to tell you of the fabulous drink known as 'a Hoppy'.

No doubt you are all familiar with the concept of an alcohol-free beer. They are those mysteriously overpriced, sad-looking bottles of misery that live in the fridges of many nightclubs and are never bought by anyone. They are the social outcasts of the beverages world. Even amongst the alcohol-free clique of drinks, they are shunned. I mean, J2O may be alcohol-free, but compared to low-alcohol lager it's the coolest girl at the party. To offer a badly-thought-out American-high-school analogy, J2O is known to be a geek and a loser, but someone caught low-alcohol lager masturbating in the school toilets 2 years ago, and no-one has spoken to him since. That's how low low-alcohol lager is in the grand hierarchy of drinks.

And yet in Japan there is an alcohol-free beer known as 'Hoppy' which is widely popular. Many bars hang banners outside their premises advertising that they sell Hoppy. Let me tell you now that Japan is not a nation of teetotallers. Their drinking culture differs from ours in many significant ways, but no one could accuse the Japs of not liking a wee drink or two every now and then/every night of the week.

You see, the thing is, 'Hoppy' is an alcohol-free beer, but 'a Hoppy' from a bar is something rather different.

'A Hoppy' (I shit you not) is a chilled bottle of Hoppy alcohol-free beer, served in a chilled glass tankard, with a large chilled measure of Shochu (liquor) stirred into it. Shochu is Japan's rough liquor - it is diatilled from grain or potatoes and fills the role of Vodka in Japanese society. It's only 25%(ish) but has no significant flavouor and is cheap as dirt.

So basically, what I'm getting at is: alcohol-free beer + alcohol = commercial success in Japan.


B... Wha...?

Utterly baffling. What can I say.

Right - school tomorrow, so I shall start signing off.

I shall firstly bring to all of your attentions the 'Get Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" to be Christmas number one!' campaign, which is a serious issue in which I believe very strongly. I urge all of you who read to this join the Facebook group, invite all of your Facebook friends to join the group, and then to actually buy the single (wait until after December 15th otherwise it won't count for Christmas no. 1).

Honestly, I adore this song more than almost any other and I would be utterly beside myself with joy if it were Christmas number 1 this year. I'm not sure if they're actually re-releasing it as a single, but the charts include download sales these days, so if everyone just downloads it from iTunes then it could make it.

Come on people: we can do this!!!

Also, if anyone wants christmas prezzies please give me a shout what Jappy stuff you fancy - if it's cheap enough you might just get your wish! (seriously, this country is DAMN expensive and I'm running out of cash fast, so keep 'em small if you want any chance of getting your wish.)

So there you are. That's it. All that remains is to say that I wrote this post while drunk with absolutely no forethought, and I feel it's possibly one of my better ones, so please COMMENT and give me feedback about how you feel about it.


wait a minute...

I've forgotten what I was about to write,

but don't worry,

it'll come back to me in a moment, I'm sure...



Oh yeah, I remember!

Don't stop believing,
Hold on to that feeeling,
Streetlights, people,
Ah a-ah a-ah a-ah

Love, love, love,
Wood, wood, wood,
X, x, x

PS. Journey at number 1 would be the best Christmas present ever. Don't forget it.

PPS. I'll try to do a more 'newsy' post soon, to let you all know what I'm actually doing with myself. a bit. if any of you actually cares *sob sob*

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Gachapin

Lordies and Gentleforks,

I noticed today that it has been exactly two weeks since last I updated my blog, and that last post was not even a real update: just an amusing video of Japanese people being silly (they are so very silly), so I felt that I really ought to write something. More than that, I feel I owe you all an apology for keeping you waiting so long. I will try to make sure this little post is all you could wish for and more.

I have of late been somewhat troubled by two things in particular. The first is insomnia, or some kind of problem with my sleep pattern, and the second is the plummetting value of the Pound. I think I may have mentioned my sleeping problems before, possibly at great length, so I'll try not to go into too much wearysome detail, but in short I can't sleep. I lie down, I close my eyes, I even count sheep, but nothing happens. I seem to have forgotten some vital step in the going-to-sleep process, but I can't for the life of me work out what it was. I'll eventually drift off around 2 or 3am, then wake up several times, usually at 5, 5.30 and 6.30, each time thinking "hmmm, I'm pretty awake now, maybe I should just get up", but when my alarm clock goes off at 6.50 my only thoughts are "Bleeaaarggh. Mrrrrfffff? Hrmrmrmrmr fuck offfff..." and I wake up groggy, woozy, headachey and pissed off, which is not a great way to start the day.

No - that's not just a hangover. I know what I hangover feels like, and this is much worse.

In fact, my difficulty sleeping is driving me to the drink. Now, those of you who know me well will be aware that I was not a teatotaller before i came to Japan. I have been known to enjoy a drop of bubbly at Christmas, and sometimes even a shandy or two at the end of a long week. But recently I've been thinking "God I can't be bothered with another sleepless night and feeling shitty all day tomorrow. I'll just get drunk" which is not a healthy lifestyle or frame of mind. The fact is though, I feel better with a hangover but having slept well than I do when I haven't slept properly.

I've been thinking perhaps I ought to go and buy another mattress; my bed is spectacularly uncomfortable. I've bruises on my hips just from rolling over in the night. I think my futon might be stuffed with granite or iron filings.

And then there's the money issue. It's almost like there was some kind of global economic crisis going on or something... Basically, the value of the Pound is unimaginably low, especially when compared to the Yen which has remained relatively strong throughout the turmoil. 5 months ago £1 was worth 215 Yen. 2 months ago it was 185. Now it's around 140. That's a fall of 25% over 2 months, or 35% since July.

To put this in context for those of you not particularly familiar with Japanese currency, as long as I've been paying attention to Japan it has always been around 200 Yen to the pound, give or take. Sometimes it was a little more, sometimes a little less, but it was close enough. This made the calculations pretty convenient: 1000 Yen (the smallest note) was worth a fiver (our smallest note), so it all made sense and was pretty easy. 10,000 was £50. A 600 Yen pint was a £3 pint - pretty much average. Now a 600 Yen pint costs £4.28. Whenever I want to take out fifty quid, it costs me £71.50, not including the £1.50 my bank charges me for the privilege of using my card abroad!

Needless to say, this has caused me much fiscal consternation. Fortunately I have some money in Yen format, so I haven't actually had to use my Pounds too much, but I've not got many Yen left so I'm going to start feeling the rub pretty soon.

On the other hand, as my Father pointed out, this would be a very good time to start earning some Yen - exploiting the credit crunch to my own advantage - so I'm going to look into some English teaching work or something.

Aside from these two minor worries, however, the sun is shining, I only have one more lecture left this week, and all is pretty much well with me. I've been doing a fair amount of work, although I'm falling wa-a-ay behind with my Kanji - it turns out 60 kanji per week is rather more than i can realistically keep up with. My mid-term exams are all behind me, I've no major deadlines for 2 weeks, and I'm making progress with my Year-Abroad research project.

Also, possibly more significantly, I've recently been starting to feel like I can speak Japanese. Not especially well, mind you, but on the whole I understand when people speak to me, and they seem to understand what I say in response, so I guess I can speak Japanese... There's no other explanation for it.

I think that's all the 'serious' bit dealt with. No more real 'news' to tell you, except that I'll be back in 5 weeks and my cheese cravings are almost unbearable. Every day on my way home I detour to walk past a bakery where they are always giving out free samples of cheese bread - the typical sweet, spongey Japanese bread with a few meagre pieces of yellow and orange generic-factory-cheese in the middle. I also, once or twice a week, go to the food court underneath the Seibu department store and eat all the free samples at their cheese stall. Sometimes when I'm a bit drunk I buy a little pack of salami and smoked cheese, but apart from those three indulgences, there is no cheese in my life. They do have cheese in this country; in fact, at the fancy department stores they even have some pretty good cheese, but it's so gosh darn expensive that I can't bring myself to buy it. 150g of Stilton at the supermarket is 1,680 Yen, which is £12 at today's exchange rate, and there's no way I'm going to pay that much for a piece of cheese. Even the cheap crappy Japanese cheese is 400+ Yen (£2-3) for 100g.

Now, on to the important stuff. Let me start with the Shelf of Tat. You will be excited to know that the Shelf is positively groaning under the weight of Tat arrayed upon it. In fact, some of the older Tat has been pushed back slightly to make room for the newer Tat.

So, to introduce the new ones, and refresh your memory on the older ones, let's do a quick roll-call, left to right.

1. Battleship Yamato beer mug
2. Daruma
3. Talks-just-like-your-father SoftBank Dog
4. *NEW* White dog with your Father's voice
5. Sexy Dr Pepper can
6. *NEW* Minnie Mouse ears
7. *NEW* Bag of Yen
8. *NEW* Mickie and Minnie shot glass
9. *NEW* Singing employment mouse
10. Gachapin

That's right: there are 5 - count them - 5 new additions to the shelf of tat. Lets take a closer look at this motley bunch.

You all remember the talks-just-like-your-father SoftBank dog, right? With classic one-liners like "You are too young for that!" who could forget? Well, I am proud to introduce to you one of the finest pieces of tat I have found so far: a really naff plastic rip-off of the SoftBank dog! That's right, this isn't just a smaller version of the talks-just-like-your-father SoftBank dog, this the 'white dog with your father's voice', made by the White Dog Company. I won it in a 100 Yen UFO-catcher machine (took me about 6 tries, so the little bastard cost me about £4). It even comes complete with naff crappy rip-off pieces of fatherly advice. (Look back to September's post, 'Genghis Kong vs. the SoftBank Dog' to remind yourself of the nuggets of unfiltered fatherly wisdom that the original SoftBank Dog dispensed).

White dog says:
Boys be amitious! (he just says this in English but with a Japanese accent, so it comes out as boizu bii anbishasu)
Your intention is weak!

And other crappy bits of nonsense. Well, he used to say those things. His battery is already dead.

SoftBank Dog says: "That's quite enough of that!" and I think he's right.

The Minnie ears are from DisneySea (like DisneyLand, but wetter), which I went to a couple of weeks ago. They were lent to me by Lisa (one of the Japs), so I wore them all day with everyone laughing at me. Here's a picture of me modelling them with Yumiko (Dude! Chick! Hot! Bang! Totally!!!)
I believe this is what the Japanese call 'kawaii'.

Lisa says she wants the ears back.



The bag of Yen came free with a bottle of tea I bought. Well, the bag came free. I had to provide the Yen, unfortunately. A bottle of tea had a strange small item attached to it, so I bought it out of curiosity. The small soft 'free gift' turned out to be a tiny (about 3" square), see-through yellow drawstring bag with a picture of Rilakkuma (Relax Bear. Rilakkusu means relax, kuma means bear. Rilakkusu + Kuma = Rilakkuma. Genius) on it. How utterly pointless, I thought at first, but then I realised that my pockets, desk and floor were overflowing with another achingly pointless item: 1 Yen coins. So I put my 1 Yen coins in the bag. Problem solved.

Minnie and Micky shot glass. Another souvenir from DisneySea. For those dark, dark times, when the only thing that can cheer me up is shots of gin and a picture of Mickey Mouse.

Finally there's the singing employment mouse. I can't quite remember where I got him, but if you squeeze his belly he tells you to go get a job.

Well, not exactly, but it sounds better if I tell it that way. If you squeeze his belly he sings a little jingle which goes "If you're looking for part-time work, go to". It's very irritating, and mind-numbingly catchy, and just thinking about it has got it stuck in my head again. Oh... God... Make... It... Stop...

So those are the new contestants in the international Tat parade. I'd like to make a brief mention of Gachapin though. Gachapin, if you remember, is the one who says that giggling is good for your balls. It turns out he's some kind of Tom Cruise-esque action man super hero. And he has a friend who is a red yeti called Mukku. Here's proof.

How fucking cool/ridiculous is that? I particularly enjoyed the bit at the end where he's burying a corpse... and then the freaky magnet people?

*sigh* Somehow I can't help feeling that I'm more of a Mukku than a Gachapin...

So what kind of fun stuff have I been doing for the last few weeks? Well, briefly (because I've been at this post for about 2 hours now), Simon (coursemate from Sheffield) came up to Tokyo for the weekend, which we used as an excuse for a larger Sheff-crew gathering. All told Me, Simon, Jimmy, Morrell, Lisa, Rachel, Katherine, Evie, Ildze, Morito and a couple of Catherine's friends whose names I sadly can't remember met up (apologies if I missed anyone out there). Food and booze was had with much merriment. There was also Karaoke and a Curry, I can't quite remember in what order these events occurred.

Simon stayed with me the first night, and we had a day of doing some low-paced sightseeing which was nice. We had Okonomiyaki for lunch.

The one on the right is the one I made. The one on the left was Simon's...

In his defence, mine was an okonomiyaki, ans his was a monjayaki, so we were working from rather different recipes, but I'm still not entirely convinced monjayaki is supposed to look like that...

We then went up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building,

Which offers a very fine view of Tokyo,

Although it was a little too hazy to see Mt. Fuji.

Then there was DisneySea. A really fun day out, but the rides were all rather tame (well, it is for kids after all) and it was pretty expensive. There are tons of photos of it, but I can't quite be bothered to upload them here. If you've ever been to a Disney resort before it looked just like that. If you've never been to a Disney resort before, just imagine a 3D Disney film with me in it. The photos should make it on to Facebook eventually.

At some stage later that week I went out to the English Pub. The Fish and Chips are pretty rubbish and the beer is very expensive, but cocktails are cheap and it looks like a pub, so it makes me feel at home. This started out as a pretty low-key, low-drunkenness event, just me and three Japanese girls (dudechickhotbang? Totally!), but more and more people turned up later on and I ended up in a fairly disgraceful state of inebriation. Happy hour is 4pm until 7pm, and all cocktails are half price. That makes it about £2 for a pint or so of G&T. Not good G&T (no ice, no slice), but a pint of it.

Here's me earlier on in the night (don't let the blurriness of the photo or the droopiness of my eyes fool you - I was pretty sober).

Then the other Gaijin turned up, and the Japanese people questioned my abililty to drink a litre of beer.

(Wilko, I drank this and thought of you)

Then I was quite drunk.

Then... well... I don't know to be honest. I like to think I was playing peek-a-boo with a child under the table. Or demonstrating the brace position for a plane crash. Hopefully not crying.

Actually, I think I might have just hit my head. That seems the most plausible explanation. That would also explain the headache I had the next day...

Onwards and onwards and I've been at school, studying hard. I've started going to the Gym (I've lost about a stone, I think, which is nice). Yada yada yada.

Believe it or not Ive been writing this thing for about 3 hours now, so you'll forgive me if my patience is starting to run out.

I've also written an article for Article (my friend Dunmore's magazine that he prints in Sheffield). Keep your eyes peeled for it in paper format if you live in the Steel City, otherwise there will be an online edition at some stage too.

I have to go now - my vision is starting to blur and I'm starting to suffer from typist's headache, not to mention diarist's ear and blogger's ballbag - but before I do, I would like to leave you with a few more words from Gachapin. In fact, a whole song from Gachapin. It's called Tabechauzo (Eat it up!), and I find there's something amazingly creepy about it.

Lyrics in Japanese:

たべちゃうぞたべちゃうぞ いたずらする子はたべちゃうぞ  

バターたっぷりぬりつけて お砂糖ぱらぱらふりかけて  

大きな大きな口あけて 食べる子どの子 どの子にしようか  

じゃんけんぽんよ勝ったら食べろ 負けたら逃げろ


たべちゃうぞたべちゃうぞ おなべにゆでてたべちゃうぞ  

頭の方からなげこんで まだまだぐらぐらぐつぐつ  

おいしいスープのできあがり 食べる子どの子 どの子にしようか  

じゃんけんぽんよ勝ったら食べろ 負けたら逃げろ


たべちゃうぞたべちゃうぞ 眠ってる間にたべちゃうぞ  

おもちゃ大事にしない子は 壊れた自動車汽車怪獣  

仕返しやってくる夢の中 食べる子どの子 どの子にしようか  

じゃんけんぽんよ勝ったら食べろ 負けたら逃げろ  

じゃんけんぽんよ勝ったら食べろ 負けたら逃げろ

Lyrics in English (I can only be bothered to translate the first verse):

Eat it up! Eat it up! Naughty children eat it up!
With butter spread thickly on it and sugar sprinkled on top,
Open your big big mouth - which child will eat it, which will it be?
We'll rock, paper, scissors for it: if you win, you eat, if you lose, run away!

God that was creepy.

I've got some other stuff I might like to write, but I can't be bothered right now, so hopefully you won't have to wait quite so long for the next post.

Let's making happy! You are number one biggest friend and always filling your love!
Genghis xxx

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Barack Obama

As some of you may have heard, Barack Obama just won the US presidential elections.

I felt I ought to do something to mark the occasion, so I am writing this brief congratulatory message. To properly convey my jubilation at this moment, I am enlisting the help of the Anyone Brothers Band and their recent song Obama is Beautiful World, recorded especially for these elections.

I hope you will enjoy the beautiful music, high production values, excellent use of correct English grammar and well-choreographed dance routines which can be seen in this truly breathtaking music video.

Peace, love and Yes We Can,
Jeng xxx

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Jimmy Van Halen

Japanese television is, without exception, utterly crap. Every aspect of Japanese TV production is indescribably woeful in every possible way. However, sometimes it manages to be such utter, utter crap that it accidentally becomes genius.

Terebi dorama (Television drama) are extremely popular in Japan. These are more-or-less like soap operas, except that they're utterly farcical. None of the actors have a shred of talent, the plots are retarded, the production values are low and everything is so over-acted, over-dramatised and generally overdone that it becomes laughable. In fact, they can become hilarious.

I've just been watching a wonderful dorama entitled Yamaonna, Kabeonna (mountain woman, wall woman), in which a flat-chested saleswoman (wall woman) gets a new employee on her salesteam who has enormous breasts (mountain woman). Wall Woman is envious of mountain woman's rack, and hilarity ensues. In todays episode the department chief of the department store where they work didn't feel like eating his potato croquettes, so Mountain Woman had some. Unfortunately, Department Chief suffers from erectile dysfunction so his wife had laced his croquettes with some kind of drug to encourage his libido (I didn't quite catch what it was that she put in the croquettes, but it sounded like "spong", so I'm going to go with that). Mountain Woman reacted strangely to the spong, going into a super-hard-working frenzy of smiles, enthusiasm and efficiency, and was so impressed with them that she shared them with her section chief. He also went into a berserk spong-fury, and at the end of the day he charged off to some classy hostess bar with his colleagues to exercise his love muscle. There he bumped into limp-dicked Department Chief (his boss) with much embarassment but they end up sitting together with their girls for a while. Later on, who should appear on the stage dressed as Elvis but their company president (!) to much embarassment/amusement all round.

Meanwhile, Wall Woman has been invited to Mountain Woman's house for dinner, and Wall Woman is trying to work out how to make her boobs bigger. She is surprised to discover that Mountain Woman's mother has tiny breasts, so she decides that it must be something dietary. Mountain Woman eats a lot of pickles, so Wall Woman starts gorging on mama's special pickles in an effort to grow her breasts. Later on, Mountain Woman's grandmother comes home. Grandmother also has enormous great big boobs, and when she sits down to eat with them she has to lift her breasts up and rest them on the table. Cue slow-motion soft-focus close up of old lady boobs as Wall Woman gazes transfixed by them.

Wall woman offers Gran some pickles, but Gran declines, saying she never eats them. Damn, thinks Wall Woman, if its not the pickles, then what is it? I transpires that Mother (flat-chest) never drinks, but Wall Woman and Granny both drink like fish, so Wall Woman decides that the only way for her to get bigger boobs is to get amazingly drunk.

Oh, and at some point Mountain Woman was hospitalised by falling objects. I don't quite know how that fits in with the rest of it.

I can't quite tell whether the show ended there or whether I got bored and changed the channel, but that's about as far as I got.

Here's a little picture (that's Wall Woman and the left, Mountain Woman on the right):
And if you found my plot synopsis a little confusing, here's a handy chart to explain things more easily:
Does that make it a little clearer? Good.

I'll try and watch it regularly and keep you all up-to-date with the fascinating goings-on. I'm sure you're all desperate to find out what happens next.

Guess who I met last night?

JIMMY VAN HALEN! There he is, looking sexy. What a god. He's like a walking chunk of sex. He's like a little fleck of sex wee stuck to the bedhead in a love hotel. He is the worlds tallest sperm and the most fertile man in all of Asia.

For those of you who don't already know him, this is my friend Jimmy. We lived together last year and throughout first year we terrorised many karaoke events. We're karaoke terrorists. We turn up and we blow everyone away, but most of the time we also get killed in the blast.

Unfortunately, there were too many of us last night to all fit in one karaoke room, and we decided that it was only fair that we share the love evenly, so Jimmy was in one room and I was in the other. I was in this room:

That's right. All-you-can-drink karaoke with women dressed as Pikachu. Isn't Japan an awesome country? I don't even know who these women are, but I think one of them was called Ashley. Perhaps. (The chick in the middle was cute. Dude, I totally should have banged her.)

So me and Jimmy were in separate rooms, but we were able to get together for an absolutely storming, foot-stamping, screaming shouting rendition of that Karaoke classic, Dschinghis Khan (by Dschinghis Khan), to rapturous applause and wide-eyed terror. I'm also pretty chuffed with myself because I totally out-karaokeed a Japanese host guy at a Japanese song. Hosts (like a hostess, but a man) are pretty much trained to be good at karaoke. It's part of their job. And yet I Karaoke Blasted him right out of the water, even singing in Japanese.

Incidentally, the hosts that were there last night were off-duty. They weren't getting paid to hang out with us, they wanted to hang out with us because we're cool. Actually, they wanted to hang out with Lisa because they think she's cool, and I just happened to be in the same place at the same time.

We also met up with Rachel and Lisa from Sheffield so it was almost like a mini-reunion. Tomorrow, though, I think we're having a much larger-scale Sheffo get-together, possibly in fancy dress ('tis Hallowe'en, after all), which should be jolly.

Last weekend I went to 'camp'. I don't know whether I've already mentioned the IFL, but I feel I ought to. The International Friendly Lunch is a very camply-named club at Rikkyo University which aims to befriend and make welcome foreign exchange students, and they organise loads of stuff (mostly drinking parties). They also organised a camp for us, which involved booking a lodge near a river and then doing a barbecue and drinking party. They picked a very beautiful spot out in Saitama, about an hour and a half away from where I live:

You can just see the first hints of Autumn on the leaves. You can also see that there's a river.
River + Drunkeness =
Male nudity! Yay!

I, unfortunately, was not on top form for this event. I had exhausted myself from getting excessively wasted the night before and having spent the night telling a racist to stop being so racist at great length, I had slept very little. Thus I was sleepy and hungover and grumpy, so I wimped out and went to bed around midnight, although I believe the party continued until the very weeest and smalles of the wee small hours.

It was this episode - where I somehow managed to fuck up getting drunk at a drinking party by drinking - that caused me to pause and reconsider my lifestyle, and ultimately to decide to "detox".

On the subject of the detox, I am not doing too badly. My not-drinking lasted precisely as long as I thought it would (3 days), but I have been out drinking twice, surrounded by smoking people and still have not smoked, which I guess is a good thing. I have also not drunk any coffee, although I have had one or two cups of green tea. So I'm still a drunk, but I don't seem to be a smoker any more, which is strange. Strange in a good way, I suppose, but definitely strange.

To follow up on another point from my last post: I asked her out. She said no.


(Notice the new picture at the top of the blog)

I've got a week's holiday now - no school until Thursday next, although I believe I have mid-term exams on Thursday, which sucks a bit. A lot of people have gone off travelling to exciting places, but I decided to stay around and not do a great deal. This way I can conserve money, study lots and I've also got a chance to meet up with the Sheffield crew which is nice. On Tuesday I'm going to Disneysea, too, which should be fun.

I'm going to leave you with this delicious song by MGMT, because I think its awesome and I've slightly fallen in love with the weird face-painty girl in the video.

Genghis xx

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Tox

As those of you who pay any attention to my Facebook may already know, I am attempting some kind of "detox" regime type thing. I put that in inverted commas because a true detox implies that you lay off the "toxes" long enough for it to make an appreciable difference to your health, whereas that was never really my goal. Indeed I don't really know what my actual goal is, but I've decided not to drink alcohol or caffeine or to smoke for the time being.

I think I'm going to crack on the drinking first - I'm meeting up with my cousins husband tomorrow night to show him around Tokyo and I wouldn't be surprised if he might want to go somewhere for a drink later on. Failing that I have also been invited to a drinking party last night, and I have specific plans (written in my diary and everything) to go the pub with a bunch of girls on Thursday night (wa-hey!). So, while I can quite happily not drink if I don't go out and don't see anyone, I'm not sure how easily I can spend an evening in a pub without drinking. I'm not even sure I'd want to.

As for smoking, I'm not too sure. The two main factors which would make me want to smoke would be hanging around smokers and drinking, but the people I drink with don't tend to be the same peaople that I smoke with, so we'll have to wait and see how long I can hold out. Again, I haven't even decided that I actually really really want to quit for good, but I guess I'll take it as a little challenge to see how long I can go.

Caffeine just seemed to complete the set. Also, I like to smoke with a cup of coffee, so it seemed wise to get rid of that too. I've got to say though, I do look amazingly cool when I'm sitting in a little cafe on the street, Haruki Murakami novel in one hand, hand-rolled cigarette in the other and a steaming cup of black coffee on my table in front of me. Honestly, I am so kakkoii (Japanese for "totally fucking cool") it makes passers-by stop in amazement and break down weeping with uncontainable eye-joy at the sight of me. But I guess I'm going to have to give up that particular hobby.

"But why," I hear you cry, "have you decided to go on a detox all of sudden? You who are reknowned as a great lover of tox, and in many situations you are defined by your great tox intake - surely, without tox you are not even the same man? How can you turn your back on the tox which has been so good to you all these years?"

Well, in actual fact the tox hasn't been so good to me all these years. It has made me very fat and unhealthy and this is all part of a grander get-fit regime with which I am hoping to persevere throughout my time in Japan. The university gave me a health check-up for their insurance and things, and it turned out than in my first month here I lost about half a stone without making any effort towards healthiness whatsoever, so i felt I ought to try and capitalise on that gain. However, I think that early weight loss was entirely thanks to muscle atrophy and malnutrition - if anyone has ever told you that the Japanese diet is amazingly healthy, they were lying. The Japanese diet consists primarily of a large bowl of rice with a thin scraping of salty and/or deep-fried flavour smeared across the top of it. Most of their food is deep fried.

Of course, I'm being unfair. What i'm describing is cheap Japanese food, i.e. the food they serve in the cafeteria at school, and the only food I can afford most of the time. Of course there's all sorts of other things - delicious noodles, sushi, grilled meat and chicken things, a wide range of fish both cooked and raw and an unimaginable variety of seaweeds, tofus and pickled things. However, it is extraordinarily difficult to find vegetables in anything more than a garnishing capacity (unless those vegetables are pickled or deep-fried), so I have given up on the cafeteria food, and on eating out most nights. Instead I stay in, lift weights, and eat vast quantities of salad and vegetables. Blam. Incidentally, if you think its odd that I said I've given up eating out most nights, that's because in Tokyo it's usually cheaper to eat out than to stay in, especially if you want to eat interesting and varied food which tends to cost a fortune from the supermarket.

Another reason for my "detox" is that I have been having problems with sleeping. I don't know whether it's a very delayed jet-lag, whether its dietary, psychological or pituitary but its indescribably frustrating. I sleep for a reasonable amount of time each night, wake up the same time each morning, but I spend the first 10 or more hours of each day in a dazed, semi-conscious stupor. There's a thick, heavy foggy feeling in my head, my eyes feel gummy and its difficult to focus on anything, and anytime I sit down somewhere even slightly warm, quiet or comfortable (for example lessons, library or anytime I try to study) I start to nod off almost instantly. My vision blurs, my eyelids droop, I lose track of what's being said and gradually half-formed fragments of dream begin to form around the periphery of consciousness until all of a sudden I jerk awake again to realise that whatever notes I had been taking have trailed off into a squiggly line culminating in the words 'hitler clown' and I have absolutely no idea what the lecturer is talking about. And the lecturer has just asked me a question. It's deeply, deeply frustrating and annoying. I feel retarded or disabled or something, being completely incapable of even basic cognitive functions for most of the day. Around six or seven I perk up again, my mind is clear, I can focus, study, do whatever, but when it comes time to go to bed I'm still awake, alert and not sleepy.

So anyway, I figured that a peculiar daily cocktail of stimulants and depressants probably wasn't actually improving my sleep in the long run, so I'm cutting them out to see what happens. So far, I've been sleepier than ever, but I guess these things take time.

The final reason for my "detox" plan is, basically, that there's a girl I like and she doesn't smoke, rarely drinks and is very sporty, so essentially I'm just trying to impress her.

But this is all getting a little heavy, is it not? What other, lighter topics can i ramble on about.

Forthcoming exciting events:
I've got a week's holiday from Thursday this week until Wednesday next, so i'm hoping to meet up with some the Sheffield crew during this time (probably for more drinkies)
I'm going to DisneySea on Tuesday (like DisneyLand, but they sell beer)

That's about it for the moment. I'm sorry if this post has seemed less light-hearted and mirthful than previous ones, but hopefully the next one will be a riotous party of joy, colour, photographs and music.

And I can't even think of an amusing song with which to sign off. Oh, you'll have to make do with a song which is just good then, I'm afraid.

(Damn, you can tell I'm smitten, picking a song like that. Quality song though)

Love and love,

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Tokyo University Baseball Team

Go team!

Everybody ready now? Sing it loud!

St. Paul's will shine tonight,
St. Paul's will shine!
St. Paul's will shine tonight,
St. Paul's will shine!
The sun will go down
and the moon will come up
and tonight St. Paul's will Shine!

Go-o-o-o-o-o-o RIKKYO!

I went to a baseball game on Saturday, to support my university's team (Rikkyo University, also known as St. Paul's University) against Tokyo University. It was absolutely awesome. Aside from the actual baseball (which was pretty good, actually. It's not such a bad sport after all) the cheerleading squad was absolutely berserk. I mean, of course, there were pretty girls in little shorts waving pompoms, but it was the cheerboys which made the most lasting impression on me. Now before you all go off thinking I've turned gay, let me show you a little of what I'm talking about - this was a relatively sedate moment in the cheerleading proceedings:

As I say, this is not them at their most crazy - this was pretty early in the match, nothing had really happened yet. You should have seen them when we scored!

So it was a truly fascinating experience - at first the cheerleaders were just so loud and crazy that I was scarcely aware of any baseball going on. Also, all the cheers are in Japanese, and everyone is expected to join in, but of course I don't know any of the cheers or songs so at first it was deeply confusing and, honestly, quite terrifying. Not to mention slightly embarassing - the only bits of what they were shouting that I understood were "Okay everybody, let's really make some noise! 1, 2, 3..." and then they'd shout something I had no idea what, and look at us (all Gaijin where we were sat) expectantly, as if to say "why aren't you cheering?".

Gradually though, I worked out what *most* of the cheers were (still no clue about the songs though), and once I had worked out what they were saying I also realised that they were actually cheering in response to events happening in the game, so i was able to follow the cheers and the baseball simultaneously. I don't mind admitting that I possibly got slightly too into it - jumping up and down, screaming and hollering. They gave us all purple megaphone/noisy cone things when we went in, and by the time I came out mine was hopelessly mangled from over-vigorous clapping, waving and punching the air. I probably should have kept it for the shelf of tat.

I think I might have to start going to these things regularly. All I need now is to pick a professional team to support, then I can go to baseball all the time! Also, this has given me a new ambition for my time in Japan (I'll add it to my mission statement later): to become a cheerleader! I think it would take rather a lot of training though - those crazy bastards didn't stop for 2 1/2 hours - screaming, running around, shouting, waving their arms, shouting, waving flags, shouting... It was mad, and more than little bit frightening.

On a totally unrelated topic - I just ate one of the finest beer snacks I've ever encountered in all my days. I had a stick of spicy salami with little pieces of cheese inside the salami! They've combined 2 of the finest foods available (I combined that with the finest beverage available) to create something truly awe-inspiring. Verily, my friends, this is indeed the land of the future.

Ah... cheese... how I miss thee. Sweet yellow maiden of the curds, how richly and tangily you play across my beer-soaked tongue... Oh, but that I had the money I should dine upon your delights daily, but no. It cannot be. For your prices here are grossly inflated beyond even those of The Fine Cheese Co. and I shall have to content myself by listlessly wandering the food courts of high-class department stores, subsisting on nought but the meagre morsels proffered me on cocktail sticks by nubile young Japanese cheese-maidens. *sigh*

Yes, cheese here is obscenely expensive - £8-£15 for about 100-150g of decent cheese? I think not. Why would you spend so frivolously on cheese when you can buy packets of dried squid strings or pig's ear cartilage for less than a pound?

Damn this country and it's freaky beer snacks.

Okay - what else have I got for you...

Ooh! Shelf of tat! I've got a new addition!

I won it from a UFO catcher machine (one of those robotic-crane grab-a-stuffed-toy machines) at the bowling alley on Saturday. I didn't know what it was. I didn't even want it, particularly, but it was really close to the edge and loads of my friends were trying to get it. I finally knocked it off, so I get to keep it. Ha!

(The Battleship Yamato beer mug isn't in the picture because I'm drinking from it, I'm afraid)

This is its little label, which says that it's called Devi Gachapin, it's a Super Deluxe Lazy-Style Soft Toy. The red thing is presumably his friend, and is called Devi Mukku. Devi Gachapin has a little speach bubble which says うふふ、たまにはいいな~.This means "it's good to giggle once in a while", but I think it can also be read as "giggling is good for your balls". Perhaps that's just my dirty mind, but I like it better that way.

I'm kind of sleepy, so I'll run through the rest of my news as swiftly as I can be bothered. On Thursday night I went out for conveyor-belt sushi. They had some whale on the menu, so how could I possibly not have ordered it? Whale meat is very definitely meat. Not Fish. It's dark red and fibrous, and looks like well-hung steak. The texture is soft but slightly stringy and the taste, well, to be honest, it came with a big heap of grated raw ginger on top of it, so i couldn't really tell, but it was good. I will order it again.

Friday was also pretty fun. I went and caught a Kabuki play with Lars (Danish guy). Photography was forbidden in the theatre, but here's a photo of the theatre itself, which is nonetheless pretty cool, and a poster outside which tells you which actors are playing there.

Kabuki was cool, but I was too stingy/though too much of my own Japanese ability to bother buying one of the English language commentary earpieces, so i had very little idea of what was going on. Fortunately Lars did buy one, so he was able to fill me in on the plot details. I won't bore you with all of them, but, of course, like any good Japanese love story it had a happy ending - He was executed, She killed herself.

After Kabuki we went to one of my favourite places in all of Tokyo - しょんべん横町 (Piss Alley). Piss Alley is a couple of tiny sidestreets just 3 minutes walk from the busiest train station in Tokyo in within sight of dozens of enormous skyscrapers and business districts. Everything nearby is glass and steel and massive and worth billions, and yet Piss Alley persists; 2 tiny sidestreets lined on both sides by nothing but incredibly small Yakitori shops. Yakitori is essentially little bits of chicken on a stick, grilled over an open charcoal fire. It's among the finest foods the world has ever produced. It also goes extremely well with beer, so what's not to love?

Me and Lars had some chicken, and lots of beer. Then we each had a bowl of the shop's "speciality" stew. It was a very spicy broth which had floating in it lots of Konnyaku (a kind of grey jelly made out of the heads of bullrushes), chicken kidneys (I think) and something which was either tripe or just big pieces of chicken skin. It was a disreputable looking agglomeration of off-cuts and flotsam, but somehow it was actually really good. Here are some photos.

Me enjoying yakitori.

This was literally the entire shop.

And this is Piss Alley itself.

I think Friday ended up with us going into some bar near where we live only to find it was populated entirely by old Japanese women singing Karaoke. Undaunted, we stayed for a beer and sang some karaoke with them. I was awesome. I mean, seriously, I was absolutely fucking awesome. I think I'm so good at karaoke it actually takes the fun out of it sometimes.

Saturday was baseball, upon which I have already spoken at length. That evening we went for a drinking party with the Japanese members of the college of business. It was cool, but I'm still (still) struggling with this whole chatting-with-Japs thing. They're just a little difficult to approach. It's awkward. I've come to the conclusion that my Japanese isn't actually that bad (I have this bar I go to when I'm really drunk to practice my Japanese - I'm so good at it when I'm drunk!), but I still find it a bit awkward to talk to them. I think they're just not very good conversationalists. Whatever - it's definitely their fault and not mine. Definitely.

Now this is the bit I really don't understand. We had a drinking party and a meal. We had all-you-can-drink for 2 hours and lots of food all for £15 (pretty good, no?) but that finished at 9, and then we went bowling and everyone stopped drinking! I don't get it. Surely you would bowl first (while sober) and then get drunk. And if you're at a drinking party where you can drink all you want for 2 hours, why would you then go to do a sport (not a real sport) which requires you to be sober and not to drink? I don't get it. People here are crazy.

Everyone went clubbing after, but clubs in Japan are really sleazy and expensive, so I wandered off to my friendly bar on my own where I got into a discussion (in Japanese) about the nature of race and prejudice and how the old-fashioned white/black/yellow division is really very outdated and inaccurate. I guess i must secretly be able to speak Japanese, but it doesn't come out until I'm really drunk. Incidentally, it wasn't me that described Japanese people as yellow, it was the Japanese guy I was talking to. It took me a moment to work out what he was saying, because Yellow in Japanese is the same word, but it comes out as "ieroo". Damn Japs with their crazy moonspeak.

Gah. That's just about all the bloggery I can manage right now. I think it's a pretty decent offering though. Should keep you all happy for a little while.

I'll leave you with this: There is a children's TV program in Japan called Pythagoras Switch (or Pitagora Suicchi, in Japanese) and this is a compilation of its intro sequences, which are amongst the best things ever. All of them are made for real, with no digital trickery whatsoever. If you YouTube "Pythagoras Switch" you'll probably find loads more, many of them made by tiny Japanese children. Enjoy.

Hot hot sex,

PS. I'm sure I was going to write a PS. but I've forgotten what it was going to be.

PPS. Oh yeah. Thank you all for your concern - my eye seems to be better now. I think possibly spending too much time at my computer was the trigger of this attack of twitchiness.

PPPS. Keep commenting! I can't tell you how much it means to me. I die a little inside every time I log to on and there's no new comments.


Monday, 13 October 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Japanese Internet Providers

Sadly, the internet at my dormitory has died. It died on Saturday and Monday was a national holiday so the dorm manager hasn`t been in all weekend, so I haven`t had any internet for ages! I am now in the University media library where they do have internets, but their keyboards are all confusing and messed up, and none of my photos are here, so I can`t be doing a proper post here. This is a shame because I`ve been up to lots and lots of exciting things this weekend. A brief summary for you:
  • I ate raw whale meat at a rotating sushi bar
  • I went to see a Kabuki play
  • I ate Yakitori in Piss Alley
  • I sang karaoke in a strange little bar with old, old Japanese women
  • I went to a University baseball game
  • I went to a drinking party
  • I went bowling
  • I sat in my room on my own drinking beer and playing StarCraft for hours

So as you can see, there is lots for me to write about, but it`ll have to wait until my computer situation gets back to normal. Hopefully when I go home this afternoon the manager will have already fixed it, and it`ll be business as usual chez Kong.

On another (unrelated) note, do you ever get that weird thing when your eyelid spasms a little bit? You know, the weird twitching sensation that doesn`t hurt at all but is really really annoying? I`ve had that in my left eye for 5 days now. I`m starting to lose my patience/my mind. It`s intensely irritating and distracting.

Well, anyhoo, must run. More Genghis goodness coming up shortly, hopefully.

Ta-ra for now,

Geng x

Monday, 6 October 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Studying

Hello fans!

Long time no speaky! How are you all doing?

Yes, it's been more than a week since last we spoke. I apologise. The fault is entirely my own. It's just that I've been rather busy, you see? Mostly with schoolwork, as it happens. Somebody told me that Japanese University is really easy, which it may turn out to be, but you have to do an awful lot of work - I have homework due in every single day of the week! Having said that, the homework is mostly pretty easy, but still, it means I have to spend a lot of time actually working and studying, which is a rather novel experience for me.

But apart from busy I've also been rather lazy, and rather short of exciting things to write about - in a remarkably short space of time living in Japan has become my everyday, run-of-the-mill routine, so it hardly seems worth writing about to me. There are, of course, still plenty of things which make me scratch my head in disbelief though.

For example: On Saturday evening I was walking through Ikebukuro station, quietly minding my own business, when a little Jap came running up to me from behind and, without offering any explanation, started humming a peculiar little tune at me, whilst waving some strange book in my face. I looked at him blankly (I was taken totally unprepared and didn't even have time to use a Gaijin Optic Blast), and, grinning, he simply continued to hum his little tune and point purposefully at the book he held. The look in his eyes told me he was expecting something - some kind of recognition or sign of understanding from me, but I was (understandably) baffled, and din't know what to say to him.

I told him I didn't understand, and I could see his spirits fall. He continued with his tune, but his face had taken on a timorous caste, his eyes pleading for me to validate this little performance, but I didn't know how. With a shrug of my shoulders, his hopes were crushed. His song trailed off and, lowering the book, he apologised, and scuttled away with a look of absolute mortification on his face. I was left bewildered, and felt more than a little sorry for the man, who clearly wanted to tell me something, but I had failed to understand him.

The book he was waving at me was written all in Japanese so I didn't really understand it, but it had a picture of King of the Hill on one page.

"I don't suppose," I asked one of my friends with whom I was walking, "that that tune he was humming was the King of the Hill theme tune, was it?"

"Yeah, actually I think it was..."

Then it dawned on me. This peculiar little man had been trying to tell me, through the medium of humming and pointing, that I look like Hank out of King of the Hill! What an absolute cunt! I mean, sure, I was wearing jeans, a white T-Shirt and glasses, but still - you don't go up to a complete stranger and tell him he looks like a fat, drunk, middle-aged, depressing, American cartoon propane salesman! What a complete and utter bastard!

I'm never going out wearing a plain white T-shirt again.

I think I might buy myself a T-Shirt with "Honey is the Intense Fanny" written on it instead. That'd be good, wouldn't it? Luckily, some clever Japanese clothing designer has already manufactured such a T-shirt! I kid you not - "Honey is the Intense Fanny". On a T-shirt.

Other than being harassed by unpleasant little yellow folk in underground stations, I have been settling in to the rather humdrum business of daily life - not that I'm saying that's a bad thing. We can all benefit from a bit of regularity in our lives (as well as in our digestion).

I have class first period every day, so I'm up at 7am every morning. I haven't quite worked out what people eat for breakfast in this country, and after several deeply disappointing experiments with Japanese bacon, I have more or less given up, so for breakfast I have a bowl of Miso soup and a glass of tomato juice. No, this is not a satisfying breakfast, but it's better than Japanese bacon, and I can't be bothered to start grilling fish at 7 o'clock in the morning. So, I spend my first lesson (which is always Japanese language) with crippling hunger pains, but it's okay because at 10.30 class finishes and I can go to the cafeteria for a very early lunch.

Cafeteria food is pretty tasty to be honest, but in a deeply unsubtle way. It features pretty prominently deep-fried things and curry sauce, which is always a winning combination.

3 days out of 5, first period is also my last class, leaving me with a LOT of spare time on my hands. So far I haven't really found a productive way to fill it although i do study a bit. Its also kind of hard to come up with fun things to do on your own in the middle of the day for free/cheap, but quite often I go and sit in a coffee shop and read a book, which is perfectly pleasant.

The rest of the day is usually frittered away watching TV, playing computer games, learning Kanji, studying, frittering, cooking, eating, chilling etc etc blah blah blah. Japanese TV, by the way, is rubbish. I swear there are no hyper-violent or ridiculous game shows, just strange people doing strange things I don't understand, or answering incredibly easy questions wrong on TV game shows (there was one game show where the contestants were invited to answer questions based on the year 3 curriculum. Some of them scored, like, 20% or less). But watching Sumo is pretty funny.

I saw a real live sumo wrestler the other day. He wobbled in all kinds of amusing ways. Lol.

I haven't really been taking that many pictures lately, I'm afraid. Wherever I go there seem to be at least 15 other people with cameras, so I sort of feel, why should I bother - the pictures are gonna be on Facebook soon anyway - but here's a nice one of me and a load of people sitting in a place.

Isn't that lovely? Yes it is.

I feel I'm rather running out of steam for this post - I'll get back t you when I think of some more interesting stuff to say. For now, I'm hungry, so I'm gonna go make some food.

Until next time, then,

Ooh, oooh I
Ooh, oooh I
Ooh, oooh I,
I just know that something good is gonna happen

Good tune, but nowhere near as good as the Kate Bush original.

Genghis xx

Friday, 26 September 2008

Genghis Kong uses his Gaijin Super Powers for Good! (and for Evil...)

Avast, me hearties!

*ahem* Sorry, Facebook's new 'English (Pirate)' language setting has rather gone to my head.

Right - Gaijin Super Powers. Now, I know many of you will already be familiar with the concept of Gaijin Super Powers, having already experienced them yourself or even just having read about them, but for those of you having no prior knowledge, I will attempt to briefly summarise them.

Gaijin Super Powers are, as the name suggets, awesome X-man-like powers immediately acquired by a ny foreigner the moment they set foot upon Japanese soil. The strength and variety of Powers available to you vary according to just how 'foreign' you are (now, I know that clearly I am not foreign - I'm English, all these Japs are foreign - but for the purposes of Gaijin Powers I sort of am), thus tall black men have the most potent Gaijin Powers, I do pretty well being tall, broad, bearded and acutely white, but small Asian women can use only the most minor of these abilities. These powers also grow in strength the further you travel from Tokyo, so while I'm currently only able to use 30-40% of my Gaijin potential, should I ever travel to the countryside I will become virtually unstoppable.

Several specific Powers have been identified (also, I can't really take credit for any of this: go to for the guy who came up with all this. He probably writes it much better than I do anyway).
  1. Gaijin Smash! - A Gaijin Smash! is the act of subduing, subjugating or dominating a Jap to get your own way by sheer force of will alone. This power is greatly enhanced by application of the "No Speaky Japanesey" technique - very few Japanese speak English with any degree of confidence, and will go out of their way to avoid having to confront a foreigner in his own language, so you can do what you want. Advanced practitioners can also apply the very difficult but powerful "No Speaky English" technique - if you are unlucky enough to come up against an English-speaking Japanese adversary, this move is invaluable, as it is virtually impossible to counter.
  2. Gaijin Perimeter - the ability to repel Japanese people via an invisible force field projected by the Gaijin mind. This usually manifests itself as an empty seat on either side of you even on a very crowded train. This technique can be powerful enough to repel Japanese people out of their existing seats and 10 yards further down the train.
  3. Gaijin Optic Blast - often a curious Jap will be unable to resist staring at a nearby Gaijin. This is when the Gaijin Optic Blast comes into play - all it takes is to catch his gaze for split-second and the Jap is sure to be staring at his feet or pretending to sleep for at least the next 5 minutes.
There are a few others, but these are the most important and powerful ones. And it's not just made-up, either! I myself have personally experienced all of these abilities. Sometimes I use my Gaijin Powers for my own sinister purposes, but sometimes, as a stern parent might have to smack a disobedient child for its own good, I have to use my Gaijin Powers for the good of the Japanese around around me.

For example, coming back from Yokohama last weekend, I was able to Gaijin Smash! my way onto 3 trains and through 6 sets of barriers without buying a single train ticket. My Gaijin Powers were extremely potent that night/morning, enhanced by no sleep (my first train was at about 7am, my final Gaijin Smash! to get off at my station was around 11.30am) and lots of beer (I am a follower of the Drunken Master school of Gaijin Super Powers). I achieved this feat via various methods: the easiest way was to swipe my Pasmo card repeatedly (like an Oyster card. It had no money on it though) looking confused and drunk, and before long the poor man at the ticket booth, faced with the prospect of a drunk, confused, and potentially dangerous gaijin simply presses the little button to open the barriers. The second technique is a little less subtle but requires more athleticism - look for a ticket gate which is still open from the last customers and walk quickly. If you can't get there in time, don't worry - Japanese ticket barriers are not that strong, although at this stage it becomes less a question of force of will as much as force of thigh. Still, it worked though.

Two good techniques, and enough to get you through most situations without difficulty, but when I got to my final station, neither of these techniques worked, so I had to step up my game. I actually had to go to the ticket office to negotiate my case with the man on duty. It was at this point that I realised the full force of my Gaijin Super Powers. I went to the ticket office, handed the man my Pasmo card (which had no money on it, but had recorded the fact that I had travelled about 30 miles without buying a ticket), and swayed slightly. The man looked at my card, put it in the machine and looked at me... Our gazes met... Out of nowhere I hit him with a Gaijin Optic Blast against which he was totally unprepared. Shaken, he handed me back my card, waved me through the barrier, and apologised.

He apologised.

I believe this is what's know as a SUPER GAIJIN SMASH!

So, this is how Gaijin Super Powers can be used for my own wicked ends (Mwahahahaha!), but earlier today on the train I was able to use them for good!

Riding a quiet mid-afternoon train back from Ikebukuro to Fujimidai, where I live, I noticed a strange man - he wore grubby tracky bottoms, broken trainers and a baggy, shapeless, greyish top, and his faced was oddly... concave... He boarded the train, which was not very crowded, and moved very close up behind a woman who facing out the window. Now, at rush hour, of course, you don't have much choice about who squeeze up against, but there were only about 4 people standing on this train, so there waas plenty of room to have your own space. But this man kept moving closer and closer, sweating heavily, shuffling nervously, sliding his hand down the handrail closer to hers.

Now, you would think that it would be foolish to attempt the whole creepy-man-touching-girls-on-the-train thing on a not-very-crowded train in the middle of the day, but Japanese etiquette requires that when on the train you never make eye-contact with anyone, never look around and pretty never lift your head. This is why Japanese people on trains invariably read manga, fiddle with their phones or just pretend to sleep. Thus creepy man was able to sidle up pretty damn close to unfortunate girl without any of the Japs in the carriage being any the wiser.

Fortunately we Gaijin are not bound the rules of Japanese etiquette, and as he glanced around the carriage nervously to check that no one had noticed him, I saw my opportunity - BLAM! Gaijin Optic Blast with all the force I could muster. It knocked the poor perverted bastard so off balance that the girl noticed him and was able to move quickly away.

Gaijin Super Powers save the day! No, no, there's no need to thank me. I was merely fulfilling my sacred duty as a foreigner.

In other news, look what I saw at Yoyogi Park (near harajuku) the other day:

Isn't that fantastic? And did I mention that Japs are crazy?

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure the main line in the chorus of this song went:

"Come on everybody,
You've got a penis!"

although it might have been:
"Come on everybody,
You want a Penis!"

At this stage I think either of these options is equally likely.

Okay, so I think that's my 'fun and frivolity' quota filled, onto the 'news' section.

I started lessons on Monday. It's actually good to have something to do every day and some reason to get up in the morning. I don't react well to having nothing to do because it makes me lazy and depressed - it's too much effort to come up with new fun things to do every day, so I end up doing nothing at all and it becomes rubbish. Also, when I have to be up a 7am every morning I can't get drunk every night, which is good for my health, my sanity and my wallet, and it means that I can appreciate getting drunk when the weekend comes around.

Did someone mention drinking? That brings me onto my next important point.
Pop quiz - Name That Beverage:

Let's consider the evidence:
  • It's brewed by Asahi - reknowned brewers of beer
  • It's yellow at the bottom, white at the top - the same colour as beer
  • It's fizzy and tastes bitter and faintly hoppy - a bit like beer
  • It says on the can "Clear Asahi is brewed with select barley malt, hops and grains by using our pure cultures yeast" - just like beer
So it's beer, right?



This is Happoshu. In Japan tax on beer is much higher than tax on other kinds of alcohol, so the devious Japanese breweries have come up with various ways of brewing stuff which looks and tastes kind of like beer, but which actually isn't. This one isn't actually too bad - it actually a small amount of malted barley, although most of it is corn, wheat, potatoes, dogs etc. - but last night I was drinking Kirin Nodogoshi Nama, which, like this, looks exactly like beer and tastes kind of like bad beer, but is in realitya soy-protein-derived beer-flavoured foaming alcoholic beverage, classified under Japanese tax law as Alcohol - Other (Miscellaneous).

I have never felt so deceived, so wronged, so misled as the moment when I realised what a cruel trick had been played upon me. Never was a man so notoriously abused! I have subsequently lost all faith in Japan as nation and I feel I will probably never be able to trust a Japanese person as long as I live.

The worst part is that -actual- beer is so expensive here that I have no choice but to buy beer-flavoured foaming alcoholic beverages instead! I suppose there is a small upside to all of this. Whereas beer is delicious and deeply satisfying, but oh-so-moreish, this Happoshu crap is disappointing, barely satisfying but not in any way moreish. So it comes to the end of a long day of work/video games/pornography, and you really fancy a beer. You grab a 'beer' from the fridge and get involved. It's cold, fizzy, bitter and alcoholic, so it just about serves the purpose of drinking a beer, but it's so disappointing and unpleasant that it doesn't make you want another. They should prescribe this stuff to alcoholics!

Incidentally, I hope you all appreciate this diatribe - I had to open a can especially to take that photo and it's on 5.30 in the afternoon. Oh well, it's a Friday - what else am I gonna do with myself today?

In summary: Happoshu - the taste of sadness.

In other news, I started classes on Monday (actually, that's the same news as before, but I somehow got distracted).

I had to take a placement test the day after I arrived in Japan. Severely jetlagged, tired, and having not revised at all over the summer, I kind of bummed at it, so now I'm in group J3 (out of 5). Everything I'm going to learn this semester I covered in first year, which sucks bums. On the other hand, much of what I'm going to learn this semester I have more-or-less forgotten, so I guess they put me in the right group after all. Yay! Besides, I think most of the stuff I actually learn this year is going to be self-taught (My main focus is on speaking and Kanji, which they don't really teach us in the classroom) so it's all good - if my Japanese classes were actually difficult, it might distract me from actually learning Japanese!

I'm rapidly getting better at talking Japanese, although I still lack 自信 (confidence), and I feel like all those Kanji I've unlearnt recently are beginning to trickle back. So when I get back for Christmas I should be speaking Japanese like... I dunno... a retarded Japanese child probably, but when i get back after the summer I'll be speaking Japanese like someone who has literally conquered the entire nation of Japan. Woo!

I've been reading a lot of books, too. Japanese ones. Anyone interested in literature should look into some modern Japanese authors - I've been reading Murakami (obv.), Natsume Soseki and Taichi Yamada, and I've just started (and nearly finished in one go) one by Banana Yoshimoto (teehee, her name's Banana). They tend to be slightly unsettling, dark and introspective, with a definite propensity towards the fantastical, but all very compelling and rewarding books. I'd strongly recommend I haven't Dreamed of Flying for a While by Taichi Yamada - a very poignant and moving love story, which is at the same time unsettling, strange and harrowing.

Oops. Sorry. I got all literary there for a moment - I don't know what came over me. Won't happen again (for a little while at least).

Okay - I've been writing this for about an hour and a half now; afternoon has suddenly become night and I'm about to be called away for some 'asobi' (It literally means 'playing', but int his context it means drinking - a delightful way of phrasing it, no?) so I had better sign off.

Okay - I hope this joke isn't getting too old yet, but it's the best I can do at short notice.

Here's Die Apocalyptischen Reiter (The Riders of the Apocalypse) performing - you guessed it - Dschinghis Khan.

Take it away, boys!

Dschinghis x

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Frisbee Head

Okay - I was gonna leave this post until, like, the end of the week or something and then do a bi-i-i-ig summary of everything I've done recently, first week at school, how everything's going etc etc, but a few things have come into my possession or come to my attention in the last couple of days, so I thought I'd quickly share them with you. Hopefully you'll enjoy them.

First things first: The Shelf of Tat.

Guess what this is...

Okay, so it's clearly a drinks can, but can you guess what it contained?

If you look very closely at this lovely young lady's cleavage you might be able to work it out, although the photo isn't very high quality I'm afraid.

Got it yet?


Believe it or not this is what passes for a Dr Pepper can in this country. It knocks the pants off ours, doesn't it?

The big scary lady has a speech bubble which proclaims "GOOD! TASTE!!"
And the little green surfer-goblin-dude at the bottom is saying "ENJOY! DRINKIN!!"

Don't worry little green surfer-goblin-dude, I enjoy drinkin every day.

Stern-faced dog says:
That's quite enough of that for today!

I suppose you're right, stern-faced dog. I suppose you're right.

Second: Genghis Kong's Catwalk

This is a new fashion-related segment I'm thinking about introducing, although I don't know how regular it will end up being.

Yesterday I went to the park to play. I fell down and gashed up my knee something rotten (see yesterday's post for details), but before I did that I did manage to purchase a rather snazzy bright pink Flying Ring (y'know, a frisbee thing), which I quickly decided was far more use to me as a funky hat than as a frisbee.

Here's a little photo of me wearing it and looking lovely. Credit also due to Scott for adding to the overall loveliness of the photo.

Tres chic, non? I did manage to persuade a Japanese girl that this was a really fashionable style of hat in England. She told me all Englishmen are idiots and now she calls me Frisbee-head whenever she sees me. I think I'm totally in there, man (Dude! She was hot! I should totally bang her!!).

Incidentally this photo was taken at Hub: The English Pub in Harajuku where I met up with Scott and got drunk. The night ended in classic fashion - I came home a bit drunk, had a beer and went to bed, while Scott missed his last train home, got stranded in some countryside town 20 miles from where he lives, spent a few hours chatting up some Japanese housewife, then bought a pack of beers got wasted and fell asleep in alcove in the train station. Proper quality. Or as Scott would say, "Proper cash". I don't know why he speaks that way.

I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all, and the night was a resounding success for everyone involved.

Finally I would like to share with you a moment of serendipitous happenstance and fortuitous coincidence. I hold this as compelling evidence in support of Noel Edmonds' "Cosmic Ordering" theory, or whatever nosense he goes on about.

[For reasons unknown, the following passage has all been in written in a strange westcountry/wandering minstrel/Lord of the Rings kind of stylee. I don't know why - it just amused me.]

Walking down the street, I was, minding my own business (as I am wont to do about Tokyo town), when I bethought myself I did hear a familiar strain carried 'pon the breeze. I could not quite place it - faint it were, and coming from someplace far off, but Id have sworn blind 'twas a tune I know.

Then the wind stilled for a moment and the traffic became all hushed, so's I could hear it clear for a few seconds.

"Good Lord!" thought I, "Why I'd bet my good leg that that were the famous 'Dschinghis Khan' by popular seventies german disco combo 'Dschinghis Khan'" and indeed the tune were plum similar. But then I listened a mite more closely.

"Surely not," says I, "for though it do sound for all the world like that classic disco anthem, the lyrics are all in Japanese and it's sung by little girls. It must be some coincidence, or a trick of my mind." And I thought on it no more.

But later that eve, when I got me back to me shack, I were perusing the internet, looking for amusing tidbits and fancies to tickle my funny-bone and to entertain my audience, and I came across the most curious thing, I did. There 'twas, clear as day and sure as eggs is eggs, right there on Youtube: Genghis Khan by Berryz Koubou.

Here 'tis for all to admire:

Who'd have though it, eh? In all honesty, I think they've made it significantly worse, but still - how strange. They don't seem to have pop charts in Japan, as far as I can tell, but this was a massive hit in May of this year. Incidentally, out of that troupe of dancing girlies only 3 of them did any vocals on the track, and their average age is about 14.5, so don't be getting any ideas.

On the plus side, this now means I can sing Dschinghis Khan at Karaoke and peole will actually recognise the song! Time to brush up on my German methinks!

Right - I need to do some homework (at least I've got my priorities right - blog first, homework later).

I'm afraid Berryz Koubou will have to suffice as your 'hilarious' musical signing-off tune.

Much love and happy times,
Genghis x