Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Genghis Kong vs. Bodhidharma

I went to Sensouji temple in Asakusa the other day (classes haven't started yet so I've got quite a bit of free time for sightseeing/drinking). Sensouji is one of the oldest temples in Tokyo (it's probably not actually old - everthing old in Tokyo was destroyed during the War - but it's a recontruction of a very old temple) and it is famous for the long avenue leading up to it which is lined on both sides by small stalls and vendors selling tat to tourists and idiots.

This is actually very traditional. We all know the Japanese love being tourists and love buying tat, and apparently this has been the case for centuries and there has always been a market for selling naff little souvenirs to happy Jappy tourists.

So I bought myself a Daruma doll. <history lesson> Daruma is the Japanese name for Bodhidharma, the Bodhisattva who founded the school of Zen. He is often (falsely) credited with introducing tea to China. Daruma dolls are popular lucky charms in Japan to help people achieve targets, goals or wishes. </history lesson>
Here he is, looking all grumpy on my shelf, staring at me disapprovingly.

The more astute among you will observe that he has only one eye. This is how Daruma dolls work - when you buy them their eyes are white. When you make a wish/set yourself a target, you colour in one eye and when you achiece that target you colour in the other. Mine is a boring wish - that of learning 1325 Kanji by February (63 Kanji a week!) - but I like his silly face so I decided to show him to you all anyway.

While at Sensouji temple I decided, upon further reflection, that in fact my phone was not nearly gay enough at all, so I decided to invest in some small dangly things to hang from the back of it (this is what japanese school girls do, I believe).

From left to right you have a large red lantern, a small pink thunder god and a small blue wind god (these three guard the Tenmon Thunder Gate at Sensouji Temple), followed by a glass of beer and some yakitori (chicken on a stick). If you look closely, you can also see a can of Asahi reflected in the shiny shiny pink of my shiny gay phone.

In terms of what I've actually been up to since I got here, there's been a lot of orientation meetings, registration meetings, filling out of forms, applications for insurance and other fun things. These have, of course, been interspersed with the violent outbursts of drunken rage and uncensored eroticism for which I have become so famous (and loved).

I've decided that most of the internationals aren't actually that bad (a couple of them really are that bad), but I think I definitely need to go and find myself some Japs to hang out with. This weekend I'm planning to go down to Yokohama to visit my friend Lora who I met when I was in Japan 2 years ago, and hopefully there'll be lots of friendly Japs down there for me to befriend/intimidate/interfere with.

Classes start on Monday, which I'm actually quite looking forward to, but until then I've got most of the week off. I don't quite know what I'm going to do with myself for a week. I can't get drunk (all the Internationals frown on excessive drinking outside of the weekend, so I've no one to get drunk with), so i might have to do some sightseeing or something. Or maybe even studying, although that doesn't seem likely.

Actually this brings me on to another point, and an opportunity to get some audience participation into the blog: I now have a pretty good idea of my timetable for the next 5 months, and it features 9am lectures 5 days a week, but not a lot of other lessons. This means I'm going to be awake with nothing much to do a lot of the time so I'd like to open up the floor to suggestions of good hobbies i could take up. Some suggestions I have come up with so far:
  • Become a really bad otaku (Japanese for geek - it involves reading a lot of manga, watching a lot of anime, watching a lot of hentai, socialising very little etc.)
  • Become an intensely self-destructive alcoholic
  • Become a pachinko addict (pachinko is very confusing Japanese gambling game-thing, a little like pinball crossed with slot machines crossed with epilepsy)
  • Take up a sport (PAH!)
Any further suggestions would be welcome, as I'm not convinced I like the sound of any of these.

I guess i ought to show you some pictures of Tokyo, rather than boring pictures of crap in my bedroom so here you are:

Sensouji Temple (and the boulevard of Tourist Tat leading up to it)

My School

Some views of Tokyo
at night (Shinjuku and Ikebukuro East)

There you are: photos. I hope you're happy now.

I've also been practicing for karaoke a lot. Somehow I've managed to be in Japan for pretty much a whole week and I still haven't done any karaoke. I need to sort that out. But anyway, I decided it would be a good idea to learn some Japanese songs for karaoke in Japan. The first is a very old Japanese song, and the only Japanese language song to make it to number 1 in America. The second is some recent J-pop tosh, but out of all the recent J-pop tosh i could be bothered to listen to, this was among the best. It's dead hard to sing though.

Unfortunately I'm not really allowed to sing in my room because the walls are so thin and someone might be trying to sleep next door, so I've been practicing karaoke-whispering. We'll have to see how it goes down when i try it out at full volume.

Right. I'm getting bored of writing, and no doubt you're getting bored of reading, so i'll call it a night.

Many thanks to Jimmy here for finding me a seriously awesome theme tune to sign off with:

Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
He Reiter - Ho Reiter - He Reiter - Immer weiter!
Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
Auf Brüder! - Sauft Brüder! - Rauft Brüder! - Immer wieder!

(Geng-, Geng-, Genghis Khan
Hey rider - Ho rider - Hey rider - ever further!
Geng-, Geng-, Genghis Khan
On brothers! - Drink brothers! - Fight brothers! - Again and again!)

Love and love,

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