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.



b_w said...

Pythagoras Switch is the best thing i ever did see, i think i could watch it, indefinitely

call-me-queen said...

Heya - Like I said - Mister thinks it's because you're a big foreigner who looks a lot older (to them at least) then you are. I've never had a problem speaking with the Japs, but then again, strangers are my speciality now.
My favourite thing about this blog entry was the refernce to cheese and the word "moonspeak" - if you ever can, use as much random English in Japanese conversation - they will never say they don't understand - Remember when we were drinking in Yokohama and they were laughing ignorantly as we insulted them! Ha good times, must do that again. Call someone a moonpig for me!

pluginrocketbabydoll said...

I watched all the 'Pitagora Suicchi' videos I could find, and yes, they are amazing, but I really wish I'd watched them with the sound off, because that theme tune is one of the most annoying things I've ever heard, and now it won't go away. If I made a film of somebody going insane, that would be the soundtrack.

Anyway, hope all is well. We all miss you. Hope to see you soon.

Barto. x

Rave said...

i'm eating fondue.

i need somebody to hit me with a chair...

Genghis Kong said...

Honestly, I would wrestle a goat for some fondue right now. I would stab a rat just to get my hands on some real cheese...

Jethro said...

That was very exciting. But i think it's most unfair of you to show us a video and then say 'but this was shit, well more mental stuff than that happened'. You suck. No you don't, I love you really.

Jethro said...

That was very exciting, but I think it's poor journalism to tell us that the video you shot was actually a bit shit and the cheerleaders were reallly well more mental. You suck. No you don't, I love you really.
Every time I eat some cheese I'll think of you and send you an email to mock you.
keep up the good work, and begin pursuing your acting career.

Genghis Kong said...

I'm sorry. Truly I am. But i chose the best of the three videos i took of the proceedings. I'm afraid I got a little too excited about the baseball game later on, and I forgot to take any photos or record any videos, so I had to do the best I could with what i had...

I am truly, deeply sorry.

And you're a cunt.

pri said...

hahaha i love those cheerleaders!I think you should definitely give it a go!
Hope you're having a great time in japan (so it seems from the blog).
We miss you Tiger Woods... i'll eat some cheese for you.
Priscilla xxx

hegforshort said...

Well well well, it seems i can have all the experience of Japan zapped right to me, saving money on travel ...and everything else for that matter. I love how your shelf is growing, cant wait for the final shot at the end of the year...when you are bankrupt from buying so much tat! Keep it up Hereward! xxx

Anonymous said...


(In the Pythagoras Switch video, that is.)

Genghis Kong said...

Indeed. Mad props to the Pythagoras Switch Marmite jar.

lauriedix said...

in the first shot of the pythagoras switch, there seems to be a jar of marmite.. Jus thought I'd bring this to your attention if you hadn't noticed it already.
You're pretty good at the whole blogging malarky aren't you? I got my maccy today, so I've been on it ALL day. Yeah! Cos now I have stuff I have to use it as much as I can.
I believe that giggling probably is good for your balls, and my balls jus got a little better after reading that statement.
Anyways, jus thought I'd leave a comment, cos you like it, and I shall be checking your bloggery more often than having to go through a months worth of stuff in one go.

Catch you on the flip side Woody..


greg your brother said...

oh the "leave your comment" box is up here ! i get it.

well hi. i havent been keeping up with your blog as well as i should be doing, cos im lazy and forgetful. oh and really busy. yeah. busy, thats the one.

i fink u should lyk be a journalist, cos ure lyk mad funny n that. and you write all beautiful.

cant wait for you to come back. ive started sleeping walking without you. it might be geopathic stress. i dont know what geopathic stress is, and am dubious as to whether it exists, but whatever it is it made me wee all down the stairs in my sleep.

hey its only when i drink too much. so im giving up drinking too much. plus i got a column coming up in a magazine where they're all like "he's amazing" probably.

hope you dont mind me hijacking your comment section to give you my own lickle blog, but i dont know how else to contact you.

its always really fun to hear what youre up to anyway.

loads of love


pitagora suicchi x

greg your brother said...

that took fuckin ages.

i dont know how you write real length blogs. i suppose you have more to say than i do. about cheese n that. i dont have a lot to say about cheese n that.


find me some cool japanese shit for christmas :D thanks