September 26th, 2003


Song, drink, debauchery: the Autumnal Equinox

My vocal chords got a special workout, thanks to 1/2-price karaoke at Jumbo. Don and I sang for four hours Saturday night, to warm up for the E.S. crew on Sunday. They make the drinks really weak there and only charge ¥280 for them, before the Tigers discount. So four hours and untold drinks cost ¥2700. Madness!

More madness awaited us when we left Jankara; we met a party of interesting youth loitering out front. Breakdancing and snacking on beer and sembei, they struck up a conversation with Don, who will talk to anybody. When I figured out we'd be there a while, I made myself comfortable and started chatting with Meredith's Japanese clone. Her boyfriend looked sober but introduced himself to me 30 or 40 times. "Please call me Yuya." "Yes, Yuya." "I will have a party in September." "You said before you're having a party in December." "Please call me Yuya." I gave him my number, and then he called me several times from three meters away, saying "now you have my number! Please call me Yuya!" He is 1/4 British. Another guy was born in Poland, another lived in Jersey most of his life. We didn't speak English for a couple of hours. Don lost his eyebrow ring breakdancing. Happy accident: when we got home, he found the one he lost months ago.

In the morning - no, afternoon - I solved the mystery of why I overslept the day before. I thought I'd forgotten to wind up the alarm clock. When Mafumi called from Kasuganomichi, the clock read 5:00. I thought, oh no, Japan Night is over! But it was actually 1:00 and my clock is broken. We hustled to Rokoro to make pottery with the English Studio crowd, and I learned I suck with a potter's wheel. I made a lopsided, wabi-sabi vase and was on my way to making a spherical sand-type incense bowl, when the resident sensei asked me to move aside. He squashed the globe and constructed a bowl suitable for watering a cat, then presented me with "my" creation. Unhappy accident: when I returned home, I found my old incense bowl smashed on the floor. Oh well, it came with the apartment.

Oh, here are some pictures of karaoke:

Me and Sachiko

Don, Muyan, and Akane

By the way, does this building remind you of a cat?

Everyone dispersed after pottery, but Muyan, Akane, Sachiko, Don and I stuck around to walk several kilometers to a Kobe Ramen shop. ”この町を君と二人で歩きたい。。”Name that tune, yeah. Then karaoke! I learned that Akane is a damn good singer. And pianist, and she's beautiful... how can we make this girl famous? After karaoke, Muyan came round and we watched Grasshoppa!, Tampopo, and Ulfuls until we crashed.

Here's a picture of Don and Muyan in Freshness Burger:

Monday.. what happened Monday? Oh, Don and I went to Takako's amazing, gigantic house on Mt. Rokko. Had a huge, tasty meal: many cheeses with crackers, curry-aji veggies and a super-rich fish pie. American cheesecake for dessert. I got to see Takako's life in pictures, and it is an interesting life. Takako went to New Zealand when she was 13, and decided to stay. She came back after college. She's a stunning beauty who doesn't seem to realize the effect she has on people.

This is the view from Mount Rokko:

This is Takako with fake dreads:

Me with the same:

Don and Takako with doggies Kiwi and Niki:

Before that, we awoke to what sounded like a parade. It was actually a Danjiri festival, where a mob of troubled young boys haul a portable shrine through the streets, a couple of hyper fellows dancing about on top while the thing rounds sharp corners at high speeds. It lasts for three days and crowds gather to witness potential injuries or deaths.

Danjiri looks like this:

Tuesday, the Autumnal Equinox, was to be the day we would unwind and take it easy, but Jason and Yukiko invited us to eat yummy somen noodles with them. Somen with soup, with mushrooms, with pickled plum and shiso and egg and sesame and ginger and spring onion and kimchee and... eventually we started singing Duran Duran and someone (me?) suggested karaoke. We emerged three hours later and Don and I went to yakitori, where we wasted a few hours with a mob of Kobe University kids.

And before that, we woke up Tuesday to Danjiri going straight past our house, AGAIN. Seamus, proprietor of our favorite local Irish Pub, was in front, hoisting the thing up in the air inches from our apartment. We have a senior citizens' home across from our apartment, and the residents were lined up in front of the place snapping pictures of the parade.. and of us watching from the balcony.

So next weekend will be our chance to ゆっくりに relax. Right now it's ridiculously late... I don't have to work until 4:00, so Don and Scott are watching old Flying Circus episodes. Bedtime for me. Oyasuminasai.....