I am foreskin!!!
Trip Start Mar 10, 2009
39Trip End Nov 09, 2009
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So, I wanted to title this bad boy blog entry with an eye-catcher. "I AM FORESKIN" is a really funny story that I will get to in a bit.........before that, let me take you down the path that Ding and Mambo forged on our initial entry into the land of the rising sun.
So you would think that Japan being such a powerhouse of a nation would also be pretty high up on the English speaking totem pole for travelers, but like birnie and I, you would be mistaken
We knew of a hostel that we wanted to stay at, but over the internet they showed fully booked for the nights we were hoping to stay there. We decided to try them anyway, and with some luck and a little help from an older Japanese gentleman, we got right to the hostel.
No joke, japanese people are some of the nicest and most accommodating people we have met so far. If you simply stand there looking a little bit confused, or checking your map, people will come right up to you and try to help.
This older gentleman actually walked about three blocks with us and brought us right to the hostel, Sakura hostel, that we were looking for. So sweet.
So we started walking down the street to find an authentic japanese noodle house. After about 30 minutes of searching, we realized that in Akasuka, almost every restaurant was only in Japanese, with no pictures of the food and no assistance for these two gaijin.........
We figured screw it, let's do this and walked right into one. Ok........side note here.......birnie and I had spent the last two days memorizing Japanese phrases that would help us.....or so we thought.. Two self-assured dudes, ready to take Japan by storm...... Well..........the only problem with memorizing phrases and not understanding any of the sentence structure, tenses etc... is that........well, one - you tend to mix up phrases....and two - even if you bang out the phrase in perfect broken japanese, when someone answers you in japanese, you have no friggin' idea what they said
So from here on out we could approach things two different ways........go mute, which is what I opted for, or continue mumbling, using your hands and speaking a form of English that a five year old american wouldn't understand, which is the path that birnie chose. hahaha.
Ok back to the lunch story. We decide it will be fun to simply close our eyes and spin the wheel so to speak. I stare blankly at the Japanese characters on the menu, somehow thinking it will begin to make sense to me if I stare long and hard enough.........and then just go for it when the waitress comes over. I had decided in my mind that the most complicated characters probably meant the most authentic japanese dish..........of course! So I point, grunt a little bit and she accepts my plea for some food. (See one of the pics below that verifies the menu and our predicament) Birnie does the same, and we start dying laughing, fantasizing about what we will actually get when the food arrives.
Well, we learned a couple of things. In this restaurant, no one, including the cooks, spoke a lick of English. That was verified when one of the cooks nodded hello to birnie, and he returned greetings by saying "hi" which in japanese means "yes" (CMB-dumbass!)
The food arrived and we did ok. I had a rice bowl with tofu and duck sauce and birnie had an interesting rice dish with mixed seafood. After our first dining endeavor, Birnie had come out on top, his dish being mildly superior to mine - and we began to try to memorize each dishes characters. Birnie's dish, known as the box-two dot-spider, and mine, house with pine tree.
Absolute comedy from here on out. These correct interpretation of symbols were only the first symbol in a series of symbol, but after all, this was only our first day.....baby steps please.
Tired of typing for today... will try to catch up more later... enjoy the pics for now.
CMB- Just uploaded some more pics in Tokyo. Will try to get some more stories of Tokyo in soon....
After a successful outing for lunch Ding and Mambo are feeling pretty good about themselves minus a faux-pas or 2. We are in Tokyo! Now what?!? We decide to strike out on some common famous sights in Tokyo and head to the subway again to really test our skills. Soon, we are feeling like aliens again as a huge metro map looms in front of us and both of us looking blankly at the map, then each other, and then the map. After a good 30 minutes we are back on track and on our way again the confident travelers. We head to the Municipal building for a great overview of Tokyo. Holy shit Tokyo is f'in gigantic!!!!!!! The pic does not give you a good scope but imagine Manhattan size and buildings times maybe 100 or actually maybe more..
Ok makely back here. So after some sightseeing from the municipal building birnie and I headed out for some authentic japanese barbeque in Shinjuku Tokyo. We found a great little hole in the wall that accepted gaijin (although we ended up paying gaijin prices-see pic of birnie in the barbeque place). We settled in for a few beers and some great little barbeque. It was funny though because we were sitting next to a japanese guy who was also eating the same stuff as us, and when we asked the japanese woman who was preparing our meal how much it was going to cost in japanese (ikuda des ka - i probably spelled that wrong), she proceeded to get out a calculator and show us the price - 1100 yen each. The japanese guy watched what transpired and immediately reacted to that price with disbelief and quickly asked the woman how much his was. She quietly spoke to him in Japanese and settled him down. Birnie and I could only interpret that as his price would be far less substantial than ours. They both giggled a little bit, and birnie and I once again realized that prices were quite different depending on your ancestry ;-)
Our next stop was where the evening's comedy started. We headed into this basement bar to find a few japanese couples drinking the evening away along with a male and female bartender. We quickly made friends with the people in the bar, and the female bartender was a very good english-speaker
Well, at any rate, the male bartender kept lingering around when birnie and I were chatting up the female bartender in English. When she went in the back for something, that is when he struck! He said to us in his best broken English, that he too knew a little English. Birnie and I were loving that everyone was so friendly so of course we humored him and asked "what"? That is when he proceeded to say to us very quietly, "I am foreskin!"
Hmmm.....birnie and i were struck silent for a good few seconds. Not only were we processing what he just said, we were both trying to decipher if what he said was what he meant.
So like any gentleman, we asked him to say it again. This time he emphatically said, "I AM FORESKIN!!"
Birnie and I were crying we were laughing so hard. We tried to explain to him that he meant he HAD a foreskin, but he wasn't buying it and we couldn't help but just give up and continue laughing with him.
Well when the female bartender returned, she asked why we were laughing so hard and immediately the male bartender looked at us quite seriously and said, "Secret!!"
We took a picture with them for good measure, and birnie continued to tell the male bartender that I too was foreskin, so I guess we had a bond....hahaha.
I am going to wrap it up here for tonight
OK folks. We are so sorry for the long delays in getting these things out. This damn blog is awesome, but so time consuming when you almost always have to pay for internet, and it takes forever to upload pics and video clips. So we spend a lot of time uploading all of the pics and after a couple of hours of doing that, we don't want to type for another couple of hours.
So basically we have a ton of pics uploaded for all of the locations that we have been and some draft writing, but they are still in draft form so you can't see them yet. Over the next couple of days we will send them out, so you will have a ton of stuff to see and read.
I will finish tokyo tonight (in about 8 hours). There will be two tokyo entries to read. The first and the second time we stayed in Tokyo so please read both. Stay tuned!!!
For those of you that know Rappongi, it is a very "nightlife" oriented section of Tokyo, and it is notorious for gaijin to party hard there with the locals. As soon as we exited the subway, we were swarmed with African dudes askin' if we wanted lady bars, massagies (massage parlor, pronounced massageeeee) or some other form of club ripoffs. We fight off countless dudes from Camaroon, South Africa, Ghana and every other African state and head to a bar that my buddy Chad had recommended for a fun place to drink and dance called Gaspanic. We get in this place where the drinks are cheap, the bar has a cigarette smoke fog so thick you can barely see, and loud as hell house music. It is only about midnight now and it is still kinda quiet but within an hour the place is standing room only. Definitely a fun place to drink and dance and we were well on our way. At about 230am, I have a killer headache, am drunk as hell, and fighting bronchitis - - so I tell birnie that I am outta here
When I tell birnie that I'm out.......he looks at me with perma-smile and the thousand yard stare, fumbles for the room key and says see ya!! I had interrupted him in the middle of his best gaijin dance moves and he was having so much fun with a group of locals that he barely gave me a second glance.
So I head outside, fight the entire African Army to get to a taxi and head back to our hostel. Dinner, $12, hostess bar $50, tons of drinks approx. $30 and a friggin' cab ride home $50!!! Dammit that cab fee hurt the wallet. Not to mention that birnie and I were now paying for separate cabs.
So I will pickup the story from birnie's point of view. He was dancing the night away, practicing his japanese and sharing dozens of drinks with a couple of local girls. As the hours slipped by, one of his suitors was enjoying shots of tequila like the stuff was water. At about 6am, with birnie's two dance partners in the girls' bathroom puking, birnie is passed out on the bar, with a beer in his hand that is perfectly tilted to pour into his lap. As he is awoken by the bartender, with a lap full of beer and his two dance partners selling buicks, he decides it may finally be time to call it a night.......or a morning.
And $50 dollars later, birnie arrives home safe and sound! Not gonna lie, Tokyo is a fun time!!!
And that was only Day #1 in Tokyo.
Day 2 involved some sightseeing in the morning for me, walking along the Sumida river waiting for Sakura to be in full bloom, while birnie caught some Z's
We strolled into a japanese barbeque joint and of course, nothing was in English and none of the staff could speak English either so we sat right down and stared at the menu. Birnie finally decided to say in Japanese, "we will have what you recommend....", thank you Lonely Planet for that quote, and the girl began fixing us our barbeque feast. We were already proficient in ordering beer, "Ni beeru kudasai!" (two beers please) so we were well on our way!
I am not going to lie, our waitress may have been the cutest girl in the entire world, and also seeing how tiny she was, we felt it very important to get a picture of Birnie and her. One to highlight the size difference between birnie and most of the japanese population and Two, to remember how damn cute she was. (see included pic)
Then it was once again time to hit the bar scene. There was a british-style pub that had come highly recommended so we set off in search of it. What the Dickens was the name and live music was their game. We headed in, mingled with the mixed crowd of gaijin and locals and belly'd up to the bar for a cocktail
We added a short video clip of this japanese business man who was "destressing" from the long work week. He started off slowly but quickly got over his inhibitions to head bang, air guitar, pound numerous beers and become the main attraction in the bar. It was funny as hell watching him go for broke, and he started a wave of other japanese and foreign patrons making a pseudo-mosh pit. Good times.
So yet again, makely is sick, birnie has twisted his arm to go out (not very hard i can assure you) and the beers are flowing like a river. It comes to decision time........it is now 1145pm, the subway, bus and train system shuts down at midnight and we are torn with what to do. WE DO NOT, i repeat, WE DO NOT, want to pay $100 bucks in cab fare to get home again, so it's either leave now and catch the last subway run, OR.........make a go of it and either stay out til 0430am and hit the fish market for that experience, or make it til 0530am when the subway starts up again.
Birnie, being the good devil friend that he is, left the decision in my court. After all, he had went for broke the night before, and even though he made it til 6am to catch the subway, he was too drunk to remember that and paid the outrageous cab fare to get back to Sakura Hostel
The band ended at around 2am. We started chatting up a group of people, including the band manager and some of the members, whom invited us to go after-party with them, and by 3am I was done. In classic makely fashion, I wanted out, and wanted out quickly. I had reached my limit, was wasted, sick, tired and wanted nothing more than my bed. So enter expensive cab far #2. All I could say to birnie was, "You're welcome!!."
He shook his head and we were headed home.
The next day was semi-productive. We headed to the Ginza area to see the electronics area and take a walk in the Sony building. It was touted for being a really cool must-see for all of the new technology and "virtual reality" stuff that sony was working on. And, it was close to the imperial palace and gardens that were on our list of things to do that day as well. We toured the building, which was cool, but no real virtual reality shockers and then we walked to the palace and gardens.
It really was very beautiful. As you can see from the pictures, cherry blossoms were starting to bloom, lots of people were picnicking in the park and birnie and I settled in for a much needed nap
We then headed to Harajuku in the early evening to try and catch the anime showings near Meiji Shrine. Lots of japanese kids dress up in anime and it's pretty cool to see. We have a couple of pics showing it, but we got there a little late and everything, including the shrine, was closing down.
Next on our list of "must do's" was getting some proper sushi. Now if you head to japan and don't pay for some good sushi, you are selling yourself short. We stumbled across an all you can eat sushi place that again was highly highly recommended, but also pretty damn pricey. For about $41, you get two hours to kill sushi, and all i can say was it was worth every friggin' yen. See some of the pics to get a decent perspective (they may be in Tokyo part 2 blog entry- - of course i had to go back there hahaha), but in all honesty, it was the best sushi I have ever had in my life. And truthfully, it was heads above even the best stuff I have had in the states. Ask Mr. Birnie, he will concur. So we feasted like sloths and again had a couple of cocktails and some sake........c'mon, after all we in Japan for Christ sake, how could we not have sake??
If you are ever in Tokyo, and want some spectacular sushi, head to the center of Shibuya and enter the Seibu A department store building, it is on the 2nd basement floor, B2F. Well worth it. A fat kid doesn't lie.
Well after sushi, birnie and I walked around, headed into a couple of dead bars, after all it was the lord's day, and just people watched in Shibuya for a few hours. Again, I highly recommend Shibuya as an area to drink, eat, shop and people watch. Truly and awesome place, without a lot of the hassle of Rappongi.
It was an early night, (relatively) and we headed back to the hostel to get a decent night sleep before our trip to Kyoto the following day.
Again, sorry this has taken so long to get posted. But enjoy the blog, the pics and letting your imaginations run wild.....and stay tuned for Tokyo part 2.
Makely and Birnie