gaijinassbannerIt’s June or it’s November.  It’s sunny and windy or it’s rainy and cold. It’s eight thirty AM at Shibuya station or it’s nine AM near Ueno, or Kanda, or Shinagawa or Ikebukuro.  Whenever or where-ever, it’s all the same; Mornings in the Tokyo mega-metropolis generally suck.  People walking hurriedly, hunched against the cold, eyes peering dead-like down into their phones instead of ahead of them on the street.  Then someone, late for work, jogs past and this snaps them out of their zombie reverie and they too begin to jog after said person for no conscious reason at all; someone else is jogging so they should jog as well. This turns into three, four, five unrelated people all jogging together toward the station. Follow the herd.  Or else.

The train is absolutely packed to capacity.  More dead eyes lost in meaningless apps and “critical” pop-culture updates.  Old men groping women, in case you forgot this happens on the regular in Tokyo, and most of these women simply allowing it to transpire because, what’s the recourse? She’s packed so tightly into the train car that the other bodies around her are actually lifting her off the ground.  So, there she sits, levitating in that meat prison on the way to her job she hates while some jaded, self loathing father of three who teaches Junior High-school gropes her butt and rubs his boner all over her.

Mornings.

Perhaps the mind numbing repetition of it all has inoculated those who’ve lived here their whole lives and know no better.  The prison like gruel; rice and watery salt flavored soup with a pickle on the side, the irritating/meaningless chatter of “talento” on the TV just so they don’t feel alone,  the vomitous can of “Boss” coffee and the complete absence of hope are demoralizing.  These are more than enough to help everyone to thoroughly, completely and utterly just despise the sample of humanity they come in contact with, if not all day, then at least until lunch time.

What I present now are simply a few strategies and tactics I’ve collected and employ in-order to avoid committing homicidal slaughter on a massive scale during the morning hours.

1. Get up earlier than you need to.

Some people just quit reading.

I know.

But really, if you have to leave the house at 0730, why are you getting up at 0710?  This frantic dash around your apartment and the mad race to the station is getting you what? Another few minutes in bed? Here’s a tip: Go to bed earlier.  You can watch Game of Thrones or, more likely porn, later.  Go to sleep a bit earlier so you can wake up giving yourself lots of time to enjoy your morning.  It sets the stage for your whole day and starting out like a lunatic hurrying around means you have begun your day with no control, no accountability and no time for thought.  Be prepared for a shit morning or just get up earlier.  How much earlier?  It’s up to you but I like to leave to train at 0700-0715 so getting up at 0600 is necessary but 0550 is optimal; that extra 10 minutes is an easy psychological WIN that motivates me all day long.

2.Make your Bed

Your parents probably told you this, I know mine did, and I used to hate it. But, making one’s bed, before anything else goes on, is a great way to start the day with a step in a commanding, productive and positive direction.  It totally helps me relax.  As I get ready and come in and out of the bedroom during the morning, seeing my bed made is very relaxing.  Clutter creates stress and although there are some items I could do without in my bedroom, having the bed made really helps.

3. Listen to positive and soothing music.

So, you got up earlier today, willing to give that a try. Good for you.  The next step is to turn on some quality music.  The key word here is QUALITY.  No One Direction.  No Big Sean.  No EDM.  Quality.  Personally, for me it’s almost without exception classical.  This morning it was Mendelssohn string quartet No.2.  Yesterday, it was Vivaldi.  Other days it’s Bach: The Goldberg Variations. Whatever, as long as it’s relaxing and quality music.  The mood you set in the morning is critical and listening to Cradle of Filth isn’t a good idea. So, get your music on.  It’s the back drop for the rest of this.

4. Make YOUR morning beverage.

Your Music is playing, now on to the drink. What you drink first in the morning is critical.  If you pop open a sixth month old can of Boss coffee, be prepared for 100 yen results all day.  Whether it’s mineral water, green tea or coffee, take your morning beverage seriously and make it quality.  In my case, I brew fresh coffee every morning; sometimes Kaldi, sometimes Kona coffee, but always something fresh and I use 4 scoops.  In my coffee I add about 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil and a little milk.  This drink is both soothing and at the same time it’s rocket fuel.  By the end of this cup of coffee I’m fully mentally awake, aware and ready to get on with it.

5. Read something meaningful to warm up your mind

Here we are, back at quality.  Do not get on the internet. Just don’t. As soon as you move in that direction the abyss which is everything online will suck you in. Social Media of any type is completely off limits. Okay, you might be trying to read a very constructive, informative and highly under rated blog (see what I did there?) but inevitably you’ll end on watching Fail Army Videos or looking at pictures of how fat formerly hot celebrities have gotten.  Do not go on the computer or on your phone.  Follow the steps above and then sit down and open up a book.

Some more people just quit reading.

A book? Fuck that noise. Right?

But that right there is a reason it should be a book.  If you’ve followed the quality control parameters outlined thus far, you’ll not be reading something with statements like “Fuck that noise” contained within the pages.  Anything quality is fine but stay away from magazines, the newspaper, comics or anything remotely in that realm. Actually read a book.  Recently I have been reading “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca.  I just read one letter per morning, usually a few times over, and it forces me to start thinking instead of simply reacting.  Reading something which points you in the direction you want to go in for the day, even for just fifteen minutes while you enjoy that morning beverage, is a big step.

6. Workout in the morning

I know some of you don’t work out at all. That’s your first mistake. Working out, and I mean seriously committing and getting it done, is good for your health, makes you look better which makes you feel better and it’s far cheaper than a therapist.  These days, I do all my workouts in the morning.  Why?  Do I just like doing painful shit before other people are up? A little bit, yes. But more than that it’s because during my life I’ve learned the hard hard way that shit really happens. Sometimes you caused it but other times it blind sides you like a beer bottle in the hands of some skin head landing on your face.  The point is things can and will, I repeat can AND will, go wrong.  But even if your entire day is shit, even if she left you or they found you or you lost it or you tested positive for it or that bone isn’t totally healed or your insurance won’t cover it or they died and that’s it, at least you got your workout in; you did that and that was something productive that they can’t take away from you.

Some people really won’t be able to do this, but for most people it will boil down to priorities and excuses.  Just get those straightened out and get after it.  There are 24 hours in the day, if you can’t find one to train, that’s on you.

Get your morning dialed in and the rest of the day makes much more sense and you might not hate absolutely everyone all the time.  It’s working for me.

GJSlowbann1

 

 

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Ikebukuro, like the rest of Tokyo, is constantly changing and change doesn’t care about the past.  It doesn’t care if the past had some good points we would be better off keeping alive and well.  Change cares only about itself and those employing it generally only care about money.  So, whereas North Ikebukuro is the stage of a potential gang war and the West side is desperately trying to keep the North out while desperately trying to develop their Metropolitan “slick and sleek” initiative, the East side has fully sold out, and aside from the nooks and crannies,  is a giant out-door shopping mall.   Change.

Ikebukuro is my adopted hometown in Tokyo.  I’ve come to take this seriously. I’ve come to take the Chinese, the Koreans, the Pakistani, the Indians, the Italians, the Russians and the rest of the Chinese one at a time and have come to the conclusion that we are all living together in one of the most international parts of this country.  Perhaps due to this acceptance, Ikebukuro has grown on me.  In fact, it continues to do so.

 

Mikuni-Koji

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Mikuni-Koji is one of the last vestiges of post-war Ikebukuro.  Ikebukuro station was founded in 1903 and was bombed to rubble, like much of Tokyo, during WW2.  After the war a vibrant and somewhat wild black market opened up on the West side of the station.  This black market, or Yamiichi, overflowed with two primary wares: American goods easily gotten from troops garrisoned near-by, and professional muscle; Ikebukuro was a violent and rough district considered the very edge and outskirts of Tokyo.  It’s inhabitants largely personified this image with ease.

In 1962 the Yamiichi was finally fully removed from the West side of Ikebukuro.  It was at that time that many of these bars, shops and izakaya moved their business to the East side and specifically to Mikuni-Koji and the surrounding avenues and alleyways.

Today the East side of Ikebukuro is basically a massive consumer abyss and a hub for Otaku which is beginning to rival Akihabara.  However, Mikuni-Koji has refused to change.  It remains as it was and always has been.  It’s a living snap shot of Ikebukuro back in it’s rough and tumble days after the war.

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Populated almost entirely by tiny bars and little seated  eateries, it clearly isn’t the place to find “The Youth” and the shops and stalls and shutters and lamp posts all seem to ooze a unified chorus of “Piss off. We were here first.”  It really is a refreshing break, albeit some what creepy, after walking around the East side for an afternoon.

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The only people I saw that afternoon in the area were two girls, early 20’s, sharing a bag of Japanese fried chicken just at the entrance to the street.  Across the street thirty people shivered in line waiting to go into a franchise ramen shop.  Once I went under the arch of the street and entered, it was very quite and the only people I encountered, very senior citizens here and there; all drinking and sitting at tiny bars, gave me no more than a disinterested glance.  This was fine with me.  It seemed to fit somehow.

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It wasn’t much and I thought about that while I was sipping my gin tonic at a pub near the train tracks a little later; a chain pub.  Real character and the imperfection inherent to that seem to be like cockroaches these days; nobody wants them around.  It’s inconvenient not having absolutely everything we want right now, and without any hassles like old people or legitimate style.  Everything has to be a Starbucks or a TGI Fridays and we can’t be bothered with the real deal.  The irony is that the places that really matter and have something genuine and authentic to offer, well, they can’t be bothered with us either.

Change just isn’t something they’re interested in.

 

GJSlowbann1

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Do you know Japanese Sushi?

It is Japanese food O-Mochi.

Can you eat Japanese Tempura?

This is Japanese Miso.

 

I can’t pinpoint, on my timeline, when exactly I first encountered Japanese food but I remember thinking: “Not bad.”

NOT BAD.

Now, twenty-something years later, nothing about that initial appraisal has changed.  Japanese is…okay. It’s pretty good.  It’s fine.

It’s Not Bad.

There are those who will go on and on, even those who have never lived in Japan (particularly those) about how immaculately conceived the Japanese gastronomic experience is.  However, after 12 years in Tokyo and endless meals at every type of conceivable eatery the city has to offer, I’m still stuck at “Mew, not bad.”

Not to say I haven’t had some amazing food here. Not at all. But generally speaking, and speaking purely about Japanese cuisine, it applies.

Now, why is this?  Is my palette so antiquated or, God forbid, American, that I simply cannot fathom the culinary delight which is Washoku?  Perhaps.  Perhaps my taste buds are too Euro-centric? I did after all spend my formative years split between America’s East coast and Western Europe.  I clearly remember returning to America for the second year of high school and being appalled at what passed for breakfast.  It was a horror show.

Ohayou!

Ohayou, diabetes!

I’m not obsessed with the “Western diet”.  On a day to day basis in my own life I eat very few processed foods.  Fresh vegetables, meat and fish are all staples.  I like GOOD food and although I realize this is very subjective, culturally something has to give.  Is the Emperor wearing no clothes (Akihito, you minx!) and does the whole world worship Japanese food for no good reason? Or is there something more to it?  In addition to this why do the Japanese feel compelled to worship their food, even Onigiri, a dish so simple it’s just some balled up rice with sea weed wrapped around it, as if it was the very physical manifestation of God?

“Can you eat Japanese Sushi?” She asked.

Well, we’re sitting in a Sushi restaurant and I just popped some Salmon in my mouth.  You do the math and let me know what you come up with.

It might be a good idea to split Japanese food into two distinct classes and discuss them honestly.

Category One:  Japanese Flag Ship Foods

c1main.sushi

Sushi, Tempura, Yakitori, Unagi…the list goes on.  These are lauded and loved from Osaka to Oberammagau and back again.  One never hears enough about the orgasmic experiences people, the world over, have while devouring these Japanese mainstays.  What’s more is that I agree.  Particularly with Sushi. My love affair with Sushi is long and runs deep.  Many times I’ve found myself sitting at a Sushi bar, someplace in Tsukiji, while an obscenely fresh piece of Otoro seemingly melts on my tongue with a frigid beer to wash it down at six in the morning.

Divine.

My observation though is as follows: Most Japanese people, day-to-day, just don’t eat any of these foods.

Last month, after having this discussion with a friend we both agreed to ask every Japanese national we met at work when the last time they had eaten sushi was.  It was a busy Wednesday at work and I spoke with 28 people.  3 of them had eaten Sushi in the last week.  My friend had similar results with 18 people polled and 2 having had Sushi within the last week.

Anecdotal yes, but instructive.  The food that the world so reveres from Japan is all show food.  It isn’t what the country gets by on at all.

Contrast this with countries like Italy, Germany, England and Thailand.  Italians eat Carbonara and Pizza; it isn’t reserved for graduation ceremonies.  The krauts are always drinking beer and eating sausage.  What self respecting Englishman doesn’t want to have a Cottage pie and a pint after work and when I lived in Thailand we all ate Pad Thai and other famous Thai dishes on the regular.

Logically the next question is “What do the Japanese actually eat?”

Category Two: Peasant food

“Ohayou! Can’t wait to eat! What’s for breakfast?”

You're nightmares. All of them.

Your nightmares. All of them.

When I imagine the scowling faces and the soul-broken dead eyes of the typical salary-man in the morning I totally get it: Waking up to a bowl of rice, some Natto, Kimchi, a fried egg and Miso Soup would make me want to jump in front of a train as well.  I’ve had these dishes many, many times. I’ve had these dishes prepared and served in many different ways.  The end result has been the same: Fuck this.

I know, at this very moment some of you Gaijin Heroes are swooping in to fight the good fight and inform me about how ignorant I am. Well, I would like to preemptively block your courageous assault with a scientific fact:

Natto smells like a sweaty dark asshole and tastes about the same.  But you’re more likely to get a kiss after tossing that bad-boy than you are after choking down another pack of fermented broken dreams.

BAM! Science.

This is why the packs come with both soy sauce and mustard because nobody, especially not the people worshiping it, have any desire to woof down straight Natto in the A.M.

Lunch and a typical dinner don’t improve much at all.  Rice, Miso soup, blandly grilled fish, pickles etc are all traditional Japanese fare which is commonly consumed.  Add in the occasional “curry rice” which is depressing, and the standard conbini and bento shop take away and one is left with a quite solid excuse to aggressively take up alcoholism.

Which many do.  I would love to see the definition of “Functional Alcoholic” in Japanese.  It must be something like this:

With a Natto breakfast waiting for him tomorrow.

With a Natto breakfast waiting for him tomorrow.

I understand these foods are “healthy” for the most part, but why is that? In the end so much of Japan’s famous longevity boils down to simple portion control.  The Japanese just don’t eat as much as Western people.  Sushi lovers, you’re sitting at the counter. Now, look to your right and then to your left. How many plates of Sushi have the other patrons had? If you are in Japan, typically, 5 or 6.  Now, how many plates have you had?

Exactly.

Exactly.

Sushi can have between 280 and 360 calories per plate.  The rice has added sugar.  The guy next to you has eaten 5 plates. You have had 15. Do the math, I dare you. You can get a 2 piece with a large sweet tea from Bojangles and that’s about half the calorie count you just put down with that healthy Sushi.

What you know about some Bojangles?

What you know about some Bojangles?

The Japanese can afford to have a few high calorie Sushi meals as well because their peasant meal plan of rice, pickles and bland soups will put them in a massive caloric deficit until they drink to the edge of death at the next company “nomikai”.

We have established that the image and the reality aren’t the same.

So finally I ask…

Why the deep and trembling worship of these simple and, some might say, boring foods?

I don’t know.  I can’t figure it out.  “Healthy!” Yeah, yeah.  But that’s primarily down to portion control (which is eroding) and probiotics in the diet (also vanishing); Taco Bell, anyone?

I have no answers.  Something cultural perhaps? Or the same reason everyone said foreign skis wouldn’t work on Japanese snow?

But it annoys me deeply.  I’ve been to many many places and have never encountered anyone, any group of people, who so deeply revere what are essentially the day-to-day chow of the masses.  And most of the places I have been had food I would consider, easily, to be far more enticing and often far healthier then what the Japanese insist is magical about some pickles and rice.

At this point I’ve lost my patience and instead of explaining that most Japanese food I encounter reminds me of something, both in taste and smell, that I might find in my Grandmother’s kitchen, just slimier and without the sweaty asshole components, I have opted to nod and give my stock answer.

Not Bad.

 

GJSlowbann1

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Zack.

His name was Zack.

We were really good friends when I was probably 6 and lived in Germany. Gosh, Zack and I were really good friends. We would hang out in school, which used to be a Nazi hospital but they changed it to a school, and then we would also hang out a lot after school.  We would go to the “poop platz”, this area everyone would take their dogs to poop, as opposed to letting the dogs just poop all over the place, and we would hang out there and break bottles and things.

We were really good friends.

Then, one day, Zack and I got into an argument about a game of dodge ball.  One thing led to another and he punched me in the head. So I, of course, punched him in his dick, then his head, and then he kicked me in the stomach and face, a lot.  He was a year older than me and we were not friends after that for a while; like perhaps a whole month.

Roger.

Roger was another friend of mine in Germany. We were friends when I was seven or eight I think. Roger was not standard issue and he used to steal electronics from people and take them apart in his room.  He did this often and some people thought he had issues.  Well, he and I were pretty good friends, despite our collective pathological problems, until this one time he decided to elbow me in my gut, really hard, during a game at school.  It totally knocked the wind out of me and I collapsed.  He thought that was funny. I spent all afternoon thinking about punching him in his teeth. So, after school I followed him while he was walking home.

“Hey, Roger.” When he turned around I had put about five feet of quality runway between he and I and managed to get a very decent crow-hop in.  My golden hay-maker whipped around but good and I nailed him right in his braces.  Holy shit, to this day I clearly remember how incredible that felt.  I clocked him as hard as I could then I did an immediate about face and walked off.

I was really on cloud nine at that time.  But later Roger brought his Mom over to my house and they complained to my mother.

I lost my buzz.  I also was no longer friends with Roger.

John.

Later on, in North Carolina, my best-friend’s name was John. Geez, he and I were good friends. We did everything, everything that mattered anyway, together.  One time we bought a ton of cheap fireworks from this toothless hobo driving an old pick up truck, which smelled like piss, selling watermelons and fireworks out of the back.  Well, we bought a bunch of them and lashed them all together, put them in a paper bag, lit it on fire and threw it into a 7/11.

We had all kinds of fun together like that. It seemed it would never end.

The end came when one afternoon John got angry with my little brother and shoved him into a wall in John’s garage.  Even though I helped him get ice on his face afterward, after I belted him in the nose, when I would call his house his Mom told me “Well, he is still kinda sore about the whole thing.”

I was the one who used to punch everyone.

We throw the fireworks right over there.

You can tell I learned a lot real early about how quickly friends can just not be friends anymore.

As I got older, although there was less and less of the vanishing of friends due to violence, the vanishing continued none the less.

As we all got older friendships seemed even more important but became even less stable.  Any imaginary slight could totally destroy what you thought was a sure thing.

“Did you get your hair cut?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“I mean did you get it cut like that on purpose or did they fuck it up?”

I really was asking; I couldn’t tell.

And just like that we aren’t talking anymore.

“Hey bro, how long has your Mom been pregnant?”

“Dude, my Mom’s not pregnant.”

“Oh shit, really? I just meant she looks like it.”

I actually thought she was pregnant.

Another one bites the dust.

Things just got worse once girls got involved.  I suppose they got worse because everyone loves girls so much. Well, except for the guys who love other guys, they don’t love girls but then again it seemed like even those guys were really into the girls there for a while.  The point is that girls made everyone far more sensitive and they themselves, the girls I mean and I was surprised too, actually had feelings and got sensitive about things too.  It’s an enigma inside a quagmire wrapped in a hyper-color t-shirt; you don’t get it and neither do I.  That understanding of a lack of understanding didn’t stop people from letting friendships go to the dogs based on really small stuff.

Damn...Girls!

Damn…Girls!

So I figured out that people come and go. I figured that out early. It doesn’t really help though, this knowledge, as seasons pass and years roll by.

The Military seemed different somehow, and perhaps it was.

There is no place with a more densely packed collection of lunatics and maniacs than the Marine Corps Infantry.  There’s a great line in Ocean’s 11 where Danny’s ex-wife played by Julia Roberts says “You know what your problem is? You’ve met too many people like you.”

That was the Marine’s for me.  Violence and random wanton destruction no longer derailed friendships; these cemented them.  And where else and under what circumstances could you one day be running through the dessert putting rounds down range while things exploded next to you, and the next day be laying in your rack, literally all day, drinking gin and juice listening to RadioHead and Social Distortion albums?

Exactly.

Exactly.

I left the military pretty ingloriously but for years I stayed in touch with many of these people. Since then, some of them have died, some just disappeared but others are still basically around.  But something isn’t the same.

In the end it hasn’t seemed too different than everything else and here I come to the point.

As I get older it seems harder and harder not only to make new friends but to keep the ones I already have.

Articles are written about this.  Apparently millions of seemingly well off, well to do men in their 30’s and 40’s simply have no friends.

Not only is it difficult but awkward. As mentioned in the NY Times article, meeting or even maintaining friendships in my late 30’s is less about “Hey, you look dumb, lets wrestle,” and much more about “I understand you’re sensitive about the following long list of topics so I will completely avoid them and only discuss the meaningless nonsense, a list of perhaps 3 things, which offends absolutely nobody, nor challenges any idea or concept held by you, or anyone, regardless of how idiotic it is.  Can we set a play date now?”  Several years ago I didn’t give a shit about meeting new people, I mean men, because it was not an issue. I met guys all the time; some I clicked with and others I did not.  Some face punched me and we had bro-mance, others liked the same dirty jokes and were cool visiting me in jail.  It was easy come easy go.  Now, I feel myself getting nervous when I meet a guy who is not a complete fuckwit.  Yes, I actually get nervous. Why? Because meeting a new man who I think I might get along with and have something in common with is such an incredible rarity.

Somehow, this picture isn't saying what I want it to say.

Somehow, this picture isn’t saying what I want it to say.

I know at this point in my life that doing things out doors or in a dojo/gym with other men; physical, challenging and sometimes dangerous things, has been a cornerstone of all but 3 of my male-male friendships in the last twenty years.  So, why can’t I just whip up some new buddies who are still interested in the things I am? And where have the people gone who used to be interested in them?

A long time friend, a female, recently messaged me the following:

I also started trying to date again…. that is a completely other drama… but let me tell you… there are some seriously FUCKED up gaijin men over the age of 40 here. O.M.G.

Yeah, I completely get it and understand. What’s more, I actually empathize with you on what I thought would have been a purely female (homo) issue a few years ago.

As my Facebook friends list grows and grows the list of people I actually feel excited to see gets shorter and shorter.  I don’t like this.

Perhaps it’s all me.

After all, my early models for the construction and maintenance of friendships was clearly not based on sharing and gold medals for everyone.  But presumably, guys around my age, neither were theirs. So, fucking what gives?

Why is it so damn hard to meet a decent man in this city?

 

Proceed with Grindr jokes in the Comments.

GJSlowbann1

gaijinassbannerHalloween is over and forward we go into sweet November.  But how sweet is it, really?  On one hand there’s the beginning of the holiday season starting, traditionally, from the Thanksgiving day weekend.

But what does one do in the nebulous limbo beginning from the garbage strewn streets of Shibuya post All-Hallows-Eve running up to the premier soul sacrificing capitalist orgy known as “Black Friday”?

Consort with criminals?

Corn soup and and an existential crisis?

Suicide?

As we can see the options are limited  and bleak.  The following are particular pitfalls the savvy Tokyo-ite will go to links to avoid at all costs.  Be forewarned.

5.  Wildly Premature Christmas Festivities

“But people do this in _______ too!”

Sure, they do.

But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, seriously damaging the US Navy’s fleet, and make no mistake about it: They’ll bomb the shit out of your sense of holiday timing with just as much maniacal zeal.

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Technically, the Christmas caterwauling began even before Halloween. People were walking into franchise coffee shops and were assaulted by some B-class singer/song writer crooning into a microphone about “Santa Claus, Baby.”

Then Frappaccinos were ordered.  Because those are really good.

So, like most things the Japanese adopt, they just went way overboard; too much, too soon and too…JAPANESE.

Avoid this November pitfall by lecturing everyone you meet on the benefits of prisons and work houses decreasing the surplus population.  Or, better yet, teach this as your only lesson this holiday season.

"Who wants to go on a school trip to the PRISON?!"

“Who wants to go on a school trip to the PRISON and WORKHOUSES?!”

4. Bi-Polar Weather and Heating

It’s not too hot but it’s not too cold it’s…Tokyo!

When the thermometer read 23, it was all t-shirts and booty shorts. When it moved to 22 everyone put on mufflers, caps and over coats.  Then it was 23 again, now it’s 20, but now it’s 24.  For me, little changes.  I dress like it’s summer time until the temperature falls below 20.  However, for the natives, even the slightest hint of a chill in the air can cause instantaneous cold related injuries or, based on local panic, DEATH.

22 degrees.

22 degrees.

People have different internal thermostats.  So perhaps the girl on the train platform wearing an overcoat, a muffler, a knit cap and mittens, while I stand next to her in shorts and a t-shirt, is actually really cold and not just an idiot.  But is that really any reason for every single train car and shop in Tokyo to have their heaters on?  I can finally walk down the street without bringing a towel to mop the sweat away with but if I walk into a store I am blasted in the face with a wave of stale hot air.

Damn you, Tokyo. Can I not enjoy even a moment of comfort?

Things will just get worse as the days on the calendar tick by.  This actually brings us right up the the gates of number 3. Sort of…

3. Tsunami of Slutty Santa’s

Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi: You name the night district and the slutty Santa girls are already there waiting for you.

She doesn't want milk and cookies.

She doesn’t want milk and cookies.

She wants your wallet.

These little nymphs are at all the “girl’s bars” and “oppai pubs” and have been since the day after Halloween.  Strolling down the streets of West Ikebukuro one fine evening, as a gentleman does, I even heard one of them butchering jingle bells from the door step of what appeared to be a filthy (read: enticing) brothel.  I took a moment to look at the shit-faced salary man ogling her ample endowments as she murdered that Christmas classic then shook my head and let go with a sigh, “Ah, Ikebukuro” and continued on my merry way.

“Bro, what’s the problem with sluts in Santa costumes?”

Don’t call me Bro, Chief.

And the problem isn’t the sluts in Santa costumes it’s simply a matter of timing and aesthetics; the season has not yet begun!  These hookers are jumping the Christmas gun and I simply won’t stand for it.

That having been said, there are worse things on the streets of Ikebukuro than Yuletide harlots.

2. Crows

They know my nightmares and they all speak fluent terror and November seems to be, unequivocally, their month.

I give you the secret rulers of the Ikebukuro streets: the CROWS.

KNEEL!

KNEEL before your Avian rulers humans.

They talk, they plan and they remember who you are and what you did.

Run. Just fucking run.

1. The Inevitably Ill-conceived Thanksgiving Dinner Variation

It’s rapidly approaching and if you were in Minnesota, New Jersey, Prince Edward Island or where-ever, your mouth would likely be beginning to water as you imagine the coming feast.

Thanksgiving hedonism.

Growing up in a middle class family a la pax Americana in the heart of the freedom-spewing US of A many an epicurean feast have been observed.  The quantities and proportions are now lost to the annuls of time and toilet but let me tell you, I ate a shit ton of good food.  So did you.  This is why whilst far and away, and we do it every year, we try to recreate these Romanesque days of yore here in our adopted home of miso soup, pickles and rice balls.

The problem here, is that inevitably it goes wrong; horribly wrong.

It's my Mom's recipe.

It’s my Mom’s recipe.

One year I caused a ham to detonate in someone else’s oven (#falseflag).  Another year half the people at a dinner ended up getting violent diarrhea due to a horribly flawed attempt at sweet potato casserole.  I stood by, helpless another time, as a  sweet blonde girl from, I think Oregon, nearly started crying when her rhubarb pie had the consistency and flavor of second hand urinal cakes.  She internalized it and saw all her tattered relationships with men staring back at her from that vengeful failure of a holiday staple which had become her void.

I saw a guy nearly choke to death on carrot sticks and dip.

The carnage.

But we keep trying.  We keep on trying every time because what’s the other option?  Oden and dried squid?  More highly over carbonated and wildly over-rated Asahi with some week old 7/11 “furidu potatosu”? Simply put, there are are no other options.  Living as we have chosen we’re doomed to experience this holiday over and over, never quite getting it right but treasuring it none the less because the alternatives are too bleak to contemplate.  I suppose the only thing left to do is embrace the madness, scream TORA! TORA! TORA! and Kamikaze the hell out of this coming weekends Thanksgiving efforts.

 

If this wasn’t good enough for you, try these:

Chong Dominatrix in Japan white hostess Groper Train Sato
Advancing Feminism via Porn Interview with a Japanese Dominatrix White woman Japanese sex Groper Train Search for the Black Pearl Interview with Adult Model: Erika Satou

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Ninja, Futuristic Robot Warrior, ET, a Green Beret and a Ranger.

These are all Halloween costumes I can remember wearing at some point.

I hated the ET costume. My mother got it from some other woman and it’s emasculating effects were dazzling.  I felt like a little Halloween homo stuffed in that hot sack of humiliation.  I won the best costume award at some event and other mothers took photos of me.  Other children whispered filthy insults and pointed at me. Others gnashed teeth.  The jealousy and politics surrounding best costume awards among eight year old children is pretty impressive.

The futuristic robot warrior was a costume from, oh Jesus, France.  It sure looked like it too and by that I mean it looked like something you might see in a gay pride parade on some tranny, rapidly OD’ing on the dubious combination of poppers and mescaline.  I sure thought that costume was hot shit, though. Oh boy, did I. In fact, I tried it on multiple times and went prancing around the room I shared with my little brother.  Anyway, half way through the evening while trick-or-treating the elastic band on the flamboyantly colored mask snapped and after several failed attempts to re-tie it I just said “Fuck this French mask,” and continued on, noticeably receiving less candy than my peers from that point forward.

I hate the French.  They continuously disappoint, as we have mentioned before.

Except for the cheese.

They make amazing cheese.

Later, as a teenager, I took responsibility for my own happiness and used Halloween as an occasion to throw raw eggs, and rocks, at people and steal candy from younger and easily manipulated pre-teens.  I also made out with this girl named Lindsey on Halloween one time and I was just terrified our braces would get locked.  I saw that on a show. It didn’t happen though.

Lindsey later told everyone we never kissed.

Duplicitous lying slut. Because we totally made out.

Another time, I lived in the desert.  It was really hot all the time and there were rattle snakes and crazy desert hobos with HIV living all over the place.  I spent that Halloween cleaning a bunch of disgusting toilets.

Thanks Marine Corps.  I could have been in Palm Springs getting my drinks spiked by overly muscular homos and waking up with strange wads of cash in my pockets. But no…

…in the end I have spent Halloween in various locations.  Some better than others.  But this year, something bizarre has occurred.

Japan, I applaud you.

This is not something I say often. Not these days, anyway.  After eleven plus years in Tokyo my grain of salt is more like a brick and the never ending chopstick compliments have lost their luster.

The jade is strong with this one. 

I sneer and sneer often. You know; I’ve written about it at length.

But right when I was getting ready to really huff and puff and blow Tokyo’s house down, it decide to fight back.

And it fought back with the sweet black magic of a Japanized Shibuya Halloween.

shibuya-halloween

Much has been said in Japanese media over the last few days condemning, actually ravenously attacking, October 31st, 2015.  The outcry from the stuffy, over 30 talento ilk has been angst-filled and the intensity of the GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DAMN KIDS has been hilarious.  TV personality after useless TV personality have made the same comments and these have been force fed to a population which lives and dies by the gospel they are injected with in mega daily doses via mind numbing “Variety shows.”

These kids are out of control!

These people don’t have any idea about the origin or meaning of Halloween!  

They are just going wild!

It’s all just nonsense! Nonsense I tell you! Nonsense grrrrrrrr!

Get off my fucking lawn you damn kids! 

Women dressed as nuns pose for pictures during Halloween celebrations in the Shibuya district in Tokyo, Japan October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RTX1U3FW

First of all, the powers that be in Japan couldn’t give a sloppy wet donkey shit about the Japanese people “understanding the origins” of any foreign custom or culture.  Christmas in Japan is an absolute abortion.  It’s so bad it sent me into a dark tail spin only to resurface three weeks into January sans long stretches of memory and with suspicious credit card debts and welts.  Just like, welts.  On my ass and inner thighs.

As a side note, if this is ringing any bells for you please message me privately because I would like to know.

Valentines in Japan has been carefully crafted to give zero fucks, about anything, and hence spawned another useless marketing demon in “White Day.”

Here, choke on these cheap cookies and die, whore. Now you know all about “White Day.”

Japanese English on shirts and in advertising and the never ending bastardization of western concepts goes on day to day completely unfettered while THE MAN keeps telling the Japanese how “difficult” English is yet how much they need it.  Nobody here cares, at all, about how things are supposed to be.

So just like, spare me, man.

Secondly, these kids are not out of control.  Rather, these kids were remarkably well behaved.  Thousands and thousands of costume glad young drunks concentrated in a very small urban area and what happened in the end?  Some people made out. Some people passed out. Some people fornicated and some people lost their ifucks.  I saw some girl jerking a guy off next to the Stay-puff Marsh-mellow man.  I saw a 20 year old sexy cop girl making out heavily with some guy wearing an “older English teacher” costume.

The horror.

Imagine this any place else.  I can do it easily.

This on the streets of London? Fires and pillage.  This on the streets of Los Angeles? Riots and cops shooting people willy-nilly.  This on the streets of New York?  Murder and more riots.

The point is simple:  with thousands of drunk youth all converging on one area, nothing really bad happened. In fact, something genuinely cool and legit occurred.   Halloween night in Shibuya this year was just a huge unplanned costume party and THAT is what is pissing off the establishment so much.  Nobody had control.  That fact alone is enough to get the boss hogs in a sweat.  Lots of people came out, got together and had a good time without anyone’s permission.  After a million people protesting TPP in the streets went utterly ignored by the fascist Abe government, the disenfranchised decided to do what they felt like and just had fun on their own terms.  Obviously, the establishment isn’t keen on this.

But Gaijinass has a simple enough conclusion which he will now share.

Fuck Christmas illumination and giri-choco;  Tokyo had a win on October 31st, 2015.  

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