Yes, I am that busy right now

Sorry for a complete lack of posts. I am super busy right now so I haven’t had the time to write much. All my free time (which is severely lacking at the moment) has been consumed by a photo exhibition that I committed to in Osu. It’s just a small space in a women’s used clothing and accessory shop, but it is very hip! More info on that soon. Anyway, stick with me, I will be back with more entries in the future.

Party in Central Park

Central Park Nagoya, that is. Yes, Nagoya has a Central Park. It is basically a wide median in the center of the city. It is nice though to have such a green strip running through the center of the city. Today the Park was abuzz though because there was a 24 hour television event, some music underneath the TV tower, and the main stage for the Domannaka Festival. Wow, what a day for Nagoya.

There were some old-timers jamming underneath the TV tower.

Music under the tower

 

And some sort of 24 hour television event. I’ve never quite understood these events. They don’t seem to be fundraisers or have any purpose other than promotion. I never really watch these events. I don’t watch much Japanese TV.

24 hour television

 

This weekend is the 12th annual ど真ん中祭り (yes, another festival). I’ve written about this festival before. I only saw one group wearing fundoshi this year, and perhaps it would have been better to have been a little more modest. As always though, the costumes and dancing were fun.

ど真ん中祭り

 

The requirements for the festival are simple:

The rules of the festival state that each dancer must hold a naruko, or clapper, and that a melody from a local folk tune of the participants’ home area must be incorporated in the music. The teams thus prepare original dances and music that give a sense of their local culture. The greatest characteristic and charm of Domatsuri is that it connects people from many different areas and countries, and gives them an opportunity to vitalize local communities as well as to create and pass on new cultural expressions.

ど真ん中祭り

 

I ended up going to the festival site, having a beer, and watching the stage performances on an outdoor screen. The weather today wasn’t that bad.

Warm but not impossible

 

Cooling off

 

Maybe it was over 90 degF, but the humidity was a little lower so I was comfortable in the shade.

Tokyo randomness

Over the weekend, I went up to Tokyo to hang out with Ben and Carrie, and also with Tomo when he wasn’t working. It was sort of a random weekend with no real initial plans. Ben and Carrie wanted to check out Asakusa and Kappabashidori. Asakusa is famous for the sensoji temple, and Kappabashidori is famous for excellent cooking supplies including famous knife shops. It had been a while since I had been to Asakusa, but it never fails to interest me. It is the most “touristy” place in Tokyo that I know. The approach to the temple is lined with souvenir shops with some rather interesting things available. The temple was under renovation – is this THE year for temple renovation? I have never seen so many temples under renovation. Kappabashidori was interesting as well – lots of cookware shops, knives, and plastic food shops. I find the plastic food fascinating. We had a delicious lunch at Freshness Burger, and then went to Akihabara.

I’ve never really understood Akihabara – perhaps I just don’t go to the correct place. We checked out a manga shop featuring dojin comics. Carrie felt a little out of place as we looked at book covers with a wide assortment of big-breasted semi naked cat-eared girls. There were only 7 floors of books, but the building was skinny. We also hit a few electronics shops as well, which can be almost as visually shocking as the manga shop.

For dinner, we met Jin and had a good visit.

Souvenir shops in Asakusa

Souvenir shops in Aksakusa

 

Yes we can! Obama-mania has not sold out yet in Japan.

Yes we still can

The area around senjo temple

Sensoji

 

Ben and Carrie look like they are having fun.

Ben and Carrie in Asakusa

 

We noticed some funny things around Akasuka and Kappabashidori. I am extremely curious what the heart farting character represents. Oh, such pretty farts. It is noce that I can maintain my juvenile humor after all these years.

What is this about?

 

Also, I think this gas cassette is definitely not a good idea to try to carry on to a plane.

Not for carry-on luggage

 

And where exactly does cowgel come from?

Does cowgel get the blues?

 

The symbol for kappabashidori is a frogman. I thought it was strange.

Frogman

 

I was fascinated by the plastic food. There were several cases of plastic beer. Don’t the ice covered cans look great?

Frosty beer

 

Loads and loads of beer

 

There was case after case of sample food.

Fake plastic food

 

Sunday we had no real plan either. We waked from Shidome to Tokyo Station to meet Kevin for lunch. We hit Ginza and the Sony showroom. The Sony showroom is not the technological showplace it once was. I think Sony has not found the next new thing and is suffering. After lunch, I remembered the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) showroom was nearby, so what better place to take two space geeks? Carrie bought an H2A rocket pen and some spacefood!

Can’t you see them as astronauts?

Astronaut Ben

 

Astronaut Carrie

 

We also visited a display celebrating Japan’s World Baseball Classic championship win. I had to photograph Ichiro and Matsuzaka’s actual jerseys.

Ichiro's jersey

 

Matsusaka's jersey

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien …

I’m not an Englishman in New York, but I am a legal alien. I have my official Certificate of Alien Registration, recorded at the local Ward office. A Ward ( 区, ku, in this case) is sort of like a township. I guess. It is hard to describe exactly what a Ward is. No complications whatsoever. It is my third gaijin card. The first two I had to give up when I left the country. This one allows multiple entry (that was through the regional immigration office).

After I got my gaijin card, I went with a Japanese colleague to open a bank account. Opening a bank account is never easy in any language. Opening one in Japanese did not disappoint. I was asked if I wanted a Visa card … then when they found out that I hadn’t been in the country for 6 months the offer was rescinded … then when they found out I was employed they offered the credit card again. Why do I want a credit card? Well, you never know when the three that I currently have will fail. Anyway, it is my Japan emergency credit card.

As I said, I needed a hanko (personal stamp) to open an account. It seems so arbitrary. I just buy this stamp and then somehow it is official? My name in katakana isn’t particularly beautiful either – フィシュ. I wanted to use the kanji for fish, 魚, but all my J-friends thought that would not work well. It turns out every time I made a little mistake like a cross out or anything like that, I had to STAMP! the mistake. I felt so imperfect – my application was filled with lots of little red stamped circles. Stupid foreigner. The choices were very confusing to me and my helper. I remember when I helped Tomo open an account at the credit unionI had a hard time suggesting the proper choices. Japan was no different.

Not much else to report. Working. Eating, Sleeping. I got a call tonight that basically said I might have to go from my frying pan pressure job here in Nagoya and go help out on a super hot wok job in the States for a bit. I don’t want to go. I want to be “home” in Nagoya for a while.

OK, I’m outta here for now. More later.