Bakersfield – What’s Japan got to do with it!?

Hey everyone! So when you think of Bakersfield, California, what comes to mind?

Whatever you thought of, please keep to yourself, because I’d rather not know. I bet it had nothing to do with Japan though. Surprisingly though, Bakersfield has more things dealing with Japan than you would think.

Earlier this month, a group of 24 students, plus their two adult chaperones from Wakayama, Japan came to visit and stayed several days in Bakersfield with host families. Bakersfield has been a Sister City to Wakayama, Japan for over 50 years now. We’ve had student exchanges back and forth for many decades. June, 2014 we’re expecting to have a large delegation go over to Wakayama. Bakersfield Sister City is something that’ll likely continue for another 50 years.

That isn’t the only thing Japan related here in Bakersfield. I recently came across two other organizations. The first I learned through a friend of mine. I found out there was a Zen Buddhist group here in Bakersfield. It isn’t a big group, but it seems to be a quality one and they welcome anyone curious about Zen. They are having an orientation for beginners soon actually. I’ll link the brochure for it.

Intro Zen ZFB Aug 24 2013

Website – http://www.zenbakersfield.blogspot.com/

The other group I eluded to is called Bakersfield Budo. They’re a Japanese Martial Arts group here in Bakersfield that has a wide variety of offerings. From Karate, Jujutsu, Aikido, Iaijutsu, to even Shodo. It is one of those things that is surprising to find even existed in Bakersfield. Of particular interest to me is Iaijutsu, Aikido, and Shodo. They all take a nod from Zen Buddhism and there is a lot of synergy between them all. Iaijutsu is a sword art, similar to Kendo. Shodo is the art of Japanese Calligraphy. I’m sure I will be a regular at Bakersfield Budo. I’ll link the website if you’re interested in more information.

http://bakersfieldbudo.com/

Lastly, I’ve tried in vain to find a Japanese language study group in town. Although there are a couple of Japanese classes offered at Bakersfield College, there aren’t any groups interested in studying to a level beyond the two basic level classes. What do you do if something you want doesn’t exist? You create it yourself. I’ve found a few other like minded individuals interested in improving their Japanese to the next level and committed to that undertaking. I’ve created a group and have a basic structure in place for it. It is my hope that eventually I’ll be able to grow the group to something larger that can be self-sustained after I have left. For now though I’ll keep the group small until we work out the bumps.

This just goes to show that with regards to Japan, there is more to Bakersfield than meets the eye.

The-Mello-Man signing off~

Emotional “Musashi” – Historical Drama

The-Mello-Man here!

I recently had the pleasure of viewing and completing the NHK J-Drama series, “Musashi”. This is a 49 episode, one hour historical drama that is based around the life story of Takezo, who is more famously known by the name Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi is by no means a perfect person, his journey is one of discovery and much emotion. Musashi is very much an emotional individual, and his journey is one of understanding his own emotions and that of others. As he grew up virtually alone, he has a deep seated need to be strong so that he can live on his own, and is driven initially by anger. Throughout his journey he deals with many other emotions: fear, loneliness, learning to laugh and enjoy life, respect, and revenge. Watching the show it always seems as if Musashi’s emotions are ready to overflow. Each experience and encounter Musashi has develops him as a person and shapes him as the series goes on.

Musashi is not the only great character. What makes this series a great one is each character is flawed. Characters that provide guidance to Musashi often have tragedies in their lives to give them the perspective they have. At times the teachers becomes the students. Other times, despite their wisdom, those closest to them chose not to listen. Other characters lead tragic lives, often the only thing they have control of is when they decide to take their own life. Otsu and Matahachi, childhood friends of Musashi, also show a lot of growth as they try to find their paths in life.

Another thing that is interesting to note is there is a definite Zen Buddhism undertone throughout the series. Getting rid of desire, enjoying and treasuring what you have, and appreciating each day as the sun rises and sets. As each day in life brings the unknown and one could die any day, as we live in a state of impermanence.

All in all it was a very satisfying series with a lot of great characters and some good twists and turns.

International Dinner 2013 Completion – Passport to Pangea

Had a good turn out this year at the annual International Dinner at California State University Bakersfield. Around 200 people attended, it was a full house. I was a performer, doing two different dances. Take look at the videos! After the videos you can take a look at the flier and the information of the event. Maybe you can attend next year!

Facebook Event Page

“Check off your Bucket list with our menu 🙂

The International Students Club invites CSUB community, as well as the people of Bakersfield, to come join us on April 12th 2013 at 6:00 pm, for the annual International Dinner. The event will be held at the Runner Café located on the CSUB campus. The dinner will include: live music, dance from different cultures, medieval European delicious, exotic cuisine, and much more. Join the celebration and allow us to show our gratitude for the kindness and support bestowed upon us by the community and our fellow classmates.”

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Greedy’s Gilded Grotto Begins!

Greedy The Venture Capitalist here, welcome to my piece of heaven, Greedy’s Gilded Grotto now begins!

Looks like my partner has been slacking on the posts. Mickey has been nagging me to post something to take some of the pressure off him. Bah, so demanding, and he’s not even paying me! But I guess I better do my part, I can’t complain too much since he’ll read this post later. I do like the kid, he has a lot of potential. There is a lot left for him to learn though. He has given me free reign to write about whatever I want. Maybe he’ll read these posts and learn something!

So I’ve been thinking of what to do to kick off my little corner here. I thought it best to stick with one of my loves for now, booze! I’m drinking as I write this now (I’m always drinking, it is best to assume whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it while drinking)! To keep things targeted, I’ll be focusing on a particular kind of booze, those of the Japanese variety. Mainly Sake and Umeshu (Plum Wine for the layman), but also some others of Japanese origins.

This is my “Booze Shrine”, I’m that cool looking green dude in the middle there.

I’ll be going over all sorts of different booze, I’ll describe them the best I can, maybe do a favorites ranking, and talk about the drinking culture in Japan. I might write about more beyond this, but I’ll save that stuff for a later time. The rest of the fun can start after we’re drunk and happy!

Greedy Out!

If anyone asks, you didn’t see me smoking.

August Japan Job Hunting!

Many things are currently afoot!

At the moment I am currently hunting for a job in Japan. A difficult task at the moment, as Japan’s economy is rather weak at the moment, but then again, so is the rest of the global economy. I have been doing what I can here, but usually the best way to go about things is to put yourself out right in the middle of things and see what you can drum up, and that is exactly what I plan on doing in August!

I am planning a trip to Japan in August. I leave from LAX on August 9th, arrive at Narita Airport on the 10th, and from there I stay in Japan till the 30th, which is when I catch my return flight back home. The goal of this trip is job hunting! However, there are a few other things I want to do while I’m over in Japan.

I am a part of Bakersfield Sister City Project Corporation, which is the Sister City of Wakayama in Japan. I have been working with the organization for a while now, but I have not yet been to Wakayama. During my trip I intend to visit Wakayama, to see what our Sister City is like so as to develop a closer connection with what I’ve been helping work towards here in Bakersfield through Sister City. I will focus my job hunting efforts in Tokyo. However, while in Wakayama I will focus on getting to know the people and the city. If they would have me as a guest, I would love to get to know them more.

I plan on seeing my host family that I lived with when I was in Japan studying abroad previously. I also plan on visiting some of my friends I know in Japan as well. Catch up and see how many of them are doing. There are also some places I want to visit, both to see the sights and to purchase some things. However, all these things are secondary to my hunting for a job in Japan. If I get a job in Japan, I can do many of these things on my day off.

Thus that is my plan. I will scour Tokyo for a possible job, as it is my intent to return to live there for at the very least a few years. After all is said and done, I’ll post about how my efforts have gone, the resources I have found, and the possible paths I’ve identified. Until my efforts are complete though I shall refrain from posting any details. I will, however, post about other things when I get the time. Please take the time to read and learn about the Keiretsu which I have recently posted about! I have still more to learn about it and I will update the post as time goes on, but the post thus far should provide an overview with some depth on the subject. I hope to add more posts to my business commentary section soon.

Till next time, hopefully from Japan!

Magnitude 9.0 – A Student’s Experience

Found this on my laptop, I wrote this a few days after the earthquake. Thought I would share it, the last paragraph really resonates with me. I wish I could’ve stayed and done more.

 

 

Magnitude 9.0 – A Student’s Experience

 

Mickey Mello – Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It has been about six months since I started living in Japan. I have a great host family I live with in Takadanobaba, which is near the university, I’ve made lots of friends, both Japanese and from elsewhere in the world, I’ve finished the first semester here at Waseda University, and have experienced and learned many great and fun things. I was one month into the two month spring break between semesters here, enjoying the sights and sounds of Tokyo. March 11th rolled around, which seemed like it would be another easy going day.

I slept a bit later than I wanted to, got up around 11:30am, got showered, and ate breakfast. Told my host family I was going to go walking around and go shopping, with plans to go to Shinjuku followed by Harajuku. I told them I’d be having dinner at around 6:00pm instead of the usual time of 5:00pm. Then I headed out the door, was about 1:30pm at the time.

I made my way towards Shinjuku, took the Todai train line to Seibu Shinjuku Station, which was closest to my first destination for the day, Don Quijote, one of my favorite stores in Japan. Don Quijote is the type of store that has merchandise stacked all the way up to the ceiling, and has a huge variety of goods. After looking around for an hour or hour and a half, I was currently in the party goods section; this was when the earthquake started.

At first it was just shaking a little bit, I could feel it beneath my feet and could see some of the merchandise swinging back and forth. The first thought that came to my mind was “Oh, an earthquake, how novel, I’ll just wait here for it to stop and then go back to shopping.” The problem was that it didn’t stop shaking; it started to get more intense. Stuff started falling everywhere, I could hear bottles breaking, and I could see people making a mad dash towards the exit. I looked around where I was at and decided it was best to stay put where I was at, as the items in the party goods section looked like they wouldn’t hurt me if any where to fall on me. Worse case, I thought, a maid costume could fall on me.

The shaking seemed to have lasted around a couple of minutes or so before the big quake finally subsided. Stuff was everywhere on the floor as I made my way out of the store stepping over everything. I thought to myself that this had to be around a 7.0 earthquake. I made my way out towards the street, found people crowded into the streets after making their ways out of the buildings. They were messaging people, trying to call people, and taking pictures. It still felt like it was shaking after the initial quake, sort of like the feeling you have when you’ve been on a boat, and after you get off it still feels like you’re on a boat. I decided at this time it would be good to message a few essential people to let them know I was ok. After a time, the crowd dispersed from the middle of the street and traffic started moving again. I decided to head towards the Shinjuku Rotary. On the way over some businesses were temporarily closed, others still open for business with people advertising out front.

The Tsunami happening live on TV in Shinjuku.

I made it to the Shinjuku Rotary. It was there I started watching the news on the big TV on the side of the building, much like many other people who were there. It was on the TV that I was seeing images of the tsunami being broadcast live, cars being swept away, waves knocking down buildings and whatever else in its path, boats being pushed dangerously inland. I was seeing what the numbers were, 10 meter high waves in some areas, I couldn’t read the kanji to know what areas the broadcast was referring to, but from the picture of Japan they had displayed, it looked as if the northeastern part was the hardest hit. Finally after some delay, I saw a number, 8.4, followed by katakana spelling out the word magnitude. It was much bigger than what I thought it was going to be, even though I thought it would be around a 7.0. It wasn’t until later that it was upgraded to an 8.9 and 9.0.

As I continued to watch the broadcast, I was approached by several people who were visiting Japan and couldn’t understand Japanese and seeking someone out who could provide information. Although I couldn’t translate, I have a pretty good idea of what seemed to be happening. It was a large quake, which in its aftermath caused a large tsunami. I encountered a couple from France, who were supposed to return home that day, they were asking how they should get back to their hotel in Shinagawa, At this time all the trains were down in Tokyo as a precaution to check for any damage. The only thing I could suggest was that they walk back. I later learned all the airports were down as well, so I now know that could not make it back home that day. I met a couple of girls who were also looking for information; I shared what I knew with them. A bit later they saw their friend across the street, I went with them. The friend was Japanese, and could speak English, thus he helped provide information as to more specifics to what was going on.

Everyone watching the news on the big TV at Shinjuku Rotary.

I spent a couple hours watching the news before I decided I should get home. It was about 5:00pm at that time. The trains were down of course, so my only option was to walk home. Luckily it wasn’t too far from where I was. I started to make my way back, as I walked by the station, I could see people outside waiting, wanting to get home, waiting for the trains to come back home. I followed the train tracks on a street that ran parallel to the tracks. Many others had made the same choice as me and were making their way back by foot. After walking for about an hour I made it to the Takadanobaba area. As I walked by a station again, I could see all the people huddled outside waiting for train service to get back home.

People waiting by the train station, stranded after the trains were shut down.

A few minutes after that I made it home, it was about 6:00pm. I greeted my Obaachan (Host Grandmother), let her know I was ok before I made my way back up to my room. I got to my room and breathed a sigh of relief, everything was intact and fine, only a few minor things tipped over, nothing broken. The power was still on where I was at, so I got onto my computer and started sending out messages letting people know I was alright and checking to see if that was the same for other people I knew, which it was. My Okaasan (Host Mother) came home soon after I got back and came up to see how I was. I told her what had happened, she was relieved to know I was ok. Dinner was ready shortly after, I ate and talked with my host family. They told me this was the first quake they’ve been in where they’ve felt compelled to want to duck and cover.

After dinner I went back up to my room and continued to inform people as to what was going on, to let people know I was alright, and to see that others were ok. I was keeping track of the situation as it developed on the internet with news there. Saw the developments happen with some of the nuclear facilities, though it didn’t worry me personally. I could feel aftershocks here and there; some are a pretty good size. You can hear the house shift, feel the sofa you’re sitting on vibrate slightly, and see the TV wobble a bit. Later that night I chatted with my mother and father over Skype, let them know I was ok and that I wasn’t worried about my current situation, as at home with my host family things were basically business as usual. I contacted some more people, and then went to sleep.

That covers everything that happened to me the day the 9.0 earthquake happened. I’ve lived through the quake, and now I am living the aftermath. In a way, you could say this has been a deep cultural experience. As experiencing the culture means to see both the good and the bad, to see what issues the country has to deal with, and others they don’t. I have seen how Japan and its people have reacted, and I am deeply impressed and moved at what I have seen, the inner strength and character of the Japanese people as they confront this disaster as it unfolds. As someone who is currently here and been through this event, I would like to see this to its resolution, to experience things with everyone here, to see how events unfold, and the recovery begin.

Mickey Mello is a Business Major from California State University Bakersfield who was studying at Waseda University for a year in Tokyo, Japan.

Yusuke’s California Odyssey

(Pictures will be added in soon)

Thank you to everyone who really helped make the trip great. Here’s all the happenings from when Yusuke was in California.

It was Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 I dragged myself out of bed to make the drive down to LAX airport from Bakersfield. Greedy decided to accompany me down there to meet up with Yusuke, whom I met while I was attending Waseda University in Japan. After customs took their time, about 2 hours to be exact, processing everyone on Yusuke’s flight, we finally reunited! Greedy and I greeted a tired Yusuke, loaded his stuff up into my car, and got the hell out of LA! On the way back to Bakersfield we stopped at Santa Clarita and took a break at the Valencia Mall. We got out of the car, walked around, and had a bit of lunch. Yusuke got his first taste of some Mexican food. After we had enough looking around, we continued our way back to Bakersfield. As we made our way off the mountains of the Grapevine, the San Joaquin Valley greeted us, displaying the wide expanse of land so unlike Japan. We stopped off at my house for a short while, before heading over to where Yusuke would stay during his time here in Bakersfield, my grandparent’s house. He turned in early, exhausted from the flight over, while I prepared for our activities the next day.

Thursday, August 25th, we got up for the tour of the IFTA (International Flight Training Academy) at 11:00am. There we were meeting up with a couple of my friends, Maiko and Nanako, as well as Ayano whom I had met by chance. We had a great time there, and learned a lot about the place. We had some Japanese food there and got to chat with many of the people there. After our time there was complete, we bid Maiko, Nanako, and Ayano farewell and headed to our next destination! Miniature Golf! In 100 degree Fahrenheit weather no less! We both had a fun time, we managed both managed to get some holes-in-one, after which we cooled off and headed to dinner at Sushi Kato here in town. There I introduced Yusuke to American sushi! The Super California Roll! We also met up with a couple of my other friends there, Eric and Brittany. We chatted while we ate for a time, and then decided on our next course of action. We paid a visit to my campus, and took a look around for a bit. After giving Yusuke the tour of CSUB, Yusuke, Eric, Brittany and me all went for some bowling! We played 3 games and had a good time before we decided we were done. We parted ways with Brittany and Eric and headed back to my house. There we had the task of deciding where we would stay during our upcoming nights in LA. After much discussion, we were not sure where we would stay next. We did decide though that we would meet up with one of my friends for dinner the next day in Little Tokyo. With that we decided to turn in for the night and headed to my grandparent’s house to sleep.

Friday, August 26th. We took our time getting up and getting going. Had breakfast at my grandparent’s place. We loaded up and headed to Walmart next! Yes, the wonders of Walmart, the vastness of goods available for purchase at low prices, where the crutch of humanity shops. It must certainly be experienced once in one’s lifetime. After we procured some snacks for the car, we had one more stop to make in Bakersfield before leaving. To eat the confections of Dewar’s! We both had some ice cream there and purchased some taffy chews which are delicious before we headed off to LA. Dewar’s is one of the few places that are uniquely Bakersfield. After finishing up, we headed back down to LA, introducing Yusuke to the wonders and perils of LA driving. We made it to Little Tokyo that evening and met up with my friend David. We had Curry at an Indian food place and chatted for a bit. After which we looked around little Tokyo for a while. We had a time limit though, I had called my older brother, who lived nearby. We could stay at his place that night, but we had to get there before he left for the night, before 9pm. Thus we made our way over, found his place, and stayed the night at his Studio. Yusuke and me chatted for a while, before turning in for the night. The next day was to be a big one, as we were going to Disneyland!

Saturday, August 27th. We woke up, bid my brother farewell, and headed to Disneyland. We were to meet up with Kyle and Dolo, who also studied in Japan with me at Waseda. We arrived at about 10:30am and we stayed till 10:30pm. After we arrived we met up with Kyle, and then Dolo along with her sister and a friend from highschool. Together we went all over the place, first was all the mountains, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. We got bloody soaked at Splash Mountain. Yusuke had a huge turkey leg and had a great time. We did a the Small World ride, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates, took the tram around the park, did Star Tours, saw one of the parades, had gumbo for dinner, and did Space Mountain a second time in no particular order.

As it got late, we bid Kyle, Dolo, and company farewell and thanked them for the great time and headed off to our next adventure, our night was not yet over! Neo, another friend of both Yusuke and me was having a party, and we were invited! First though, we had to stop by my friend David’s place, we were originally planning on staying at his place. We dropped off our stuff, and together with David, we all headed towards Neo’s place! After almost getting killed twice in Saturday night traffic in LA and missing the freeway exit we needed twice, we finally found our way to Neo’s place for the party!!! …Only the party was already over. We had arrived at 1:30am, the party began at 11:00pm. As it turned out, the party had ended prematurely at 12:30am, there were over 50 people there, and the cops came by and gave a choice. Either clear everyone out of there, or face a $1500 fine. The choice was clear and simple, thus the party ended. But in a way, it worked out and allowed us to hang and chat with Neo casually. We hung, played some beer pong, chatted with Neo, his girlfriend, and his roommates. All in all it was fun, and we stayed the night at Neo’s place.

Sunday, August 28th. We got up and decided to eat breakfast with Neo. We ate at this Bagel shop and chatted for a bit, met another of Neo’s friends, and then went our separate ways from Neo. Sunday was to be a slow day, to recover from the many happenings from the day before. We headed to David’s place, where I relaxed to recover more while Yusuke decided to walk around Hollywood and take some pictures. After Yusuke had had enough, he came back to David’s place, and we decided to head to the Grove and have dinner with David’s friend Ken. We had Chinese food together, chatted for a while. Then hung around Barnes & Noble Bookstore, had some Starbucks, and chatted until it was closing time. We all then headed back to David’s place and made a sleep-over out of it, and played cards together until we got tired.

Monday, August 29th. We got up, bid Ken farewell, then David, Yusuke, and me headed over to Universal Studios! We arrived got tickets, and stuck our stuff in a locker. First we did the Studio Tour, I pointed out places I had filmed at before there. After that we had lunch, Yusuke had a huge hamburger at the Flintstones’s BBQ. We then proceeded to ride The Mummy ride and Jurassic Park and then the Mummy again. We saw the Terminator 2 3D movie, where we met Kimberly, who was Suuuuuuuper, okey dokey? Saw Shrek 4D after that. Then we decided we had enough and went to get our stuff from the locker. Only problem was David, who had bought the locker, put his wallet and the ticket for the locker in the locker! So we had to get security to help us and guess which one it was! Took several tries, but we managed to find our locker, certainly one of the more memorable things from the day. After that we walked around the Universal City Walk, then left and went to go eat dinner at another Mexican food place, then looked around and shopped at Amoeba Music. After that we called it a day and headed back to David’s place. We hung around there, chatted with some people on Facebook, and managed to get in contact with Becky and Ginger Steve, also from the Japan program. We went to sleep afterward.

Tuesday, August 30th. We got up, parted ways with my friend David, and headed toward Long Beach! We got a call from Ginger Steve and I asked if we could stay the night at his place, he said it shouldn’t be a problem, thus we had our final place we would be sleeping for the night arranged! We got into Long Beach a bit early, so we decided to stop by the beach and check out the sites there. We took some pictures and burned a little time until it was time to head to CSU Long Beach. We made it on campus and found it difficult to find a parking space. After trying several lots we finally found one. We got out of the car and we were first going to meet up with one of Yusuke’s friends, a student who went to Japan a year before me. After meeting with her and another one of the Waseda student I met in Japan, Kokoro, we headed down to the student union and had lunch at an Italian place, basically pizza! There we met and chatted with Becky and Steve for several hours before we decided to head to Steve’s place. We went over and got comfortable, met Steve’s nice parents, and discussed where we should eat for the night. While doing that, Steve showed us some real guns. Finally it was time for dinner, we decided that Yusuke should eat some BBQ Baby-Back Ribs. We headed to this one place, met up with a couple of friends, and had a nice dinner. After we finished eating we headed back, talked a bit longer, before turning in for Yusuke’s last night in California.

Wednesday, August 31st. We got up, had breakfast at Steve’s place. Chatted a bit longer with his parents. We then said good bye to Steve and loaded up for the trip to LAX. Yusuke and me had a quiet drive back, reminisced about the previous week. When we arrived, I dropped Yusuke off at the curb and bid him good luck on the rest of his trip to Oregon and Hawaii. It was certainly a very eventful week!

Thank You Japan

After I left Japan early, I had one report related to my time in Japan left to write. I thought I’d share the end of it.

“Japan has had such a large impact on my life, and it will continue to do so. It is my plan to keep Japan a part of my life. I will strive to not only improve things here in the US, but Japan as well, as I feel a special bond with Japan and its people, the friends I’ve met there, the experiences I’ve had, and the memories I’ve made. I can only hope the future I make for myself will create the type of memories that I’ll hold as close to my heart as my time, my odyssey, in Japan. Thank you Japan.”

Taken during a trip with my club, PADDY’s English Conversation Club.

The First Days of Japan: Move From Hotel to Hostfamily

The 17th of September marked the day I was to check out of my hotel and move in with my Japanese Hostfamily. In preparation, I had to get all my luggage repacked and ready to transport. There was a chance that my host family didn’t have a car and I might have to send some of my bags over, so I had to make sure to sort my things accordingly. From there I towed my bags to another room in the hotel set aside temporarily for those students who had homestay families. From there it was time check out of the room, however, before I handed the key back in, I quickly took some pictures of the hotel room I had shared with another CSU student for the past three days.

A rather small room for two people.

Could hardly move around with our suitcases in here.

Just enough space to do what is needed.

The small “feels like we’re still on an airplane” bathroom.

From there I helped the dorm students move their stuff to the dorms. Their dorm is right next to Waseda, only like a two or three minute walk, though about 30 minutes from the hotel. After a long haul of carrying stuff, we all arrived, and I waited to hear what we needed to do next. Turns out I and a few other homestay students were supposed to split with the dorm students and head to the Waseda campus. We of course didn’t hear about this and thus continued to be good samaritans. Some of the other CSU students who lived in an apartment helped us find our way back to campus to where we needed to go. Once we arrived, the host families were announced for everyone. Here I learned I would be staying with a host family consisting of an Otousan (Father, 63), Okaasan (Mother, 62), and an Obaachan (Grand-Mother 88).

After learning the results, we again hung out with the Waseda students. They took us to a various places to order lunch. We then took our lunches and ate at the park area of Waseda, picnic style. I put on some music from my portable speakers and we had a good time. After we had eaten for the most part, someone told us we couldn’t be there, that the park was closed until the semester starts. So from there we headed out.

I now had to make my way back to the hotel to meet up with my host family. Walking at a brisk pace, I got there rather quickly. My host father picked me up, he had a van, so I didn’t have to worry about having to send any of my stuff. We loaded up and then we were off to take care of my Alien Registration and to make sure I signed up for the National Health Plan. After some waiting, filling out some forms, more waiting, being unable to find my 5 extra passport photos, getting more passport photos, more forms, more waiting, and then paying, my Alien Registration was complete, I just needed to wait for them to issue my card sometime in October, till then I had temporary papers. From there we went up one floor and waited some more, then filled out the forms I needed for the National Health Plan.

After all that was done, it was time to actually see my new home sweet home for the next year. I unloaded my bags, brought them into my room, and met my host mother and grand-mother. From there I ate dinner with them and chatted with them the best I could. I think I got a rather good host family, I have a sizable room, I’m within walking distance of Waseda University, I get fed two meals a day, they do my laundry for me (Yay), no curfew (Though if I’m going to miss dinner or be out later than 11:00pm I need to call and let them know), and they only speak Japanese, no English. About the only downside is that I’m not allowed to drink alcohol, only a minor issue really, since I’ve never been much of a drinker to begin with. So now, without further ado, here is what my room looks like!

My new home, sweet home.

Looks like quite the comfy set-up.

Oooo, I have my own “Love Seat”.

Let’s see if any other foreign student can match my posh computer set-up.

Greedy trying to lay claim to my pillow… not going to happen.

This shall serve as my center of operations while here in Japan. It will fulfill my purposes well in the future. Watch out Japan, I’m set up and ready to go!

The First Days of Japan: 100 Bottles of Beer

So there we were at the Takadanobaba Rotary. The plan for the evening was set, we were going to party with the Waseda students. The reason, (Not that the Japanese need much of a reason to party), was to welcome us to Japan and Waseda. Thus they collected the entrance fee from everyone, it was 2,500 yen per person for a two hour all you can drink marathon, a nomihodai. This was to take place at a izakaya of some sort, did I mention there was going to be lots of drinking? I can’t remember the name of the place, the reason is either because I drank too much or because I simply wasn’t paying attention, you decide!

Thus the drinking began!

Greedy and me kicking back with the Waseda Students.

Pose for the Camera.

Another picture of a crazy Waseda student.

They’re everywhere!!!

Hanging with two of my CSU buds.

There is actually a third table out of frame, so it was a pretty big gathering.

Greedy with one of his drinking buddies.

Another toast to a good time!

In Japan, do as the Japanese do, Drink.

That’s a lot of drinks! 

As you can see, lots of drinking, partying, and drinking, oh and some eating too. Greedy, in fact, drank the most, he asked that I pose with him to mark the occasion. I think Greedy was a little drunk, but I thought it best to humor him.

Greedy drank all these… The little drunkard.

Of course all this drinking isn’t all fun and games. Drinking is so prevalent here in Japan, that the bathrooms have special facilities specifically for a unique purpose. While I was in the bathroom, I actually saw someone make full use of said facilities.

The Barf Bowl, Only in Japan.

After all the drinking, we all went back to the nearby Takadanobaba Rotary. There we hung out a bit longer, some went home, and others decided to continue their night out. While this was happening, Greedy was getting it on with the womenz. He’s quite the ladies’ man it seems.

Greedy the Pimp.

From there some others and myself decided to head to the Hub: The British Pub, to continue the evening. I decided not to drink anything more, for I felt slightly tipsy. So for the most part I just chatted with the Waseda students and had a good time.

Living it up at the Hub.

The Hub is the Pub to be.

That was the end of another event filled day.