Episode 14: Snippets
It's official: I've now been here for over half my projected stay, having passed
the halfway point last Wednesday, June 17th.  3 months down, 3 to go.  I've
finished my retro-Finnish quasi-celebration of the halfway point (Rye bread!
Cheese! Sausage! Makaronilaatikko!) so now it's time to cast a critical eye
back in time and a hopeful one to the future.

Random moments left out of earlier J2J episodes

The kid who fell asleep on my shoulder on the train to Yokohama, much to the
amusement of his classmates.

The delicious 10-course banquet I ate in Yokohama's Chinatown later that day.
And a million other restaurant excursions.

Visiting Kappabashi-dori, a street in Asakusa devoted solely to restaurant
supplies.  (I picked up a sake tokkuri & 2 cups combo for 300 yen total.)

Going for a few 1000-yen beers at a Shibuya jazz club the size of a Helsinki
phone booth.

Standing at a traffic light in the rain, when a granny came up to me and
shared her umbrella.

Being late to pick up a package from the post office; when I called them, they
apologized, dug up the package from the bounce pile and brought it to my doorstep
by courier the next morning.

Chatting with a gun dealer from Texas during a 1-hour train ride.

Getting a free Sagawa Kyuubin samurai mascot doll at a fair in Yoyogi Park.

Visiting bizarre museums like the Tobacco & Salt Museum or the Itabashi
Ward Fine Art Museum (featuring a dazzling array of Mongolian Tantric art).

Sengakuji, Suitenguu, Yasukuni, Tooshooguu (3 of them -- and I haven't been
to Nikkoo yet), Benzaiten, Rinnooji, Joorenji and countless other shrines and
temples, big and small, famous and obscure.

My most ecstatic anko experience yet, a tai-yaki fresh off the grill in
Ningyoocho.  Su-GOI oishii!

Going to an Indian restaurant (Khazana) in Shinjuku where the staff greets me
like an old friend after 2 visits and which has the best tea on this side of
the globe.

Returning to where I lived when I was 4 to 6 years old, Naka-Meguro, and locating
all the vaguely familiar places like the Dunkin' Donuts, the 7-Eleven, the river
itself... even if I couldn't find my old house.  Just the same, it was

Finding impossibly obscure records at impossibly low prices, every single day.
(Latest picks: Altern 8's Gas Mask Hysteria, KLF's Chill Out.)

Passing down one of the numerous right-wing black vans...  but
instead of war hymns, this one was blasting out the theme from
Snow White and the 7 Dwarves!

Wandering around the streets of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Kabukichoo, Ningyoochoo,
Asakusa, Ginza, Shinbashi, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Ueno, Roppongi, Meguro,
Ebisu, Shimokitazawa, Akatsuka, Odaiba, Yoyogi-uehara...

You know you've been in Tokyo too long when...

...you think "My God, the subway's almost empty!" when there's standing room left.

...you've forgotten what skirts that go below the knee look like.

...you think driving on the right is weird.

...you get nervous when there are too many gaijin around.

...you start finding vending machines where you've already tried all the drinks.

...you see a bag of oranges on sale for 400 yen and start wondering why they're
   so cheap.

...you think paying 10000 yen for a 2-day goa techno party is the deal of the

...you're cold because it's only 22 degrees outside.

...you start interlacing conversations in other languages with "chotto", "eetto",
   "sugoi", "yappari" and "nee", not to mention saying "hai" and sucking in air
   through your teeth a lot.

You know you haven't been in Tokyo long enough when...

...you still think 500 yen for an apple and 3500 yen for a box of cherries is

...you still get nervous during earthquakes.

...you still hesitate before using a squat toilet.

...you still haven't learned love nattoo.

And up next

Soon     : Kamakura, Nikkoo, Chichibu-Tama National Park
26.6.    : Talvin Singh (Future Soundz of India) at Liquid Room, Shinjuku
18-20.7. : "Strong Sun Moon" feat. Juno Reactor at Nenoue-Koogen, Gifu Prefecture
Late July: 9-day tour of Toohoku (Northern Honshu)
Early Sep: 2-week tour of Kansai plus maybe Shikoku and/or Kyushu

Of course, it'd be nice to get my visa renewed first, I'm living on borrowed
time as I type.  Time will tell...


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