Thursday, June 29, 2006
Look Mom! (even I am surprised)
|You Passed 8th Grade Geography|
Congratulations, you got 7/10 correct!
Further Proof (hint hint)
|Your Ideal Pet is a Little Dog|
You're both high strung, hyper, and cute.
You're one of the few people who can get away with carrying your little dog in a little bag.
My dear sister Rebecca, informally known as Yang Chan, had a tale to tell this afternoon during our phone conversation. Due to some degree of embarrassment, some time elapsed between the event and its re-enactment.
Rebecca missed me so she phoned one afternoon...
Moshi moshi? (usual Japanese telephone greeting)
May I speak to Crystal please?
Is Crystal there?
Riccardo, can you please put Crystal on the phone?
Riccardo, seriously, is Crystal home?
Christ Riccardo, I don't even know you! Can you please put my sister on the phone!?
Is she there?!
In her telling, this conversation lasted several minutes. Before realizing that she had dialed the wrong number a slew of profanity was hurtled at who was assumed to be my boyfriend. Uh, sorry Japanese person. Sorry Riccardo.
Sidenote: "moshi" is hilariously similar to "mushi," which, in German, means vagina.
Monday, June 26, 2006
The Most Magical Place on Earth, Tokyo Style
Riccardo wanted to go to Disneyland before leaving Japan. Friday we decided to go. Friday we got our tickets. Friday we departed. As mentioned, the drive to Tokyo took only an hour and a half, and after a few hours of in-room karaoke we were off to dreamland.Early Saturday morning we semi-enthusastically prepared for our day. We hoped to be there by opening (8am), but a slow-moving girl and even slower-moving traffic ensured our late arrival; we pulled into the park around 9am.Sources said that if we visited Tokyo Disneyland before the kids were let out of school in mid-July it wouldn't be too busy. Sources were incorrect: the park was a GONGSHOW. As always, everyone and their dog in the free world was sporting Disney paraphenalia, so our first stop was a merchandise shop where I picked up some Marie ears. For those of you who don't remember, Marie was a character in the Aristocats, and is uberpopular with the Japanese. Anyhow, neither Riccardo nor myself needed to feel stupid about wearing our childish ears and (Mickey Mouse) cap because pretty much everyone dresses ridiculously at Disneyland.Line-ups for rides were long, but we figured out the FastPass route and partook in our fair share of adventures including a canoe trip, a "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" 3D presentation, a train safari, and more famous rides like Space Mountain, It's a Small World, The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain. Sadly, Splash Mountain was closed for "improvements." We attempted to ride through Toon Town in a crazy car, but after waiting in line for about an hour and a half, and finally getting to about 10th in line, Roger Rabbit's ride broke down. Everyone was evacuated from the line-up and presented with Priority Vouchers to get front-of-the-line access to any other ride in the park. As a result we avoided an estimated 2-hour wait for the Haunted Mansion.We ate Mickey-shaped food, including life-saving popsicles (as it was a grillion degrees out) and tried to keep hydrated. I remembered to re-apply sunscreen several times, but still ended up a little pink. I also tried to keep my photography in check, Riccardo occassionally reminding me that I already have about 600 pictures from my last visit to Disneyland (with Rebecca, last summer).I finally got to see the Electric Lights Parade (which we were too tired to stick around for last year) and it was magnificent. After the parade Riccardo and I high-tailed it to Big Thunder Mountain, hoping the previously stated wait time of 120 minutes was lessened. It was. It estimated 90 minutes, we waited about 60. While penned like cattle in the line-up we missed the fireworks show, but it turned out to be worthwhile. Somehow we ended up on a very genki (happy, enthusiasic, energetic) train. First understand that when exiting a thrill-ride Japanese people usually seem remarkably calm and serene. Everyone on our train, however, was feeling their inner child at that moment. The Big Thunder Mountain ride goes up three slopes to lengthen the ride; each time we ascended everyone in our train would throw their hands in the air and clap at an increasing rate until the summit was reached, at which point we would all shout, laugh and squeal our way down. Our enthusiasm got to such a level that when our train pulled in at the end we promptly gave our ride a collective round of applause - this NEVER happens. And guffawing down the exit corridor our genki group proceeded to start yet another jovial round of clapping. Pretty much the best way to end a fantastic Disney day.
A slideshow of our day at Disneyland follows. Don't forget to hover your cursor over the pictures to see my comments. If the reel is moving too slowly you can increase it's speed with the plus sign on the bottom left.
Love and the Lu-bu Ho-te-lu
To my surprise Friday was Spoil-Crystal-Day. I like this day. I had to meet Riccardo at his apartment after work on Friday in order to commence our weekend plans. His place was dark upon arrival. Turned out my boy had prepared us a lovely candlelit dinner. Aww. I bet you're jealous.
After not allowing me help with dishes because it was Spoil-Crystal-Day, Riccardo and I jumped in the car and were on our way to Tokyo. I was a little nervous about driving to/in Tokyo, but our route turned out to be quite easy (Riccardo has a fantastic road map of Honshu, the largest island in Japan, where we live). The drive took about an hour an a half and then we began looking for a hotel, but not just any hotel...
LOVE HOTELS and Pachiko Parlours (Japanese casinos) are the two things you can spot in any place in Japan. They are always neon-lit and flashing; always tacky and seedy; always fun. I honestly don't know why more Japanese people don't take advantage of Love Hotels. They're easy to find, they're generally quite significantly cheaper than any other accommodations, and no reservation is necessary. That's just for starters. Who doesn't enjoy a hotel room that is themed, has tons of free give-aways (hairbrush, toothbrushes, condoms, hair products, razors, hair clips and ties, plus all the regular stuff), a huge (and sometimes jacuzzi) bathtub, in-room FREE karaoke, Playstation, movies and porn, AND in-room (alcoholic and non-) drink and dildo vending machines...
I bet you're jealous.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Downs and Ups
Riccardo and his 'rents spent last week in beautiful Hokkaido (northmost island of Japan). At first I was like, "why do I need to come all the way from Canada to see something that looks like Canada?" but the pictures he came home with were quite amazing. And convincing that Hokkaido is a worthy travel destination. With the months until my departure from Japan quickly slipping away, I have to wonder if I'll ever get there...
With the bf away, I finally had a length of time to spend with my gal-pals. Unfortunately finances dictated that nothing too exciting was in the works. We planned to spend the weekend at the beach. I envisioned my Saturday as a day on the warm sand, with a constant cold beer in my hand (or running down my throat). Sadly, it rained all weekend. No camping. I was pretty bummed. We all were.
Instead, I spend my Saturday morning supercleaning my apartment (stove, closet, ah!) and then, the afternoon at karaoke. Who karaokes in the afternoon, you ask? Well, at $11 for three people for two hours, bring your own bevies, who doesn't, I say. Good times. Later, Tressa had some friends to her apartment. We succeeded in getting Michiko, Daichi's sister, totally addicted to Asshole. Unfortunately my party-girl spirit seems to have been exorcised in recent months, so I was ready for bed by 11.
Sunday was a day of errand-running and movie-watching. I made Tressa Indian Butter Chicken for dinner, but subbed in tofu - not so into chicken, or meat, lately. VERY into tofu. Sunday was a day of waiting for Monday, when Riccardo returned and was scheduled to show up at my apartment around 1pm (I work a half-day on Mondays).
Safe and sound, Riccardo returned from Hokkaido, and Narita, where he dropped his parents off on Monday morning. They arrived back in Germany more than 24 hours later, more than a little exhausted and jetlagged!
After the last semi-uneventful weekend, we have some plans to spice things up this weekend: DISNEYLAND or PARAGLIDING. How stoked am I!?!? Paragliding is our first choice, but we haven't successfully got ahold of the company, which holds it's jumps on Tsukuba mountain, about 30 minutes from here. If that doesn't happy, Disneyland is always there, and we've wanted to go together for months. Now I can be just like a Japanese girl: wear Minnie Mouse ears and drag my boyfriend through the park! Details to follow.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Thanks for hitting me
I've just passed 5000 hits since mid-October '05. Thanks ya'll. Love
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I have officially watched every episode of beloved Sex & The City. Just. I'm sad. I cried through the whole last episode. Then I cried some more. Being sad makes me sad. I'm sad because I'm homesick. I'm sad because I miss my boyfriend. I'm sad because I'm retarded for missing my boyfriend who has only been gone for 3 days, will be back in 3 days, and our time apart will get much worse than this. Yet, Sniff.
No word of a lie...
Exotic Dancer Name Is...
Monday, June 12, 2006
Pajama Parties & Incoherent Bliss
I'm trying to get into soccer. A-hem, FOOTBALL. It's for a boy. Meh, it's not that bad.
For those of you who don't know (i.e. North America) the World Cup of Football is currently in progress. Germany is hosting this year. Sadly, Canada has never qualified to compete. Every year for some time now Riccardo has been arranging a "Tipp Pool" for his friends and family to wager match outcomes in hopes of gaining bragging rights. I agreed to participate and made my selections based solely on second-hand advise. As it turns out, I am currently the highest scorer for correct predictions! YAY!
Opening match, Germany versus Costa Rica, was on Friday night. Due to time differences, it played at 1am here in Japan. I invited Riccardo and his folks for a World Cup Kick-off Pajama Party. We played games (UNO, Jenga), ate snacks, and tried not to sleep through the match (um, I was rather unsuccessful at this last point). Germany won, 4-2.
The next morning I made eggs with all the fixin's and then sent the Webers on their way to climb Fuji-san. I spent the day with my ladies. Spending the day with the ladies is always fun, but I learned it is especially so when Tressa tries to learn the dance number for Thriller in my living room.
Our favourite Italian restaurant serves amazing gorgonzola penne, and when we're lucky, 350-Yen-per-hour nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) wine. We were lucky. I was drunk well before the cheque. But it didn't stop there. Tressa had some local peeps to her apartment where several hours of Asshole (a superfun card game) ensued. I think I did well...
I don't think I lasted that long. My alcohol tolerance ain't what it was; I get tipsy from about one glass of wine. I vaguely remember dear Jody and Trex tucking me into bed. I awoke Sunday morning with a rather large pain in my head and a bucket next to my bed. Thank god it was empty!
Sunday was spent lying on my couch watching the last season of Sex and the City. I needed that. Why? It has been decided that I am trying to drown my sorrows and loneliness because my boyfriend is off in Hokkaido (the northmost island in Japan) for the next week. One day and I already missed him. PATHETIC.
The Smokingest Hot Chick
Banana Mocha Frappachino, OH MY!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
is it a pancake, is it a pizza, is it an omlette?
Okonomiyaki. No one really knows what it is. It's a mystery.
No, okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese food that usually resembles a pancake/ pizza/ omlette. My experience with this concoction has lead me to believe that cabbage, egg, and mayo are usual ingredients (not surprising since these are ingredients in pretty much EVERY Japanese meal). The type of meat, noodle, and vegetable assortment will vary. Okonomiyaki is usually prepared on a grill built-in to the table; it's like fondue, do-it-yourself. I have never successfully made this dish... it always turns out like scrambled eggs for me.
Last night the Weber's treated Riccardo, Shigeru and I to okonomiyaki at a hole-in-the-wall joint near Riccardo's apartment. The restaurant seems to be a popular hangout for young Japanese people, perhaps because they serve Litre-sized glasses of beer! We were lucky to have Shigeru there: not only was the menu in Japanese, but preparing the okonomiyaki variations seems to be something of an artform! We would surely have been lost without him!
Another fabulous evening with fabulous company! Arrigoto gozaimashita!
Apologies for the blurry photos: I had only my keitai-cam.
Riccardo turned 28 on Sunday!
Birthday fun was had by all. Hans and Carla decorated Riccardo's apartment first thing in the morning; it was beautifully festive. They then spent the day touring historic Nikko.
In German tradition, the birthday-person treats guests to a meal, so Riccardo took us out to dinner at a lovely upscale Chinese restaurant. It was one of Hans and Carla's first experiences using o hashi (chopsticks)... a few laughs had there!
As birthday-boys often are, Riccardo was spoiled with presents. His good friend and colleague, Shigeru, got him Japanese-style leisurewear (like pajamas) which look a lot like mens yukata (like kimono, for men) and are very comfortable. I got Riccardo a Japanese National Football Team jersey, and a Lego alarm clock - both of these I sighted while shopping with Riccardo. Sneaky, sneaky.
After dinner we tried to surprise Hans and Carla with karaoke - they said they'd never go! Unfortunately they are too smart and guessed our plans before we got there. They were good sports about it and allowed us to hijack their evening. In the end, the magic of karaoke prevailed and the Weber's found themselves singing enthusiastically!
I dropped several inebriated Weber's back at Riccardo's apartment that night, and after some sweet goodbyes, I left with a wide smile. Thank you, Tiggy, for treating ME for YOUR birthday. May this year bring you all the happiness you deserve.
Flowers Flowers Everywhere!
Saturday was a big day: my first meeting of Riccardo's parents (who had flown in the previous day from Germany). I was... nervous... (**insert: out of my mind**). I so wanted the Weber's to like me, and hoped everything would go smoothly and comfortably.
Well, it did. We met at my apartment around 10am and after parting with some residual anger at the laziness of Japanese merchants (nothing opens before 10am here) the four of us took a scenic 2-hour drive to southern Ibaraki.
Thousands of Japanese flock to Ikatoshi every June for their annual Ayame Matsuri (Iris Festival); though only 30% of the flowers were in bloom this early in the season, the grounds were picturesque. Many newlyweds find their way to the iris gardens and can be spotted in their traditional wedding garb (we didn't spot any). Apparently later in June there are traditional Japanese dancers, and other sidewalk entertainment.
The highlight of my time in Itako was a magical gondola ride. The iris gardens are bordered by a Venice-like canal with masses of boats, big and small, putting about. Our gondola fit six tourists, the Weber's and myself, and a couple from Southern Japan. Our gondola rower was a professional who could outrow many other boats, and our lovely tour guide spoke some English. Through her battery-powered microphone, our tour guide told us the names of the bridges we passed under and even beautifully sang us the Itako song (each city in Japan apparently has it's own song; Itako's was about water and somesuch: surprise surprise). The lazy boat ride was enhanced by traditional Japanese music floating over the water.
Back at my apartment we made a solid group effort in preparing dinner: a Greek-ish meal of chicken, potatoes, salad and tzatziki with bread. I had a lovely time getting to know Hans and Carla (Riccardo's parents) and especially learning of their travels (most recently to AFRICA). My thanks to my guests for all the their help, and more importantly, for their company. I couldn't have asked for a better first meeting, or for Riccardo to have better parents!