Thursday, May 27, 2010

neighborhood scenes

laundry shadows.

karaoke sunset.

metal shavings bins.

drowning leaves.

why i miss pizza

everyone loves pizza, right? it has been one of my favorite foods for as long as i can remember, and even though i worked at a pizza restaurant before college and ate pizza twice a day for a year, i never tired of it. they love pizza in japan too, and they even have home delivery...but you might be dismayed (as i was) to see what they'll serve on a crust. i know japan is a little corn-mayonnaise-and-tuna-happy, and those are typical toppings, but it gets even more grim. consider the 'juicy shrimps with mayonnaise flavor' pizza. it has tomato mayonnaise sauce, shrimp, pineapple, parsley, bacon, and herb cheese. not so bad, you say? there's more...

the 'salsa dog pizza' made me chuckle. with onion, peppers, tomatoes, sausage, black pepper, chili powder, salsa, and you guessed it, mayonnaise, it doesn't sound so bad, but for the life of me, i can't see any of the alleged vegetables in the photo. all i see is wieners; japan is wiener-happy too.

moving on to the 'seafoods garden.' it starts off safe with onions and peppers, but at shrimp the scale begins to tip. next we have squid (YUCK), octopus (meh), black olives (UGH), and right again, mayonnaise. throw it all together and it sounds like a nightmare, but the award for most revolting goes to the next one, i think.

meet the pepPEEroni combo: hamburger, scrambled eggs, teriyaki sauce, parsley, and of course mayonnaise. never mind that it doesn't contain pepperoni, it just looks horrible. if you aren't having problems keeping your dinner down by this point, maybe you can stomach dessert.

for dessert we have diarrhea pizza with chunks of pineapple floating in it. and it's overflowing, great. get the plunger.

at the very least they serve sweet potatoes and hagen dazs as side dishes, but i miss the pizza i'm used to: heaps of vegetables and no mayo!

Sunday, May 09, 2010


the streets are foolish with azaleas, thousands of them. spindly green bushes i've never even noticed have all at once detonated into flirty pink and white blooms. i thought they were odorless, but they emit the faintest of fragrances; it's more a color than a smell. thin pink washes from the overdyed petals into the air, making invisible pink clouds that dissolve in the breeze.

today i felt like even riding my bike would be moving too fast. it was 80 degrees (!) and i had some errands, so i set out in flip flops. japan hasn't hit humidity defcon 1 yet, so it still feels nice to bake in the sun. i love seeing what's blooming every few weeks in the tiny gardens in front of people's houses and shops. today it smelled liked easter: new grass and spring flowers, though it looked like summer already. i saw jasmine and a tiny orange poppy the size of my fingertip, purple bell-shaped flowers, daisies.

with sun soaking my skin and nowhere to be, color and green finally filling in the grey lines of streets, i felt like everything was wonderful, even chain link fences, even the silky, frayed flags advertising hybrid cars and beef rice lunches, even leonardo dicaprio's face advertising a pile of hot bridgestone tires.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

spring breaking my shoes

spring has been all fits and starts this year. most weeks look like this:

happily, though, my long-awaited vacation week was nothing but sun. my college roommate, massa, finally came down from tokyo. she's terrifically modest, but i think she's become a successful photographer. she took a load of photos of the famous, hot, young japanese actor oguri shun (including the cover) for Switch magazine. i finally saw a little of her beautiful face and a lot of her camera face.

we meandered around nagoya until we ran out of time. i was so thankful to finally get to show someone i knew before i came to japan my life here. it looks like she'll be the only one (sigh). it's hard to realize how much i've learned without an outside perspective.

a day later, i headed for the hive: osaka. to my recollection, it's been a year since i set foot in osaka, and in that time i've been adjusting to life around nagoya. nagoya's not a big tourist area because it kinda straddles the cultural fence between tokyo and osaka. as a result, it's pretty low-key for a city of over 2 million. frenetic osaka is aaall up in your face with neon lights, orange hair, and a rough-around-the-edges dialect, but nagoya flounces with girly girls who like girly girls. osaka was a bit of a shock to my system after this adjustment. i could really feel the difference, which surprised me, and i had to rally my energy hard to weave through the throngs. it was so packed for golden week (everyone in the country going on vacation at once) that i practically needed a turn signal to cut through the rivers of people and make it into a store.
i couldn't help grinning when i stepped off the train at tsuruhashi station, though, and was once again overcome with the smell of barbecuing beef. i had a lovely meal of grilled meat and vegetables with cucumber kimchi (my favorite!)...oh, and beer. that took the edge off my reentry.
after dropping my stuff off at the capsule hotel, i swaggered into the afternoon feeling pretty self-satisfied that i had landed on my feet and was ready to go. half a block later, my shoe broke. as in, broke so much that i couldn't keep it on my foot. it's hard to look like a badass when you're limp-dragging your shoe to keep it on. humbled and laughing at myself, i had to turn right around and scuffle back to the hotel. i borrowed a needle and thread and spent an hour fixing and reinforcing my shoes so they would last the weekend. a felt bag one of my young students made me had to be sacrificed for fabric (wince), but when i struck out again, i felt a renewal of confidence in my resourcefulness. not quite the same as badass, but...
i shopped a bit, but i really wanted to get to the port so i could ride the ferris wheel and eat that shaved ice i mentioned. the sun was going down, so before i had a chance to have second thoughts, i bought a ticket for the ferris wheel and got on. gulp. cue 17 minutes of trying to enjoy dangling 30 stories in the air, alone. it doesn't seem like such a crazy idea when you're with someone else. though it was the third time i had ridden that particular ferris wheel, it was by far the most terrifying (still worth it).

"absolutely do not lean against this door!"

with the sun down, the shaved ice made me chilly, so i hurried to dinner and then retired for the night.
the next day i had a wonderful breakfast at Planet 3rd and then went to enjoy the gorgeous weather in tsurumi ryokuchi park. my friends joined me and we snapped a bunch of photos and ate frozen cola. yum!

after a huge mexican food lunch, the last thing i wanted to do was get in hot water, so we skipped the onsen and went shopping instead.

osaka devoured all my energy, and i was totally exhausted when i got home, so i spent the end of my week resting and crocheting a practice version of a sequined mesh bag. it came out... TINY!