Monday, May 25, 2009

The Cherry Blossoms have left the building

Back in April the Kawaii Girls and I headed out on a train to a cherry blossom festival on the grounds of Shomyoji Temple, near Kanazawa Bunko station . I couldn't decide on which photos to post, I literally took hundreds, so I will let the photos do most of the talking and leave my words to a minimum.

These are two things that WTF Husband laughs at...that I suffer from a disease that renders me useless in making simple decisions, such as taking hours to choose photos for a blog that someone spends a quick minute on before moving onto the next, and that I would actually let something do the talking for me.

Well you see WTF Husband I don't always have to talk (or type). I can let things stand on their own. I don't feel a need to narrate everything to within an inch of its life. I mean, really, why would you think I needed to talk, just to hear myself? I am perfectly capable of letting the beauty of the photos shine without setting them up with a backstory or a funny anecdote. See, I can do it. Just you wait. Really. I can do it.

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Ajiga-ike, or the "Pond of Letter A" and the Main Hall of the temple.






Kawaii Girl #1 pounding mochi and then sampling it. That was some sticky rice, it was stuck to us for hours.


Hanami party, remember this post?


These sweet kids walked all over the festival grounds. Aren't they so...well, kawaii? On more than one occasion we popped for a ¥50 cone of popcorn. A sakura cookie, that's a real cherry blossom inside, given to us by the sweet lady that showed us around the grounds.


On our walk back down to the train station I noticed people kept stopping at this house and looking up at it, like Brangelina were on their way down. Seems very non-descript to me but I thought maybe this is were Shiego Tokuda lived. He is famous unlike anyone in the states.

Alright WTF Husband, maybe I can't help myself...but that's half of my charm!

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Subcribe to WTF

A quick bit of blog housekeeping.

You can now subscribe and receive WTF posts
via email. All new articles will be delivered to your inbox without any effort on your part, so you can spend more time on Facebook trying to figure out which Grease character you are or what color your aura is.

Just head on over to the right hand sidebar, scroll down and enter your email address.

And I promise there are many new posts just waiting to be finished and delivered straight to you, once I figure out if I'm Sandy, Frenchy or Rizzo.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Off-key

With a little dutch courage down my throat I found myself contemplating unleashing my inner tone def self...and with a whole lotta dutch courage, I found myself deep in the waters of bad, really bad, singing. Karaoke is such a quintessential Japanese experience I couldn't concern myself with the bleeding ears of my fellow karaoke singers.

Karaoke is arguably the most popular social activity in this country. Salarymen visit after work to loosen their ties and drown away their stresses in free flowing biiru and J-Pop. Taken so seriously by some, professional karaoke coaches are employed to help transform the talentless to that of the best of an average American Idol contestant...wait, aren't they all average?

My girlfriends and I visited a karaoke box カラオケボックス, el Notes down on Blue Street. We had our own private room, kitted out with karaoke paraphernalia-microphones, tv video machines and tambourines no less. For ¥2800, the room was ours for an hour and a half and included all-you-can-drink top shelf liquor, though I found the gin and tonic to be more like tonic and tonic. The biiru was surely tasty though and I knocked back my fair share.

Before the singing even started, we were treated to a prelude of what was to come later in the evening??? I don't really know what the heck it was, it was a laughable mixture of the hilarious and the disturbing. That was one drunk panda!

video

I've got video of my singing prowess, and it is truly spectacular, but now that the alcohol is no longer diluting my blood stream and unless it's 5 o'clock as you read this, it shouldn't be running through yours either, so there is no reason to subject you to the deafening notes that came from my voice. Pictures will have to suffice. I will say that my favorite song to sing was Baby Got Back by Sir Mix Alot and the best showcase of my talent was Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. And for all my Memphis gals, I closed the night with In the Ghetto by none other than Elvis himself.


Singing it however was a little like guessaoke. I thought I knew the words by heart until it was time to sing it and the words escaped me despite them being on the screen. And there was a little shareaoke, where I tag teamed my way through a song and wandered around the room with the microphone like Wayne Newton and even a song or two of sweariaoke, were some of the lyrics got turned around and we cussed just for the hell of it.

It was a ridiculously fun evening, so much so that I am now a card carrying member of el Notes! To Daisuke Inoue, the man who invented karaoke, thank you for being as tone def and musically inept as me and giving the world over such a good time.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Zen of Costco

I walked into Costco and bought a piano.

Okay, I didn't buy the piano but I thought about it. You know you would have too. It's Costco people.

I've been in this country for 3 months now and my pants were on fire to check out the big box store, so on a whim I printed off directions, strapped Kawaii Girl #2 into the backseat and chose the hardest possible route to get there. For reasons that defy common sense, I opted to suffer my way through the narrow and trafficy streets of Yokohama, on a 45 minute drive vs. a 20 minute, quick and straight shot on the toll roads.

I did it for the adventure. An adventure is what I got.

This is the farthest I have driven from the base and before I even started the car, I read and memorized how to get there, complete with drawings of landmarks. I knew to be on the lookout for a Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, tucked on the side of a building where I was to make my first turn. Kawaii Girl #2 started in on me and after a brief discussion of her losing her after-nap graham crackers dipped in Nutella, I never heard a peep from her again. With that squared away, I started to panic a little...crap, the directions said to turn in 9 kilometers, what was that conversion again?? My palms started to sweat and my eyes started to go cross as I kept glancing from the road to the directions to the rearview mirrors and back to the directions. Ahh, is that chicken I smell? I made my first turn.

The rest of the drive was more relaxed until the directions didn't quite mesh with the actual street I was on. I kept driving deeper and deeper into an industrial area and my language reflected that of a stereotypical American truck driver. Why didn't I take that toll road? After a quick sumimasen (excuse me) I somehow figured out how to ask where Costco was and when the truck driver pointed across the street to the large and familiar looking warehouse, I laughed out loud, a mixture of relief and glee. I bowed and made my way up to the rooftop parking. I may be in Japan, but for this moment, I was home.

Some things that made this Costco unique:


On the way from the parking lot to the store, the downward sloped people mover that magnetically locked the cart in place so it wouldn't roll away. Kawaii Girl #2 began to hold on for dear life when she saw me take my hands off the cart to take the picture. Really, the cart didn't budge a bit. Very cool!


Local fare


Butter in a tube and grated gouda...so cool! Forget Buddha, Gouda is my inner peace.

And the reason you go to Costco:


The gadgets...and the muffins...heaven!

I went for chicken breasts and left with enough bread and croissants to overflow my freezer but just enough to satisfy me until my next trip out here. So I didn't walk away with the piano, it was tempting, but equally challenging, I am now faced with where to put the 10-pack of paper towels.