Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weekend in Tokyo, Daft Punk baby!

OK I am back after a stupid CRAZY fun weekend in Tokyo (that city is insane...)!

The weekend was super eventful even though some bad things happened.

I was planning to go alone, since my gf had work, and doesn't like Daft Punk, but at a welcome party I met a guy who said he would go, and he invited a friend of his, who has never heard of Daft Punk, but she wanted to come with.

We met up like 3 hours before the show, and I took em on a quick Harajuku tour and had to go find my hotel and check in. The map on their website was FUBARed so I got lost and spent almost 45 mins looking for the damn place, but eventually found it and met up with them at Tokyo station. At this time it was like 20 mins after the show started and we were 35 mins away by train.

We eventually get there and find out just some small time DJs were on (but still good! Ryukyudisco is a Japanese house group who combine traditional Japanese taiko drums and house. ALL Amazing! Also Boom Boom Satellites is a Jpop/Jrock band who went all house for the show! Live drums, guitars, all played to some house music to back it up.) and Daft Punk was going on at 7:10.

We all drank too much and just kept buying more and more drinks (each drink was 600 yen). We met a girl who thought we needed help, but I speak enough Japanese to get by, so we told her we were OK and she was off. 10 minutes later we meet her again, and find out she was there alone, so she rocked with us the rest of the night. When it was 10 minutes to DP, we did the last restroom break, got one more drink, and "gaijin"ed (Japanese people are too polite to stop people who move their ways forward through a crowd, and foreigners, gaijin, can take advantage of this. Hey, for DP what are you gonna do) our ways to the front.

The other girl's ears started ringing and my friend took her to the very back, while I stayed near the front with our new friend (her first DP show, and first house concert ever. Her first time gaijining to the front even though she was Japanese) and we listened to the last minutes of the small DJ. Unlike my first DP show last year, that had a good 20 minute delay between the last act and them, the small time DJ finished his last song, and before people could start clapping, the "First Encounter of the Third Kind" music started playing, and the DP pyramid was unveiled! People went crazy! This venue is a huge floor, surrounded on the sides by raised seating, like a concert hall. There were old people, kids as young as 4 or 5 years old, but the WHOLE place went NUTS!

If you don't know their current live set, go get Alive 2007 and you will know exactly what I hear, in the order I heard it. Even though it was my second time hearing them, it was better than the first time for a few reasons. I was with people who love Daft Punk, minus the girl who didn't know them, they did an encore after 5 minutes of people clapping and chanting, and the energy from the other people was way more hectic than last year's.

But 1 bad thing did happen during the show. When One More Time came on, EVERY PERSON IN THE PLACE, went crazy as hell! People started jumping AND pushing, and I wanted to take more video with my camera, and I reached for it, but it was GONE! Yes, 4 people from the front gate now, and the last time I used my camera, was about 40 feet behind me, and I have hundreds of people bouncing and jumping to One More Time, I will never see my camera again... After the show, the girl we met, Yuko, helped me ask some security (which I don't have enough Japanese to do) where I could find my camera, and they led us to the right place but my camera hadn't turned up, so we got a number to call and the next day my camera turned up as I was shopping to replace it with a newer smaller camera (hey it is Japan! Newer and smaller is a weekly thing!).

The next plan is to go to Tokyo and see Digitalism in February. I love this country!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life recently...

Has been SUPER busy! Our first day back to Japan, Sayaka began a new job, that has her leaving at 9AM, and getting home around 11PM. We live together but hardly see each other.

My work schedule has been and continues to be super packed and busy! I miss the days I could go online and keep this blog updated like I wanted to originally!

I did a photo shoot with one of my student's bands, and will begin their website once they decide which pics they like.

Last weekend was definitely one of the most fun I have had in a while! Sayaka and I went to see Doralion, the new Cirque du Soleil show. It was AMAZING! Such great talent from EVERY member of this circus. Definitely an inspiration on other parts of life if I would say so, and also extremely entertaining if I don't say so! Before this though, we ate at a dessert all you can eat and got stuffed on various cakes, fondue, and pasta. We also went to Uniqlo (think, Japan's Old Navy) and bought some clothes to protect us this winter. I think I need to go buy more!

The next day was amazing...

The head trainer for the company I work for (he is in charge of everyone in the Chubu area) invited all of us to a game of football and a BBQ, at the river by our apartment. Sayaka went to get her haircut and we met everyone at a nearby station when she was done. We had 8 guys for football and Sayaka was a cheerleader for both teams. Eventually another girl came to join her in this job.

When we made teams, I was trying to go for team California, but some salt got thrown into the mix, and it was team California, and a Candadian! Oh well!

I voted myself as QB and damn did I have fun doing so!

Our team lost, but I had a couple TD passes, some successful series into the in zone, and 1 interception. Yeah I had a lot of turn overs when I couldn't get the ball to anyone, but hey, it was my first time QBing ever! Once I had to run because I got blitzed (the guy covering me is a good 5 inches taller and a lot heavier than me!) and I had to run it, I got stopped and tried to push the guy off so I could run more, but the whole team was on me pretty much, and they couldn't get me down! My own team mate took me by the legs so I could go down and gain a few more feet. Now I know next time I need to run it or go out and catch more balls. We were playing tackle, so people got hurt, but me, yeah, jammed my finger catching the ball during practice.

Yesterday and today, I have been in and continue to hurt pretty much everywhere. My jammed finger is swollen now, legs, stomach, and everywhere else hurts. But DAMN did I ever have fun!

This weekend...either a lazy Sunday, or dinner with friends and a student from work!

Life is good, just busy!

California Day Five!!!!!

I was the first awake, and the first to discover...IT WAS RAINING! We all know how bad luck that is in America! Mark was a bit panicked this morning. Probably the first I have ever seen him like this! We got our breakfast (and I got some for Sayaka too, and took it to her room), got dressed (while the photographer and videographer took pics and video of us preparing) then went downstairs to take pics.

All of the pictures were taken in the hotel lobby since it was drizzling and very overcast! After our pics, it was time to get ready and head down to the wedding location!

I went up and got Sayaka and by the time we were leaving the hotel, the rain had stopped! LUCKY! We made it to the place and the waves were crashing pretty hard, because of the weather, but it made a beautiful backdrop.

As the best man, it was ALSO my duty to escort women to their seats, so I showed Sayaka to hers, and helped a few other people with their seats before it was show time.

Mark was nervous...Haha! We were pretending to spot snipers on the roofs and quote one of the million video game related moments in our lives to laugh while the music played and we were lined up waiting for the bride. When she arrived, the first thing Mark said was "Looking at her is making ME nervous". The wedding went on, I didn't forget their rings (I wouldn't be here to type this if I did!) and the rain never showed again!

We took pics after the wedding with the photographer, and Phong and his gf Lynda took pics of Sayaka and I, and vice-versa. Now it was time to party!

We headed to the hotel to check out and get Mark's stuff. This took a good 45 minutes to organize and get together, then another 25 minute drive to the reception place. When we got there, the bride and her dad were dancing. Mark came up to us and asked what happened, because they did an introduction of everyone, and pretty much ALL of the guys were checking out and not present! Ooops!

The reception was moved inside, because of the rain, but the weather had improved, so we moved outside! The weather and view were great! The DJ at the party was def the corniest man on the planet and made us laugh at him, not with him. I gave my speech and made people laugh as I did a small trek through Mark and I's 20 year history. After me, more speeches were made, and it was time to party harder! Sayaka ordered a TALL Pina Colada, and Phong and I got tall Long Island Ice Teas! The music started and we had to go down and dance, which was funny, but I felt like I needed more alcohol! We all kinda formed a group and just stopped dancing after 3 songs. After the music, we watched the bride and groom cut the cake and smash it into each other's faces! Soon after, that was that!

The bride gave Sayaka and I all of the table decorations, which we gave to my mom (and she loved them!). After we gathered everything, we made plans to go out to eat that night. So Sayaka and I returned home to give her the decorations, change clothes, and headed to the RITZ CARLTON, where Mark and Ashley had a NICE ASS room, with an amazing view! We hung out a bit and headed to a restaurant called Sarducci's in Laguna Nigel (I think). A few people from the wedding party were there and we had a good time just winding down.

Everyone began to feel sleepy and we called it a night. We met with Mark and Ashley and they opened their present from us and thanked us. We did our tearless but heartfelt goodbye hugs (who knows when we will see each other again...hehe come see this blog in a week, OR after Christmas for an interesting surprise!) and Sayaka and I headed home.

But not YET! We made a stop at a few stores to do last minute shopping, Blockbuster to buy some DVDs, and In-N-Out to get a LARGE Strawberry Shake! We got home late and exhausted, but I uploaded all of the pics from the day, set up the laptop to be charged and began packing!

In the morning my mom had made my fav food that she cooks (potato skins!), but I am really bad with time and airplanes and I was too nervous to eat, as I prepared, so Sayaka and my mom sat and ate together! I called my dad to say bye, and my aunt called and spoke to me a bit too! Called and left a message for my sis who said she would meet us at the airport, and we were officially heading out of my mom's apartment to head to LAX. We loaded up the car and took pics of it and Sayaka got to drive it in reverse for 5 feet! Haha! After that we hugged my mom and were off. Not even 1 minute later, Sayaka was crying because she missed my mom! Too cute, and sad...

We made it to the car rental place pretty quick, and the process to return it was smooth as silk. The bus to take us to the airport also arrived early so we were making good time! At LAX, we checked in rather quick, and some guy, Japanese American might I add, pulled Sayaka and I out of line to take our suitcases to get them checked. His coworkers were so mad at him, because they closed that line, but JUST Sayaka and I got our bags taken. We were a little worried if we would ever see them again, but happy we didn't have to wait in a loooong line!

We went to the food court, and I got us a chicken quesadilla and Dolce De Leche milkshake from Haggen Daaz! Sayaka was in love with the In-N-Out shake from the night before, but I swear, she was ready to have an affair with the Haggen one! We both loved it sooo much! I kept looking for my sis and ran down to see if I could see her, but couldn't at all! It was about time to board the plane so we got in line!

The line was ridiculously long and again, as fate may have it, we were ushered to the front by JAL staff so we could board our plane that was leaving shortly. We bought some omiyage for friends and my school, and boarded the plane.

As soon as we could, I ordered as much liquor as I could drink so I could sleep on the way back, and I definitely slept like a baby! It felt like we were in Tokyo in no time!

Honestly, it felt great to be back in Japan again. I loved being back home, but being in Narita airport, just made me happy to be HOME again!

We boarded the transfer train to Nagoya, and after a 50 minute flight, we were the closest to home we had been this week!

We took a train to Kanayama, where I fought drowsiness and fatigue, and when we arrived there, we got a cab to our apartment, which was great because we brought back about 5x as much stuff as we left with.

When we arrived we took 2 trips to get our luggage into the apartment and as soon as it was there, what did we do?

We went to yakiniku (Japanese BBQ. Not much different from Korean BBQ)! Yes! I had missed Japanese food soo much, that I didn't spend 5 minutes in my apartment, before I headed to the nearest yakiniku restaurant! We ate, unwound, and headed back home to sleep the last week, and our meal off!

What a trip!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

California Day Four!!!

This day was super eventful!

Not because a LOT happened, but a few things happened in a short period of time!

Sayaka and I started the day out going shopping, to Olive Garden, then more shopping!

When we made it home, I had to get directions to the wedding practice and tux rental shop!

I raced (thanks Mustang!) to the tux rental place and made it there super quick. Unfortunately I was a bit surprised to find I had to pay for the tux (not that I am cheap or anything, just, historically the wedding party has covered tux rentals for everyone, coming from Japan I had a set budget on how much I had on me, and that had already taken a few unexpected bumps since arriving), but put it on my debit card and raced to the wedding practice place.

Sayaka and I got there and saw NO FAMILIAR cars or faces! So we hopped back in the car and headed back up the hill! Luckily I happened to catch a glance of the bride's bro and followed him around until he noticed me. We pulled aside and talked and I found out, EVERYONE was late and we were in the right place! All of that rushing for what??!!??!!

Everyone showed up and practice wasn't as smooth as the bride had planned. It was obvious in her actions...We got through it and everyone was ready to eat! We caravaned to one of the largest houses I had ever been to, and had a nice post practice dinner! Mexican food! The house had a fireplace in the backyard and we did s'mores!

After the bride and groom thanked us, we headed to the hotel to get Sayaka checked in. I was to stay with the groom on the night before his wedding, so she got her own room to herself. When I arrived to Mark's room, Josh was sleeping, and Mark was laying down watching TV. I got them awake though. We tried on our tuxedos to make sure all was well (after lying and saying we did before this last moment) and took a lot of stupid pictures! We couldn't sleep so we went downstairs and talked with the bride's sister and 2 of her friends until about 1:30AM. When we arrived to the room we all slept pretty quick.

Me being a bit jet lagged still, woke up first. This is the day of the wedding!

California Day Three!!!

Bachelor Party Day!!!

But not the kind of party you see in those teen comedies, or other TV dramas! Now this one has MUCH more testosterone!

It all started out with Mark meeting up with me at my mom's apartment so we could car pool and I could be designated driver (so he could liquor it up, WHICH HE DID!). We hopped into the Mustang and took advantage of the convertible top and I was finally able to open her up on the road (Sayaka would get sick when I would drive fast...). In no time we were at the exit to Mark's brother-in-laws house. When we were almost there, I recognized a familiar face! Phong (of the Tokyo 3, read the archives about the first trip to Japan...) was a car behind us and to our left! His reaction was priceless, as he didn't recognize me due to weight loss and not having seen me for over a year, plus I was waving to him belligerently from the top of the Mustang! When he realized who it was he gave a "What's Up?" nod. Since he drives a nice black 350Z, we had to have a little fun on the rest of the trip to Courtney's house!

When we arrived, we found Mark's brother had arrived just before us, and we found our way to Courtney's Apt. When we arrived, we met with Courtney and Derek (the bride's brothers),we began to throw the meat on the grill, open up the liquor and watch "I love New York season 2"! A while later, after getting lost, Josh showed up, and it was officially a party! All of us drank quite a bit, and ate some great chicken (THANKS Courtney!), and the drivers sobered up for the drive ahead of us. Phong and Mark rode with me, while Courtney and Josh rolled with David (Mark's bro!)

We cruised down to the place we would spend the next 6 hours at, blasting some Kanye West, Justin Timberlake (yeah we are all fans, WHAT?!?), and various other music to get us pumped for what was next.

What was next was not s strip club or Vegas, but we were about to experience 6 straight hours of paintballing! Courtney found out the price of the place and when it was our turn to pay they tried to get more money out of us! This didn't make Courtney happy and he calmly complained and raised hell, while the probably still drunk Mark, got it a little escalated! At the end of things, we got the price we saw on the internet, and were off to go shoot fools!

The gun I got back in High School that I used to play with, didn't want to play nice with the co2 tanks they had, and the guy there kinda broke my gun trying to make them play nice! The result, he didn't charge me for air or a rental gun! We went to go practice a bit, then it was off to the first combat area!

The sun was out and we had full visibility in this game, and damn I wish we had it all day! This round, like every other one after this (besides the 3 vs 3 games) we always got on the same team. Courtney was down and out within the first 2 minutes, and you could hear his cry of pain after being shot for the first time (this was Courtney, David and Phong's first time playing!)! The rest of eventually got out, with me being last being shot in the man-hood! I threw my hands up and walked off QUICKLY after that perfectly places hit!

We tried to do some 3 on 3, where the teams were Courtney, Phong and I, versus, Mark, Josh, and David. We kept winning a game and losing it, and when the tie breaker came, my team was victorious! Usually we play 2 games and move on, but the guy let us get a final game in before the other team moved on. This time it was 2 on 2! Courtney and I, went up agaist Mark and Phong. I was nervous as I saw Phong was super fast and taking people out when he was on our team, and Mark had probably the most and most recent experience after everyone, but C and I took them out pretty quick!

We did the rest of the night in the huge battle arenas and had some interesting games, never winning, but we did draw quite a bit (each team has about 15 - 20 people on it!). The last game was probably the most fun because when the guy shouted 2 more minutes, we all said screw it and went Rambo on fools! Unfortunately for the bulk of us, so did some 50 something year old black dude with a fast trigger finger or fully auto, who took 3 of us out in 4 seconds. In that spurt, I got hit on the knee, upper thigh, finger, shoulder, back of the head twice, and right elbow. That is not including the multiple shots on my partners! Perfect end to an awesome night!

We headed back to C's place after that for more drinking and light food and we caught the TV version of "Next Friday", which was great with all of the censoring they did (horrid job!).

When the movie finished, everyone headed home and I drove Mark back to my place. It was around 1:30AM and Sayaka was sleeping until I walked in. I showered, changed clothes, then asked if she wanted to go shopping. She thought I was crazy, but seeing that I wasn't laughing, she threw on her clothes and we were off to Walmart!

I was relieved to find the Walmart we drove to was open and we began shopping! I replaced all of my underclothes to match the weightloss, bought a shirt for my friend who always buys me gifts when he travels (it is a Japanese thing), and we bought a ton of food and junk for friends and family back home!

After our shopping we made it back home around 5:30AM, where we found Mark STILL sleeping in his car! Poor guy, he only has to be at his mom's house, an hour and a half away, to practice the reception dance they have to do, in 2 more hours! Ganbatte!

Day three is picture light. Guess you just had to be there to see what went on!

Monday, October 22, 2007

California Day Two!!

Wednesday morning... Probably the busiest day of our week as far as time being tight, and the amount of things we did.

The day started early, around 6AM, which is when we headed down to IHOP to grab some food! Plans were for some pancakes or french toast, but I found a good BBQ bacon cheeseburger and Sayaka got a Double BLT! More proof of my appetite change was when I finished my burger and felt pregnant/sick again! Sayaka ate one half of hers before she threw in her towel! We did begin this with a cup of their awesome hot cocoa! After breakfast we headed to the beach!

Now this beach has always been my favorite because not too many people go there, and the view is beautiful! Today was no different! It isn't exactly a BEACH-beach area, but this place is called Balboa Peninsula. There are lots of nice houses near the small bay, and then a few minute walk to the edge of Newport Beach!

We get there and it is another beautiful day! No clouds, clear sky, warm-hot, and a little windy. After not being here for so long, I was shocked to see what the tide has done to the beach area! It created a sort of small cliff (3 feet or so), where it used to be a slow decline into the ocean. After 2 trips to beaches in Japan this year, I was reminded why California beaches are so famous. The beach was clean, yellowish-white sand, and massive! We changed to our flip flops and walked along the beach for a bit. 3 boys came up and did a little wake boarding and I caught a few pics of them. Later on, we saw a dog running towards us! Luckily he was just chasing some birds along the beach, until his owner called out to him. It was around this time when Sayaka whispered "I want to live in California...". The seed has been planted...

After an hour or so we headed to my old job, to surprise them and use their restroom! Everyone was definitely surprised and happy to meet Sayaka and see the weight I lost. We chatted a bit before they rushed us out to go enjoy Disneyland! We would see them later tonight anyway! By the way, my old job, is a 2 minute drive from Disneyland!

We get to Disneyland and I was shocked at the amount of cars going to park there! This is the beginning of October, on a Wednesday, Earth's most random day of the week! We had to wait about 5 minutes to pay for parking! After we parked we headed down to the trams to get to the entrance. Due to the sheer amount of people waiting just HERE, we had to wait for the third tram to arrive! When it finally did, we were off to Disneyland's entrance! I thought I saw a lot of people just waiting to park, and waiting for the tram, but damnit, this place was packed! This seriously felt like a weekend at the beginning of summer! We had to wait about 20 mins to get our Park-hopper tickets for So Cal residents (saved 5 dollars each, and she just checked my ID! We don't even live here! Tommy and Sayaka - 1, the system - 0).

We first entered California Adventure, and went straight for the sundae place! I love this place's sundaes so we got one and some drinks to go with it. I was reminded about something that I love about America, and wish Japan did more of when we bought our sundae. The guy who helped us, Andrew, was physically disabled. When I see that big companies hire people of any background, sex, physical or mental condition, it makes me feel good to be human! While we waited for our food, I struck up a friendly conversation with him, because I was happy to , we ate it so quick and were off to our first ride, Soarin over California!

The whole time in line, Sayaka was nervous because of my description of the ride! When we were seated, I could feel her heart beating fast, as she grasped my hand so hard. When the ride started and we were lifted around 75 feet in the air, she was the only person who screamed. Every time the ride moved, she would scream, and the older couple next to her would laugh at her. By the end of the ride, she was glad she got on it, and it definitely woke her up, if she wasn't awake by then! After we went on what I always call "The water ride". Sayaka didn't want to go on it, but I "silent-something"-ed her into getting on it. Before we got on though, we watched people for about 5 minutes. There is a part where a geyser shoots up and depending on your timing, you may or may not get VERY wet, as the water comes back down on top of you. When our time was up, we were about 3 seconds from the spot, and no geyser! But wait, this is our lucky day! A second before our raft goes over the geyser spot, it shoots up and we get drenched! When we pass the geyser, which was under us, it shoots up and comes down on us AGAIN VERY hard! We seriously looked like we hopped in the shower for a minute with our clothes on! Sayaka looked like a wet dog and she was sooo sad, but interestingly enough, she became super genki (energetic) after we got off, and just kept jumping and singing like a kid!

After that, we did some walking around, window shopping and such until we decided to leave and do more walking around Downtown Disney. There we got Jamba Juice (oh how I missed thee) and boarded the monorail to Disneyland!

We had plans to do dinner with my coworkers in an hour and a half and knew time was limited. I wanted to do the new Finding Nemo ride, but the line was like 110 minutes, so I asked Sayaka what she wanted to do and that resulted in her behind the wheel of Autotopia! The line went by pretty quick, so we made a trip to Toon Town since she has never been to the one in Japan! We made our way to Mickey's house and took our pic with him then it was time to head out! We stopped by Wetzel's Pretzels to get a Wetzel Cheese Dog and then headed to Chilis for our dinner!

When we got there, my friend Mark, the man getting married, arrived around the same time! We waited and chatted a bit while waiting for people to arrive. As soon as we got half of the people, we were seated! Food, drinks, and laughter ensued!

It was a crazy fun night, followed by sad "See you someday in the future"s and promises to email each other more. Sayaka and I were exhausted so we headed home and got to go sleep probably the earliest of any night that week!

Tomorrow, Mark's bachelor party!

Until then, enjoy pics of day two!

California Day One!

So it's about that time to get to talking about my California trip last week! I will break this down into days, just like I did my photo albums, because it will be much easier to remember everything this way.

Months ago I was invited to be my best friend's best man for his wedding. Not so much invited or asked, but destined, and confirmed to be (we have known each other for 20 years now). He lives in Colorado now (moved there a few months after I moved to Japan) and I thought the wedding would be in Colorado. I had visions of visiting my sister who has lived there for a few years, and getting my first taste of the state. Then, 2 months ago I found out it was in Cali, and was excited to be able to see my mom, friends, and family again, AND go to Mark's wedding. Fast forward a bit, and I get the whole week off, paid, Sayaka and I pay for our plane tickets, and I buy a new suitcase for the trip, it is time to go to California baby!

The morning of our flight, I wake up SICK! I dunno why, maybe being out in the cold, while dressed decently for the weather, for my old assistant manager's wedding party, but the sick-gods descended on me in my sleep! Sayaka and I packed the night before, and all we had to do was wake up, shower, eat and head to the airport!

We headed down the steps with our mildly heavy luggage and got the train to Kanayama around 9. There we purchased our reserved seats to Chubu Centrair, so we could get there in 35 minutes, and sleep a bit on the train.

When we arrived, it was a rather quick and painless process to get checked in, and our luggage xrayed! I was spoiled after my fiasco (LUPE!) at LAX when I first came to Nagoya (check the archives). We went around and looked for some food and things to buy before our flight. I got a bagel chicken teriyaki sandwich and Sayaka got some good looking curry! I also got a bagel with apple pie cream cheese on it, which was damn good! We bought a bag of chocolate covered potato chips (better than expected!) and boarded our plane to Narita! We purchased our tickets in a way, that we had a row of three seats to ourselves, so this flight, and the flight from Narita to LAX was rather comfy!

50 minutes later we arrive at Narita, wait 45 minutes, and board a larger plane for LAX! The weather in Narita was way different than Nagoya! It was much colder and looks like it had rained! This was to be a big contrast to the weather in California! On the plane, we were given 2 meals, and able to drink as much as we wanted, with the press of the button, alcohol included (we flew JAL!)! After 2 strong screwdrivers, I was ready to sleep! I woke up before our second meal, 2 hours before landing. While eating I was shocked to see how clear it was below, and see the mountains and landscapes of Central California, a sight most appreciated from an airplane! The closer we got to LA, I realized, that I had not seen a cloud in the sky for quite a while! We made a clean, smooth, descent and landing at LAX, and I felt like, wow, I am home again!

We arrived at the landing terminal, which was under construction and looked horrible, causing Sayaka to repeat "Wow, what a beautiful terminal!" several times! After going through customs/immigration, our luggage took no time to arrive, and we were up and out of the airport in NO time! We found where we needed to go to get our shuttle to the car rental place. They said they came every 5 minutes, we waited 20 or so. When we arrived to the place, the line wasn't too long, and I got to watch my first news in English in 1 year and 3 months, plus see my first ghetto verbal argument in the same time! Good ole LA! The process to pick up the car was smooth and quick thanks to my online reservation, and in minutes, I had the keys to a convertible, red, 2007 Standard Mustang convertible! It took us a bit to get the top down, and realize how we would get our luggage in the car, but after a while, we were good, and on our way out to my sister's apartment!

We cruised on the freeway for a short time and I was shocked to see how close my sister lived to LAX! It felt good to be behind the wheel of a fast car again after being the "driver" of a bicycle for so long (or passenger in my friends Skyline or AMG Benz...) and I let the car breathe a bit with the pedal to the floor. Driving in a car like that, with the top down was such a great experience this day! CLEAR beautiful skies, warm-hot weather, and fresh off our flight from cold Japan!

We arrived at my sister's house and she ran out to hug Sayaka first, then me! We went in to wait for her to get ready, then headed to Pink's, a famous hot dog stand in Hollywood! The smell of their food used to make me hungry, but after all of the light food in Japan, it made myself, and Sayaka sick to our stomachs! Sayaka had to go sit down, as she was jet lagged and feeling sick (My sister made a comment saying "Uh oh, are you guys going to have to make a Knocked Up 2?") and I had to move from the wind of the food! When our food arrived, we ate it pretty quick, without feeling sick! Sayaka got a chili cheese dog, I got a Polish Pastrami dog (hot dog with pastrami, mustard and swiss cheese), and my sister got 2 of the same as me, plus onion rings! I forgot how much I used to eat when I lived here, because it seemed like she ordered so much, and then I remember how I used to eat more than her!

After our meal we headed back to my sisters house to get a cable to connect my ipod to the car stereo, since hey, we were headed to Hollywood in a convertible, we need some good tunes! As we approached a corner, we noticed a familiar face in the car next to us. After pulling up to his window, we noticed it was Danny Trejo! At first he was mad when my sister called out to him, but we realized he was listening to Barry White and was too focused! We chatted a bit until the light turned green, and he was SUPER nice to us until then. We made it to my sister's place and grabbed what we needed and were off to Hollywood and Highland (the plan was the Beverly Center, but my sis said there was construction and it was a mess there!).

We arrived to see the normal busy Hollywood streets, filled with weird people, tourists, and the trendy. I guess this time I was the tourist! I had my camera out like I had never been there, and was snapping away! We did our rounds, got good pics, looked around, and eventually realized, Sayaka was too sick to be out right now! So we took my sis home, and got a call from my dad that he was waiting with my other sis at my mom's place! WHAT?!?! That is an hour away no traffic! So my sis says she will meet us there later (to kill the suspense, she didn't make it) and we head out to Orange County, to return home, but there was a LOT of traffic!

An hour later we arrived in Anaheim, and I showed Sayaka the original Disneyland off the side of the freeway and we had to make a detour to my old college for a restroom break before making it home! Our jet lag was kicking in so we picked up some energy drinks near my mom's place to liven up before we see my family. When we arrived at the apartments, we saw my sis waiting outside for us! How long had she been waiting! We get all of our luggage out and head upstairs to the apartment. We open the door and my dad is standing nearby talking to my mom. His reaction to me was shock, since I have lost so much weight! He asked if I left the other half of me in Japan (I heard this same phrase many times last week). My mom was equally shocked!

After hugs and introductions to Sayaka, we got our luggage laid out, and began eating. Our plans were to go out and eat, but since it was too late for my dad and sis, we ate the food my mom cooked. It was good to eat enchiladas, rice, and beans, that were home cooked by my mother again. We talked, laughed and caught up for 2 hours, then it was time for my dad and sis to leave, and take my grandma back to the IE (Inland Empire, an area of Southern California, not too popular, but where I was born!).My grandma was cute as usual and asked me as she exited the apartment "Where are you about to move to?". I don't think she knows I live in Japan still (come on now, she is 94 years old!And healthy!).

As my dad and everyone left, Sayaka and I hopped in the car to the nearby mall to grab cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory! I can't remember the name of mine, but Sayaka got the Vanilla Bean one. We both agreed mine was better, but again, our Japan meal sized stomachs couldn't do their usual damage. I finished mine, Sayaka finished half of hers. I felt sick after just one cheesecake and knew my big American appetite was GONE! We headed home and rested our heads for our next big day! Tomorrow we have, IHOP, the beach, Disneyland, California Adventure, then dinner with my old coworkers (aka extended family)!

Gyah! Unfortunately, Bloggers image uploader wants to NOT work, so here is a link to day one on Flickr!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Updates from California soon...

Once I can battle this jet lag!

Everyday I come home, I HAVE to go to sleep ASAP. It is really bad right now!

But I promise PICS, videos, and stories from the action packed 6 days in California!

Until then, relax, and grab a drink!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm going to Disneyland!

Well here we are! The morning of our flight to California! Sayaka is still sleeping beside me, but she was up late due to anticipation, which is why I am up early! Who will have the harder time sleeping on the plane?

I will TRY to update while I am in Cali, but don't expect anything! When I return to Japan, expect pics and stories galore! Quote me!

See you in a week and wish us luck on our flight!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Weekend update!

So this weekend was rather eventful!

We made plans to go to a mountain, and go climb it for good luck, but because of the rain in Nara, we had to cancel! So we made plans to go meet Sayaka's friend for lunch and her parents for dinner.

We arrived to Toyota station right on time and went to Saizeriya (a local restaurant) to meet her friend. Rieko arrived shortly after we did and we ordered a drink bar for all of us, and each got a dessert! I found out that Rieko used to teach for Aeon, so we got to talk in English about that and many other things! Rieko showed us some pics of her trip to San Francisco, which were amazing. Maybe my spoiled SoCal beliefs were changed after seeing them, and MAYBE I want to go now... Rieko is studying this color therapy thing, where we have to chose a bottle with different color oil in it. We chose 4 of them, and depending on the color and order we picked them in, she can read about our personalities. Sayaka was surprised to see hers was accurate, and it was in her native language, so when I had mine done and had it translated to English I was extra shocked! This was so representative of my life in the past, and now, and where I want to go. I was definitely surprised!

After our lunch date, we went to Daiso to look for something green, since both of us were told we needed the color green in our lives, but unfortunately we found nothing. We didn't have much time left before meeting her parents, so we headed down to the bus stop area where her parents awaited. We went to a yaki niku place not too far from where we were. We ordered a rather big course set, 2 HUGE beers for her dad and I, one regular glass for her, and her mom drank Oolong-cha! We began to eat and drink sooo much! By the end of the night I had one more huge beer, and a regular sized one, plus enough meat to feed a family! We joked around with her mom and dad about many things, and just like the first time I met them, I felt like I really was accepted by them. Again, they paid for our whole dinner, PLUS gave us money to go to Disneyland in California next week! We are both kinda short of money for the trip and told our sad story to them, and without hesitation, received money for Disneyland. They even gave us money for our ride back to our apartment!

Okaasan to Otoosan, honti ni arigatou ne!

Yesterday, we were pretty lazy and started our day late. We went to go eat a late breakfast at McDonalds, then went bowling, where both of our scores were pathetic because we had to use heavier balls, because they were the only balls that our fingers could fit, but we only paid 500 yen, so who cares! After we went to the nearby Daiso again to find some green stuff, but no luck. We went grocery shopping together and bought some rice, milk, and eggs for the apartment, then came home and played Wii. Sayaka was still sleepy so I worked on a newsletter and party poster I needed to finish for work.

Now it is Tuesday morning, a week before we will be heading to the airport to go to California! super excited! This Sunday, we will go to the aquarium, and Monday, a wedding party for my old assistant manager, then Tuesday is departure day! Just have to get through this week of work!

Until this weekend!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OK I give up on catching up, so I will just look forward!

I have to many things to write about that happened, but I am too lazy to remember it all. So now my new goal is to keep this thing updated more frequently!

Went to a car show this weekend, with Sayaka, @chan, and Chris! Had a ton of fun there and took a load of pics!

Afterwards we had a going away party for Chris, since he goes back to American TODAY! It was fun, and sad at the same time, but he will be back in 2.5 years (he said he would be!)

Check out pics from the car show, and enjoy your week!

2 more weeks until Cali!

Friday, August 31, 2007

I have some catching up to do! Toyota Bon Odori!

Well lets get to the dirt shall we! It is long overdue!

Great intro huh?

So in the middle of Obon Vacation, I took a trip to a small village near Toyota, where Sayaka's friend Sayuri lives, and we went to a Bon Odori dance festival. This was probably my 3rd one this summer, but definitely the most memorable.

I got to see Sayaka in her yukata for the first time and she was amazingly beautiful! I wore my jinbei because I didn't want to struggle with my own yukata that day.

We headed on the subway from Tsurumai to the nearest station where we were picked up by Sayuri after she got off from work.

When we arrived to Sayuri's house, their friend Miyo was waiting for us. We all entered the house and the girls changed into their yukata, and Sayuri's mother helped Sayaka fix her obi (cloth that wraps around the waist). Sayuri's mom was sooo sweet and polite to me, as she likes foreigners and even hosts exchange students or people doing homestays there, so I felt super comfy being there.

We went to the festival, and saw that Sayuri's brother, who is very good with English might I add, was the leader of this year's festival (I think he is every year though haha). Not only that but Sayuri is in charge of the dancing, so she gets to go up on stage and dance all night!

Sayaka and I kicked back and ate free kakigori (think snow cone in a cup), drank free beer, and watched everyone have a ton of fun!

Some old man came to me and pretty much forced me to go down and dance and Sayaka joined me. While he escorted us he said I should give a speech and started laughing and whisked away! Uh oh...

Before we even made a complete circle, the man was back, to grab my arm and take me to a microphone! What!?!?! Was he serious?!?!? I watched the probably 100 or so people at this festival and then the music stopped and all eyes were up on the stage area. The man gave an intro in Japanese, gave me the mic and said in his best english "For Los Angeles!". Wait, how did he know I was from near there?!?

I can't remember what I said, but everyone clapped and cheered at my horrid Japanese speech. After that, I was asked to give a speech in English too! All I know is, Sayaka said my Japanese speech was MUCH better. Oh god...

After my speech, the village elders (for lack of a better term) scurried to me to give me some of their sake they had ( presented in a white bag, kinda like how people brown bag it back home). They even had some appetizers from their plates that they shared with me. LUCKY!

Then it came time for the games! We had to pass out fans, with numbers on them. They would draw numbers, and whoever's number was called, would win a prize. Prizes ranged from Nintendo DSs, air conditioners, down to a 24 pack of soda or Pocari Sweat! I was asked to help hand out flyers, since I was a friend of Sayuri's and when I grabbed a handful of fans, I literally had about 80% of the people there form a line in front of ME, when there were at LEAST 9 other people passing out fans! I had people screaming "Tommy-chan!" with their hands out stretched to get a fan from me. Now I know what a celebrity feels like!

After the drawing and all of the prizes were handed out, it was time to clean up and start the nomikai (drinking party!!!)!!!

All of the young people involved, met up after changing into some regular clothes, at a huge room near where the festival was held, and we had ourselves a fine nomikai! Sayuri, Sayaka, and I made a trip to the conbini to buy some more alcohol, and food for me (since I can't eat the fish!). When we arrived, there were maybe, 16 people there. We did our initial compai (cheers) and started eating and drinking. This was pretty much all in Japanese, and if there was any troubles, Sayaka became a translator. I hade someone (Hyde-kun) show me some Japanese jokes, that I only laughed at one. I made a fool out of myself with some chocolate covered strawberry candy, that made everyone laugh (Oh Pink! You had to be there...)and we made initial plans for our NINIKU TOUR! (Garlic Tour!). Hyde went to somewhere in the Gifu prefecture, that has garlic everything on their menu, and I am a HUGE fan of garlic (ask Sayaka, haha...).

This party started around 10PM or so, where I even got a call from my mom near the beginning (I was still sober!), and it ended around, hell I don't know! All I know is I couldn't stay awake much longer, and the last time I saw the clock, it was 5:50AM! Someone woke us up at 7AM to start cleaning the mess, and that took around 20 minutes or so! Afterwards, we said our goodbyes and we were off on our own ways!

Sayuri drove Sayaka and I to the station again, and we made our long sleepy train ride back to Shin-Moriyama station, where we walked back to our apartment. I seriously think we slept about 14 hours after that, but it was much needed after such a great day (2 days?)!

Sayaka "dancing" by herself!

Sayaka and I waiting for the train to the village!

Getting the special stash of sake from the village elders!

The only thing better than kakigori, is FREE kakigori!

Haha! Sayuri's mom wanted to take a pic with me!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I've been quiet, but I am alive, well and happy!

Bought tickets to California last week, going to a wedding party tomorrow, Mexican food tonight, Turkish food 2 nights ago, life is just great as usual! I promise something more interesting. I have quite a bit on my backlog to write about...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's official! I got the days off for California!

Short and sweet. Days are official from my company, and we just need to buy tix to Cali. 2 more months!!! This will come quick!

Friday, August 03, 2007

A day at the beach, onsen, then Toyota Oiden Matsuri (a summer festival)

Now I am about to be extra lazy and paste this from my mixi diary, so I apologize in advance for anything that doesn't make sense!

So yeah my first journal is about my day at Shiomi beach in Shizuoka with Sayaka, Naomi, and Maki! Sorry, it is in English!

I woke up at 5AM in the morning so I could leave Shin Moriyama at 6AM, to get to Akaike by 7. When I arrived, I was picked up by Maki, Naomi, and Sayaka, after a short wait.

We went to the conbini to pick up something to eat and drink, and headed on our way to the beach!

The drive didn't seem too long because it was a very fun and INTERESTING drive, which made the time just FLY!

Upon arriving at the beach, we didn't see too many waves, which we needed for body boarding, but we did see many people in the water with surfboards! This was interesting to me, because in California, if there aren't any waves, no one even tries to get in the water. Things are different here. People would wait for the tiniest wave to ride it, for a few seconds, then go back out into the water. Weird...

While watching the girls body board, I took the chance to snap some pics of the beach and them while the rode the waves. Oh yeah, which reminds me, the water was very shallow here. When it was my turn to body board, without flippers mind you, I would go out as far as them, and when I would try to kick, without flippers again, my knees would touch bottom! I am too tall, or the beach is WAY too shallow!

When Sayaka came back from bodyboarding, her and I decided to play and walk on the beach, when I saw something interesting on the ground. I instantly recognized it as the weirdest, largest jellyfish I have seen with my bare eyes! It was a weird blue color and definitely still breathing! I took pics to compare it to Sayaka's feet, because it was definitely large! (hmmm not saying her feet are large at all!). We wrote "Kurage desu yo!" in the sand and an arrow pointing to it with some sticks we got, but I skipped a very important part before this.

Sayaka had to relieve some aggression with the sticks we found. She was stabbing the hell out of the poor fish as it lied stranded on the beach! But karma got her back, and she got a splinter that I had to operate on for a while. She said she learned her lesson though!

After operating on her finger, we went back to the water and played around for a bit before returning to the car to head to an onsen to wash up and relax after the beach! That will be in another diary!

Enjoy the pics!

To continue the line of "Went to the/a/an" from this weekend, I went to my first onsen after going to the beach.

We were all covered in sea salt, and sand, and saw an onsen on our way to the beach, that we said we would go to, so we did!

This was my first onsen experience, so I didn't know what to expect.

We bought our tickets, just 550 yen, and headed to the changing rooms. I realized I left my towel in the car, and had to go get some rental towels to use, 150 yen lost!

I went to the changing room, the remove all the crap (aka, clothing) on me, and headed to go wash myself. This was incredibly interesting to say the LEAST. Bathing in front of other bathing older men, interesting...

After a quick shower, I headed to a bath with jets like a jacuzzi, that was around 39.4 degrees. I stayed there until 1:30PM, around 20 minutes, knowing we planned to all meet at 1:30, but also knowing the girls wouldn't get out at 1:30 themselves. I was right. When I got out I put in 300\ for a massage chair, and didn't see Sayaka until I was about 10 minutes into it.

When everyone arrived, we drank some juice, and coffee, then ate the onsen's food. Everything we ate was VERY good, but the naan curry I got, everyone said, looked like microwaveable food. Sooo sad!

There are no pictures of this event, but expect some for the Toyota Oiden Matsuri fireworks! Coming soon!

After the onsen, we dropped Naomi off, and Maki drove us to meet Sayaka's mom at a conbini, where we put our stuff into her car and drove near Toyota station.

When we parked, we headed to a place that I believe is famous for kakigori, and ate some. It was SOOOOO good! There, I saw the cutest old lady, who was working so hard to clean the tables, take orders, and take people's food to their tables! I wanted to take pictures with her, but she told Sayaka "30 years ago she would have done it" Haha!

After kakigori, we went to look for a place to sit and watch the fireworks. We walked sooo far, and Sayaka's mom was soooo fast, but we finally caught up with her and started turning left to find that perfect spot.

After a while, and not far from where we ended up watching, Krystin, who works with me, ran up and said hi to Sayaka, her mom, and I. Apparently her friend said "Hey there is a foreigner, do you know him?" and she was surprised to find out she did know me! What were the chances?

We were getting hungry so we saw a place that had okonomiyaki (DAISUKI!!!) and yakisoba! We went inside and ordered beer and tea for mama, and then ordered our okonomiyaki! Unfortunately though, the grill was so small, we couldn't have okonomiyaki, because everyone was getting yakisoba! GRRR! So we ate yakisoba, and Sayaka and I agreed, we can make better stuff at home! Thanks to mama for the food and drinks! ご馳走様でした!(maybe that is the right kanji...分からん!)

After eating and drinking, we went outside to watch another great year of Toyota's fireworks.

We began to leave early so we can ditch the crowds, and not get stuck waiting at the station, and we drove to the station, where her mom dropped us off.

We got lucky and boarded the first train and made it all the way to Tsurmai, then Shin Moriyama, but we were SOOOO tired!!!

Such a great day!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Went to a local school Summer festival!

By local, I mean across from my apartment complex!

Sayaka and I saw a bunch of kids in yukata when we walked to go get lunch, so we realized there was a festival going on at the elementary school across from me.

After our great Saizeriya lunch (cheap and delicious!) we headed home quick, so I could grab my camera and take pics of the event.

When we got there I wanted to just walk around and scope out what was going on there.

There were games for kids, food stands, and a lot of people doing Bon Odori around a stage in the center. I decided to pull my camera out once the lighting was right, and got several beautiful shots at night of the events.

There isn't much to be said, than to be seen, so please, enjoy the pictures!

For more check here!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Today is the day I met Sayaka's parents...

I mentioned it in yesterday's blog, but today was D-day for meeting her parents.

She wanted me to meet her parents because she wants them to know how much she cares about me, and wants her parents to know we are serious (I am the first boyfriend to be introduced. And I am a foreigner! Oh noes!)!

It started out as just her mom and us, but her dad joined the itinerary last week. Sayaka got super nervous, I remained calm. She never had a good relationship with her dad and this news was a shock to her, that he wanted to join. I kept telling her he wants to do it because he loves her, and after today, I can see that.

We were late (as usual) to getting to the meeting place between Shin Moriyama and Toyota (Akaike), but when we arrived her parents were already waiting for us in their car. For what will be the most hilarious first comment I have ever received from anyone, her mom shouted "His face is small!". Mind you, every bit of conversation during this meeting, was in Japanese, unless between Sayaka and I.

We drove to Pastel, which is a Japanese Italian restaurant, where we KIND of planned to eat, I think. When we got there, Sayaka's mom, Sayaka, and I exited the car, so her dad could park, and we put our names down to be seated. It was a short wait, and all of us were seated to begin ordering.

We started with drinks. Sayaka and her mom, tea, Sayaka's dad and I, beer. We ordered our food, which came with all you can eat pizza (and majorly AWESOME pizza if I may add), and our drinks came and we did our compai cheers and began drinking. Our first pizza came and I was amazed at how good it was. Soon after, the cesar salad I ordered (yeah, I eat veggies now! Thank Sayaka for that!), and then the pasta. Now that the food came, it was time for what should have been awkward, the during meal conversation... DUN DUN DUN!!!

The conversation ranged from many things, mostly her father asking me a ton of questions, and her mom making a lot of funny comments. I was asked how long I plan on staying in Japan, if Sayaka could cook, am I happy with Sayaka living with me, did I have any problems with work with her living with me, can Sayaka REALLY cook, what do I need if I travel outside of Japan (?) and a few other questions. One funny moment came when I told them I love Japanese sports cars, and owned a 300ZX (I had to say Fairlady Zeto though), and her dad asked me if I used to drive my girlfriend in it. Her mom then jumped in and said I drove my grandma in it, then did an action of what it would look like for an old woman to be in a fast car, and then she just said, in English "Heaven! Heaven!", which seriously made me laugh my ass off! I don't know if it was the beer and being drunk, or what, but that was just hilarious to me!

It was funny during the meal, because I got full, and her mom and dad kept wanting me to eat and drink beer, and Sayaka was saying they want me to keep going because they don't like me, and they both kept correcting her and saying they liked me. This made me feel completely good and comfortable being there with their family. They seemed to really like me, and I could see it in Sayaka's face for the rest of the day, that she was insanely happy with the lunch date.

After eating, we went to pay, but I had to go to the bathroom first, you know, all the beer. When I came out though, Sayaka was waiting for me at the table, and her mom and dad went to go pay! Not only that, but her dad bought us some cake and pudding! Score, I am sooo in now!

Afterwards, her dad was too drunk to drive, so her mom drove us to the nearest station, and that became the official end of our lunch date.

I keep telling Sayaka how important it was for me to meet her family, and they both made me feel soooo great, regardless of the language and culture difference. They really made me feel comfortable, and I never felt awkward at all, not even when Sayaka went to go to the restroom. Interestingly, she told me it was silent whenever I would go to the bathroom! Too funny!

Just another notch on the ladder of my amazing life, that I am soooo thankful for. Thanks to Sayaka, her mom and father for such a great day. I am still smiling because of that!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Typhoon fever!

So last night a typhoon came through Aichi and Nagoya, and right over little old Shin-Moriyama!

The winds were HARD! The rain was constant! People everywhere stayed in their homes.

Sayaka and I did too!

We were supposed to have plans today, to go meet her parents (my first time meeting them!), but because of the rain we decided to cancel our plans and change the day until Monday instead.

Last night we went to 7-11 and saw a Nintendo DS on a display case and Sayaka mentioned she wanted one. So we came home and started looking on many websites, to find one for her AND I. I wanted a blue one (of course) and she wanted a pink one (of course). We found out buying one in Japan would be MUCH cheaper and quicker than ordering one from the US. I thought the Nintendo DS shortage was still going on here. To my surprise, we found a LOT of them online, but we had to get them in colors we ma not have liked. So I told her we would check the nearest department store, Apita, tomorrow and see if we can find one for us. She wants to use it so we can both study English, Japanese, and kanji together. Me too, but I also want to play some Mario and Final Fantasy games!

So today we go to Apita, around noon to find the DS, and we see they have them in every color and a lot in stock! We are definitely getting our DSs today! Or are we?

Sayaka reads a sign that says they have the Nintendo Wii in stock. I am shocked because there has been a shortage of Wii in Japan as well. I think nothing of it and we look at DS games. While we are looking at the DS games, Sayaka mentioned we could get a Wii instead, for both of us! S we go look at the games for the Wii, and realize it would be a LITTLE more getting a Wii and games, than 2 DSs and games. We can't decide and we decide to go walk around and look at different things before making a decision.

We make our way back to Apita after 30 minutes or so, buy some new bed sheets and pillow cases, buy some White Zinfandel and plum wine, and yes, we did, bought our Nintendo Wii together! We got Wii Sports and Hajimete Wii (Which comes with a controller) and we also got two remote cases to we know which one belongs to who?

So now, not only do I own all next gen systems AGAIN, I have a Nintendo Wii to play with my girlfriend whenever we have free time! Which interestingly enough will be all day today, and tomorrow night!

Maybe I will update on how that goes and maybe add some pictures later!

Oh yeah for those interested in how much weight I have lost. I weighted myself today and found out I weigh 84 kg which translates to 185lbs for my friends in america. I weight around 225 or so when I got here, so here I am 40lbs LESS than I was when I got here. Gotta love the Japan diet plan!

Monday, July 09, 2007

My birthday in Tokyo!!! part 3

Part 3 concludes the great weekend I had in Tokyo last week for my bday and it will be a quick highlight of a day at Disney Sea with Sayaka.

-Seeing her soooo happy to be there made me happy. She was like a kid smiling ALL day long. Nothing could take the happiness away from her on this day.

-We saw soooo many kids, and we both LOVE kids, so it was a very good day to enjoy all of the kids smiling and having a great time like us. We also made it interesting by saying "Chance!" to each other when we saw a baby or child wasn't being too well guarded by their parent, followed by a katakana Englished "Geto!" if we realized we could have gotten away with the chance at the baby. Weird, I know...

-Flavored popcorn. Anyone who has been to Disney Sea recently knows about this. We did black pepper, caramel, and strawberry, ranked in order of preference. We also bought a souvenir cup for it!

-Sayaka's reaction to Journey to the Center of the Earth after we went on it. She was totally loving the slow pace, then it got scary looking, then it went fast! I felt kind of bad for not setting it up properly because I don't think she expected all of that...

-Sayaka's reaction to Tower of Terror. This was just great. She said she didn't want to go on it, but because she loves me and wanted me to go on it, she went. After the intro, she got a bit scared and contemplated backing out, but like a trooper, stuck it out until the end! It took a while to get her out of her seat, and the look of her when we saw the picture was great. I was super proud of her for forgetting her fear and going on this and KIND of enjoying it, haha!

-Her and I rode the gondolas for our first time and it was fun! Both of the men on the boat were funny to watch or listen to, and we had great timing for the volcano to do it's thing and kind of delay the boat ride, because we couldn't hear anything else!

-This "parade" they had on the water at the front of the park was AMAZING. It is like a boat floating on the water, with beautiful lights and water spouts! Then a mechanical dragonish thing comes out and shoots fire in a beautiful way. Then they "fight" for lack of a better term, and it all ends in a great finale! Sayaka and I were floored by this show and all of the effects it had to offer!

-The ride home was scary! Luckily Sayaka was able to sleep through most of it, but I got ZERO sleep! The driver drove sooo fast and what felt, recklessly, and it was RAINING! I couldn't sleep much anyway, but I really couldn't sleep in this weather!

Overall this was a great weekend and I started my new year of life off in many great ways! I could spend my first birthday in Japan with an amazing woman! I ate 4 salads in the 3 day span. 4 more salads than I have eaten in my life. True story...

Too much fun, and I await Sayaka's bday and both of ours for next year. Thanks to Sayaka for making it a great weekend and planning things ahead of time, making our trip easy and convenient!

Until next time!

My birthday in Tokyo!!! part 2

So the trip to Krispy Kreme...

We find the way to Krispy Kreme but since it is too early, the easy way through the department stores are all closed off now, so we have to go a bit out of the way to reach our destination,but who cares, we are eating Krispy Kreme!!! Or are we...?

We get to Krispy Kreme and Sayaka can see a few people already in line, and I tell her, this will be normal, maybe we will wait 30 minutes or so to get to the front. MAYBE... So yeah, I will kill any suspense I could build and say, the wait was an HOUR AND A HALF and we decided to KILL that thought! We got some pictures of the wait time sign, and some sad faces from Sayaka.

When this was a bust, we took the train to Shimbashi, then the tram monorail thingy to Odaiba. On Odaiba, we went to my favorite burger place Kua'Aina, where Sayaka ate a burger bigger than her face, but mine was a bit larger. We sat and enjoyed the view and the food, and shared several laughs while we ate. Afterwards we checked out a few shops and I had to get a Cinnabon after that. I have been to Tokyo and Odaiba 4 times now, and I NEVER get Cinnabon, but this time I did, and it was great! The only thing is, it tasted like the frosting was kept inside of a plastic tube instead of being made fresh like in America. Oh well though!

Afterwards we went to the Fuji TV building, after postponing our check-in time for our hotel in Otsuka (my fav hotel to stay at in Tokyo, because it is big and cheap), and had a great quick tour of the place. We took some silly pictures (as always) and saw a show being filmed live, which was pretty exciting!

After the quick trip we made an even quicker trip to Venus Fort, but were distracted in front of it, when we saw little kids jumping on this bungee/trampoline combo, it was too cute to pass up! The kids kept getting smaller and smaller, and braver than the kid before them! We seriously watched them for a good 25 - 30 minutes before we finally entered Venus Fort.

When we got inside we did a quick tour of the place, and looked at some place to have a pretty cool small, intimate wedding, for friends and family. Ceremony and party included, and it was pretty affordable! Hmmmm...

We finished Venus Fort, and headed to Otsuka to check in, shower, and rest before our birthday dinner plans at TGIFridays. We kind of overslept and had to rush to Shibuya to find TGIFridays and I was relying on my SINGLE trip to there long ago to find the place, but I lead us right to there like I have been there a hundred times. Thank my photographic memory! We got there and ordered our drinks and food super quick and took pictures with some candles that said "26" that Sayaka bought (though I held them wrong once, and it said 62...). When the drinks and food came, her and I began enjoying a ton of amazing food! We had chicken quesadillas, which Sayaka fell in love with, blackened chicken cesar salad, which was AMAZING, and fried mozzarella! We ordered our second drinks and were definitely barely drunk, and we also got a order of chicken alfredo, that we HARDLY ate because we were STUFFED. By the time we finished our second drinks, we were past drunk and just taking a lot of interesting pictures and videos of us at our table... So of course I ordered a pina colada for us to share. After embarrassing ourselves to the people who sang happy birthday to me, we had to go to Shinjuku to try to find the bus that dropped us off in Tokyo, because I left a bag with presents ands cards from my office and a couple of students!

The guy on the bus luckily called us and said we left something, but that he also couldn't explain to us where he would be. Sayaka said we should walk up the road he dropped us off, but it went off in 2 directions, so I was wondering where we would go. She guessed right, and what would you know, we found him in the bus, and he gave us my stuff! It was funny though, he would not accept our money as a token of thanks, and just told us to use his bus again the next time we go to Tokyo. I think we just might!

We returned to the hotel after an amazingly fun, drunk, lucky night and slept it off until the next morning to check-out, and go to Disney Sea!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My birthday in Tokyo!!! part 1

My first birthday in Japan will go down in history as the best birthday of my life!

Got Saturday off of work so Sayaka and I can take an overnighter bus to Tokyo!
all of my classes went soooo fast and sooner than later, I was changing my clothes in the storage room of our office and running to the subway to meet Sayaka in Nagoya!

We found each other near the clock in Takashimaya and went to go buy chu-hai and McDonalds. The McDonalds purchase, became my first experience with Chicken Cesar salads, which I am officially in love with, You see, before Sayaka I would NEVER eat vegetables, but here I am eating chicken cesar salad, from McDonalds!!! Cho Oishikatta!

We boarded the bus after following our group and we both started drinking so we could fall asleep. It worked for Sayaka but not me! I could not sleep for some reason. When we got to the first rest stop, we went to the bathroom, and some strange man asked me where I was from, while I was going to the bathroom. I told him I was from Nagoya, even though I know he wanted to hear America, which I told him also. I also told him it was my birthday, since it was around 12:10 AM or so on the 30th of June! After making a new friend, Sayaka and I ate some rest stop food {soft cream, Sayaka's favorite, and an American dog, which is pretty much a corn dog) and re boarded the bus.

After 4 more hours of Sayaka being able to sleep and me not, we made it to Tokyo alive. 4:15AM.

Now this is Japan, and summer, so that means sun is up and bright, and since it is Tokyo, there are tons of people out and about in business suits walking the streets of Shinjuku. But they aren't going to work or getting off work. After a Yoshinoya breakfast, Saaka and I just stopped to watch these people and they ALL looked DRUNK! Yes, they were getting done from a night of drinking/karaoke or who knows what, and were DRUNK! This was highly amusing, but not enough to keep us awake! We headed to a nearby manga kiss (internet cafe) and got a room for us to sleep in for 2 hours, so we could wake up and go to Krispy Kreme!

Find out about the Krispy Kreme trip and the rest of the first day in Tokyo with my next post. Time to clean up after dinner and head to sleep, or drink more beer... not sure what we are about to do!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Yeah it was my birthday...

...but no time to write all about it. But it was SUPER AMAZING and fun!

My first bday in Japan will go down as one of my best birthdays EVER! Seriously THAT good!

I will write up about it as soon as I have time, but until then, just check out SOME of our pics from Tokyo! (Sayaka needs to upload all of hers, although most are just of me, BORING! Haha!)

Tommy and Sayaka go to Tokyo!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Drinking and bowling with most of the training crew, friends, and Sayaka.

And damn did we have fun (well I know Sayaka and I did!)

The plan was to meet at Hard Rock Cafe at 5:30, but Sayaka and I were really bad at keeping track of time and we got there about 6PM. When we got there Atsushi and Chris were at one table, while Neil, Becky, and Laura were at another. We were later joined by Matteo and Elspeth once we got a table area set for all of us (thanks to Sayaka!).

We all got our drinks and just sat and chatted about our almost year in Japan. Lots of us have lost weight, or shoe size and leg length in Laura's case (how in the hell?), but it felt just like the first night we ever hung out.

Damage wise, I had 2 hypnotiq ice teas, and a bahama mama that I shared with Sayaka. Ate an order of potato skins and a big ass sundae!

Also someone told HRC it was my birthday, so I got a balloon and a picture (which is the most molester picture I have taken, EVER!). But it wasn't over yet, oh NO! I had to get up on stage and dance! I faked being shy for a few seconds, then ran up on the stage. Usually it is YMCA, which I woulda been down to do, but I had no idea what was going on, and gave a half assed dance towards the end, while the rest of the time was hamming it up for the cameras.

After drinking and eating we went bowling. Sayaka and I left first because she needed to go buy socks, and we went to Shop 99, not knowing they sold socks at the alley. We met with the others and did 2 games of bowling, with people rushing to catch last train, and leaving before their games ended (one without his camera!)

Sayaka, @chan and I walked to the station in the rain and her and I eventually made it home safe. Overall, a good night for all!

Friday, June 15, 2007

She goes on one more trip and then she is MINE!

So Sayaka embarks on the last (and second shortest) trip of hers before she is in Japan for good (until we go to Cali in October).

She has pretty much officially moved in and life has been great since. We have so much fun cooking and hanging out for lunch or on the weekends and I can't wait until she is back for good to do more of that!

The other day we went to surprise her friend at her store and she took this pic of us. I REALLY like it because it shows how cute she REALLY REALLY is! (She is more than just cute on the outside, for the first time I have the combination of inside and out!)

Anyways, check it and some other pics!

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm going going, back back, to Cali Cali!!!

This was news discovered a couple weeks ago, but I gotta share it.

I was invited to be my best friend's (since 2nd grade, and we have never had any arguments or disagreements, always been cool)best man for his wedding. Shortly after I moved to Japan, he moved to Colorado, and I thought the wedding would be in Colorado.

A couple weeks ago I am talking with Mark over Xbox Live, and he says he has to go to California to take care of things for the wedding. I ask why, since the wedding is in Colorado. He quickly teaches me that it is actually in California, and rejoice comes over me. I told Sayaka that I would take her to the wedding and we were excited to go to Colorado, but I was gonna find a way to do California for a day or two. Now we can be in Cali for a week, almost exactly (say bye bye to my vacation days!).
I will make my first return home since I came to Japan this October! Watch out!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My dad's surgery went well. Now we wait.

His biopsy results come back on Wednesday (US time) and I will call then to see what is up with them. The doctor said the surgery was successful and everything looks great right now. My dad is waiting for the anestesia to wear off, as he can't move his legs now because he got a spinal.

I just hope he doesn't take out his own catheder like he did last time...

Good job dad!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So why on EARTH would I stay up until 4AM this morning?

Talking to my girlfriend online this morning of course. She recently went on vacation to Detroit, and I don't get to see her again until next Monday night when she returns to Japan.

This is why I am happy now, and who I can't wait to see in 6 more days!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Suzuka part 2. This time D1 Round Drifitng!!!

Such a fun day, event wise, health wise, not soo fun!

I will let the pictures do the talking, but it was a good day!

Could have been great if:

A. My allergies weren't acting up.
B. My stomach wasn't acting up.
C. I didn't have a little kid grab and strike my crotch repeatedly.
D. I didn't have my friend do the same thing while I was trying to sleep on the ride home(so NOT cool!)
E. It didn't get windy and cold, after I was dressed for a HOT day (last time I got my first sun burn EVER here!)

Anyways, on to the pics!

Race pics!

Fun pics!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You have heard about it, now see it, kinda...

I have mentioned my business I am starting with a few partners, and it is starting to come together. Because I want to keep the mystery, I will leave it to the pictures for you to see what WILL be going on at the beginning of July!

Check, check it out!

Monday, May 14, 2007

So my dad's cancer has returned...

I got a call from my sister, that my dad wanted to talk to me, and that I should call him when I get a chance. This was last week. I knew something was wrong, because my sister wasn't too good at making that request subtle, but I didn't find out what it was about till I called my mom to say happy mom's day!

She tells me she talked to my dad and gives me all of the details. I call him after talking with my mom and get more details. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer maybe 2 years ago, and they removed it with a laser and light radiation. It was gone for over a year. So my dad was having problems and went to get it checked last week, and they found more cancer than they did before and he has a surgery scheduled on June 1st (the earliest he could get it done with Kaiser Permanente), to do the same as before, but this time with chemo.

Talking with my dad, I know where I got my not afraid of death mentality from (neither of us are scared to talk about our deaths or no longer living), but it is slightly hard to be on the other end of it.

I will be calling him the day after to make sure all is ok. I lost a coworker to cancer a little over a year ago, and I remember chemo putting him into a lot of pain, and it just made his body so weak, so I am a bit nervous for this next surgery.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In case I never did it before...

Here is a link to my flickr in case anyone wants to keep track of my photography endeavors or lack thereof...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Got a new dgitial camera! Semi pro one too!

Brand new Canon Digital Kiss X dSLR camera!

2 lenses with filters
2GB flash card
extra battery
10,000 yen back
chance to win a Canon photo printer.
124,800 yen.

Woulda been much more had I got the same things in the states.

Bout to go walk around and take some more pics, but here are some samples.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Farewell/Welcome Party.

I am too tired/exhausted to type about today's events in details, so I will let the pictures do the talking. I drank a bit much today and need to go rest (3 Coronas, 3 Guiness', some Spanish wine, American wine, and 2 Smirnoff Ices).

Look at the pictures!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Enough new shirts for a year in Japan!

Thanks to my mom for mailing me a package recently, I now have 5 new shirts I thought I would be picking up during the now defunct trip to California.

It is hard (near impossible) to find shirts in my size here. Then if I find it in my size, I have to actually LIKE it! So I ordered some shirts thinking I can pick em up when I go home during Golden Week, but since that was a bust, I had my mom ship it over, along with my LOTR Special Edition trilogy DVDs, Indiana Jones trilogy DVDs, and my camcorder. She sent over a few other surprises too.

Anyways this post is about the new shirts and also a special shout out of "I LOVE YOU!" to my mom for helping her son out, in a fashion challenged location of the world. Thanks mama!


These aren't lame... THESE ARE RVCAAAAAAA!!! (watch 300 to understand)

Not RVCA (pronounced Rew-kah), but still nice!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I get my first terminal illness in Japan... influenza!

The flu, influenza, whatever you want to call it, I got it. Started feeling sick Monday, and was hit hard by it yesterday. It was so bad, my manager sent me home and told me to go to the doctor this morning, which I did.

Now a flu in America means take some pills, drink some liquids, be ready in a few days or by the end of a week. Not in Japan. When I got there, I had to put a thermometer in my armpit for 2 minutes, to confirm I did have this fever of mine. Then the doctor felt by neck and jaws, looked in my throat with a light, and use the stethoscope to check my breathing. All normal stuff right? Until what happens next...

So he told me what he had to do, that I would get something up my nose, and he kept pointing to the bottom of his eye, which freaked me out, but knowing there was no way getting out of it, I manned up. So he gets this long thin qtip and just keeps going up my nose, further than I thought anything could go up it (those days as a child never prepared me for this. OK days as a teenager....last week?).

Then he said I need to do an IV for an hour which freaked me out, because it would be my first IV since getting one to put me to sleep during my wisdom tooth extraction. I could not stop my stomach from wanting to throw up, but maintained my composure and got the needle in my arm and relaxed for just 20 minutes, since I thought I would be starting work in 40 mins. The first 2 mins or so, the needle was SOOO cold, then it felt like nothing. There was a few minutes of burning and itching, but that went away and I was done as soon as it started. They diagnosed me with influenza, gave me some pills (including one that has made children in Japan, dive on the ground or start yelling randomly, AWESOME!) and told me to stay home until Wednesday.

Which leads me to right here with nothing to do outside, because I can't be around other people, nor be outside. Regardless, I felt you would get a rise out of seeing me on my "deathbed".

The doctor was even nice enough to take these pics with my cell phone!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

School Bowling Tournament 2007!!!

Several months ago I took a bunch of students out bowling, and everyone seemed to have a great time, regardless of skill level. When asked what should we do for a good social event, the management asked me (the OFFICIAL party/event planner for my school) what should we do. The first thing that came to mind was bowling, and no one seemed to disagree, so the plan was set. Which leads us to this past Sunday...

I began my day by going to my school to prepare for Tuesday's class, shocking our new assistant manager, that I am not as huge as my suit makes me appear to be (I need to get new suits...), and having my head teacher be amazed at all of the blue camo Bape stuff I had on (I still need more!).

Made a quick run to the soon-to-be new office for this company I am cofounding and helped hoist some wood to the third floor. I was on the third floor, someone else on the second, and the other co founder on floor one, just transferring the wood from the truck, to the second floor, then to me. When I saw the amount of wood I thought it would take an hour or so, but we knocked it out in 20 minutes or so.

I headed to Fit House to check on this Casio G Shock Titanium watch I really want, so I could kill a few minutes before the event, until I saw a group of students walk by. As I walked out I saw my manager in plain clothes, which is always a shock, and he was again shocked at me in plain clothes. We both headed up to the 8th floor to the bowling alley to see a few students have already made it, and we had to wait no more than 5 minutes for 100% of the attending group to make it.

We had our first teams made and had a few throws for practice before game 1. My team, being 2 girls, insisted I go first for the practice run, so I grab my favorite 10 lber and knock down 9 pins, then pick up the spare. Then the good ole Tommy Curse set in. When the lane tried to set the next pins for the next bowler, they kept falling as soon as the gate would lift. This happened about 20 times, killing time for my team to practice, and forcing us to move to a new lane for game 1.

Game 1

I didn't do too well. I think I got about 111 or so, which is pretty sad for me (well when you are inconsistent all of the time, it is hard to keep a good average up) and my other teammates did much better than they expected, which I was proud of. I was especially proud of one of my students who was so adamant she was horrible and she got her score in the 70s, which was all she wanted that game. After this game, they lined everyone up from best to worst, and took people from opposite ends and moved them onto teams. Each team had to draw a team leader, being one of the staff members. I got set on a team that seemed unfair from what I saw. The 2 guys were consistently good, and the girl, said her best score ever was 35, and she bowled a 90 in game 1, so she was on a roll. So game 2 began.

Game 2

I swear it isn't my day... I bowled a 98, the 2 other guys did 160 something and 170 something, and the girl, yeah, a 119. Regardless, it was enough for my team to be declared winner of the whole thing! We won 1000 yen Starbucks cards that I got to present to the team. Afterwards, every person who came got a folder signed by every teacher, which some students were REALLY happy to get, to my surprise. So tournament done, what do we do now? What anyone does in Japan after a group event...IZAKAYA!!!

We lose about 3 people and everyone else pretty much makes it to the night of eating and drinking. It was a fun night filled with drinking, laughing and loads of pictures (on my part). One of my students actually came around 10:30 or so after she got off of work, but I was just leaving so didn't get to hang with her too much, I felt bad.

Overall another fun event with the school and I am glad everyone enjoyed themselves. Found out everyone pretty much left before last train, and didn't get much sleep that night, but I know they had fun!

Check out the pictures, to see how much fun bowling is in Japan!