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    Macho macho man!

    Hasselhoff Jul 13 '06 3

    Blah blah blah, work, yada yada yada.

    Yamamori and I continue to “teach” each other our native languages. She was looking through my dictionary the other day, started giggling and said “I am ass.” I think that was probably the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. She is so quiet and cute, it was absolutely hilarious. Those of you that know Hyoeun can imagine how it was said. Similar to Hyoeun's now famous “It is only one bucks.”

    So, to recap the Fukae Dormitory Festival. This massive undertaking has been in planning for months by the first year employees of Takenaka. All first year employees under the age of 27 must live in the Fukae Dormitory located in sunny Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Japan. The festival takes place over two days, the day time being food and fun to the entire family, Saturday evening being a pretty lame party, and Sunday evening being a promotional video for a gay cruise.

    When I woke up on Saturday morning there were hundreds of small children running around the first floor of the dorm. I kind of helped some guy entertain some kids, but was mostly just entertainment as “Amerikajin!!!” Some perpetually drunk guy (either he is really always drunk, or his genes make him red and stupid, regardless, he's annoying) kept saying “Robato, goya shop open, help” and point to the roof. I had agreed to help, but every time I looked, they were overstaffed, so I wasn't about to stand in the heat on the roof and do nothing.

    At 3:00 pm I snuck out and met Chinatsu (woman from the restaurant) at the Konan-Yamate station. She picked me up in her rad Mercedes(!). We went to a coffee shop and got sandwiches and the best iced mochas ever. She paid and also bought me some Belgian chocolates. Gotta love my recessive genes! As we were talking she says “My friend wanted to go to English conversation school. It's too expensive. Maybe you can get together and she can help your Japanese. Do you have a girlfriend? Maybe you and Kumi... She will come to the restaurant on Monday, you should come and have lunch with her.”

    So now we move to the Saturday evening party. I felt like I worked at a host bar. I don't feel like getting into it here. If you don't know what it is, Google. But some guy dressed as a girl would come over and say, “These girls want to talk to you,” and lead me to a group of girls who spoke NO English. All I can say in Japanese is “I like to eat cats.” In spite of the total lack of communication, three girls asked if the could be my girlfriend (through a translator mind you). Turns out they were all 27,29, 30 etc. The traditional marrying age in Japan for girls is 25. Obviously it's being pushed back like in the States, but they still feel the pressure. Note, Kumi is 33, OH silly Chinatsu.

    The night ended with the “Macho Dance.” There is nothing macho about this dance. It's funny, it's entertaining, but it's the gayest thing I have ever seen (well, until Sunday night). Imagine, 25 skinny Japanese guys dancing around Backstreet Boys style in Sumo style diapers... The end was a really cool STOMP style beat/dance thing, but the previous 20 minutes were beyond words. After words I went to a pub (?) with the machos. They each screamed, chugged a beer, screamed, chugged a huge amount of sake, then we left... Weird weird night.

    Sunday was essentially the same as Saturday. I skipped most of it and went to Ashiya with Omar to see the Yodoko Guest House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Very cool.

    Now for the strangest part of the Festival. Sakura Hall was sheathed in protective blue tarps. Three guys in suits got on the stage and started yelling things. Everyone raised a beer and started yelling back. We saw the same performances again (four times in two days). I left for a while and then came back just in time for the return of the Macho Dance. This time the diapers were lower. On the floor 115 sweaty, drunk shirtless guys were packed together as the ”˜machos' sprayed foam on the crowd. The front row was grabbing ass like Russians in a bread line and trying to rip off the diapers. After the Macho Dance was finished the club music came on, they fired up the disco ball and the grabbing and dancing intensified. Wine coolers were being poured on each other and it was just down hill from there. That was my cue to go get some sleep. I was the most rested person at Takenaka the next morning.

    On Monday I meet Kumi at Chinatsu's family's restaurant. She giggled more than talked, but her English was fairly good. Chinatsu continually checked in on us and of course I got my free coffee. That got me thinking. This time my trip to Japan is not about architecture at all. Sure, I'm working and learning, but being able to be in one city and meet these people is what it's all about this time. What will I remember in 10 years? The screw detail in some building, or the expression of disgust on Masako and Hiraoka's faces when I gave them the 99% cocoa chocolate? I will remember how Chinatsu's family took in the random gaijin and greeted me everytime in their best English and gave me free food and discounts. I will remember how Kumi invited me to go to her sister's house in Kobe to watch fireworks in August. I think meeting all these new people and LIVING in Japan is the great part. I'm glad I had the trip last summer, because I just don't even care about going to look at buildings this time.

    Tuesday evening I went to some strange restaurant near Yodoyabashi with Tanaka. Our dinner was paid for by our group leader, Yabu. We sat at the bar next to some leathery spinsters, while the food was prepared in front of us. The food looked great, was served in many small dishes, but was rather bland as per usual. Tanaka is one of the nicest guys at Takenaka and speaks very good English, but is very serious and rather unentertaining. So my entertainment was the 9000 year old, four foot tall, Japanese-somehow-Angelina Jolie (you'd understand if you saw her), semi-desiccated proprietor of the shop. If she wasn't so friendly I would envision her as Mother from “Memoirs of a Geisha.” As she sat drinking her beer, she kept looking at me, saying something about Amerika, and laughing. She asked if I was married. Then she said she could see I was pure and that I don't look 26. Then she gave me a loaf of bread.

    Wednesday had dinner in Sumiyoshi with Kumi. Thursday said more stupid crap in Japanese to Yamamori. Friday will go to a mullion showroom, a site in Nishinomiya and dinner with Hiraoka. Three day weekend, day trips, karaoke, sleeping.

    I could keep going, I have tons of stories, but it's got to end somewhere.

     

     
    • 3 Comments

    • liberty bell
      Jul 13, 06 12:52 pm

      Thanks for the newsletter, Hasselhoff. The pics are entertaining. But of far greater interest to me is hearing you describe how this trip is so much less about architecture and so much more about the human connections and culture you are discovering. That to me is the point of travel: you fly across the ocean to see a door pull detail, but the culture you engage with while getting to that door pull are the things that truly educate you as an architect. I'm so glad it's going so well for you (especialyl after all the angst of last semester at UPenn).

      Hope the mullion showroom (!?!?!) isn't too boring.

      Hasselhoff
      Jul 13, 06 9:52 pm

      I frickin' hate school. I can't wait to be done with that train wreck. WOOO May 17, 2007! I'm only taking studio and building systems integration as far as architecture goes. Then printmaking and auditing Japanese.

      AP
      Jul 15, 06 3:46 pm

      yes, the images are very entertaining, as are the stories.

      def. enjoying the newsletter...I must admit, though, i was at work when I read this one, and could only glance at the pictures from the party...didn't want to confuse my co-workers / principal...

      "hey, what'ya lookin' at? A bunch of almost naked Japanese kids!?!?!?!"

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