University of Pennsylvania (Robert)

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    Yeah, there are typos

    By Hasselhoff
    Jul 19, '06 10:35 AM EST

    Nothing can compare to the macho dance, but it's been a fun couple of days.

    Last Friday, in honor of my English/Japanese training with Yamamori (山森) which generally revolves around cats, I gave her a children's book in English about cats. It was hilarious. She was bright red and couldn't stop laughing which drew the entire group over who also started cracking up. Best Â¥500 I spent all summer. I also told her in my mangled Japanese that the train smelled like the inside of a fat man's pants. I thing my sole purpose at Takenaka (竹中) is entertainment.

    After a quick lunch with Shoko, I went to the YKK showroom for windows and doors with Shoko, Hiraoka, Hadaka, some woman, and some other guy. We were picked up by some guys that, despite the lack of tattoos and presence of a neck, could have been yakuza. These were some serious window salesmen. Of course there was an abundance of deep bows and business card exchange, and me standing around awkwardly. It was actually pretty interesting. They had a lot of demos to show the water tightness and sound proofing abilities of their products. They didn't seem to like my question about whether or not mold tended to grow in the integrated vent system. If you don't like it, don't ask if anyone has a question.

    We then went to a model apartment which made me realize that while the outsides of the buildings tend to be hideous (repetitive tile, heavy concrete, due to climate and earthquakes) the insides are actually quite nice. They use really high quality fixtures and create some pretty nice spaces. It was funny though because they had the Jay Leno style stick on nightscape to make you think it was a real apartment. There was also a hilarious video to try and sell people on the apartments, located in the bustling town of Nishinomiya. In the video we see a very excited woman buy a candle at MUJI and then go to a restaurant and show her turtle neck wearing, leather jacket clad, Ken Watanabe-esque husband who in turn becomes very excited. We only see the apartment for about 4 seconds.

    Afterwards, we all (minus Shoko) went to dinner which was a 497 dish, 352 beer, chain smoking meal. The Japanese don't care at all that I don't drink. They continue to ask you to hang out and just keep the oolong flowing. It's refreshing when compared to the over testeronized American that can't comprehend a simple preference and will literally stop talking to you. Following this we went bowling where I fell on my first frame and hit my knee really hard. It still hurts. I ended up getting decent score and we all had a joyous time.

    It's been raining for five days which is nice because it's cooled things down, but it really limits the walking around potential. On Saturday I went to Kyoto for the Gion Festival. It was sunny when I left Kobe, but poured in Kyoto and was generally dreary. But I still had fun, plus the rain covered up my sweat marks. Sunday I explored Sannomiya, also in the rain. It was then, after seeing all the cool kids (ages 8-12) with Nintendo DS that I decided, I too, needed one. Especially the new DS Lite. Ok, Japanese people are crazy. I went to about 10 shops before I found one. I went to Yodobashi Camera in Umeda on Monday (national holiday) which was a MAD HOUSE as usual. But they had a ton and I got one and it's awesome. Maybe I can play wirelessly with some kid on a train someday. Anyway, Sunday night I had an English lesson with Kumi which degraded into me explaining why “Calpis” is funny. She also told me that all Americans have guns, so I drew an awesome picture of my grandma with a bunch of guns. I woke up early on Monday to go to a temple complex in Himeji, only to be greeted by a massive downpour. So then I thought I would go to the ninja museum in Ueno-Iga which is only about 40 miles away. Too bad it takes 3-5 trains, 2-3 hours, and $40-60 (depending on your exact route). Not worth it. I'll try the temple this weekend, assuming it doesn't rain again.

    On Tuesday I did almost nothing at work. Again I'm finished, but Hiraoka is never around to go over it with me, so I've just been fooling around with weird lighting techniques in Max. I don't know whether it's my bad influence or if she's always been like this, but 山森 is such a slacker some days. I think she did about 12 minutes of work on Tuesday. Mostly she was playing with Google Earth, looking up Hard Gay, and Muffy. I didn't help when I started showing her pictures of National Parks. She said she wants to die in Hawaii. So Jon, now you have another tourist attraction for you home, dead Japanese people. I had lunch at Chinatsu's with Kumi. This lesson was even more worthless. Whenever Chinatsu is around she is the translator and no one learns anything haha. Although they tried to put make up on me the whole time (I got glitterized) and was told that on Sunday I am going to get done up like Glay. Chinatsu gave us free toro (fatty tuna) which is the expensive part. It was $20 worth (probably 2 ounces total) and was OISHI!

    Doraemon is a dork.


    • myriam

      I had a relationship in a foreign country for a long while that I still suspect was based more on amusement at my alien-ness than on affection.

      So, it's a stupid question probably, but: how does the sushi in Japan compare to the sushi in America? Quality sushi in America, of course. I mean on the one hand, you think 'all food is better in its home country' but then on the other hand, how could raw fish vary that much? So, I'm curious. And as a sushi obsessor I would like to know if I should bother flying to Japan for the food. Presuming I had money to burn like that.

      Jul 19, 06 4:55 pm  · 

      'A' grade in America is like 'B' or 'C' grade in Japan. And no retarded fancy-smancy Spider Rolls or whatever.

      Jul 19, 06 5:10 pm  · 

      I'm betting that the eel is better, simply because with American prejudices, how could the eel here be that good? And I love it as it is, so I'm hoping it would blow my mind in Japan... Is sushi expensive there? (Like it is here?)

      Jul 19, 06 5:11 pm  · 

      Honestly, my sushi tasting ability is not that great. I like it, but can really only tell the difference between bad, ok, and better. I.e the stuff that has been sitting out all day at the grocery store, the better stuff that you get from a restaurant, and then the stuff from a nice restaurant. I can't tell very minor distinctions. Well I guess acutally I just don:t eat it THAT much. But I would say it's better here. I think the price is about the same, at least at the prices I can afford. I got a plate of maguro for ¥1800 on Sunday that was pretty good. Conveyor belt is better than the really cheap stuff in the states. I eat sushi, but I'm not obsessed with it. I wouldn't come to Japan for the food. There is a lot of other stuff to see and do. I think the food (for me) is the least attractive part. In the States we typically only get the 'good' stuff. In Japan, it's a lot of relatively bland things, soggy veggies, tofu, weird meat (fatty, but not in a good way, cartilige, tough, skin on chicken, boiled), MISO EVERYDAY-EVERY MEAL (I now hate that stuff), rice, rice, rice. But the ramen is really good.

      Jul 19, 06 7:45 pm  · 

      Yeah, whenever I get "treated" to a home-cooked asian meal (be it chinese, vietnamese, what-have-you) I invariably leave hungry as I just can't stomach most of the stuff. It always seems to be murky, unidentifiable broths and chunks of bland, unidentifiable-but-somehow-you-know-it's-creepy meats. I guess I'm just too American. But I *do* love sushi. Probably because it's pretty clear what each fish is, and there isn't any creepy sauce or dishwater-broth involved. And don't worry, I was exaggerating. Like every lame architect I want to go to Japan to see the temples!

      Jul 19, 06 9:51 pm  · 

      i am vegetarian (mostly) so love japanese food. miso and tofu are favorites (and necessary sources of protein), but as they are subtle you need a good cook. and good ingredients. fish here is also amazing, especially in the area where i used to live (Japan Sea side of the country). I am not a huge fan of sushi, but my wife tells me the sushi in tokyo is just alright compared to her home-town (which has a fishing industry, among other things). I have no idea personally. like hasselhoff my tastebuds jes ain't equipped.

      temples are nice here myriam, but for me not so exciting anymore. Usually we only go to them now with friends or for festivals and special ceremonies. Nice thing about Japan is that religion is a part-time occupation, and the priests don't mind if you don't believe...and gods-inspired morality just ain't there. All they expect us to do is try to do as little harm as possible because that is what being HUMAN means; and when we die there isn't a western-style afterlife don't worry about saving your soul, or the souls of others. be good NOW and do all the important stuff TODAY. cuz when you dead, you dead. How is that for a religion?

      Jul 19, 06 10:44 pm  · 

      Doesn't Japan's crappy produce drive you mad JUMP? I mean, for reasonable prices you get 2 soggy green beans, and for ¥983249834 you can get some nice fruits and veggies. I bought a ¥500 mango the other day because I needed some real fruit after 5 weeks of jellied crap and cabbage.

      Jul 19, 06 10:53 pm  · 

      I like the idea of the temples because they seem so quiet and peaceful and the rest of Japanese culture kind of scares me. Also a lot of the religious ceremonies seem beautiful to me--what little I know of them, at least. I like the ideas of hanging paper things on trees, and having lanterns, and just quiet restfulness. I suppose they aren't so quiet when jammed with tourists, however.

      I guess I want to go see the Library in Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore", if it exists.

      Also, Hasselhoff, interesting note about how you are treated when you don't drink--I always loved in France how no one tried to pressure me to do anything I didn't want to do. Isn't it nice to just be taken at face value for who you are? No changes necessary for people to like you, they just do, without asking questions. I love that kind of affection. It must make your stay that much more warm and rewarding.

      Jul 19, 06 11:18 pm  · 

      Don't worry, Hasselhoff, there's no affordable fresh fruit in Boston, either! ...unless you like apples.

      Jul 19, 06 11:19 pm  · 

      I lived in Boston for two years and didn't find it too unreasonable. But then again I do like apples. But I found I could get tomatos and greens also. Here, a salad is a tiny bowl of cabbage with one slice of tomato. I know, it's just not the diet here, but I miss it. I mean, here, we are talking 1 apple is $1.50, one orange is $1.50, one peach $3.00 (I saw 6 for $100 once). Melon, fuhgedabowdit.

      Jul 20, 06 12:17 am  · 

      Find the cubed watermelon!

      Jul 20, 06 1:21 am  · 

      Oh wow! Ok, those prices are much much worse than Boston. And we can get greens here. Just not any good citrus fruits or anything out of the ordinary like mango or guava. Twice I have randomly found mango in the supermarket and it was $1.50 both times. A lot for America but not as bad as Japan it seems. I am just spoiled from the West Coast, I guess.

      So they don't even have like, spinach greens? Or romaine? crazy! Cabbage... yikes.

      Jul 20, 06 8:52 am  · 

      i live in a working class community so prices are about half or sometimes even 80% cheaper here than in the city centre (which is only 30-60 minutes away depending on where i wanna go). apples and such are not as shiny and as nicely packaged, but just as tasty.

      but everything is seasonal here, jes like when i was a kid back home (before fruit became a year round thing). so now i am eating a tonne of plums cuz i know they will be gone for another year soon. price-wise, they are ok...

      I find that my diet has changed quite a bit as a result of cost of the western stuff in japan. Luckily the Japanese diet is quite cheap. miso and those wee clams to put in it, and tofu, okonomiyaki, udon, etc, etc. i quit on hamburger and other forms of beef about 5 years ago, but really couldn't afford even way back when. i think that is a good thing. certainly am not as heavy as my friends back home are getting...

      Jul 20, 06 11:59 am  · 

      I was very surprised to find that Japan has the highest rate of stomach cancer of any developed country. My first guess was the drinking. But I did some research, turns out it's the diet. Apparently the polished rice, high salt content, and the lack of fresh fruits and veggies raises the rate to 3 times the US (strange right, for all the crap we eat).

      It cost me $30 to make meatballs in Japan. Agreed on meat costs.

      I applaud you for adopting the Japanese diet haha. I know I can't. I'll eat most anything (ate chicken heart last night, pretty suck), but after about 2 months, I just can't handle rice for every meal, miso at every meal, bland broths. They import Backstreet Boys and Dior, why can't they import some chili powder or basil? I find myself needing to eat Thai, Korean, Italian etc. I wouldn't say I miss 'American' food, just stronger flavors. And really vegetables. And variety. haha I know I will get comments that there is variety, but it's like hot udon, cold udon, udon with tempura, udon with beef, udon with chicken, and replace udon with soba. Just around Meyerson Hall at Penn, I can get fruit, variety of sandwiches, Chinese, Indian, hamburger, Taco Bell, vegetarian. Here it's like udon, udon, udon, katsu, udon, katsu, Indonesian, soba, soba, katsu, udon, hamburg steak, udon, convenience store. I think the first thing I do when I get home is eat like 12 pounds of brocoli, tomatos, corn, and green beans.

      On the weight thing, I don't so much think it's what we eat, but how we eat. I read a study that showed that the French eat much fattier, calorie rich food than Americans, but they eat much less of it and don't have the weight problem that plagues the US. Even in Philly, there are fat people all over, but you generally see a pretty strong correlation between weight and income.

      Jul 20, 06 8:51 pm  · 

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