Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is likely to be the last post from Japan (at least by me). We are back in Tokyo after spending a few days in Kyoto. My attempts to play ultimate have all failed, however we are going to have dinner with a guy (Yoshio) that I kind of knew back in high school tonight. Chowning and I pretty good with directions around Japan at this point, which is a good time to head back. Tomorrow we will start another 24 hour journey back to Atlanta. I'm not sure how we are going to avoid jetlag this time (we failed last time).

Oh, I've eaten many interesting things here, but I had some McDonald's yesterday. It was better than back home (the burger was cooked fresh and a little medium) but perhaps that is a result of eating so many different things this trip.

I have played lots of games on my DS, but I've only played in the arcades that one time. It was a dollar a pop, and I know better than to throw my money away letting people beat the shit out of me. I'll have to hone my SF4 skills back here in the states then unleash a tsunami of hurt all over this island.

P.S. Best sign so far is Smorking . . . we're holding out hope for one more awesome sign, but outcome is bleak.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today we leave Okazaki and Michael and Aimee. It has been a great time here, with the highlight for me being the trip to the baseball game last night. It was a strange experience that I would chalk up to feeling more like a college game than a professional game. There were small (fan based?) bands for each team, and each team had mascots running around. There were clearly a lot of established traditions of songs, arm motions, and clapping sequences. The game was in a dome, so it was on astroturf. There were three non-japanese players, two Americans and one hispanic guy. It was clear that the hispanic guy was from the carribean based on the way he swung a bat and how different it was from the other japanese players. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the game was how reasonably priced things felt. I could get a drink for 2 dollars here, rather than 6 at an american baseball game. Riding the subway to and from the game was also fun.

So far my favorite errors in translation are:

Narmal = Normal
Chumise = Chinese
Smorking = Smoking

The great thing about all of these (or perhaps the way we manipulate the english language) is that if you say the misspellings enough you can totally see where they would make sense. I have also seen signs pointing out that smoking in a nonsmoking area is wrong because it is inconsiderate to other people. That shit wouldn't matter back home.

We're headed to Kyoto today, and there is an ever diminishing chance that I will go play pickup in Osaka. Not really a great loss, but it would be cool to go. After Kyoto (and a nice/swank hotel) we head to Tokyo for one day then back home. I am excited to return to the US. I've done an o.k. job with the food here, but I am looking forward to going to the Vortex for Trivia on Monday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Region-locking is dumb. While in japan I was hoping to accomplish a few things for my gaming habits. First was to play street fighter in an arcade. I did that, lost all of my games (never played SF4 before) and had fun. Second was to steal a copy of Wii Sports Resort on the 25th (release date), just before we came back to the states. It comes with Wii motion plus, and who cares if your waterski game is in Japanese, you move the handle and it goes. Unfortunately the Wii is region-locked so any Japanese games will not be playable on my American Wii. There are modding ways around it, but I am not as ambitious as Jason with my consoles. No big deal, maybe I would pick up a DSi here and then I can just learn the Japanese needed to guide the menus while still playing my games in English? Nope, the DSi is region locked as well, so any future games I purchase for that system will be unplayable unless they are imported from Japan. So I look into standard DS games . . . and they aren't region locked. I could by a new DS here and all my old shit would work. Or my current DS games would work on my DSi, but not any new games. After doing some research Nintendo is now ending what has been a decade long tradition of not being region-locked just in time for me to come to Japan and get screwed by it.
Thanks Nintendo, thanks a lot. I can still buy a charger and stylus to replace the ones I lost earlier this trip, and some games that are in Japanese (how much do I need to be able to speak to play the new Mario RPG?), but any new gen purposes are going to have to wait until I get back to the states.
We are now in Azukizaka, which is near Okazaki, which is near Nagoya, which is in Japan. We've made it to mikxor and Aimee's house, which is a nice little place. Michael is very good at Japanese now, which is cool to see when you think about how long he has been studying the language. It's nice to be speaking english to someone other than Chowning, and having Michael means he gets to order whenever we are at places. Our stay in Takayama was absolutely fantastic. Chowning did a great job getting us an authentic Ryokan to stay in, and the view was of a nearby river that had carp and ducks. There are lots of funny things to be said about our trip so far, but I'm going to relax and enjoy Mike and Aimee's company.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

So Chowning got me a game a while ago that has attempted to teach me Japanese. It has been an interesting game, and is one of the only ones that I play with the sound on. Well, I have learned that there are something like 4 character sets in japanese. I was cool with that at first, some of them reminded me of chinese characters, and others didn't. There there was the whole set of Romaji, which uses roman characters to phonetically spell the word. Two of the others (I think there are more) are Haragana and Katakana. Each is kind of cool and interesting to learn how they work phonetically, but then I realized that while it is possible to spell a word in all 3 alphabets, there are some words that use both haragana and katakana!! What the fuck! So I learn how to spell something using a letter set, and then to actually spell a functional word I need to learn another set!?! Why didn't you just teach me that set also? I know the answer is because there are ways to spell most things with haragana, but it feels like some one has taught me how to spell because but did't tell me that there is some new letter that replaces the au with a single stroke. It makes it even harder when trying to read, because I can phonetically read things up to a point where some crazy new letter shows up that is in a different alphabet. Not that I'll know what the word means anyway, but at least I can phonetically read Haragana . . . until fucking Katakana gets in my way. Fuck languages.
I am current in Japan . . . so all of you can suck a big fat dick. Well, except for Mike . . . 'cause he is in Japan already. Chowning and I have had a great time here so far.

First, we were traveling for roughly 24 hours before we got to Japan. There was a short flight to Toronto, then a 5 hour layover before we got on our 13 hour flight to Toyko. Some interesting things about the trip so far:

--We weren't over the water for very long. The "shortest" route to take was over Canada. The James Bay was a frozen pond as we flew over it, then the Northern Territories, the Alaska, the right down those commie's fucking throat in Kamchatka, and finally landed in Tokyo.

--It was never night on our flight. Since we were flying with the sun, it never set on our flight, which meant the flight attendants had to adjust the mood lighting frequently after everyone closed their windows to simulate a day/night cycle.

--Tokyo has been great. Food has been scary, especially with my minimal pallate. We went to an "italian" restaurant and while there was awesome Penne with Arrabiata sauceon the menu, it wasn't the lunch menu and we had to order from an all Japanese price fixed menu. While the pasta and salad were good, the "antipasta" portion included squid and some other strange shit. The only thing on there i recognized was vegetables in a broth. I felt gyped until the bread came out.

--We saw some guys in robes forming a "parade" with lots of children. They were lugging a small, but apparently heavy cart through the streets. There were all sorts of people walking with them, and kids helping them pull the cart. No idea what was going on, but the best part was that there were some cops with a rope and they would rope off the street as these robed guys were going through. But there wasn't much rope, so they were basically walking with the guys anyway. The only difference was their jackets and whistle to get people out of the way.

We have pictures, but you can't see them yet.