The Land of Confusion (Japan)

Japan ~ Osaka – 2015

What do you think of when you hear Japan? Probably a lot of things flash by in an instant…from the deep rooted cultural elements, to the checkered history, the strange and bizarre…all the way to Pokémon and Dragonball Z (as well as so much more) – it’s safe to say that Japan has always painted a colorful tapestry for themselves, one unlike any other place on earth.

Like most western folks I confess I have a rather bare knowledge regarding the so-called land of the rising sun…but that’s alright – as it’s always more exciting and rewarding to go into a place totally unprepared! Every sense is more receptive – your eyes wide like a newborn baby…not wanting to blink so as not to miss anything as you stare up and around at all the newness in front of you. Like being unplugged from The Matrix – all of the preconceptions and travel guides can go out of the window, as you are witnessing it all first hand…you are truly living it in real time. And if you are lucky, nothing will be like it seemed from your armchair back home.

Exhilarating right? RIGHT! So how would all of these aesthetic commodities manage to impossibly mesh together then ? I didn’t have the foggiest idea – but of course I was still beyond curious! I mean…what would I find behind Japan’s veil of mystery?

Curtain GIF

Well my friends I will say this…Japan is weird and wonderful – no actually, wait – let me rephrase that…Japan is weirdly wonderful. You see many things in Japan are weird; very very weird – but the weirdness often makes them wonderful…and the things that are wonderful, wellllll they still often cling to a certain sense of weirdness. Sorry…I know I’m sounding like some sort of deranged Willy Wonka right now…but this is the best way I can think to sum it up! 

You see there’s battles on every single street corner! And by “battles” I don’t mean Pokémon battles (to my great disappointment), but battles between juxtaposing cultural elements…it’s bizarre, it’s crazy…but they manage to meld together in the strangest of ways…it shouldn’t work…they shouldn’t be able to coexistbut somehow they do in a way only Japan can manage. 

Think the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang – two opposing forces that form together in perfect unison…well yeah it’s like that except rather than good/evil, or light/dark it’s Buddhist temples and pornographic manga characters…to give just one of many examples…

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There’s also a perfect fusion between the old and the new which I found rather fascinating. On the one hand you are ordering your food through a machine in a restaurant rather than dealing with humans…very Bladerunner-ish…but then on the other side of things you are paying in coins to get a paper ticket stub to ride a rather dated subway!  I like this idea though…not everything has to be updated, smooth, and futuristic – then again I’m biased as I still dream of living in a castle with a moat in the next ten years, so perhaps you shouldn’t pay attention to silly old me!

Mind one thing I didn’t quite enjoy as much was the confusing nature of the transport system…it actually seemed intentionally difficult. The lines criss-cross in the most nonsensical ways imaginable – I would assume because they were just built one after another, and so the map took shape without forward-planning…either that or the architect dropped a bowl of noodles and thought “mehhhh, good enough!”

Anyway, what that means for the user is that they are sure to pull their hair out attempting to understand that which cannot be understood! I’m not even talking about the fact that it is all strictly in Japanese; which sure is frustrating but as I was in Japan I felt was fair enough! I’m really just raving at the layout of the tracks, and routes…my advice is this; attempt to be constantly partially intoxicated on Japan’s surprisingly good, and cheap selection of beers – that way you won’t mind as much, and will just go with the flow!

“Oh, we went the wrong way by 20 minutes? Never mind…these things happen! Let’s go!” as opposed to: “FUCCCCK! WHY DOES THAT LINE GO THAT WAY?! WHY DOES IT HAVE THE EXACT SAME STATION NAME MINUS ONE NUMBER! WHY AM I NOT DRINKING BEER RIGHT NOW?!” – it’s really your decision, but I feel comfortable with my choice.

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I came to the end of my trip seriously wanting more…which has to be a positive? Sure there had been some lows – losing on Tekken to a young Japanese kid which basically destroyed my entire belief that I was a master of that game…continually relying on body language rather than spoken words, so much so that I now feel like a professional body-popper…and finding out there are so few vegetables in the Japanese diet that I may have scurvy, BUT – despite all of this it has piqued my interest massively as both a country, and as a culture – due to that I want to return very soon…next time Tokyo I reckon, so I can experience a change of pace – mind, I’ll still be going in as a rather clueless and ignorant tourist; and you know what?

That suits me just fine. 

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A Day of Feelings

I have realised that we go through various feelings in any given day…at least I do…it’s very rare I have a completely ecstatically joyful day, or a terribly woeful one. There are patches that trip me up, and situations that most certainly help raise a smile…

…let’s have a little look at a few of them, shall we? 

1. When you have to battle to drag yourself out of bed in the morning…one side of you knows you should – the other half doesn’t care! But jobs, and bills, and rent – and all that – urgh.

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 2. When something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted…the first sign of a not so perfect day…frustrating to say the least – can’t I just go back to bed and not deal with anything?!

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 3. When dealing with your first inexplicable idiot of the day…take a deep breath – in, out, in out…now drop the hammer you’re holding and keep walking.

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 4. When something goes right for you, and you feel more self-confident than Jedi Obama…

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 5. When the hunger pains set in…and no one is safe – NO ONE! Am I hungry because I’m bored, or bored because I’m hungry? I can’t remember…BUT GIMME THAT!

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 6. When your boss asks you to work late…you may smile brightly, and say “sure no problem!” But really you are thinking…

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 7. When you finally get out of work, and your time is now completely your own…you can do anything…the world is yours!

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 8. But…then you fall in love with a stranger on the commute home…

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Nevermind, there’s always tomorrow…

Well that’s my lot! Did I miss any important ones? Let me know!

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Cockroach Crisis

How are you supposed to deal with an incoming attack?! Probably not kicking and screaming? Well…yeah sure…that actually makes sense.

Listen…I know I am technically a grown man and all that kind of jazz (I’m not but the government forms tell me I am)…but cockroaches freak me out. Am I the only one? I mean we don’t have them in England to my knowledge…so perhaps that’s it.

But anyway, listen to this story, and let me know what I should have done…did I react in the right kind of way? Did I make the next Dexter? You decide…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Umbrella Please!

I should probably preface this by pointing out that (in my experience) Koreans are an amiable, friendly, and warm-hearted lot! But naturally there’s always the bad apples…and I met one on Saturday night…

The setting was central Itaewon, it’s a very ‘foreigner-friendly’ place, which isn’t particularly my bag – but I was out with friends, and we were heading to the next place in high spirits…it was then that we were stopped by a kind looking middle aged Korean lady, who looked rather unassuming, and normal…if there is such a look. Anyway, she was stroking my friends arm, and speaking in a soothing voice, what exactly I am unsure. But after a few awkward moments we started to walk away, and that is when all hell broke loose. That was when I definitely knew what she was saying…

“SHEEE-BAL! SHEEE-BAL! KAAAAYSECKY! SHEEE-BALLL!”

(“Fuck off! Fuck off! CUNT! FUCK OFFFF!”)

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Yes, I know the swear words better than than the language itself, but let’s not focus on that issue! Let’s instead focus more on the fact that this stranger was suddenly spitting (literally) at us, for just carrying on our way. I actually didn’t know what to do – I don’t think anyone did who was there to behold the spectacle. She had just went from 0-100…from a sweet Minnie Mouse, to a mad spluttering Donald Duck. 

All I could do was try and dodge the spittle, because no matter how much I wished that I had an umbrella – I knew that wouldn’t make it suddenly appear.

KAAAAYSECKY! SHEEE-BALLL! KAAAYYYSECCCCCKY!” 

Her eyes were flooded with violence, as she wagged her arms like mad hate-filled propellers in our general direction. We stared in disbelief, and then just shrugged, and turned away…hoping she wouldn’t follow us further to give us an earful! Thankfully she didn’t – I’m assuming she must have met another unsuspecting group, and started the whole mad conversation all over again.

Single life, huh? Fun times. 

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Winter Sickness (AKA: KIDS!)

First, and foremost thank you to everyone for the show of support, and concern – the love is appreciated, that’s for sure! I’m feeling a little under the weather, but with better spirits…so I made this video to warn you of the dangers of children – wrap up, wear a mask, and keep your distance!

I’ve caught the winter sickness…that doesn’t mean you need to get infected to – SAVE YOURSELF!

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Curse of the Ninja

Was reminded of this childhood memory by Melanie, after my previous post regarding childhood lies!

When I was in primary school, like most kids my age – I used to love The Power Rangers. The kicking, the punching, the flipping, the monsters, and the explosions…I mean, the whole package appealed really. So it wasn’t a rare sight to see me, and a couple of friends acting out crazy fight scenes in our school break times! We’d be jumping out of trees, doing killer rolls…the whole works…basically just battling evil wherever we found it…

And we didn’t skimp on any of the realism…oh no…we’d be using elaborate formations, working together to beat these savage creatures which had every intention of taking over the world. We’d jump in, one by one; “HIIII-YAHH! HUHH! PAAAH! KAPOWWW!” 

Power Rangers Boss GIF

It often took a few hits, especially if our foe was one of the big bosses – but we always, always triumphed…I mean, we’re The Power Rangers, we’re only ever going to win – that’s kinda the whole deal.

But one of these bouts stands out…you see, one of them was very, very different…

Which is odd, because it started out very much the same; we fought over who gets to be who, and then fought again over who gets which stick…just the same as every other time – but after these usual formalities, we were able to continue with our normal crime-fighting ways as per! …but this truce wasn’t to last – and before we knew it we found ourselves  arguing over something else…something which hadn’t ever been an issue before…

“YOU JUST SAID A SWEAR WORD!!!” protested one of my so called Power Ranger colleagues – wagging an accusing finger in my general direction.

“No…no, I didn’t!” I argued, unsure of what he was referring to. I assumed he had misheard one of my amazingly realistic “SHIPOWWWW!” sound effects as something more menacing. So I pleaded my case, I was innocent GODDDAMITTT!

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“NO. NO. NO. I’M TELLING.” He smirked out the side of his mouth…the grin sent my blood boiling – did he really think I had swore, or was he just trying to fuck with me? I wasn’t sure…but for once, I hadn’t actually done a thing! So I tried to grab him, I had to keep him from spreading his lies – his arm alluded my clutches, and I found myself pulling desperately on his empty jumper sleeve…but with one big yank, he was free – albeit with a stretched bit of material that was now twice the length…

“YOU FUCKING BACK-STABBING PIECE OF SHIT!” I screamed after him, as he ran towards the classroom. Well obviously I didn’t really say that; I was eight or nine – so it was more likely I said “GET LOST, YOU BUM HEAD!” Which roughly translates to the same thing.

I ran away in the opposite direction, hoping that this would somehow make all of my problems go away – or at the very least bide me some time. It didn’t work. Before long I found myself in front of my teacher Mrs. Mc.Dermott…she was usually so friendly; she always appreciated my artwork – even the ones using paint which I constantly messed up. But she wasn’t friendly now, after all he had whispered his bullshit into her ear – and she had believed him.

He was sent away, and the interrogation began. Why had I said it?! What had driven me to use such horrible language?! Where had I learned it?! I tried to explain, tried to sputter out my defense – but she wasn’t buying it. So it was a stalemate. I didn’t know what to do…and hunger pains began to pulse through my body…urgh, now I come to think of it – I was STARVING…

“LISTEN, JOHN! You either own up, and apologise – and then go for your lunch. Or we just sit here. Your choice.” 

 Well obviously I admitted to it. It was like the carrot, and stick – except it wasn’t a carrot on the end of it…it was a lovely chocolate doughnut, apple juice, and whatever other goodies I had waiting for me in my bag. I’d probably do the same thing now, food trumps just about anything…for me anyways! 

You see I needed my energy. I’d be playing Power Rangers again in the afternoon break – and there was a new enemy I’d need every bit of strength to take down…“HIIIIII-YAHHHH!”

Power Rangers Beat GIF

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DRUNK Snorlax!

My second YouTube video…this is my first real story, story…so I hope you enjoy it!  Hopefully it’s funny – I mean, I never really know until I get people’s reaction! 

On an unrelated note, thank you for everyone’s kind words regarding last week’s unfortunate situation – I wanted to bring it back to the fun times, rather than focus on the negatives. Take care, love from me as always!

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