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…

Unbelievable GIF

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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Pee, and Pornography

I was chatting with a friend just the other day over dinner, when she told me a story of how she had endured a horrendous flight littered with visa complications – and vigorous crosschecks! Just my kinda story, right?! Anyway this led me to tell her of my last flight…which I think I didn’t share with you at the time!

…the tale takes place some time in January of this year – as I was on route from a lovely Christmas spent in England, back to the land of the morning calm: South Korea. The flight is a monster, but a necessary evil…I can’t sleep on flights at all, so it’s basically just a day of watching movies…oh and looking around at everyone else who is well and truly conked out as if in a witch’s spell…

Sleeping GIF

Which I suppose is kind of amusing at first, but 12 hours later…six movies in…not so much. Anyway the flight in question was pretty normal in that respect – I had the distinct honour of being nestled in between two people; a hefty Chinese chap, and a young very smiley Chinese lady. For obvious reasons there wasn’t going to be much conversation, a few head nods here and there perhaps…pointing to the food, and giving a thumbs up (maybe), but no actual words. Which is fine with me ordinarily. But as you may already know…messages don’t always have to be sent by a flexing of your vocal chords alone…no, no – a picture is worth a thousand words…

…you see I was already a little uncomfortable thanks to the chunky overzealous arms of my new friend to the left – but he had finally fallen asleep watching an Adam Sandler movie so I had a bit of respite! But I was far from off the hook, as to my right there was still some rather odd activity going on…the young lady was on her phone which I wasn’t paying attention to – until she was sitting there holding it at a strange angle – the kind of angle you would use if you said “hey, check out this video of a cat punching a dog!” or “look at this picture of my Dad eating a pie!” …or – okay the list is endless, and I think you get it. So naturally I looked, what was she even trying to show m-

Surprised Patrick GIF

OH, WAIT. Erm, I see…at the end of her outstretched hand was a rather lurid mobile phone screensaver – to say it caught my eye is an understatement! I’ll stop skirting the issue, and just come out with it – It was a picture of a caucasian gentleman and his Asian lady friend getting rather  fond of each other in a kitchen. I didn’t know where to look, and didn’t want to make it obvious I had just caught sight of it…so allowed my gaze to continue to the window, thinking that perhaps I could pretend that’s where I was looking all along…just staring blankly out of the glass, like the school days…

…but that wasn’t enough for her, she propped her arm up in my way, and opened the lock screen of the phone, to reveal a second wallpaper, with a similar kind of theme. I nodded, and gave one of those “ahh, I see!” forehead raising movements, before desperately busying myself with the movie menu screen in front of me ~

Whilst she flicked through her gallery of pictures.

Creepy Grin GIF

We got over that little hump, and back to our polite manners when eating together – eventually I couldn’t hold it any longer, and needed to pee. I hate asking people to stand up, but I had been forcing it to the back of my mind for so long! So I gently nudged the guy, and asked if I could get past – “hmmm, NO.” He retorted, before pulling his sleeping mask over his sweaty face, and crossing his arms. Well I certainly hadn’t expected that…I asked again, but got no answer – so told myself I could probably wait another movie, after which I would probably violently stamp over him to urinate . Something to look forward to if you will! How long can you last John, let’s find out!

But you see great minds think alike! So the girl needed to go too…she did a similar nudge to me to get past – to which I explained about the immovable force blocking the way, she tried to get his attention by flicking him which I thought was odd, and even spoke in Chinese – but nothing. So she opted to climb over everyone instead. Perhaps it was all part of a master scheme, an amazing rouse that the guy was in on, but she suddenly became oh so clumsy…tripping over in some mad slapstick routine which always ended with her sitting on me. Like actually sitting on me – I’ll let you visualise it I’m not going to describe, you have imaginations, use them. However after this little bit, she slid majestically past sleeping beauty with no problem at all!

Tom Slide GIF

Strange that, huh? 

Anyway, there is a happy ending to all of this – she woke him up coming back, so I was able to use this window of opportunity to use the bathroom myself. And it will go down as one of the best pees of my life. Waiting makes things more special my friends, remember that. 

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Breaking Bad: Kindergarten

You could say we had a little…erm…”science experiment” today…

Breaking Bad (1)

Because, errr…we did! And it all exploded in my face, and now I smell horrendously bad. You see we had to mix sodium hydroxide with vinegar – and then the subsequent reaction would blow up a balloon…amazing I know! What I wasn’t warned about was that if the kid hadn’t attached it all together properly this would launch madly into the air, and slather me in wretched liquid!

Now I have a meeting, and no time to shower…excuses people – quick, quick, quick!!

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Birthday Blues

Well I have just returned from a few days in the coastal city of Busan, in South Korea – couldn’t have wished for a better holiday to celebrate my birthday! Unfortunately there was to be one final hiccup – and I am still scratching my head wondering how it happened (while eating some birthday toffee, so not all bad I guess!)…

You see, I lost my bank card! But not in the usual fun way a person does during a heavy week…something like taking 1,000 flaming shots, then getting in a fight where you are punched so hard you’re physically sick, and somewhere within the throws of all that madness your card is gone, never to be found again…no. You see instead of a fun story I simply lost mine at a rest stop…on the way back home in broad daylight! Like how does that even happen?! 

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The coach pulled in to the stop, and the fella said we had ten minutes. So I scrabbled around for all my necessities…which were only two items; my phone, and my bank card. I then made my way to the scruffy bathroom, that had blatantly never seen a wash – and then continued on to the little store they had there. I was suddenly very excited about the fact that I would soon be scoffing down delicious cheese flavoured snacks! My tongue was salivating at the selection, as I grabbed bags of cheesy doritos, and eagerly joined the line. But when it got to my turn, I went through a pathetic mime routine…touching my pockets, and shaking my head, without uttering a word – as if the loss had stupefied me into a dumb silence against my will.

I retraced my steps, which inevitably led back to the piss trail of the horrendous public bathroom. Which was not a welcome discovery…the hot dog brine type smell that lingered there, greeted my nostrils with a horrible flare, so strong that I could taste it. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, so looked frantically at the floor – faintly hoping (kind of) that I would find it somewhere in, and around the sporadic clumps of men’s stray pubic hairs.

Frodo Gross GIF

But it wasn’t to be. 

As I got back on the coach defeated, I was obviously a little bit annoyed. But I can now say that I have extracted a few positives from the situation – which I would like to share with you all…

Firstly I was relieved that I had lost my card right at the tail-end of the trip, as it really only hindered me getting snacks – which is a huge deal to me, but I know not literally the end of the world! Anyway people offered me things, and another friend paid for my taxi home once we arrived. I then let a Korean friend know I had lost my card, and he was immediately on the phone to call up the bank. and cancel it! Then the day after I was invited out for dinner, and drinks by a Nigerian friend I don’t even know so well – so of course I declined, explaining my situation – my friend was there with a card he had loaded with 100 dollars, and told me that “brothers always have each other’s back…” I was touched, but desperately tried to jam it back into his pocket – he wasn’t having any of it. Then the next day a work friend greeted me in the morning with a McDonald’s breakfast (some of you will know how much I love those bad boys!) as she knew I wouldn’t have been able to buy myself breakfast…my point is, there are some truly good, honest, and kind people out there – and I am lucky to know a handful of them!

Awesome GIF

Oh, and special shout out to the lady at the bank for getting me a new card on the same day! She’s a miracle worker!

Well I’ve rambled on a bit, hope you don’t mind me sharing these little tales – I just thought they served as a reminder that the world isn’t all doom, and gloom – egos, and selfish ambitions. Have a great day my friends, and perhaps try and be the best part of someone else’s too! 

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Treasure Your Kids! (Haemorrhoids)

I get a bit sappy on this one…also, erm…haemorrhoids. Apologies. 

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Peeing Your Pants

If you’ve ever peed your pants, watch this video. If you’re peeing your pants right now…well, please go get a good wash, and a change of clothes! 

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Alien for Supper!

No big deal guys – just the time that an eel was skinned in front of me, and continued to wriggle on my plate. OH THE FLASHBACKS! THE HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FLASHBACKS!

Still, hope you get a kick out of it! I certainly did making this!

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I ATE A DOG.

I ate a dog in China, and it has haunted me ever since…I mean you really don’t forget that kinda’ thing! Arghhhhhhhhh! 

Oh, and by the way – while I am here…the WordPress suspension has been lifted, they sent me this message “You may have seen our earlier notice that some social features had been disabled in your account. We have now reversed this block and hope the disruption to your use of our service was minimal.” Thank you so much to each, and every person who expressed concern over the misunderstanding. It was great to see the community come together in that way, and I am beyond appreciative. Honestly, thank you so much. 

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I’M NOT A PAEDOPHILE.

I have a confession to make that may actually surprise a few people…I’m…not…a paedophile. Phew, kinda nice to get that one off my chest! It’s been eating away at me for ages!

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Continue reading “I’M NOT A PAEDOPHILE.”

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