dum di dum... ok... im sorry its been nearly 3 months since i updated. personally i blame seb for taking up too much of my time... even though he wasnt here for a month of it.
a few days before christmas chado, steph and me went to a family friend of chads flat to have a christmas get together. we had some great vietnamese food and talked to some new people. it was a very nice way to spend an evening.
christmas was suprisingly good. obviously very different to any christmas i have ever had before, i never thought that i would be able to enjoy christmas away from my family, but i enjoyed it with my japan family. walking the streets you would not beleive that it was christmas day, there was still workmen on the building sites. shops were still open as normal, it became hard to get in the spirit. i say hard, it took a carton of not so fine wine! the party began at my house and we ate, drank adn were generally merry. i was lucky to be able to talk with the family in their various time zones, though by the last conversation i had drank far too much wine!
we had a number of social gathering in my house over christmas and new years. generally involving plenty of biru and whisky, ice kindly supplied from ice man chado. depite language differences everyone was able to communicate and have a good time.
in preparation for new years i set myself and steph a challenge of creating a costume for the theme of "movie stars" , after 4 days of sewing a princess leia costume was created, and quite marvelous it looked.
new years itself was one of the best parties ever, and made even better by the fact that i was being paid to attend it. I was surrounded by all of my friends from japan, those who i work with and those who i live with. everyone had a really great time. we were of course very busy at work, but everyone was in good spirits, there were no fights, no major breakages/spillage. The evening ended at around 7am for the customers. once all the customers had cleared out we had over an hours worth of cleaning ahead of us. the floor was a complete mess, and needed a proper good scrub. the toilets, well ill leave that to your imagination! and we had to bring all the furniture back in. Around 830, from what i can remember, we were finally able to start the real party! we usually have a drink after work, but on this day it ended up being several drinks! we had the music on, we were dancing and having fun until, well i think i left around midday. I should mention that when i finished work i sent seb a text to say good morning and to wish him a good day at work, now what i should have done in hindsight was to call him because the dumb ass ended up being 2 hours late for work and stumbled in still drunk and sick at the sight of the alcohol he had to cook with! i fell asleep on the train, not the first time, and ended up 20mins past my stop. i then fell asleep again on the return train journey, only waking up as the doors closed at my stop. i managed to stay awake until the next stop and then as punishmen made myself walk from that stop to my house. i ended up having about an hours sleep before i had to make my way back to work again. of course we had to open on new years day because of all the premiership matches back in england, but the pub was dead!
on the second of january is one of the few days that the imperial palace gate is open to visitors and the emporer with his family makes several appearances. after much deliberation as to whether i wanted to get out of bed i went to see him, and it was quite an experience. firstly it would have to be one of the most well organised events ever, a constnt flow of people through the gate and every hour the emporer comes out. with the crowds gathered beneath the balcony everyone starts waving their free flags as the emporer comes out, then as he makes his speech for the new year all is quiet.
as a reward for all our hard work over christmas and new years the pub was shut for a couple of days so that we could have a staff party. neil took us to a lovely restaurant in Ginza called Alice in Wonderland. The place was beautifully decorated with mirrors and muriels. And all the food came out looking like the cheshire cat etc. The waitresses were all dressed as alice. we had a number of celebrations, Daves birthday and Akikos engagement to Shane, so the waitresses bought out some special desserts, dress up costumes and a polaroid camera! after dining we went to Hiroo to a karaoke place called Smash Hits, unlike the usual karaoke in japan, this one was a public performance, though given it was a thursday night there was just 2 other people in there. we had lots of fun singing and the stage was plenty big enough for everyone to sing some group songs. once they threw us out of karaoke we headed to our favourite, Geranimos back in Roppongi. After that things get somewhat hazy, i guess we were thrown out from there eventually, at whcih point a few of us stumbled around trying to find somewhere else to continue the party and ended up in a club past paddys which you wouldnt wanna touch anything in. i left here after one drink and returned home. and yet again found myself having travelled too far on the hibiya line to find myself a half hour past my station. Luckily we all had the next day off as well so I had a chilled out friday night for once.
Ive had plenty more karaoke experiences in the last 3 months as well. The first was on pay day in January when myself, Steph, Niall, Eric and Erik went to the karaoke down the road from Paddys on pay day. We had a good 3 hours singing. The machine scores you after each performance, me and steph held the record for most of the night with our rendition of no scrubs. Complimented by our dance routine. Then at the last song, as we were being thrown out te guys bought it back and beat us with a rendition of Firestarter. Oh well.
Another time I went with Steph and the two paddys to a place in Shibuya. The price seemed rather cheap for 2 hours but we clarified it before going in. We had a really good time singing and drinking... lots of drinking. Then it reached the time for the last trains so we headed out. But the price came to more then we were quoted, because we had only been qoted the price for the all you can drink and not the room charge for 2 hours. Now if this had been any other country an agreement could have been reached between management and the customer. But this is japan, where the customer is always right holds no validity as a statement. these are the rules and they are followed to the letter. Within 3 minutes of us starting to discuss our issue with them they were threatening to call the police, and sure enough 10 minutes later the police had arrived. Now this is a simple misunderstanding, not helped by the language barrier, but calling the police is just ridiculous! Time ticking away for the last trains, we had no choice but to pay up and go, begrudgingly.
i went with the two paddys and steph to try and find an abandoned amusement park out by chiba that we had heard about. we had seen lots of photos of this place but its exact location was difficult to find on the internet. on account of those who have found it not wanting every tom dick and harry to go there and it losse its magic. So anyway, we headed to where we though it would be and walked around all day. Everytime we saw a cluster of trees where we thought it could be we got excited. Then we spotted a ferris wheel in the distance and went in that direction to discover that it was the zoo, fully operational! At the end of the day, losing daylight we spotted a hump in the distance among some trees from the station platform. We tried to find it quickly, already planning a return trip to see it in the daylight, but we couldnt find it, and gave up to go home for karaoke.
A week later we returned to find the hump again, and wondered around for another day. We did find a random collection of straw huts, no idea what they were but they looked interesting. I left my scarf in a coffee shop, and that was about it for the day.
This was stephs last day in tokyo so we returned to our house for a sayonara party. Well wee actually went down to the isakaya on the ground floor of our building. We had lots of drinks and food. I had been to this isakaya on a couple of occassions but were limited on the menu by what we could point to on the menu outside but going with japanese people for the first time meant that the menu opened up to us and we had some great food.The other good thing about this place is the karaoke. 200yen gets you a song, and the book is as full as any of the other karaoke places. Stephs departure marked the beginning of the enjoyment in my house going. Chado left the next day to travel around japan for a few weeks. Narelle also left, so the party atmosphere in the house went, as it was myself and japanese remaining.
We had a second staff night out because the building was closed for a day. So all of the staf, went to a mexican restaurant. We were serenaded by some amigos at our table with guitars and drums, and enjoyed a nice meal. After we returned to Roppongi and went to karaoke, followed by geranimos. Zeeshan impressed us with his singing in japanese which made a welcomed change from singing oasis.
Chado returned to tokyo for one last night after seeing more of japan. We could not socialise in the house as we always used to because a grumpy japanese man has moved in. So we went to a yakatori, which is lots of meat cooked on a small bbq on the table. From here we wondered around Minowa trying to find a bar that in the end was not open. So we hopped in some taxis and went to asakusa to the samauri cafe, a gaijin hang out. We had bought chado the game pop up pirate as a leaving present which we played breifly when we returned home.
Since deciding that I would leave Japan in just over a month, there was still lots of things that i wanted to do in Tokyo. I still had not been to Harajuku on a sunday. So i headed to Yoyoji park and wandered around. It was nice to see everyone doing their thing. there was lots of people doing different performances. First i saw the rockabillies dancing to their music with leather jackets and trousers and big hair. Then there were some groups playing drums, some guitars. There were some girls dancing, some people play sword fighting with sticks. THere was lots of dogs dressed up, and a special dog area for them to run around in, one for big dogs and another for the smaller ones, There was one woman i spotted in there sitting down with a strange creature sitting on her neck, maybe a ferret. I tried to take a photo of it, but i still couldnt work out what it was. As i left the park i stumbled upon all the girls dressed up in their crazy outfits that harajuku is so famous for, and sneakily took some photos. one girl looked so miserable. There were also a few people offering free hugs. From here i walked to the meji shrine where i bought a plaque to leave my prayer. i spent a little extra and bought the one with the rat drawings on because it is the year of the rat and i was born in the year of the rat.
I returned to odaiba again in order to take more photos since the last time i went there i was only there for a couple of hours. this time i arrived and had a nice meal. The i walked around the perimeter of the island, taking in the view of tokyo from across the water. After walking for a while i decided that i wanted my first onsen experience so i went to the onsen on the island. It was a very interesting experience. First with my underwear still on i put on my yukata, from the changing rooms i went out into the shopping area and through to the second changing rooms where all clothes are removed and i was left with just a small towel to hide behond. There are seperate baths for men and women so after only a little aprehension i enjoyed being naked with all the other women. there were quite a lot of baths to chose from, but i particularly liked those that were outside because while the water is hot the cool night air is refreshing. once i found a good rock to sit on it was very relaxing. it would have been nicer with a book to read or someone to talk to, but an interesting experience non the less.
I also finally visited tokyo tower, which i see everytime i go to work. i didnt go all the way to the top because there was a lot of mist which meant the extra money wouldnt get me to see much more. i took some photos of my favourite places in Tokyo; odaiba, Donki!
Friday the 14th was the start of the biggest social event in an irishmans calendar! the beginning of the celebrations for st paddys day. It was suprisingly quiet. Probably caused by the rain. So we finished work at a reasonable time and sat down for after work drinks, then come in the guys that have been working at the mobile bar at the westin hotel (sebs old hotel) for the Emerald Ball. FOllowed by about 15 people who have been at the ball and dont want the ngiht to end! Even though we had all clocked out, we helped neil out by serving drinks and what not. We had a U2 tribute band in, who are in Tokyo to perform at another event, and they gave us a few renditions. The party finished in time for the first trains.
Saturday was also relatively quiet. The main draw for people was the final games of the 6 nations, in which England was playing Ireland. THankfully England won because i would never have heard the last of it otherwise, even if the score doesnt bother me either way. After work we got things ready for the parade on sunday, such as costumes and the country flags. with this done i nipped home to have a couple of hours sleep and a shower. Something that a few other staff members should have considered doing rather than going out drinking, but i wont waste any more time on that lazy idiot.
So after my rest i returned to paddys for about 11am. We got into taxis with all our things and headed to omoto sando for the parade. The guys were dressed as leprecauns, of the normal type and an elvis and a biker one! Everyone was in good spirits. After the parade finished, we headed back to paddys, where we thought we would get a brief reprive, but it wasnt to be, for most of us, Zeeshan and Ai-chan were rushed off their feet because the people from the parade had beaten us back to the pub. So from 4pm til gone 12, the pub and outside was packed. It also happened to be the best days weather for since before winter.
After work on sunday, myself and eric went to sleep at cindys flat because we were all working on monday. I didnt sleep very well though because i had drank too much red bull and my legs were hurting. ALso Seb decided to call me at 11am and i had to find somewhere in CIndys flat to talk to him without disturbing the others! I ended up in the bathroom! We woke up about 2pm and cindy made us some lunch, we headed to work 45mins early because there wasnt much else to do!
Monday started off ok, a little busier then most mondays but not too bad. Then the masses arrived in high spirits! There was 3 of us behind the bar and 2 floor staff, Aiyumis first day on the floor!!! But we managed very well, except for s certain collegue of mine trying to start a fight with me while im working and he is not, having left early the night before because he had been awake for 30 hours by choice. But thats that. We had a guy in to sing some irish songs with his guitar. ANd we had a few dances from Paddys Dancers. Then we had an improptu performance from the U2 tribute band again. And they were better then the acts we had arranged!
From work on tuesday morning i headed with Eric to meet Niall, Erik, Akiko and Shane to drive to Fujikyu highlands. I was so tired but the opportunity was too good to miss. SO we arrived there and I saw Mt Fuji, which is a very nice mountain as mountains go, but the trip was even better because we were at a theme park! we grabbed some beers and headed for the first queue... which took us 3 hours!!! now there was no need for it to take this long. But the preparations that the staff have to go through before they eft you enter the 4th dimension is ridiculous... if someone is stupid enough to leave their shoes on... let them!!! And you can make the seat thigns automatic. you dont need to go a strap everyone in individually and you can certainly have more than one car going around!!! SO after wasting our time on that, it was a good ride but not 3 hours wait good, though we had time for plenty of beers! SOme of us headed for another ride while the others went ice skating. After this brief separation, we went on the same ride again together and then drove back to roppongi where we had a few drinks in paddys. I got back home that ngiht and realised that i had lost my glasses somewhere. WHich is a bitch!
Thursday i went shopping in Asakusa to buy myself some souvenirs. I bought some chop sticks with a nice case and holder. I bought a hello Kitty phone charm, because i am now collecting them from all over japan! and i bought for 10000yen, a yukata, a short jacket and a belt! the best was 6000yen itself! but it was new while the yukata and jacket were used. after my shopping trip i had arranged to meet Zeeshan, Eric and Niall in Paddys to go for some drinks in Shibuya. I waited around for several hours before we finally left. We went to CLub Asia which was nothing to write home about and then to a bar owned by a guy that used to work at paddys. it was pretty nice, but we were the only people there. Then when the bar closed up the guys took us to naka meguro to a house music afterparty. Zeeshan enjoyed himself and the rest of us had had enough to drink that we didnt care what the music was like we were listening to.
Friday and SAturday were quiet at work but were my last days. SUnday i waited at work for a few hours before catching the night bus to Kyoto, where I will begin my Japan travels!