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June 2004 - First Time on TV, Live Show, Korea

Rollerblading, Tottori-style
I've been rollerblading a lot lately at this skateboard ramp park near my house.  I've been trying to teach myself rollerblading tricks--something that every 26 year-old needs to know.  It was going well; however, one fateful day I landed a jump wrong and slammed my full weight on my left heel.  It hurt so badly that I went to the hospital a few days later fearing that I fractured something.  They took an x-ray.  Luckily, nothing was broken, but it took a solid 3 weeks for it to finally heal.  I felt like I was in that scene in "Lost in Translation" when dear Scarlett has to go to the Japanese hospital.

My First Time on TV
A news station in Yonago (Tottori prefecture's other major city) contacted our school asking if they could include our school in a report on new stores/stuff to do in Tottori train station (our school is inside the station).  They requested a demo English lesson with a foreign teacher.  My manager was happy to oblige as it meant free advertising for the school.  She asked me to do it, so I was on Japanese TV!  Whooooo!  It was only like 30 seconds long, but it was fun nonetheless.  I gave this ultra-dorky lesson to the attractive female news reporter and they included it in their local news broadcast.

Meet the Shrine Drummer
There's this Shinto shrine next to my apartment.  Occasionally, some dude there plays a drum around 5:30~6 am.  The guy is so bad at playing that drum.  It's freakin' abysmal.  It sounds worse than a 3 year-old hitting a frying pan.  I've decided to rebel, so I crank up my guitar amp, aim it at the shrine, and play when that guy plays.  That guy drives me so nutz that I'm losing my mind.  He really needs some drum lessons.  I'm gonna put his head through that drum some day.

Welcome to Korea
I had a week off at the end of March (for Golden Week), so I went to Korea for 4 days.  I went on a full-day guided tour of Seoul, so I saw all the palaces and cultural stuff like that.  I also saw the Seoul zoo, Korean war memorial museum, and the Kukkiwon (TaeKwonDo headquarters) on my own.  Korea was surprisingly different from Japan.  It kinda reminded me of Italy cuz the people seemed more emotional compared to Japanese people (esp. when driving).  It was funny cuz people (esp. school kids) kept saying HELLO to me.  I said hello back to them in Korean.  Yeah, that's right, baby.  How ya like me now?  One group of school kids at the war museum even gathered around me and touched me.  I felt like Indiana Jones in "The Temple of Doom" when he rescues all those slave kids at the end.

Stolen Bike?
I ride my bike to work everyday and park it at this pachinko parlor (a gambling game here similar to slot machines).  Anyways, I went out with my band mate after class one night, went back to the pachinko parlor to pick up my bike, and it was gone.  Damn.  We went to the bike impound to search for it, but they were closed at that time.  The next day I returned to the bike impound with my manager to get my bike, but it wasn't there.  So my manager said that it might have been stolen.  Damn.  I was quite surprised cuz my bike is a piece of crap.  Who would steal it? Anyways, I was walking by the pachinko place the other night and said to myself, "What the hell.  Let's get some Japanese practice."  I told this guy working at the pachinko parlor parking lot in Japanese, "Excuse me.  My bike was over there last night, but now it's gone."  He was really polite and told me to wait a sec.  He came back and said that they put it in a storage area.  He even showed me where the storage area was and sure enough my bike was there.  Cool!  I didn't lose my piece of crap bike after all.

The $45 Guitar
I went shopping one day (cuz there's often little else to do in this town) and looked for a cheap electric guitar cuz I don't wanna drag my bulky acoustic all the way to Osaka for street performances.  Anyways, I went to this large second-hand shop called "Off House" and found a Fender Stratocaster for only 5000 yen (about $45 US).  I was blown away when I saw the price tag.  I immediately bought it, and I'm still blown away as to how cheap it was.  They even included a nice guitar case.  I seriously think they forgot a zero in the price.  OK...I'll shut up about this now.

First Band Performance in Tottori
This band that I'm in performed a few weeks ago at Tottori's only club.  60 or so people showed up and packed the live house.  The show went surprisingly well.  I was really worried cuz we practiced for almost 6 hours on the day of the show and my voice was pretty tired as a result.  But I'm happy with how the show came out.  We even videotaped it.  Hahaha...our guitarist used my $45 guitar cuz he said it was nicer than his.  I even performed two of my Japanese songs solo, and the audience seemed to like them a lot.  I got such a great reaction that I wanna go to Osaka and perform them on the street there again to see how they react to them.  My dad shipped me a battery-powered amp, so I'm good to go!  I'm hoping to go this coming weekend.

"I Don't Want to Become Fat."
One of my students is going to do a 6-month home stay in Canada very soon.  She asked me a funny question last lesson.  She said that she doesn't wanna get fat during her home stay and asked my advice.  Apparently, many Japanese people gain tons of weight when they do home stays in the USA or Canada.  That's kind of a sad, but true statement about the American diet.

I told her 4 things:
1. Order from the kid's menu at restaurants.
2. Cook for yourself as much as possible.
3. Don't force yourself to finish every meal.
4. Eat JAPANESE FOOD!

Gyoza Party
My coworker Miyako hosted a "Gyoza Party" recently.  Gyoza is this awesome Chinese-style dumpling stuffed with meat or seafood and plenty of garlic.  It's by far one of my favorite Asian dishes, and it compliments beer like nothing else.  Naturally, it also includes a heavenly dipping sauce (damn this country makes awesome sauce).

My coworker Bryan, and students Shinobu, Hiroko, and Keiko all came over to Miyako's extremely tidy apartment.  Keiko has this bad habit of drinking too much at such gatherings, and she drank waaaaaaaay too much this occasion.  She couldn't even stand.  I've never seen anyone so obliterated.  She threw up continuously, and we all had to carry her downstairs in the pouring rain to the car.  This was an interesting cultural experience cuz it took 3 people to carry her (she was just dead weight at this point), and we kept shouting orders at each other in both English and Japanese.  I realized that giving directions is often surprisingly complicated language as you have to use a wide variety of verbs to accurately communicate the directions.  Luckily, we got her to the car and Shinobu and Hiroko took her home.  She was okay save for the nasty hangover the following morning.  She apologized profusely to all of us the next day.  I was happy she was okay, but also secretly impressed that a petite Japanese girl could pound them down like that.

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