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The Shrine Drummer

Before moving to Tokyo, I taught English in a countryside prefecture known as Tottori.  I loved it there.  My only complaint was my noisy neighbor that liked to play taiko drums early in the morning (usually between 5:30am – 6:00am).  He would open all the doors and windows so that it could be heard by all.  He would play to no discernible rhythm and consistently modulate the tempo making it all the more irritating.

Unfortunately, the place where all the noise was coming from was a Shinto shrine.

But why should places of worship and the fallible men and women that run them be exempt from criticism?  If church and state are indeed separate in this day and age, then I should be able to proceed as if I were complaining about noise from a dance club or pachinko parlor.  I had always been told that Japanese almost never complain directly.  For example, a noisy neighbor would hear any complaints via the apartment building landlord.  

But what about a foreigner?  Could a foreigner even complain in Japan—let alone about noise coming from a shrine?  This was going to be an interesting social experiment.

Read more: The Shrine Drummer

Things I miss, don't miss, love, and don't love

Things I Miss About LA

  • the mahi-mahi burrito (baja style) from La Salsa
  • drinkin' wine and playin' NBA Jams for Super Nintendo with my best friends
  • having stuff in English
  • movie theaters that seat like 1500 people and make you go deaf
  • watchin' laker games
  • having a car
  • clubbing in Hollywood
  • watching "Family Guy" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
  • Costco
  • 24-pack of beer in bottles for
  • $18 (see Costco)
  • beer from countries other than Japan
  • a good martini in a glass the size of my head
  • no snow in the city, but then driving 1.5 hours to go snowboarding
  • drinks the size of a trash can and free refills!
  • eating Mexican food at 3 am
  • Georgio's pizza delivery
  • forced air heating
  • living in the same time zone as your friends
  • using feet, miles, and Fahrenheit as units of measurement
  • dinner at Islands (Island fries with ranch dressing)

Things I Don't Miss About LA

  • sitting in traffic on the 405
  • taking a deep breath of carbon monoxide-infested LA air
  • the 60 minute commute to work
  • doing anything and finding a million people there with the same idea
  • crazy winos potentially with guns
  • those damn SUVs everywhere
  • corporate America (insert double-barreled fingers here)
  • the massive piss I have to take after drinking 4 trashcan-sized cups of whatever at a restaurant

Things I Love About Japan

  • speaking complete nonsense in Japanese and having people still be ultra nice to you
  • T-shirts with really bad Engrish on them
  • people who get really excited when you speak Japanese to them
  • walking down the street at 2:00 am in downtown Tokyo and not feeling like I'm gonna get shot or raped or both
  • people who don't know a word of English, but think it's cool when you speak English
  • okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and gyoza
  • messing with the NHK guy
  • asking a simple question at a store and having 6 people scramble to help you
  • not having to give anyone a tip...ever
  • acting like I don't speak a word of Japanese when in fact I understand most of what you just said to me (see NHK guy)
  • having random people ask if they could take a picture with you
  • getting a haircut, then also getting a shiatsu massage and a drink
  • using foul language and slang and having people not know what the hell you are saying
  • my cell phone has a PDA, a digital camera, a TV, DVD player, email, a color screen, Internet access, and a time machine
  • getting free drinks at bars
  • heated toilet seats
  • it's considered cool to have a big nose here
  • clubs and bars that don't close until 5 am

Things I Don't Love About Japan

  • having to speak Japanese to get anything done
  • 12-pack of beer in cans for 3000 yen (about $28)  OUCH!
  • why does everyone have to smoke??
  • do they have to write EVERYTHING in Japanese??
  • buying a postcard and having it wrapped in 6 bags, then having the receipt wrapped in 8 bags
  • watching a show about "the rules of using chopsticks," and realizing that you have broken every single rule and done every possible taboo thing
  • that damn metric system

The Kyoto Poopie Incident

I have a story for you, and it's quite disgusting really.  But this is me you're talking to, so that's what you get.

Anyways, I'll get to the point.

I went on an all-day road trip to visit the ninja villages in Japan.  It was 4 of us: me, Susumu, Shinobu, and Yoko.  Anyways, we stopped to eat in Kyoto on the way back to Tottori.  We had this epic feast mostly consisting of tofu dishes.  They served tonyu, which is this milky, heavy type of tofu.  It's like a dessert.  This was my first time eating it.

Well, it didn't sit too well on my stomach, and I actually got a mild case of the shits right there in the restaurant.  I went to the bathroom, and took care of it.  Problem solved, right?

Read more: The Kyoto Poopie Incident