Monday, June 29, 2009
Lions and Tigers and Gundams, Oh my!
Spent the weekend hanging out in Tokyo with Janet. During my b-day weekend she visited the H&M store that was across the street from the Princess Heart restaurant and wanted to go back. While I didn't really need to do any shopping, I did want to go to Tokyo and see the huge 1:1 scale model Gundam that was recently constructed in Odaiba. So, off we went.

Took the early train in Tokyo. Had somewhat of a mix up as I ended up on an earlier train than the one she took, but I hoped off at the kaiyamato station and waited for her train to show up. Only had to wait about 15min, which wasn't so bad. On the train we had some breakfast. She got me some melon pan goods and also this really yummy chocolate mint drink that I am now addicted to!

First stop of the day was Odaiba. In Odaiba, we ran into this kitten store that had a huge pink cat in front of it and took some pictures. Then we went to check out the Fuji TV building. Very cool. Then we headed over to the park where the Gundam is. Seeing the Gundam was pretty cool, but the park had a really bad odor. Smelled like a herd of elephants had been recently living their. After we took a few 'action' photos we escaped the smell as fast as we could.

After Odaiba, we headed to Ginza to check out the H&M. Imagine our excitement, shock, and horror at finding there was a sale going one. Why horror you ask? Well, we are very weak willed when it come to shopping at the H&M and its really hard NOT to spend a bunch of money on clothes when you tell yourself.....well, I don't really NEED these pants, but, hey, they are 70% off so why not! We probably spent about 3 to 4 hours at the store. Very hard core of us, but a good half of that time seems to be spent waiting to get into a fitting room. So worth it though. I walked out of the store with 2 new pairs of pants, 2 cute shirts, and a summer dress for just under 1man (about $100).

After Ginza, we went to Shinjuku to check out Uniqlo's new summer stuff. And once again found ourselves in the middle of a sale. Ekk! We didn't spend so long in the Uniqlo but I ended up walking out with a pair of leggings, a summer jacket, and about 4 new summer shirts. Again, spending about 1man. And thats not the end! The department store where the Uniqulo is was doing some type of giveaway. For every $5 you spent at any store, you got a ticket. If you got 6 tickets, you got a shot at winning several prizes. Top prize was a vacation package followed by $20 worth of vouchers, $5 worth of vouchers, or a free snack from the 100 yen store. I ended up with 3 chances and won myself a free snack. Janet ended up winning the $20 worth of vouchers. So even though we were all set to move on, we ended up shopping again so she could spend her vouchers.

In our search for something to buy in the store, we ran across a shop that sold what has to be my favorite jam ever. Milk tea jam. Great stuff. I first discovered it on my trip to Kobe to see Nicole and was seriously considering asked her to ship me some more, but luck was on my side. Janet game me a voucher to buy a jar with. Then she used up the rest of the voucher on a tumbler and drink at Starbucks.

By that time it was almost 8pm. The night before we discussed going to a theme restaurant called Arabian Rock. Janet has really been wanting to go and I just love theme restaurants in general, so we called to get some reservations, but they were all booked up. However, the lady on the phone said if we just showed up we could probably wait to get it. Arabian Rock is conveniently in Shinjuku and only a 5min walk at most from the Uniqulo so we went over to see what the wait would be like. A cutie in an Arabian getup said I would be about an hour wait, which was fine with us.

Eating a late dinner usually means an overnight stay in Tokyo so while waiting to get in, we went to go check out the overnight packages at some nearby karaoke places. We also stopped by the donki store and got some random stuff. By the time we finished, almost an hour had past so we headed back to the restaurant. After a bit of a wait, we got in.

Like any good theme restaurant, we weren't imediatly seated. Instead we entered a room with a magic lamp. A genie voice over the speakers told us to......well, do something. Not even Janet could figure out what we were supposed to do. We tried rubbing the lamp, but that didn't seem to get us anywhere. At that point the genie voice started its loop again and we had no idea what was going on. Eventually I decided to try opening the lid on the lamp and the moment my fingers touched the lid, a door to the left sprung open! Nearly gave me a heard attack!

Beyond the door were 2 girls dressed up in arabian wear. They were probably a bit annoyed that we took to long to open the door, but were still really nice about everything. They had a small magic lamp with them and asked us to make a wish and rub it. When we rubbed, a flame poofed out the pouring end and then we were taken to out seats. I would put the decor to be on par with Ninja. Ninja is a bit more extensive and interactive, but it did feel really arabian in there. Our seats were huge and surrounded by a metal gate covering in a see-throughish fabric. Our host explained the rules and left us to our own devices. Not a minute after we sat down, all the lights in the restaurant suddenly turned off! We sort of looked at each other and freaked a bit until a voice on the speaker started wishing some one a happy birthday and then music started and the lights came back on. I really should of had my birthday there! They did a whole belly dancing thing and had cakes brought in by someone in a huge character costume. We got a good look at the costume because the person was standing right next to us, waiting for their cue to appear to the birthday person.

One thing I like about this restaurant over Ninja is that they make use of the server button so its easy to order. On the Arabian Rock website I was really drawn to a particular drink set. It was esentially a make your own drink kinda thing where they give you several shots of flavored liquor and a magic lamp (aka. mixer). I really wanted that, but didn't see it on the menu anywhere. Panic! But, when we placed our order they said it was a special offer that had expired but that they would go ahead and let me order it anyway. It was really awesome of them to do that for me. Later, I ended up panicking cause I didn't ask how much it was and alcohol at theme restaurants can be expensive, but it ended up only being about 2,000, which considering the about of alcohol I got, was a good deal. Janet got this really tasty looking milk and cotton candy drink.

The food was amazing. Not Ninja amazing, but the it also didn't come with Ninja's price tag either. We had some salad with potato chips, pitas with a choice of 2 dips, shrimp and potato cheese curry fondue, and steak bits cooked with a flame at our table. Round 2 consisted of a Cesar salad, curry steak dish, sweet potato fries, and then a deep fried root type thing that I forget the name of all the time. We considered dessert, but ended up not being able to finish all the extra food we order and thus no desert for us.

After dinner, it was straight to the karaoke place to try and snag a night package. The first place we tried was already full, but we did get into our second choice. After singing for about 4 hours, we both passed out in the booth. I have always wanted to overnight it in a karaoke box, but Janet always vetoed that idea in favor of a manga cafe, but she has been on a karaoke kick recently and actually suggested it this time. Personally I like the managa cafe better. Its hard for me to sleep with all the sound. But, I suspect that with some ear plugs, it would have been better.

The next morning we hit up a MacD's for a quick bite and then headed back home. Yay for a nice, relaxing weekend of shopping, eating, and more shopping.

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posted by am at 6:38 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Birthday Bash Weekend
Birthday time! Last year I had a quiet curry dinner with some friends but this year I wanted a bit more excitement. So, I went to Tokyo to celebrate!

On my actual b-day I met up with some friends at L-River, a local bar, to celebrate both my b-day and the 100,000th post on a forum I frequent. The next day was the start of the a crazy Tokyo weekend. Took the train into Tokyo alone and got off in Shibuya. I had to stop here to check into my hotel for the evening and to pick up and pay for my tickets to China this summer. When I walked out of the train station, this woman with a clipboard asked if I had some time and if I knew any Japanese. I wasn't in a rush and she seemed fine with the fact that I only spoke a little Japanese. So, I figured we'd stand there and she would ask me a few questions, but NO! She took me around a corner and bam! There was a huge camera with lights and sound equipment setup in the corner and some girl in a frilly dress and sparkly makeup. Apparently what I thought would be a quick survey of some type ended up being a filmed TV interview! Haha! Made me wish I had time to up on my makeup that morning. No idea what show if was for, but look for me on J-TV talking about music and stress (....they were asking really random questions!). And while I was bumbling my way through the interview (god, my Japanese is horrible) a bunch of people made a circle around the TV crew to watch me.

After that rather fun fiasco, I had to hunt down the No. 1 Travel company in Shibuya. The map they sent was a bit old and I kept trying to find a Family Mart convenience store that didn't exist anymore. Luckily I had their phone number and the lady was able to direct me to their office. I left $500 lighter and headed over to the Shibuya City Hotel to check in. At the hotel I changed clothes, put on make up, and got ready for my night on the town.

From the restaurant I went to Harajuku and picked up some tickets for the KAT-TUN concert on Sunday and from there headed over to Ginza. Ginza is home to the Princess Heart restaurant. It's a theme restaurant that I have been wanting to check out and they do a special birthday thing where you get to wear a crown and have your picture taken. I was running a bit behind schedule, but managed to arrive on time. On the train over, I ran into a group of UK rugby players who were making a ruckus on the train. I was trying to ignore their drunken shenanigans but they called me over. I went only to get them to stop screaming at me from across the train. They seemed to be decent guys, if not a bit perverted. One of them tried to look up my skirt but discovered I had on what are essentially shorts underneath. Looking back, it was a really jerky thing to do but I didn't mind so much at the time as they were being really flirty. They tried to convince me to head out to Roppongi with them, but I obviously refused.

Once in Ginza, I met up with Heidi and Janet who have been checking out the H&M across the street and then we waited for everyone else to show. Problem was that everyone else was already at the restaurant. Ha. Oh well. Dinner was.....not that great. The restaurant was really sub par in both atmosphere and the deliciousness of the food. The tables looked cheap and beat up and didn't even have table clothes. The food, while very pretty to look at, wasn't very tasty. Especially not for the price. It wasn't all bad though. The special birthday desert and picture were really nice and I had a great time hanging out with everyone.

After dinner we headed to Tokyo's largest dance club, Ageha. When we first arrive we grabbed some drinks and wandered around. The place was SO empty! It was almost creepy how empty it was, but after about a hour it started to fill in and then it was suddenly packed! We all danced till about 3am at which point we headed back to Shibuya. I had booked a hotel along with 2 other friends, so we went to the hotel to crash while the rest of the group roughed it out at McDonald's and waited for the first train back home.

Normally I'd do the first train thing (way cheaper) but I actually needed some sleep because the next day I went to the KAT-TUN concert. Yes, again. That made it my fourth time. What can I say......I might be a little obsessed. On the way back home I had one last surprise. A friend who had not been able to go to dinner and dancing ended up being on the same train back home as me so we got to spend some time chatting. It was nice not to have to ride the train back home alone for once.

Definitely one of my better birthday weekends ^^

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posted by am at 6:37 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Sports and JHS
Sports are really big at my JHS. Last week there was a big track and field day and this week was a huge sports competition between all the JHS's in the area. My kyoto-sensei (aka. vice principle) was kind enough to take me around to various places so I could watch some of the students compete. We started off and Katsuanuma JHS were the kendo club was playing. I took a few pictures, watches a few matches and then we had to move on.

Next stop was Kita-chu, the other JHS located in Yamanashishi were Miki teachers. I didn't see him anywhere, but I did get to watch the soccer team, soft tennis club, and both girls and boys volleyball teams play. The soccer team is coached by one of my JTE's. You can see him in the pic on the far left. The soccer boys did well and ended up winning their game. I also stopped to chat with the soft tennis boys, who were waiting to start their match. They wanted me to take their picture, so I did.

After that I watched the boys play volleyball and they were amazing! Won two games in a row, no sweat, and made in into the Ken wide finals. The girls on the other hand ended up losing their two games and ended up crying after the game. I was a bit shocked that they lost as I have always heard that the Nan-chu girls volleyball team is really strong. I think they were pretty shocked at losing as well.

After that is was back to Nan-chu for lunch and to watch some of the sports taking place there. I caught some of the table tennis matches and girls soft tennis, however, I missed watching the baseball team. Apparently they had finished up before lunch and had won all their games. The baseball team is made up of some of my more troublesome boys, but they are pretty fun and I wanted to cheer them on, so I was a bit disappointed that I missed everything. Oh well, maybe next time!

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posted by am at 7:19 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Hen Night 2
Seems like everyone in the ken is getting married! This time the hen night (aka. bachelorette party) was held for Karen. The evening started out with some mimosas at Karen's place and some hanging out/listening to music. Then it was time to open up the gifts. Everyone was asked to bring the bride to be a set of undies and we did a little party game where she had to try and figure out who go her which pair. She only managed to get one right (mine...haha).

After that we headed over to Vesta, a small local restaurant and bar, where we ate some pretty tasty things and did a few more party games. Taneque was in charge of the games and did an excelent job keeping us all amused. We did a round of the classic 'Never have I ever' and some ad-lib stuff. It was a lot of fun and really amusing.

Back at Karen's place we listened to some music and had a special 'guest' stop by for a little strip tease. Who knew we had such a talented stripper in our own little ken? After the show, it was back to playing some classic party games, including a 'make a wedding dress out of toilet paper' competition. So cute! And my team won at that (though no thanks to me).

After the wedding dress thing, people started to head home. I ended up crashing at Karens and then headed back home the next morning. Congrats to Karen and Morgan! May they have a wonderful time together.


posted by am at 6:36 PM | Permalink | 0 comments