Hey everyone! I've been a busy boy for the past few days, and I've had myself a few adventures along the way, so now that I've got a few minutes to sit, rest, and write, I thought I'd relate the events since February 5th.
On Friday, I got up early after a long night of watching scary movies with a bunch of friends here. Since many students have rental cards for a local video store, we've been getting movies to watch; Since the majority of people who are watching these movies are guys, we get scary movies. I mean bad ones too, such as Pet Cemetary and Nightmare on Elm Street. These movies, since they are in Japan, have Japanese subtitles, but since they come from America, are still in English. This makes them a nice learning tool.
Anyway, the next morning, the morning of the 5th, I got up around 8AM (early for me, not for most people, I know!) and was ready to go about 9AM with Thursday into Nagoya. I owed Thursday a favor for her coming with me to Osaka last month, and this is what she asked me to do: Thursday asked me to head to the site of a Fall Out Boy concert and hold her place in line while she went to the airport to get her girlfriend, Dana, who was flying in from America. So, we rode together in the morning to Jinryo station, the Univerity's home base. From there, we rode to Chikusa station, where we split up. Thursday kept on the train for Nagoya, and I hopped onto the subway to go to Shin-sakae, where the concert was to be held.
Arriving about 10 minutes later, I made my way back to the surface (felt like a vampire!) and pulled out the map of the location given to me by Thursday. Well, said map was not the most detailed, so I picked the most likely direction, counted the number of blocks and traffic lights I would have to cross, and set out. Well, two blocks straight ahead was a place known as Coco Lulu, and appeared to be a club. However, the club I was looking for was called the Club Diamond Hall. To make sure it wasn't on another floor, I walked around the side of building. This is how I made my first mistake.
This side of the building was named Coco Lulu Part II. Yes, that was the real name of the second store there. Coco Lulu Part II, unlike Coco Lulu, had pictures of what services it offered. There were several pictures of scantily clad women with their faces blurred out. Also, there were hourly rates offered, and at this point, I knew what was going on. This was a love hotel! At this point I said to myself, "Fall Out Boy isn't coming here. . . " I headed back to Shin-sakae station.
Reviewing my map, I took what seemed the second most likely route, the opposing direction. Hey, I can misinterpret a map from time to time, so I didn't want to take chances. I walked forward two blocks. At this point, I saw a parking lot, two tall office buildings, and a restaurant. After looking at both buildings, I realized neither was a concert hall. Strike two.
After returning once again to Shin-sakae, I found on my map the major road for this section of town, and saw it ran in front of Club Diamond Hall. So, I walked around, found this street. As I followed it, I came to what I thought must be the right spot. And guess where I was. Yes, Coco Lulu, Parts I and II. I rolled my eyes, and looked at the map again. At this point it occured to me that the map had lines through the major route, leading to what was supposed to be the club. Then it dawned on me. They were MAGNIFICATION LINES!!!
So, I went to the block BETWEEN Shin-sakae and Coco Lulu, and found, of all things, the Apollo Theater. No, that's not a joke, that was it's name. After reading the map's address, I believed that I was looking for what was called the Uflex building. Well, just past the Apollo Theater was the Uflex building. Hey! I was getting there. I looked inside, and the place was dark. Well, it was still early, they could just be getting ready. So I went inside. Strike three.
Inside, there were steps downstairs, and that nagging idea that the club was underground came back to me. As I decended the stairs, I was worried, since there was no light downstairs as well. This club spot was getting pretty shady. At the base of the staircase was a chain with a post saying the words "Danger, No Entry" in Japanese. Fall Out Boy wasn't coming here.
So, by now I'm getting flustered, so I went to a convenience store just a few paces up the street. Inside, I noticed a sign outside that said Club Diamond Hall. Hey, I hadn't stuck out yet! Getting my strawberry bread and my Red Bull drink, I headed over and looked at it. Sure enough, on the 5th floor, was the Club Diamond Hall! I rode up amidst some salarymen, and found the hall. Success! Fall Out Boy was playing here!
Now, we moved to phase two. Thursday and I didn't have a meeting plan for this, and after realizing how random a place this Club was located at, they'd never find me. Well, since I was only a block away, and no one was lined up, I decided to go, look for them at the station, and walk back to the Club and see if there was a line yet. After 12 circuits, some 10 mintues a piece, totaling two hours, I finally found them. By this time, I'd been insulted by salarymen, scared a stationmaster, and was sure that if I kept it up much longer they police would be called in to find an American terrorist harrassing the populace.
I met Dana, who is a very nice girl, and took them to the club. They remarked at just how hard it was to find it, and laughed at my stories of wandering this shady neighborhood. We had lunch at a curry shop, and walked around. I showed them Coco Lulu, and they were glad I hadn't thought to stay there looking for Fall Out Boy. I showed them the other love hotels, and various parking lots. This was just not a nice place of Nagoya. Why was Fall Out Boy here, anyway? We never found out.
So, about 4PM, Dana was getting pretty jetlagged, so Thursday asked me to bring her back to the dormitory. She said she'd stay and watch the concert, then come and get Dana and take her to a friend's house to stay the night. Dana and I rode back, and I signed her into the dorm. The dorm parents, Mr. and Mrs. Goto, told me in no uncertain terms to have her out by nine. Well, at 9PM, Kasugai is a ghost town. By the time 9 o'clock rolled around, no word from Thursday, no where to go, I had to decide what to do. We stayed put. About 10PM, Thursday called a friend of mine, Morgan, who loaned me his cell phone for the occassion. Thursday was almost back, and would be there in just a few. I told Dana, and she got ready. About 10:20PM, over an hour later than the Goto's would have liked, Dana and Thursday headed out. In the words of the Japanese "Shogunai" which translates to "Oh Well!"
Day 1 was now complete.
Yesterday, Thursday asked me to be up and ready to go by 8AM, since the Wakabiashi family, whom Dana was staying with, had to go to work. I was up and ready to roll in time. Thursday told me she was wiped out from the concert, which was wild and crazy. We walked down to the Wakabiashi house, and were invited in. Wakabiashi is a middle-aged Japanese man, whom Thursday has been tutoring in English. I'd met him before at New Year's Eve, so I was invited inside with Thursday for breakfast.
We had croissants and fruit, and talked with Mr. and Mrs. Wakabiashi. About 9AM, we hopped on a bus out of the neighborhood for the train station. However, this bus went to Kozoji station, which was further away and more costly than Jinryo. Also, the bus was more expensive, but we were committed, so we vowed to live and learn.
Arriving at Kozoji, we stopped at the Japanese equivalent of Krispy Kream, the Mister Donut shop. The donuts were very tasty, so I had a second breakfast. ("We had one yes, but what about second breakfast?" Pippin, Lord of the Rings) We rode the train from Kozoji into Sakae (the real Sakae, not the dark side of town). Here, we met up with Kaio, who is a great friend of Thursday and I. Kaio, Thursday, and I have done Karaoke on several occassions, and she speaks almost perfect English. I was very happy to see her again, since I'm getting ready to leave soon for the homeland.
With the group complete, we took stock and headed out towards the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art. This is part of a continuing effort of Thursday to "culture" me, since I don't much care for museums or movies or music history, what many consider the bulk of American Culture. So, inside I took in the sights, and learned a little bit. The museum had two features, a traveling display of Andrew Wyeth's artwork, and a permanent display of Tokugawa era (the time of the Shogun in Japan). I think I learned a lot from Wyeth's work, since they showed his drafts of several painting before getting to his finished work. It showed me the process as opposed to only the finished work. I find that much more interesting than just the paintings themselves. Also, while in the museum, Dana and I managed to disturb some Japanese people as Dana showed me her patented Stealth Three Towed Sloth Attack. Ask me about it when I'm home, I'll explain it more. Use your imagination for now, but needless to say, it was funny.
So, with the museum done, we made our way to one of our favorite restaurants, Shooters, for lunch. Thursday and I have gone weekly for almost a month now to Shooters. There are two reasons behind this: the service is both in English and very fun (Juan and Jim are awesome guys!), and they serve American food. So, Dana, Kaio, Thursday, and I all had a great time there, with nachos and club sandwiches and Mountain Dew. Yummy!
From here, we felt that we had to educate Dana in one of the cultural activities of Japan: KARAOKE! We made our way towards Fushimi, the next district of Nagoya, to find a karaoke shop. On the way, we stopped at a manga shop, and a piano store. The pianos were on par with most artwork I've seen in Nagoya. We arrived at the Karoake building, and booked a room for a couple hours. After singing, dancing, and partying, we were sore throated and tired. But, as always, we had an amazing time. I love to sing, though I never do it well. The girls didn't mind!
After that, we had to let Kaio make her way home, and we were getting pretty beat up from walking and trucking around town for two days straight. We made a couple shopping stops, and then hopped on the JR train homeward. The girls got off at Kasugai, since they were meeting Mr. Wakabiashi for dinner, and yours truly keep on riding to home base, Jinryo Station. A short bus ride, and I was back home.
About 2 hours later, Thursday came back to the dorm, having had dinner and gotten Dana situated at the Wakabiashi home. She gave me a package of sushi from the Wakabiashi's when she got inside, telling me that they had expected me to come along and wanted to make sure that I didn't go hungry tonight. Japanese people are SOOO polite! So, with some sushi to munch on, and worn out completely, I crashed, ending Day 2.
This morning was a later start time, about 9AM. After getting showered and geared for another day, I met Thursday and we made our way to Wakabiashi's house. I thanked them quickly for the sushi they gave me, and we had a second breakfast with the family. Wakabiashi is a nice man, as I have said. He's also very knowledgeable, having taught himself English and Ancient Greek as part of his own studies, and knowing much of his own country's culture and history as well. So, after eating and getting ready, he took us in his car out to Jinryo station.
From here, we took a train out to Ozone, the shopping district of Nagoya. Here, we were bound for our second museum, this one a little different. The museum we went to was the Tokugawa Historical Museum, established by the family that served as Shogun to Japan's Emperor for over 200 years. The family had acquired many historical materials and kept them preserved, regardless of the Meiji Restoration and World War II and other military incidents. After World War II, they established the museum as a part of showcasing the history of Japan and the Edo Period.
Outside the museum is a large garden, featuring several bridges, waterfalls, and many flowering plants and trees. Since Japan has had a strangely warm and mild winter, the flowers and trees were still in bloom, making it a very beautiful walk. The Japanese also have a way with parks, making them flow and wind gracefully, which creates a refined but natural experience. I always love the parks in Japan, so this was a fun thing to see with the Wakabiashi family, Dana, and Thursday.
Inside, the museum has everything from period arms and armor to tea ceremony materials to traditional Noh theater. Noh is the oldest reamaining form of theater in Japan, and is done on a single stage with masked figures. Noh plays are typically tragedies, though an occasional short comedy is thrown in. I find Noh beautiful, the expression being subtle compared to Kabuki, and the music more pure. Music in Noh and Kabuki is done in vocal, drum, and flute, though both styles of theater bring different musics into use in their plays.
One thing we did not expect to be at the museum was a traveling Hinamatsuri exhibit. Hinamatsuri is the yearly Japanese Girl's Festival, and features minature girl dolls. The dolls are giving to female children at a young age, about 1 year old or so, to protect them as they grow into women. Where dolls come into play, so do miniatures of almost everything, and the exhibit had some of the most amazing miniatures I have ever seen. There was everything from dollhouses to game boards to shells to clothing. Absolutely anything that a person could want to go with a doll, along with a massive amount of dolls themselves, were present. I found it very impressive.
From here, the Mr. and Mrs. Wakabiashi headed back to Kasugai to do some house work, and we were left to our own devices. So, what were our devices you ask? Our original plan was to head to Nagoya Castle, which sounded great to me. However, two things side tracked this plan. The first was that we were all tired, and getting more so as we walked. The second, and by far more important factor, was that we came across a Domino's Pizza store! Now, Thursday and myself have not had real, American pizza in almost 5 months, and were not going to be stopped from this for any force in Japan. If an army of undead samurai invaded the city and the hopes of salvation lied with us, the city was done for, we were getting pizza!
With our tasty treat in tow, we turned our sights onto a much closer target, the Nagoya Dome. Nagoya Dome is where the Nagoya Dragons baseball team play during the season, and is bordered by a large, populous shopping mall of the same name. We wandered around the shopping mall for a while, and about 3:30PM we made our way back to the station to head home. Well, sort of.
When we got to Jinryo station, we were picked up by Mr. and Mrs. Nakabiashi again, and they took us to Valor, the food store in Kasugai. What I was only vaguely aware of was that Dana was planning on making dinner for the family tonight, and after last night it was made clear that the family would be offended if I did not attend, so I was only too happy to come along. After gathering ingrediants at Valor, we were chauffeured back to the Wakabiashi home. Here, Dana and Thursday, with some occassional assistance by yours truly, made an Irish dish called Shepherd's Pie. I found it pretty tasty, and the Wakabiashi's said it was very different but very excellent as well.
After dinner, Mr. Wakabiashi asked me to do something for him when the girls got back from Osaka. Every February the 3rd, the Japanese home endures a particular ritual in which the father or male elder dresses as an Oni (demon) and is thrown from the house. This is to protect the house from demons and bad luck, and keeping good luck in. The Oni is assaulted with soybeans, for reasons unknown to me, and dramatically made to leave. As stated, this would normally fall to Mr. Wakabiashi. However, he asked me to do it for his home this year! I was honored, and said I would be glad to do. Thursday said she'd be glad to pelt me with soybeans, to which I laughed. So, come next Saturday, I will get a cape and a demon mask and get pelted with soybeans after invading the house. Sounds like a great time!
After this, I arrived back once again at my room, and now prepare for my trip to Asuke in the week after this next week. I'll post soon as to what the plan is for Asuke, and give some background on the location and what will go on here.
Until then, this has been another installment of Adam's Wacky Adventures in Aichi, Japan. Don't touch that dial, we'll be right back after thies unintelligable commercials!
Quote of the Day - "I really don't think Fall Out Boy would be coming to a love hotel without a pretty good or pretty shady reason. I'm just saying." Adam Link.