I just found & cleaned up this picture from my last night partying with my friends so I thought I’d share it. Miss these folks.
Let me start off by saying I miss my friends in Japan! I hope things are going great for them all and if any of you are reading, またこんいちは！会いたいよ。
I’ve been back in America for just over 3 weeks. It’s been a remarkable experience getting readjusted to American life.
First of all, everything is HUGE.
Yes, huge portions of food,
but much more impressive, the huge, expansive spaces.
I live in a country of wide streets and skies.
We travel great distances at great speeds every day. I drive literally everywhere.
Trash cans are everywhere!
Quick – two things I miss about Japan:
- Earthquakes. Those occasional little rockings began to have a very calming effect on me.
- Speaking Japanese. When I first came home I found a grocery store that sold Japanese goods and stopped in to speak a little. Two of my coworkers have also worked in Japan and often make Japanese jokes. It seems Japan’s forever going to have a place in my life.
The backpack my friends at Rakuten got me goes with me to work every day.
The weekend of June 20 & 21st, I caught a plane to Southwest Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture with two of my favorite people in Japan, Hal and Alex. It was Alex who, upon hearing that I had not even had proper ramen since arriving in Tokyo and would be leaving soon, made it his duty to ensure my final weeks here were spent truly appreciating the country’s culinary magnificence. He and Hal introduced me to some ramen so good it has changed some lifelong-held feelings about food, so it was only fitting that my last big trip here in Japan be a “ramen for every meal for an entire weekend” tour of Hakata, originator of the astoundingly delicious tonkotsu ramen.
We saw the results of a kid’s art competition to make signs about safety and manners on the trains. We stood in the train station looking at these for half an hour like we were in a museum.
We bought fireworks and sake and got drunk and shot fireworks until the cops kicked us out for shooting some that went into the air (against the rules). “Sayonara,” the cop said to us as we left, which isn’t really a “farewell” but rather an absolutely final “good bye forever.” Good riddance. hah! Next we ran into some Nepali dudes in a conbini who really wanted us to “come jam” with them. They had one guitar on which to jam. Somehow, as drunk folks do, we all ended up sitting on steps playing that guitar and singing together for about an hour while a tiny crowd of Japanese college students still awake at 1am gathered and listened with applause. Good times.
The next morning, Alex had lost his phone. We retraced our steps like the movie The Hangover, and after hours of searching and literally being one step away from giving up, we tried one more Koban (“police box” — a tiny police station you can find just about anywhere) and true to Japanese fashion, someone had turned it in. You just about never lose anything or have anything stolen in Japan.
Saw another of the literally hundreds of gorgeous temples in this country…
And when we weren’t eating ramen it was yatai (street vendor food).
Best ramen in Japan? It’s a tie for first between Ichiran and Ippudo, and the snobs out there will quickly say “This guy is such a tourist, those are the most popular places everybody says.” But the fact is those incredible restaurants made it out of Hakata for a reason – they’re incredibly good.
PS: I almost forgot to mention the tea ceremony we had at the culture center. 🙂
Thanks Alex & Hal for an incredible trip!!
It’s a beautiful, rainy day here in Tokyo. Let’s look at some pictures.
I’ve spent a few nights at Shibuya’s Ruby Room. They have a Tuesday night open mic, and I love open mic nights. There’s always such a variety of skill levels and musical styles, and I have a special place in my heart for amateur artists performing for the love of the music. For me the soul of lo-fi and live beats a polished and produced recording any day.
Apart from open mic nights, I also checked out show by The Casablancas there.
Good stuff. They actually opened for another band that night but in my opinion stole the show.
Also, had dinner with coworkers the other night. I love these folks! They really know how to have a good time together and have been super welcoming to me.
I love this country.