Saturday, February 18, 2006

Stupid Foreigner 11: What are you talking about?

I lived in Japan for two years, went through five cameras, and barely ever took any decent photos. It's odd to think that in the late 90s there were no digital cameras, so all of my pictures are in a photo album somewhere, the negatives long lost. Here are a few pictures that I scanned in, all of which other people took.

Food in Japan comes in all shapes and sizes. Street vendors sell a variety of things you can't find in the U.S., from something that translates to "octopus balls" to actual grilled octopus-tentacle-on-a-stick and chicken-gizzards-on-a-stick. When you've been there long enough, you eventually learn to stop asking what it is and just drop your 300 yen, order, and enjoy. Unlike other travel destinations, where you are warned against street vendor food, the stuff sold on the streets here is some of the best food available. Can't wait to return this summer for more.

On the set of the remake of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai." This is one of those long, lazy, memorable days that I wish would happen more often. We cycled from the hustle and bustle of Shizuoka to the ocean beach area of Shimizu and found a famous tree, where legend has it that a beautiful nymph one time came down from heaven and bathed, leaving her gown hanging on the tree. A fisherman stole the robe and the nymph, who couldn't fly without it, had to marry him, but eventually he gave her the robe back. I don't remember the details. But I remember this: The Japanese don't necessarily believe that story or any one religion, but they do hang on to their legends, their traditions, their history. That tree is now protected, propped up so that it doesn't fall over, and stupid foreigners like us go spend lazy afternoons there.

Before going to Japan, I couldn't hum in key, let alone sing. Microphones scared me, and I kept my distance. Years later, I still can't sing, but I no longer fear tormenting others with my horrible renditions of whatever English song is available at the local karaoke bar. This is me, actually wearing a tie, looking like a drunk Japanese salaryman, with some guy from Canada, singing "Crazy Train" at a place that had an all-you-can-eat-and-drink-and-sing special for like $25 for two hours. People say Japan is expensive. I tell them you just have to live there and get a group of fellow stupid foreigners together and party like the locals.

One time I was sitting with a couple of fellow stupid foreigners at a mall McDonald's. Surrounding us at all the other tables were loads of beautiful Japanese women and girls. My buddy said, "That's the difference between this place and England. Here, at every table of four, at least three of the birds are knockouts. There, you're lucky to see three hotties in one day." I suppose Japanese women do spend time trying to look good, trying to be fashionable even when out for a quarter pounder with fried egg. These tall boots, which were popular for about a year and a half, were the cause of quite a few car accidents. Women would drive wearing them, but were unable to step on the brake because of the six- to ten-inch heels. Eventually they learned to take off their foorwear while driving.

So, anyway, I'll be heading to Japan for a week this summer, before heading off to southeast Asia for a month. I promise to come back with more interesting pictures and a story or two.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny. You pulled these out. Good that these are small. I look like a dweeb. -Hai

5:55 PM  

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