misadventures in tokyo

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Moving On Up!

I apologize for not updating my blog for over three weeks. Not only have I been extremely busy at work, I’ve had visitors every single weekend for the month of September. I don’t recall having any visitors when I was working in New Jersey. Who wouldn’t want to visit the Armpit, I mean, Garden State? Go figure.

Over Labor Day weekend my sister came out to visit with her fiancé. Then the following weekend a girlfriend of mine Vy was here on a business trip. Even though she had her own hotel room, I insisted that she stay with me for the weekend so we could have one long slumber party. Then last weekend a few friends were making their stop in Tokyo while on a 3-week-long Asia trip. It’s been a lot of fun but exhausting to say the least. As much as I love entertaining guests, I do miss having my own space. I never realized how much I enjoy living alone in my cozy apartment.

Speaking of which, did I mention that while playing tour guide, I also moved apartments? Now I live in the same building as all my friends in Roppongi Hills which apparently is the Beverly Hills of Tokyo. Some of us even live on the same floor – it is so much fun - kind of like a college dorm except our apartments don’t resemble prison cells with puke green cinder block walls. Far from it. I was told a lot of Japanese celebrities live in our building which is adjacent to stores like Issey Miyake, Louis Vuitton, Christian Lacroix... If only we knew who these celebrities are!

Here are pictures from the past few weekends and of my new place. Check out the fabulous view from my balcony of the Tokyo Tower (yes a rip off of La Tour Eiffel!)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Yukata Party

The Azabujuban Summer Festival is held annually where hundreds of vendors gather and set up booths to sell all kinds of foods, drinks, and knickknacks attracting thousands of visitors. Since the festival was right in my neighborhood, I took it as an opportunity to host a party at my apartment. It wasn’t just any party or an excuse to gather friends and get drunk – what do you take me for, a lush? It was a yukata party where we bedecked ourselves in our yukatas (or a lighter version of a kimono). OK – I guess my party was disguised as an excuse to gather friends, get dolled up, and get drunk.

After putting on our yukatas (which was a chore in and of itself as it took almost an hour), we ventured outside my apartment to tour the busy streets of my neighborhood which was barely recognizable. While gallivanting around from booth to booth, we ate, drank, and ate some more. It was so jam-packed with guys and pretty girls donned in their colorful yukatas that it took about an hour to walk around just a few blocks. Well, I guess it didn’t help that I got us lost in my own neighborhood (shut up – I never prided myself on my sense of directions!)

When we finally made it back to my apartment, some of our other friends (who apparently had a better sense of directions) were already waiting for us to open the door to my apartment and continue (or start) the party. After hours of drinking games and taking silly pictures, we concluded our night with some more drinking and playing Jenga at a local bar. I was so exhausted (and disgusted by my dirty and beer soaked apartment) that I turned down eating ramen with the others afterwards. My exhaustion, however, did win over my mild OCD as I waited until the morning to clean up my apartment. (No I certainly did not wait until the following Monday for the maids to clean up – you think I’m crazy?)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Temple of Doom

When Sonmi, one of my adopted little sisters visited last month with her friend, my friends and I took it as a great opportunity to play tour guide and explore places even we haven’t been. Ben, Adrian, Erika, and I took our visitors to Kamakura, a town known for temples and shrines about an hour south of Tokyo. Upon arrival, Ben and I spotted a bike rental place. We looked at each other and knew we HAD to rent bikes to tour Kamakura. What a brilliant idea that turned out to be! It was a beautiful sunny day but walking from temple to temple would have been way too uncomfortable in that sweltering heat. We were sweating just standing outside. But riding our bikes (fully equipped with cute baskets and bells) for 6 hours straight was so much fun, especially with that breeze in our hair as we rode through town and the beach – never mind I got sand all over my hair and almost got ran over by a truck.

After our exhausting field trip, we enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner in Yokahama (Japan’s Chinatown) on our long way home. Although I got a bit of sun burn on my face, it was totally worth it as I haven't had this much fun since I was a kid!

Now I have to get ready for this week when my real little sister arrives with her fiancé…

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Smelly Guy, Smelly Guy, What are They Feeding You?

One morning while I was running on the treadmill watching CNN, this tall handsome blond got on the treadmill next to me. I was thoroughly impressed that he was running at 15 km/h (that’s roughly 9 mi/h for you Americans – I have totally converted to the metric system like the rest of the free world) while I could barely keep up my sprint at 13 km/h (8 mi/h). Then much to my chagrin, something unfortunate happened. About 20 minutes into my workout, that same tall good looking blond started giving off this god awful odor. I know the odor did not come from me because BO is just something Asian girls do not have (along with an ass and curly eyelashes and arm hairs). The revolting smell was so pungent that I had to cut my workout short and evacuate the treadmill area immediately, but not without giving him a dirty look first. As you can imagine, I was a bit agitated that I was only 0.06 km short of my 5k run. Damn you smelly guy! Damn you! I guess that’s how things even out in this world – you can’t be a tall cute fast runner AND expect to smell like spring flowers! Kind of like a drop-dead gorgeous model who is dumb as a doorknob.

Pictures are from a couple weekends ago. What a fun and relaxing weekend we had! BBQ, fireworks, brunch with Yukiko, all day at the spa with Suze, Peking duck dinner at this Chinese restaurant with completely raunchy décor…And check out the cutest little girl in her pink kimono. Kawaii desu ne? She was a random stranger so I had to ask her parents if I could take a picture of her. (It was either that or kidnap her and take her home with me. Relax people, I didn’t mean that in a John Karr/JonBenet way.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

City of Stalkers – Part IV (Conclusion)

A few days after his last email where he declared I was “so kindly evil” to him, whatever that meant, DB walked by my desk and said, “Hey evil woman. You don’t even have ten minutes to talk to me?”
Me: [Not looking up from my laptop] “I am extremely busy because I have to finish all these deliverables by today. I don’t even have time to eat lunch, let alone talk to you.”
DB turned to my PM (project manager): “Hey, why are you working her so hard?”
PM: “She’s my ace in the hole – my right hand woman. I need her so you leave her alone.”
Me: [Still not looking up from my laptop] “See? I told you I’m really busy.”
DB: [Sounding a little dejected] “Well fine. You are so kindly evil to me you know that? But ok I’ll go.”

For the first time I kind of felt a little sorry for the guy. Maybe I didn’t have to be so mean to him because after all he was never mean to me. I guess I was being loyal to my friends. Or maybe I just hated the kind of guy he was and wanted to put him in his place. But was it my right to do that? After a moment of weakness, I mean, contemplation, I snapped back to reality and got back to work.

It took another couple days before DB walked by my desk again – perhaps for the last time.
DB: “You’ll be happy to know that you will never see me again.”
Me: [Not even looking at him] “Why? You leaving or dying?” [Ooh that came out a little too quickly]
DB: “Hah! No, not dying. But I am moving to the new office.”
Me: “Really?”
That was the best news I’ve heard all day. I was genuinely happy for him (and for me) because this charade has dragged on long enough. I was done being such a bitch to him. Now we could both finally move on. I looked up and smiled at him.
Me: “Wow. Good luck with that!”
DB: “I’m sure you’re happy because now I’ll really leave you alone.”
For once I was at a loss for words. I looked away and stared at my laptop instead. [Crickets chirping/uncomfortable silence…]

I then packed up my laptop and dashed for the airport. As I walked out of the office, DB yelled out “Bye Evan!” I turned around and waved, “Goodbye DB.” That was the first time I ever called him by his name (and the last time as well.)

[The End]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

City of Stalkers - Part III

I thought DB had completely moved on when he hadn’t emailed me or paid me a desk visit in two weeks. But my delusional bubble was burst when my friend kindly informed me that while I was at lunch, DB stopped by and asked my project manager whether I was around and if I was an American citizen. WTF? Surprise surprise – when I checked my Inbox, there was a new email from DB: “If you wont have coffee with me at least give me 10 min. I need your brain.”

Hmm…What does he want to do with my brain? I pictured an image of Hannibal Lector when he opened up Ray Liotta’s head and started picking at his brain and eating it …

Me [email]: “What do you need?”
DB [email]: “tax question”
Me [email]: “I am not an accountant”
DB [email]: “Did I like, piss you off or something?”
Me [email]: “No”
DB [email]: “So why do you ice me all the time? I am not trying to impress you or anything you know, I am actually hoping I could learn some things from you. So yes, I am asking for your advice. So what can I do to just get 10 min from you... Just to talk?”
Me [email]: “I know you are not trying to impress me but I do not know anything about taxes!!!”
DB [email]: “Actually the tax thing is real. lol. I am sure you file cause you live in the US and I just wanted to know if you ever dealt with a W9. You actually know more about me now then most people here so I wanted to ask you that. The other advice was just personal stuff that maybe you could help a young punk out with... I am allot different outside the bank. Inside the bank I have to pay the role I play so I don't scare any of the Japanese people I work with. "Long Story". I am leaving Japan soon and since you are a realest I guess, Just wanted to hear your Ideas on certain issues.”

Oh. My. God. First of all, I can’t stand all his grammar mistakes – major pet peeve. Second of all, he keeps rambling on and on – it’s like the longest run-on sentence EVER! Finally, I’ve tried ignoring him. I’ve tried being mean. I’ve tried being indifferent (which in my opinion is worse than being mean). But this guy will NOT give up. I’ve never met such a GFP (glutton for punishment) before. How can anyone withstand such indifferent and disinterested responses and still think there’s a chance? This reminds me of a scene from Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) asks Mary (Lauren Holly): “What are the chances that you and I will be together?” She replies, “About one in a million.” He then screams out, “YES! So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

Later that afternoon, my insatiable appetite for sweets got the best of me so I was on my way to the convenient store when I ran into DB by the elevator. Oh crap! Damn my sweet tooth!
DB: “I just need 10 minutes of your time and your brain.”
Me: “I told you, I am not an accountant.”
DB: “I know I know. It’s not about that – I just want to talk to you and get your opinion on certain issues.”
The elevator door opened and we both went in, joining two Americans who greeted DB.
Me: [Clearly exacerbated] “Well, what is it?”
DB: [Looking at his two colleagues] “Well I don’t want to talk about it now.”
Me: [Shrugging my shoulders] “Now or never.”
Too bad, it was time for me to get off the elevator on the 10th floor where the convenient store was located.
Me: “Ok, see ya!”
DB: “Wait… Ok bye.”

After devouring my green tea creme brulee, I checked my email and found another correspondence from DB: “You are so kindly evil to me.” I didn’t know what that meant or even how to respond to that. So I did what I do best – ignore his email and forward to my friends.

To be continued…

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

City of Stalkers – Part II

Before I continue with my stalker story, let me explain why DB is public enemy # 1 (besides his sparkling personality.) My friends went on a ski trip back in March which DB was also invited to tag along. During the entire trip he acted like a total jack ass and treated everyone like they were beneath him. He bragged about his snowboarding skills but proved to be all talk on the slopes and blamed it on the “conditions.” After the trip was over, he emailed the girl who invited him and said, “Do not invite me to any of your ski trips ever again. I do not like your friends – they are all so cliquey and preppy.” Well, the feeling was mutual so there was definitely no love lost…

So on with my story. After my first encounter with DB, he emailed me later that week (no idea where he got my email address):
DB [email]: “I am out... Call me... Email me... I may be a dork, but I still rock. so... don't worry. What people dream, I do.”
Was this guy for real? Please note that I copied and pasted directly from his email. I couldn’t have made this up even if I wanted to.

I ignored his email, but then the following week he walked by my desk again.
DB: “How come you never wrote me back or called me?”
Me: [Unapologetically] “Oh sorry I deleted it.”

I got up to go to the bathroom even though I didn’t need to. When I came back, he was gone but I found in my Inbox a new email eagerly waiting for me to open and read:
DB [email]: “I guess you never called. Well, I was well over compensated on Friday. I got the orange color like you said so you now have a stake in that car. Anyway, are you going to call or what? If your not busy, I can show you the places in Tokyo most people don't know about.”

I couldn’t help but laugh – he got the ugly orange model I purposely picked over the red one! What a sucker! And notice his poor grammar – it’s “YOU’RE”, not “YOUR”! Since he practically begged me to write back, I finally responded to his previous email which said, “What people dream, I do”…my god it is so beyond cheesy!

Me [email]: “What if I dream that I ran you over with MY Lamborghini? I'd like to see you prove that theory...”
DB [email]: “let me take you out once and I may let you. But your mean for giving me the cold shoulder. You should get to know me before you judge me. Just a thought... lol or you can just tell me not to bother you and I will walk away from the whole thing....”

I did not respond. Instead, I forwarded the email chain to my friends who had a good laugh and congratulated me on being the chosen one. That night over dinner and drinks, my friends advised me to keep up this charade so they can get more laughs out of him. A bit evil…but not for me. So I heeded their advice and responded to his last email.

Me [email]: “Wow. You're kind of crazy. May I give you some advice for the next girl you try to impress? Don't. Just be normal. I'm sure you are a nice guy deep down. There is no need to flaunt your expensive cars, unless that's the kind of girl you want to attract - those are called gold diggers by the way.”
DB [email]: “Nah, not trying. I am just a dork. to be honest, I just wanted to hang out with you. We can take the train if you want. Nothing to do with attraction. Just chill out. so let me start all over. Hi, my name is DB, I was wondering if you would like to have lunch sometime?”
Me [email]: “Much better. My name is Evan. Nice to meet you.”

Notice I completely ignored his request for lunch. AS IF! It’s a mystery to me why he struts around like an Abercrombie model and that he’s God’s gift to women and gay men while he’s lucky if he could be one of those fugly people in those Home Depot ads wearing a flannel shirt (circa 1995) holding the sale item of the week.

DB [email]: “Since you won’t go to lunch with me, how about getting coffee sometime? Starbucks? $4 is my limit. LOL”

Eeek! I never wrote back, but I did forward the email to my friends asking them to come up with an exit strategy. Am I evil? Well, maybe, but I do love to entertain others especially at the expense of someone else. The following week DB walked by and said, “Evan, I’m really sorry. I won’t bother you again.” My friend who was sitting across from me and I looked at each other and we burst out laughing.

Then after two weeks of peace and quiet, I thought I was in the clear…until I got another random email from him last week. The saga never ends…

Here's a picture of me having dinner with Thomas and Kei Kato for a little Northpoint reunion in Tokyo!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Our project policy allows us to fly home and work remotely for a week every two months. After two and a half months in Tokyo, I finally made my trip back to the States. Plus I’m on a 90-day tourist visa so technically I had to go back before it expires. It was really good catching up with everyone, and especially refreshing to see my girlfriends considering most of the people I hang out with in Tokyo are guys – a much needed respite from all that testosterone!

Oddly enough, I feel almost out of place at home even though it has only been two months since I’ve been away. For example, as a creature of habit, I’ve gotten so used to bowing and saying “HAI” (which means “yes”) that I keep doing that here. And it took me a little while to get used to being surrounded by a sea of white people everywhere I turn (never mind I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood). As for the weather, it is over 100 degrees this week – the hottest since 2002. Coupled with the humidity, it just isn’t very pleasant to be outside. (Meanwhile Soph informed me that it has been nice and breezy at 80 degrees in Tokyo!) I miss walking everywhere and I definitely do not miss driving. I have almost forgotten how many careless drivers are out there (yes Chiu Chiu, you are right – Maryland drivers are the worst!) Not to mention the customer service here SUCKS ASS - a huge adjustment from the impeccable service I’ve grown accustomed to.

I also have trouble getting a full night’s sleep because I have to work during Japan hours which is 13 hours ahead. This means I have to work the graveyard shift for a few hours, then sleep for a few hours, get up in the morning and work for another couple hours. Then I have all these errands to run (i.e. try on bridesmaid dresses for my sister’s wedding/facial/dentist appointment) and people to meet for lunch and dinner so I don’t even have time to fit sleep in my tightly packed schedule. I’ve only been able to nap for four hours every night. On top of that, I am acutely aware of how fatigued I look so if everyone would stop pointing it out to me, that’d be just super. So I’m totally over it and I’m ready to head back home, I mean, to Tokyo.
Here are some pictures from my week back in the States.

Sorry how could I forget my favorite cute little sister and her fiance?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

City of Stalkers – Part I

Since my arrival two months ago, I’ve managed to acquire a few stalkers here. But I must tell you about one in particular who is awfully entertaining (to me and to all my friends.) To protect this poor sap’s identity, I’ll call him DB (short for Douche Bag).

I’ve already been warned by my friends about this guy, an American who is one of our client’s employees and has lived in Tokyo for a few years. With an ego the size of Godzilla, DB drives around in his lowered BMW (when everyone else commutes by train.) Every conversation he has with someone revolves around what new expensive gadgets he buys for himself or how gifted and skilled he is at snowboarding or how fluent his Japanese is. Exactly the kind of guy everyone loves to be around! Needless to say, I was more than thrilled when I had a run-in with him so my inner bitch could finally put him in his place.

One morning I was walking to the office from the train station when a very low BMW nearly ran me over. As I turned around, I realized it was DB (as he’s the only gei-jing [foreigner] in the office who wears a three-piece suit and drives around a pretentious car.) Then when he revved his engine and sped off, I rolled my eyes and continued walking. After about 10 minutes, he walked by my desk and asked, “Was that you this morning?”
Me: "You mean, when you tried to run me over?"
DB: "Oh, sorry about that. I saw you from behind and couldn’t help but notice how tall you were."
Me: "So first you try to run me over. And now you’re calling me Sasquatch."
DB: "No No No! It’s a compliment!"
Me: "Whatever. Just watch where you’re going next time."
DB: "I truly am sorry. And I did not mean to run you over."

Later that afternoon, DB was chatting with another consultant whose desk was next to mine. He thought it’d be cute to kick my chair but I was not amused. He then had the nerve to ask if I could help him pick out his next car and pulled up two different Lamborghini models on the Mac.
Me: [Rolling my eyes] "Overcompensate much?"
The guy he was chatting with had a good laugh.
DB: "Wow you’re mean! Come on! Just pick which one you like better!"
Me: [Exasperated tone] "Fine. That one."

I chose the uglier orange one over the tolerable red one which is what I would have chosen if I were a pompous douche bag.
DB: "You like that one? OK the orange [blah blah blah] model it is! So by the way, what is your name?"
Me: "Evan."
DB: "Hi my name is DB. Where are you from?"
Me: "DC."
DB: "Are you Japanese or Chinese or what? You look mixed."
Me: [Mixed with what? Vodka?] "No I'm full Chinese. Excuse me."
Annoyed that he kept talking to me while I was trying to work (well, IM my friends), I got up to go to the bathroom. When I came back, he was STILL sitting there.
Me: "Don’t you have work to do?"
DB: "Sorry, am I bothering you? I will go overcompensate at my desk now."
Me: "Yea, you go do that."

So that was my first encounter with DB. I will continue with the rest of the story sometime next week - and believe me - it gets even better. Stay tuned…

Monday, July 24, 2006

Easy as 1-2-3!

This morning when I was lifting weights (my attempt to give my skinny noodle arms some definition), this slightly overweight Japanese guy was working out next to me with his trainer who looked a lot like a man. Think butchy gym teacher. As she was counting his reps in Japanese, I thought it was a great opportunity to count along with them so I can practice my numbers. You have to give me credit for being so efficient – working out and practicing Japanese at the same time! When we got to six, however, I realized I must have counted a little too loudly because they both looked over at me like I had just escaped from the loony bin. I looked at them and quickly turned the other direction but couldn’t help giggling to myself. Oy vey! Don’t ask why I always get myself into these embarrassing situations! Well I wasn’t that embarrassed so I continued to count along with them but using my indoor voice the second time around.

Pictures below are from this weekend. We went to a bar in Shibuya and then karaoke with this new Aussie guy who just joined the project (he’s the one in the green button down shirt). I’m usually the best singer amongst our friends when we're at karaoke but this new guy had an amazing voice and totally stole my thunder. I hate him. Note to self: do not invite new guy to karaoke.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Popping My Onsen Cherry

Being an onsen (hot springs) virgin, my cherry was popped by my new friends (a gang of six girls) during my Shimoda beach weekend. It was my first time. It happened way too fast. And it was over before I knew it. I was left feeling like a new woman with really soft skin…Anyway, initially I felt a little uncomfortable taking off all my clothes in front of all the girls (no this was not coed.) But when everyone else seemed to walk around naked so freely, I started to feel more and more at ease.

First we went to the locker room and stripped down to our birthday suit. Then we had to shower (in front of each other) before we could go into the onsen. When we were all sitting in the onsen overlooking the beach (see picture of our spectacular view) chatting away, I snuck a peak or two (or three or four) – and I’m not talking about the beach view either. Alright, you all know I’m a dirty old man trapped inside a girl’s body (think wolf in sheep’s clothing or closeted les at a public bath), so I couldn’t help myself checking out everyone’s goods. I’ve never seen so many naked boobies up close, it was fantastic! So many shapes and sizes and colors oh my! Unfortunately, after about fifteen to twenty minutes, it got too hot so we left the onsen to rinse off with cold water which was very refreshing.

And that was the end of my peep show, I mean, first trip to the onsen. Below is a picture of me and the girls responsible for popping my onsen cherry.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Weekend at the Beach

Taking advantage of the three-day weekend (Monday was a national holiday called “Ocean Day” – yea don’t know what that is), Sophia and her friends invited me to go on their annual beach trip in Shimoda, a city on the Izu Peninsula three and a half hours away from Tokyo by bullet train.

We arrived Friday night around eleven and checked into our hotel. The next morning we woke up and headed straight for the beach. Since the weather forecast predicted rain for the entire weekend, we were pleasantly surprised when we got nothing but sun sun sun – especially when we heard that Tokyo got nothing but rain rain rain!

Although I don’t dare frequent any beaches back home because they are usually the color of poo, all the tropical beaches I have visited are still mainly invaded by American tourists. This translates to 90% of the beach bodies tend to be a bit on the…healthy side. But here, it was the complete opposite – 90% of the Japanese beach goers were tan, thin and fit. I was definitely out of my comfort zone since I’ve gotten so used to seeing a lot of loose pale skin flapping around. But it was very easy to get over and I quickly fell asleep to my iPod nano.

After a nice hot day simmering on the beach, we went back to the hotel and headed for the onsen (hot springs) for more simmering. Stay tuned for more details because this truly deserves its own entry. After dinner we went to the Paradise Café and surprise surprise it was a major gei-jing (westerner) hangout! We even ran into my friends’ coworkers from JP Morgan there. Everyone drank beer while I had green tea shaved ice. Then on Sunday we went to the beach again but left around five to go home. By the time we got back to Tokyo, it was almost nine. Luckily we didn’t have to work the next day so we picked up some wine and watched an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” before going to bed.

All in all, I had such a great weekend, a much needed break from working and partying. But it was more memorable because I experienced many “firsts” this past weekend – first trip out of Tokyo, first time on the bullet train, first beach trip in Japan, and first visit to the onsen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Green Tea Party

When I went to Starbucks for a little sugary pick-me-up (yes Starbucks has invaded Tokyo as well), I came across this new drink called Green Tea Frappuccino. Being a green tea drinker myself, I had to give it a try. Much to my delight, it was so delicious and refreshing I finished it in one gulp! It was sweet but not too sweet and it is made with skim milk which means fewer calories! What more can a girl ask for? Needless to say, I now have a new favorite drink at Starbucks (move over Mocha Frap). Unfortunately, I checked out the Starbucks website and this drink is not offered in the States yet – sorry kids, you’ll have to wait a little while before it catches on. But trust me – you’ll LOVE it!

While Green Tea Frappuccino seems like a natural progression in Starbucks’s world, green tea flavor can be found in the most unexpected foods here in Japan. Of course, green tea ice cream is a given. But have you heard of green tea yogurt? Or green tea soy milk? Green tea bread? Green tea crème brulee? Green tea soba noodles? Green tea tapioca? Green tea cream puffs? Green tea hot dogs? I have tried all of these green tea products and loved every one of them! OK I was just kidding about the hot dogs but the options are endless! So next time you visit Japan, make sure you try some of these green tea flavored desserts!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bend it Like Beckham (or just kick the damn ball)

What I did this weekend was completely out of character. (No I did not go adopt some stray cats or eat worms.) After the usual flurry of parties on Friday and Saturday nights, I, Ms. Prissy Princess, played SOCCER on Sunday afternoon. As you all know, I’m about as athletic as grandma in a wheelchair. But after watching the World Cup on Sunday (well I wasn’t actually watching as much as just hanging out and eating and chatting) I had the sudden urge to go outside and PLAY soccer! So I gathered the troops and went to the park for a little four on four.

I didn’t have trouble kicking the ball or playing rough when trying to get the ball away from the opposing team, but I couldn’t aim very well when trying to score . In spite of my shortcomings, my team still won: 13 to 6 (HAH take that suckers - and this time I didn't even trash talk! I did play very good defense though.) Although I got kicked in the nuts by the soccer ball and fell on my knees a couple times, I had so much fun! I really think I could have been great at playing sports – I don’t know – something about my competitive nature and aggressive behavior. About an hour into playing, it started drizzling which cooled the weather considerably. Still we continued to play for another hour and a half. Ahh, the sweet smell of sweat and rain! Can’t wait to play again next weekend – only this time I will actually score! Well hopefully...

Here are some pictures of me having dinner with my Japanese friends!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Welcome to Hollywood in Tokyo!

Happy July 4th! Although the holiday pretty much goes unnoticed here in Japan, I am reminiscing about why we celebrate the independence of our great nation…barbeques, hot dogs, hamburgers, mac & cheese, beer (or woodchuck for me), pool parties, and getting drunk with friends...
Anyway, the past few weeks I visited a couple places where Hollywood also invaded. We had dinner at the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed. The restaurant New York Grill was situated on the 52nd floor of the famous hotel that had a breathtaking view of the city and spectacular dining.
http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/restaurants/index.jsp We each ordered Kobe beef which is known for its marbled texture and rich flavor. To be honest, I found it a bit too fatty for my taste. It was one of those dishes where you have to try once but may never need to try again – and same goes for the restaurant unless you’re a baller.
Now you can’t watch Lost in Translation and not watch Kill Bill. Although these two films are highly unrelated in subject matter and genre, the prevalence of Japanese culture in both films is the common thread. We went to the restaurant – Gonpachi – which inspired the set in Kill Bill Vol. 1 where Uma and the Japanese schoolgirl were fighting like cats and dogs.
http://www.gonpachi.jp/en/casual/home/welcome Quentin Tarantino liked the restaurant so much that he built an exact replica to film the fighting scene. It was so cool to see the restaurant as an actual restaurant and not as a battleground. And oh yea, the food was pretty good, too!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday to ME!!!!!

Sorry for the self-imposed hiatus – “blog” for me now means “back log”. To catch you guys up, last last weekend was my birthday which happened to fall on a Saturday (6/24). Nonetheless, we celebrated Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights which may seem a bit excessive, but come on, a girl only turns 25 once (or twice) and has to milk it for what it’s worth…
I somehow got in touch with some of my PwC training class friends from Japan (this training class was back in September of ‘99 where 70 fresh-out-of-college kids from all over the world spent 3 months in Tampa for “training” – it was the perfect transition from college to the real world). So Yukiko from my training class along with some of the others threw me a “Welcome/Birthday Party” on Thursday night to start off my birthday weekend. We reserved a room at this really cool restaurant near Omote-sando (yes – outside of Roppongi for once!) for all twenty of us. The Aussies, Americans, and the Japanese all mingled and got along famously – much thanks to the alcohol. By the end of the night, I managed to chug wine out of a decanter – yes very classy – but everyone applauded and you wouldn’t have expected any less from me. Friday night after work we had dinner and drinks at the TY Harbor Brewing Company on a man-made island (aka landfill). Then we were off to Karaoke in Hiro-o. It was a public Karaoke bar and we all sang horribly! My friends serenaded me with a Happy Birthday song which was very sweet and thoughtful and we’ll just leave it at that. What troubled me was that when the other Karaokers were up there singing, I was their biggest fan and cheered and sang and danced right along with them. So needless to say, I was a bit offended when it was our turn to sing, and they didn’t respond with nearly the same enthusiasm! I took it upon myself to let them know this atrocity cannot go on (I basically yelled at the audience and told them how much they sucked.) It worked like a charm because the next song Jeff and I sang – Sweet Caroline – they ALL were singing along and waving their hands like a bunch of idiots. That was all I wanted for my birthday!
Saturday I met up with Yukiko (the Japanese friend who threw me my Welcome party) for lunch in Ebisu Garden and went to a Fendi private sale (she also happens to work for Luis Vuitton – I know, what a great job after IBM) where I bought myself a little birthday present. Girls, feel free to comment on how F*CKING FABULOUS my red Fendi shoes are. Never mind that they cost a few day’s worth of per diem, but who needs to eat with shoes like these??!!
Then came Saturday night which was a different story – that’s when everything started going downhill for me. The guys had gone fishing that day so I met up with them for dinner by the river. It was very pleasant eating outside and enjoying the fireworks (which I was told my friends had arranged for my birthday!) While the weather was fantastic – warm and breezy – I started getting chills and feeling a little under the weather. We stayed outside for a few hours before heading to a bar nearby. After about half an hour I was ready to go home. No, not exactly the big birthday night I had imagined; it was rather anti-climatic! Anyhow, I was in bed by 11:30 and stayed in bed for the next three days throwing up everything I ate. And that was the end of my birthday celebration!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sick as a puppy

Everyone - sorry I've been MIA. I've been sick as a puppy and bed-bound since Saturday night. Fever, chills, stomach ache...oy vey! Thanks for all your birthday wishes! I promise I will write back to each of you as soon as I feel better. And oh yea, I will update my blog too!

love you all,

Monday, June 19, 2006

Take me out to the ball game

Saturday I went to my first baseball game which was a ton of fun! The Jinku Stadium was packed with rowdy fans – but in an organized way. There were ringleaders in every section who tell them what to chant. Everyone had a little green umbrella that they raised while singing some cheer (which we tried to emulate but without much success!) At the seventh inning, a bunch of balloons were released into the sky. I’ve never witnessed such organized fun. There were also these little beer vendors resembling oompa loompas running around carrying huge backpacks full of beer.

The two teams that played were the Swallows and the Marines. As you all know, I’m not exactly a sports fanatic – or a sports ANYTHING. But it was still a fun experience and in case you were wondering, the Swallows won: 7 – 5. I guess one team swallows, and the other team sucks! HAHAHAHA Gosh I crack myself up!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cheerleaders unite!

Saturday night we went karaoke until 5 AM and a great time was had by all! We sang, we drank, we danced, we laughed, and we sang some more and danced some more. Terry, who was heading back home to San Francisco (ahh! my second hometown) for good, had to wear this cheerleading outfit on her last day at work (don’t ask). Somehow the same cheerleading outfit mysteriously appeared at the karaoke bar and got passed around like a five dollar whore. Everyone tried it on for size, including MOI. The funny thing is it fit everyone like a glove no matter what size we were – just like a five dollar whore. See for yourself!

Dave and Janice Kuo - Congratulations - sorry I missed the wedding (and the chance to go back to SF and see all you guys) but I sang and drank and cheered and danced in honor of your marriage :D

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One Size Fits All

I was hugely disappointed when I discovered this past weekend that shopping will no longer be a favorite hobby while I’m here in Japan. While back home I’d be considered slim (as long as I’m not standing next to my waifish girlfriends – you all know who you are, anorexic bitches!), here in Japan, not so much. When I walked into the first store in Shinjuku, I found it a bit strange that every top was a size M, which is equivalent to an XXS in the States. When I asked the sales clerk for a size L or XL, she looked at me like I was smoking crack and said, “We only carry one size.” Store after store, it was the same story. Yep – only one size. Size M. I wondered to myself, “What is this? How can stores only carry one size?” Then as I looked around at all the girls shopping and trying on clothes, I answered my own question. Every girl I came across was a size negative. Even girls who are my height or taller have really narrow frames and thin as a rail. I’ve been here for over three weeks now, and I can recall spotting only a handful of “overweight” girls, quite a change of scenery coming from the “healthiest” (ahem FATTEST) country in the world!

Like Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, I had to try on some of these tops in the hopes that they would somehow miraculously fit. And like Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, I was extremely disappointed when I couldn’t even get my arms through the arm holes. I used to be proud of my height and broad shoulders, now I feel like a linebacker – and I don’t even play football! Bottom line: I’d have to chop off a couple limbs just to fit into their clothes :*(

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let them have ramen!

You must experience eating ramen here in Tokyo – especially at 5 in the morning when you are slightly hung over. Not only is the taste of ramen spectacular, but it’s the entire process that makes it most interesting. When you get to a ramen restaurant, there is a vending machine where you can purchase a ticket for a bowl of ramen. Here you can also indicate if you want extra noodles, extra pork, or an egg. When you get a seat, you don’t actually sit with your friends. Rather, each of you will sit in your own tiny little booth with three walls (see picture) where you cannot see your neighbors – it kind of reminds me of taking the SAT’s (or visitors booth in prison). And like the SAT’s, you have to fill out an answer sheet (it's an order form - ask for the English version) where you get to choose the tenderness of the noodle, the spiciness of the soup, extra onions, thickness of the soup base, so on and so on. Who knew eating ramen can be such an intensive process?!?! When you are finished with your selection, you hand in the order form with your ticket and wait inside your little booth. But unlike taking the SAT’s (or prison), you may cavort with your friends and let them know what you’ve ordered. Then when your ramen comes, you are back in your little booth, concentrating on only one thing and one thing only: devouring your delicious ramen…one slurp at a time. And just an FYI, slurping your noodles loudly here is not rude – it is expected! And that is how it’s done here in Japan!