Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 08 – Share a funny anecdote about living/working in Japan.

Today's 30 Day Japan meme prompt is a walk down memory lane! I have a number of funny/weird/uncomfortable anecdotes about Japan... but then again, if you're a foreigner living in Japan, how could you not have a dozen waiting to be pulled out for a cocktail party (because being a fancy foreigner in Japan, you also always go to fancy cocktail parties, am I right? haha). I feel like my life turned into one giant circus the moment I set foot on Japanese soil as a worker rather than a student. Of course I have some funny stories from my time abroad at Kansai Gaidai... but none of them are as odd or as uncomfortable as the ones I've collected trying to live a normal adult life in this country. Especially if you're teaching English in an elementary school or junior high school! That's where the best weird things happen. :)

I will never get over the fact that nearly every human being born in this country has ridden a unicycle.
 One of my favorite stories to tell is about one particular day of class I had at one of my larger Elementary schools, Ioki. As an English teacher in Japan, if you teach at a public school and have 5th and 6th grade students, you are probably familiar with the standardized textbook called "Eigo Note" and truly know just how awful it is (it's being updated for the next school year, apparently, but I have little hopes for the new one). The school district I work in enforces Eigo Note in their schools, and to top it off, I have to follow pre-made lesson plans that a non-native English speaker created for me to use in class (I won't even start with how irritating that is to me). Each of these lessons touches upon something covered in Eigo Note and includes extra activities as well as a "daily conversation" to start off the class with. To say these conversations are useless is an understatement. They are redundant and completely taken out of context. But I digress...

Not the 5th graders I'm talking about but my weirdest, most trouble-making classes.
The "daily conversation" that me and my JTE were supposed to be demonstrating that day was something along the lines of:

ALT: I'm Hungry!
JTE: Are you?

Poetry, I must admit. So, seeing that a drunk dog could probably spit out these four words, we decided that the 5th graders we were teaching could do better than that, and we came up with a different conversation: 

JTE: Are you okay?
ALT: My head hurts!

While it's not Shakespeare, we figured it was more useful than the previous tomfoolery, and a number of kids had already been complaining of aches and pains during the "how are you?" portion of English class without being able to properly express their complaints in English. Thus! We started class, with the specific goal of letting them know you could replace head with stomach, arm, back, etc. How useful!

After our demonstration, we always let the kids practice with three or four different partners so that they can play both roles and get the hang of the awkward sentences. At one point, one of my students comes up to me, holding his ass and asking, "先生、けつの穴って、英語で何?" ("Teacher, what is the word for asshole in English?") Stiffing a giggling (because I'm 4 years old), I told him we probably wouldn't reveal information like that in English anyway, so he didn't need to know. Of course, instead of giving up like a good kid, him and his friends decide they needed to figure this out and came up with the two wonderful options of "My hip-house hurts" and "My little black hole hurts." While nearly rolling on the floor with laughter from this exchange, a girl came up and asked how she'd say that her arm was itchy. Of course, this introduced "itchy" to the conversation and quickly, "My hip-house is itchy" was being thrown around the classroom. I don't think I've ever laughed so much during a class as I did during that one. Despite the ridiculousness, it's moments like that, that make my job feel fun and not nearly so bleak.

No sports fest is complete without looking like a complete idiot at least once during it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Only Way To Spend Thanksgiving....

With other Americans :) No, but really.... No matter the nationality, you should spend thanksgiving with people you care about, especially when you're thousands of miles away from your family. Even if that means holding it on the Monday after the actual day.

In addition, this year's thanksgiving was completely vegan! Matto is vegan, so although we usually make vegan dinners together on Mondays as a group, this Monday funday (as we call it) was a thanksgiving edition, and included homemade bread, apple walnut stuffing, mashed potatoes (both regular and sweet mixed together), mushroom gravy, baked tofu, pineapple cranberry sauce, green beans (steamed and fried with onions and garlic), and a pumpkin pie with homemade crust that I worked on last night. To say that the meal was satisfying would be an understatement. We all enjoyed the post-feast comatose nap while watching "Eagles Are Turning People Into Horses." It helped to have the heated carpet for everyone to hibernate on too. :)

I'm thankful for my awesome friends, all my new adventures and an active life!! I'm ready to take on the last month of 2011!!

The thanksgiving spread. From left, baked tofu, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, apple walnut stuffing, greenbeans, bread, pineapple cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie!
Yes, I did finish that. :D
And that. I must say, my first attempt at a pumpkin pie did not come out too shabby! Especially since the dish I used was wayyy too deep for pie.
Pumpkin pie Sunday night when it had just come out of the oven~

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I've learned about myself from being in Japan....

First day of ALT orientation in Tokyo.
 When I first saw this prompt on the blog, "Whoa... I'm in Japan" I thought, "No problem! This will be an easy post! I reflect constantly about the choices I make, the way things have turned out and what I want to do about the future! This will take 5 minutes..."

... and after 17 days of letting this post sit in the "drafts" section of blogger, I think I finally have something to say. For whatever reason, when faced with the task of physically putting words on paper (or type on screen, in this instance), I couldn't pinpoint exactly I've learned about myself in the past year and a half of living and working in Japan. I can always start with the obvious:
  • I'm effing tall
  • I've gotten better at Japanese 
  • and worse at English
  • I can play the guitar
  • I have a higher tolerance for beer than I did in college
  • I know how to pay bills
  • and cook for myself
But those are just facts and skills. Things that come along with the act of living on your own and trying to fill the empty time between work, sleep, and the weekend. Not really things that have changed me as a person. Now at the same time, I can't say that I've changed drastically as a person either. Not that most people change 180 degrees when they have life changing experiences like living abroad, but I do know that I've gotten stronger in some regards. I can say with certainty that I've become a more confident person. While the simple idea of standing in front of people used to make my heart squeeze in anxiety, I am now ecstatically looking forward to the first live show with my band in January. Instead, I'll break it down into three categories.

Soccer event I went to last year around this time on "freedom island" as one of my stoner Japanese friends called it.
My first Kikusui zadankai (sake tasting)
Social: I am more of a "people person" than I ever thought I was. Not to say that I need attention 100% of my day. I'm the type of person who has a few super close friends, a couple of good friends, and a lot of acquaintances. No, I figured out that just the mere act of being around other people (being near people in a coffee shop/book store/shopping center) is enough to keep me from falling into some sort of depressed slump. I just never knew that the energy from being around people was so important to me. I think that's my biggest motivating factor for wanting to move out of Aki (the definition of countryside) and get to a bigger city.

Lounging with his beer and cig in front of the venue.
 Tolerance: It will sound strange to say that my tolerance has gone down, but it is true. I am no longer the over-all tolerant human being that I used to be. To be more specific, I no longer have much tolerance for unadulterated ignorance. I used to smile politely when people would ask if I was able to eat rice, use chopsticks, or if America had TVs. That sort of ignorance I am no longer able to tolerate. It makes me cringe and I have to put a lot of effort into not responding in a snotty fashion. Especially the type of ignorance that won't stop asking the same question until it hears the answer that it wants to hear and expects. Instead, I have gained a lot of patience for curiosity. I appreciate questions that are asked out of a pure desire to learn about something/someplace/someone new. My friends here are those sort of people; the type who want to better themselves through knowledge and not remain ignorant to the outside world.

Screaming into the abyss is one of my favorite past times :)
Individual: I understand what it means to be an individual so much more now than I used to. I understand how it feels to be lumped into the massive labels that are "American" and "foreigner" while trying to fight against the sort of negative connotations that others automatically associate to both. I am me. I am not part of the mind-hive that some people think societies have. I am an individual with my own thoughts, beliefs, experiences and morals. Just like it's not fair to say "the Japanese are..." any certain way. I have met so many people while working here that step outside of the stereotype and "norm" of Japan. People like to look at the differences between Japan and America so much so, that they forget we have more similarities than anything else. All foreigners don't speak English, and all Japanese people don't like natto. It's that simple.

It's an appropriate time of year to start reflecting on oneself, with New Years coming up. I just finished a column for the local newspaper's (in Japanese) January issue about this as well. Hopes and dreams for the New Year. It's interesting how once we change our calendar, it really does feel like we have a bit of a fresh start. Even though the difference between the minute we are living in and the "previous year's minute" are no different. It's a good time to start making resolutions, writing out goals, and thinking positively for the new year we are going to face in a month's time. 頑張ろう!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why Japan Wins At Public Holidays

Yesterday was the second public holiday this month! And really, what's a better way to get through a cold workweek than to have a holiday splitting it into two manageable halves? I do love my three-day weekends, but with how cold it's been getting recently, it was a relief to not have to wake up before the sun rose, as well as wear jeans. :x

Since it was labor day here in Japan, me and Matto packed up our gear and drove over to Tokushima to have band practice and see a live. Why they decided to have a live show on the actual holiday and not the night before so everyone could party.... I will never understand (but it was a fantastic show, nonetheless). We practiced for two hours in Torigoro's (practice/recording studio) nicest studio; it was soo spacious and fancy feeling, compared to the cramped old spaces they rent out here in Kochi. We finished a 6th song together and finally decided on a band name: Leeway. It feels appropriate for our strange little group of four (our two Tokushima bandmates keep getting weirder/more interesting the more time we spend with them. I'm loving it).

Arase, our amazing teddybear-esque lead guitarist and my lyrics notebook in the spacious studio <3
Atsushi still in his work clothes. Isn't the studio fancy looking?!
After practice, Atsushi had to get to a show at another venue called Grindhouse, so Matto, Arase and I all went out to an izakaya/sushi-ya to eat, drink, and bond (I could not participate in the drinking part, seeing as I am always DD). Since there was so much time between practice ending, and the show at Crowbar beginning, we wandered over to see Thirsty Chords play at Grindhouse. They played amazingly, as usual, but for a crowd who was not thrilled to see them. Now that I've seen them enough times in enough live houses, it's interesting to see what songs they choose to play for which crowds. When they know that the crowd loves them, they play all their amazing songs from the “I Continue I...” album. Otherwise, they play either really old or really new stuff...

The band before them was a Sublime ripoff, and the guys after them (who were assholes) had this reggae/ska/rap thing going that I was really not a fan of. Thank god the tickets to the show were cheap, because we peaced out after Thirsty Chords finished and headed over to Crowbar to see anti-18, not for, Your Pest Band, Gleam Garden, and WHAT-A-NIGHT's. As usual, I love WHAT-A-NIGHT's and their perfect performances (they seriously sound like their recordings every time), but I was especially excited to see Tokyo's Your Pest Band again. I think the main vocalist got even more attractive since I saw him last time in Tokyo during the summer... and I forgot how tall he was too!

Your Pest Band
Spalding from WHAT-A-NIGHT's
Anyway, great way to spend a public holiday (even though I didn't get to sleep until 2AM): full of music and Arase's drunken kabuki poses. :D

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winter in Japan

I have a love-hate relationship with winter in Japan. I love how Christmas lights and holiday music start being used even before Halloween is over. However, I hate people's sense of design when it comes to putting up said Christmas lights (usually looks like Santa had a little drink-reverse all over a house/gas station/mall). I love mikan, strawberries, and all other winter food like nabe and sukiyaki. However, I hate how my schools keep the windows open even in the dead of winter in order to "air out" the building.

What I hate most, is how effing cold my house gets during this season. I have a very strangely arranged apartment with high ceilings, no neighbors, an empty shop below me, and doors on loose hinges that make it sound like elephants are trying to break in when a strong wind blows. At the same time, I favorite thing about winter is the type of products that Japan provides in order to fix these problems. Last year I survived the winter by gritting my teeth and hiding under my kotatsu. This year, I can live in luxury with my new electric blanket and heated carpet!! Doesn't it look cozy?! All I need to do is set up a tent and portable stove and I can live on my heated carpet aaallll winter :)

Heated carpet, cup of hot tea, my kotatsu, and computer... what else could you need?!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Night Out at Hirome Ichiba

This month's J-Festa Blogging theme is "Dining in Japan," so I thought I would share a little bit about the "hottest spot" in all of Kochi Prefecture: Hirome Ichiba. Lonely Planet even ranked the restaurant as the 5th most interesting thing you should waste time doing if you ever drunkenly stumble into this prefecture (since we are #1 in that department). But in all seriousness, Hirome Ichiba is the hangout of Kochi City. You will only find the place empty during the afternoon, and even then you can find people scattered about drinking beer and eating katsuo tataki. The establishment takes up the first floor of a two story warehouse-esque building made of solid grey concrete and filled to the brim with gift shops, bars, and small food "stalls" (parking on the 2nd floor). The rest of the space is filled with picnic tables and benches that you need to circle like a hawk in order to nab on a busy Friday/Saturday night.

People pack like sardines onto those benches on most Friday/Saturday nights.
The back of the building where the best bar tender ever resides as well as some amazing ice cream.
Since there are so many different shops and stalls lining the interior of the building, it's hard not to find something everyone wants to eat. A number of places offer standard, cheap, izakaya food like korokke, yaki-tori, assortments of fried finger food and beer. Other places are more specialized, and offer a specially made gyoza, ramen, takoyaki, karage, or donburi as the main draw to their particular shop. There are even a few non-Japanese food shops that offer Chinese, Korean, Indian and a shop called "Kei's Cafe" that offers a slightly more western-style menu including Jerk Chicken and Taco Rice. Of course, out of all of these things, the almighty Katsuo Tataki reins supreme and has one especially large shop near the front of Hirome.

This shop sits front and center in the Hirome Ichiba complex and serves only Katsuo Tataki (along with the standard white rice, miso soup and tempura-fried kimpira) in about three main flavors. They even have the kitchen area set up with a huge pane of glass so you can watch as they freshly sear the Katsuo you'll be eating over a roaring straw fire. Flavoring options include salt, tare, and yuzu, and each order of Katsuo Tataki is garnished with slices of garlic and a sprinkling of green onion and grated daikon.

Raw in the middle and perfectly seared on the outside. Yum.
Katsuo Tataki (#5) would rank in my top 5 Hirome Ichiba food choices. Along with it, I think I would have to add:
  • bacon wrapped onigiri (#4)
  • Hirome korokke (#3)
  • cheese nan (#2)
  • macha soft-serve in a waffle cone (#1)
I apologize that I don't have pictures of each thing..... if you tasted them I think you'd understand why I can never wait to take a picture. :P

Best bar-tender in the world, A-chan.
Last but not least, booze! If anything, Hirome Ichiba is the place that everyone in Kochi goes to relax, unwind, and down a few beers before the week ends/weekend starts. Every store in the place sells one of the following: cheap beer, chu-hai, nihonshu, or wine. The exception would be A-chan's middle bar, which remains as one of the few places that sells liquor and has such an adorable tender to go along with it (there's another bar that sits on the outside of the back of the building, run by an American). No fail, every time me and Matto go to visit him he will have shots of free whiskey and vodka waiting for us (and will subsequently take a shot himself). He's a dangerous man. Everything he sells is 500 yen and he's the one bar tender that fully understands that Americans don't like foam on their beer (and god bless him for it).

That about wraps it up for my post on Hirome Ichiba. If you ever find yourself lost and in Kochi Prefecture (because unless you're doing the 88 temple pilgrimage... why would you ever visit Shikoku?), come on over to Hirome Ichiba, located at the end of Kochi's shopping arcade "Obiyamachi," and find a tired salary man or drunken college student to share a beer with. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 07 – Which Japanese words do you use in English? (hanami, shinkansen, etc.)

I already briefly went over this prompt in the "mannerisms and expressions" post, but I think I'll go into more detail this time around~

As I said in the aforementioned post, I use a lot of Japanese words in my daily conversations with other foreigners. The degree to which I try and sensor myself varies, of course, from person to person. People who have a good grasp of the Japanese language (which most of my friends around me do), I usually don't sensor myself at all with. After studying Japanese for five years, living in this country for two, and texting/interacting with my Japanese friends on a daily basis, it gets difficult sometimes to come up with the English word first (yes, this does prove to be a problem teaching English sometimes) and instead, the Japanese word comes flying out. Even when I'm having "I-just-can't-speak-Japanese" days, common words and phrases will still come flying out of my mouth. With people who know a little Japanese (most other English teachers in my area that I see frequently), I try to hold those words back (though sometimes to no avail). At the same time, these friends seem to understand when I slip up and have to backtrack with the English word. They also usually know enough Japanese to not always need an explanation.

I can't think of the English word!!!!!!
The hardest is when talking to friends and family back in the US on skype. I want to use Japanese so badly, and I have to repeat over and over in my mind, "NO, YOU CAN NOT USE KOUSOKU WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE HIGHWAY" so that I don't use a completely incomprehensible word while talking to my mother or best friend. I find that the pauses I take to search my brain for a word have gotten longer, and I use simpler words more often than the concise, intelligent-sounding words that I went to University in order to learn and use.

Now, without further ado, here is a good sampling of the words I use on a daily basis:

Undoukais never fail to make a non-Japanese person feel like they are at a child-run circus
uchiawase: business meeting (used when meeting with teachers about lesson plans)
enkai: drinking party (this includes shinenkai-new year drinking party and bounenkai-end of the year drinking party too)
nijikai: 2nd party. The party you go to with your co-workers/friends after the initial party was held, and all the sober-debby-downers have shuffled home. this means it's time for karaoke or a bar!
undoukai: sports day
bunkasai: culture festival
hanami: flower viewing
shinkansen: whoever uses "high-speed train" or whatever else is going out of their way to not use Japanese
nihonshu: sake or any other type of Japanese alcohol
gokon/konpa: is there even a word for this in English? It's a set-up group date
purikura: because "print-club" sounds stupid
chu-hai: because "canned cocktail" is also really stupid sounding

Purikura! We look so glowy in this picture <3
kousoku: highway (here in Kochi, I need to take the highway if I want to get out of the prefecture quickly).
horenso: spinach. for whatever reason I can never get the word "spinach" out. ever.
negi/mame/piman/satsumaimo/hakusai: leak/bean/green pepper/sweet potato/Chinese cabbage. a lot of my problem words end up being food words :P
nonbiri: leisurely. one of my friends used this a lot and I ended up picking it up.
gorogoro suru: to lay around the house. I just feel like this describes that action so well.
bimyou: strange/off/questionable. one of my ex's used to say it when I would make faces at him. it stuck.
betsu betsu: usually said when splitting a check. Even with my English-speaking friends, we usually say, "Do you wanna best-betsu this?"
uchiage: afterparty! I get invited to a lot of these after shows. Way more fun than any enkai will ever be.
dorama: Japanese dramas are such a unique thing, in my opinion.... drama isn't just a genre for dramatic acting. it has become something completely different and absurd in the Japanese hands.

::Ways in which Japanese has messed with my English::
live: a concert/live show. It's not terribly off from English, but saying "I'm going to a live tomorrow" is considerably off for standard English....
4th month/5th month/etc: This is seriously just my own weird problem. I've always had issues with coming up with the names of months. Japanese has it laid out so logically with the number... so I just English-ify the Japanese and come up with, "Hey, aren't we going to that meeting in 7th month?"
guitar: ever since a Japanese friend told me he was taught that the pronunciation of guitar was "gu-wii-tar" I can't help but think about it constantly and sometimes accidentally say it. Just like thinking of island like "is-land" when you spell it out...

The aftermath of an uchiage.... same as most enkais but co-workers are at least kind enough to pass out at home/the nijikai
I'm not counting formal names, places, dishes (okonomiyaki, takoyaki), or objects that are specifically Japanese. English is the most plastic and adaptable language in the world, so it'd be unfair to say that "kendama" or "udon" isn't as much English as other words we've adopted (or to say that ramen and bi-ru isn't somehow Japanese at this point).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Japan Blog Matsuri: Autumn

Since I write a lot about Japanese music and going to see shows here in my blog, I decided that my entry to the Japan Blog Matsuri this month, hosted by Cooking In Japan, and under the theme: An acrostic poem spelling out AUTUMN, was going to be band/song related! I will share one or two songs from a few of my favorite bands as well as a picture/link/some info on them! The link on the song title (italicized part) is the link to the MP3 download. The link on the band's name is to their website/myspace.

PALL MALL, a picture from the second show I went to see of them play: One More Time Vol 7; The Lions, Parkmates, Tin Soldiers, PALL MALL, In The Unknown (all fanfuckingtastic bands
 After The Rainbow; PALL MALL
LUck At Last Night; The Because
Thirsty Chords; Air-In & 少し泣く (sukoshi naku)
Undecided; FRAGMENTS
Make A Fool Of Me; ELMOC
TurNcoat; Sand In Hand & Theme Of Dead End

PALL MALL: (picture above) One of the first bands I was introduced to upon arriving to Kochi and some of my better friends here. From left to right, Kyohei (Mall), Kyosuke (Pall), and Dorami. They would fall into the Melodic Punk/Hardcore genre around here, because their songs are a bit darker, and there are a lot of screaming parts as well as the vocal melodies (vocals being both Mall and Pall). After The Rainbow is my absolute favorite song, and the have never failed to play it as their last song whenever I go and see them. I love these guys; they have dragged me along to shows, come to my house parties, and have been fun friends over my stay here in Japan.

THE BECAUSE: All I have is a picture of one of their 7-inch splits with One Reason at the moment because The Because had already broken up before I came to Japan this time around (also have yet to find video). I love their sound; it's more Rock than Punk, with a dash of folksy blues tossed in (like Balladmen). Their songs are feel good and I wish I could have seen them play a show once. Luckily! Their members are now in two other bands, "Balladmen" and "The Tiffs" both of which I've seen play shows a few times in Kyoto and Tokyo now.

THISTY CHORDS: I could not rant and rave about these three guys enough. Just in case you didn't get to see enough of them in my last post, here is one more photo for you featuring all three of them! From right to left: Daisuke, Atsushi and Yusaku. I fell in love with the first album I ever heard of theirs called "I Continue I..." and I only wish their other recordings were not out of press (although, now that I think about it, I could always ask Atsushi about handing over some MP3s....). They would fall under the genre of Melodic Punk but with way less screaming than PALL MALL. Atsushi, as I've mentioned in previous posts, is the drummer in the band I've been practicing with over the last 2-ish months.

FRAGMENTS: Another band that is no longer together but instead scattered around three of the four prefectures of Shikoku now! The bass player is Mall (left) from PALL MALL, the guitar/vocalist is Spalding (right) from WHAT-A-NIGHT's (another awesome Tokushima band), and the drummer is Ikawa-san (center) from Matsuyama (Ehime) who plays in about a million bands (I swear, every time I see him he's in a new band playing the drums amazingly for someone new), one of which is called "Conception" and has most of it's members based in Kochi (not a fan. hardcore/wall of noise type of music). I'd consider Fragments to fall into the alternative/indi category of music these days.

ELMOC: As I said in my last post, ELMOC are the three lovely ladies from Tokyo who we will be playing a show with in January! I've only recently been introduced to them and their music, so I'm still getting to know it a little... but I love what I hear so far!! They remind me of another, slightly older band called "Pear Of The West" that is also from Tokyo. Worth taking a listen to.

TURNCOAT: Turncoat is a supremely attractive band (hahaha). The female drummer and guitarist (Kiyomi and Sev) are the most beautiful couple I think I've ever seen. They are also amazingly nice and amazing at playing what they play. Once again, my buddy Mall plays bass in this band as well as some lead vocals. They are a Matsuyama/Kochi band and have been getting pretty popular recently, doing some shows in Kyoto and Osaka. They just put out an 8-song CD called "Raise Your Flag," which is what the two above MP3s are from. I also included the video below of them playing late last year!

Just as an added bonus, another amazing band called "Balladmen" who is made up of members from the infamous "The Because" and "Blotto," two great Tokyo Pop Punk bands that are no longer in existence. Instead, members from those bands are in Balladmen and another band called "The Tiffs." I'd share MP3's but these bands only have 7-inches out and my record player does not have one of those MP3 converter cords with it. :(

Hope that was an interesting view into my area of the sub-culture that is Japanese pop punk/melodic punk/indi bands. Obviously, there are more bands out there than I could ever think to have taken a listen to,and I've really only skimmed the top in my own region of Shikoku/Chugoku (though if I wrote out the list of bands from here I've seen/heard, it would be sickeningly long...). More importantly, these are the bands and people I've been going to see, supporting, making friends with, and playing music with over the past year. I couldn't be more pleased~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Throw Away The Book

Flyer for last night's show
Last night reminded me why I love being here in Japan, that not all people are as lame and shy as the people living around me, and that I know some really really awesome people.

My all-time favorites: Thirsty Chords with Atsushi singing in the background.
Me and Matto went to a show in Okayama City yesterday. Since the drive was only about 2 hours on the highway, we got there early and did the touristy thing for a few hours: saw the castle (which is special because it's black and not white), a gorgeous garden (which is a world heritage site and the 3rd prettiest garden in Japan), and walked around the city (which reminded me vaguely of Kyoto with it's square layout and wide sidewalks). We ended up heading over to Pepperland early (4:30 for a 7PM show) because Atsushi called us to find out if we found cheap parking. We were introduced to the (super sexy) guitarist/vocalist from the headlining band, "What's What," who had a really amazing Husker Du tattoo on his lower back (as Matto said, the boldest tramp stamp he's ever seen) and was only 22!!

Two of the three ELMOC girls. I want the one on the right to be my new best friend. She hug tackled me after they performed.
We ended up going out to dinner with the three girls from ELMOC and all three guys from Thirsty Chords. Let's just say, I'm really excited to play a show with these girls in January. If I hadn't had to proctor for the Eiken (English Proficiency Test) today in my city, I would have been indulging just as much as everyone else was (sucks being sober driver sometimes). I don't remember ever having seen Atsushi drunk, and it was hilarious. It was also just really nice to be able to hang out with him and the girls from Tokyo. If only Arase had been there, it would have been a nice band bonding moment. :)
Bass player from Short Story, a band with 3 guitarists and a singer who looked like he was going to explode.
The show promised to be pretty long... a 7 band line-up (Japan just doesn't know when to stop sometimes), but it all went by pretty fast, and I don't think I've ever had such an amazing time at a show before, honestly. The guitarist/vocalist from The Mad Wife came with all the members of WHAT-A-NIGHT's, we were introduced to so many different people from all over Japan who had come to the show because they had friends playing that night, and the atmosphere was just so much more friendly than any show I've been to in Kochi. It actually felt like a little community rather than a bunch of moody punks dressed in black, smoking outside. For once, people didn't get freaked out by the two foreigners joining in the conversation. No one even really batted an eye at our ability to speak Japanese. They just embraced it and let us join in! Seriously, such a breath of fresh air compared to how stuffy and alienating Kochi can feel sometimes.

Thirsty Chords played 3rd from last, and at the rate Atsushi and Daisuke were drinking, me and Matto were slightly concerned with their ability to play... but as usual they nailed it and were the only band that had everyone singing along to every song, getting rowdy, and even had some crowd dives (Daisuke threw his bass down for the last song and dove onto the crowd at one point, ahahaa). I was also concerned about my new besty from ELMOC, Hikko, because she was falling-over-drunk by the time their set came about. Of course, with a little water in her she pulled it together and they also killed. The show ended around 11:30 and we were back in Kochi by 2AM (with my expert driving skills). Wish we could have stayed over-night in Okayama to go to the after party with everyone, but that will have to wait until January. Or in the case of the ELMOC girls, December, since me and Matto have already booked plane tickets to go to Tokyo and they happen to be playing a show on the Saturday that we will be there. :) Can't wait~ Sorry for the photo spam, but here are some more of my favorite shots from the show.