12/06/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

Gas prcies have really nose dived back home, but here in Aomori they are still in the 118-120 yen/litre range. What gives? Maybe the gas companies discovered that people in Japan are willing to pay anything for gas and they're in no rush to lower prices. Of course none of this will matter pretty soon as the end is near!

Yet another article about Japan

12/05/04 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles

John and Yoko

I sometimes joke on here about how women in Japan worship Western men like myself, but what is it about us blue eyed folk that makes the J-girls go crazy? Here's today's "interesting article" that gets to the bottom of this mystery. Sorry for blowing the secrets to your success Luke and Steve! What surprised me the most is that Japanese men are actually three times more likely to marry a foreigner than women are. The difference is that Japanese women tend to marry Koreans, Americans and British men while still young, and Japanese men tend to marry Chinese and Filipino women (read: ex-hostess girls) when they become old and unappealing to Japanese girls. Japanese men almost never marry Western women, and here's another "interesting article" about that. Good luck female ALT's!

The Much Hyped "End" of Godzilla

12/03/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

There really are only a small number of famous Japanese names that anyone knows outside of this country. There are a small handful of baseball players, Yoko Ono and of course Godzilla. I don't really care much about baseball, and nobody cares about Yoko Ono (other than the still lingering hatred of Beatles fans), but ever since I was little I've always liked Godzilla. I have lived in Japan for over a year and a half and never written once about Godzilla on here before (I think) so I guess it's high time. Growing up in Toronto I would often watch those really crappy Godzilla movies made in the 60's and 70's on Buffalo 29 on Sunday afternoons when nothing else was on TV but fishing shows and church services. They always seemed to play the especially bad ones, like the one where Godzilla teams up with that dumb ultraman looking guy that grows for some reason. Still, they made Japan look way cooler in my eyes than any other country in Asia. Why no other country seems to want or be able to make movies about giant monsters blowing stuff up is still a mystery to me. Well tomorrow the latest (and supposed last) Godzilla movie is coming out. Of course it won't be the last, but it will probably be the last one to come out while I'm still living in Japan anyway. From what I've seen of the reviews (albeit mostly done by the easily excitable nerds at Ain't It Cool News), this one is supposed to be really good. It has the biggest budget for a non-American Godzilla movie ever (9 million bucks!), and was directed by acclaimed Japanese movie director, Ryuhei Kitamura. Supposedly for the first time ever, the humans in the story aren't horribly boring and there is lots of action from start to finish. The big selling feature is that Godzilla destroys just about all his previous foes in one movie, with the crappy American Godzilla thrown in for good measure too. Anyway, if you're not already sick of reading about Godzilla in these fan-boy ramblings, here's a great article that tells the whole 50 year story of the Godzilla franchise. I didn't go see last year's Godzilla movie when it came out but I'm sold on the hype this time. Hopefully I can get someone to go see "Final Wars" with me, but if not I'm sure I won't be the only otaku in the theatre by his lonesome.

The Shania Twain Centre

12/01/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts, Novelty Music

I sometimes like to write about the strange things small municipalities spend their hard earned money on to try to draw tourists to their otherwise unremarkable towns. Last time I wrote about how Kuroishi spent nearly 2 million bucks on a pair of kokeshi dolls. Well, I feel like it's only fair for me to point out times when my own fellow Canadians conduct similar acts of mass public stupidity, such as when in 2001 the town of Timmons Ontario constructed the 5.5 million dollar Shania Twain Centre. Though it opened over 3 years ago, Shania herself only bothered to pay a visit to her own centre for the first time last month. I guess she has become so drunk on power that she won't leave her guilded cage in Geneva Switzerland, even if only to momentarily thank the peasants of Canada for the great monument they created in her honour. Even the emperor of Japan comes out of seclusion once a year and waves at the public for a few seconds.

Here is a partial list of the amazing things you can see at the Shania Twain Centre:

Interactive multimedia displays, Live concert simulations, Backstage concert experience, Interactive musical exhibits, Shania Twain memorabilia.
You can even see Shania's wedding dress and "several of her awards". I'm guessing they got the ones she doesn't care about enough to keep back home in her castle, like all her Junos. The place is basically a 5.5 million dollar public closet for Shania.

Damn it, why do I have to live 10,000 miles from the Shania Centre? Why God why?!?! I guess I'll just have to build my own monument to Shania in my apartment from ramen noodles and plastic utensils until I can finally come back home and make a proper pilgrimage to the shrine in Timmons that my tax dollars built. I wonder if they'll ship a Shania Twain Centre hockey jersey all the way to Noheji?

It's yuki outside

11/30/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

Here comes winter. The snow arrived a little later this year than last, but it is still of little comfort to me. Some people around here are nothing less than overjoyed about the rapidly approaching winter season. I for one am not one of those people. Winter sports are fun and all, but is it really worth all the freezing temperatures, terrible driving conditions and really bad cases of the sniffles. Hell no!

Exploring Hotel Endless 2

11/28/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts, Photos

Not long after I first came to Aomori I noticed an interesting pink building along the side of road between Asamushi and Hiranai. It appeared to be an old abandoned drive in love hotel called "Hotel Endless 2". Perhaps the "2" was added to the name so as to avoid confusion with the original Hotel Endless. Since we don't have open love hotels in Canada, let alone abandoned ones, I was immediately curious about what might lay behind its boarded up windows. For months I drove by the place, itching to pull over and take a quick look around. Strangely I always seemed to be in too much of a hury to get somewhere (Hirosaki) to do so. Well this weekend I had nothing to do, so I finally decided to check the place out and even took a friend of mine along with me. This friend will remain nameless in order to protect her identity should anyone have a problem with our somewhat less than legal adventure. Anyway, I was really pleasantly surprised by what we found since I didn't expect to see much inside the joint. It was pretty earie walking around in there. Many windows were completely borded causing the once colourful rooms to be pitch black inside. The wind kept slamming shutters around and gave us the impression that we weren't alone. It was definately a strange feeling being in a dark and decaying place that was once so alive with sex and frivolity. The whole experience was really interesting and has inspired me to seek out more abandoned spaces around Aomori, such as the old snack bar complex Luke and Akiko found on Mount Iwaki a few months ago. If you'd like to see for yourself what I've been yammering on about then next time you're driving along Route 4 between Asamushi and Hiranai, look for a big pink boarded up building and take a peek inside, or just click here for a look behind the walls of Hotel Endless 2.


11/26/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

That tire ain't just flat, it's dead.

So as I wrote about previously, I was not allowed to leave early with the other teachers on Thursday and participate in bowling night. When I finally was able to leave work I got in my car and headed home. On the way however something strange happened. I felt this overwealming desire to drive to the top of Mount Eboshi, just outside of Noheji. I have lived in Noheji for over a year and a half and still haven't been to the mountain. I had been meaning to go for the longest time, but was kind of worried about the condition of the road leading to the top. I don't know if it was for spite or just the result of boredom, but I decided that today was the day to conquer Eboshi-san. So I cautiously headed down the narrow dirt road toward the mountain. Along the way I passed a standard white mini pick-up truck parked by the side of the road for no apparent reason with a standard old man behind the wheel. I was a little worried that he might think I was some dumb lost gaijin and try to stop me. So I headed deeper into the forest and was really starting to have a good time. The road was rough indeed, but very scenic with small bridges, a waterfall and even a few English roadside signs explaining the history and legends of the mountain. The road is rarely ever used, and I even had to stop and move a fallen tree out of the way at one point. The further up the mountain I went, the rougher and rockier the road became. Just before I reached the top, as the sun was setting over the Aomori sky, I heard a large bang followed by lots of thumps, clunks and other bad, bad noises. I stopped the car and sure enough my tire had exploded. I knew I was screwed. My only options were to put on the spare tire quickly while there was still light, or try to drive my crippled car about 8km down the mountain and back to civilization. Well option A was quickly scrapped after I couldn't unwedge the jack from the trunk, so turned around and slowly headed down the rocky road clunking and thumping all the way. By the time I reached the bottom, there was nothing left of my right front tire except the rim and some smouldering rubber. So I drove and drove at about 10 km/hr through the pitch black forest until I saw a light up ahead. It was my old friend standard old man in standard white mini pick-up truck. He hadn't moved an inch the whole time I was gone. I can only imagine what he must have thought seeing my crippled car slowly inching towards him. Now a sensible person would have probably stopped and asked the old man for help (I doubt he had anything better to do anyway), but pride and fear of speaking Japanese forced me to push on. The look on his face as I slowly crawled by was truly priceless. So finally I got back to the main road. I was too far from any gas stations to get help, so I dumped the car in my school's parking lot and walked 30 minutes back home.

Today I borrowed a jack from another teacher and replaced the twisted hunk of melted rubber with the car's spare tire. I dreaded having to explain to the other teachers why my tire was flat, so I left out the whole climbing up the mountain part of the story. If they knew that, they'd probably never let me drive again. By the way, if any Noheji teachers are reading this (this means you Chieko and Iku sensei) please don't repeat any of this to anyone, onegaishimasu! &#59;) After work I got the gas station man to replace the spare tire and remaining three tires with my winter tires. Sadly I lost one of my hubcaps up on the mountain somewhere. Well I'm not the kind of guy who learns his lesson, so look out Eboshi-san 'cause I'm coming to get my hubcap! No mountain can kick my car's ass and get away with it.

THANKSGIVING: Its true history

11/25/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

Slaughting native people for their natural resources is now and has always been the heart and soul of American Thanksgiving.

Most of us by now have heard that the whole story of American Thanksgiving with natives bringing food to the starving settlers is complete B.S., but what is the real story? I found an interesting article that does a good job summarizing the true story of Thanksgiving. Here's probably my favorite part:

The churches of Manhattan announced a day of ?thanksgiving? to celebrate victory over the savages... During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets of Manhattan like soccer balls.

Did you know however that the first Thanksgiving was actually in Canada? Not surprisingly the purpose of Canadian Thanksgiving wasn't to celebrate killing savages, but was actually similar to the myth of American Thanksgiving. The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who held a formal ceremony in 1578 to give thanks for surviving a long journey in search of the Orient. During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada and brought with them traditions of American Thanksgiving. Now both are celebrated pretty much the same way, but at different times of the year.

Perhaps understanding the different reasons why Americans and Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving gives us a little more insight into the different ways people from both countries still think today. Like George Washington said: "In your Thanksgivings to come, I would ask that you offer a silent prayer for the spirits of those who were sacrificed so long ago. You and I did not commit these atrocities, and we are certainly not responsible for the behavior of our ancestors be they red, white, black or yellow. However, we are charged with the responsibility of learning our true history, and of having the courage to behave with honor and dignity toward our fellow man. If the lessons of history are not learned, they will repeat themselves". I guess Americans still have some learning to do, eh George?

Tokyo Tour Guide Gallery

11/24/04 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

A couple weeks ago my cousin Katharine and her boyfriend Andrew paid me a visit on route to their new life in Vietnam. I know you've all been anxiously awaiting the photos of all the zany antics that went down. Well here they are!

DMS4 E.Z.I. solderless PS2 mod-chip coming

11/24/04 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

I've been thinking about hacking my PS2 to play "backup" games ever since I got it a few months ago, but all available options would require me to solder wires to the motherboard inside. I've never soldered anything in my life, and I'm sure that if I were to try I'd kill my PS2 for sure. Good news though, the first ever solderless PS2 mod chip is coming out at the end of the month! Hopefully soon Hugh won't be then only otaku ALT pirating video games in Aomori. Still even with the soulderless chip, I'm not all that confident that I will be able to mod the thing without breaking it and/or hurting myself. I still have a small scar on my left hand from when I accidently stabbed myself with a large knife while modding my Sega Genesis back in grade 9.

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Avoiding life and teaching English in Noheji, Aomori, Japan


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