Daniel in Japaniel

Ultra-tour; Stewrat

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Ultra-tour 2008

Perhaps it is fair to say, of my 2008 trips (considering Mexico by BBQ, Arizona, Milwaukee, Boston by Cr-V) this next week will be my last span of hyper-traveling of the year. We don’t go out of style though, we spread our eyes and wallets to the seams until we break.

Ideally, I can make promises to myself of future journeys spanning further; however, I’d rather say I am traveling now.

So it seems appropriate to discuss Ultra-tour, while my Uncle is somewhere sleeping miles above the Pacific, his ass traveling god knows how fast.

But first, let’s play catch up from where we last left off.

Amongst compiling my letters, journals and blog entries in an attempt to humorously Anthologize myself, I met up with my Soshi-pals once more, this time Hiroshima-Okonomiyaki style.


Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki or Hiroshima-fu-okonomiyaki. Not really sure how to classify it other than Japanese Banh Xeo. I did make Banh Xeo recently to repay them for such a fantastic meal, but sadly- my Banh Xeo skills are lacking.

I have been cooking though (of course… always cooking). But I tried my hand at Shoujin Ryouri, and my mother’s Stone Ground Mustard and thyme recipe.


…burned the kiriboshidaikon, だけど.

… grilling eggplant without a grill- very difficult.

After sharing a delicious meal, Daisuke put me on the spot for a mini-mandolin concert for them. I played “Dawg’s Waltz” as usual.

But a prefer playing with friends,

Cleaning dishes like fiends, we finished up and hurried off to Akasaka for a concert at “Note Akasuka” to see Kento Arai… potentially the cutest Japanese man I have met to date.

Working the relatively unfocused crowd, he asked who liked Christmas, “Just me?” he responded to the inaudible mumblings. He then sang songs about his home town, and his grandparents. “Let’s have a fun time” he added.

We hung around for the second act. As the lights dimmed on a stage with a Green Mustang RC car strapped to an amp, and a table covered with pedals and mixers. A man dressed in all black was doing yoga of stage, when Daisuke leaned into me and asked “Is this a a new religion?”

No, actually it was our first “Noise” experience. The RC car’s… engine… started up, and began driving back and forth creating a distorted effect. This, however, was the highlight of the man’s performance. He proceeded to run onto stage and ruin the sound by turning it to something one step lower than a bat screech, which continued throughout his performance. The performance consisted of the most intense I have ever seen someone tap away at a digital equalizer followed by some steel can thrashing (he smacked it around for awhile with a metal chain).

We left shortly after. Caught a glimpse of another gorgeous illumination and then returned to Soshigaya and called it a night.

The next day was spent, as I said, anthologizing myself. I spent a good whole day away at Excelsior Cafe, titter tatter tapping away.

Recently William and Mary sent out acceptances to 2009 study abroad students. Well, I am making a guess because this week I met two future Tribe folk. For a good years worth, Kazue and Sanami will study in America. Exciting. I gave them what I knew in terms of W&M文化 but it pretty much degraded into me telling them how to spend their free time traveling the U.S., recommending East Coast, Amtrak Boston to Williamsburg before the fall semester and a West Coast trip… starting in Texas via Greyhound.

Later, met up with Marie and Yuki at the daycare in Tamachi only to get schooled at Japanese tops and memory games.


It only took two games before I called them out on cheating, and subsequently admitted defeat. Elementary school girls are still as vicious as I remember.

On the bright side, I learned how to say, “you lost a turn” in Japanese. Always a plus.

Met up with Marie’s senpai, Ochi-san who is writing a thesis on the Modern influences upon Japanese Contemporary art, and has some tough criticisms on Gaiatsu (foreign pressure) and its role in confining Japanese originality in the art world. From there we talked about superflat, which he holds as a step in the right direction for Japanese art, something homebrewed and insightful. I reminded him, however far we step, we’re all caught in this global community, influence is a hard thing to remove oneself from- unless you are pure genius. We ended up exchanging numbers, and have setup a tentative reunion tour.

After a night spent at a delicious and cheap Chinese restaurant, I took my bloated body back home, Odakyu style.

As for Thursday, Marie expressed surprising interest in the home-town of Ultraman; I invited her to take the plundge into mild mannered Soshigaya.

The tour begins as soon as you get off the train and hear the famous notes, the theme song of “Ultraman”.

To those uninformed, like myself, tune into wikipedia. In the distant future, 1993, Earth unexplicably becomes vulnerable to sinister aliens (a la Godzilla) and the only task force prepared to stop these beasts, Science Special Search Party, led by Captain Mura. Now this is the part I get foggy on, as actually wikipedia can’t keep my attension for more than two minutes at a time, possibly Mura goes comatose and pilots/becomes Ultraman to defeat these monsters using his various trademark attacks (my personal favorite: Giga Specium Beam)

At any rate, the creator, special effects pioneer, Eiji Tsuburaya, owes his roots to Soshigaya-Okura.

After leaving the train station, at the north end you can find a life size (human sized) statue of Ultraman, the original, himself. On occasion his eyes light up, and parents, children, college students alike gather around, watching the spectacle.

Marie and I quickly made our way to Cafe Melody, which shares its establishment with “Ultraman’s Shop Shot m78”. There the wife and husband (who I assume own the respective shops together), have a nice little operation going. Regulars come by for the cheap rice/pizza sets. Running about six to seven dollars, you can get a decent helping of food, soup and your choice of drink.

Yes, so this place, needless to say, is the holy grail of Ultraman paraphanelia. From toothbrushes, chopsticks, towels, masks, key chains, soaps, candy, bibs, models, to finger puppets, you can get your fill of Ultraman goodies. On the opposite wall are dozens of visitor’s crayon doodles of the hero. If you make the trip out, I suggest you check out the guest book. It has some gems like “I have to go the bathroom!” and “Ultraman Number 1” scribbled in it. I contributed.

Halfway through our lunch, I get a call from Marie’s friend Eisai, where he spent the conversation explaining Ultraman Legacy with suspicious amount of detail. But Marie and Eisai both convinced me, their interest grew out of a Contemporary art. Like SuperFlat or some Warholian dream, the artist simply displayed his figures- and made art.


Art? Discuss.

Marie and I then spent the afternoon walking from Soshigaya to Seijo and back again; she, speaking in Japanese, and myself, English. Marie is an interesting case. Her English comprehension is fluent, by all means, but to squeeze an English word out of her is difficult. We spent most of the afternoon chatting about American movies and future travel plans.

Taking French now, Marie hopes to get some traveling around the country during and after a Keio University summer program in 2010.

Perhaps we’ll meet up.

Time in Japan has made me focus on the future, perhaps, while immediately glued to the present moment. However, it is impossible to not experience every high moment traveling without the background thought of, “how can I sustain this?” My return, and resuming three semesters of college will be spent finding an end to this desire, hopefully by getting a suitable job that can assure a life of travel.

Here on out, it is an ultra-tour.


Bunbun-san is possibly my new mascot.

Which reminds me, after spending a thrilling hour of adorably nervous and hilarious “travel etc.” conversation with friend and Shiga-native, Yukiko (met at Long Island Cafe), I came back to Soshigaya-Okura for a farewell, Banh Xeo party at the Kanonpu household.

There I failed horribly at making Banh Xeo, but still managed a meal out of it. After the meal, I told Daisuke and Rie about my family, particularly Momma Wolfe and her story. We then ate some of the spiciest fish eggs in the world. Heralding from the Fukuoka, these fish eggs, well… they were different.

I spent the rest of the night, pen in hand- doodling to chorus of praise from Rie and Daisuke. We goofed off until near one in the morning, Daisuke gave me a commermorative Kanonpu-T-Shirt (photos of this are bound to appear at some point) and I wished them a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years as I left for the last time this year.

But, this story won’t end. I actually plan on returning to live in Soshigaya-Okura one more time before leaving for the States. From the 5th until the 14th of January, high school alumnus, Marco Brundelre and I will be seen pacing the streets of Ultraman.

But really… in a few hours-

Guess who is coming to town?

uncle stewart

Ultra-tour guys.

Thank you for 2000 views.


Written by Daniel

December 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Posted in announcement

One Response

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  1. I guess Daniel kun santa is coming to your town at Christmas night!!

    a Uji citizen

    December 22, 2008 at 1:01 pm

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