Daniel in Japaniel

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Metro / Mos Burger / Long Island Cafe

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Unfortunately Osaka did not happen this weekend. Drag ball at the metro did, however:

Friday:

Although we were a little late preparing drag outfits (that was more or less left to the lip syncing performers of the night), Julian did pull through some awfully beautiful scene-danas. Item of note, though, the outfits were really one popped collar away (sans scarf) from establishing a bro-ligarchy friday night.

As for the ball itself, fantastic. We went four metro stops north, past Shijo-dori, to club called “Metro” in the metro. Pretty standard stuff. Silver beads, a stage made from almagate wooden cubes, bar (standard point, hold up fingers, and nod), smoking sections, more, more. Midnight, exactly exactly, every filled the place. The dancers black lit outfits angularly moved as they lip synced “American Girl”.

Perhaps my most frustration with speaking Japanese came that night. Throughout hanging out with a girl named Eiko- struggling balancing the fine line where drinks debilitate/bilitate your language skills. Eventually I just spoke English to her while she starred back, confused what to do.

Took a 4 AM cab back to the temple, and rested my tired brain on the rice bean bag pillows.

Saturday:

Between ramen, pee breaks, naps, nalgene-emptying/refilling, I unconsciously absorbed the entirety of the Godfather as other ABS students watched it in the men’s room.

Picked myself up around dinner and hit up the Shijo-dori street with Julian. This street is the main financial/market street of Kyoto. Definitely lit up in a Tokyo-esque way. Though, my understanding is that there are certain zoning lawas in Kyoto that maintain it’s noise pollution to retain its quaint charm. Shijo-dori is the exception.

If my kanji were better, I am sure I’d detail what variety of stores line this artery of commerce. Needless to say, the English I read “BF, 1F, 2F…” hint at a depth of consumer culture I’ll never be able to experience even as a resident of Kyoto. It’s something to marvel at, however, the amount of “Mom and Pop” shops that still coexist in the reflection of the United Colors of Benetton and McDonalds of Shijo. Really, those global companies might make it in such a populated area, but take one side street and you see traditional family spots that are barely even advertised, yet still have a committed clientelle. Even the “Men’s Clubs”, the “Happy Peach”, “Loveness You”s of the night (I bet, if you checked) are past down father to son.

For dinner we hit up the biggest “Mos Burger” of Kyoto. Now, yes it is fast food, yes (maybe) some sort of McDonalds twin, lost-relative, mistress of Japan. But there is something about their version of anthropomorphized cuisine that makes me yearn for their Shrimp-Patty-Burgers. Even the Chick-fil-a cow’s moo with envy.

On the third floor of this machine, we (barely) fit under the bar table as we looked out over Shijo-dori. There teens with hair the same color of their skin moved in packs of 12+ sharing their Baskin-Robbins (“31”) cupcake ice cream.

A Mushroom-BBQ-Swiss-Burger later, we were walking into the the building over: McDonalds. Now this was my first experience, mind you (Mos Burger, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of worshipping before), in Japan. Immediately I asked the server “スマイルおねがい” (I’d like a Smile please). Knowing well that “Smiles” are free at Japanese McDonalds, my friend smiled and asked what we were ordering. Now I haven’t eaten McDonalds food in 4 years (tragic accident involving a double cheeseburger), but I felt the pressure of the almost silent store (watching like pilgrims in a western) that as an American I had to order the biggest option possible, regardless of my Mos Burger meal. So it was: A Mega-Mac, Large Fries, Qoo (a juice that I get because in Vietnamese the name is funny) and a Caramel Machiatto McFlurry.

You’ll be surprised to know, that it tastes exactly the same. The onyl differences are (and correct me here) the McFlurries are not filled to the lid as they are home, a Mega-Mac is a quadruple burger Mac-esque, and Qoo is not sold in America.

Yes I did finish it all.

Sunday:

Ironically or not so much enough, Sunday was self-care day. A hair-cut, some book browsing, biking were in store after such a weekend of consuming.

Avery (linked on the side) unfortunately came down with something nasty nast. This flu is actually disabling the ABS people quick. Having just downed a liter of orange juice, it’s easy to say that I’ve already come down with a terrible case of hypochondria. What else, we’ll have to see.

Anyway, with him down and out, I picked up his shift at Long Island Cafe. This is the part-time job speaking English with the middle aged populace of Kyoto and it’s neighboring areas (as far as Uji). And, although my experience working wednesday was great, this Sunday was a great day to work. From 2-5 we all talked about anything. The first session was shared with three early thirty women, Toshiko, Yuka and Yuki. Yuki arrived late wearing a full on kimono. We were all surprised. Apparently, this owner of two art gallery bars, wears a kimono every day simply because she loves them. We mostly talked about music we were interested in. Yuka is a huge Death Cab fan, and actually saw them in Kyoto this past summer. She also kicks it to L.P.s of Skip James, B.B. King and Oscar Peterson in her free time from her design work.

At three, a bubily elastic man named Takashi came in. Immediately you notice the baby blue pearl framed glasses he sports. Like looking at a prism, when you see the glasses from the side you see this negative space that almost makes the frames appear in pieces somehow floating together above his nose and ears. No, he just happens to be an owner of thirty ocular opuses, as he is the manager of “Oogley Raconter” a eye-fashion wear shop up the street on Shijo. He’s actually never taken a single course in English. For the past 4 years he has been coming to English-cafes (like mine) as well as going to Glasses-Expos. Somehow he’s simply mastered the language. We just talked about Japanese Literature, Shigematsu Kiyoshi, Banana Yoshimoto, Harukimurakami and the like. We took turns turning each other to American/Japanese counterparts of our favorite authors- and simply that hour disappeared.

The final hour was spent talking with Bill Clinton’s best-Japanese-friend, a Mr. Osamu of Uji. Retired now, he spends his time giving free consulting to Japanese students dealing with loans, meanwhile swimming 1000 meters every morning. If there was a distribution of Daniel vs. Customers in terms of discussion, I dominated the first hour, split it fifty the second hour, and with Mr. Osamu- he told me everything I needed to know (apparently) about American diplomacy both financial and militaristic. He told me about his days giving impromptu lectures on world peace at Harvard, and I just lost myself in his White-linen-jacket-Burberry-undershirt-wearing-self.

Over and again, while sipping iced-coffee, looking up at the staff members pulling out Edamame-chips on a plate, I could barely even comprehend the beauty of my work.

Unfortunately, my next shift is next week (wednesday). What is on my schedule would be, Ryukoku welcoming party tomorrow night, my first TA class wednesday and then friday, with probably a few visits to the public baths thrown in there.

Life has taken an interesting settling here. Though everything is still new, Japan’s ability to craze me has become expected. This is probably the hardest part of the trip. In terms of mindfulness, it’s becoming a dedicated procedure, reminding myself of this moment. I almost didn’t post about this weekend. This, I’m sure is some byproduct of all of this. Anyway, I’m certainly grateful for it all.

Be sure to keep checking my photo albums, there are plenty more pictures there than what I post here.

In the meantime,

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Written by Daniel

September 29, 2008 at 1:57 am

Posted in food, work