Ah Japan! What more can be said about this strange nation that hasn’t already been said before? …so far away; the Land of the Rising Sun, son. Well..plenty methinks and let what follows be a short and quick manchild’s guide to the Tokyo-Osaka megalopolis and the Mt. Fuji cratera.
Steadfast in the grip of manchild-dom, twas off to Japan to visit Walthari Haff and to climb Mt. Fuji before exiting our 30th year on Earth planet. Joe turned Walter (real name: Walthari) has been teaching English in Japan for the past 5 years, with each year bringing the promise of visitation from old childhood friends. Promise finally kept and we touched down in Tokyo putting an end to the first half of an $1100 round trip trans-Pacific flight.
Tokyo: On first glance, not that much different from any other big city. Second and third glances reveal sprawl the likes of which we’ve never seen before, even in L.A. Everything is jammed together and people live like bugs with no regard for the sanctity of space. This isn’t the American west because this is the Far east and every centimetro is claimed and staked.
See: The Capsule Hotel. A night well spent in one of Japan’s infamous capsule hotels was on the list and checked. What a delight! Quintessentially Japan, capsule hotel guests are wearhoused in a hive of tiny compartments, stacked one on top of the other and reaching as far as the eye can see. A weird scene no doubt, something akin to space ship accomodations. Within one’s little pod, which is about as big and wide as a large oven and stretches back about 6 feet, is a little T.V., alarm, clock, and buzzer to summon a manservant. Everything’s in Japanese and an accidental toggle will yield one’s manservant, poking his head into your chamber in the dead of night, his face and nose mere inches away from your dick and balls which dangle in the open air from beneath your sleeping tunic, awkwardly riding up as you twist in your capsule, a Japanese custom.
Mt. Fuji: Birthdays become meaningless after reaching 30, mere hash marks in our mental cell as we inch closer to death. Thusly, it is your job to provide excitement and meaning, to give cause-celebre. It has been decided that all birthdays henceforth shall be spent on mountaintops. Remember Huayna Potosi and the Bolivian night? Llamo feto in hand as we cramponed our way closer to God? Indeed we do and Fuji would be summited this go-round, not in the night but in the full light of day and cloudless Japanese sky, in direct view of God’s watchful eye. Climbing Fuji is really nothing, it’s just walking. A mere stroll in the park and I enjoyed teasing young Walthari on his lack of preparedness and small belly. Walthari would have the last laugh as I made my way miserably down from the summit, dehydrated with splitting headache having gone too fast, overreached and flown too close to the sun.
Tasty Treats: And though I teased the young Walthari, truth be told I was nursing a small Japan-baby of my own, a direct result of all the incredible edibles on offer and always at arm’s length. Indeed, cheap delicious food was everywhere in Japan and my favorite dish would become a noodle concoction, sold at 7-11 no less! Such a delight! Fried octopus balls, fermented Kobe beef, mackerel guts, corned horse meat, raw whale, and clam dicks! Sushi and sashimi stretching as far as the unaided eye can see! Amazing!
Bonus Track: Tokyo Fish Market
Lemon-Brau: A true surprise! Little hopes were held for a decent Japanese brew after sipping the supposedly microbrewed Heartland Ale (like a Budweiser poured into a green bottle) but the Lemonese brew is a delight. A nice meady, grainy taste; true Pilsnery with a hint of lemon. The lemon part is OK, though it wouldn’t be missed, truly, and fine without. Best enjoyed whilst hurtling through space and time on the Shinkansen Super X-press, Tokyo bound.
Disposable Coutre: For an island nation with limited resources it’s surprising to see so many packaged goods and canned edibles and drinkables. For those in the know, know that it’s not an exaggeration to claim that for every ten linear feet in Japan there is a vending machine. These vending machines happen to be filled with an amazing array of delightful goods. They don’t get old and it’s weird having a delicious and exciting new product always within arms reach. The Japs are big on canned coffee, energy, and sports drinks. Some of the vending machines even have alcohol in them, and little statues of Diego Maradona. Once your done playing with him throw him away.
For all that’s been said about Japan, I’ll still add a few things. Shocking is the dichotomy between the people and the culture for the people of Japan present as bland little lemmings questioning little and asking not, while the culture is insanely vibrant and alive. Strange foods, mascots, lights, and sounds rule the roost. Everything, EVERYTHING, has a cute mascot vying for one’s attention while plastered on the side of a train or bus, or 1000 feet tall squirming in neon on the side of a skyscraper. For a shy closeted people there are jerk-off theaters every ten feet and weird pornos sold at every corner shop. Japanese girls are super fucking cute. A nation of heels and legs, small breasts and tiny shapely asses. It’s a first world nation with a third world mentality as women and foreigners are treated like trash, the one renewable resource on this strange island. The toilets are great though and there’s no mistaking Japan for one of the lesser Asian locales. Heated seats, music, scented mists, and washlets clean and pamper the culo while making a trip to the bathroom, perhaps the only private place in all of Japan, just a little bit better.
Ganso: 25 Bond St. Brooklyn (718) 403-0900 The craving was great for the treats of the East and upon touchdown in Nueva York it was off to sample some Japstyle offerings in old New York. A couple blocks away from where I work in Downtown Brooklyn, somewhere near Juniors cheesecake is Ganso, a ramen-joint promising Japanese fare in gritty Brooklyn central. A clean, somewhat pretentios joint. A gay English or Australian waiter takes your order and Central American gentlemen in the glass ensconced kitchen prepare it and man the ramen machines. My selection was indeed dubbed the Ganso: delightful cuts of pork, a hardboiled egg, and sliced scallions float amid fluffy noodles in a savory delicious lil broth. Not bad really, actually quite good. Not cheap for noodles, but not expensive either. Enjoy!
Ganso this Ganso that hit me with a baseball bat. Anyways, true Japanstuds will eventually make their way out to The Noguchi Museum, somewhere in the hinterlands of Queens. Haven’t been yet, so hit me up if ya got some intel.
Peace in the East, brah.