Recent Events

So, my family came to visit, and I posted that photoblog (see left margin).  Well, not TOO much happens around here, so that’s why I don’t post often.  Most of what I WANT to post are just thoughts.  But they come and go so quickly, it’s only on rare occasion that I’m near my computer and write them down.  And plenty are sitting here as drafts - undeveloped ideas - that I will post someday.

Anyhoo, I bike into Tokyo every weekend that I can.  So most of my weekends are spent chasing cars around Tokyo, and ideally finding an even to go to.  After my family left there was a massive bike show at the convention  center.  I wanted to bike to it, but got a late start, and it I didn’t have a map.  I got kinda lost, and ended up discovering a nice Ocean Park over near Disneyland.  It has a huge Ferris wheel, a bird sanctuary, an aquarium/Sea World type thing, and is an ACTUAL park with lots of grass and trees, and rolling paths.  It might be the nicest park in Tokyo (though it might not actually be IN Tokyo - maybe Chiba).  I watched the sunset over Tokyo and decided I’d make up for my failed mission by spending the weekend in town and trying to go to a film festival.  Well, the festival wasn’t until the next weekend, so I just settled for a nice dinner.  The next day I woke to find someone had tried to steel the carbon fiber cranks off my bike.  I was thankful for putting it in front of a 7 Eleven so maybe they got scared off before they could get them off.  I accidentally forgot to go to work on Monday, and got a call Monday night asking where I was… Oops… But I discovered a really funny, but great restaurant in Shinjuku.  It is CHRISTIAN themed!!  All the tables and chairs and decorations are imports form European churches.  They have altars, and everything!  It’s great!!  And exquisite food and drinks as well.

 The following weekend I made it for the International Bike Film Festival in Tokyo.  I’d heard about it on NPR (yes, we get that here in Japan… as well as Rush Limbaugh…).  It’s been shown all over the world, and I heard really good things about it on NPR in Boston.  So I biked into town and dropped in on some bike shops I’d been wanting to check out; bought a new tire for the one that burst on my way in.  =(  I showed up in Daikanyama and was shocked!  The entire length of the street was packed with bicycles locked to the railing.

 Prefered mode of transport to the IBFF

You NEVER see this in Tokyo.  You rarely even see “normal” bikes here.  They have these crappy shopping bikes/city cruisers like the ones from Amsterdam.  So I was really excited to see so many “bikers bikes”.  It meant there were tons of people inside like me!  I was really curious about the kind of Japanese who were into bikes.  Well after waiting in line a long time, I made it for the 17:00 showing.

 International Bike Film Festival

It was a bunch of 1-5 minute shorts followed by a 45-minute film.  The shorts were cute, and interesting.  My favorite was “Gasoline vs. Yogurt” - a race from uptown Manhattan to Wall Street between a Ducati and a bicycle.  The cyclist had only had yogurt for breakfast, and he won.  Very funny!  Others included a couple stunt films, a Japanese film of a monk engraving a handlebar with Japanese art, a film about a humble guy who isn’t into biking so much as building beautiful bikes and winning competitions for the most extravagant design, and a few forgettable ones.  The 45-minute film was great at first, but should NOT have been 45 minutes.  Many people were sleeping after 25 minutes.  It was about the crazy fixed gear riders of San Francisco.  Fixed gear bikes are track bikes with no brakes and no freewheel.  That means you can never stop peddling because the wheel gear does not spin.  Well, I guess the no brakes part is the crazy part because as everyone knows, the hills in SF are REALLY steep and dangerous even for cars!  So it was a documentary about all the best riders in the area.  But they just tried to cover too many riders.  Five or six would have been impressive enough.  They covered about 12!   


 But there was beer, and overall I had a good time. 

 Desperate for a place to lock up 


 This past weekend was the famous wine festival in my old city of Ashikaga.  I went with some of my students from last year, and met up with a few English teacher friends as well.  It was great!  I was really surprised at how similar it was to a music or wine festival in America.  The food was all BBQ, and came in huge portions.  The music was great, and ranged from Bobby McFarland style vocal jazz to Spanish flamenco complete with about 20 dancers decked out in the traditional outfits and all.  Almost everything about it was western right down to the wine itself.  Everyone got a bottle, glass, and corkscrew when they walked in and I was surprised it was decent wine.  At $20 a bottle you’d expect it to be ok, but in Japan they hate dry wines.  They prefer sweet, wet wines.  And not just a little sweet.  It tastes like grape juice!!!  It’s horrible!  So I asked my friend, Casey, to bring along a few bottles of real wine just in case.  But it didn’t disappoint. 

Mami, Tomoko, and Casey


The funny thing about this festival is that it is in a VERY steep hill where they usually grow the vines.  So after a very short time drunk people start falling down the hill in a comedy of flying shoes, bags, and bottles.  It’s quite funny and possibly a highlight of the whole festival.  We kept up the drinking well into the night with a last stop at the BEST RAMEN SHOP IN JAPAN - Keichan Ramen. 

 The next day I had to wake up early and bike back to my city because all the English teachers had to go to a meeting for the school board.  It was a waste of our time, but I got to see an entertaining example class from one of my fellow English teachers, and my own school did a presentation about the school and used my photos of the kids.

Ethan teaches Christmas words in example English class 

The only reason we were asked to go was to show us off and make us do a 2-minute dance.  Otherwise it was just a Japanese presentation of what the city’s English program is all about.  It was mainly for the community, but only half the audience were from outside the actual schools themselves.  It didn’t bother me too much because we get a day off at the end of the semester, but one thing that bothered me was that we were asked to sit in the front row for the final presentation because they needed it to look more full.  The presenter was a woman with evident anger-management problems.  She was talking about youth of Japan, and bullying, and such.  She said she was a bully herself in school, but I don’t think there was much of a question there… the whole hour and a half she ranted out a monologue of angry yells, swears (some of the only Japanese words I know), and rude behavior.  She was mimicking the youth of today, but I thing we all got the picture after the first few impersonations (if we hadn’t already noticed on TV and the streets of our cities).  She claimed nothing could be done, but “if things aren’t improved, our kids will end up like Americans”.  Now, I’m no fan of America, but I’m no fan of hopeless denial of change either.  Guess what lady - you’re kids aren’t going to be LIKE you (thank God)!!  Besides, she seems like the kind of bitch who is only reflecting her own family problems onto the whole of the populations.  I bet her daughter is the biggest slut in school, and she just can’t handle it.  It’s times like these that I am thankful that I don’t understand Japanese.  Her grating voice and angry tones were all I could handle.  I didn’t care to know the specifics.  Ugh.  Lots of people slept, and a bunch of other English teachers got fed up and walked out.  Oh, and I’m not sure why, but the only people who had stayed to listen to her speech were women (housewives)… Not sure what baring that has, but I bet there’s some significance to it. 


 So that’s what I’ve been up to so far this month.  Next weekend I may go see MJ Cole or got to the Hotel Costes 9 release party.  Not sure.  But I DO think that the last weekend of the month MIGHT be a snowboarding weekend! The first one of the season!  My students already went 2 weeks ago!  



So this is how behind I am.  I am just NOW reading through homework assignments I gave LAST YEAR at my junior high school!!  Simultaniously I am responding to emails I from June and July, and I’m cleaning out a closet and re-organizing a mountain of papers, bills, postcards, and other shit.

And now I’m writing a blog.  But what spurred me to bother was some of the great things I’m reading in these homework assignments:

There - Their - They’re

“Most people were killed by their forests.”

“There are some shoes in the door porch.”

What is Christmas?

“I like a mood of Christmas very much. It is fantastic and my heart is buoyantly.  A street looks a toy box.”

“Christmas decorates a Christmas tree.  Christmas says happy everyone.”

Listen vs. Hear

“May be I don’t want to hear birds sob.”

 Look vs. See vs. Watch

“I looked for babies.”