Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sano Game Panic (SBO qualifier)

Tuesday was a national holiday in Japan called Showa day, which means no work and an SBO qualifier! The tournament was in Sano in Tochigi prefecture at Sano Panic Games. I was to team up with Ibu (an ABA player) and Shiratori (an I-no player) whom I met at the Fantasy Park tournament. Shiratori offered to pick me and my girlfriend (who was going to come along) up from Sano station and drive us to the arcade. We ended up missing our train by like 5 minutes because my dumbass thought it left 10 minutes later than it did, but its ok because the tournament didnt start till 4 and we had time. After a long train ride of playing Bomberman on the DS with my girlfriend, Ryoko (who ownz me at Bomberman btw), we eventually arrived at Sano station. Ibu (actually spelled EVE but they pronounce it Ibu cuz they are Japanese so...) and Shiratori were at the station waiting for us. We got in his car which was filled with various Nightmare Before Christmas stuff. He used his GPS navigator to try to find the arcade and ended up driving the wrong way for about a half hour. After realizing we were going the wrong way, we turned around and headed back. In the car we talked about various things. Ibu is a 19 year old college student who lives in Tochigi and is studying medicine. Shiratori is 24 and also lives in Tochigi. He said he was a bit tired today because he had to work late last night (though I didnt inquire as to what his job was). Eventually we arrived at the arcade.

When we got there I was surprised to see how huge this place was. They had 2 AC cabs set up very nicely with a flatscreen for viewing on the side. There were a lot of people there already. It took a long time to get a game in before the tournament started. I think I played 4 games. The first was against Kiro's Faust and I lost. Next I played against this one blue Potemkin 2 times. The first time I lost. The 2nd time I lost as well but it was literally by a pixel in the last round. However I felt like I was starting to get warmed up at this point so I wasnt worrying too much. Eventually the blue Potemkin got a big win streak but Kiro had lost to a Slayer and moved to the other cab and beat the Potemkin. After that I played Kiro and beat him in a mirror match. This was the last game of casuals and they put it into event mode and got the brackets ready after that. Before the tournament a few various players talked to me. At one point, Shiratori came back from playing UFO catcher and had won a Nightmare Before Christmas lamp. I was talking to this one Venom player who Shiratori was telling me was one of the best players in Tochigi. Turns out that the guy likes heavy metal and we were talking about all kinds of bands that we both like. Our team name was Symphony X because my team mates couldnt think of anything and I was wearing my Symphony X shirt. Eventually the tournament started. First match we got lucky and got a bye. For our 2nd match, we played against a team of Johnny, I-no, Robo-Ky. Ibu went first with his ABA and beat Johnny, but then he lost to I-no. I went next and beat both I-no and then defeated Robo-Ky. Shiratori was happy and told me that he was relieved because he said he would probably have lost to Robo-Ky. I noticed during the waiting time that Shiratori was nodding off in a chair. The poor guy didnt get much sleep last night so I was a bit worried if he would be able to play well. Turns out I had no need to worry at all. Our next match was against a team of Chipp, ABA, Eddie. This time Ibu went first and lost to Chipp. Shiratori went next and ended up beating Chipp, ABA, and finally Eddie for the OCV. There were some intense nail biter victories. Our next match was against a team that was actually from Gunma. The team was Millia, Anji, Venom. Shiratori told me that the Millia and Anji were good but probably wouldnt be too much of a threat (though all 3 of us hated fighting Millia) but that the Venom was pretty strong and is one of the best players in Gunma. This match was a semi finals match. The other remaining teams were heavy metal Venom's team, which also had a beastly Slayer on it, and I cant remember the other guy, and the final team was Kazuki's team which was the same as Sunday (Oguma, Kiro). Our match began and Shiratori went first against Millia. He beat her and then Anji wasn next but he was unable to defeat Anji, though it was close. Up next was Ibu and he beat Anji in a close victory. After that he fought Venom but unfortunately couldnt beat him. Finally was me vs Venom. I dont think I made any extremely stupid decisions or anything like that, but I just kept getting hit by his mixups (mainly a triple overhead ending in the force break which caught me off guard, and getting pinned in the corner and patiently blocking for a while but eventually getting thrown) which resulted in me losing to him as well. I was bummed as hell because we came so close this time and I really wanted to qualify with this team. I apalogized to my team but they said to not worry about it since that guy was strong. After that, I sat with Ryoko and we watched the rest of the tournament. In the other Semi finals match, Oguma went first with his Jam against heavy metal Venom and won. Up next was their teams Slayer. I dont know his name, but this guy pulled a Hase and ended up OCVing their entire team in the order of Oguma, Kazuki, Kiro. The finals was the Gunma Venom team vs heavy metal Venom team. If you have been following recent trends, youll probably not be surprised to hear that Slayer once again OCVed this entire team. The Slayer beasting as of late has been rediculous. So far there have been 3 quals in this series and all 3 winning teams have had a Slayer that has done most of the beasting.

After the tournament was over we stayed and played casuals for about a half hour. Just as on Sunday the cabs were on free play event mode so people would play a match and then get off and let 2 new people play. I played a few matches and only lost one match to an Axl player. My last match was against Ibu's ABA since we never played before and he wanted to play me. I won both rounds by a pixel. After that, the 4 of us left and took a trip over a Ramen shop that Shiratori had been to a few times. Sano is actually sorta famous for having some of the best Ramen around. The Ramen was seriously really good too and we all had a good meal. I asked the guys if they would be entering the tournaments this coming weekend but both of them said they probably would have to work or would be busy, but they said that they would like to team up with me again in the future when they have a chance to enter. I told them that I almost never have a consistant team, so they should mail me anytime they want to team up. Whether or not they will in is only something time will tell, but I have a feeling that they actually will probably team up with me again at some point since they are totally both nice guys and honestly seem to think that I am a good player. Ibu actually said that in June he will plan to enter a qual in Fukushima prefecture which is north of Tochigi and next to Niigata. He asked if I would like to join his team for that tournament. If I havnt qualified by then I would certainly like to team with him again. I asked the guys if they entered quals last year and Shiratori said he entered a few quals in his area but lost to Kazuki twice and Nemo's Faust once. This is Ibu's first time trying out for SBO. Shiratori said he has been playing Guilty Gear for 8 years and Ibu for 3 years. After we finished our ramen, we had one of the ramen shop ladies take a picture of the 4 of us outside the ramen shop. After that they dropped us off at Sano station and walked us all the way to the ticket gate. Lots of polite bowing and yoroshiku onegaishimasu and all that good stuff and they said they had a good time today and thanked me for teaming with them. Totally nice guys. After that me and Ryoko took our long train ride home and played more Bomberman goodness.

This coming weekend is Golden week weekend. This means I have 4 days off in a row (Sat-Tue) and there are 4 days with SBO quals. I havnt decided which ones I will enter exactly yet since I have some options but I do plan to enter all 4 days. I have no idea who my team will be but ill figure something out. In any case it should be a fun weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Adventures in the Inaka

For those who dont know, inaka = countryside. Instead of going to Tokyo like I usually would every weekend, this weekend I spent my entire time in Gunma and Tochigi. Why? Tougeki qualifiers of course!

Saturday there was a tournament scheduled to be in the town of Kiryu in Gunma (the prefecture that I live in), so instead of going somewhere I just stayed in my town. After work I took the train from near my apartment and went 2 stations over to go drink at Funayado, basically the only worthwhile bar to drink at in my entire town. Ive been there a few times before and I know the owner so its cool. While it certainly isnt Current and they dont play any rock, they have good prices on delicious food, and you can get a HUGE fuckin beer on tap for like 500-700 yen which is totally worth it. The only draw back is they are only open until 12. However, since the last train to get back home leaves just a few mins before 12, it works out ok.

The plan was to have one of the other ALTs who works in my town, Cynthia, come to join me. Also, my girlfriend, Ryoko, was going to come with her sister who I had just met the day before for the first time. Originally on Thursday, Ryoko and I were gonna go do some Hanami (viewing cherry blossoms) and have a picnic and shit by this awsome lake and stuff. But the weather was shitty so we didnt stay long and ended up actually going to her aunts house who lives near there. We were gonna drop in and say hello cuz her sister who lives in Tokyo was visiting for the weekend. We were just gonna say hi but her aunt insisted on having us come in and cooked us this like 10 course meal with all kindsa delicious stuff. Her aunt is single and lives alone and likes to drink whiskey all day, and was having a good time knockin a few back when we got there, and Ryoko's sister was having a few drinks as well. So while we were there we invited her sister to come drink with us the next day.

Ryoko had to work till 8:30 so I got there a little earlier and eventually Cynthia showed up. We hung out and drank for a while and then there was like this old man I never met before but Cynthia seemed to know him. This guy was totally cool and started buying us all this food just cuz he was being nice. Totally cool guy. Eventually Ryoko showed up with her friend Midori. Unfortunately Ryoko said her sister was still at her aunts and was drinking all day again so she couldnt make it. The rest of the night we pretty much just drank and talked and nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary happened. Cynthia left a little earlier. Ryoko decided not to drink and said she would drive me home so that I wouldnt have to take the train back. After a short drive we arrived near my apartment. After we got back to my.... never mind... some other events took place and I went to sleep.

The tournament wasnt scheduled to start until 6 pm so I was able to sleep in for about 10 hours! It felt fantastic and I honestly cant remember the last time I actually went to sleep without having to set some sort of alarm. My head hurt a little bit but basically I slept it off to the point where it was pretty much gone by the time I actually got up. Made myself some breakfast and then headed for the train station. After about an hour and a half trip I arrived at Iwajuku station in Kiryu. I had never been to the area before really so I asked some random kids where the Motarou game center was. They gave me directions and after about 10 minutes of walking I found the place with no problem. When I arrived there were only about 6 people there. I pretty much was owning a lot of these guys really hard. No one could beat me for about 10 games. There was even this guy who played as white Potemkin and I triple perfected him hah. I eventually lost to a pretty good testament player who rematched me. Gradually, more and more people started to show up. The plan today was to team up with Matt (Hintalove) and we didnt have a 3rd person. Eventually Matt mailed me saying he arrived at the station. I went out there and met him halfway since he didnt know exactly where it was at. When we got back to the arcade more people were there. The blue testament player that beat me earlier had racked up a pretty huge win streak. By now, a few people that I recognized from Tokyo tournaments had showed up to this. When we signed up for the tournament as a 2 man team, I told the tournament organizer that if an extra person showed up, we would be willing to have him on our team. Not long after, he came up to me with someone and said that this guy wanted to join our team. His name was Yohei and he was a Bridget player. We signed up for the tournament with the team name Minoriteam, and since Bridget players are certainly a minority, the name still fit. I had no idea how good he was but eventually I saw him play against a good Eddie player and came VERY close to beating him. The place only had 2 cabs so around this time, it was very packed and was taking a long time to get a turn in on casuals. In total, 17 teams had entered the tournament.

The tournament starts and we are one of the last teams to play our first match. Our opponents were a team of Anji, HOS, Baiken. The HOS player I was beating pretty good before the tournament, the Baiken and Anji I hadnt played at all. I decided that I would just go first and that Yohei could anchor. They put their Anji player up first. The first round I was pretty much owning him and he had like a pixel of health left but came back and I lost. The 2nd round I rushed him down hard and got him in the corner and mixed him up really bad and he got perfected. The last round was going ok but then I did something very very stupid. I had been playing on the 1st player side pretty much all day but this time we were 2nd player. I tried to burst but it turned out that I was looking at the wrong burst and I, infact, had no burst at all... which resulted in me eating some huge combo and losing. I was pretty damn disapointed because I didnt really feel like this guy was all that good and I know I could have owned him for sure. I defeated myself this time. Matt went next and put up a good fight and would have actually beat the guy, but he stopped a combo to try to bait his burst but he didnt burst. Then the guy came back and beat Matt. Finally Yohei went and I dont remember the details but he lost in a close match too. I wasnt expecting to get OCVed by some random Anji first round and it was a pretty huge bummer. Seeing as how I hadnt eaten since breakfast and it was about 7 pm, at this point I was starving. Matt and I decided to go get some food. I invited Yohei to join us but he said he had already eaten recently. Before we left to get food we exchanged email. He said he would not be entering the tournament tomorrow but said he would be interested in possibly teaming up again sometime.

The area around the game center wasnt exactly packed with great places to eat and the closest place was an expensive yakiniku restaurant. We figured they would have an all you can eat deal which would make the high price worth it. When we got there it turns out that for whatever reason, they dont offer the all you can eat during the weekend. We ended up getting some food anyway and it was fucking delicious but I wasnt completely stuffed. After that we went back to the arcade and found that the tournament was already over. The winning team turned out to be a team with some Slayer player that was beating lots of people but I honestly dont know who they were and the website for Tougeki doesnt have the winning team listed.

At this point it was already getting very late and we had plans to enter the tournament in Kanagawa tomorrow so we decided we should head out and go back to Tokyo now so we could get more games in. I checked the next train time on my phone while Matt was talking on the phone with this girl he has this huge crush on. It turned out that the next train was in like 15 mins. This gave me enough time to go grab some food and a beer from the 7-11. When I got out of the store, Matt was still on the phone. I told him we had to haul ass if we wanted to catch the next train. Since we were in the inaka, the next train would probly be like 45 mins apart at least so we had to make it. We walked really fast and made it there with about 2 minutes to spare. Matt wanted a beer and a snack too so he went to the Yamazaki near the train station to buy some stuff while I bought our tickets for us. This place didnt have an electronic ticket gate so I gave the ticket dude both of our tickets and told him one was for my friend who was on his way. The train arrived and Matt wasnt there yet. The doors were about to close and then he came running with his beer and snacks and did like some Indiana Jones type shit and got on the train just as the doors were closing. After sitting down on the train for a bit and going over our options, we decided that perhaps going to the tournament in Tochigi tomorrow would be a better option than the Kanagawa one. Seeing as how the Kanagawa one was only like a half hour from Shinjuku and the Tochigi one was like almost 3 hours from there, we figured less top players would be coming out to that one. We calculated when we would have to wake up and shit in order to get there with enough time to spare and after realizing that going back to Tokyo tonight seemed rather pointless, we decided to just head out there now and spend the night venturing into the unknown depths of the deep inaka. After a long train ride we eventually arrived at Oyama station in Tochigi. We had to transfer trains here, and since we were out of beer we bought 2 more big cans each. Yes, drinking on the train in Japan is legal, and is fine as long as you arnt being an obnoxious wasted douche about it.

After a bit of waiting the next train finally arrived. Our destination was Nasushibara station, the 2nd to last stop on the Utsunomiya line. Shortly after we got on the train, we noticed that tons of people were totally just chatting it up on their cellphones even though its considered to be extremely rude. There was this one guy next to us who was sitting next to Matt. He seemed to be drunk. He started randomly talking to us asking us where we were from and stuff. Then he busts out his phone and starts talking to someone for a bit. Suddenly, he hands the phone to Matt and tells him to talk to the person on the other end of the line. I didnt know wtf was going on but then it became apparent that he was trying to convince his friend that he was on the train and not at home so he handed the phone to Matt to try to prove it. After that he gave the phone to some other random Japanese dude who was sitting across from him. After the phone conversation the guy asked us some more random questions and Matt said his breath smelled like shit. Eventually he got off the train after a few stops. There was this pretty cute young girl sitting across from us and Matt really wanted to talk to her. He kept asking me if he should go for it and im just like, fuck yea just talk to her. He was talking pretty loud so if she understood english at all she probably found it rather amusing. So he used the situation with the drunk guy as an opening to start up a conversation with her. We made a bit of small talk and she overheard where we were going. She said there was pretty much absolutely nothing around Nasushiobara station and that our best bet would be to get off at Nishi-Nasuno station, which was the station before it. She said there was actually a manga kissa there but that she wasnt sure about any bars in the area. We decided this was our best bet since we still wanted to do some drinking.

Eventually we arrived at Nishi-Nasuno. We thanked the nice young girl and got off the train. We headed for the bathroom as we both had to take a leak. There were 2 urinals in the station bathroom. One of them was currently occupied by some guy and I proceeded to pee in the other one. While I was peeing, Matt was standing behind us and noticed that this guy was taking a long time to finish and said to me "Wow this guy is like the Energizer Bunny of peeing!" I found this rather hilarious and was trying not to laugh since for all we knew the guy once again might have understood English, and while he probably has no idea what the Energizer Bunny is, it still felt awkward and hilarious at the same time. Eventually he finished his epic piss and left but didnt really seem to have any reaction to Matt's comment. Had the situation been reversed and I found myself taking an epic leak in a bathroom and a Japanese guy said to his friend in Japanese that I was the (-insert Japanese pop culture reference here-) of peeing in Japanese, I would probably find it more amusing than offensive, but im pretty laid back in general. In any case, we eventually left the station and began our search for a place to keep drinking. As we had expected, there wasnt a whole lot of places in general around this area.

Shortly after, 2 young girls ladies were walking down the street so we asked them if there were any places to drink in the area. They pointed to a building just a few buildings down with a neon sign that said "Welcome, Drink House". We decided to go check it out. It seemed more like an apartment building than anything else. We walked around and couldnt find any sign for a place called Drink House, so we assumed it must just be the name of the building or something. Then I noticed there was some loud music coming from one of the places on the first floor called Kunchiyamuron. It said it was some sorta Thai karaoke bar. I peaked my head in and instantly this Thai chick who wasnt at all shy about showing off her cleavage, grabbed my arm and told us to come in and drink. I asked them if this was like some special bar or if was like a place we could just come in and have a few beers and they said we could just come in and drink like any other bar. The place had lots of big leather couches and tables. The tables were covered in snacks. I have never been to a hostess bar nor a snack bar before but I figured this place must be something along those lines as it wasnt just a regular bar. We were directed to come sit down at a table where there was this old dude sitting with some not so good looking chick. We were unable to determine if he was a Japanese guy who was really wasted or a guy of another Asian decent who spoke some Japanese. We knew he wasnt Thai as he wasnt speaking Thai with any of the girls (who all had pretty sloppy Japanese btw). The girl who sat us down told us we had 2 choices... we could order a large bottle of beer for 1000 yen or we could pay 3000 yen for all you can drink shochu. Since I had already been drinking beer for most of the night, I knew from my past enkai experiences that beer + all you can drink shochu = epic hangover. I decided to go with the beer and Matt figured he would just drink beer to so we would just split the bottles. The girls wasted no time to bust out the bottle and start pouring our drinks. They also busted out a lighter the very instant I even reached for my pack of smokes. There was probably about 6 or so different Thai girls making the rounds around this place talking with various customers (most of which were old drunken Japanese guys). We also noticed that there was this heavyset chick with huge knockers that kept grabbing guys packages. One thing that kinda bothered me though was the girls were just helping themselves to our beer. Then this sorta fat and old chick who had to be about late 40s or early 50s sat next to me and was asking me if she could have some juice. Im like... you work here so why are you asking me? Shes like, I cant have juice unless you buy it for me. I dodged the question by talked to Matt about what Karaoke song he wanted to do. I had no intention of buying some expensive glass of Juice for some old nasty chick who was failing pretty bad at trying to sweet talk me into giving them free money. After we sang a few karaoke songs (I did Queen - Keep yourself Alive, and ACDC - Shook me all night long, and Matt did some U2 and Greenday) and a little more time had passed, we were already on like our 6th bottle of beer. We hadnt even been there for an hour yet and we already had managed to spend 6000 yen between the 2 of us. Matt didnt seem to realize that we were already on our 6th bottle but I assured him that I had been keeping track since the girls were sneaky about just busting out another bottle and pouring it for you without you asking for it first. Then Matt came up with a brilliant idea, stop drinking! As long as we had some beer in our glasses they couldnt pour more into them and thus, couldnt keep busting out new bottles. The old man sitting across from us had bought us each one glass of shochu so we just kinda nursed that for a little while. This plan worked brilliantly since we were both already buzzed enough to have a good time and knew that if we kept up the pace we were at, we would end up spending like 10000 yen each by the end of the night. This resulted in me chain smoking like crazy but a pack of smokes is 300 yen so who gives a shit! Soon after, the old man headed out and said he was going home. We stayed for a bit longer and the girls continued to occasionally come sit by us and be all touchy feely and occasionally would subtly grab our joysticks. Eventually 2 am rolled around and they told us they were closing. We asked for the check and it turned out to surprisingly be exactly 6000 yen, just as they promised! No hidden fees or bullshit. Granted they drank a bit of our beer but honestly I was rather surprised and didnt feel like I got ripped off!

We were then presented with another choice. Go to sleep or drink some more? Of course it only being 2 am we decided to get some more beer. We walked around a bit more within the same building and tried to find another place that was opened. On the 2nd floor we found a place called Link. We peeked in and it seemed to be a pretty regular bar. There were 2 younger girls there, an old lady who was the bar tender, and the same drunken old man from earlier was now sitting in there! We figured this seemed like a good place to drink. I ordered a beer on tap and Matt ordered a cocktail and they said he could even make it himself and it would be 800 yen. I was curious how much my beer was after they brought it to me and they said it was 1000 yen. However, unlike the other place, it was just a regular glass of beer, not a big bottle, so this was pretty much a huge ripoff since id pay half the price if it was at Current. I wasnt too happy about that but I figured, no problem, its a place to hangout and ill just use the same plan as before, take forever to finish my beer and smoke lots of cigs. So after we sat down one of the girls started talking with me and the other was talking with Matt and old wasted guy. It became obvious very fast that these girls worked there. Just like the other place, this girl was a quickdraw gunslinger when it came to lighting my smokes. We just had small talk about how she was the same age as me but she was married with 2 kids. She said she got married when she was 18 and was only dating the guy for 4 months. WTF. Way too early. Anyway so we played some darts and Matt played a game of darts with the other chick and the old lady brought us a small plate of yakisoba (which appeared to be complimentary since we didnt order anything). After about an hour, they suddenly said they would be closing. I finished my beer and asked for the check. They handed me a check and it said 3000 yen! I was pretty shocked to see my regular size 1000 yen beer turn into a 3000 yen check. I payed the bill and then I asked them why it was 3000 yen when I only had one beer. Appearently they decided that they were going to make me pay for the drinks that the girl I was talking to was having, even though I never once was asked, nor was I even all that particularly interested in talking to her in the first place. I was completely surprised as I didnt even at all get the impression that this girl was remotely flirting with me at all. I was pretty pissed about this and felt like I just got fucked in the ass by paying 3000 yen for one regular beer and a small plate of mediocre yakisoba. They pulled the same shit on Matt who ordered 2 drinks and his tab was 4000 yen. Its times like this when I miss Current heh. As we were leaving, the old drunk guy stumbled out as well. We asked him where the manga kissa was and he gave us some directions so we headed out on our way.

After about a 10 minute walk we found the place. It had an arcade atatched to it that was still open, but it didnt have any particularly good games. They made us fill out this big long form and sign up for a membership card in order to stay there. I honestly didnt feel like doing it but we didnt have any other choice given where we were. I put like half fake information on the application form and after a while we finally got our cards and went to sleep. At least the place wasnt a ripoff as the charged 1000 yen for 6 hours of sleep, which is what I normally pay anyway and membership was only 300 yen.

The next day we woke up at about 10:00. The tournament was at Fantasy Park game center and was schedule to start at 1:00 and signups would end at 12:30. We figured this would be plenty of time to find the place and get some casuals in. We headed back to the train station and took the train over to the next station, Nasushiobara. Upon arriving at the station, it seemed the girl on the train from last night was certainly correct.. this place was inaka as hell and there was pretty much nothing there. Lots of rice fields and houses with a few random stores here and there. There was a map in the station and I took a quick look at it and called up the game center on my cellphone to ask them for directions from the station. I asked him which exit from Nushiobara station they were located from and how long it takes to walk there. They said the West exit and it would be about a half hour walk. We headed out on our journy and stopped at the 7-11 on the way to make sure we were on the right track. None of the people that worked there seemed to know anything about this Fantasy Park game center. We figured they just dont play games so they just didnt know about it. Matt called again to confirm the directions and the guy told us the same thing. We continued on our course for a while and eventually we arrived at a gas station. Some dude was out front with a hose so I asked him if we were going the right way. He told me there were no game centers around here at all. This caused us to start to worry a bit. We decided to go a bit further and give it a shot and it started to get more and more rural. Eventually we came across a small footcare clinic and decided to ask them. I had a sheet that I thought had the address on it but it only had the phone number. I asked the girl inside the place if she knew where the game center was but she had no idea. She then offered to call the place for me and ask. It turns out that the game center was actually back near Nishi-Nasuno station where we had just come from and was no where near Nasushiobara. This is pretty much my fault since when I looked at the map of the area where the arcade was earlier in the week, I was actually planning on going to the Kanagawa tournament, so I kinda half-assed checking where it was at. However, when both myself and Matt had called earlier, we both specifically mentioned Nasushiobara station but the guy didnt say anything about it being the wrong one or about Nishi-Nasuno. At this point we were beginning to run out of time. We took the long walk back to the train station and luckily the next train was in about 20 minutes (which considering where we were, that wasnt so bad). We made it back to Nishi-Nasuno and decided the best thing to do would be to go back to where we spent the night and ask there, since game centers are often the best place to ask where to find other game centers in the area. The guy who was working there was very helpfull and gave us perfect directions. He said the place would be about another 20 minute walk from where we were at. We continued to walk and eventually found a busy street as the guy told us we would. We crossed it and then saw 3 guys walking down the street. I said to Matt that they look like they could be a Guilty Gear team so I asked them if they knew where Fantasy Park was. They confirmed that we were going the right way and after a bit more walking we werent seeing it yet. I stopped at another gas station and asked some old man if he knew where it was and he told me there werent any game centers around here at all. We were just like.... wtf..... but kept going and it turned out that like 2 buildings down was Fantasy Park! Stupid old man.

We got inside about 5 minutes before signups were going to end. We signed up as a 2 man team. There were already a lot of people there and they only had one cabinet. This place wasnt all that big and didnt have many fighting games. I think this has to be the first Japanese arcade ive been to that hosted a tournament that didnt have one single street fighter game in the entire place. Everyone was crowded around the cab watching. A red slayer player was beasting and had a good win streak. I noticed a few big names there such as Kazuki and Kiro, the really good yellow Faust player that I had encountered a while back during the DF2 days. There was also a Bridget player there who I could have sworn was Mugen but he was signed up under a different name on the signup sheet. Turns out it wasnt Mugen but a local player named Ryou. I played against the red Slayer and he beasted on me kinda hard. He was all in my head and shit. This guy was seriously good as hell. Kiro tried to beat him twice and also failed but after lots of people kept playing him, Kiro eventually did manage to beat him. Then I played against Kiro and beat him in a Faust mirror match.

Eventually the tournament started. There were 16 teams total. This time, unfortunately, there were no extra people so we only had a 2 man team. My random luck of the draw, our first match was against the team of Kazuki (DI)/Kiro (FA)/Oguma (JA). Matt went first against Oguma and lost both rounds. Then it was my turn. I won the first round. 2nd round was close but he beat me. 3rd round I perfected him. Up next was Kazuki. It wasnt a bad match but I made a few crucial mistakes such as trying to punish a blocked crouching HS and forgetting that he can cancel it into the ice spike late. Overall I probably should have just played more patiently and I felt like I could have won it but unfortunately I didnt. I still felt much less bad about losing to Kazuki than random Anji but wasnt exactly happy about it. I hadnt eaten anything all day up to this point so me and Matt decided to go to the MOS burger nextdoor to get some food.

We had a random conversation about how Matt has a friend back in Oregon who refuses to eat any food that is white in color. I just found this extremely amusing and strange. He also has a little brother who ONLY eats white foods. Then this random white guy shows up out of no where with some chick and asks if we are here for the speech contest. Im just like... uhh nope, game tournament. Pretty random. Anyway, after eating we went back to the arcade to watch the rest of the tournament. The next match up was the team of Ryou. His team was a cute female Jam player named Mori, and a red May player named Kuroto. The other team was PO/AX/BA. Ryou went first and beat PO but lost to AX. Then Mori put up a good fight and almost beat AX but lost. Then Kuroto beat AX and BA. Up next was the beastly red Slayer from earlier whos name seems to be Hase. His team mates were Seta (FA) and Pon (PO). They were up against a team that contained the beastly purple May I often see. Hase proceeded to destroy their whole team. Up next was Kazuki team vs Ryou team. Oguma's Jam proceeded to OCV their entire team. This lead to the tournament finals which was Hase team vs Kazuki team. Every game in the finals was close as hell and they were really hype and fun to watch. Many rounds ending within pixels. However, unfortunately for Kazuki and his team, they were all defeated as the result of an OCV by Hase and his broken Slayer. I felt bad for Kiro when he almost beat him and landed the scalpel super but Hase guessed right and got the angel which he killed Kiro off of.

After the tournament was over, Matt said he had to leave because he needed to meet up with some people. I decided to stay and play some casuals. They had the cab on freeplay event mode still so people were just taking turns getting on, playing one match, then both would get off and 2 more people would get on. Since I had time to keep between each match, I kept track of my record. It went like this:
SO win
SL win
AX win
IN lose
SL (Hase) lose
JA lose
IN win
IN lose
JA lose
TE win
RO win
AX win

Between my last 2 matches, the IN player came around to the other side of the cab and was sorta standing next to me watching the match going on. I decided to make small talk. I asked him if he was going to enter the Tochigi tournament in Sano on Tuesday (Tuesday being a national holiday, they are having quals on this day). He said he was. I told him I would be going as well but that I would be entering by myself (as Matt had other plans with the girl he has a crush on). He asked me if it would be ok if I joined his team since he said he only had one team mate. I told him I would be cool with teaming with them. The other guy on the team is an ABA player named Ibu. The I-no players name is Shiratori. Shiratori has a good I-no, but I have no idea about Ibu. In any case, im pleased to have a full team for Tuesday. So after that I had to get going because I had a long way home. I walked about 30 minutes back to the station and had just enough time to grab some food at 7-11 before the train left. I then proceeded to take a nearly 4 and a half hour trip home. Im sure glad I have a DS.

So Tuesday (which is tomorrow at the time of writing this), I will go to Sano in Tochigi with my girlfriend for another tournament. I have high hopes for this one but anything can happen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Infamous Japanese Driving Test (part 2.)

So today I left school early to go take the driving test again in Maebashi with one of the guys who works in the town office. After the long drive we got some lunch and then we arrived at the driving test facility. I submitted my paper work and got a number (I was number 7) and I waited for like 2 fucking hours. I didnt need to take the written test again cuz I already perfected that shit last time. As everyone was waiting right before we were going to be taking the test, me and the guy from the town office were talking a lot with this one Chinese guy who moved to Japan from Shanghai about 5 years ago who is married to a Japanese woman. His Japanese was really good and we were talking about various things like how difficult it was to learn Japanese at first and he was saying how this was his 6th time taking the test today. He told me I looked young and asked my age and I said 25, then I asked how old he was. He said to guess. I said 30. Turns out this dude was 48! I was like, no fuckin way! So after a bit more chatting they finally called us down to take the test. I learned from all my mistakes last time and found out exactly what they were looking for via a special 2 hour class you can take (paid for by the board of education... sweet...). This time things went pretty smooth. The only major mistake I made was turning the windshield wipers on at the very end of the test after I parked when I was trying to turn the turn signal off.

After the test we waited for like another fucking hour. We were talking with the Chinese guy again and he was saying he thought he did well and didnt make any mistakes. He told me that I probably should be fine since im an American and Japan and American are close but he said that since he is Chinese he will probably get failed again even though hes a good driver. Shortly after they busted out the dry eraser board with the numbers of the people who passed on it. Out of 36 people who took the test this time, only 5 passed. Among the 5 numbers was a nice big lucky #7 written in blue marker. SLASH

I Fausted that shit.

Unfortunately the Chinese guy failed again. We both felt really bad for him. It sucks how the driving test for foreigners is handled in Japan. They really can just fail you because of the stupidest shit like racism or not liking your clothes or just about anything. Poor guy.

Anyway, thats it, just a random mid week update I decided to type up to kill time while I wait for my girlfriend to get here. Ill have another epic SBO related update after the weekend.

corn potage rocks

Monday, April 21, 2008

Akihabara Club Sega and Game Chariot SBO qual finals weekend

My weekend started off as usual with the Friday night trip to Akihabara for casuals. I played a lot of matches and was doing ok but I noticed that my execution just seemed extremely off. It wasnt like I was just dropping a combo here and there... it was like my center of gravity was warped or something. Like I kept hitting diagonals when I was trying to just hit one direction and I kept getting empty normals when I tried to do specials. This pretty much plaugued me throughout the evening but I still managed to win a bunch of matches. Gin was there and I asked him if he was entering the tournament tomorrow but he said he had to work. The night ended with me playing against Haken a few times and losing. I was about to get up and leave but I said fuck it im gonna beat him and I played him again and won. Then a Slayer player who he was there with beasted on me for a few and eventually they all just left so at that point I just said screw it and left as well. I then proceeded to head to Shinjuku.

The number of people at Current was typical of a Friday night, pretty much what I was expecting. I said hi to everyone I knew and right away I noticed there was an unusual ammount of foreigners that I didnt recognize there. I was sitting at a table drinking with Masami and he told me that the group of foreigners was actually the 80's rock band Firehouse. It was completely random and unexpected. Firehouse isnt bad but I really havnt listened to them much since Jr Highschool to be honest and I never had any of their CDs. He told me there was a concert Saturday and Sunday night in Tokyo. I probably could have gone if I wanted to but id much rather play Guilty Gear honestly. The Firehouse dudes were mostly chatting with some Japanese chicks, 2 of which I know that often come to Current and the other 3 were girls I had never seen before. I didnt really get around to talking to any of them, they seemed like nice guys I guess but I just didnt feel very compelled to go start a conversation. Eventually after a while, the Firehouse guys left. One of the girls that I know, Ayami, went with them. I was talking with her friend Mai for a bit and I found out that the 2 of us have the exact same birthday (September 21st), and what makes this even stranger is that the new English teacher that I teach with now at Fujiwara actually has the same birthday as me too! WTF is with that? Random. After a little while it was time for another ghetto magic trick show by Sushi. I dont remember if I mentioned it before but from time to time, Sushi will bust out his random ghetto magic tricks. They only seem to work on drunk girls. Basically he takes a crumbled piece of paper and puts it in his hand. Then he goes next to the girl and makes a fist around the paper. He makes a fist with the other hand and then brings his other hand with the paper down on the fist 3 times sorta like hes using a hammer on a nail or something. However, after the 2nd time of bringing his arm back, he just lets the paper fly out of his hand and it just sorta lands somewhere on the floor in the back. When he opens his hand the paper is gone and the girl is all surprised and shit. Its rather hilarious because its like the most ghetto magic ever and they are still amazed. Sometimes he even runs back behind him and picks the paper up all fast to do the trick again and they dont even seem to notice him do it! He tried it on one of the girls I didnt know and she was all amazed. Then he tried it on the girl I was talking to who I know but she was too smart for that shit. Then he was gonna do it with a bottle of vodka. He motioned for me to go behind her so that he could toss the bottle of vodka behind him and I was supposed to catch it. By this point I already had like 5 beers so I wasnt too confident in my ability to not drop the vodka bottle, but luckely the girl was too smart and knew what was up so he didnt bother throwing it. He had done this in the past though and it actually worked on some wasted chick. LOL! After a while Ayami came back. I left the bar at about 3 since I wanted to get up early to enter the tournament.

Saturday. Today I had 2 options. I could either enter the final prelim for the A-1 series of tournaments which are the ones I have played in up to this point. It would take place at Akihabara club sega before the section finals. My other option was to go to Inage in Chiba which is about 45 mins east of Akihabara. Both tournaments were to start at the same time. I decided that the one at Inage would probably be easier since it was capped at 16 teams and the Akihabara one had no limit. I eventually arrived at Inage and there were only 3 teams signed up and they only had one cabinet. One of the teams there was my old team from the small Game Chariot tournament that I OCVed my way to victory in about a month ago. They were the Faust player Ojima and the ABA player Ryo, and were teamed up with a Potemkin player. I started off by playing against Ryo's ABA in a close game and lost. Once again, just as yesterday, my execution was still retarded and fucked up. I felt like someone put a curse on me or a had suffered a minor stroke or some shit. Then Ojima was telling me some ABA matchup tips like never use the swat forcebreak at all and block more. I played him again and won. I played against various people for a while and pretty much beat everyone there at least once or twice and eventually lost to Potemkin in a close game. During this time I recieved an email from HH who I had emailed way earlier in the week, asking if he would be able to enter the tournaments this weekend. He finally replied to my email just now saying that he would be entering... but with a different team. I didnt really know what to say so I just replied to his email with a frowny face. Needless to say I was pretty upset but honestly not very surprised. After all that shit with Basara's team this just felt like more of the same. At this point I realized that I cant and wont rely on ANYONE but myself. I dont care if I have to OCV my way into SBO, and I dont care how many times it takes, I will not give up, even with no consistant team. To quote Children of Bodom: "I dont give a flying fuck, mother fucker. I dont give a flying fuck, mother fucker. I dont give a flying, I dont give a flying, I dont give a flying fuck." That about sums it up. I had talked with Matt (Hintalove) Friday over email and he said he was interested in going to the quals this weekend. I called him from Inage and we discussed at this point whether it would be better for us to play in the Inage tournament as a 2 person team (seeing as how there would pretty much be no single people showing up to this) or to try at Akihabara to see if we could find a 3rd team member. After much consideration I eventually decided that it might be wise to try to get a full team at Akihabara. I told Matt to meet me there and figured that if Akihabara doesnt work out, we would have just enough time to get back to Inage. I left our names on the signup sheet to hold down the spot. Before I left, a few more teams showed up. I said bye to Ojima and told him I would be back if Akihabara doesnt work out.

Eventually I arived at Club Sega. Matt had gotten there a little bit before me and the line to register was huge and the place was a fucking jungle. You could hardly walk and it took us a long time to stand in line to finally sign up. I asked the Club Sega guy if we could sign up as a 2 man team and he said it was ok, but then I asked him if there was anyone else there who needed a team and he said that there really wasnt anyone, so if we were to play at this tournament we would be stuck as a 2 man team as well. Considering that there were way more top players at Akihabara and the bracket would be massive, we decided it would be in our best interested to go back to Inage. We figured we might JUST make it. After a long train ride we finally got there but we arrived at 2:05 and the tournament was scheduled to start at 2:00. Luckily, they hadnt started yet and were just getting ready to make the brackets. Then I sorta did a double take cuz I saw Kaqn standing there. It seems this tournament wouldnt prove to be so easy afterall. Soon after, the tournament started and there ended up being a total of 9 teams. Our first match, due to random luck of the draw, we got a by. Our 2nd match was vs a team of Jam/Slayer/Testament. Matt went first with his HOS against Jam and lost. He was doing alright but he kept dropping combos. Then I went up against Jam. The first round was very close and we both had very little life left. Then we were in the corner and I threw him and thought the round was over. Then he escaped the throw and I wasnt expecting it and already took my hands off the stick. I got back on the stick but it caught me off guard and he hit me and I lost. However, the next 2 rounds I just zoned really well and won. Up next was Slayer. I think I lost a round but I ended up beating him as well. Finally was Testament. I won the first round. The 2nd round was going fine and I was winning. I almost finished him off with a well timed but far away swat forcebreak and he had a pixel left but then my execution haunted me again and he managed to come back and take the round. Round 3 pretty much was the same way... I basically lost by a pixel. I was pretty bummed because I had beaten him twice before the tournament started and knew I should have won. I hadnt eaten yet all day and Matt was hungry to so we just immedietly left to get some food.

We went to some place called COCO which looked like it was the same as the Curry resturaunt chain except this place sold all kinds of stuff and it rocked pretty hard. I had a top tier cheese quesadilla, some corn soup, and fries. Matt had curry and corn soup. After we ate we decided to go back to the arcade to see the results of the tournament. When we got back the tournament had already ended. I was surprised to find out that Kaqn's team (consisting of Ten (IN) and Denou (AX)) had lost to another team consisting of Hamashoo(JA), Eesu(ED), and Mio(SO). At this point the cabinet was on freeplay and everyone who was in the tournament was welcome to stay and play some free casuals. Matt and I were originally going to head back to Akihabara but we decided to first stay and play some casuals against Kaqn and the others. For a while, Ten's I-no had racked up a few wins and was eventually defeated and then Kaqn had like a 15 win streak. I lost to him twice and I think Matt lost to him 3 times but managed to take a round on him the 3rd game. I played him a 3rd time and surprisingly I actually beat him without losing a round and ended his streak. We played a bit longer and eventually decided to go back to Club Sega. I said goodbye to Kaqn and the guys and we headed out.

When we arrived at Club Sega the finals had already ended. Isa/012/Satoshi came out ahead as the winners. There were still tons of people there playing casuals on 7 cabs so we stayed for a while and got some good games in. At one point Matt wanted to buy a PS2 power cable for his slim PS2 but was having trouble finding it so I showed him where Superpotato was but unfortunately it was closed so we headed back for more games. Gin was there and I asked him if he entered the tournament but he said no and that he was just there for post tournament casuals. I managed to beat Ogawa again in a game of casuals but he was using Potemkin. Though not his Eddie, his Potemkin is still pretty buff. HH was there as well. At one point he was sitting right next to me on the other cabinet after I had beat Ogawa but he didnt say a single word to me the entire time. Eventually I lost to someone and went to the other side of the cabinet to play against HH, I wanted to remind him that im not a scrub. He was racking up a pretty big win streak. During this time I played him twice and lost in 2 close matches. The 3rd time I beat him. Then he came over to the other side and was just kinda standing in the corner and watching people play. I beat someone else and eventually he came over to the other side and rematched me and this time he won. He got another win streak and beat me a 2nd time. Matt wanted to go drinking and it was getting kinda late but I wanted to play HH one more time. The final game against him, I won all 3 rounds and finished the final round by perfecting him. It felt VERY good. As soon as I won I got up and just left the cab and we headed out to go back to Shinjuku.

Tonight at Current was surprisingly packed with lots of people. Right away when we entered there was this random young wasted Japanese dude that just started talking to us. He says it was his first time there and he just kept going on and on about all kinds of stuff. There were a lot of people I knew there and I went and said hi to them all. Firehouse was also there again, sitting at a table in the very back. Matt and I were talking with Megu for a bit and the young wasted guy kept talking with us too. As the night went on, his Japanese was getting harder and harder to understand, but not just for us, because Megu said she didnt understand half the shit the dude was talking about either. He was only on like his 3rd drink and was already destroyed, just talking about how he was going to drink until he died or something. I went around talking to more various people and eventually Megu was kinda wasted so she wanted to take a short nap on one of the benches in the back. At this point a lot of the people that were there earlier, including Firehouse, had cleared out. At one point the wasted dude went over and was like pestering Megu while she was sleeping so I went over there to sorta like draw his attention away from her. Shortly after he passed out as well. At about 4 am, Chip showed up with Sawa. They said they spent most of the night at 16 Shots. After another hour of drinking it was time to leave at 5. The wasted guy wouldnt wake up so Sushi, Mogi, Chip, and Matt lifted him up and physically removed him from the bar and put him on the floor outside the front door. I found this hilarious since this guy was such a jackass so I took some pictures of it on my cellphone as they hauled his ass out. Shortly after he was put outside he sorta woke up in a daze and eventually collected himself enough to stumble off. I said goodbye to everyone and headed out. Matt went back to the train station to go home and I went to the manga kissa as usual.

The next day I woke up and my head hurt a bit. It wasnt all that bad though, nothing a little time and a headache pill couldnt fix. Today would be the final prelim in the B-1 Chiba qualifier series followed by the finals. After a long train ride I arrived at Game Chariot about a half hour before the tournament was to start. I emailed Matt and he slept through his alarm and also had a hangover so I was on my own to find a team. Luckely when I went to sign up, I saw that there was a 2 man team consisting of JT and the venom player I had teamed up with along with 012 when we won that Akihabara tournament before winter break. I found JT and asked him if I could join their team today and they said it was cool. I guess having me is better than having no one hah. I played a few casuals before the tournament and this time my execution no longer felt like I was under a curse as it had for the entire weekend up to this point. I guess getting a hangover is somehow a cure for bad execution. Is there anything beer cant do? The setup at Game Chariot was really nice. They had 6 cabs for casuals and then 2 cabinets in a seperate area off to the side kinda set up in a way where they were slanted side to side rather than outright head to head with a huge flatscreen TV in the middle for viewing. I took a picture with my phone that ill upload soon. im pretty sure everything was taped though I have no idea exactly how much of it will end up online. 24 teams entered the prelim. Our first match was against SO KY and HOS. They told me to anchor and JT went first with his Millia (im pretty sure he used to play Eddie a long time ago but has been using Millia since ive known him). JT ended up OCVing their entire team with not too much trouble. After that we waited a little bit longer and I played a few more casuals and then it was time for our next match. Our opponent was Hi (Ba)/Torinotake (TE)/ and a Zappa player whos name I didnt catch. This time our Venom player went first against Hi's Baiken. He won the first round, and the 2nd round was almost his, he needed one more hit but just couldnt land it and lost. 3rd round he lost once more. I went next. I tried zoning him but he was able to get in on me and I also fell to his Baiken. Finally JT went and unfortunately lost as well resulting in our team getting OCVd. I wonder if things would have turned out different if our Venom got that last hit in on the 2nd round but I guess ill never know.

After that I was pretty hungry so I went to the Family Mart nextdoor to get some food. I was sitting outside on the step in front of the arcade eating my Yakisoba and Nakamura came out of the conbini with some fried chicken and started talking to me. He asked who my team was and how we were doing and I told him we lost to Baiken and stuff. I wished him goodluck in the finals. Nakamura is a nice guy. After that I headed back inside and played some more casuals for a bit. Eventually it was time for the top 3 teams to face in a round robin to decide the winner of the prelim. One of the teams to make it was Zero/Haken/Minami-chipp which didnt surprise me considering they won a prelim in the A-1 series before. The team that beat our team today was also one of the top 3. The last team was Nanashi/Maruken/Kai (previously known on my blog as "spikey hair potemkin"). First match Zero's team was OCVed by Kai, though Kai went 2nd, I didnt see who played first and lost. I was surprised to see Kai beat Haken in a mirror match. Up next, Zero OCVd Hi's team. When he was fighting Torinotake, he slashbacked an EXE beast and did this crazy IAD loop combo that brought him from one corner all the way to the other. It seriuosly looked like the kinda stuff youd usually see Jam do to Potemkin and was pretty awsome seeing HOS do it to Testament. Then it was Nanashi team vs Hi team. First was Nanashi vs Torinotake which resulted in Nanashi winning by just a hair. Then Hi proceeded to defeat Nanashi, Kai, and then beat Maruken in a Baiken mirror match which also shocked me. The result was a 3 way tie, each team having one win and one loss, but Zero's team had the best record as far as wins/losses per set so they won.

After that there was a brief intermission as they prepared for the finals tournament which would be a 5 team round robin. During this time I seperately asked both JT and the Venom that I teamed with if they would want to team up again for next weekend but both of them said they will not enter next weekends tournament, which is Japanese for "no, I dont want to team up with you again" most likely. Granted I didnt actually do anything for the team this tournament but in all fairness we did get OCVed by the same guy. Oh well. As I said before, im not gonna depend on anyone else anyway. For all I know they really wont enter next weekend but it doesnt matter.

It was now time for the finals to start. Just about everyone gathered around and was watching. These were some pretty hype finals. The 5 teams were, OsakaB(FA)/FAB(PO)/Nakamura(MI), Nemo(TE)/Koichi(MI)/Endo(MA), Zero(HOS)/Haken(PO)/Minami-chipp(CH), the 4th team I cant remember exactly but they had a Testament player and a Potemkin player I think. The final team was actually just a lone Sol player, whos other 2 team mates, for whatever reason, were not at the tournament... so he was forced to play all his matches alone. I honestly dont remember the entire results of every match of the 5 on 5 round robin but here are some highlights. The lone Sol player lost to every team he played against. When he fought against Endo's May, he got forward punched out of a riot stomp into dizzy combo and got IKed/perfected the first round. He then proceeded to counter-perfect May. Unfortunately for him he was not able to win the 3rd round, and while it wasnt a perfect, he did end up getting IKed again by May. None of the other teams were able to beat Nakamura team or Nemo team. Both teams had a perfect win record up until the final match of the tournament in which they were to face eachother. I honestly thought that from the start, one of these 2 teams were going to win the tournament, though I was kinda rooting for OsakaB cuz he plays Faust and hes always really nice to me and same with Nakamura. FAB is like fighting a tank so I wasnt expecting that anyone would be able to take him down. Nemo is actually really cool too, but I dont really know Koichi or Endo very well so I kinda rooting for OsakaB team. Unfortunately when the finals finally started, there was very little time before I had to leave to catch the last train that would allow me to make it back home tonight. Up first was Endo vs FAB. Endo put up a good fight and there were some good rounds, but FAB came through. Up next was Koichi. I thought for sure FAB was gonna beast but Koichi just mixed him the fuck up and he just got rushed down hard and lost. Up next was OsakaB. Millia is a very bad matchup for Faust but I guess they didnt want to do a Millia mirror match so they put OsakaB next. I wasnt very surprised to see him struggle with this fight. He lost to Koichi 2 rounds straight. At this point I had to leave. I really wanted to stay and watch but it was a matter of minutes until my train left so I just quickly took a picture of the brackets on the wall (which I will post later so you can see) and ran the fuck out to the train platform. I caught my train on time and enjoyed a long 4+ hour train ride back to my town. Upon checking online, it seems that Nemo's team defeated Nakamura though it isnt clear if Nakamura won the mirror match and lost to Nemo or if Koichi beat him.

So that about does it for this weekend. Next weekend a new series of qualifiers will start, and this time they are based in my very own prefecture of Gunma as well as some in the neighboring prefecture of Tochigi. At the same time while these Gunma/Tochigi ones are going on (they are B-3), there will also be a series in Kanagawa (the prefecture south of Tokyo, these will be the B-2 series). My main goal is to qualify in Gunma. I think its going to be a much easier time since less extremely strong players are probably going to travel to Gunma but honestly I really cant say. I am expecting to see a lot of Saitama players and maybe even some from Tokyo. Though I think most of the strong players will travel to Kanagawa because its closer for them. Matt says that he will go as well so for now I at least have a 2 man team. I dont know the likelyhood of finding any other good players that are willing to join me in Gunma but I guess Ill just see how it goes when I get there. The bottom line is, if im gonna qualify I need to do it myself. Any help is just a bonus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Teamless in Tokyo

Going back to Thursday night, I was about to go to sleep when I got an email from Domi. He said he wanted to talk to me about the team situation for SBO. He gave me his AIM and then we got on aim and had a chat. He asked me what my plans were for SBO quals this coming weekend and I told him I can enter both tournaments but I need a team. He said that he heard that I was going to team with HH. I told him that HH wasnt sure yet and said he might team with me if we found a good 3rd player but that HH only wanted to team up with really strong players. I told him that at this point I really had no team. I then asked him what the situation was with his team and he said they decided that he and Basara would team up with Karun. He then said goodluck with finding a team and that was pretty much it and then I went to sleep.

The next day I emailed Gin to see if he wanted to team up with me and HH, and I emailed HH to see if he was cool with having Gin on our team. I went to work and then after work I had another enkai to go to. This was the going away party for all the teachers who would be changing schools this semester. The enkai was about 3 minutes walking distance from my apartment so it was very convenient. It was pretty much your standard enkai with the usual stuff, except this time all the teachers who would be leaving gave speeches and some of them got all emotional and were crying a little. While I was at the enkai I got an email from Gin. He said he would be ok with joining but asked if it was ok with HH. I said I was waiting to hear from him and I would let him know when I got a reply. A little while after, HH emailed me and simply said "sorry, I cant do it". I told Gin that HH wasnt able to enter the tournaments this weekend and asked if he still wanted to team with me and said we would find someone else and he said it was ok.

After the 1st enkai was over we went to the nizikai where they were doing karaoke. This time I did Alice Cooper - No More Mr Nice Guy, Pretty Maids - Please Dont Leave Me (they always play this at Current), and Metallica - Battery, which was the last song of the night haha. Then after that pretty much all the teachers decided to go for some ramen at a nearby place and of course there was more drinking. By this p0int I was pretty wasted. I was drinking a lot of beer and people also offered and poored me shochu and whiskey. After the ramen place I said goodbye to the people who were leaving and walked back home at around 2 am and passed out.

Next day I woke up to find that the enkai had owned me and my head was THROBBING! Fucking enkais... they always own me for free. I set my alarm to wake up around 8:00 because I wanted to catch a somewhat early train to Tokyo so that I could have time to practice a bit before the qualifier today. I tried my best but I could barely get out of bed. I tried to force myself to eat but I only could take a few bites and then I was just like... fuck this shit I need more sleep. I took a headache pill and went back to sleep for about 45 minutes and then when i woke up again it was bareable enough to get on with my day. I eventually made my way to the train station and slept most of the way to Tokyo on the train.

Todays tournament was at a place called Pasopiard game center in Kamata. Ive never been there before but I saw a map on their website and it was easy to find. I arrived about 45 mins before the tournament was scheduled to start. As soon as I got there I saw Gin and we signed up as a duo. When writing our team name he asked what I thought was good and I said anythings if fine. He sorta scribbled on the sheet and just left it. The tournament guy asked him if it was a "W" and he was like.. sure... so that was our team name heh. We later were teamed up with an extra Dizzy player named Ouri. I only had time to play maybe like 2 matches before the tournament. They had 4 cabs going but there were tons of people and there was a long wait to play. Yosan was there and had like 20 wins with his I-no. I came close to beating him but fell a bit short. The tournament eventually started and we were one of the first teams to play. Our first match was against a team consisting of Mugen (bridget), En-Slayer, and some Anji player who im not sure who it was. Ouri went first against first against Mugen and lost. This was the only time I saw Ouri play so I dont really know how good he actually is. He did ok but didnt really have too many chances to do alot of stuff against Mugen. Then I went and lost followed by Gin who lost to get OCVed. I dont get much Bridget practice so I dont know the matchup well. Bridget has easily got to be the most underplayed character in Japan (at least in the Tokyo area). I go many weeks without playing a single Bridget after hours at the arcade and Mugen is the best Bridget in East Japan so it was pretty rough. The tournament eventually ended and the winning team was 012 (so), Isa (ed), Satoshi (po). I asked Gin if he wanted to team up again tomorrow and he said he wasnt sure if he could enter beause he might have to work. Basara was there and he teamed with Karun (who for some reason played Bridget instead of Jam, which was the first time ive seen him do it) but his other partner wasnt Domi, it was a Millia player. Domi didnt show up. I pretty much spent the rest of the day just playing casuals there. I had 16 wins at one point. I got Ouri's email so that maybe we could team up again in the future. I played against Basara a bunch of times. I was going about even with his Sol and I only played his Slayer once and beat him 3 rounds in a row. Once it started to die down I left and headed to Shinjuku.

Current had another metal event with Guest DJs. Lots of people I know were there and I told Chip, Sawa, Sushi, and Mogi some stories about my trip to Kansai. Given the fact that my head hurt so bad this morning I didnt feel like drinking so much but I did and I got drunk anyway. Nothing extremely noteworthy happened at Current so im just gonna leave it at that. I drank till closing at 5 am as ussual and slept at my regular spot.

I woke up the next day feeling fine, aside from a little tired but that was fixed with some coffee. First thing I did was walk right across the street and went to Vegas. It was pretty dead. There was one guy there and I beat him 8 times in a row and he kept picking all sorts of characters. Then he gave up and left so I said fuck it and went to get food. Todays qualifier wasnt scheduled to start till 6 pm so I had lots of time. It would be in Koiwa which is East of Akihabara so I figured id stop there on the way for some games. When I got to Akihabara there were a few people and as time went on it began to fill up. No noteworthy people were there and I ended up playing a Jam player first who was pretty good and beat him. Then I played a Millia and lost twice in close games and then won the 3rd time. This then lead to a 19 win streak and I eventually beat the game because no one there could win against me and they started to give up and just play other people. Upon beating boss I-no I took it as my cue to leave. I eventually arived in Koiwa station. From there I honestly had no idea how to find Leisureland game center where the tournament would be held. After much walking around and asking people for directions I eventually found the place, it was pretty easy to miss.

When I got there it wasnt too packed yet and there was about 2 and a half hours until the tournament was to start. I figured I would just play some casuals while I waited for signups. There were only 3 cabs and one of them wasnt working until someone eventually came and fixed it so wait time was still kinda high. As time went on, people suddenly started showing up in masses. Gin was there and he asked who I was teaming with. I said I had no team and he ended up having a completely different team now. I was just thinking like... wtf... he said he wasnt sure if he could go and then he shows up with a new team and didnt say shit about it. Then eventually the tournament director comes out with the mic and starts making announcements. I figured it was time for signups but then he already had a clipboard with a signup sheet that was already maxed out with 24 full teams. I didnt even know signups started yet and somehow there was already a full bracket. I asked him if I can still enter and he said the only way I could is if someone was a no show. I waited by the front desk as they called each team up to check in. I noticed that Basara and Domi were there, but they didnt even team up with Karun this time, they instead teamed up with Mitsurugi, the Zappa player who I had teamed with a few weeks back at a Vegas 2 on 2. This really kinda upset me because they knew I needed a team, and if Karun for whatever reason couldnt show up, I would have thought they would at least have the decancy to mail me and ask if I wanted to join but at this point it became CLEARLY obvious that they had absoloutly no desire to team with me. I love Japan and all but I really hate the indirectness that goes along with Japanese culture sometimes. If Basara never wanted to team up with me in the first place, he should have just said no outright when I first asked him months ago just like everyone else who I asked who said no. At least this way I wouldnt have wasted all this time with fucking around with thinking I was on their team and could have been more active in my search for another team. Granted Mitsurugi is a good player and all but it just seemed so unexpected and last minute. Neither Basara nor Domi said anything to me the whole time I was there. I didnt really feel like even talking to them honestly. So it turned out that all the signed up teams were there so I was stuck leftout with no team and couldnt enter the tournament. I wasnt in a good mood so I decided to just go get some food and then come back and watch since at this point it was already late and there was no point in going back to Akihabara to beat up more scrubs when all the good players were here.

The tournament was 24 teams and was split into 3 brackets of 8 teams each. The top team of each pool would go on for a 3 team round robin finals. When I came back to Leisureland I noticed Domi was playing. It was their first match and he went first for the team and he OCVed his opponents. Shortly after, Gin's team was up. They were up against Machaboo/Sharon/female Millia team. Gin went first and lost to female Millia, then their Eddie player also lost to her. Their Bridget player beat her but then lost to Machaboo. Domi's team eventually went again and he OCVed the next team as well. Kaqn was there and his team all lost to some Slayer player but I dont know his name. Then there was another match for Machaboo's team and he got an OCV for his team. At one point Osaka B and FAB showed up. Osaka B said hi to me and showed me the qualifying certificate that his team won. They had gone to the Chiba qualifier earlier in the day so they would be playing in the final qualifier for the spot next weekend in the Chiba series of quals at Game Chariot. I was wondering why I hadnt see them yet so that explains it. Soon after was Domi's teams next match and they were to play against Inoue's team which consisted of a Dizzy named Natsume and an ABA who ive seen around but I dont know who he is (not Die-chan). This time Mitsurugi went first and lost to Dizzy. Then Domi went and lost to Dizzy as well. Basara barely beats Dizzy and then loses to ABA. After this it was time for the final 3. The final teams were Machaboo team, Inoue team, and I dont know who the other team was. They only had the team names written on the brackets and not the individual player names. At this point it was getting very late and I had to leave by 8:15 if I wanted to catch the last train back to my town. Had I entered the tournament and actually got far I was prepared to take the Shinkansen if need be but I didnt feel like spending the money for it if I wasnt even playing. I had enough time to watch the first match of the finals. It was Inoue's team vs Machaboo's team. ABA went first against female Millia and defeated her. Then Machaboo defeated ABA. Up next was Inoue vs Machaboo which was really close and intense but Inoue pulled ahead and won. Then Sharon proceeded to defeat Inoue in another nail biter and the final match was Sharon vs Natsume and Sharon won the final round with a pixel of health left with a standing dust. At this point I had to leave so I dont know who won the whole thing but Machaboo's team was in the lead.

I had originally made a mistake and thought there was a qual in Niigata next weekend but upon closer inspection theres not! So next weekend I will head to Chiba for the last prelim on Saturday followed by the finals for that spot which will be on Sunday at Game Chariot.

still need a team though...

Monday, April 7, 2008

ElvenShadow's Excellent Adventure

DISCLAIMER: This shit is fucking long. I will divide it into days to make it easier to read. This was one of the most eventfull weeks of my life so this should be somewhat of an interesting read. Im not joking THIS SHIT IS LONG

Wednesday 3/26

This was the last day of classes for the semester. As soon as work ended, all of the teachers went directly from work to a classy Ryokan (Japanese style Inn) in Niigata prefecture for the end of semester enkai. This was probably one of the nicest hotels Ive stayed in. As I was heading to my room I ran into another ALT from Showa which is a nearby town. I met him once before but never really talked to him much before. They were having their enkai here tonight as well (though in seperate rooms). There was an onsen inside the hotel so I went in there for a little bit to kill some time before the enkai started. After that everyone headed to the room where the enkai would be held. They had tons of fantastic food and lots of beer as usual. After the first enkai ended we headed to another room for the nizikai which is like round 2. They had karaoke this time. Unfortunately for me, they didnt have any beer so I was forced to drink shochu. By this time, most of the other teachers were already pretty wasted. I did a few kareoke songs. I started with Van Halen - Jump and then did Hotel California because one of the teachers requested it even though I dont particularly like it so much. Then I decided I would try a song in Japanese so I did X-Japan - Scars. I dont know the words by heart so I figured I could just read along since I sorta know how it goes but unfortunately there was tons of kanji I didnt know how to read so I just sorta BSed my way through the Japanese parts by moving the mic kinda far away and mumbling and then when the english parts came I sang louder. Everyone was too wasted to give a shit and I dont even think anyone was paying attention haha. I also did Mr. Big - Be With You and I did a duet with one of the other teachers who wanted to do Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven. After the nizikai was over, several of the teachers still wanted to drink. They all went to someones hotel room (which happened to be the one I was staying in along with 5 other teachers since it was 6 people per room) and set up a big table full of beers and snacks. Unfortunately the beers were mostly the crappy kind that often leads to hangovers. We drank here for a good while and then eventually about 7 teachers including myself stumbled around outside looking for an izakaya so that we could do MORE drinking. We found one and had some more beers there. By this time everyone was destroyed and I ended up falling asleep a little. Then we eventually left and stumbled back to the room. When I got back to my room someone was sleeping where I was supposed to sleep so I just ended up crashing in a different room since it didnt really matter anyway. I bet you can guess that...

Thursday 3/28

...I woke up with a fucking NASTY hangover. Damn that shochu and cheap afterparty low tier beer. To make matters worse, one of the first things I got to see after I woke up was one of the other teachers just walking in front of the balcony window of the room I was in, butt-naked just standing their all weird and waving at one of the other teachers that was in the room with me. Im pretty sure he was just fucking around. They have hot baths on the balcony outside the room that you can take. After that I stumbled down to the banguet hall for the complimentary hotel breakfast buffet. The buffet was pretty nice but I just wasnt very hungry since I felt so hungover. I brought some headache medicine with me in my backpack in anticipation of such an occurence so I took it with my breakfast. After having a brief chat with the teachers I headed back with some of them in one of their vans and slept the whole way. You would think that after an enkai and after the last day of school the teachers would get the day off right? Well this is Japan so we still have work! As soon as we got back to the school I got in my car and drove home real fast to take a quick shower since I didnt get a chance to at the hotel and to change my clothes. I promised the baseball club students I would play some baseball with them and I had nothing else to do all day so I sat outside and played baseball for about 3 hours. I pretty much havnt played baseball in years but somehow I managed to get a few basehits (most of which were hits that normally would easily be an out but I can sprint really fast so I got away with getting on first base in time). Due to the fact that Im a pasty white boy who cant tan worth shit, somehow on a cold windy partly cloudy day, I still ended up getting sunburn on the side of my face (thats right, half of my face). After that I pretty much just killed the rest of the day in the teachers room and went home. I spent the rest of the night with my girlfriend since I wouldnt be seeing her for about a week. We watched Cowboy Bebop, drank tequila, and all that other good stuff.

Friday 3/28

I woke up the next day and made my girlfriend some breakfast and then drove her home on the way to the train station to go to Tokyo. I got an email from Jessie (the girl who has my ticket for the X-Japan show) and she said to meet her in front of the Tokyo Dome area at 4:00. When I got there, there was this other girl from California who was in Japan on her vacation and she was interviewing people who would be attending the X-Japan concert for some school project, she was a Japanese music major. The 3 of us went to get some food at a nearby resturaunt and we helped her with her interview. Then from there me and Jessie headed to the Tokyo Dome to wait for the show to start. Doors were scheduled to open at 4:30 and the show was schedule to start at 6:00. There were several people cosplaying as X-Japan members and just some various interesting looking people at this show. So we stood outside in line and waited... and then we stood outside some more and waited... and it started raining... and after some more talking in line about random shit we waited some more and then we waited.

After about 2 hours of waiting they finally let everyone in the Tokyo dome when the show was scheduled to START. It then took about another hour and a half to finally get everyone seated. This is easily the biggest fuckin venue ive ever been in and was absoloutly amazing. The stage setup looked fantastic. The best part that I forgot to mention that since Jessie is friends with someone who works for the ticket distribution company we sat in the FIRST ROW! Pretty much in the very center too, like 2 seats down from the catwalk thing that goes out in the middle. Before the show we got a beer and some Koala Machi (koala yummies) and did a lot of waiting. The people next to us on our right were some random Frenchmen. The people on our left were some young Japanese guys. One of them we pretty much fluent in English and didnt even have an accent when he spoke it. He talked to us a bit before the show started. Eventually at I think what was about 8:00 pm, the lights finally turned off and everyone started going nuts. The band came out and opened with Rusty Nail and I was pretty hyped up. They then played Weekend. After that they started to play Scars but then suddenly went into Silent Jealousy without the piano intro (this being one of my favorite X-Japan songs made me pleased that they played it). After this the drummer, Yoshiki, just suddenly gets up and starts SMASHING his drumset. He literally just like picked up a symbol stand and started smashing it against the whole set. Then he like dove his whole body into the drum set and the thing was just wrecked. Then he like knocked a whole big gong over. Then the band exited the stage and there was a lot more waiting and finally the stage crew had a backup drumset that was already prepared brought out and replaced the old one. Then suddenly these 4 boob dancer chicks which were wearing these crazy futuristic neon outfits came out with their tittys hanging out and sorta just danced around the catwalk while the song Pose was played. Then the did an accoustic version of Say Anything and then played Without You. Then they played I.V. followed by Kurenai. At one point Yoshiki threw roses into the audiance and one of the random Frenchman cought it and actually turned to Jessie and said "haha I got one and you didnt". Yea good job buddy, the proper thing to do is GIVE the rose to the girl next to you whos crying out of happiness to be at an X-Japan show, not taunt her you stupid douche. For those who dont know, X-Japan's guitarist, Hide, died about 10 years ago which is why the band stopped in the first place, and this is the first concert they haved played since then. They had footage of Hide playing on the big monitors the whole show and really tried to make it feel like he was there. Then after Kurenai they said goodnight, left the stage, and then there was a bit of waiting and they came back to play the encore. They actually went ahead and played Art of Life which is like a half hour song. Everyone seemed pretty shocked that they played it. The song was going really well and I was rocking out and shit but then after about a little over halfway through the song... Yoshiki suddenly just fucking collapsed. The band stopped playing, Yoshiki starts squirming around like hes in pain or something and then like 10 people come out and drag him off the stage. They then turned the lights on and said the shows over, go home. I was just like ".........." Cuz like... they started all fucking late and then they only played like 10 songs. The songs they played were great but I was a little disapointed and confused how the show ended so abruptly like that. So after a bit of waiting we finally got to leave since we were in the first row we were pretty much the last to leave.

As we left the venue, Jessie said she was gonna go home cuz she had plans to get up early and go out with a friend the next day so I said goodbye and headed for the train station to go back to Shinjuku. Since everyone pretty much exited at the same time, there was a fucking sea of people just pooring through the streets around the station. Once I got near the ticket machines I couldnt even move. After like a half hour I finally got a ticket and was able to make it through the gates and board one of the most packed trains ive ever been on in my life. It felt fucking fantastic when we arrived at Shinjuku and I could get off that fucking train.

When I arrived at Current lots of people were there. There were these 2 random Australian dudes there and I saw that they had an X-Japan shirt that was sold at the show so I started talking to them about what happened with the drummer passing out. They said that according to their friend that they talked to on the phone, Yoshiki was in the hospital and was suffering from old injuries but he said he would do his best to continue on with the other 2 shows scheduled for Saturday and Sunday night at the Tokyo Dome. So I was talking with those guys for a bit and I noticed that one of them was getting pretty sloppy drunk kinda wasted. He was like your typical wasted drunken oaf. He went to grab me a stool from a table so I could sit by them at the bar and talk, but he grabbed a nice cushioned stool and sat on it and then gave me his regular wooden one. I dont know why but I honestly didnt give a shit what stool I sat on haha. Then after a while there was this girl there that sorta made eye contact with me for a second and then suddently came over and started talking to me. She was some white chick on vacation from California. There was this young French guy there, I think like 21 years old, hitting on her (shes 38, but looks maybe 3o) and she was getting pretty annoyed by him so she asked me if I would pretend like I was going home with her tonight so he would leave her alone. This guy was like Mr. smooth and arrogant. She told me the guy was having trouble meeting Japanese girls here and asked if I could give him advice. So I say to the guy, "so you are having a hard time meeting girls in Japan?" with the intention of actually giving him some honest advice and hes like "excuse me?!" and I was like uh no no I didnt mean it like that... and sorta just backed outa that one cuz I wasnt lookin to start something and I didnt really give a fuck. He looked a bit agitated. Anyway so im just still chillin and drinking, talking to various people and the French guys still trying to pick the girl up, and she ocassionally would start talking to me instead. Eventually the guy said he was going to another bar and asked her to go with him and she said no. He was being rather persistant but she told him to go away. So the guy leaves.... but then like 10 or 15 minutes later he comes back and starts persisting again that she goes home with him. I was in the bathroom and as I was getting out of the bathroom, which is by the entrance, he passed by me as he was leaving the 2nd time after getting rejected. As he passed by me he sorta made like a spitting sound and gave me a dirtly look. He didnt actually spit on me so I didnt really give a shit. I found it rather amusing since I wasnt even trying to get with the girl he was so desperate for. Then I said to the girl, I wonder why this guy is so persistant? And she was like, oh well maybe I shouldnt have made out with him the other night at the bar. I guess that explains it to an extent.

So anyway the bar was about to close so the drunken Australians suggested we go to another bar called Zin in Kabukicho not far from GODZ for some more drinks. The other girl wanted to come with so the 4 of us went there. I had never been there before and the other guys were too wasted to remember where it was (as they had been there the night before) so after asking around a lot I eventually found the place. There was just one table of 4 people there and the bartender. He played some X-Japan for us since we told him we were at the show. Then the drunken oaf guy goes ahead and orders everyone a round of Long Island ice teas and proposes that I pay for the first round and that he would get the next one... except they were like 1200 yen each... Im like no thanks im not gonna buy a 4800 yen round for some drinks you ordered while I was in the bathroom when I just wanted a beer haha. So after the long islands were done I got a beer. I was talking with the bar tender and I noticed the drunken oaf was getting into an argument with the girl cuz he was like making fun or her hair or something. The other Australian guy was passed out. Then I noticed that the girl was gone and I asked him where she went and he said that she got pissed and left. I didnt feel like hanging out with the oaf by myself so I said bye and left too since it was already past 7 am anyway. As I was leaving the girl came out behind me. She was in the bathroom. She didnt know the area so she asked if I could show her where her hotel was since I knew where it was at. It was on the way to the manga kissa I stay at anyway. She invited me to come stay at her room but cheating on my girlfriend would probably be a bad idea and I was wasted and tired so I just told her goodnight and went to the manga kissa.

Saturday 3/29

Since I slept in so late, after I woke up I headed straight for Club Sega Shinjuku since there would be a 5 on 5 AC tournament there today. When I got there, there were already tons of people there. I said hi to MIU and signed up as an extra guy with no team. MIU then pointed out that there was another foreigner there who was going to play in the tournament today. I went and introduced myself. His name is Karl and goes by the name KarlKablisk. He comes from New York and said he sometimes plays with the NY players such as Rudy and Andrew. We talked for a bit and played some casuals before the tournament and then MIU called all the extra people over to form teams from the leftovers. Me and Karl already agreed to team up so that meant we needed 3 more players. There were only enough players to make 2 four man teams. I had to do RPS against someone to decide who picks team mates first. I won so I got to pick and I chose a Chip player named Isao and an Eddie player named Koman who came as a pair. Shortly after, another person showed up late who needed a team and MIU put him on my team since I won RPS earlier. He was an ABA player named Kakishi. Our first match ended up being against the other leftovers team. I went first for our team. I did RPS against the same guy as before and beat him again. He ended up going first so I played against him. He was a Testament player. I beat him 2 rounds in a row and took the first match. After that, the teams 2nd Testament player was up. This guy seemed a bit better than the first guy because I ended up losing to him in a close match that went to the 3rd round. Unfortunately this Testament player went on to beat every single person on my team after I lost to him in the order of me, ABA, Eddie, Karl's Testament, and finally our Chip player. Bummer. The winning team was some broken ass top player fest consisting of Isa and Haken and some other people that I dont remember off hand, but in any case the results were nothing surprising. While the tournament was still going on we played some casuals and then Karl and I went to grab some food. We went to a Ramen place down the street and had a talk for a while. Turns out that Karl is a really smart guy. He used to live in Japan for 4 years and has special tricks to getting around the system and managed to live here with no college education or work visa. I wont go into details about how he managed to do this since I promised to keep his secrets but he certainly has everything figured out well. He now is a College student in the US but plans to return to Japan for a while, he was simply on vacation during this time. After ramen we went back to Club Sega to play some more. I played a lot of matches. Some noteworthy victories were beating Osaka B and Kazuki.

After we played for a long ass time, MIU finally got off work and the 3 of us decided to get some food. We went to this good place in Kabukicho that has all this variety of food thats sorta premade and you can just make a tray of what you like and its pretty decently priced. We had a nice chat together about various things like places in Japan and maid cafes and Evolution and other random shit. Afterwords, MIU said he was very tired and needed to go home, but said he had just enough time to go play a few matches against us, so we headed to Shinjuku Sportsland. MIU and Karl played against eachother first. If I remember correctly, MIU beat Karl without losing a round. Then it was my turn and I beat MIU without losing a round. Then MIU rematched me and it went 2 and 2 and then he won the final round. After that, MIU pretty much had to leave so he said goodbye and took off. Karl and I wanted to play some more, but Sportsland was kinda dead so we went to Vegas where there was a decent ammount of people. We played for maybe... i dunno like an hour or something. Nothing too noteworthy happened. We mostly played against other people but I got a few matches in with Karl. He didnt beat me any rounds but his Testament has a lot of potential. I noticed his biggest problem was he often didnt finish combos when he had an opportunity to off a connected hit. After that, Karl had to get back to Nakano where he was staying with a friend so I showed him how to get back to the train station and he made it back just in time for the last train. After that it was time to do some drinking!

As I was walking up the steps to enter Current, I passed by someone I hadnt seen in a long time. It was a guy named Monty that I met a looong time ago during the first time I ever went to Roppongi and visited a bar called the Hobgoblin. This guy is basically an extremely influencial figure behind a lot of the Japanese rock and metal scene. He owns a company that is in charge of bringing a lot of acts to Japan to play live shows and also partly owns a few bars. He personally knows tons of famous musicians. Hes an American from Georgia who won the lottery about 10 or so years ago and has been living in Japan for quite a while. Hes also a good guitar player. He was leaving Current and was with one of the regulars named Taka and a few girls and they said they were heading to GODZ. They told me to come with them but I said I wanted to stop in at Current first to see what was up and then I would meet them at GODZ later. When I entered Current it was nice and lively with lots of familar faces. The drunken oaf Australian guy was there again (his name is Mic btw) and insisted on buying me a beer as soon as I came in. He once again already seemed drunk. I asked him when he started drinking and he said "yesterday". Then I was like... "no no I mean when did you start drinking today?" and he said he hasnt stopped since yesterday. He stayed up all night drinking and slept for about one hour and then it was time for him and his friend to go to the X-Japan show today (since they had tickets for all 3 nights) and he simply has been drinking throughout the concert up until now... and it showed... fucking WASTED. His friend wasnt there this time as I guess he was tired and wanted to stay home, though maybe he was sick of hanging out with Mic haha. Mic isnt even an X-Japan fan but his friend invited him along since he didnt want to go to Japan alone. I asked Mic how the show went today and he said everything started on time and no crazy Yoshiki collapsing shit went on. Then Antti was there and he asked if I had any of this tobacco stuff that you stick between your lip and gums from Sweden called Snus which he gave me a while back. It kinda tastes like crap but it gives you a nice buzz. I had a few left so I gave him one and the drunken oaf guy wanted one too so I gave him one too. Then Sushi and Chip were talking at the other end of the bar so I went to go talk with them for a bit. Both of them are originally from Osaka and they knew that I was going on my trip this week to Kansai so they drew me all sorts of maps of places to visit and stuff and just were very helpful in general about helping me prepare for my trip. Then Mic came and asked me for another snus so I gave him one more but now I only had 3 left for the rest of the week. A few of the Cirque de Soleil guys were there too and they told me this would be there last night since they would be going to Fukaoka next for the Cirque tour. I told em it was nice drinking with em and gave them a nice hearty handshake and told them to take care and have fun and shit. After a little while I decided to go to GODZ to meet up with the others. Chip decided to come with me and then as we were leaving, Mic asked where we were going and wanted to come with. I wasnt too thrilled about the idea but he bought me a beer and I didnt wanna be a jackass so I told him he could come with. I figured there would be some other people there he could talk to. As we were leaving, one of the Cirque guys asked me if we were taking the "scary drunk guy" with us and I said yea... he was happy about that.

So Chip, Mic, and I were walking to GODZ, and about 30 seconds after we leave Current, Mic suggests we get some beers from the conbini for the walk there. I tell him its only a 5 minute walk but he wants a beer anyway. Then I explain to him that its rude to drink beer while walking down the street in Japan so he got the point. Eventually we arived at GODZ and it pretty packed for GODZ standards. Monty and his crew were there. I talked to them for a bit. I also talked with Monty about what happened with the Friday night X show and he told me that it was all an act. It since the show started so late, the band would have to pay fines to the venue for going overtime if they kept playing, so Yoshiki collapsed on purpose to make it look like they had to end the show. That way most fans would be forgiving and the band could avoid the fine. Pretty shitty since I still dont know why it started late but oh well. I had never seen Monty at Current before so I asked him if it was his first time going there, and it turns out that he actually funds the bar and gives a lot of Sushi money for operating expenses and basically is one of the main reasons the bars is still around. It makes good business but isnt very profitable since is ussually dead during the weekdays. Im surprised I had never seen him there before. Then this one young girl showed up and Monty said hello to her and I ended up starting talking to her. Turns out she had 2 tickets to he X-Japan show for tomorrow. I was trying to see if she would sell one to me but it turns out she was trying to trade them tomorrow before the show for a better seat since hers were nosebleeds and she wanted something close. Eventually Mic decided to leave and go back to Current for whatever reason. A little bit after, Monty and his group went to get food and said they wouldnt be coming back so I said goodnight to them and said we would drink again sometime. So at that point it was me and Chip talking to the other girl. GODZ was closing soon and the girl wanted to go to a Visual Kei bar to see if anyone there would be able to swap tickets. Chip knew where one was at so he offered to take here there so I tagged along for more drinking! I dont really listen to much Visual Kei (I consider X-Japan to be just like any other rock/metal band music wise and dont honestly give 2 shits about all the costume stuff) but I dont particularly have anything against it. When we got there it was pretty dead. There as just like one or 2 other people there. No one had an extra ticket but we sat around and drank for an hour anyway. After it was time to go, this chick didnt know where to find a hotel to stay since shes not from around here and was in town for the concert. I know the area so I helped her find a place (there was nothing avaliable but love hotels and she was against sleeping in a manga kissa so she checked into a love hotel by herself haha, and no she didnt invite me in nor did I ask to be)and then headed back to the manga kissa as usual.

Sunday 3/30

I woke up pretty late again. It was already like 2 pm and I had plans to go to this Anime Convention that was being held at Tokyo Big Sight. It only went till 4:30 but I figured id stop by anyway since it was only 1000 yen to get in. I took the train out there and ended up only spending about an hour or so there. Honestly it was kinda boring and most of the anime they were showing off was pretty child oriented and nothing really seemed to grab my interest. Anime cons without drunken hotel room parties full of half naked cosplay chicks = lose. I was at least hoping to see lots of cosplayers but there were hardly any at all, most of the ones there were working at booths. I took some photos and walked around for a bit but it got boring kinda fast. After a while I was just like, fuck it, and left to go play some Guilty. I went to Akihabara and many of the usual suspects such as Ogawa were there. Nothing extremely noteworthy happened that I can remember but I played for a long time. In fact I played for almost too long because when I did leave, I only had a little time to catch my overnight bus to go to Kansai which left Shinjuku station at 11:45. When I got off the train at Shinjuku station I ran from the train to the bus station area and got on the bus about 5 minutes before it left. From this point the bus ride was fine. The seats were actually pretty big and spacious and I had the front seat so I had lots of leg room. I had a nice rest on the bus for about 7 something hours and then...

Monday 3/31

I woke up at Osaka station. It was early... probably about 7:30 am. I really had no idea where to go or what to do around Osaka station so I just kinda walked around a bit until I found a little cafe to have some breakfast and coffie. There were tons of people walking down the street in packs communiting to work. After that I decided the best thing to do this early in the morning would be go hit up some temples in Kyoto so I got on the Kyoto line express train and was in Kyoto in about 30-45 mins. When I got to Kyoto station I looked for the place where they sell bus tickets and have information on routes. I found it and stood in line to get a day pass for the bus. Much to my surprise I suddenly saw Liz standing in line with her father. They were also getting a bus pass for the day and said they had been in Kyoto for a few days already and had already seen some temples. We talked for a bit and after we all got our passes we went outside and I briefly met her mother and sister. I was pretty damn surprised to just randomly run into them like that. They told me what bus to get on to get to Kiyomizu temple as they had already been there before. I thanked them for the help and told them to enjoy the rest of their trip and got on the bus. It didnt take too long to get there.

Once I got off the bus I had to do a little bit of walking to get to the temple. There were streets lined with old school souvinier type stores. I eventually finally made it to the temple. I was pretty blown away by how amazing it looked. There were several diffferent structures and it took me a few hours to see everything that was there. They had these 2 stones on the ground across from eachother at one part and theres like this legend that if you can close your eyes and walk safely from one stone to the other without looking, you will find true love or something along those lines. I didnt bother trying cuz there were tons of people around and im pretty content with my woman so I didnt feel the need. While I was there I picked a souvineer up for my girlfriend. Shes a bit clumsy and has gotten into 3 minor (well sorta) car accidents in the past couple of years and one was not very long ago. She was completely unhurt and no one else was involved except for a patch of ice and a light pole but her car was totally fucked. They sold these various good luck charms that are supposed to be blessed by the temple. Various ones for happiness, health, true love etc. They had one for safe driving so I thought it would be perfect for her so I picked it up. The temple was also full of these sweet dragon statue fountains with fresh mountain water that you can drink from. For like 300 yen you could walk around inside the temple too, so I did that as well. I took a fuckton of pictures while I was there.

After that I exited the temple area and sorta walked around the surrounding area. I was a little hungry so I found this place called Dipper Dan which seems to be a small resturaunt chain. They have like these crepes with various kinds of food inside. I got like this tuna salad cheese one and it owned me with good taste and it was only like 300 or 400 yen. After that I was trying to find where the bus dropped me off but I completely got disoriented and didnt know where I was at so I just walked around randomly since there were lots of interesting shops. I was surprised to see how many shops were selling marijuana themed souvineers haha. Eventually I stubled upon another temple area and byond that was this HUGE fucking cemetary. It was absoloutly amazing and had some beautiful headstones. There were multiple levels and it took me a good half hour just to walk around the whole thing. I took a crap ton of pictures here as well and if you went to the very top which was up like 5 flights of stairs, you could see this amazing view of the whole city.

After that I sorta walked around a bit more and I asked these 2 girls which way the buses are. They pointed me in a direction and I thanked them and then headed that way and eventually found one of the main streets. I was looking at the handy bus route map of the whole city that they gave me with my day pass and I figured out how to get to Teramachi shopping center which is where a-cho is located. I hopped on a bus and after overshooting it, getting off, and then backtracking on foot for a few blocks, I eventually found it. Teramachi is fucking huge and I would recommend anyone who goes to Kyoto to visit it. Its like a semi outdoor shopping mall much like the one in Oyama in Tokyo where Game Newton is located except way way bigger. I couldnt help but go right to a-cho to check it out even though it was still kinda early in the day and I figured comp would be scarse seeing as how its a Monday. I was right and pretty much no one was there playing Guilty but they had 5 cabinets and the arcade itself is very nice. They had flat screens on the walls that show Guilty Gear tournament match vids all the time which is cool. I decided id look around Teramachi some more and then go back to a-cho later. There was a place right when you walk in on the street where a-cho is called Mr. Young Men. The name sounds like a gay bar or some shit but its actually an okonomiyaki resturaunt. I decided id try some real Kansai okonomiyaki and wasnt the last bit disapointed. This place is fantastic and the people there were even nice enough to let me charge my dead cellphone in the resturaunt while I ate. They had a huge variety of different kinds of okonomiyaki, I tried like this cheese potato bacon one. After I ate I walked down the same street a little bit. I stopped in at this store called Superposition which is just packed with anime and game figurines and models. They had like every single Final Fantasy figure ive ever seen and just tons of cool shit. I didnt buy anything cuz ive already spent way too much money on shit like that in the past thats now sitting in a storage box in my grandmas basement in Chicago so theres no point, but it was nice to check all that stuff out. After that I then went back to a-cho. There was some comp there now. I got on one of the machines and got like 8 wins right off the bat. Then this May player played against me and beat me. May being my most hated matchup in the game, and the fact that someone else got on the machine, made me not hesitate to just get on a different cab. I played against various other people for a while and got 22 wins. Eventually I lost in a close match to someone I had already beat several time who squeezed a win in on me. I forgot but I think i was Slayer or something. After that I checked and the May player hadnt lost yet. Eventually he had accumulated like 35 wins against various people. I played him a couple more times and kept getting really close and eventually I ended his win streak. I played a bit longer and it was getting late so I decided to head back to Osaka for a night of drinking!

I took the bus back to Kyoto station and then took the Kansai line back to Osaka station and from there I transfered to Shinsaibashi station. This is the area where most of the good bars are that were recommended to me. I had a map that Chip gave me so I used it to try to find Rock Rock. Rock Rock is like Current's sister bar and its where Sushi used to work 7 years ago before he opened Current and Chip used to drink there often as well up until 2 years ago when he moved from Kansai to Tokyo after he left Capcom to work for Dolby. I walked around for a while... pretty long, maybe like an hour or so and I was having a very hard time finding the place. I didnt mind so much because there were lots of interesting shops and stuff to see and I was just enjoying looking around somewhere new. Eventually I did manage to find Rock Rock. The thing that sucks is that it was SO close to Shinsaibashi station and all I had to do was walk 2 blocks West but I ended up going all over the place haha. No big deal though. I eventually made it into Rock Rock. When I got inside there was maybe about 10 customers or so. Rock Rock really did feel like the Osaka version of Current. Overall Current actually seems like its bigger but Rock Rock is still pretty big. They played some pretty similar music but most of it was like more classic rock oriented, which is fine with me. They had more beers on tap than Current does though which was nice. There were 3 people that work at Rock Rock, I had briefly met one of the bartenders, Yoko, a few weeks ago when she visited Current. Everyone that worked there was very friendly and hospitable to me because Chip mailed them beforehand and told them that I was coming. I sat next to this guy who was like 21 and said he was from Sweden. His name was Jesse. He said hes studying English in Tokyo and is on his spring break so hes just going all over Japan. He was sitting next to this slightly older Japanese girl who looked about 30. Her name was Emi. For some reason she seemed to find everything I said to be extremely amusing. She was pretty drunk already and had been buying Jesse drinks for a while appearently. I talked with everyone there for a bit. There was also this guy from Canada there who saw that I was wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt. He started going on about how he fucking hates Zeppelin and shit cuz back when he was a kid he was into punk rock and all the Zeppelin kids used to beat the shit out of the punk rockers or something like that. Then we had a brief chat about how he generally didnt like ALTs because he thought most of them were whiney punks who complained too much and never stayed in Japan longer than a year. He said though, that I of course didnt seem that way at all. Eventually he just like ninja vanished while I was talking to someone else and I never saw him again. After that I played some darts with Jesse and Emi for shots. Loser has to take a shot of this like 100 proof european vodka. Jesse lost the first game. Then I lost the next 2 games. By that point I was feeling a little drunk. I stayed and talked with everyone until closing and then me and Jesse went to go find a manga kissa so that we could get some sleep. We eventually found one about 10 minutes walking distance. This place had a good cheap rate. For like 10 hours you only had to pay 1500 yen and they had a shower too! I said later to Jesse and told him id probly be at Rock Rock again the next day and that we could probly drink again or something. I took a shower for the first time in like 3 days and it felt fan fuckin tastic. After that I got some good sleep.

Tuesday 4/1

When I woke up I decided that I would probably spend my day in Osaka and hit up Den Den town, which is basically the Akihabara of Osaka. I didnt know exactly how to get there, just sorta the general direction it was in. Chip told me that from where I was at, I could walk there in about 15 or 20 minutes. I started walking in the general direction, stopped and got some food and a nice early afternoon beer and eventually I found a street full of manga stores. I had the suspicion that I had found it and I was right. I just started walking into various random game and anime stores and there was tons of cool stuff. It was very similar to Akihabara and you could get all kindsa awsome rare shit. There were some stores that were entirely nothing but gatchapon machines. Den Den town also has like 3 Superpositions haha. I was in one store and I saw this awsome stuffed Chocobo with a blackmage hat and cloak on and I wanted to buy it. I decided that since my girlfriend thinks Chocobos are cute I would buy it for her which helped to justify the purchase. After more walking I found myself on the main busy street of Den Den town. My goal was to find an arcade since I knew there were some there. I walked around the entire perimiter on both sides of the main strip of Den Den town and passed all kindsa cool shit and ghetto backally electronic parts stores and other stuff. I also found the Osaka SuperPotato store and just like the Akihabara one it was fuckin awsome, just packed with tons of oldschool games... pretty much anything youd ever be looking for. Eventually down the street from Superpotato I finally found an arcade. It was called SCOT. I went inside and this place also had 5 Guilty Gear cabinets. There was a Testament player with 15 wins. I got on the machine and played him and lost to a close match. He fought like 2 other guys and beat them and then I tried again and ended his streak. There were a lot of really good players here though I have no idea who any of them were. Most noteworthy were a really strong Zappa and this one Slayer player that I beat my first time playing and then he just kept owning me after that. I eventually beat him again but I was actually getting kinda pissed off that I couldnt beat him after so many tries since every time it was so close too. I was getting a bit hungry around 8 pm and decided I should grab some quick McDonalds across the street since there wanst really many other resturaunts in Den Den town. I had a quick meal and when I came back to the arcade the Guilty Gear machines were completely empty. I figured I might as well get back to drinking at this point.

I took the train back to Shinsaibashi and this time I decided I would check out another rock bar that Chip used to go to called Plant. He drew a map of this place too. Unfortunately the map was wrong and he had put Plant on the same street as Rock Rock but a few blocks south. It turned out that it was also one block East from he road Rock Rock was on. The sign for the place was very small and discrete since it was located in the same building with several other small bars in the basement. I finally found it and walked down there and went through this square hallway that went around the perimeter of the building and there were several small bars. I found Plant and went inside. When I got there, there was just the bartender and one girl sitting at the bar. The bartender saw my Dream Theater hat and put on the entire album of Images and Words the whole way through. He also played some ACDC. I ordered a drink and told the guy that I was friends with Chip but he didnt seem to know who Chip was. Turns out this guy was sorta new to the bar. I talked with them a bit, then the girl left and this other random guy showed up and then another girl came who seemed to be a regular there. She worked as a waitress at a resturaunt down the street from the bar and often came there after work. We talked for a bit and then the owner of Plant showed up. He was good friends with Chip and was expecting me so he was really friendly.

After a few beers and talking with them for a while, the girl said she was going to another one of the other small bars down the hall and invited me to come along so I went with. It was sorta like this reggae tropical looking place. The girl was meeting a friend there and this one other guy was there too along with the bartender. We all sat at the bar and talked for a bit and the bartender made us like this pumpkin stuff that was really tasty. The girls friend was telling me how cute I was and that I was making her heart pound and stuff haha. They were telling me about this mexican resturaunt/bar in the area that has good food and margaritas and gave me the card for there saying I should go and that they wanted to meet up tomorrow and go with me. I said that would be cool since I love mexican food and havnt had it in a while since its rare as hell in Japan in genaral and non existant around where I live. After a while they were ready to go home soon but it was only a little before 4 am and I wanted to do more drinking. I decided I would go back to Rock Rock for a bit and see what was. When I got there, Yoko had told me that Jesse had just left not long ago. One of the Cirque de Soleil guys that actually sometimes visits Current was there. He came to Osaka because hes actually good friends with Yoko so he wanted to visit her before they went to Fukaoka. I drank with them for about an hour and then the bar closed so I headed back to the manga kissa. After I took my drunken shower and was heading up to go to my cubicle to sleep, someone was by the drink machine and was blocking the way. I said excuse me in Japanese and the guy turned around and it was Jesse haha. I called him a wuss for going to bed so early and he said he actually was just getting up to leave so that he could head to his next destination on his trip. I told him to have fun and shit and told him to stop by Current sometime in the future. After that I went to sleep.

Wednesday 4/2

When I was at Rock Rock the night before, Yoko had suggested that I visit Nara sometime while im on my vacation. I decided that today might as well be the day since I had no set schedule so I took the train and headed for Nara. Nara is another prefecture in Kansai and has a huge park that is full of deer. It didnt take all that long to get there and when I got off the train I checked the map and headed right for Nara park, which was not far from the train station. I was blown away when I suddenly saw a small group of deer just walking around and chilling. There are actually a lot of deer in the Chicago area but usually you dont often see them unless they are in the middle of the street and you are about to splatter them with your car (which in turn might splatter you through the windshield). The deer around Chicago are generally afraid of most people. These deer were like completely domesticated and friendly. Many people were feeding the deer rice crackers that they sold in various places around the park. I spent several hours there just being amazed that there were deer all over the fucking place and they werent the least bit scared of anyone. Some of them would even come after people who had food and try to steel it from their hands haha. I took a fucking shitloadmegacrapton of pictures here. WAAAYYY too many pictures. There were lots of nice temples in the area too. I walked around the park for several hours. I stopped to get some udon and a beer at this small sorta semi outdoor resturaunt. As I was eating I was amazed to see a deer just walk into the resturaunt and start going behind the kitchen area and pestering the kitchen staff while they washed dishes.

After I finished my food I walked around a bit more and got to a really large temple. At this point something realy shitty happened. My camera battery was now ready to die any minute and my dumbass decided not to bring the charger cuz I thought it would hold up long enough. In retrospect I shouldnt have taken so many pictures at that anime con and probly took too many at Nara but oh well. I also decided to buy one more final souvineer for my girlfriend. They were selling these little stuffed deer toys that were extremely cute and I knew she would love so I picked one of those up for her as well. I also got some souvineer Nara candy to give to the teachers at my school. At this point I realized I had spent all the money that I brought with me which sucked. Luckily they let me pay with my debit card. I headed back to the station area after that to find an ATM. I found a combini so it was no problem. There was also a shopping area and I figured id try to find an arcade while I was there. After a bit of walking I found a Sega World. I went up to the 2nd floor and they had one single AC machine. I got on and beat up some Ky scrub and then he just didnt play me again and that was about all the comp I was gonna get outta that scrubhole so I left. I got on the train and headedd back to Osaka.

I emailed the girl that I was drinking with last night to see if she wanted to get some mexican food but she said she ended up having other plans. I wasnt gonna let that stop me from getting some fucking tacos so I found the place by myself. When I got up there, there were a few people at the bar. I made small talk with the bartender and ordered 2 tacos and a nachos platter. It was good shit and reasonably priced too. I also had a margarita which was kinda so-so and a beer. After that I was ready to keep drinking, and since there were lots of bars in that little basement area where Plant was that looked like they might be semi interesting, I decided to head back there first. When I got down there I sorta looked through the windows or peered through the cracked open doors to some of them and most of them were completely dead or had like one random dude. I walked into this one place and it was empty and quickly left cuz I didnt wanna sit and drink some beer by myself in some random bar. Then I saw this one place that had a sign that made it seem like it was a rock bar. I peered in and saw there was a lot of people so I decided to check it out. I sat down at the bar and suddently something felt off. The place was packed wit about 10 dudes, all of them were a little bit older. They were all wearing leather and shit and I noticed that the music was certainly not rock. They were playing this shit that sounded like something from oldschool musicals or something. I had already ordered a beer and was feeling really strange. The bar tender said good evening to me and that was about all. I quickly finished the beer and just wanted to get the fuck outa there cuz it felt really weird. I asked the bartender how much I owed him as I was ready to leave and he said 1000 yen. I was thinking to myself wtf! 1000 yen? For one regular-ass size kirin? What a shithole. I grudgingly paid and got the fuck outta there and just decided to go to Plant again.

This time there was abosloutly no one there except the bar tender but this time the bartender was a cute girl. I sat down and had a beer and talked with her for a bit. She was really nice and made good conversation. After a while I decided id head out and go back to Rock Rock. In retrospect I think shes the owners girlfriend since he had mentioned the other night that she works there with him sometimes.

Upon arriving at Rock Rock, there were a couple people at the bar, and a large group of about 10 or so Japanese guys with 2 white chicks sitting at a table in the back. I sat at the bar and talked with the bartenders for a bit and there was this random guy wearing a Beavis and Butthead shirt who was already wasted drunk. He was doing his really bad Beavis and Butthead impression and it sounded fuckin hilarious. One of the guys in the group from the back was a well known tatoo artist who owned a chain of tatoo shops called Chopstick tatoos. He came and introduced himself and we talked for a little. Then after a little while, this skinny Japanese guy who was friends with the group sitting in the back just starts taking off his clothes. He starts just chilling in like this fucking g-string thong looking thing. Most of his body was covered in tatoos. This guy was already wasted out of his mind and I guess his friends were like sorta urging him to do some crazy shit. Then not long after, I noticed that a bunch of people were all hudled together looking out the window down into the street. Rock Rock is on the 3rd floor so you can see alot from the window. I went over to see what was going on and the guy who was wearing a thong was out there. Except now he wasnt wearing a thong, infact he wasnt wearing anything at all. The dude was just streaking around in the street naked. At one point he grabbed like a patio chair from the cafe across the street and placed it in the middle of the street and just sat on the chair ass naked. A taxi came by and he just sat there blocking it with the headlights shining on him. Then he eventually got up and moved the chair so the cab could get by. He put the chair back in the middle of the street and sat down, except he sat down so hard that he fell backwards and his ass and the side of his leg scraped against the pavement and he had a huge wound. After that he sorta squirmed around in pain for a bit. Then there was some more random naked running around and then I think eventually his friends tried to calm him down and bring him home. I couldnt see anymore cuz he sorta went towards the entrance of the building. This whole thing lasted for about 10 minutes or so. After that I just couldnt stop laughing and went back to the bar to get another beer.

I spent the rest of the night just chilling and drinking and talking to people until the bar closed at 5. After that I started walking to find the manga kissa. I was pretty wasted so I was having a hard time finding it for some reason. I passed by a little takoyaki place and grabbed a 10 piece and chowed down on that shit cuz I was wasted and hungry. It was excellent. After that I continued my search. Then, one of those random chinese chicks that tries to get you to let her give you a massage approached me just as they often do in Tokyo and I just tell em no thanks. This one was ultra agressive and I told her I was tired and wanted to go sleep. She said she would give me a massage and then I could just sleep at the massage room all night. Then I told her I wanted to take a shower though. She said I could do that too. She offered to do it for 3000 yen. I was pretty wasted, and 3000 isnt much more than 1500 yen plus id get a massage and a bed instead of a chair to sleep in so it sounded like a good idea. I said alright fuck it, lets do it. She brought me to a room in a close by building. There was like 3 seperate little bedrooms just kinda closed off by hanging drapes. It had a bathroom and I took a wizz when I got in. Then she gave me a regular massage, nothing sexual, nothing crazy, just a regular massage like you would get if you went to a spa or something, which is all I was looking for. Unfortunately she only did it for like 10 minutes. Then shes like trying to get me to take the happy ending for like 5000 yen more and im like stfu no way. Then shes like telling me I can get sex for 20,000 yen from some nice young foxy chick. I said to her in Japanese (even though shes Chinese but her english sucks) "why would I pay 20,000 yen for sex when I can just have sex with my girlfriend for free?" and shes all like "your girlfriends not here, cmon cmon". After much resisting she finally got the hint that I just wanted to sleep and left me alone. I slept for maybe like an hour and woke up to some Japanese guy in the next room over coming in with another massage girl. She wanted to give him a regular massage but this dude was eager for the happy ending before anything even started. He kept telling her to massage his penis haha. I fell back asleep shortly after so I dont really know what happened nor do I care. Then shortly after I was woken up again by another chick trying to get me to pay the 20,000 for sex again. I kept saying no and she kept lowering the price until it went to 10,000 and after I still said no to that she gave up and let me sleep.

Thursday 4/3

I woke up the next day a few times in short intervals but kept going back to sleep. Finally I decided to actually wake up at around 11:00, which was still kinda early but I kinda wanted to get the fuck outa there. When I emerged from my little bed room area, I noticed that the place was completely empty. There was no one there but me, but they had left the front door cracked open. If I was a real asshole I could have stolen just about anything in there, but honestly there was nothing of any value to me really... plus im not a real asshole. I figured I could just take my shower and leave. When I went into the bathroom I realized that there was no shower at all. That damn bitch lied to me. I was too drunk to notice last night. Had I known there was no shower I wouldnt have even gone in the first place. So essentially I paid 1500 extra than I would to sleep normally for a 10 minute massage (which was good btw) but honestly I dont really know if it was worth missing a shower for. The bed wasnt that comfortable either. In any case I gtfo of there and decided I should get to Kyoto as soon as I could since today was the day of the ranbat tournament at a-cho, so I got back to Shinsaibashi station and eventually made my way back to Kyoto station.

I had a few hours before the tournament started so I figured maybe I could go see Kinkakuji temple before the tournament started. I got on the bus to get there but it was taking fucking forever. I looked on the map and realized that Kinkakuji wasnt anywhere near where a-cho is and I didnt want to risk being late for the tournament, nor did I want to feel rushed when I went there, so I figured I would save it for another day. When the bus arrived on the street where Teramachi is, I got off and transfered to a different bus and took that the rest of the way.

When I got to a-cho, I played a few games against various people. It was still several hours before the tournament was gonna start and it wasnt that packed yet. I was pretty hungry so I decided that I would find someplace to eat. I walked around Teramachi, pretty much everywhere in Teramachi. I found a pizza place called Shakey's. I was sorta planning on having more okonomiyaki but its been a while since I had some good pizza and this place looked good. I decided to give it a try. Upon entering I saw one of my favorite phrases in the entire world: "ALL YOU CAN EAT", for like 800 yen. I was like FUCK YEA time to eat some PIZZA. Not only did they have pizza, but they had like 10 different kinds that they constantly would bake fresh and put out on the buffet. In addition they had spaghetti, huge giant french fry things, salad, and curry and rice! I probly had like 12 slices of pizza, a few potato things, and a giant bowl of curry. I was nice and stuffed. The pizza was really good too. My ownly complaint was that it was a little light on the sauce but it was still the best pizza ive had so far in Japan.

After that I headed back to a-cho. By now it was getting packed with people. The setup was different from the previous day. They had like 7 cabs now and they moved them to a more central location in the arcade. They had one of the cabs hooked up to the flatscreens on the wall. I dont know who all the Kansai players are, but RF, Dogura, and N-otoko were there at least for sure. I went up to RF and said hello and asked if he remembered me and he said yes. I told him how I was on spring break and shit and came to visit Kansai for my first time. Shortly after I played against RF and the first time I lost because I was just kinda not warmed up and he was playing super careful and kept getting hit by scalpel pull. I played him a second time shortly after and I managed to beat RF in a mirror match. I played a few more matches against various people and then it was time for the tournament to start. They divided most of the tournament up into very small round robin pools of like 3 or 4 people. I was the lucky one to get RF in my pool, along with some Axl player. So for my very first match of the tournament I get to play RF. I was feeling alright going into the match because I had just managed to beat him not long ago. The first match we zoned eachother a bit and then I got in on him and got him in the corner and managed to PERFECT him. I was shocked as hell and had no idea what was going on. He was falling for all my mixups. Then round 2 started. I started the round by jumping backwards. He started the round by standing there for a couple seconds and not moving. Then he starts mashing on crouching punch. I didnt know wtf was going on so I assumed something was wrong with his buttons. No one said anything to me. I sorta just waited and hesitated because I wasnt sure what was going on. The all of a sudden he starts to attack again and it caught me off guard. It totally threw me off and then I just felt disoriented for the rest of the match and he ended up beating me. I just had this feeling of disapointment and confusion afterwards because I felt like I could have actually beat him. Up next I had to fight the Axl player. I beat him 2-0. Then RF played the Axl and beat him 2-1. RF won the pool since he beat us both. Figuring the tournament was over I was bummed and just went to go play casuals. After a little while they called my name again for a match and I was confused as hell. Appearently they took the people who got 2nd in their pools and made other round robin pools and then the winners of all of this were placed into a regular bracket. I was already in a bad mindset but I figured id give it my best. My pool was a potemkin and a slayer. I went first against the Potemkin and beat him 2-1. Up next was the Slayer. I did alright, and both rounds were extremely close, but I made an execution mistake and Slayer had like no health left but I ended up losing the 2nd round and then it was over. I really hate Slayer btw. Slayer ended up losing to Potemkin 1-2 actually so it was a 3 way tie, but since Slayer beat me 2-0 and Potemkin and myself had 2-1 victories, Slayer won the pool. I played some more casuals and won a lot of games. Eventually the finals came down to N-Otoko (VE) vs Koto (BA) for the finals with N-Otoko winning the tournament. RF got 3rd. I didnt watch the match but I think he lost to N-Otoko. After it ended I rematched the Slayer player and beat him. Too bad it didnt mean crap. Then he beat me 3 times in a row and then I beat him 3 times in a row and he gave up and went to another machine. I also played against N-Otoko and beat him on my first try, though just by a sliver. Then he played me again and beat me, and ended up playing against me and a few other people for a while and getting a big win streak of like 17 wins or something. Eventually some Sol player beat him. I went up to RF eventually after he was done playing a long session of KOF and asked him if his buttons were messed up during our match and he said yes. I dont know why they just suddenly got better and no one else had problems with it though. I wonder if it was a mind game or if they really were messed up. I guess ill never know. I played on the same cab in casuals after the tourny and I think I missed like one special move input the whole time so I really dont know. I was gonna ask RF if he was going to EVO this year but I forgot and he ended up leaving while I was playing a game of casuals vs someone. I talked to N-Otoko for a little and hes a really nice guy. I stayed at a-cho until the arcade closed at 12 and then it was time to go drinking.

Since I was in Kyoto and the trains were already done with, I didnt have the option of going back to Osaka for drinking so I figured id just drink in Kyoto. I had a few bar recomendations so I figured id check them out. I wanted to go find the Pig and Whistle since I heard it was a good English pub. I searched for a bit but couldnt find it. Then I was checking my map and this random girl about my age was walking by and said hi to me and waved and then started talking with 3 of her friends that were standing near by me. I figured I could ask them if they knew where it is so I went up and asked them. They had no idea where it was at but they were sorta flirting with me for a little bit. Then one of the girls got a phone call and said it was her boyfriend and he was coming to meet her there in a minute. Her boyfriend showed up and then I said hi and told him I was looking for the Pig and Whistle and he told me he knew where it was. He pointed in a direction and said just walk that way and youll see it on your left. I thanked them and left. I walked for a bit and didnt see it. I came to the busy street again and knew it was the wrong way. Im sure the dude had no idea where it was and just wanted me to stop talking to his girlfriend. I headed back and on my way I noticed a bar called ING that was supposedly a decent rock bar. I decided to go inside. The place was like a Rolling Stones shrine. They had Rolling Stones stuff all over the walls and were playing live Stones videos on the TV on the wall. It wasnt very packed up they had a food menu and I was hungry so I got some garlic fries and fried squid and a couple beers and it was tasty. I talked with the bar tender briefly and then decided I was gonna go someplace else. Not far from there I saw a place called Sam and Daves which I had also heard about. I figured id at least give it a shot. When I went inside it was totally like a trendy looking place with flashy lights and pool tables and the bar was super fucking long. The bartender was a white guy from Canada. I got a beer and chilled for a bit and then these 2 girls showed up. We talked for a little and then ended up playing darts for a shot and one of the girls lost. Then we played Jenga cuz for some reason they had it at the bar and wanted to play Jenga so I was like, sure. Loser takes a shot of course. Eventually the girls left and most of the other customers did too and I found myself alone with the bar tender and one other dude. The bar tender was a cool guy but I didnt really feel like staying any longer. One thing thats worth noting though was that the bartender was doing all kinds fucking crazy tricks when he made drings, like spinning the bottles around and juggling cups full of booze without spilling and shit. I was pretty impressed. In any case, I asked the bar tender if he knew where Pig and Whistle was and he gave me directions. After walking for a bit I found the place, but no one mentioned to me that it was only open until 2 am. It being 4 am right now, it was a bit of a bummer. I headed back the way I came and passed by a conbini. I noticed the 2 girls in there with this one other dude that was at the bar who was playing Jenga with us for a bit. I asked them if they knew of any other good bars in the area and they took me to this place called VIVA close by. The guy said he went there sometimes. They didnt want to stay and join me though cuz I guess they had other plans. I went inside and there were a few people. They were spinning some techno stuff and I wasnt really digging it and there wasnt really anyone interesting to talk to so I had one beer and left. At that point I figured it was time to sleep. I looked around for a manga kissa which are pretty rare in Kyoto. I found some shitty one and asked them if there were any others in the aread. He drew me a map and I found 2 other ones in the Teramachi area but one turned out to be even more expensive, and the other wanted my fucking gaijin card and my passport. WTF kinda manga kissa needs your fucking passport? I said fuck that shit and went back to the original one for an overpriced 6 hour nap.

Friday 4/4

I woke up the next day with the goal of seeing another temple so I decided I would hit up Kinkakuji. However, first I was hungry and wanted some food so I went back to Mr. Young Men for some more awsome okonomiyaki, this time getting like a pork shrimp squid combo one. It was good as hell. They also let me charge my phone again. Afterwards, I checked the map and found a bus route that went to Kinkakuji. Unfortunately I didnt realize it at first but the bus I was on was going the other way. So I got off and got on a different route and after lots of delays I finally made it there. This place wasnt nearly as big as Kiyomizuderu but it was still amazingly beautiful and had a nice small lake surrounding the temple. I took some quick "turn on camera, quickly take picture, turn off camera" kinda pictures to save battery power and they turned out fine. After that I decided to check out another temple in the area so I checked my map and there was another one close by called Ninnaji within about 20 minutes walking distance. On the way there I all of a sudden fucking see Amy (one of the other ALTs that lives in my town) sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the bus with her parents. The odds of running into Liz were slim but running into her as well? I talked with her and her parents for a few minutes and then their bus came so I said bye and headed to the temple. First I found a smaller temple which was nice and took some pictures and then found Ninnaji temple shortly after. It was pretty nice. Not as nice as the other ones I went to but still worth taking pictures of and I walked around inside and saw some nice stuff. At this point it was getting late and the temples were all about to close so I had to leave.

I headed back to a-cho for some more casuals and played for a few hours. Then I started to get hungry again. I couldnt resist the urge to eat more ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA so I headed back to Shakey's and tore that place up again. The girl who seated me at my table remembered me from the other day. After I finished eating I headed back to a-cho and played for a little longer. I had a small win streak of about 12 wins or so and then this Testament player shows up. I was about to beat him and do a command throw which he would have ate cuz he was just crouch blocking but then I accidently did a jump and missed the throw. He then ended up beating me. I was determined to beat him so I played him like 3 more times but I kept losing. It was getting late and I didnt wanna miss that last train back to Osaka but I couldnt let it go so as I was leaving I turned around, got back on the cab and played him once more. This time I beat him 3 rounds in a row and as soon as I won I got off the cab and left.

Thankfully I made it back to Osaka with no problem. I had known already that one of the regulars from Current, a girl named Megu, would be going to Osaka tonight because she was seeing a concert on Saturday. We had agreed to meet up and drink together while she was out there. I got an email saying she was going to be at a place called Lemon-ya which was also ran by a bunch of Chip's old friends. I didnt know how to get there but I got off at Yodoyabashi station and she was nice enough to come get me and show me where it was since it was only like a 2 min walk from the station. When we got up there there was a good ammount of poeple. One of the guys was having his birthday that night so they busted out a cake and we did the whole happy birthday candles deal. Then they busted out some champaign. Of course I dont like champaign so as usual I just slammed it like a shot and chased it with some Guiness. There was also this older guy there who they were all telling me was perverted and lecherous but like in the charming old guy way or something. He was saying how he wanted to have sex with one of the girls that was working behind the bar named Kunko but he was already there talking with another girl who he also was saying he wanted to have sex with. Kunko just laughed at him. They were all just having a good laugh about it. He was talking with me for a bit and insisted on buying me a beer. So then I bought me and him a round of tequila shots. After a while me and Megu decided it was time to go to Rock Rock since they were having like a big event there tonight. Kunko decided to come with us.

We took a cab to Rock Rock and stopped at a nearby conbini for a quick snack and I got a redull since I hadnt been getting much sleep the last few nights and wanted to be able to keep drinking all night. When we got inside Rock Rock it was fucking PACKED. They moved out all the tables and it was just full of people and you could hardly walk. They were playing mostly punk but then switched it up to some classic rock/metal later on. People were all slam dancing and shit and just getting crazy. I talked with a few various people and chilled for a few hours and it was just generally a great time. A little before Rock Rock was gonna close, Megu and Kunko suggested we go to Plant since they would be open later. This would be my last night at Rock Rock since the following night I would return on the bus to Tokyo so I said goodbye to all the Rock Rock staff and thanked them for a good time. As I was leaving, one of the guys who works there brought me a shot of Jagermiester and we toasted to me coming back again sometime soon. So then the 3 of us walked over to Plant and much to my surprise, Plant was actually packed too! We got a table and just sat down and drank. After a while Megu was passed out on the table and I was just talking with Kunko. From that point on for some reason I have no recollection of what happened but the next memory I have is me walking around in the streets of Shinsaibashi by myself, looking for the manga kissa to go to sleep with the sun already out. After a little bit of drunken stumbling I somehow managed to find the place even though I had no idea where I was and didnt even remember getting there. Took a shower and went to sleep.

Saturday 4/5
I awoke to a good old fassioned head throbbing hangover! Big surprise there. I dont think I even got to sleep until 8:30 that morning so I ended up sleeping until about 2. At this point it was already so late in the day that by the time made it back to Kyoto there was really no time to see any temples. Plus I was just tired as fuck and my head hurt and I didnt feel like doing any walking. So I got some quick food at a combini, popped a headache pill, and then went to a-cho to kill the day playing Guilty Gear until I had to go back to Osaka station to catch the overnight bus. I had a win streak of like 18 wins and then lost to some Chip player narowly that I had beaten before. I later got another 10 win streak against this one Slayer player who just kept challenging me. Otherwise it was a pretty normal day. When I got back to Osaka station I had a little time to kill so I sorta walked around that area for about 45 mins. I found a Namco Land game center but it was more like a gameworks type arcade and the only fighting game they had was Tekken 6 so I left and went back to the station. I eventually got on my bus and was disapointed to find that this bus was way shittier than the one that I came to Kansai on. The seats were narrow and there was some random douchebag snoring really lowdly. He was like putting his feet up over the seats in front of him and this one woman had to call the bus driver to come tell him to move his legs. He tried to wake the guy up for like 5 minutes until the guy finally woke up and moved his legs. Other than that it was a 8 hour ride of uncomfortable broken sleep.

Sunday 4/6

I woke up at Shinjuku station and it was about 7:30 am. Today there would be the very first SBO qualifier of the year at TRF game center in Nakano which is a few stops from Shinjuku. It was still really early so I had a lot of time to kill. I didnt know what time the tournament started but I knew the game center wouldnt even open until at least 10. I got some curry at Matsuya and then got on the train to Nakano. When I got off I walked around a bit and eventually I found a huge shopping center there. I had never been to Nakano before so I had no idea it was there but this place is freakin huge. It starts off as like one of those semi outdoor ones like Teramachi but then it leads into an indoor 5 floor shopping mall. I walked around the mall for a bit which wasnt locked or closed technically but all of the stores were closed and you couldnt see inside them or anything. I checked the floor maps for each floor and noticed this mall had like 4 arcades in it. Finally I found TRF on the top floor, but since it was closed, I now had to kill a bunch of time. I found a bench on the basement level and just took a nap for like an hour. When I woke up I went back up there and the place had just opened and a few people were playing. I saw Gin with his team like as soon as I got up there but I think they were going somewhere else for a bit. I played a few matches and was doing generally well at first. The problem was that I had no team. Matt (Hintalove) had emailed me on my phone asking if I was going to the tournament so I asked him if he could come and team up with me. I probably asked just about everyone in the place at one point if they needed a team but everyone already had one. As time went on more people showed up and eventually the tournament organizers were able to find me a Zappa player named Ruka that didnt have a team. Matt eventually showed up and we all played some casuals for a bit. There was another arcade downstairs so Matt went there for a bit to play and I stayed upstairs. Then, much to my surprise I saw Basara there. He had told me he wasnt going to be able to make it. I went up to him and asked him and he said that his plans changed last minute and he formed a team with Karun and some Millia player who I cant remember who it was right now, yesterday. I was kinda upset about it but whatever, I just didnt really say anything else about it. Eventually the tournament started. There were tons of people there, lots of top players, and the classic ladies team was there and hot Zappa was there and somehow leveled up in hotness by changing her hair and had like the sexiest outfit ever on. After like 2 hours the first half the bracket was done. They played it all the way up to winners and Inoue's team ended up winning (I forgot who else was on it). Eventually it was our turn to play and we had to play against a team of Po, Johnny, Axl. Ruka went first against Johnny and beat him in a very close match. Up next was Po and Ruka put up a good fight but lost. Then Matt went and he did pretty well too but also lost. Then it was my turn. I dunno what it was, maybe it was the fact that I was tired as hell and still feeling hungover, or the fact that I was just upset about the whole team thing but I probably played one of the worst tournament matches ever. I just kept making really bad mistakes and execution errors and I just got destroyed by Potemkin. After that it was over for us and the tournement finals ended up being Inoue's team vs Zero, Haken, Minami-Chipp team. Zero's team won. However, this tournament was only a pre qualifier to another qualifier as far as I could tell, so that doesnt mean they are going to SBO for sure. Im pretty sure it means they are a top seed in the final SBO qualifer for this round of quals that will take place in 2 weeks.

After the tournament this random Japanese guy just started talking to me in English and when me and Matt went to go get food he wanted to come with. He was a curious guy with lots of questions about just all kinds of crap from newspapers to english language proficiency tests to fighting games. He was a Street Fighter player and hardly played GG at all, im not exaclty sure why he was there. In any case he wasnt a bad guy, he was nice and polite but he just had so many random questions, espessially about english expressions that people dont even often use such as "imroved by leaps and bounds" and "passed with flying colors" and things of that nature. He just went on with this long ass list of a ton of these expressions, it was actually rather funny. Later on when we went back up to the tournament and hadnt seen him for like a half hour, he comes up and says "long time no see" like as if it really has been a long time and he wasnt being the least bit sarcastic lol. After that, all of a sudden HH comes out of nowhere and taps me on the shoulder. He wasnt even at the tournament the whole time. He was going to team up with me a while back but I never heard from him. He apolagized and explained to me that his cellphone had been broken. He said that maybe we can team up for next week but we would need a 3rd person first. I told him I didnt know who we could team up with and told him who I teamed with today but he didnt seem too thrilled about teaming up with Matt nor Ruka. Then I told him interesting stories about how I managed to lose or break my cellphone 3 seperate times back in the US by means such as dropping it in a toilet while taking a drunken piss after a party, and accidently doing a load of laundry with my phone still in the pocket of a pair of dirty pants. He found it amusing. Soon after I had to head back to Gunma since it was getting late. I told HH to email me about next weekend and hopefully we could find another person. I said goodbye to Matt and headed back. Pretty much slept the whole way back.

After I got home I got an email from Basara apologizing about the team thing. He asked if I would be able to play in the tournaments next weekend. He said he wont make the one on Saturday but will play in the one on Sunday. I asked who hes with and he said Domi but they dont have a 3rd yet so maybe I will team up with them next week but I dont even know yet. I got a mail the next morning from Gin, asking if I will be going to the tournament as well but he didnt directly ask to team up. At least now I have options but nothing is certain. All in all it feels great to finally be home. This certainly is a week I will never forget.