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.

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