Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and the Busu

Git yer Japanese on!

2005 is over. Has been for a few days now. However, I have been doing all of my living in meatspace rather than the 'Sphere, so you have not heard from me in awhile. Sorry about that.

So here is a recap of my holiday season to make up for not blogging in so long.

Christmas Eve

Lyani and I made the long and arduous trek out to Mauro and Mizue's for a Christmas Eve party. Much fun was had, many of Mauro's rugby player, model, and rugby player / model friends were met, I was much admired by Mauro's friend's three-month-old-baby, and Lyani was jealous. We had to make an Indiana Jones-like escape from the party in time the catch the last train home. Not kidding, I had to wedge the train door with the handle of my bullwhip whilst Lyani dove in.

But we made it home, and decided that since it was now...


...we would open our presents! We got tonnes of Bulgarian food from Lyani's family, which Lyani made for Christmas dinner, much later. Lyani got some Yuzu CDs that she had been wanting ever since she met one of the two band members at an IUC event in Yokohama (turns out that one of her colleagues from the IUC may now be dating that guy--which is my second connexion to a famous dude, the other being the fact that a friend of a friend went on a date or two with Larry Page, of Google fame. I got a TViX M3000U! Good lookin' out, Lyanka! :)

After opening presents, it was nearly 02:00, so we decided to go to sleep. When we woke up, I threw open the curtains hopefully and was delighted to see that a fresh snowfall had erased the urban ugliness of Kotobuki-cho, covering everything with a soft blanket of white.

And if you believed that, I have some oceanfront property in Ohio to sell you...

(For the slow of wit, that means that I was lying about the snowfall. Ain't seen any yet this winter, ain't likely to. Stupid Kanto!)

OK, despite the lack of snow, Lyani and I spent a wonderful Christmas together, culminating in a traditional Bulgarian Christmas dinner, complete with ракия and then White Russians for dessert--had to put two of Lyani's Christmas presents (blue label, baby!) to good use!

Tragically, since Christmas fell on a Sunday, I had to work the next day. And work I did! For the next five days, I was busy hacking on Firefox, working some sweet XUL / JavaScript magic for an IT project here at work.

Of course, there was also some play. On Thursday night, we met a friend of ours from Kanazawa named E-chan (well, his name is actually 江沢・英光--EZAWA Hidemitsu) and a new friend of his who is currently studying at Kanazawa. We met at Tokyo Station so we could see the Tokyo Millenario (pictures here), a year-end celebration of lights. It was nice, but cold! While we were huddled in the shivering masses (there were a lot of people there), I got a call from Ota, saying he had just gotten back from Narita. He had been in the States for the better part of December, had just gotten back, and now had to go to his company's bonenkai the very same night. Now that is dedication (to drunkeness)!

Anyway, after the lights, we went to Hokkaido Ramen for a little something something. Drank hot sake, got warmed up, called Pura, another good friend of ours from those heady Kanazawa days, etc. Rode the train home.

On the next night, we got together with Ota at Shinagawa for a little bonenkai of our own at an izakaya. Fun was had, beer was drunk, various unified field theories were discussed, Lyani was bored out of her mind. Heh heh, just kidding. She was only bored out of her mind for the 15 minutes it took for me to explain my Firefox hack in excruciating detail to Ota. Excruciating for her, I mean; for Ota and I, it was exhilerating! Under my expert tutelage, Lyani has come a long way on the road to true geek 1337 Jedi Master bad-ass-hood, but she ain't quite there yet. Give me time; in less than a year, I expect she will be speaking C as well as she speaks English and Japanese. ;)

Saturday night was

New Year's Eve

Ota's aunt and uncle--who live just four stops down the Negishi Line (AKA the Keihin-Tohoko Line) from us in Yokohama--were foolish nice enough to invite us down to their place for the evening. It was quite a party! It started out with just Lyani and I, Ota and his girlfriend, his aunt and uncle, their middle daughter and her boyfriend (who was in the jieitai for nine years--freakin' sweet!). We whiled away the time by watching NHK's 56th Annual 紅白歌合戦 (Kouhaku Utagassen, or "Red vs. White Song Battle!")--which I am happy to report was won by White, thanks almost entirely to excellent performances by tha Fli-zo and Maik to tha K. However, the channel was soon changed, for the manly men arrived!

And by manly men, I mean the Master-san of a local izakaya, one of his bartenders, and one of their favourite customers, a chap they called "Japanese Mafia". Seriously, they called him 「ジャパニズ・マフィア」!本当!まじ!その他。。。

Sorry about that, non-Japanese readers. I would translate, but I don't think the joke would survive. Actually, come to think of it, it might not have even been funny in Japanese. 「寒エー!」, as my Japanese co-workers might say (that was samui, pronounced in a Tokyo badass accent, which usually means "cold", but in the context of a joke, it means that it sucked).

Right, so where was I?

Oh yeah, "Japanese Mafia". This dude really did look like a member of la cosa nostra. The fact that he was wearing a sweater that featured two cute puppies being cute probably made him even more frightening. Seriously, he was a nice guy. I just wouldn't recommend borrowing money from him... ;)

So these men were manly, and that meant only one thing: the PRIDE 男祭り (otoko-matsuri, which means "manly festival")! PRIDE is basically an (almost) no-holds-barred fighting league, similar to K-1, except it allows grappling, and disallows kidney-punching in tie-ups. Lyani was horrified at the violence, which basically makes it a good sport, by my definition! ;)

So, men being men, we had to make the fights a little more interesting by way of a friendly wager or two. Actually, two, to be exact. Both of which saw me double my ¥1000 bet, both times at the expense of "Japanese Mafia". Heh heh!

In retrospect, taunting him might not have been so wise...

In any case, the New Year came, and we popped out to the balcony to watch the fireworks. Ota's uncle lives on the 29th floor of the "Yokohama Scenery Tower" (yeah), so you can see everything from up there. In fact, I might have seen the fireworks at Gypsy Hill Park! ;)

After the fireworks, Lyani and I headed home, but the rest of the people went out for the traditional shrine and temple visits, bell ringing, arrow burning, and so on.

We watched a little "Ally McBeal", then went to sleep. When we woke up, it was

New Year's Day

which is the biggest holiday in Japan. To put it in perspective, all of the stores were open on Christmas Day, but even the big department stores were closed on New Year's. The only thing open was the convenience stores and the train stations.

Lyani and I passed the day by watching some more Ally, then when we had exhausted that, some "The O.C.", which despite a penchant for melodrama, is pretty entertaining.

Ota called around 15:00, and we decided to meet him and Sarah at Sakuragi-cho Station at 17:00 for a little tour of みなとみらい (Minato Mirai, which you have heard me talk about more than once--it just looks so cool in hiragana!). I am pretty good at talking about how much Minato Mirai rules (which is a lot, by the way). I have a book on it and everything! Which reminds me, the Wikipedia entry (which I just linked to; clicky clicky if you missed it) sucketh, and most gratuitously thus! I wonder if the entry in the Japanese Wikipedia is any better... oh yeah! Well, I just figured out what I will be doing on the plane tomorrow: translating that into English so I can update the crappy English article!

And why will I be on the plane tomorrow, you may ask? Well, for

My Sister's Wedding!

But that hasn't happened yet, so it doesn't belong in this entry. I will blog about it, I promise, but later. And after I get Rachel's permission to do so! :)

So anyway, we walked around Minato Mirai, then went back to Ota's uncle's place for some much-needed 晩御飯 (ban-gohan, supper). Which was delicious. If you have never tried wasabi roast beef, I would recommend that you get up on some of that. Word.

And I'm out.

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