more intensity!


"my stupid maid forgot to pack my payong!" it was snowing in osaka, and big fat franco was searching for his umbrella. it turned out to be just buried deep in his suitcase. we trekked out into the snow, and i walked far ahead of my traveling buddies. "what are you, running a marathon?" he called out to me. i looked all around me, japan covered in snow, and i was able to lose myself in it. the snow melted into my onitsuka tigers, and my feet and hands were freezing. it was the first time kathy had ever seen snow. "how can you tell when you've gotten frostbite?" she asked. we hauled ass to the osaka castle, and we took pictures. big fat franco had his camera stick with him, so he could take plenty of self-portraits. kathy and i would just watch him and laugh.

we rode the bullet trains, tried to explain to cab drivers where we needed to go, shopped and ate. in five days, we covered kansai, osaka, kobe, kyoto, nara, tokyo, and mt. fuji. the train ride from tokyo to mt. fuji was one of the most beautiful rides i'll ever take in my life. i watched japanese cartoons and morning shows, and i had no idea what the hell was going on, but everything felt like you had to be on drugs to create such things. i couldn't understand pachinko or the buttons on the remote next to the toilet bowl. almost every seat was heated, and everything was more expensive than i could have imagined. still, i loved every second of it. i understood why so many non-japanese people were obsessed with the country.

in tokyo, i saw cosplay girls, a fully functioning tower records, tokyo tower, shibuya square, buildings with lights everywhere. it was surreal to be there, the place that had given me nintendo, sega, akira, paprika, lost in translation, the concept of tentacle-rape, the idea of schoolgirl panties being sold in vending machines, the lyric "goddamn you half-japanese girls," seizure-inducing cartoons, the atomic bomb, sushi, godzilla, the phrase "they're big in japan," sumos, ninjas, geishas, tokyo drift, seppuku, ponyo, mama-sans. how did one country pack so much craziness into its collective existence?

because it was a japanese holiday, our hotel in kyoto was $1,000 USD for the night. our lunch in kobe was $200. to karaoke for one person for two hours in tokyo with a bottle of sake, it cost $50. every meal, no matter how small, was at least $10. as soon as you step in a cab, it's already $10. thanks to franco's rich friend, we were v.i.p. at a club in roppongi hills, and it cost $25 just to sit there. the girls dyed their hair brown and everyone wore black. african guys handed out flyers in the streets, and they worked as bouncers at the bars and clubs.

by the final day, i had a cold and i was exhausted. i had to take the train back to osaka by myself, as my flight left early in the morning, and franco's and kathy's flight wasn't until evening. by the time i reached my hotel, it was 10 p.m., and i looked like death. i found a small restaurant near the hotel, where i ordered a yakisoba for one. i gobbled it down and made as much noise as i could in the process. franco told me that to make noise while eating was a way of showing the cook that you enjoyed the food. so i slurped that shit up noisily, and while i was sick, exhausted, cold, and alone on valentine's day, at least i wasn't hungry anymore.

one thing at a time, man. one thing at a time.

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