Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Care Package / Human Nature

My family sent me the best care package ever!

Peanut butter snacks! Taco seasoning!

My favorite face lotion! A necklace!

Vintage sheets!

Peanut butter is not equally adored the world over. Japan has peanut cream but it's much sweeter than typical American peanut butter. Japan also lacks a wide selection of cereal and Mexican food. As for vintage sheets, I love old sheets. Some people find this gross but I love the patterns. And, like, I wash them.

Thrifted clothes!

Japan also lacks garage sales, right? My mom got each of these dresses for 25 cents. There are like 5 more, a slip, and a jumpsuit.


The box arrived the day after I unexpectedly burst into tears while video chatting with my mom and brother. Guess what, I love living in Japan, and I've never felt more unstable. I'm not the sanest person anyway and I went crazy in Yamagata. Since I've been in Tokyo it's just been nuts. I don't wanna recycle hyperbolic lines about this city but it's definitely a place that will do all kinds of things to you if you let it, and I just have more yes in me than no. I like living this way, but what usually feels like a great project can sometimes look like a huge mess.

I seriously don't have a worry at the moment, though. This package was so thoughtful and well-timed and cheered me right up. Then today I got this email from my mom:

Subject: dare you to be in a bad mood with this song

Hahaha. ILU Mom.

The Battle of the Fangs

This is my younger brother Tommy

and when he sends books he doesn't fuck around.

I'm way, way thankful for my family. No kiddin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Thankful for Yakitori

Amanda and I grew up in the same small town, but were a couple years apart and only became friends while working the same summer job when we were 18 and 20. We attended the same university and had the same friends, and were a pretty tight team for awhile. She graduated and moved to Japan a few months ago. It's so weird. We got together in Oregon this summer, and then I came back to Japan and she was here just like, "Hey." So weird! But awesome. She came up this weekend for early Thanksgiving.

Ayabean and I even got pumpkin pie at our favorite kissaten while Amanda had green tea cheesecake or something and tried to make up for the horrible photos she always takes of me. In retrospect midnight military confetti and leopard print tights were not the most harmonious pair. Winter gets me all confused.

Aya, how's the pie?

Amanda and I decided that she and Yusuke should covertly follow me on an evening in Shinjuku. It only lasted a half hour but it was classic. I want to try it again...


Sunday, November 22, 2009


I feel like this today!

This November 22, I...

...wondered who messed up my room.

...went to Harajuku for my dream dress. Sat on a curb with hot coffee in a holiday cup. Why's this girl wearing my Minnetonkas?!

...met Amanda and Yusuke, took them to my favorite jazz bar because they're in my club.

...moved to Shinjuku to meet

...this guy.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where do we go?

So recently I've learned that a lot of people don't believe Axl Rose was ever hot. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

The guitar solo? Watch that fucker move! If you can get through the entire second half of this video without hanging up your hipster cred long enough to call a fine piece of ass when you see it, WELLLL HAVE FUN IN LIFE, DICKHEAD!

P.S. A few weeks ago I got home from an early-morning shift feeling all punk rock and decided to stick it to the man by having a salad and a whole bottle of wine for brunch. I was blowing tunes into an empty bottle by noon, and then I started watching Guns N' Roses videos and getting really worked up, at which point I wrote this entry and saved it as a draft (probably on accident) and totally forgot about it until just now. Hahaha. That was a great day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Again With the Gyaruo

Gyaruo in Asakusa, photo by Whitney.
(Japanese friend: "Why are they at a TEMPLE? Are they even INTERESTED?")
My gyaruo fixation is no secret. My friends here generally grimace at my mad respect for gyaruo (and gyaru). But gyaruo have made their own world and they're SO over everything else. They don't care that everyone thinks they're gross and stupid. They've got their tans and pointy boots and air-headed slang and trance music and nanpa and they always look totally satisfied with themselves. I have been all about gyaruo since I moved to Japan. Sometimes I go to the 109-2 in Shibuya to plan my own dream gyaruo makeover and flirt with the clerks. True story.

Oh, don't be so judgmental. You know who hates gyaruo? Anyone in Japan who isn't a gyaruo. It's nuts. So of course once I realized that I got all loud about it and stuck my fingers in my friends' faces and went "THAT'S CLASS DISCRIMINATION!" or whatever and made it my mission to make gyaruo friends. Easier said than done. I have dated my share at this point but so far they have lived up to every ridiculous stereotype. But I can't quit yet, or I'll be left with all my hipster friends going "Didn't we tell you?"

I'll show you all. Somewhere between me and gyaruo there has to be a connection. Somehow we will transcend the cologne/trance music/cheesy date ideas/horrible summer fashion and form a bond between our worlds. Then I'll introduce my gyaruo friends to my non-gyaruo friends and buy the world a coke.

A lot of people find my blog while looking for information on gyaruo, which I respect very much, and the only reason I haven't posted about gyaruo before is that it's so hard not to ramble on and on. I AM LEAVING SO MUCH OUT!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Post Was Inevitable

I'm into Rimbaud, DEAL WITH IT.
Miku, the rad-looking girl in my takoyaki party post, drew this picture of Rimbaud for me. Thank you, Miku, I love you. You don't read this blog, but it don't matter.

"The first task of the man who wants to be a poet is to study his own awareness of himself, in its entirety; he seeks out his soul, he inspects it, he tests it, he learns it. As soon as he knows it, he must cultivate it! That seems simple: every brain experiences a certain natural development; hundreds of egoists call themselves authors; there are many more who attribute their intellectual progress to themselves! -- But the problem is to make the soul into a monster, like the comprachicos, you know? Think of a man grafting warts onto his face and then growing them there.

"I say you have to be a visionary, make yourself a visionary.

"...And there will be poets like these! When the eternal slavery of Women is destroyed, when she lives for herself and through herself, when man -- up till now abominable -- will have set her free, she will be a poet as well! Women will discover the unknown! Will her world of ideas differ from ours? She will discover strange things, unfathomable, repulsive, delightful; we will accept them and understand them."

(Rimbaud to George Izambard, May 13th, 1871. Translated by Paul Schmidt.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Takoyaki Party

This post is dedicated to my old friend Cleo.
Aya and I had another takoyaki party on Sunday night. I guess people call takoyaki "Octopus Balls" in English which is hilarious. Takoyaki is associated with Osaka as a regional food.

When I was really little my family often went to the Hatfield Marine Science Center. They keep a giant pacific octopus in a tank at eye-level for kids. His name then was Cleo and I loved him. I used to think the red light on the Yaquina Bay Bridge meant that Cleo was awake. But then I grew up and forgot about him. One day last year I went to a sushi restaurant with my mom, and while happily munching on some octopus I saw her shaking her head. "I can't believe you can do that," she sighed. "Probably Cleo's cousin..." Whoa! Shock! Disbelief! Memories of my dear old ocean friend came rushing back. Tears filled my eyes.

"I hate myself," I whispered, and pushed my plate away to write a vow on a napkin. I drew an elaborate picture of an octopus and wrote out a promise to never eat octopus again unless under pressure of hospitality while abroad (in which case I generally eat anything). I stuck to it for months and then, well, to make basic takoyaki you mix water, eggs, special flour, and chopped cabbage. Separately you dice up one of Cleo's cousins.

You pour the batter into a takoyaki pan and drop a bit of friend into each sphere-shaped hollow. Once the batter cooks firm, you use skewers to turn it around in the hollows. It's really fun.

Miku, Aya, Kei, and Hiroki's hand flick some serious takoyaki.

Takoyaki's usually seasoned with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and that green stuff I like. You can put anything into takoyaki. I like it with kimchi and cheese especially since I don't have to hate myself that way.

P.S. Recently takoyaki pans have become an infomercial product in America. PANCAKE PUFFS! Oh my god, look at that infomercial. Hahaha. Warms my heart.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I have never talked about host clubs here, but YES NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT I know a thing or two about hosts. I have never been to a host club, but I've dated a former host and a working host and a few of my friends have been hosts. I actually don't know how I've known so many hosts, but I'm glad because that shit is interesting no matter how you look at it. Kabukicho is the famous place for host clubs in Tokyo. I just found this set on Flickr with photos of hosts in Kabukicho. I think they capture the atmosphere pretty well.

You can read the basics about hosts on Wikipedia or whatever. What I've gathered from talking to hosts is that it is an absolutely miserable job. They often work from 9PM to 11AM or later at the club. Many (not all) of the customers are hostesses who come in after work, which is why the host club hours are so late. New/lower-ranking hosts also spend hours on the street trying to pick up new customers. Hosts have to drink tons and tons of booze almost every night. Like, drink, puke secretly in the bathroom, come back with a grin and keep drinking levels of booze. Hosts make the most money off of the drinks girls order, so guzzling alcohol is required. I'm sure the job can be really fun sometimes, but in general it just sounds super rough.

Two of the most interesting things I've heard from hosts:

1. A new host is paired with a more experienced host during his first few weeks at the club. The mentor shows him the ropes and makes him do grunt work like fetching towels or whatever while they entertain girls. I guess the new guy gets very little money during this period. Basically any work he does entertaining pays off to his mentor, so things get bitter fast if the mentor doesn't treat him well in return.

2. One guy said that the worst part of being a host is sex. First of all, obviously, if you do it with the customer she has no reason to come back. But second, he said that when women offer tons of money (thousands of dollars) there are plenty of hosts who go for it, only to find that she doesn't want to use a condom. I find this interesting for a lot of reasons. Doesn't it sound like a weird host club urban legend? I mean how creepy. Is the implication that these women are out to get the guys with pregnancy or STDs?

When people ask what shocked me the most when I came to Japan I just think of hosts. I'll never forget walking through Osaka at night with the really young, hip woman I was homestaying with and being like, "Why are there so many pimps and why are they so fab?" She explained hosts and we spent the rest of the night going to the lobbies of host clubs and picking up pamphlets. I was so blown away by the concept. I should be way more jaded to it now but I never get sick of learning more about hosts. I'll probably go to a club eventually, although I'm not dying to.

See also:
Patrick Macias' review/summary of a magazine for hosts.
Green-Eyed Geisha's Project Host. This girl (one of my favorite Japan bloggers btw) visited several host clubs and wrote awesome recaps. This is the first.
The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief. AMAZING documentary following the owner of a successful Osaka host club.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to be this Scrappy

Flea Market in Meiji Park, every other Sunday afternoon. Of course I'm into flea markets. This is the best budget thrifting in Tokyo that I know of. I got two of my favorite dresses there for 50 yen each. Last time I spent a bit much. I got this cape for 700 yen which is outrageous but I haggled it down from 1,000 and I love it, so. The boots were 500. This was also the day I got midnight military confetti for 100 yen. My leg looks PUMPED in this photo!

HEARTBREAK! I have been looking for teacups like these since I saw them in In the Mood for Love a few years ago. I was soooo excited but! they were 8,000 yen (US$80 or whatever) EACH. What! I hate accidentally falling in love with expensive things.

This is my favorite old blue dress. My late great-grandmother's neighbor of 50 years gave it to me. The neighbor's younger sister made it herself in the 60s. It's a simple pattern but it's eye-catching somehow. It shimmers gold and silver. It's so old and worn that it's about as strong as tissue. I've mended it four times and now I try not to wear it much. I used to think this dress had magical powers because every time I wore it I'd have a legendary night. I wonder what it went through before I owned it.

I usually don't buy new clothes because I'm poor and I hate low-quality things. I can buy well-made, beautiful, unique things used. Plus I love the look of things from the 1950s-1970s. When I buy well-loved party clothes and shoes from those times, it's fun to imagine what kind of girl wore them and to picture the rooms she was in and what her nightlife was like. After I'm old or dead I hope my favorite clothes are absorbed into the vintage orbit and wild girls of the future have epic nights in my dresses and shoes. All over the world!

Also a lack of good pizza.

I have still not been able to solve the skin problems I've had since I moved here. It gets a little better and then gets a lot worse. It's so frustrating. I might be the vainest plain girl ever, but I am so sick of angsting about my ragged face. I am so sick of wearing tons of makeup and catching myself moving my hair and tilting my head to hide my face when I'm out. It's making me feel insane. I am so sick of having skin problems in Japan. I know it could be much worse but it's making me really, really sad, even withdrawn (which we can't be havin'). But I don't know what to do. I wonder what other people's Biggest Problems Abroad are.

This post feels too personal but I've been feeling really embarrassed about how tormented I am about my face, and I am a compulsive purger of shame! I feel much better now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I don't exactly hang out in Asagaya but I like to take walks there sometimes because it's really green. Tons of trees, even a few big evergreens.

The sunrise the other day was beautiful from the station.

I was just on my way to work though. Not taking a walk at sunrise. That would be ridiculous.

Garbage Day Blues

1. This sweater was 100 yen & I call it Midnight Military Confetti. It's high-necked and double-breasted with buff shoulder pads so when I button up I'm like a new-wave party fascist.

2. A gyaruo gave me these sunglasses last night in Kabukicho. I was trick-or-treating I guess. Um,
3. I don't really wear my shoes inside JUST WHEN I MODEL
4. I went back on birth control a few months ago and my boobs are alarmingly bigger.
5. After I took this photo I didn't actually take out the trash.