Tag Archives: saizeriya

Finding a parade and getting in front of it

The “Friendly March” troupe are the second-to-last exhibitors in the seventy-five-group parade taking place here in Kobe for the Kobe Matsuri, its fortieth annual city festival. The Friendly March, quite contrary to its name–which was purportedly chosen to lend an air of non-threateningism, well-meanery, and well, friendliness to their presence–are hideous, horrifying men dressed in poorly chosen RuPaul-era drag costumes and peppering the street in a concentration akin to that of halved cherries in canned fruit cocktail. One of them marches ahead in a sparkling stars-‘n-stripes outfit. I am reminded that I am American.

Atop a converted Avis rentatruck is one fellow who looks like he is trying to be in The Cure a handful of years too late while another one, who is actually pretty enough to be a woman, is sitting as bored as string cheese. A Lady Gaga song literally thumps so loud from their massive speaker array that the Indian dancing group following them is just dancing to it instead of their own music, tinny and barely audible by comparison. I find myself un-concerned with Cure-guy’s sexual orientation and beliefs, and confused by his fashion sense. As a matter of course I am generally unwilling to string anyone up for wearing anything in particular; today the strings I see are already sufficiently up the places they’ve been positioned. Cure-guy’s face is painted white and black and I am afraid he is going to cast an evil samba curse over me like in voodoo New Orleans. Behind the truck, fruit salady, marches a handful of stragglers-on, one waving a gay pride flag. Friendly March, I think you’re going about this all wrong.

They are of note only because of the stark contrast they stand in compared to the prior exhibitors. The pinnacles of parade-going that I’m used to have mostly involved flatbed trailers from which Dum Dums are thrown, and so the Kobe Matsuri parade has had much to offer.

One group, a neo-modern (yes) salsa group dressed as extravagantly as Cirque de Soleil and twice as mostly-naked, gyrates wildly, a chiseled man leading the group eliciting more excitement out of the elderly woman who has rushed up beside me for a good look than she has likely had since breakfast. Her hair looks like that of Scrooge McDuck’s nephew, Dewy. She pumps her fist wildly in the air, overcome with emotion.

A later group of marchers, cheerleaders, most notably of the 14-and-under classification, stamps by, and I am almost immediately killed by the deep-zoom lens that flies up past my face, commandeered by a man the spitting image of the dictionary’s illustration for the entry “pervy old guy.” He has raced down here from earlier in the parade, backpack flapping with every step, for the sake of securing more shots–I hear his SLR snap away a dozen times or more before the girls finish striding past, and then he too is away to follow their quest like an INXS roadie.

We have also witnessed a group of unicycling youth, two dipshits in huge stuffed costumes from some governmental organization, rows of the elderly wearing yukata and twirling umbrellas upon which tiny stuffed Doraemons tumble like gymnasts, numerous junior and high school marching bands, and the Vissel Kobe soccer team (for the chance of a view we are shoved aside by the rabid masses).

But it’s okay, because while wandering about, we eat steak on a stick, a burger made with steak, an eggroll which has steak in it, and some other things that do not contain steak. Then for supper we eat at Saizeriya, where I forego the opportunity to order steak to order spicy chicken wings, carbonara pasta, meat sauce doria, and beer instead.

– The promotional figures attached to two bottles of Pepsi Zero that I bought solely because of the promotional figures: tiny “Be@rbrick” toys that are based on the movies Beverly Hills Cop and The Godfather, and which are plastic representations of those movies’ main charaters, but with bear heads
– Saltine crackers, which, despite being sold in a box, are distributed inside by way of being individually wrapped into ten packages of six crackers each, leaving a massive amount of packaging for a greatly reduced amount of crackers
– The fact that I am actually starting to become capable of distinguishing the qualities and varieties of various packaged curries due to the fact that they make a delicious and easy Wednesday morning breakfast food before I go to night school
– Pepsi Zero, which is disgusting, but at least I got my Be@rbrick toys
– Finding for roughly the first significant timespan in my life that, despite doing little actual work at my job, I am still frequently so strapped for recreation time that my pointless hobbies, designed to eliminate useless excess time, are being left neglected, probably due in no small part to the fact that I now attend Japanese language class for two hours a night two nights a week
– Today’s bento, by virtue of not being a bento and instead being two sandwiches, which I selected just cause I was feeling in a sandwichy kind of mood

Despite my relative lack of recreation time, I think it would be best to focus said recreation time in such a way that even while recreating, I end up with a satisfying and constructed result. I am typing it here merely so that I am mentally held to task: I like video games, and I like writing, and even though I currently play games and write, it is about goddamned time that I do some more writing about video games (old ones). I am going to write an article about the game Alcahest by next Thursday at this time, and it is going to be my article for that week. And I am going to write an article for the week after that, and we will proceed from there. I have been warned.

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I trust cows more than chemists

How time flies: tomorrow it’s Jessy’s 6th birthday, and what a good girl she has been! As a reward I will be taking her to Saizeriya, the restaurant for which she commands the most disparate affection to justification ratio of any eatery we have come to know. Liking (nay, desiring) Saizeriya is somewhat akin to being fond of reruns of The King of Queens: once you’re there there isn’t really anything wrong with it, and Leah Remini is pretty attractive, but do you realize what else is on? Jessy’s love of Saizeriya is like looking up these reruns in TV Guide and setting her VCR to tape them off TV as she watches them, being quick-draw-McGraw on the remote so she can pause out the commercials. Presumably while Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus plays concurrently on another network (I am just assuming that this movie is awesome). But it is her birthday, and so we shall go buy plates upon plates of mildly flavored and inoffensive Japitalianese, and consume them with frenzied teeth gnashing. Afterwards I will buy a glass jar of sake from a vending machine, drink it, and then ride the escalators in Joshin up and down until they close the store and disable the escalators, stranding me between the refrigerator floor and the one where they yell at you about lightbulbs.

I am now the proud owner of a “nook” eBook reading device, which has offered me, finally, the chance to use a battery-powered portable gadget to perform the function of something that absolutely did not need replacing (dead trees with ink on them). The most convenient reasoning behind it is simply enough that dead tree with ink on it (for the sake of this conversation, a “book”) takes up physical space, while a collection of electronic data representing the same information takes up no physical space whatsoever. In such a way, one need not pay any manner of courier to transport said “books” from their country of origin (the United States) to my country of residence (Japan), which is a powerful argument for the existence of the electronic book and what seems at first blush like a luxury device. The truth is that it is a luxury device only in so much as one considers reading a luxury as opposed to a necessity, which I must admit I do not. In fact, the arrival of this toy has brought exciting new life to tales most certainly un-new, most prominently that modern and relevant tale of The Hobbit, which just came out recently in 1937, and which I never could bring myself to get through in its dead tree form. Have you heard of this fellow named “Bilbo?” This story is going to be big, real big! Seventy-five years from now we might even see a movie about it.

The other recent arrival is that of a friend I am never too far from: Mr. Throat Itch. He showed up recently to ruin my life, and is doing a pretty decent job of it on a daily basis. He did such good work a few days ago that I actually called in sick to the office for the first time ever so I could stay home and party with him. In an unexpected twist, I actually felt Japaneseily guilty for shirking my workplace duties by staying home, a development I quickly dealt with by ceasing to care whatsoever. He was even kind enough to offer me some interesting situations during my first Japanese language class, where at least I was able to use the excuse “I guess I’m allergic to Japanese,” but only in my mind.

What do I have left to say? It has been nine months since I came to Japan and I simultaneously remember the day I arrived like it was yesterday and a decade ago. I am at home and a stranger, an outsider and a citizen. I dry my clothing on the porch, take my shoes off when I get home, and have a closet full of Kraft Dinner. I have a photograph of the first vending machine I ever saw in Japan, and now it’s just a photograph of a vending machine.

– Today’s bento, which, at a paltry 709kcal, is barely worthy of mention, but consists of a huge bowl of rice atop which sits a hamburger slathered in mysterious red sauce and a fried egg
– Cough drops here are useless, cost 220 yen for a ten-pack, and taste like what would happen if you crossed those Ludens cherry throat lozenges with the full dosage of a 100-man study on the effectiveness of a new medication on causing fatigue, only the pill is a placebo
– When I got to Japan there was a song they used to play on TV with three “girls” singing about how it’s okay to fart all over the place because farting is natural, and it is still being played regularly, and in this country it is rude to blow your nose in public
– Parsing the convenience store clerk’s question of if I would like my bento heated, answering appropriately in comfortable Japanese, and then being looked at hesistantly as I am asked, with comically wild gesture, if chopsticks are okay, finding myself disappointed I lack the skills to say that no, they are not okay, because I eat only with my fingers, and am allergic to sticks

Tonight there are no classes, because the kids are learning about how to drive in Japan. I do not envy them because I am sure driving down these meter-wide streets is fucking impossible, but last time I had class my lesson was that we would go to the downstairs classroom and watch Speed Racer on Blu-ray. I think I have done my part to prepare them for the imminent and very real world of futuristic automobile racing.

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Dry-cured sliced thin and uncooked

It dawned on me, during my hellish, dazed stupor lasting the duration of my morning and continuing on through my train ride(s) and walk to school, and still persisting, that sitting at my desk typing is probably the closest I can get to sleep without actually sitting here with my eyes closed or just staring off into the distance, the lines of pages of backwards-tucked books in front of me, a window into what walls must feel like, my scenery someone’s document shelf. I have caught something, which is to say that something’s caught me, and it toys with me as though I’m its furnace, raising and lowering my temperature (and with it, my temperance), scrambling my brains, left at its mercy. I try to resist its steely desires to have me cough, lest my cover be blown–of course gentle co-workers and citizens I only seem ill, and I don’t need to wear the ubiquitous guilt mask, mighty trapper of germs, testament to your own horrible neglect in hygiene since you are now Sick and it is All Your Fault.

Because of the arcane logic applied to health matters in the workplace, the scenario is presented thusly: if you are sick enough to stay home, you are sick enough to go to the hospital, which you must do in order to get a doctor’s note as proof of your absence, if you wish to claim sick leave instead of taking one of your paid days off. Perhaps because of, rather than in spite of this faulty reasoning, I have determined that if I am “sick” enough to be forced to get out of bed and leave my apartment and go to the hospital instead of recuperate, I am most certainly sick enough to just go to work. Which I have been since Monday!

I’d feel almost a little bad if it wasn’t a near lock that I got it from one of them to begin with, they undoubtedly having considered their situations the same way that I have and deciding to come to work anyway, damn the torpedoes. It’s like a Dilbert comic with one more level of obfuscation basically, and for all of the lily-scented procedures and precautions, welcome to Flu Town, Population Everyone.

The homefront consequences of this illness’s onset cut a wide swath: I have essentially been wearing the same dress shirt under my sweaters for the last handful of days, evening meals are quick and uninspired (boil pasta and add sauce/sauce packet), the dishes accumulate both in/around the sink and in other areas of the house, and the organization level of the place has reached critical lows. Any further and we will have achieved unenviable Pauly Shore territory, desecrating our foreign palace to the point of a homeostatic imbalance, ruining the carefully planned experiments of the Bio-Dome scientists.

The bright, shiny spot at the end of this raw flesh-ribbons throat-tunnel is the impending release of the video game I’ve only mentioned like twenty times on this website, Final Fantasy XIII, in the form of an oh-so-desirable limited edition system+game bundle that, assuming we correctly filled out the mystical hieroglyphics, will be ours tomorrow (or most specifically Jessy’s, as she is the one who will be picking it up from the Circle K, where it is totally normal to buy video game systems). After that we approach autopilot mode as the finishing line rush towards winter break begins with workdays devoid of classes, a December 23rd national holiday, and the last hurrah: the Christmas Eve lesson–my last work day until January 6th–during which I will become Brandon Santa despite resembling the well known Mr. Claus in mannerism only (I love milk and cookies, but might hesitate to drink it warm from random mantles), and distribute Christmas cards and presents to blind and visually impaired children via a sort of pseudo lottery. If it sounds bizarre, well, that’s cause it basically is, and I think if I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, and for some reason I chose this, that one day I’d dress as Santa Claus in Japan to give out presents to small school children, old me would probably beat the hell out of future me and then loot the body for cash.

Curious Japanese Shit of the Week Not Related to Work:
– Increasingly frequent post-card sized flyers arriving unsolicited in our mailbox and covered with full-nudity images of women, amounts of time, lewd katakana phrases, and prices
– Attempting to buy soothing throat lozenges but somehow getting rose petal “collagen troches” which assist in the maintaining of supple, hydrated skin and do not soothe the throat in any way
– Finding a UFO catcher crane machine in which you can push a small token into the hole and win your selection of one of the live caged hamsters which scurry about inside the cabinet, leering at your claw anxiously all bug-eyed
– Saizeriya, being an ass-whippingly awesome value-oriented Japanese Italian restaurant with dozens of menu items including but not limited to “meat sauce doria” (yellow rice baked with cheese and meat sauce), a tiny cupcake-tin-looking ceramic plate containing six delicious garlic butter escargot, a “hamburg” plate (consisting of a hamburger patty with an egg on it, corn, three french fries, and steak sauce), and a chicken-flavored risotto that tastes more like Rice-a-Roni than anything I’ve eaten since getting here
– A TV show during which two idiots stay at Saizeriya for multiple days and attempt to eat all one-hundred items and item variations on the menu sequentially while being taunted by youth through the storefront window, without leaving and pausing only to sleep on the floor (highlight: generously-sized guest eater showing up and devouring both the prosciutto and double-sized prosciutto plates in single hammy bites)

I bought a little cake made with sake and a peculiar bean-paste stuffed pancake kinda sandwich from some of the marketing students today. I think they experienced a certain kind of joy in taking all the money from their English teacher, who is now powerless to buy cakes from anyone else on his walk home.

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