The Navy, Some Pantyhose, and an Inconvenient Typhoon

Capt.Archibald JonesIn the Navy, during a brief, very often the term BLUF is used. It means bottom-line-up-front. As in, wot’s this all ’bout? So, here’s yar bluf: Pantyhose has many uses.

For the last six weeks, I’ve been working a job that folks in my career field fortunately (and medium-rarely) do not work. While I am in a technical track, this is more of a generalized job task. It has not been in any way enjoyable, but life (and the Navy) could be unpleasant at times. And I accept it as part of the job and adventure. If there’s been one advantage, it has been in interacting with Sailors that I might have not otherwise worked with.

The good news, I am all done with training. All I have left is a board, chaired by the Captain this Thursday. Last week, I took the “murder board” and it went well. I was supposed to receive my real board last week, but the Captain was out of town. (Argh, Captain!) And then my board was moved to tomorrow. Now with the approaching typhoon (yes, you read that correctly, typhoon, and not one of these bad-boys) it has been pushed back again.

A Ship CaptainToday, I caught the Captain at the vending machines and I could not help myself. With a concerned, studious look (that may be my actual look), I asked him: Any tips, sir?

About your upcoming board? Don’t be too confident, too meek. Be confident but not loud. And don’t hold back information if you know the answer. 

I nodded. Yes, sir.

And if you don’t know any of the questions, just say you don’t know the answer. Don’t try to bs your way through like some previous boardees.

Yes, sir.

You’ll do fine. And off he went.

500 yen coinI mulled his words while I tried to get my 500 yen coin (yes Virginia, there really is a 5 dollar coin) to work in the vending machine. I had a hankerin’, with all me studying, that only a Royal Milk Tea could baby.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blog, no arguments please – it is scientific fact. Royal Milk Tea is a near-magic soother of all that ails you. Truthfully, I’ve only recently discovered the stuff. It is like a magic potion. For all you borderline nerdish types, it gives you +2 on your charisma points*. Fact, I am standing up and walking to my fridge right now. To get my charisma filled up. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. +2.

Note to the wikipeadeans among/amongst you, consider putting this addendum at the end of the Royal Milk Tea section in Wikipedia: October 2013, amidst a very challenging typhoon, a recently quiet blogger discovered the magic of milk tea and was transformed back into his gregarious blogging self. He also took a shining to referring to himself in third-person, a fact that annoyed 42% of all people reading his post. Darn him. . .

kirin milk teaLet’s review the current info on said tea:

To make the tea, water and tea (about 1 to 3 teaspoons of tea a cup, depending how strong the drinker likes) are brought to a boil then simmered for about 3–6 minutes. The tea is usually put in a sackcloth bag before the water is added to the pot to filter it out or if no bag available poured through a strainer. Many people also remove the pot from the heat once it boils for about 3 minutes, then bring the pot to a boil again. This process can be repeated several times, intensifying the caffeine/flavor.

The key feature of Hong Kong-style milk tea is that a sackcloth bag is used to filter the tea leaves. However any other filter/strainer may be used to filter the tea. Sackcloth bags are not completely necessary but generally preferred. The bag, reputed to make the tea smoother, gradually develops an intense brown colour as a result of prolonged tea drenching.

dog in pantyhose

Together with the shape of the filter, it resembles a silk stocking, giving Hong Kong-style milk tea the nickname of “pantyhose” or “silk stocking” milk tea (Chinese: 絲襪奶茶). This nickname is used in Hong Kong but less so in mainland China and overseas communities.

Pantyhose? Pffffffft. (Computer screen suddenly covered in said milk tea!) Nevermind. Do NOT drink the stuff. It is poison, brewed by the locals with unimaginable, not-yet-discovered consequences.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming – once I am done with this board, I move onto my real job. This was just an extra qual to have me as a back-up watch-stander in case I am needed in a pinch. (Like on St. Patrick’s Day.) Welcome to the Navy, shipmate. Now get to work doing something not your job. Truthfully, everything in the Navy is “your” job. Or put more precisely, my job is exactly what the bosses tell me it is. Ahhh, no use bitchin’. No one will listen. . . Except you. . .

Warhammer OnlineBefore you high-jump and Fosbury Flop to any conclusions about Sailors** and role-playing games involving many-sided die or drawers of mini dwarves (figurines), know that a new friend over here in Japan, a Marine Captain no less, spent nearly a third of his last paycheck on Warhammer figurines, books, gadgets. I decided (very charitably) to tip him off to a bike his size being sold up in Tokyo for a ridiculously low price. Of course, it was Marine Corps olive green. And he went uptown and bought the thing. Score: Sailor cyclists 1, Jarhead nerds 0.

Sailor and Marine** It is a common psychological occurrence among certain bashful bloggers faced with the silky realization that they’ve been drinkin’ pantyhose-infused tea, to immediately turn and try to transfer their shame onto their lil sister service. This is called “saving face.” It has been known to work, provided the readers are not aware of its employment.

I shall keep an eye out for such a sickly and shameful man-ooooh-ver and inform you immediately if any transference occurs. Standby. Raised tea-pinkies at the ready. This will not happen on my watch. That much I can assure you. . .

Liberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre

When Japanese marketers pick brand names and label names, sometimes they don’t think it all the way through. I was reading the Newsbusters article on Tavis Smiley and they were advertising a bumper sticker that read: Not a Liberal, from MRC.org. And the bots that inhabit my ‘puter then sent me ads to this site, advertising Japanese clothes for women (obviously due to the liberal keyword):

LIberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre

Liberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre

I know where I’m not gonna be shopping. (After all, those are not men’s clothes.)

Walking Bloody Around the Navy Base

Good news, I finally have a dependable internet connection! So that means more bloody good stories. Bloody as in real blood, not bloody as in jolly. Read on for more details.

So I am walking across base to grab breakfast with a Marine and a prior enlisted Marine, now naval officer. And the current Marine turns to me at the breakfast joint with a look of amazement and says: you know you are bleeding?

I glare around and sure enough, blood is dripping off my uniform sleeve. Flowing blood is not a positive thing for the Navy, but the Marine looks at it with approval. I glance over my body and can’t figure out where I am leaking.

Your knuckles, your knuckles are bleeding.

I look down at my hand and sure enough, I’ve been whipping blood all over myself. I must’ve rapped my knuckles on some furniture and not realized it.

I wrap my hand in napkins and we trudge back to work with our large breakfasts. And just as I am opening my small, single-serving butter cup the size of a coffee creamer, I get distracted. I forget that it is still quite warm out and my butter may not be solid. Indeed the spread is liquid; it spills all over my crotch. My suddenly greasy, bloody uniform which I drag (along with me) to the bathroom for a little rub-a-dub-dub. Can’t take myself anywhere. . .

Easy-peasy for Japanesey…

While most people kill time on a commute by catching up on a book, listening to music or indulging in some Sudoku, one Japanese office worker is up to something quite different. Seikou Yamaoka, who studied at Osaka University of Arts, uses his iPad to create incredible finger painting portraits with the app ArtStudio. His stunning works look like they’ve been painted with oil or acrylic, not with just his fingers and his Apple device.article-2429833-1831412900000578-680_634x821article-2429833-18313FFD00000578-620_634x876Finger painting goes hi-tech: Japanese office workers’ stunning iPad sketches are amazing I would give my right arm to be able to draw or paint (being right handed that puts me at a great disadvantage straight away)? Even using an iPad to paint is one step too far; having fingers the size of oxygen bottles I some times struggle texting…                                    Yours Aye.

Speaking in Japan to. . .

. . .a First Class Petty Officer. You decided to lay your cover right on my backpack. I am not sure why, but I would’ve gotten a good chuckle from seeing myself walk out of the building with a First Class cover on my head. Because it happened. And then, as I was getting ready for work the next day, it took two seconds to put the story together when I found your cover (very clean, thankfully!) with my uniform. All the Sailors on my next day shift laughed about it too. I accept my part in the mix-up. It is a good thing I got a lift home that day and only walked about fifty yards with your cover on.

. . .a waitress at Red Ramen, a popular Yokosuka dive. Argggh, so sorry some Sailor stiffed you on the bill. By the time I figured out what had occurred, they were gone. The whole, we don’t even know that guy, despite him sitting at our table, was a very poor excuse. I tried to pay for him, but you refused. We can do better and you could not have been nicer about it. . .

. . .a Third Class Petty Officer on my shift. I held my tongue when I overheard you talking about gun control. You said we are turning into a nation of John Waynes. And that only the police should have guns. That we should be more worried about getting killed in a movie theater by a guy trying to kill a mass shooter, than the mass shooter himself. Next time, I will squash that sort of speech though. Political yammering has got no place in uniform.

. . .the base internet provider. How is it that the service is so poor? Often pages never load. Is someone downloading a lot of content? Why not use a governor (guvernor) to mitigate their usage? I work very odd shifts currently while we are in port and sometimes I have a good connection. This tells me someone is overdoing the legal/illegal downloads.

. . .a certain military senior. I watch how you take our material, memorize it, and then berate your staff (quoting exact times and report numbers) for not knowing about it. Maybe I’ve said too much, but does this make us better?

Oh, Those Ohayou Gozaimasus!

I apologize for the dearth of posting. My internet connection is terrible where I am. Some pages are taking two minutes to load properly.

Outside of sweating everywhere, Japan continues to be a wondrous country. Remarkably, the locals are very forgiving with my clumsy, but motivated Japanese. They even caught on when instead of saying ohayou gozaimasu for good morning, I mixed up my gozaimasus and used arigatou gozaimasu. The later, of course, means thank you. Imagine how ridiculous it is when a giant, grinning American rolls into your coffee-shop and yells thank you! (They caught on quickly and thanked me back.) It is an easy mistake. It gave me a chuckle and cracked a couple of them up too.

Where I Wear Bright Green Underwear

(This is me spitting on my hands, shrugging my shoulders back, and throwing caution to the wind.) I don’t mean to brag or nothing, but I’ve been takin’ three showers a day. Three, trois, 参. I’m not sure how the Yokosuka locals roll, but Japan in full summer doom is sticky. Especially so this year if my grinning, clammy conversations ‘round town’re true. Very hot this year, hai? I ask taxi drivers, baristas. Hai, will undoubtedly be the reply, along with a perfunctory bow. Talking ‘bout the weather translates in any language.

United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth

United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth

Times are so dire, I’ve even resorted to taking a shower before I exercise. I feel like a traitor if I get into perfectly clean PT gear while a hot, sweaty mess. (Yes, both Ed Snowden and Brad Manning do not shower before pt’ing. Word from Leavenworth is that Private Manning himself does not shower at all, so petrified is he. The second word is that Chelsea, née Bradley, is looking to add the two letters Wo to the beginning of her last-name. Love the title of this Time Magazine article, Chelsea Manning Making Friends in Prison. Bet she is.)

The last time I sweated this much was two years ago, on the USS Midway. I was the award’s boy at a Captain’s retirement. My job was passing citations and plaques to the Admiral who presented the retiring officer with his many honors. He was a great guy, the Captain, and when he asked me to participate in his retirement, I’s both happy and honored. (For the uninitiated, I’s is the obscure, Northeastern Carolinian contraction of I was.) Still, the retirement was on the black deck of the USS Midway, moored in the San Diego harbor. In June. I sweated all the way through my Service Dress Blues. (It is possible, I am a great sweater.) And I took my white dress shirt to the cleaners twice trying to get the ring-around-the-collar out. After the second try, my dry-cleaner smiled at me. It is permanent, she said. I am so sorry.

Being a sweaty freddy (or the more formal Swedrick Fredrick if you are uncomfy with the familiar form) means changing my clothes often. Theoretically, an advanced mathematical degree in theoretical algebra is not needed to determine that three showers a day equates to at least three changes of clothes if one is to observe Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s secret rule of secretion.

Note: any links to said rule are carefully monitored worldwide and disabled by those in the know. Rare is the regulation with secret in its title twice. So, you’ll just have to trust me. For those of you in on the racket that is modern math, I’ll humor you with the irrational equation: {⋮⋮⋮79℉⋮⋮⋮ ⇎ ⋮⋮⋮81℉⋮⋮⋮ ⇎ ⋮⋮⋮80℉⋮⋮⋮} ≅ {FRESH SKIVVIES ↭ FRESH SKIVVIES ↭ FRESH SKIVVIES} ± ☺

Free trigonometrical tangent: a little known fact on Leibniz, he was quite the adept lover. In fact, before he became a cutting-edge math-wrangler, he was known as Gottfried Wilhelm Niz. The Leib (direct from the German word for love, liebe) and other hurrahs, came later when his reputation was cemented in arithmetic lore. Mrs. Niz, simultaneously also conferred with the Leib honorific, used to recount how Herr Niz calculated the precise closing speed and azimuth of his lips to hers, an intersection of the perfect kiss. Two feet a second at 315 degrees. Recalculating cosine. Ja ja. Change course to 300 degrees. Smooooooch! Quite the lovah, he was.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Alright, so back to our sweaty story of Nippon humidity. The one piece of haberdashery that I do not require more of in Japan, is underwear. I’ve lots of the tactical gear, thanks to a bonanza find of perfectly sized mentionables at Ross (Dress for Less.) The one issue with my name-brand (ahem) nether support: it came in slightly non-traditional colors. Yes, I have bright neon-green underwear. (You lucky devils, normally this info is very tightly held.) Also, two purples- both the darker, evening variety that I tend to wear with my mahogany-scented smoking jacket, as I leaf through my many leather-bound books. And a lighter, more plummish purple, that I reserve whence clipping my award-winning Lilies of the Valley.

Ooops, there goes my rep. You do realize though that these lilies are poisonous, right? I dip my arrow-tips in a simmering vat of the stuff before I hunt oryxes in Kilimanjaro. Phew, my near-stellar rep’s back. Sort of. And yes oryxes, you betta consider the lilies of the field the next time we cross paths.

Unwritten man rule, dudes shall not talk of underwear color. A blind grab in the morning, with no thought as to hue, is the sole masculine way. Any deference in matching up color with daily activity is cause for immediate revocation of said man card. As in, I shall be promenading the beach later on the boardwalk, perhaps a nice turquoise would be appropriate? Two hand claps. Jeeves, bring the sea-foam pair around, would you? Instant man card recall. Other testosterone fouls are also cause for license revocation. I’ve lost mine temporarily over several blogposts. Most notably this.

My underwear color

Envious?

Very true story about my neon green polyester, cotton, and spandex wonders: I almost flashed a full room of naval professionals with said fabric. Thirty seconds before I was about to teach a thirty minute module in my field, I happen to glance down and check my drawbridge. Who knows what compelled me to circle the moat? Would you believe it, my fly was 100% down! Any lower and you woulda seen my ankle tattoo of Yosemite Sam. I turned, zipped up without a soul noticing (or at least that is the story I tell myself), and proceeded to rock a great brief. (I resisted the temptation to yell: Man thar gates. The enemy, he advances upon us! Steady men, steady.) It is easy to be lite and airy when just moments ago you were lite and airy.

For the easily nerve-wracked, it is a common Toastmaster tactic to imagine your audience naked. (Note: this does not always work in Navy circles. It might cause unintended retching. Have you seen some of those albino walrus Chiefs we got?) But what if I turned the strategy of imagining the audience naked on its back and I imagined myself the same way? Heck, I almost pulled it off in the real-world. Who needs imagination when I leave my fly gaping open?

Tommy Lee Jones, Boss Coffee

Tommy Lee Jones, Boss Coffee

In Japan, there are many hydration options. For some reason, Tommy Lee Jones does ads for Boss coffee, a Japanese java corp. It is a little unnerving, seeing his serious mug all over town. On nearly every vending machine, Angry-Bone-Jones glares at me, you if you want a drink. No smile. For this reason alone, I don’t drink Boss coffee. Screw him and his tut-tutting. There is another beverage called Pocari Sweat. Yes, you read that correctly. Pocari Sweat. I’m not sure who Pocari is, nor why he is bottlin’ his sweat. (Could it be this curious fellow?)

Wow, this was a ridiculous post. I would apologize, but you read it all! (Shame on you, what were you thinking?) As for my fragile dignity, heck I wear neon green under-roos ‘neath my uniform! I’ve no shame. And speaking of color, tomorrow I report in to the ship. I am thinking a nice haze-grey pair of boxers, no? My other pairs’ll be green with envy.

Running Japan

I suppose I should title this post, Running on Base in Japan because I’ve only ventured off-base once while jogging. The reason: my first day in Japan, I took a nasty fall off a curb. (Hey, it was nearly a foot up!) Due to the humidity, the curbs get slippery. And I twisted my foot coming off one. I’ve been babying it, still running lightly. Curious thing about that curb, I almost slipped off it again two days later! But rather than trying to stop my fall, the next time, I just fell under control.

While I’ve not been running far, I’ve been walking everywhere. Yesterday, my two-block stretch turned into a five mile marathon through a hilly neighborhood. God bless the iPhone, because without it, I would’ve ended up in Hiroshima, so lost did I get. I normally have very good sense of direction, but every instinct I have in Japan is 100% wrong. Is it possible that I’ve lost my magnetic connection to the earth?

And when I get tired of walking, I take a taxi back. Recently, one of my drivers was 90 years old. I really wanted to chat with him. To talk about all the changes he has seen while living in Japan, but we ended up just talking about sushi, which he loves to eat. (Note to self: sushi has longevity properties!)

A very aggressive Navy wife (married to a very chilled-out naval officer) told me that I have to run with her husband; he is looking for someone to push him. I told her politely that I do not like running with people. Sometimes I go fast and sometimes I go slow forever. It is all in the moment and I don’t know where I will be in the future in terms of my run. I always humor myself when running, I figure any exercise is good, right?

Lastly, to the guy who suddenly appeared on my trail this evening, all fresh-looking (after I’d been at it for some time.) Yeah, I caught you. Busted foot or not, I still don’t like people looking all tough while trying to lose me. (I may have issues when it comes to competition. Ah well, I could have worse neuroses. . .)

The Wonders of Ducky Duck

With five days under my belt in Japan, a couple of things are clear. Most obviously, the folks in town eat very small portions. My first two restaurant visits were disappointing not by the quality of the great food, but due to the portion size. I’ve learned to go back to the menu and just roger up more grub. I’ve had a few eyebrows raised, but there is nothing quite as disappointing as going to a restaurant and leaving hungrier than when you trotted in. I’ve returned to the Navy Lodge and eaten nutrition bars just to flesh out the tiny meals I’ve ordered over here.

I was poking around the local mall and spied a restaurant by the name of Ducky Duck. And inside sat a salad bar, waving me over. Hey American, fresh veggies! Come on down! If there is one thing that California’s got on Japan, it is the raw greenery. The veggie scene is very different in the Land of the Rising Sun. The folks here tend to either cook or pickle ‘em rather than serve them raw. (Before you get excited over the prospect of pickling, I earlier bought a strange pickled plum and seaweed concoction that braced my tongue and nearly forced me to retch. Now I’m very wary around the whole pickling process. I can eat anything, but that, whatever it was called.)

A very official-looking waiter sizes me up when I tell him the salad bar. He then waves me over to it. And, I say, this too. Then I point to what looks like the largest thing on the menu. A mound of beef, rice, curry, and egg. I feel like a conquering Roman, like an American overusing his resources. Sorry world, I am hungry. Both? he asks. Hai! I reply happily. Both! Dumbfounded, he shushes me off to go conquer. One trip only, he adds, sensing my viking-like tendencies to pillage and plunder.

I trot over to the salad bar and look around. No one appears to be watching me. As a bona fide Soup Plantation expert, I plan my attack. First, I put lettuce in the tiny soup bowl and pack it down with the tongs. The, on go the cucumber and tomatoes and the heavier stuff on top. I drizzle on ladles of various dressings. And then I go back to the veggies and really push them down into the bowl. I sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. It is a work of art. A pound of veggies in a three by three bowl. Is the waiter nearby? I look around carefully. Nope. But there is a shy waitress watching me from the edge of the kitchen. Busted. I give her a big, dumb smile. Walking back to my table, I wonder where the sumos eat. Surely those boys could put it back. . .

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

Speaking of ‘Gingers’? A long-time  ‘oppo’ of mine, a Welshman, known as Taff, recently returned from operating within the offshore oil industry. Having worked a routine of four months on, four weeks off, for the past twelve years, he deserves time at home to put his feet up. I only hope his ‘missus’ can cope? image-2-for-simon-s-cat-and-andy-capp-15-11-11-gallery-436710195Taff is a stereotypical Welshman. It must be said that the Welsh in general are an affable lot. They play rugby to a high standard, soccer to a poor standard, and they can sing, by God can they sing, pitch perfect and in harmony. Men of Harlech The Welsh accent is also melodious. They are bone dry in their humour and pure in their honesty, to the point of providing squirming, embarrassing, personal details to the listener. I put this down to their teachings of ‘confessions of faith’ through the Presbyterian Church of Wales. 3778781990_eed1fdf630

Taff served 12 years as a Marine, a relative ‘sprog’ when it comes to a man-sized career, some thing I remind him of often. Our friendship started in RM Commando training, where eighty young men were thrown together for the first time, all drawn from the corners of the UK as well as the British Commonwealth.  It matters not that a Welshman has a Christian name, they are all affectionately referred to as ‘Taff’, unless you happen to find he has a stunning sister, then you seek his Christian name. We shared a common bed space throughout our whole time in training, his self-effacing sense of humour kept me laughing throughout the most torturous times. 

Commando  training during a sharp bitter cold winter suited Taff down to the ground, as he had the whitest skin that was almost too painful to view with the naked eye. A complexion not suited to a glorious Devonshire summer, which he was grateful for. Not only was he ultra blanca, his hair was a fierce ginger, as were his eyebrows. On completion of training our squad was scattered around the various commando units of the Corps, Taff went to 42 CDO RM, and I to 40 CDO RM several miles away. We often bumped into each other at weekends along the parallel line of Pubs of Union Street, Plymouth. His unique complexion and fiery ginger hair being a marker buoy among the wave of drunken humanity.

Yesterday I received a call from him, which started off well until there was an almighty “yaaAARRRGGGHHHH!!!” followed by the sound of a clattering phone, then much slapping, wailing and shouting. He was either being mugged, or he had caught sight of his reflection in a plate-glass window? Being a decent hand, I cut him off to save his phone bill, and waited patiently for a call back. Sorry about that, a wasp went down the back of my shirt and stabbed me with its arse bayonet, I’m sunburnt, and the ‘missus’ was slapping my back trying to kill the bloody thing”! ~ “Did she kill it”? ~ “No, the bugger flew across my shoulder and out through the sleeve of my T-shirt!…images-1

At this stage I was almost crying, as I imagined his predicament, my ribs were aching as he continued the story (his wife was in the same hysterical state as I was). Being fiery ginger haired, and incredibly fair-skinned, it follows that Taff is not ‘tanfantastic’, in fact he requires Sunscreen Protection Factor 50, just to stand close to a 100-watt light bulb. He went on to explain that he was badly sunburnt across his shoulders, through walking around his ‘in-laws’ garden, he then bit his tongue, hard; as I asked slyly, “Oh, and where is that then Taff, where about in Wales are you”?Three_bridges_across_the_river_Conwy

 He answered cautiously, knowing he had walked into a self presented trap “You know? Just over the Menai Straits in Anglesey” ~ I turned the thumbscrew slightly by saying  “Yes, I know the area well, but where exactly are you, what village are you near” ~ “Oh boyo, you know what ‘flipping’ village it is” said he, exasperated. I asked him to name it, which he declined. Because after all of these years he has still not got his tongue around the name of the railway station close to the village from which his wife hails from, which was to be my next question to him. (Taff comes from Newport, South Wales, of which the North Welsh class as English, rather than Welsh, due to its close proximity to the border). It was down to me to say it, which really pissed him off. An Englishman would normally be incapable of doing so, due to it being spelled in Gaelic Welch. (butI had a great geography teacher)!

Taff, I can only presume your ‘in laws’ have not moved, so you must be in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, near to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch railway station “Yes I bloody well am, if you must know” came back his reply at which we both laughed. In English the station name means ‘St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel, near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio with a red cave’. 

IMG_6764-1500x1000The village is famous for having the longest named railway station in the world, and for that reason alone it attracts Japanese tourists by the train load? They also hope to catch sight of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, as Prince William operates out of the RAF Mountain Rescue Centre some 15 miles away. 

I would think a bonus for the tourists, would be to get a picture of the ‘Welsh ultra skinned white one, with volcanic hair’!

Yours Aye.

Tokyo Cheapo

Tokyo Cheapo is a website that lists fun things to do in Tokyo. It is run by savvy webmasters, Greg Lane and Grace Buchele, who have good gouge on the place:

There are plenty of fun and interesting things to do in Tokyo that are either cheap or free – even in the most expensive of neighbourhoods – like a modern architecture tour of Omotesando.

There are always events, parties and festivals happening in Tokyo. In summer there are fireworks festivals everywhere and in spring there ishanami – cherry blossom viewing. Almost every weekend (especially during the warm months) there is plenty of free entertainment to be had at Yoyogi Park. Whether you’re living in Tokyo or you’ve timed your visit well, you should check out a Sumo tournament at least once.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, keep an eye out every Thursday for the Cheapo Weekend which gives you the lowdown on free and cheap events for the weekend.

Great website. . .

Mamacharis: Often Imitated, Often Duplicated

In the Osaka Craigslist bike section, someone left this slightly misleading ad: 
Mountain Bike – JPY4000 (Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City)

Blue mountain bike for sale in Kyoto City. We are leaving Japan on July 29th, 2013 and must sell the bike by then. Asking 4,000 yen.

Mountain Bike - JPY4000 (Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City)

Mountain Bike – JPY4000 (Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City)

And someone was not pleased with it:
You kidding, right? That thing is NOT mountain bike at all. The thing is MAMACHARI. Where did you get that idea?

… and asking for 4000 yen for THAT thing? Good luck. 

Ah, the good ol’ Mamachari. Often imitated, often duplicated.