Contrary to what you might think, my trip to Japan was, despite some frustrations, actually a lot of fun. Some of the high points:
Meguro Parasite museum
It was as advertised. Lots of parasites in jars and disturbing illustrations (which I didn’t take pictures of). I picked myself up a postcard from the place, advertising the “Wonderful World of the Worm.” It is now on the wall next to my bed.
Surprising fact: the Meguro Parasite Museum is a hot date spot. Everyone besides me was a teenage couple, except for the dad who was there with his little girl.
Their pride and joy: an 8.8 meter-long tapeworm pulled from someone’s intestine. They had 8.8 meters of cord to the side that you could play with, to measure how much of your body that would occupy.
Gaijin Smash Karaoke
My second night there, I went out with a bunch of people to sing karaoke. We ordered nomihodai, which is all-you-can-drink, so we got pretty tipsy pretty quickly. About a half hour before our two hours were up, one of our members spotted a group of young Japanese people, and said, “Let’s go invade their karaoke room!”
So we did.
They were actually tremendously amused by our drunk asses, and picked out a couple English songs for us to sing. After belting out a couple tunes by Muse, I knew I was nearing the end of the night, so I switched to my karaoke party shtick — death metal covers of pop songs.
After a rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” I switched to one which confused and delighted the Japanese audience — Boku wa Kuma.
You see, the original song is a cute little childrens’ song, whose lyrics go something like:
Boku wa kuma, kuma, kuma (I’m a bear, a bear, a bear)
Kuruma jya nai yo (I’m not a car)
Kuma, kuma, kuma (a bear, a bear, a bear)
My version, sung to the same tune, but in a deep, angry growl, went something like:
Boku akuma, maou akuma (I’m the devil, the evil lord devil)
Ningen tabetaiyo-! (I want to eat humans!)
Maou akuma (Evil lord devil)
Good times had by all.
Arm-wrestling a crazy old man
On the boat ride up to Hokkaido, we were sitting around, chatting, when Tom, one of the members of our 30-man-strong gaijin group, foisted yet another insane Japanese person on us.
(Tom pictured, at right)
Tom is a very friendly person and is naturally inclined to talk to everyone. Only problem is, his Japanese ability is not quite there, so after about 10-20 minutes, he will inevitably introduce this person to the rest of us, and wander off. This resulted in an awkward 20 minutes where a crowd of people were trying to watch The Office, while some random stranger tried to talk to them, without leaving the room. It also resulted in a prolonged series of arm wrestling matches with some old dude who, independent of any accusations, repeatedly insisted he was not drunk. The old man was mutantly strong and I lost, as did everyone else, until Tom came back, and crushed him with his mighty gaijin powers.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to snap any pictures of the old man. I’m trying to hunt some down, and will post them as soon as I can.
Our first night in Sapporo, we had a big group trip out to a transvestite stage show.
They sat around talking to us for awhile before the show started. They were a really strange bunch of people, but immensely fun. I wish we’d been able to talk to them more. The one pictured kept hitting on Adam, the guy in a black jacket (second from right).
The show itself was pretty great, with some standout acts. First off, they had a clearly Kishidan-inspired routine:
And last up, they had a Dracula retelling, which was surprisingly elaborate:
The whole thing was seriously quite excellent.
There is, I found out, a popular new mascot (“image character”) from Hokkaido that’s gaining in popularity all over Japan. His name is Marimokkori. I took a picture of him. Here, take a look:
Now, take a long, hard look at that picture. Does anything strike you as wrong about it?
Say, in the crotch region?
Yes, Virginia, that is a boner. You see, Marimokkori‘s name is a combination of two words: “marimo” (a type of algae ball popular in Hokkaido), and “mokkori” (erection).
Most disturbing part of the Marimokkori trend?
What the FUCK, Japan.
The Weirdest Chocolate Factory On Earth
While in Sapporo, we went to the Ishiya Chocolate Factory, which, while not too remotely located, was nevertheless quite a hike, seeing as how we decided to go there in the midst of a blizzard.
The factory was, for the first half, pretty much what you think it’d be. You learned a lot about the history of chocolate, cocoa production across the world, various chocolate-serving utensils, and even got to see how chocolate was made in the factory.
At the halfway point, there was a delightful little cafe, where we got some chocolate fondue. There was a clock tower with animatronics that would come out and dance every hour, on the hour. The whole setup had a bit of a Willy Wonka-meets-Ghibli vibe to it.
And then it went off the rails.
Directly after the cafe, we came into a room featuring this prominently:
Yes, that is a mockup of the Terminator riding a motorcycle. It had red glowing eyes and would make growly noises.
Then there was this, down the hall from it:
If you stuck your arm into its mouth, it would emit a high-pitched shrieking noise.
It was, I learned later, a prop (or a replica?) from the movie “Roman Holiday“:
Next room? Why, a tribute to Colombia, of course.
Next room had several suits of Victorian finery on display behind glass, with one cabinet mysteriously blacked out. Turns out, if you stood in front of this cabinet for a couple seconds and flailed around, lights would briefly flash on inside of it, revealing this hideous monster:
Next, a room entirely full of childrens’ toys. Two immediately stood out, however. First off, an Facehugger, from the movie Aliens:
For those who haven’t seen the movie, this thing latches onto your face and strangles you, while laying eggs in your head. Why any kid would want to play with it is beyond me. Second up, the Santa Claus rocket dildo:
Next room, dedicated to some giant wrestler from several decades ago (think “Andre the Giant”). They had his shoe:
Then: Princess Di!
Lastly: a palatial staircase!
On either side of the staircase, a bench with a statue. On the right, Abraham Lincoln.
On the left, the Mona Lisa.
Truly, it was the best chocolate factory ever.
So I didn’t snowboard so much as fall down a lot with occasional bouts of snowboarding in between. This was in Niseko, which is tremendously beautiful.
This was probably the highlight of the trip for me personally, because, although it’s not much to write about, snowboarding is a lot of fun. Going again in a week, actually.
On the way back from Niseko, our bus stopped at a rest stop halfway through. The name of this rest stop was Kinoko no Oukoku, which translates to “Mushroom Kingdom.” There were, indeed, a lot of mushroom-related goods there. However, what really got my eye (and my stomach) was this:
Allow me to translate the labels of the cans on the middle row. They are, from left to right, whale curry, deer curry, wild bear curry, and sea lion curry.
I repeat: What the FUCK, Japan.