Saturday, August 13, 2005

My Pal: Crazy Ishi

Today, I would like to introduce you all to a Nakaton friend of mine, Ishi, or as he is better known in Hokkaido snack-bar circles, “Crazy Ishi.”

The above photo was taken one night after Crazy Ishi had just finished consuming his 32 bottle of shouchu. As you can clearly see, all faculties are still intact, or, maybe I should say, as intact as they could be within the mind of a raving alcoholic. When it comes to drinking, Crazy Ishi has no equal.

I happened upon this rebellious young lad one evening whilst overindulging in Japanese shouchu at the local pub. Being the friendly type, as well as the exceptionally daring, Crazy Ishi had no fear in approaching the intimidating white man within their midst, and quickly challenged me to a twofold contest of drinking and arm wrestling. As fate would have it, I won the later, but failed miserably at the former. I had truly met my match when it came to slinging back the spirits. Crazy Ishi had defeated me fair and square.

As Crazy Ishi puts it, he began his alcoholic career as a simple remedy for killing the pain of living in a dull and lifeless rural community. However, soon after taking up his new activity, it was clear to all that this boy had a talent. Even the legendary Hokkaido drunk, “Fat Ito,” couldn’t challenge him. So, in a town with little to be proud of after the potato powder factory closure and all but a handful of the youth had begun their exodus to Sapporo, they had “Crazy Ishi,” and they were proud.

Now Crazy Ishi feels a deep obligation to his community, and believes his duty is to remain here to challenge wayfaring drifters to drinking battles, so as to spread Nakaton’s fame throughout the region. In addition, Crazy Ishi makes regular out-of-town excursions to other areas to take on local hopefuls. So, Crazy Ishi’s life, although not filled with the urban excitement he had hoped for in his youth, has found a purpose and satisfaction within his sport. And, when asking him if he has any further goals for the future, he confessed, “to be the first man to break the 100 bottle mark for shouchu in a single evening. Everyone says it can’t be done. Impossible, they tell me. I want to be the one to prove them all wrong.” Well, good luck, Crazy Ishi, we’ll be routing for you.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nakaton Pimp

If you had asked me before “Are there any Yakuza in Nakaton?” I would have laughed in your face. Yakuza! In a town of only 2,500 in the middle of freaking nowhere, a place where trees actually outnumber the citizens! You have got to be kidding me. Idiot….

But, OH, was I shocked to discover the evil truth after innocently wandering into the only worthwhile watering hole in town to spot these two ruffians menacingly perched in the corner. Actually, shocked is not the word for it; defecatingly frightened is more appropriate.

The one in the foreground is Bandai, a mistakenly mild-mannered fellow who fronts as an office worker for the local Board of Education. But, don’t be fooled by his seemingly benign appearance. This man is a tiger just looking to bite. He’d just as soon slap you as look at you, and wouldn’t even think twice about it. He basically acts as the strong-arm of the group.

The one in the background is Hiroki. He’s the brains of the operation whereas Bandai is the brawn. He masterminds all the jobs such as small time candy smuggling, illegal house cleaning operations, and dog pimping. Hey, they only live in a town of 2,500. It’s not like real criminal opportunities are shooting through the roof here.

Hershey's Hair Make

And you silly guys thought they only made chocolate. Jeesh…

Apparently the Hershey’s corporation has been doing a bit of experimenting under the radar outside of America lately. They now also make hair. Also, looks like Rogaine’s finally going to get one hell of a run for its money if this pans out. Because, whenever I think of Hershey’s, I think of chocolately goodness. And, whenever I think of Rogaine, well, I think of all those dicks on TV who promote it. So in my soon to come time of follicle need, you’ll know which one I’ll be choosing. Hersheys! I wonder if any chocolate by-products are used in the process? And, is a foil wrapper somehow involved?

Nishi-san & His Steaming Brew of Love

Women Beware! Getting within five steps of Nishi-sans infamous, steaming “Love Brew” may impair all sexual resistance skills.

Yes, folks, the word is out. Nishi-san has concocted the mother of all love brews, and his list of victims also continues to grow on a daily basis as if propelled by some mystical force, well, some mystical “love” force, that is.

Nishi-san claims he came up with the secret formula for his knock ‘em randy elixir, late one night in his mother’s basement. A formula he had been clandestinely developing since the 7th grade when the hormones started to tingle and girls became more than mere easy wedgy targets. It was at this point that a shattered Nishi-san soon discovered that female interest in him was lamentably low. Therefore, from that day forward, he was driven to develop a super formula that would cause, or force, any women who ingested it to instantly fall into a state of mad lust - directed at him, naturally.

Now he claims, after uncountable, and equally uncomfortable failures, to have finally found the perfect herbal combination, and by the looks of the women he’s been sharing company with as of late, it’s freaking true!

Oh, and by the way, his formula is not for sale. Why not? Well, duh, if everybody had it, than Nishi-san wouldn’t be special anymore, now would he?

Damn you, Nishi-san!

The Good Luck Poker House

You don’t think they might be being a bit sarcastic with the title, could they? Like, “Ya! Good Luck! HA HA HA HA!”

I wonder what a similar name for a brothel might be? “Hope You Don’t Get AIDs! Sex House.” Or for that matter, how about the “Knock ‘em Dead” shooting range, or the “We’ll Be Praying For, Ya” medical clinic, and finally the “Watch Your Cornhole” gay bar.

Well, they were funny to me at least.

We Are the 4 Banditos!

As money and entertainment were equally running short during the cruel north Hokkaido winter, a few of us decided to give banditry a try – just for kicks, really. And, I have to say, it was the most fulfilling 5 hours of my life. OK, a bit short-lived, but OH, the excitement of blasting off outdated machine guns at random strangers. You have got to try it. Damn, can those suckers run. Fucking hilarious.

Unfortunately, our outlaw careers were cut short due to scheduling conflicts in our early morning classes the next day. Big time disappointment, I know. But, what are going to do? Personally, I constantly dream of what could have been.

OK, OK, I’m kidding. We weren’t actually real life bandits, or even the cheesy fake kind like they have Knot’s Berry Farm, we were extras in a Japanese Docu-Drama they were filming up around Wakkanai. But, I totally had you there for a minute, didn’t I?

But, on that note, you have got to try being a German POW in a Siberian concentration camp at least once in your life. The cabbage soup… OH, absolutely fabulous. And, not to mention the clothes. Don’t even get me started on the clothes. Awesome! Totally Awesome! And the hardened Russian guards with a penchant for sodomy, totally cool! Nicest guys you will ever meet. Really!

Mrs Hira: Winner of the 2005 "Atsui Awards"

Well, folks, the ballots are in, and as expected, it was one hell of a race. But, in the end, Mrs. Hira of Nakatonbetsu Junior High School prevailed, and was officially declared the winner of the first ever “Atsui” Awards in the Hokkaido prefecture division.

So, you may just be asking yourself how this 29-year old small town schoolteacher pulled it off. Well, as one judge simply put it, “when you say the word “Atsui” (hot) a record number 2,342 times in a single school day, it doesn’t exactly hurt your chances. An amazing single day feat indeed, and one that will arguably remain unbroken for quite some time.”

When asked about the secret behind her success and talent for insistently complaining about the weather, she cited being a native of Wakkanai city (Japan’s northernmost settlement and universally considered colder-than-fuck city), as well as a hyperbolic hatred for all things warm, even soup, as reasons. After questioning her about the prospects of breaking her own record, Hira was quick to reply, “Atsui ne.” (It’s fucking hot in here, isn’t it?)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

2 Brothers - 1 Dream: To Make Love to a White Woman

From the first life altering moment when the Yoshida twins saw the movie poster of Raquelle Welch in “One Million Years B.C.”, their vision has been clear: to someday do it with a white girl. Yes, ladies, it could even be you.

Even though they may live in a tiny little town in the northern outskirts of Hokkaido that is rarely if ever visited by a foreigner, these two aging men have yet to let go of their dream and still hold hope against hope with an iron will. They truly believe that the fateful day will come when their fantasy is made a reality and they can feel the passion of slipping between the sheets with a natural blonde.

Though age has finally caught up to them, and they may not possess the striking looks of the past, these boys still have a romantic trick or two up their sleeves. Tetchi (right) is a master of the karaoke, luring in many a damsel with his magic vocal chords and few versus of The Carpenters’ “Close to You.” Koitchi (left), owner of a perfectly formed perm, is also a part-time sushi roller extraordinaire, impressing any lady in the kitchen with his exceptional culinary skill.

So, ladies, if you would also like a bit of exotic bedroom escapades and are open to new things, such as an erotic night with a couple brothers pushing 50, with hearts of gold and hair of silver, then come to Nakatonbetsu. It won’t be long before these two Japanese Cassanova’s find their way into your heart. I guarantee it.

Amon and His Mighty Bowl Haircut

Since the early days of his young life, Amon’s signature look became ensconced upon his head in proud fashion. Yes, folks, he love’s the bowl, and the bowl loves him. After getting to know this raspy little fourth grader, I soon could not imagine him any other way. Basically, when I think of the “bowl,” I think of Amon; and, when I think of Amon, I naturally think of the bowl.

However, the “bowl” is not just a fashion statement, but has also proven to possess many practical uses as well in the rough and tumble world of fourth grade. For example, when playing outdoor sports, it’s exaggerated frontal hang acts as a sun shield of sorts, allowing Amon to play a game hat-free. It also has the unique capability as a weapon of distraction in dodgeball through wildly waving it back and forth in a wave like motion, causing opponents to lose that all crucial split second moment of concentration.

So, in sum, the bowl is here to stay, and when asked if he has any plans in the future for a sudden style shift, Amon’s answer is always an emphatic “No way, man.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Well, It's Final. I'm Running Away and Joining a Japanese Shinto Cult. Or, On Second Thought, Maybe Not.

As a final act of - we gotta get this damn foreigner involved with something cultural before he leaves - I was asked to be one of two salt-throwing-guys in Nakaton’s Omikoshi festival. Or, as I like to call it, the “let’s carry this old wooden Shinto shrine around town, hope it gives us good luck, and get really wasted at the same time,” festival.

Now being a salt-tosser might seem quite low and menial to the typical outsider, but couldn’t be more wrong! I was informed on repeated occasions that my ranking within the procession was a position never before bestowed upon a foreigner. Maybe they were just trying to make me feel better, secretly mocking me, or whatever, but regardless, I performed my duties with pride and sincerity, unlike my cross-eyed drunk Japanese counterpart.

So, I got to be a salt tosser in a parade, experience a real honest to goodness traditional Japanese festival, and see what it would be like to wear a crispy wafer on my head. Basically, it was the apex and swan song of a roller coaster ride of an AET career in Nakatonbetsu, Hokkaido. And, as the old saying goes: the best always go out on top. But, also, as in my case, even the struggling mediocre.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Buy My Shit...Please!

As I will be moving out of my apartment in a just over a week's time, I have some really good shit to sell at unbeatable rock bottom prices.

1 North Korean Intercontinental Ballistic Missle
Price: 30,000 yen
Description - used once, have English manual and warranty card, plus leather carrying case.
Color - white w/DPRK emblem on tip.

1 4-year old Burmese Elephant
Pice: 22,000 yen
Description: Bought in Thailand while on vacation. Barely used. Comes with collar, scratching post, and flea dip.
Color - grey.

1 Russian Soviet Era Hovercraft
Price: 120,000 yen
Description: 4 speed manual shift, chrome package, CD player, Fuel efficient (20 kilo per hour in heavy city traffic) Shakken paid through next April. Extremely rare.
Color - fire engine red.

1 Flesh Eating Zombie
Price: Free to good home
Description: Created while bored during office downtime. Good with children. Comes with cage and 2 months supply of food.
Color - patterned grey.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Nakaton Heartbreaker Squad - Males Beware!

Carousing the back alleys of Nakaton, these little aces of love are at it once again – breaking hearts and takin’ no prisoners. Armed with 10-point smiles, striking figures, and even kimonos, few if any can resist their superpowers of attraction. Where they go the boys go, plain and simple. So, boys of Hokkaido beware; you just might be the next victim in a long list of casualties. Hey, there’s one in the picture right now.

I happened upon this little gang of cupids by chance in the midst of celebrating one of Nakaton’s many summer festivities. What was otherwise another uninspiring meeting of the locals was suddenly transformed, as if by magic, into a superfest when this little pack arrived locked, loaded and ready for fun. The sight of my camera was all it took to send them scurrying in haste for yet another photo opportunity in hopes of spreading their fame. Well, girls, here it is. And get this: you’re now on the World Wide Web. How’s it feel?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Profile of a Hokkaido Mama-san

Today, I would like to introduce everyone to Mama-san Makiko, the proprietor of the local Shichi Fuku izakaya, or slosh house. Shichi Fuku is the Japanese equivalent to the American backwoods watering hole, sporting a menu of the greasiest of meaty dishes and the cheapest of low- quality alcoholic beverages. All in all, making this little humble establishment a regular pit stop towards my new total-cardial-destruction-plan.

From an early age, Mama-san Makiko knew where her skills lied – serving copious amounts of alcohol to more than willing recipients. She has henceforth seen her destiny fulfilled as manager and owner of this little Japanese saloon.

But what separates the Hokkaido countryside mama-san from the rest of the same in other parts of Japan? I believe it is hardiness. The hard winter and even harder edge customers make this lot tough as nails, equally surpassed by none. They can drink with the best of them, and that’s saying a lot. Whiskey straight is often the elixir of choice for these pioneering women, with Mama-san Makiko being no exception. To them, drinking is not just a favored activity, but a fundamental part of the mama-san code, akin to Sumo and binge eating. A mama-san who can’t throw down with the best of them won’t last long in this demanding field. This insistent lifestyle will hence often make the rode weary mama-san well aged before her time, giving them a worn, grizzled look, but Mama-san Makiko is one of the exceptions. Pushing 60, she still doesn’t look a day over 55.

However, with regards to their alcohol guzzling tendencies, the only thing that equals their appetite for liquor is the size of their heart. A mama-san will often be the quickest in a small backwater Hokkaido community to embrace and befriend the foreigner in their midst. While others are still scattering in fear at the sight of Mr. White-face futzing around their little nowhere town, the mama-san is pouring another one on the house, for the new exotic wonder.
Thanks Hokkaido mama-sans for being a great friend indeed, in our difficult times of incredible alcoholic need. You’re the best!