Two posts in one day! Madness.
After the madness that was July, I was looking forward to August, and the start of the holidays. I had been nurturing plans for what I was going to be doing during the break – including trips to Hong Kong and Taiwan, at which time I would be able to see some friends who would be in the areas, including an old Uni friend who I haven’t seen for about 6 or 7 years, and some of the students from here who were spending some time with extended Asian family before going home. All of which have been scrapped due to funds. Awesome.
But as August rolled around, the first thing on the agenda, August 1, was the concert! I managed to find one more guitarist for the second band, meaning my duties were reduced to bass/backup vocals in one, and vocals in the other. The international band I have managed to ignore long enough that nothing came of it yet. Yay.
The concert was great! It was a long day, with rehearsals scheduled in from 9am on the day (not much compared to the 7am bookings we had in studios in the week prior), and the final band finished up about 11pm. Throughout the day, I saw lots of people I’m starting to get to know exhibit their skills and style up on stage, and somehow got to know them a bit better. It’s a real bonding experience, spending time with people, getting to know them, watching them go up on stage and perform, then congratulating them when they come down, before going up there yourself to perform, and coming down to be congratulated by the same people you were just praising. Though my Japanese is still not to the extent of being able to communicate with the people around me to the level that I want to, having a medium of music as a common interest shot the relationships straight up. Just watching people play, and getting caught up in the energy and emotion they put into it, or catching people yourself in something you perform, helps to solidify the way you interact with each other. Further solidification was ensured through a drinking event held afterwards, right through till the first trains started around 6 the next morning.
And with so many people involved, it never got boring. It definitely got long, and I had to take a break for some breathing space at one point, but it was definitely a great experience. The whole thing was recorded, and when I get a copy of the DVDs (it’s a LOOONG recording), I’ll try and put something up on here, but for now, here’s some photos.
The day after returning exhausted from all that, was a three-day camp with a different circle. The circle bills itself as an “international exchange group”, but there’s really very little of that going on. It’s mostly just a bunch of people who enjoy hanging out together – mostly Japanese. Most people can’t even speak English to anything approaching a competent level, which I would (perhaps arrogantly?) consider a pretty basic foundation of someone truly interested in international exchange.
Regardless of what their purpose is, they’re still a good bunch of friendly people who I enjoy spending time with (some of them anyway. Some seem straight-up disinterested with any foreigners at all, which really makes me wonder what they’re doing there). We went out to a lodge in the mountains and did campfires, drinking, tests of courage, hobo cooking, sleeping haphazardly in random fashion on the floor, and all the other good things associated with camps. This was probably ACTUALLY the last time I’ll see the Japanese people who are leaving. There was only one foreigner there besides me – the rest have already left.
I got back from there on about the 5th. Since then has been the wait. The wait for that scholarship money. Things have gotten pretty bad, and I’ve actually had to borrow money from a friend, but I’m battling through. On the upside, I know very few people left in the area to spend time (and money) with. Even the people who are still remaining in Tokyo have largely headed overseas for summer trips. Meaning I can while away the days in my own boring way.
You know what’s bad about being bored, and having no money? Everything. Especially in the summer in Japan. Stepping outside of the airconditioned area is horrible enough, you’re sure as hell not walking anywhere. Which means travel is dependent on taking the train – which costs. In fact, even staying in that airconditioned room costs money – especially when you’re working on a prepaid system for power – meaning it’s gotta be turned off as much as possible. Going out for dinner or lunch, shopping for clothes or anything, or even going to get a coffee in your favourite local café are out of the question.
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the people living in my dorm are largely the antisocial Asian types. They might be perfectly social among themselves, but for some reason they don’t seem to have any interest in associating with people outside of their language group. Whether it’s out of laziness from having to communicate in a foreign language, uncomfortableness about dealing with someone from another culture, or straight-up dislike, I don’t know. But I can say that the Thais, Vietnamese, Koreans and Chinese gangs seem to be having a pretty good time when I see them – a good time which is almost always put on temporary hiatus when I enter the area as everyone watches me, largely ignores my greetings, and waits for me to leave.
So, what have I been doing? I went to an all-night party on the beach with a few people from one of the circles – it cost me only the train fare there, and then shortly after the last train of the night stopped running, a typhoon hit. The rest of the night was spent under the eaves of the local 100-yen store, trying to avoid the wind-lashed whips of rain flying in. I’ve also lived through two earthquakes in the last 3 days. I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if all this means the end of the world? If so, it’s a pretty anticlimactic time to go out.
Speaking of anticlimactic, how about that Endless Eight ending. One other thing I’ve been having plenty of time to do is download movies and Japanese animation and watch that. I could watch it on TV (the animation at least), but this way I get English subtitles, which makes the whole thing seem less like study (which I should probably be doing more of, actually, but…)
I knocked off the latest Jigoku Shojo series, which was, as usual, awesome, and have been bearing through the Endless Eight saga of the new Haruhi Suzumiya series, the conclusion of which I am happy to say I saw today. I would feel pissed off at the ridiculous way it was resolved, and all the time I invested in it, if I could fool myself into thinking I had had anything better to do.
I’ve also started afresh my hunt for the perfect apartment. I found a couple of places – one out near Gyaru Uni again, which seemed nice and big. The price was also right, but the back door opened literally onto the train tracks. There was a brick in the way to stop it being opened, but when I forced it open (are you supposed to do that when you’re just checking a place out?), I got one hell of a shock. Thank God a train wasn’t passing. Considering the fact I’m still getting woken up regularly by the pain in the ass Columbian in the room next to me who yells at his computer every morning between 5-7am, I don’t think trains are what I need. The second place I saw was a hop, skip and a jump from Uni, cheap, and not too shabby. However, it was kinda small, has no washing machine (coin laundry?), and the barely-alive landlady living right next door.
I’ve been meaning to update this for the last few days, but just somehow haven’t got around to it. Now I have, I’ll try (again) to keep it updated more regularly, since the further I fall behind, the harder it is to catch up!
Now, I have to go. I haven’t eaten today, and it’s time for toast.