Monday, December 29, 2003

This just in from Annie Taff, a fabulous idea, and one that i could definately see myself getting interested in.

speaking of breweries - please go to brewery school and opend a brewery
soon. first off, the machines are so satisfyingly big, like when i went
to a monster truck rally and it was satisfyingly loud. and second of
all, it would open up a place of employment for me - i could draw the
labels and give tours wearing a special 'ask me questions' button - it
would, i assure you, be brialliant.

I tried to be productive today and get shit done, but it was only marginally successful. I just didn't really motivate that fast, and then this computer game called out to me, "Play Me, Play Me, Waste your time getting disgusted with yourself." So i did.

Whilst running errands earlier, i saw this guy getting onto his motorbike at the 100 Yen store. He must have been about 120 years old, he could barely walk and he gummed his gums in the way that old folks without dentures will do. He gave me the once over and kept glancing at me in my bicycling attire, leg bands and yellow helmet cover. I tried to watch him as well; the guy just teetered and puttered along, coaxing his 50cc bike out of the parking space. He took several weak tries at the kick start before getting the thing going and then he just kind of puttered out of the parking lot.
Two reactions from this: The first is, "Wow, what a stubborn old man. How great of him for maintaining his independence."
The second reaction is, "Wow, what a crazy old man. He's gonna get himself killed for sure one of these days. There is no way that his reactions are fast enough to ride a motorcycle successfully in the winter in this city."
I've heard of the legendary stubbornness of old Japanese men, and this guy was the first real example. One has to wonder about the rigorousness of the driving tests for the elderly. WIth a population as geriatrically inclined as Japans, it's a wonder they don't have more accidents caused by drivers who are just too old. Maybe old folks just walk after a certain age.
The old ladies here all push along these little rolling chair/walker/purse type things. They're little quilted chairs that they scoot around the town with. They look doll sized to me, but really i suppose that they're handy for all of the shrunken, hunched over women here. Osteoporosis is hugely popular with old ladies and old men. Some are so stooped over from working in the rice fields and calcium poor diets that they walk along like ducks. They look awkward, and yet they're mobile, something that can hardly be said for the elderly in our country, who are often confined to beds or wheelchairs. I'm not sure of the reasons why, but it seems quite normal for little old people to hobble everywhere they need to go. Maybe theres just no transportation for them.
At any rate, i think that we'd all be doing well to be riding motorbikes at the age of this fellow that i saw today. Ganbatte kudesai

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I went sliding down a mountain on my ass today. I also had skis attached to my feet but for about 3 of the 4 hours that i was there they seemed rather inconsequential. My clothing also seemed to have a marvelous slippery coating that made me slide like superman for tens of meters when i fell, which was often.
For about the first two hours i was a big sissy, sticking to the kiddie runs and crashing a lot. then when i got my legs under me i went ahead and tackled the bigger runs, and crashed a lot. Happily i'm not hurt and only have a minor kink in my neck as a result of the day's festivities.

I liked skiing, as i assumed that i would, but i think that i'm going to get kinda bored with the resort thing pretty quickly (relatively speaking). I still haven't really managed a good set of linked Telemark turns, which is what i was sort of hoping to learn how to do, but i can see that overall it's going to be a matter of constantly challenging myself to do interesting things. Skiing is about 80% skill and about 20% fitness. I'm definately used to things that have the opposite ratio. Once you figure out how to ski, the only real challenge lies in doing crazier and crazier stuff. We'll have to see how it goes.

Maybe i should finally get health insurance.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

This is heartening news. It just goes to show that all is not going to hell, even if it seems like it. Apparently some group from Arkansas wanted to put in a new shopping mall right next to the priarie wetland area in my hometown of Ames Iowa. My parents thought that it was a foregone conclusion, but luckily, not everybody in the world has his or her head up his ass.

Land Use Policy Plan Update #13

News from 1000 Friends of Iowa

The Ames Planning and Zoning Commission, in a meeting last Wednesday, voted 5-2 to recommend that the City Council deny the LUPP change Wolford Development was requesting for the area at the intersection of East 13th Street and Interstate 35. In addition, the commission recommended a reevaluation of the need for a regional commercial area east of I-35. The responses of the five individual Commission members explaining their vote were thoughtful and reflected the real concerns about the best type of growth the Ames’ community needs.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

i was just putting the futon where i sleep away and a strange notion came into my head. I was feeling kinda lonely and isolated, i suppose listening to Radiohead didn't help.
I feel like the retarded kid in the inspiritaional and poigniant film that makes you feel like, "Boy if that handicapped guy can get on with his life, so can I."
The big problem with my self imagery is that, first of all, i'm not disabled, i can do lots of stuff and i should be smart enough to motivate myself past the crappy attitude that i've had the past couple of days. I suppose that its maybe something as trite as the christmas blues that are keeping me down. That coupled with a healthy dose of Japan and i'm feeling kinda shitty. At least next week is vacation. Thank god for that. I would probably go nuts without the welcome respite of the newyears holiday. Of course, that means more time for me not to do the things that i set myself to do everyday. We'll see how it goes.
Here is a new japanese word for you all, i'll try to put it into sentence form; Watashi wa kino domo futsukairoi deshita. That roughly translates into, "Yesterday, i was really hung over." Sometimes a hangover can be an asset, sometimes a liability, this day was a bit of both. I felt like shit, but likewise didn't give a shit about the stupid highschool girls. Whatever, they worship me because i gave them candycanes.

There is nothing like a christmas in a foreign land with one's girlfriend in a different foreign land to really make a bottle of whiskey look good. I was over at the christmas eve party of the aforementioned Nick and Al and felt the need to cut loose a little. I was up until three drinking and playing charades. Let me tell you, i am good when you get the juices flowing a little bit. Maybe not so good at the guessing, but damn i can act up a storm. I managed to pull off the reinactment of the title, "The Origin of Species". Guess what sexual word "origin" sounds like and you are halfway through my performance.
Really though, it's stunning what people can act out with just the few selected clues such as, book, movie, person, sylables etc. I always write down something that will be totally impossible but nonetheless someone whips right through the thing in 20 seconds.

I guess that there's just a limit on how creative my brain can be.
i bought this menthol shampoo yesterday thinking that it would be a great thing. All of the other shampoos around here tend to smell girly, weird or just plain grand-motherly. After cracking all the caps in the store to smell the contents, i settled on the minty freshness of the Tonic brand shampoo. I figured that the smell would invigorate my scalp and by extension the little grey cells of my brain.

Today was my first trial run of the new bottle.

All was good, it smells good, it looks good and it burns good. I don't know who got the bright idea of putting menthol in shampoo. Shampoo goes in your hair, which is usually located above your eyes. This is, i think, a good design. The only problem comes into play when you put a volatile substance into your hair and then try to rinse it out, and down, from your hair with the shower.


Bad things will happen. Luckily i had a ready source of water to flush my burning eyes, but let this be a lesson to all of you: Do not buy mentholated products unless you know what you're doing!
Yesterday was the emperor's birthday and also a national holiday. Jennifer left for Thailand at about 5:30 in the morning. Since it was a national holiday, one of the resident gaijin opened up his tiny restaurant for a brunch. THis guy's a fabulous cook, it was total Bobo quisine, there were scones, crepes waffles, chocolate sauce and some home baked bread. To top the bread you could have the chef's own rum raisin butter or his charcoal roasted hand-ground peanut butter or his home made preserves. Later on there was some fresh coffee and some bagels, made and steamed in his very kitchen. It was good food regardless, but made all the better by the fact that the people in the restaurant were having interesting conversations in ENGLISH. It was quite nice. I ended up running errands with Lara and Shane and then stopping by the house of Nick and Al, two gay JETs from England. They're putting on a super duper christmas party to which many JETs are going. I was tentatively scheduled to go as well, but opted not to since i prefer to teach english to reluctant, giggly, highschool girls than eat a well prepared meal with good company and booze.

After the brief stopover at the chez Nick and Al I came back home to mount up my telemark skis. It took about 3 hours to get everything set up and by this time it was pretty dark and pretty late, like 11:00. I had been screwing around with these skis for so long that i needed to get out and use them. I decided that i'd try to learn how to telemark ski on the embankment near the bridge overpass about a kilometer from here. I loaded up the skis in my backpack along with the poles and boots and headed out into the foggy night. I was pretty glad that it was so foggy because it made it a little less strange to be a lonely foreigner, trudging up and down the embankment with a big pair of skis. It must have been a strange sight.

It's probably good that i have a girlfriend or i'd be doing shit like this all the time, skiing on an embankment at 1:00 in the morning or some thing. It will be an interesting 3 weeks.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Here's a little Onion style tribute to my alma mater.

How Can I Use Feminism to My Advantage?
I was running the other night and i saw the first speedy Japanese guy here. You can frequently spot runners, but for the most part they're pretty slow and sweating heavily. This guy was going a little bit faster than the pace i had been going at but i doubled around to follow the guy and was able to match his pace from behind pretty well. I wanted to catch up and talk with him but then the thought occurred to me, "My Japanese is SHIT!"
I'm getting kind of frustrated by my lack of motivation on the language front. I haven't really been good ata ll about studying. I put in 3-4 hours a week, but that's not nearly enough. This is a complex and confusing language, not to mention they use a different set of characters from me. It's just a pain in the ass to learn. I can study a page for about an hour and still feel comfused about the whole thing. Pitiful really. What i really need to do is get off my ass and try to go meet people. THis is my problem however, since i didn't like doing this in the US, let alone in a country where i'm just another Novelty White Guy.
Oh well, if i don't learn Japanese i can always stay at home in my apartment and play computer games.
I've taken to a bit of rock climbing recently as there is a gym sort of close to our house. It's pretty fun except that there aren't any shoes in japan that fit me. I have tried the ones that they rent at the climbing gym but they more or less crush my toes while i have them on. Last time i went i brought along some athletic tape and stuck my toes into the shoe and taped the rest on. I tried climbing barefoot, but that's pretty painful.
I really wanted some shoes which led me to try to make a pair of my own. I figured, "How hard can it be?" And so i went to the store, bought some athletic tape, a pair of socks, some glue and an innertube for the rubber. It seemed like a simple type of thing right? All i had to do was to wrap the sock with athletic tape to support it and then simply glue on the innertube to the bottom like the sticky rubber climbing soles that most shoes have on them. No Problem.
I realized about one and a half rolls of athletic tape and 1 innnertube later that it is actually more difficult than i had originally surmised. Things did not go according to plan, shall we say, and i was left with a ruined and strange looking pair of socks.
This led me to search for some shoes online. I always hate buying shoes online. I've really had nothing but bad luck. If it weren't for the fact that there are no shoes in the country that fit me here, it's kind of difficult to do anything but order online. I've had to get 3 new pairs of shoes and 2 new pairs of slippers (well had to is strong for the shoes but i really wanted them) since coming here and all had to be imported, usually through the kindness of my parents.
At any rate, i bought a pair of climbing shoes online and had them shipped last week. They arrived really fast, which was super, but unfortunately they (a pair of Mad Rock Hookers, sz 13) were decidedly too small for me. Climbing shoes are supposed to be tight, but these were excruciating. They bent my toes downwards so sharply that my toe-knuckles turned white and developed little rings from the shoe material. It looked kind of as though i had been toe wrestling with an octopus or something, cool but not practical.
SInce they don't fit, not only did i waste my time but a valuable shipping expense as well. It costs about $35 for the dudes to send me the shoes and it will cost at least $15 to send them back and i still have no climbing shoes. The only convenient thing about the whole deal is that Japanese post offices always have a 24hour window for mailing things. I don't exactly know why, but it sure is convenient when you work late.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I heard about this guy last year and i think that it's fitting to mention him now that we've supposedly celebrated 100 years of manned flight. I have to give props to the Kiwi who was the first man to achieve powered flight. Richard Pearse

Richard Pearse: "Mad Pearse", "Bamboo Dick", self-taught inventor, prophetic designer, trail blazing aviator and eccentric visionary. On or about 31st March 1903 a reclusive New Zealand farmer Richard Pearse climbed into a self-built monoplane and flew for about 140 metres before crashing into a gorse hedge on his Waitohi property . Even at half the distance Pearse must have felt the liberating but anxious exhilaration of flying. There is uncertainty about whether it met the definitions of sustained flight, but it came eight months before the Wright Brothers entered the record books at Kitty Hawk North Carolina on 17th December 1903.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The 100 yen piece has a picture of the cherry blossom or sakura which is one of the traditional Japanese emblems. Cool right, the samurai favored the ideal of the flower because it fell from the tree while still in full bloom, symbolizing the honorable path for a samurai, who would prefer to die in battle in his prime rather than in old age. At least that's what the guidebook told me.
That's great and all, but what the emblem really means that the yen piece falls from your fingers with the transience of the cherry blossom. Jesus does the money fly out of your wallet here. I spent almost 30,000 yen in less than 8 hours for my visa stamps and train tickets to Tokyo. It's almost like gambling to see money fly that fast. Thrilling because it's still abstract to me, they're more like polker chips than dollars to me at this point. It's also crazy since i don't yet have a bank account yet and i just get my paychecks in cash, and a fad wad o'cash it is, har har har.

I've been pondering some things about Japanese automobiles. Here's one of them, in the form of an email that I sent to, an air pollution monitoring site sponsored by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a group out of Chicago whom I worked for in 2001 while I was studying there. Overall it's a great organization, it is one of the few non-profits that I've seen where I really felt like they were on their game and they were effecting positive policy change on a local and larger scale. Here's the email:

Hey there,
I recently moved to Japan for the next year or so to teach English and since I've been here I've noticed some interesting things. The one I'm most curious about is if the trajectory of diesel exhaust makes any difference in air pollution.
I ride my bike to work every day and I've noticed that all of the large diesel vehicles such as buses and trucks have their exhaust pipes at the standard automobile level. Consequently, I get a face full of fumes when they pass me. I hate this, but I could see some possible benefits to having a low trajectory for diesel exhaust; namely that particulates could possibly settle out faster and maybe the fumes would not rise quite so high into the atmosphere. So, my question to you is, is there any possible difference as far as immediate human impact and long term atmospheric impact is concerned? Are there any studies on the matter?
Any info would be quite interesting. It's not as though I can really effect any policy change here as I am not skilled in Japanese nor am I able to vote here, but for my own edification it would be nice to know.

Thanks, Aaron Ritz

I'm also really curious about the way they do the licensing here. They have two levels of car plates here. The yellow plates are for cars with displacement of 660cc or less in their engines. These cars are cheaper and also have the benefit of being taxed at a much lower rate as well as cheaper insurance. Something that surprised me was to see that the Toyota Prius, the hybrid car had a white plate, the same as the rest of the license plates in Japan. I suppose this is because the car has a larger displacement than is allowed at 1100 cc (approximately, thanks Toyota website) but the car also gets awesome gas mileage, much better than many of the yellow plate cars here. It seems to me that the car should be gauged more on its mileage than on its displacement. This shouldn't be to difficult to measure since each car here goes in for a checkup and taxation every 2 years.

Please tell me if my ideas make any sense or if I'm just thinking too hard.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I had to make a return trip to tokyo today and i chose to use the Shinkansen instead of the bus. While the ol bullet train is about twice as expensive, I think that it's worth it. FIrst off, it's convenient. You just buy tickets the day of from the machine or the ticket counter and then you hop on, select your seat and blast off. THIs brings me to the second reason the train is better- It's fast as hell! THe train takes about half the time of the bus. There is some superb thrill in rocketing along the earth at that speed. It's way better than an airplane. While there is some coolness in being 30,000 feet in the air, it's nowhere near as good as whipping by houses and mountains like you were fastforwarding a movie. A certain section of track which takes me 28 minutes normally in the train is more like 8 in the Shinkansen. If there weren't the immense fixed costs involved, i would suggest that the US bag the stupid airlines and get us some bullet trains! I think while the maximum speeds might not compare between a bullet train and airplane, the actual transit time could be lessened by the superb convenience of the train. No passport scanners, no waiting for takeoff, everything on time every time!

Thanks Shinkansen!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Goddamn the Onion is funny. Just when you think the world is going to hell, you can turn to the Onion and find out, "Yeah, it's going to hell, but that's FUNNY!"

I particularly liked this one CEO's Maritial Duties Outsourced to Mexican Groundskeeper
I'm a little distressed today.
Recently, the Nagano Foreign Language Center merged with the Excellent English School which was located just down the street. No biggie, the Excellent crew just moved a couple of blocks down and pretty much just put their classes in our building and brought their 2 teachers, one of whom is a New Yorker by the name of Gaury. She's married to a japanese chap and therefore has some pretty wicked Japanese skills. I'm not sure that i like her, mostly that she's fine but we probably won't ever be buddies or anything. No problem there, but what really troubled me today was our conversation.

Gaury: So, what do you think of the people here?

Me: Well, i think that they're fine, but i don't understand much japanese so i'm not sure.

Gaury: Well i don't like the people at all! I think that they're reall assholes, particularly Bucho-san. They're just so rude to Kimiko (former owner of Excellent). I mean, she's really cool and they just treat her like crap!

Me: Well like i said, i don't know enough japanese to tell, they seem nice enough in English. I like Mr. Adachi (Tomo) a lot, i think he's a great guy.

Gaury: Really?!? Whoa, i don't know, this place feels like an english factory, like they don't care about the students. I heard from Kimiko that they lose like 30 students a month because people don't like it here. I mean all of my students hate it, some of them are probably going to quit because they don't like the environment.

Me: Hmm, i don't know, i hadn't heard that.

Gaury: Yeah, this place feels like a NOVA (the 800lb Gorilla of the industry). It feels like nobody wants to be here. I mean, even at AEON (another biggie) they have a better environment.

Me: Really. Well, that's interesting

This was kind of a shocker because i really think of my employers as assholes or anything before. I mean, Bucho-san probably does suck, i can tell that the guy is pretty much a cheauvanist crappy japanese business man, but really, i just don't know enough japanese to tell if anyone else is a jerk. For the most part they all seem happy and i haven't heard anything from my students, though maybe none of them would tell me if they didn't like me.
Realistically, i can see problems with how things are done and that maybe it's not as good as it could be, but i don't know about the claim that we loose 30 students a month, i think i would notice that.

Anyway, i'll chat with my English compatriot Paul about it sometime when there are no other english speakers around. My general impression is that my school isn't as bad as all that and that Gaury doesn't know the whole deal, though i can't really second guess her because i don't know any japanese.
We'll just see

Monday, December 08, 2003

I haven't yet had the time to figure out the procedure for putting up my own collection of funny japanese labels, but they already have some of the ones i've seen posted on it's pretty damn funny what people will think is good english in this country. It's really more of a decorator art. I'm sure that there is some of the same thing going on in our use of kanji in decoration, but nothing quite to the extent that you'll find it here.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

While to most folks in the US, and probably most folks in the world (including myself) it seems like a strange idea for a person to pick up and move to another country, be it Canada, China, Honduras, Guinea, Japan or whatever. Before i came a lot of people would inquire whether or not i had a japanese girlfriend. No, actually i don't, i'm just going to go adventure for a while, see a bit of this planet before i die and make a stand in a foreign society. Recently i've been pondering a little about what the hell i'm really doing here, and it came up, that i'm really just doing this for myself. I suppose that's not a bad reason to do something, and when it all boils down to it, few if any people really do something for someone else. Volunteering, peace corps, joining the army and fighting wars, running for elected office; all of these things come down to the fact that the people who are doing them can justify what they're doing as good deeds which in turn makes a person happy.
It is my somewhat cynical view that all philanthropy can be reduced down to a large extent on the effect it has on the doer of the "good deeds" rather than the recipient. I honestly don't think that anyone would come up with the initiative to begin and continue on philanthropic works if he or she didn't get something back.
I suppose that i could use the previous paragraph to launch into a diatribe against doing any sort of charity towards others, but that would be stupid. Helping others, particularly those less fortunate is good! It's just that many people don't keep in mind the reflexive nature of good deeds. I know i don't.
I was kind of inspired to write this post because Sarah, a friend of jennifer and me from highschool is now working for an NGO in Afghanistan. Damn, that's a perfect example of philanthropy. She's engaged in frustrating, difficult and useful work in probably the second most dangerous country on the planet, right after Iraq while i sit in probably the safest country in the world.
An illustration of my situation is the shocking crime statistics for my city. In the past year alone i personally experienced 1 bicycle headlight theft and heard about an unsolved murder about 13 months ago. Scary isn't it. What's more, no one has guns in Japan! How am i going to protect myself if no one has a gun and no one thinks he needs one? I'm going to have to go and get me some swords and ninja stars.
If you want to get pissed off about the bush administration for a reason which has nothing to do with the war in iraq, here is a great article written by Robert Kennedy Jr about bush's environmental record.
George Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president. In a ferocious three-year attack, the Bush administration has initiated more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws, weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife. Cloaked in meticulously crafted language designed to deceive the public, the administration intends to eliminate the nation's most important environmental laws by the end of the year. Under the guidance of the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Bush White House has hidden its anti-environmental programme behind deceptive rhetoric, telegenic spokespeople, secrecy and the intimidation of scientists and bureaucrats.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Hopefully, i'll be posting my collection of amusing product labels soon. Keep Tuned!

Monday, December 01, 2003

I went to Tokyo yesterday to get a stamp on my passport and to change my visa status. In short: WORST TRIP TO TOKYO EVER!!!! And i mean that, out of my two trips to Tokyo, this surpassed by far the first one in shittyness. The day started out fine, i almost overslept my 6:30 bus and then sat through 4 hours of traffic etc while the bus drove onward. I woke up in the outskirts of Tokyo with rain slapping the windshield and happy squeaky noisies coming from the wipers. The woman behind me didn't stop her snoring though, i'd have to wait until we got off the bus.
In tokyo i followed the instructions given to me by some co-workers and ended up at the appropriate train station in no time. When i got off, i had a short 20 minute trudge through the rain to the immigration office which is conveniently located on an island in tokyo harbor next to the coolest garbage incinerator that i've ever seen.
No problem, i'll just go inside, whip through the forms and be on my way. I went inside and anyone who has ever been to an immigration office can attest, it is a place of despair and frustration, no matter how nice the staffers are. Realistically, the people working at the place were amazing. All of them were like quadra-lingual, and they were amazingly polite for public servants. It was just that the place reeked of frustration, first from the other people and shortly therafter a lot of it was coming from me.
As i was filling out the forms i noticed that there were some blanks that I had to fill out including the net worth of my employer, the NFLC, the yearly revenues and also the tax paid last year. WTF, how the hell am i supposed to know about this stuff before i come to the office. No problem i would just call the office and ask them for the info. But shit, i had forgotten to bring the phone number as well, i couldn't call anyone! So i stewed and pondered and then while looking through my Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo i discovered that there was free directory assistance from NTT the phone company. SWEET! So i called the office only to find that my boss was out and that i'd have to wait for an hour and a half to talk to him. This was just dandy. So i wandered around and had some lunch in the built in cafeteria next to some Filipina prostitutes and their 60 year old japanese pimp. No they never propositioned me, but realistically, what else would 8 Filipina women, dressed in hoochie clothes and accompanied by a single man who paid for all of their lunches be?
Several minor frustrations later I called back, go the info and was psyched to be going to actually get my papers processed. So i went up stairs and looked at the line "Now serving 200," as i pulled 427 out of the box. Shit.
An hour and 45 minutes later i was out of there, ready to find some stores, like the international market and the shoe store with big sizes in Ginza. As i had carefully planned my route, it took me more than 15 minutes to get lost, confused and bewildered. Really, i wasn't lost in the traditional sense, i knew that i was in Tokyo and i knew that there were some train stations around. I just didn't know which ones to get on or get off of and it was a bitch. I missed my stop and then got confused as to where to catch the other train so i just ended up walking. Not too bad because i wasn't far from where i wanted to go, but it was still a large pain in the ass, particularly as it was still raining. I kept the hood on the rainjacket up to prevent soaking my head, which in turn prevented me from seeing well. Trade offs, always trade offs.
Anyway, i managed to find the shoe store without too much difficulty once i was actually on the ground. Unfortunately i felt like an ugly idiot shopping there and looking for a single pair of shoes less than 10000 yen, the cheapest one i saw, and an ugly pair at that, was 14000 yen (about $128). So, i left kind of disheartened, and searched for the National Azabu Supermarket. What a bust. THe directions i got off the internet were bunk. Two minute walk my ass. SO i wandered around and ended up eating dinner at a Subway restaurant. Not a great sandwich, but better than in the US. Then i realized i was going to be cutting it close for time and began to head back to Shinjuku for my bus.
Easier said than done. As it turned out, when you don't know where you're going it takes a lot longer to get there. I arrived at the bus stop with about 3 minutes to spare, sugoi! unfortunately the bus was nowhere in sight. Apparently something got screwed up, because i waited for a minute or so, and then the bus came zipping by, I was like, "Sweet!" then about 2 seconds later i was like, "Shit!" as it kept on truckin down the road.
At this point I began to wonder which of the cardboard box houses i could most likely shack up in, preferrably with a bum with great english skills, a shower and some good food. As these were in short supply i decided to try to catch the Shinkansen back to Nagano. This meant taking a train all the way across the city again and then paying 8000 yen for the ticket. But hey, realisticaly, i arrived back home before i would have if I had caught the bus. THe other great thing about the day is that I have to go back when they actually mail my reciept for my Visa and do the process all over again!