ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

2009 - a year gone by … part one

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Welcome back dear friends, it has been many a month since I wrote anything on here, infact almost a whole year has passed us by.

So what has prompted this return to all things blog? Well, a few reasons actually.

  1. Last year was mad, I actually did so many things and it would be silly to forget all about them. Admittedly, the memories have already started to fade a bit (getting older, lol) – but it would be nice to keep a run down.
  2. Increasingly I am finding myself sitting around bored, a writing hobby will be good for me – I intend to try and do one entry a week (or bi-weekly at the least)
  3. And possibly the most important reason of all – to try and reclaim my English ability. My language skills (of my own language…) have gone to crap. When the only people you really communicate with are using pigeon English, you start to use it too – and do this for 3 years and you’re in a whole world of trouble. So hopefully by starting to write again, I’ll become more articulate once more :)

Where to start then, well, seeing as the year just began, it might be good to start of with my resolutions – of course, there is no guarantee that I will achieve any of them, but it’s nice to make a list…

News Years Resolutions for 2010

  1. Fly on 50 planes this year. Actually, I might as well bump this up to 52, bringing me to an average of 1 a week. That sounds like a lot (well I guess it is) – but I did manage 38 last year, which is only 14 shy … just need to add in 1 extra a month.
  2. Take up one of either : Learning the guitar or Learning a Marshal Art.
  3. Properly study one of my languages. Easiest one to do would be Japanese, however Chinese is on my list of possibilities – possibly even Thai seeing as I will be living there.


What, Where, Why?

Monday, September 11th, 2006

So what’s happened? Why am I still writing this blog from the UK? Well, for those of you who don’t know yet - I’m not in the UK!!! But “huh?” i hear you say, “but you only went for a year??”…

Well yes, this had been the plan, spend a year in Tokyo, then spend a little time travelling around before blitzing back to the UK to get on with the business with Haroon.

So what changed? Well… basically I felt I hadn’t really made the most of my year here, my Japanese is still very limited and I essentially spent most time in the flat chatting on the phone. This situation was compounded after my visits to Osaka, where I realised there was a totally excellent scene out there - I was just in the wrong place.

I had a problem though, a little piece of a paper known as a visa, it was soon to expire (August) and wasn’t able to be renewed. If I wanted to stay, i had to find a full time sponsor.

It was therefore with, perhaps slight resignation, that I applied to Nova for a full time position - which I was accepted for - thus clearing my problems by supplying me with a new one year visa - yatta! :) That wasn’t plain sailing in itself as to make the switch I actually had to the return to the UK for 3 weeks (at a plane cost of £800!!! :eek:) - but hey, that’s not what we’re talking about now :D

I got back here on the 30th of August, working one final part time day in Shimokitazawa before my full time contract started on the 1st September (a friday, which was also my day off - nice :)) - Another (initially) sore point was that Shimo didn’t need any new full time staff, so I’ve been relocated - to Mukogaokayuen no less (where Toshi lives, and the place I really liked - thanks man upstairs… lol)

Another downside of taking up a full time contract is you lose your weekends (boooo!) and infact my days off are Monday and Friday. “Oh no!” I hear you cry, but no fear - i actually requested these… “madness” you shout, but no! My reasoning was as follows:

The weekends are the busiest days, also starting at 10am :eek: so I would need a monday to recover. However the next best day to go out in Tokyo is Thursday, thus the friday off. Tuesday is a 1:20 to 9pm shift, with Wed + Thur both 5-9pm (like my original shift) - my wages increase from 195,000 (£975) to 250,000 (£1250) which I will need to save ready for reasons soon to be explained.

So what’s the school like, actually it’s great - i’m actually enjoying working!!! Much quieter than Shimo, with singles and no shows a regularity (hahaha) - the other teachers are also great, very on my level and easy to get on with. Been out for a few “station beers” after work, basically sit in front of the station and watch the girls go by (which is another great point about the location - right near the university) - infact, I’m really sad about leaving….

“Leaving?!?! But you only just started??!” - yes indeed so, however it was all part of my master plan. Switch to full time to get a new year visa, work for 2 months to save some money then move to Osaka!! Yes!! I will finally be able to experience those great clubs EVERY WEEKEND!!! For the first two months, I’m not even going to work, just study Japanese (with Haruka as my teacher) and really get into the society…. I’m pretty excited :D - so we’ve cancelled the lease here and all set to transfer on the 1st November…. 6 or so weeks to go :eek:

So thats the plan, and I’m sure you’re dying to know what else has been going on ….

Well, my first friday back, I went with Keiko to Ueno zoo to see the Capybara’s - however, due to the torrential rain, most of them stayed in their house, with just one staying out, though he wasn’t in such a friendly mood and wouldn’t turn around… SUCKED - so I will go back again on a nice day to retake … :)


There you go, a Capybara - the largest rodent in the world - basically a large guinea pig - I wish beavis could have met him :( …..

Another amusing story, have a look at this photo…


I’m not sure why, but in this photo I thought Keiko looked like a prairie dog - not sure exactly why, just the pose…. anyway, for this reason we went to see the prarie dogs so Keiko could meet her family…


Cute - however then we spotted the “information sign” - which caused quite a shock….


“Black-tailed Prairie Dog” - nothign special, until you look at the Japanese translation which reads “Oguro Prairie Dog” - “so what?” - Keiko’s surname ….. yup…. Oguro!!! Spooky, or just proof she originally from a rodent? :p

Saturday was my first day in the new job, which started well enough, but I started to get a bit croaky throughout the day - this got worse and worse until we hit Sunday morning when my voice pretty much went. I sooo should have stayed home, but due to Nova not paying for sickness, I had to go in. The day was a complete struggle but I made it through by drinking through all the classes (not allowed - dunno why) and croaked my way home, where we rented some dvds and set to watch them.

At the end of the first movie (MI) - I turned to Keiko to say something… but couldn’t?!?! My voice had completely gone, like TOTALLY … it’s funny, but i was trying to laugh, but i kept having horrible “flashes” that my voice was gone forever… lol… This unfortunately meant I had to stay home monday (we were supposed to go to Disneysea) to recover, with luckily all being fixed by Tuesday ready for work.

It’s now Sunday night and Seiko has just got back from Iran, very tired…. I’m going to try and sleep early tonite so I can get my haircut tomorrow and post Gowry’s birthday card, but little else planned for my day off (booo!) - think it’s time to get on with a bit of programming….

So there you go, up to date for the start of my second year. Hopefully thursday i’ll be off to Roppongi, so some good photos and stories should be ready for Friday (when I might go to the beach… mmmmm… jchix in bikinis :D)

Go Go Otaku!!! :D

5 weeks of my life lost

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I’ve been getting bugged to update this - and now I must be 5 weeks behind. Writing a complete run down will be impossible. So let’s just do a summary….

Week one - went to Roppongi (see slight update below)
Week two - went to Disneyland with Keiko
Week three - went to Osaka to see Haruka
Week four - took Keiko for her first trip to Roppongi

Below is a run down of week one.

Welcome to the weekly update :) Yes, another week has passed, and once again there are many things to say, been quite eventful (and expensive) the week just gone, but all in the name of fun - so no worries :)
First up, say hello to my new language exchange friend - Keiko, as per usual, her english is pretty good - but not so fantastic enough that I feel too shy to use Japanese. She does always reply in English though, so whilst I get to practise speaking, my listening isn’t really going to hot up too much.

We met up on Friday after work and went to an izakaya in Shimokitazawa, where basically we just talked and drank until about 12:30 when it was time for her last train (don’t get me started on the transport system again :D)

I got home at about 1:30am or so, and after doing a little bit of company work, went to bed. Only to be woken at about 4am by Takashi (Seiko’s guy from last week) calling. I wasn’t in the mood to answer (nor do I think I could have, he didn’t speak English) so ignored it. A few minutes later, it rang again, and then again and again….! Eventually I just turned it off - come the morning, I spoke to Seiko and he had indeed been ringing her too, then calling me when he couldn’t get through.

Nor does the story end there - throughout Saturday we combined received a total of 37 more calls!?! By now, Seiko had of course decided she definately didn’t want to see him again (duh!)

Dinner time arrived and we headed to Shibuya to grab a curry at the *good* Indian curry place (making sure we didn’t overstuff outselves as we had last christmas) before doing the usual of jumping into a taxi (yes, trains are no good for us anymore :D) and heading off to Roppongi.

Now I know every week, we post we are bored of doing the same old things over and over, and of course this weekend was no exception. So we actually decided to do something about it! Shock horror! Whilst looking up and down the street, a sudden inspiration came to me…. why not go to TGI Fridays, but just sit in the bar?? Of course, this would normally be an expensive night out, but wait!!! We are in Roppongi where the drinks cost more in the normal bars anyway…

So wait a minute, we can sit in a top quality bar, decent music, awesome cocktails AND yummy food - for CHEAPER than going to a a trashy r’bar….. just WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST YEAR?!?! haha…. it will therefore come as no suprise to you that a few minutes later, we were perched on some bar stools watching bar tenders juggle bottles, spin cocktail shakers and generally having a great time. :)
Of course, the night could not go perfectly - and there was a slightly dicey moment when Takashi appeared outside and sat down outside the window on his phone! Should he have turned his head, Seiko would probably have been in a little bit of trouble :D But after we stared the opposite way for a few minutes until he had finished his call - he eventually left :D
………. DOH!

The weekend has landed…. (and gone)

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Ahh…. 1:35am on a Sunday night (or is that Monday morning) and the weekend has finally come to a close…. well I suppose this means I’d better tell you what went on - innit!

But first, to mum + dad - WHERE WAS MY CALL :( - don’t love me anymore obviously… waahhhh!

So Friday night was Ayako’s birthday at a bar in Roppongi. I had been given instructions by Seiko that i had to come straight from work and not go home first which kinda sucked, as it meant I had to wear work clothes out, however… the reason was that Ayako was going to get last train home, so if i went home and then out, I would probably miss her.

So who is Ayako? You might remember her from just before christmas (the girl i woke up with, not knowing where i was), but if not, this picture should refresh your memory (Ayako is in the middle):


The bar was a new place I hadn’t gone before, and was set into two rooms. One a normal bar area, and the second (where we were) more like a stage area , with some live singers and everyone sat around the edge.

To start with, I just kinda kept myself to myself as I knew no one, and Seiko and Shiho were sitting away from me, but after a few drinks, I started to get a bit more chatty, in the end, ending up sitting next to one of Ayako’s friends “Haruka” who spoke good English and we got quite animated… it was a sad moment when the place shut :)

(The guy on the right is important - so remember him :))

So when it finished (which was about 4am - so much for Ayako getting last train) everyone departed to go their own seperate ways except me, Seiko and the guy above - who by now were quite hungry, so we scoured the streets of Roppongi to find somewhere to eat.

The first place that came up was a new Japanese place that had only just opened, so in here we went to order a few plates of Yaki Soba. Quite why we ordered so many I don’t know (we had 3) as only 2 of us were eating, but they were incredibly nice - so I guess not so bad.

Come the end of the meal, we went downstairs to pay, but were just ushured out !?? I only found out later, but ^^^ had already paid for us when he went to the toilet - i wish i had known as i didn’t get to say thank you :(
We finally got home at about 6am, which was incredibly early for us…. just what were we thinking?!?! :eek: But we decided it might not be such a bad thing as we would need the energy for Toshi’s birthday later on that evening.

Seiko and Shiho went out during the day, leaving me at home to work on Gowry’s project and sort out some more company things (it’s getting quite interesting now… hurrah!) - however, come 7:30pm, I still hadn’t heard from anyone and didn’t know what was happening….

At about 8pm, Shiho and Seiko came home - but to tell me the bad news that the party was cancelled as Toshi had to work… man, I don’t agree with these Japanese companies… no way would you get me working on my day off - especially if it was my birthday.. poor guy.

Anyway, where was I … ah yes, so I enquired if we were still going out, to which Seiko replied “up to you, but I need to have a nap first”. It’s obvious what my answer was, but I agreed to let her sleep for a bit and I would wake her at 11pm.

Come 11 though, it was obvious she still needed sleep - so i once again let her lie…

However at 12pm, it was finally getting near the “too late to leave” - luckily Shiho was now just going out (to meet Toshi from work) and had woken Seiko for me, leaving me just the task of shouting at her until she finally got ready :D
We left at about 12:15 and walked to Sangenjaya where I had a quick meal of a “Big Mac Set” (i know, i know, way too much McDonalds) before we hailed a Taxi to take us to Roppongi. The traffic wasn’t so bad this time, and thus the whole journey only cost £15!!! Awesome - we’ll have to get taxis more often :)
First stop was Don Quiote where Seiko had to buy some purfume for a friends birthday (you’d be amazed at the amount of people shopping at 1am…) before we headed (reluctantly it must be said) to our usual haunt of Hub. I say reluctantly, as we are kinda bored of going the same places all the time and really wanted something new - thus we sat at our “thought” table trying to plan where to go next.

I remembered there was a club inbetween Wall Street and Maxim that we hadn’t been before - and seeing as we had no other ideas, decided to give it a shot. It was called the “Rock Bar” and, believe it or not, was geared towards rock music. Unfortunately we had just missed the live band, but it was still a very cool joint with some nice tunes playing. For some reason, I’m not sure why, but sitting in it made me think of Ibiza, and just being able to walk out to the beach. Seiko and I thus decided that we must go on a world travel together - including Thailand, Panama and Brazil :)
At some point in the night however, the Rock bar lost its name and instead started playing R’n'B - thus signalling our time to leave and skoot along to Maxim next door.

At we had gone before 5am, it was still hip hop night (so Seiko was happy) and indeed there were a few more people than usual in there - however, they too started to slowly drift out - leaving pretty much just me and Seiko there. The music by now had switched to dance, but with no one there - whats the point?

Oh, and remember i was talking about the bar tender before (with the old photo a few posts below) - well now he has become the manager, he has changed somewhat. Seiko and I feel he’s gone from the friendly bar tender, to a bit of a “bad guy” - what do you think?


We couldn’t take the emptyness any longer and decided to continue our bar crawl by heading over to Hideout - however, alas… this was empty too!!

Just where was everyone? This presented us with a great puzzle….

It was then that Seiko had the idea to try a club we hadn’t been for ages “Quest” - infact, i think the last time i went there was last year - and hadn’t gone back since due to it always being empty. However, the people had to be somewhere and as women got in free, it was decided Seiko would go in and check - before giving me the go ahead if it looked good.

She soon emerged to say it did indeed look good - so in I went… WOW! It was extremely busy, so this is where everyone had gone. But even better, it was playing some very nice UK hard dance :) I think it was a special event as there was a whole new temp DJ rig erected and everyone was HAVING IT :)
It didn’t take me long to get back into the dancing spirit, nor Seiko to find a new boyfriend…. the amount of guys she meets (then can’t remember the next day) is astounding… meet Takashi


Ah well — also on the dance floor, making its first ever appearence - the new England and Italian combined football shirt :D

By about 9am I noticed that Seiko had fallen asleep on the bar, so it seemed now was time go head off. Seiko’s new friend wasn’t quite so eager to leave her yet, and accompanied us to the station where we put Seiko into a taxi.

Feeling a little awkward now as I wasn’t sure what Takashi wanted to do (he spoke no English at all, nor did he seem to understand “osoku nihongo itteikuddasai” (slower japanese please) - but he followed me into First Kitchen where we got some breakfast - and then began the difficult situation of small talk.

I know I say I normally enjoy this, but when the guy is speaking at warp speed, it’s incredibly hard to keep up. Eventually, he seemed to twig that i really couldn’t catch much of his chat, so he slowed down slightly - but still, it was a bit of a mission trying to keep up :)
Anyway, we finished eating and said our good byes - with him i think expecting to speak to Seiko again very soon…. i’m not quite sure she feels the same though…. ah well :)
And there you have it, the weekend gone….. :/

Ah one thing before you go. Take a look at my “McArt” - i was trying to create the illusion of the chips flowing into the burger container. I think I did a pretty good job and intend to sell my work at the next modern art exhibition I attend :p
(Well *I* thought it looked cool :p) …. enjoy ….


Aren’t you lucky!

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Two blog postings in as many days - (foreign accent) “why ambassador, with these entries you are really spoiling us….” (/foreign accent)

These aren’t long, but I just felt it was quite interesting… firstly, I finally got my hair cut :) hurrah! it had got way too long.

Not so interesting in itself I suppose, but for once, I am actually amazed at the skill of the hairdresser…. i shall explain…

But first, look at this photo:


So that was me (duh!) taken almost four months ago. I particularly liked the style, so took the photo to remind me that i don’t always look awful … lol ….

anyway, I went to “Family Mart” this morning with that photo on my memory card and got it printed from the photo machine (40 yen) - and then went with Shiho to the 980yen hairdressers (not expecting too much).

So 980yen is like £4.90 - in the UK, this would get you a student cut at the most, but this place was an actual salon with professional looking people!

So I go in, wait my turn, and give the woman the photo.

30 minutes later, she is finished - and I look like this….


THE SAME!?! WOW! That’s awesome! I couldn’t believe it, for the first time ever I can walk out a hair salon and not need to wait the obligatory 3 weeks for it finally grow to the correct length! :) In honour of her great skill, I decided it only fair to pay her double - which was still only £10…. hurrah!

Oh and my second piece of news, well not news as such - but i just think it’s hilarious and needs to be kept in my logs forever.

Seiko met up with one of her friends the other night, and was told to pass on the message …..

“Tell Ben he’s welcome to me anytime”

Hahaha…. maybe i’m just odd, but this to me sounds hilarious - such a polite way of being a slut :)
Oh and before anyone emails me asking - NO! :p