Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happi Haro-win!

Last weekend I had the best halloween ever! Well being the first time I actually celebrate halloween, dressing up and going out, its pretty understandable, but it was definitely an incredible halloween I'm sure. What can compare to a loop around Tokyo's Yamanote Line, in a train full of people in costumes, having fun, chatting, chanting, and meeting new friends.

Our first plan was to have an outdoor party at Yoyogi Park, and then head to some club for the rest of the night. But a Typhoon decided to visit Tokyo for the weekend, so an outdoor party was out of question. For our luck, Alisa found out about this crazy unofficial mob halloween event held every year in Osaka and Tokyo, so after seeing some videos from previous events, and wondering whether it was safe or right to join or not, I decided to give it a try with some friends,and judge by myself.

So our night started at Alisa's place, where I finished dressing up (putting some leaves around my feet and arms, putting green make up in my face, and getting ready to go~) and then head out to Tokyo! In our first stop, a convenience store for some food and drinks, we couldnt stop smiling to each other seeing the reaction of the people who saw us, or the cashier who avoid to look at my eyes all the time! (though that is actually usual in Japan, but I guess it was reinforced by the fact she wouldnt like to look at my eyes and laugh, cause it would be seen as "shiturei" by japanese standards... but come on! I am wearing a costume, the idea is to make you laugh!)

After that we head to Shibuya to meet other friends, so there we were a tree, a pirate and the devil, in the middle of Tokyo's world famous crossing, under the eyes of all these people. Happily after a short wait, we ran up into another tree! and had a nice chat while waiting for our friends. Meanwhile, Japanese people will simply look at us, and a group of boys actually came to say "otsukaresama desu" to me... (otsukaresama is an expression "used to acknowledge someone's efforts or show your appreciation for the trouble that they have gone though" (I had to google that cause I always have trouble explaining japanese expressions :p) but its an expression that is usually used when you finish work instead of saying "goodbye" or when go back home after doing some work or meeting at the uni or even with some friends) which then again felt weird at the moment, cause "tsukare" actually literally me
ans "tired", but know that I see it as "acknowleding someone's efforts" actually doesnt sound too bad.... :p
anyway, after a while my friend Mone arrived, with her in-pajamas ladies friends, so NOW we were being stared. lol

After going for some drinks in a cafe (inside a bookstore! just imagine 8 people in costume walking along the corridors of a bookstore with people reading books around, and you may understand how funny the whole experience was) we headed to Shinjuku, were the infamous Yamanote Halloween Train Party starts... we were there 10 minutes before the scheduled (by who knows who?) departure time, and there was already around 20 people in costume waiting in the platform. So we made our way to them, met some, then again looking for other friends who were joining us from Shinjuku, and so, in the next 10 minutes the platform went from 20 people in costume, to be completely FULL of people in costume, chatting, drinking, making noise, while waiting for the right train to arrive.

and so, there it was, "densha mairimaaaaaasssss gochui kudasai", the Yamanote Halloween Train welcoming us, for the only time in the year where you actually can totally enjoy a full-train. Remember the famous images of train station staff pushing people so that doors can close during the rush hours? well that's just how full our train was... and the train staff actually was ready to push us all in, in order to let the trains run smoothly on time (though they were already deleted because of the typhoon) which seemed to be their only concern (not the fact that there was around 500 crazy people in costume having a party in the train...).

The leaves in my head appear somewhere around the middle of this video... :p

and so in we went, for the best round-the-loop ride of the year, chanting station names (there is a lot of fans of ikebukuro, akihabara, tokyo (of course!), and even gotanda?), taking pics, going around meeting new people and so on. We actually changed cars (in the same train) once and it was so surprising cause after being in such a crazy full of people one, this one seems so empty, even when there was quite a few people in costume chatting and all... :)

And so after a little bit longer than an hour, we were back in Shinjuku, saying goodbye to our lovely Halloween train, the crowd dispersing (very slowly cause everyone (specially usual commuters waiting for their train) wanted to take pictures with everyone) and heading to clubs around Tokyo for the rest of the night...

now, I know there is a lot of conflicting views on this train party, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go and see it for myself, before bashing it out as some crazy gaijins (infamous foreigners here in Japan) abusing the japanese system. And I can say after living it by myself, that even when a few people might do obviously go too far, the whole event in itself is just a great way of celebrating halloween, creating bounds between Japanese and Foreigner participants (and even non-participants who mostly are either so surprised they cant even react, or who enjoy the surprise in a usually monotonous train ride), thanking Yamanote line, the japanese train system, and Japan in itself for being soooo wonderful! and in the end just having an out of the ordinary fun time (something really necessary in Japan).

and to prove that... here is a video for you to compare...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gotta be Japan!

I just got a link from a CSer (read that couchsurfer) friend from NY, about the new Japanese "against crime clothing design." But the first thing that came to my mind when I actually realized that there was someone inside that last vending machine was: Halloween costume... :)

Remember the shower costume from Karate Kid, I think it could actually make a great costume for Halloween! Just imagine a vending machine walking around Tokyo streets... and someone running behind trying to buy a drink :p

Being 20 I feel so funny for being so excited about halloween this year. Since the first time I refused to dress up when I was like 10 years old and didnt want to wear the Peter Pan costume they had for me I havent really like halloween or at least I wasn't too fond of it. But this year, I just have been thinking of halloween party at Yoyogi park, my tree/ent costume (pic to the right is just an image of what I was thinking that I found in the net), and so on, even when I have been really busy with design works and the internship at the NGO.

And it kind of made me realize how much I have changed in the last year, kind of coming out of my shell, being much more extroverted (though I still like to look at things from a distance (or a corner) from time to time) and enjoying so much more partying, meeting new people, and just doing crazy stuff. I do have to thank Hospitality Club and Couchsurfing for that once again, cause meeting new people from all around the world with such an open mind and heart, kind of give me some new impressions about people, and has helped me make wonderful friends who I would have never had the chance to meet in other ways. And, it has helped me know more about myself as well.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Global Festa

Well, just like I wrote in the last post it would only take a couple of days for me overcome the "back in Japan" crisis, and get back to the fun, and appreciate how much I enjoy it here. School has already started, but last week we didnt really do much, anyhow I am just taking 10 credits
this semester, which means I only have to go there monday, tuesday and (just because 2 days is too few) friday.
On Saturday I went to work as tutor at the science class for kids nearby my university, which is always something I enjoy lots. It was really amazing though that after almost 3 months not going there the kids still remembered us, and this kid who always likes to play with us after the class finish, came to say hi, and the first thing he asks me is "have you buy a TV already?" Yeap, I really didnt know what to say... but it made me feel welcome. :)

After finishing work, I headed to Tokyo to meet Yuri at the Global Festa in Hibiya Park. It was this really nice festival with many NGO's and embassy stands, and food from every corner of the world. I had a really nice time chatting with people from Oxfam which is just starting here in Japan, and I decided I will participate in next year's Trailwalker. And also had a really nice chat with a Canadian Architect working with Habitat for Humanity, who got me really interested in their projects, and made me think about my thesis. Other than that there was so many stands and so many interesting things, so many things I want to get involved, but in the end there is only a small bit that you can do.

From there I headed to Inage, to my old dormitory. I hadnt been there since really long time ago, so it was really great to meet Javier, Jose, Fran, Ahmed, Louay, Angel, Antonio and meet some other people, and had a lots of laughs together. Definitely that's probably what latin-american people do better... joking and laughing.

Sunday I spent the morning cleaning my room, washing clothes, buying food, and then headed to the CouchSurfing gathering at Shibuya. One of the many amazing things about CSing is that everytime you dont really know what to expect from the people you will be meeting. They always have amazing backgrounds, great stories, experiences, and things to share. And they are always so friendly, open-minded, and easy-going. So there I was in Hachiko, meeting great people and starting a great night. After going for some food, and waiting for other members who joined later on, we headed to Shinjuku's Nichome, the gay area in Tokyo, to meet other CSers, have some drinks, and of course for some dancing and fun. After having a "beer blast" (all the beer you want from 7 to 9 pm for 1000 yen) and getting to know more about everyone, some went back, and we headed to Artys for a all-nighter of clubbing~ Definitely Artys is the best club ever, its so small, but the people is so friendly, and the music is great.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back in Japan

Well, finally I have overcome the jetlag, and get ready to life in Japan again. Actually today after finishing the internship at ECOPLUS, I decided to take a walk around, and end up at the temple near Tokyo Tower, were I welcomed the year 2007 with my mum and friends, and somehow it made me realize I was "back in Japan". Not really sure if it was in a simple "wow, I am back in Japan" kind of way, a more cheerful "yay, I am back in Japan" or a more dreadful "what am I doing back in Japan" kind of way, but anyhow, it was a moment that made me think about the fact that I am back in Japan. Back to trains full of people, people avoiding to look at each other, publicity all around me, vegetable sushi and breads that somehow manage to have chicken or pig ingredients in them, back to scheduling one month in advance, talking a language that doesnt allow you to communicate all your feelings and going far from your house just to find a park with some grass and trees in it where to have a peaceful moment.

I guess it will take me sometime, meeting some friends, and going back to some of my favorite places, and eating some nice food, to feel better and happy of being back in Japan. I mean, I guess I am already, but it is just what I was thinking today.