Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Heartful Adventures of Rob! A busy, yet relaxing April

Hey all, I'm at work on a Saturday thanks to this week being a 6 day work week, so what better way to spend it than by writing my blog! (Note, it started on a sat, but didn't get finished until much later)

Last I left off was my crazy weekend in Kansai with the Gunma guys. The following week was pretty uneventful as usual. Friday I was so tired that I just went home and took some medicine and felll asleep for 12 hours. I woke up around 7AMish, which is ironically the time I wake up when I DON'T have a day off. I hung around home for a bit, then, as usual went to Sannomiya. I checked out the few stores while I was there, and bought a screen for my ipod touch while at the Sannomiya “Labi” store (big electronics store, similar to circuit city I guess?) My ipod touch works great, but obviously the screen gets dirty really quickly (I never knew my fingers were THAT greasy). I bought the cover hoping it would make it look better, but after I put it on, it ended up looking worse, and of course there's little tiny pieces of hair stuck under the screen that will forever remain there. I guess it helps protect it better, but it looks way older than just a week old.

After I was done there, I took the train to Osaka. I got to Denden town, and ate cheese curry for lunch. As usual, it's my favorite thing to eat here, and one of the few times I'm glad I'm in Japan when it comes to food (as opposed to hating it). At that point it was about 12:45, and after checking on the Capcom website, they were advertising Super Street Fighter IV available to the public to play from 1PM until 5PM. I was the 16th or 17th person in line. They started at 1PM on the nose. They had two setups, a big screen hooked up to a PS3, and a smaller screen hooked up to a 360. The PS3 station had two HRAP3s, and the 360 stations had TE sticks. They said “1 person 3 matches”, so what that meant was that two people play each other for 3 matches! That's fine and dandy until they realized how many people were in line and that 3 matches takes a LONG time. They changed it to 2 matches after the first 2 pairs went on each station. I waited maybe 20 minutes total before it was my turn. Since I've been eying Juri, I picked her. My opponent obviously didn't know how to play, so it made it really easy to try what I wanted to. He didn't even play new characters, he used El Fuerte for the first match, and Chun-Li for the 2nd match. Fine by me. I tried EX divekick into Ultra 2 with Juri, missed the first time. Focused and got more meter, and then tried it again and hit it. It felt really cool to hit it and to be like, one of the few people there who actually had an idea of how to do anything. I played one match with Ultra 2, and the other with Ultra 1. I didn't really like Ultra 1, but I had to try it anyways.

After that, I went to Athena and played some AH3 for a while. I was doing decent, getting wins against good players, losing to some others. It was a decent session.

After a while, I met up with Dan in Umeda. We were at a Tullys coffee shop, and apparantly they have chili dogs now! I had dinner already, so I wasn't too hungry, but Dan got two of them and said they were good. He was sick recently, so it was good to see him better. After that, we went to The Hub and had a drink and some fries before heading to Osaka to go to the capsule hotel for the night. I tried to mess around with the wi-fi at the capsule hotel, but none of my programs that needed wi-fi worked. I was a bit disappointed because I know there's not a lot of places with wi-fi in Japan, but I figured that when I did run into them that I could at least use them, so not being able to was pretty disappointing, but oh well. Anyways, we chilled for a while, after going in the baths, but we were both pretty exhausted, so we went to sleep not too long after (around 12:30 or 1?). I woke up around 8ish, and couldn't fall back asleep for whatever reason. I went down to the lounge and watched TV there for a while. There was this ping pong tournament between Ai Fukuhara and this Chinese girl. I'm not really a fan of ping pong or anything but I like watching tournaments, so that kept me entertained while I played SFIV on my ipod touch.

Eventually Dan came down and we got washed up and headed out. The weather was really nice, and Dan had to take off his jacket cause it was too warm. We stopped by McDonalds first and got some breakfast. We saw these group of people playing monster hunter, but it wasnt like, a few nerdy dudes, it was like, a host looking guy, a somewhat gothy looking girl, and another host guy who was passed out on the table. Interesting. We ate and got out of there and headed to the Den. The first place we stopped by was A-too because Dan wanted to trade in his games AND pick up some new games. I saw that they had dream club FINALLY lowered to 2000 yen, so I was like “cool, ill pick that up” and Ar Tonelico 3 was still at 3000 yen, so I said I would pick that up, too. Dan got like, 16000 yen for his 5 games, and then buys FFXIII as well as one other game. We went looking around at a few more stores and me and Dan both picked up copies of Saki Mahjong for the PSP. It was kind of expensive (5300 yen) but I mean...it's Saki mahjong, haha. I went back to A-too and picked up Dream Club and AT3, both of which cost less than my one psp game, haha. We went to the free gaming area where you can just go in for free (its at the 3rd floor of a store in denden town) and play psp against other people or card games or whatever. It's pretty sweet, and really nice of that store considering they really don't make any money off of it. After that, we stopped by Athena for a bit to use the bathroom and ended up playing games for a bit. I played some melty cause nobody was playing arcana. We played a game of Taiko, did Hello! and Kiramekirari (both im@s songs) at the Taito station.

We headed out after that and went to Kua Aina for lunch. It's that burger place in Namba parks that I occasionally mention. We got burgers, and they were super good. I think it was around 4ish at this point? We decided to just head out. Dan said he was gonna go hang out with Alex, and I was gonna see if Andrew was up to anything. I called Andrew and no response. I got a text a minute or so later saying he was in Sannomiya. I was headed there anyways, so I was like “yo lets meet up”. So we met up, got dinner and hung out at the arcades for a bit. I played a buncha MvC2 and ended up getting owned pretty hard by this Storm/Cable/Cyclops player. I have such a hard time against Cable in that game, but after 9 tries I finally beat him. I played a bit of SFIV using my Chun Li against this Ryu player. I think I won 3 and he won 2? It was fun either way, considering Chun isn't even my main character. I'm trying to get better at that game in general because Super Street Fighter IV is coming out soon, and I want to try to get better just in general at that game.

My bus was coming soon, so I headed back home. I played Saki mahjong on the way home. It's really fun, and better than the crappy not very fun 13 dollar mahjong game for the DS that I had. I got home, hung out on the internet and then went to bed after a while. My 6 day work week began, and after it was finally over, it was time for the weekend.

Saturday night after I was done, I just hung out at home and played games. Sunday, I had plans to meet up with Alex in Osaka. I left my house to catch my bus, but I realized halfway to the bus stop that I forgot my headphones at home. So I had to go the bus ride without them. I just played Saki PSP on the bus, but I got a little carsick after a bit so that kinda sucked. I kinda half slept for the rest of the bus ride. I got to Sannomiya and decided to pick up more headphones, since having an extra pair never hurts. I got the same type as the last $10 pair of headphones I bought cause they work well. I opened them, and they were only 50 cm long! I was like “WHAT? Why are they so short?!” They weren't even long enough for me to put in my pocket, attached to my ipod without my ipod dangling. I went back to the store and looked around and they put the 50cm headphones right next to the 1.3meter headphones at the exact same price. It makes no sense. If they were even 10cm longer, I would have been fine with them, but less than 2 feet? Really? Oh well...

I went and found a 1 meter headphone extension for 500 yen, so I just picked that up and used that for the remainder of my trip. I headed over to Umeda after that to meet up with Alex. We planned to meet at outback steakhouse, and Alex and Tyler (friend of ours also lives in Shiga) just got there a little before me. Because it was lunchtime, they had lunchtime specials making it pretty cheap. Of course, we got a bloomin onion which is still the best thing on the menu there, imo. I got a steak that came with buttered rice, cole slaw, and a free drink. I got pink lemonade with tons of refills. The steak was awesome because it was decent size and it was already pre-cut. That way, I didn't have to sit there and cut my steak, I could just dig in. It was the best steak (maybe the only steak?) I've had here. The buttered rice was really good as well. After a 15% discount thanks to a coupon from Alex, it came out to only like, 1500 yen for each of us. For such a good meal, that's a more than reasonable price. But then, as we were leaving, the manager who I guess recognized/knows Alex, gave each of us a 1000 yen off coupon. So if we come and get a similar meal, it'll be extremely cheap! It was really nice of him, and I can't wait till the next time I can go back.

Next, we went to the Pokemon center to check out the stuff there. They had a “charizard promotion” or something where they had a ton of charizard goods and stuff. My favorite pokemon is Pochama (piplup in English, the little penguin), and they had a pochama promotion last time I went. Anyways, Alex and Tyler picked up a few things. I picked up some pokemon stickers for class for prizes, and I bought a teacher stamp that has pochama and pikachu on it, and on the top it says pretty much “Great Job!” in Japanese. So now I can just stamp good papers with that when I grade them.

After that, we were about to go to denden, when Alex wanted to pick up something else that he forgot. Tyler had to use the bathroom anyways, so we headed over to the nearby Namcoland arcade. Tyler used the bathroom, and I was watching Taiko. This little girl, probably around 3 years old, goes to the taiko machine and takes the sticks (which are more than half her height). Her mom puts in 100 yen to play, and she puts on the easiest mode, and does the anpan -man song. While it looked like she was kinda swinging randomly at first, I realized she somewhat knew what she was doing. She was drumming to the beat and on the blue notes, she would try to hit the side of the drum, and actually got it a couple times. She ended up actually passing the song! A little 3 year old girl playing Taiko drum master passed the song. It was the cutest thing ever.

Afterwards, we met up with Alex again and headed to Denden town. In Umeda, right in front of this big shopping mall called “HEP5”, there were 3 cute girls cosplaying as Hatsune Miku. It was super random, and I only got a crappy pic from across the street, but yeah, thats the sort of thing that I wouldn't bat an eye to in Denden town, but in Umeda, the cool people area? Really? Afterwards we went to the bookstore to pick up an application for the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam. I haven't taken it before, but I figured I would take it this year to see where I stand. While we were walking, we saw a store called “The womb”. I dunno what to think, but me and alex wanted to go in just so we can say “We were in the womb together”.

Afterwards, we headed to Denden town. Alex went to look at pokemon cards and stuff while me and Tyler looked around the den. I wasn't really looking for anything, just the usual Ritsu plush that I'm never able to find (since I have the other 4 girls already). Tyler was looking for kamen rider stuff since he cosplays. We just looked around at the stores, taking our time doing whatever. It was cool, we just got to hang out and talk and look around the Den.

After a bit of looking at stuff for Tyler, we went to the Lashabang store. And when I walked in, right at the showcase, I FINALLY found the Ritsu plush I was looking for. It was only 1500 yen, which is a steal as far as I'm concerned. I was looking for that plush for so long and was unable to find it ANYWHERE, so being able to find it made me SUPER happy. I now had the complete set of 5. Anyways, I went around and took more pics of R4 stuff for an article I'm doing, and then we went to the cheese curry place for dinner. After we ate, we were all full from cheese curry. We walked around a little bit more, but we were all tired, so we all just headed back home.

Monday was a free day for me. I used it to do a ton of laundry, get a haircut, throw out my garbage, take my recyclables to the recycling place, do grocery shopping, organize my closet, and clean my apartment. Usually I'm out both days of the weekend and after work I'm too tired/lazy to do stuff, so it was nice to have a day to do all that stuff. I just relaxed and played SFIV and some Ar Tonelico 3. It was fun overall and relaxing.

Next, I had a 4 day work week. Friday night I just chilled at home. Saturday, I went to Kyoto and met up with Andrew (reno), Jeff (azrael), and Aurich. They had a big 5v5 kansai tournament for SFIV at a-cho, so I checked it out. Jeff and Aurich's team got top 8, which is really good. There were over 100 people, so they placed above quite a few teams. The winning team consisted of pretty much the best kansai players. Good times.

After that, we went to TGIF, as one just opened in Kyoto. It was really really good. We had a waitress named “Purin” which is Japanese for “Pudding”. Jeff ordered “boneless buffalo wings” but like, they don't have boneless wings, they have “boneless buffalo bites” and “buffalo wings” so when we got the order, we got buffalo wings when we wanted the bites. Jeff was like “wait, I ordered the boneless” and had them send it back. After that, Purin suddenly wasn't our waitress anymore, so we figured that Jeff scared her off. I ordered a dessert and I guess they didn't write it down cause I didn't get it, so I asked them if it was coming, and they didn't have it written. I didn't really feel like eating it anyways, I just wanted to get back to a-cho, so I just said don't worry about it, but the waitress apologized a ton and I think she thought I was mad. I wasn't mad, but everyone else was done eating and we were all ready to go anyways, so I didn't want to waste time by being the only one eating. It worked out for the best.

Anyways, we went back to A-cho, I watched some games, played some more games, and just relaxed. At around 9:45 or so, Andrew was like “I'm going to Monte 50 to play VF there because nobody is playing here” I decided to go with him and figured I would play at Monte too. I then realized that I would totally be able to make the last train home if I left, so I did that instead and said bye to Andrew at Umeda. I headed home and slept in my own bed.

Sunday, Bill and Maria planned a fajita party with a couple teachers that we both knew. One of the teachers drove us to the costco, and we went there. It was mad crowded. We got our food first, I got a big delicious slice of pizza for only 300 yen. I could eat that pizza everyday if I had the option. Then we went around shopping for stuff. However, Costco was just WAY too crowded. It was obnoxiously crowded, and actually kind of stressful. However, I got some stuff. I bought some granola bars, some dehumidier boxes, some mini frozen pizzas, and an “ihome”. I have 2 ipods now, so I can put one in there to charge it, and play music from it, and I don't have to deal with my computer and the crappy speakers on that.

After that, we hung out, ate well and had fun. After we were done and the Japanese teachers left, me and Bill played TvC for a bit and then I headed back home for the night.

This week, super street fighter IV comes out! I'm looking forward to it. My plans are to go to Andrew's place on wed and get my copy, play there for a while, thursday is a holiday, so relax, play outside, and then friday is a work day, and then golden week! It should be a lot of fun, and I just have a few more days of work to get through!

So yeah, sorry this one took so long to write, but take care all!

Team Spooky

For those who don't know, www.teamspooky.com (for a link, please just look at the top link at the bar on the right) is a website started by many players on the east coast who are into "poverty" games, such as Melty Blood, Arcana Heart, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, and many other doujinshi games, and so on. The reason why they're called poverty games is because they're generally games that one would consider to be "poor", and poor = poverty, so instead of saying "we play poor games", saying "we play poverty games" have more of a meaning of the type of game we're talking about. Poverty games can range from arcade releases that don't make it big, such as spectral vs generation, Sengoku Basara X, fate unlimited codes, etc. Many of the "anime games" are part of this genre, as well. Anyways, Team Spooky has been around for a while (named after Spooky, an east coast player, who is pretty much liked by just about everyone). The website grew in popularity for a number of reasons, and now there seem to be a decent amount of subscribers.

In any case, I've been writing a lot of Japan and game related articles for the website, so if you're interested in games in general, and especially games with a somewhat niche following, then check out teamspooky.com. My next few blog posts are going to be centered around some arcades. With pictures, and sometimes a video walkthrough. I might even cover a tournament or two.

Either way, if you like that sort of thing, feel free to bookmark it. Normally I write my blog posts at work, but I've been really busy recently, so I haven't had too much time to write, hence the long 3 week break. Hopefully I'll get back to writing soon, and put up a new blog post. Take care everyone!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Sadventures of Rob - Gunmans come to Kansai.

Ok last I left off I was sick. I relaxed and got better.

This is the weekend when Andy (Capps), Mike (Elvenshadow), Sam (Raviloli), Mike's brother Tony, and their friend Emmet were coming to Kansai. They all live in Gunma prefecture, hence the title of the blog. I took friday off of work because Andy said he was coming Thursday night, so I could just go to Osaka after work and hang out with them for the weekend. Right after work on Thursday, I biked AGAINST the wind, got home, showered, grabbed my stuff, bike against the wind some more to the station and ended up actually making good time. I made such good time that I got there way before Andy showed up! I looked around Bic Camera for a bit, and then met up with him. It was really easy, and he was on time and was able to get to the meeting place without any issues. We went to Athena and played AH3 there while waiting for Mike and the others.

Mike, Sam, and Tony show up after a bit, and we hang out at athena for a while playing. I played Sam in MB, which he just recently picked up, and we had a lot of fun F-Miyako vs F-Akiha/ F-V.Akiha matches. After a bit, we went to go to the cheese curry place that I always talk about, but they close at 9 on weekdays, when they're usually open till 10 on weekends, so they ended up being closed when we got there. We walked to Cocos and ate there instead, though. We went to a store where they have a 2nd floor, and we got the 2nd floor all to ourselves, which was really nice. Felt like we could talk and not bother other people.

After we ate, we went to namba hills for a bit. There was a dude playing GG, so Mike played against him, and me and Sam played a bunch of melty against each other. After it closed, it was about 11:45, so me and Andy went to the manga cafe while everyone else went drinking.

We went to the 12 hour for 1900 yen place. We get a free shower with it, so it's really convenient. They were out of single mat booths, so they said “oh, we have pair seats”. I was like “can you show us what they look like?” and they showed us one that was really small. I gave Andy this look and said “They're pretty small, let's go somewhere else” and right when I was about to tell that to the guy, he was like “Wait, we have another one that's bigger, but the same price!” I was like “oh?” He showed us the bigger one, and not only was it a little bigger, it was like, twice the size. Plenty of space for both of us to sleep with plenty of space for our bags. It was great in general. I'm glad we went to take a look because if we said “Oh, yeah we'll take the pair seat” I guarantee they would have given us the small one. But because I went and looked first, we were able to get a big one for the same price, which was awesome.

After we got our seats, we went and got some free drinks. I also got some vanilla ice cream because it's free at that manga cafe too. We looked at some magazines, walked around chillin and just having drinks and stuff. Then we went back to our booth and used the computer, watched vids, and just relaxed until we went to sleep. I woke up around 8AMish. Andy was still sleeping so I just used the computer and reserved the shower for me and Andy. Around 8:45, we got 40 minutes for the two of us to shower, so I went first, and then Andy went. The shower is pretty nice, a little room you get to yourself, you have a space to put a bag/dry clothes, and a sink/mirror. It's great considering it came free with the 12 hour pack. We stayed in the manga cafe having more drinks and relaxing until 1045ish. We got out of there and headed to Denden.

We stopped by an arcade near the manga cafe and played Taiko. It was Andy's first time playing Taiko! I took his taiko virginity. We started off with GReeeeN's “Haruka”, and then did an idolm@ster song (Hello!) and ended with Shuuchishin. It was fun for me. Andy passed Haruka, but not the other two. It's a shame you have to use the same difficulty, cause he would have been better on normal but he played it on hard with me instead. After that, we went to Taito station, looked around for a bit but didn't play anything. Same with Avion, looked around but didn't play any games. Then after that, we went around Denden town for a bit. We looked at figure stores and whatnot. We got some chicken for breakfast at the convenience store. Can't go wrong with family mart spicy chicken IMO. We went to gamers next. They had a buncha small gashapon set up, and Andy got this mame-shiba one. He got a little mame-shiba driving a boat or something. It's hilarious. We looked around a bit more, and then I got a text from Mike saying that they were ready. We met up and went to Outback Steakhouse. We got there around 2:30ish, and there was a big sign that said “Open from 5PM on weekdays”. I didn't know that they weren't open until 5PM. So we walked like, 20 minutes to Monte 50.

At monte, I played a bit of BB. I got a 5 game winstreak. I was doing pretty well. This one Noel player who I met a long time ago at monte was there, too. I don't play much BB, nor do I go to monte that often, so I haven't seen him in a while. We were talking a bit and I lost to a Hakumen. He played and he owned that same Hakumen for free with Noel doing all these crazy combos that I didn't know she could do. Maybe I should at least learn the better combos for the next time I play, haha. I said bye and told him I was gonna go play AH3. I went upstairs and played that for a while. I played this one Zenia player a ton, and got like, a 10 winstreak. Then Capps said he would record, and recorded the one match I ended up losing to that guy. Ugh. Then this Elsa/Saki player played me a bunch. We had good matches, but Elsa is soooooooo cheap, haha. Because of her air combo finisher, she gets a 4 way mixup that's too fast for me to react to. I still generally beat him, but yeah, that character is very strong, prolly #1 in the game. After playing a few more credits, I moved over to MB and played Sam some more. He was leveling up really well with his V.Akiha, so I was having trouble near the end of our sessions. It was good times, but we were all really hungry, so we went to outback.

Outback was amazing, we got 2 bloomin onions for the 5 of us, and Me, Mike, and Sam got ribs. I got full like, halfway through, but I finished eating the ribs cause they were so good. I had a coupon for 15% off, and it turns out that it isn't just for one person, it's for the entire bill, so the 16,500 yen order got like, 2475 off. So almost 2500 yen saved for one small coupon. The dinner itself was awesome though. We were just chillin and talking about whatever. Tony speaks no Japanese, and is quite loud volume-wise, and seemed to constantly be making a fool of himself, but it was fun to watch, I guess. Normally, when you ask for water, you say “mizu onegaishimasu”. (Water = mizu, onegaishimasu is kind of like, “please”), but he would just point to his cup and say really loudly “MEE-ZOO!” So imagine someone looking at a waitress and pointing to their cup and shouting “WAH TURR”. I think they're used to that kinda thing at outback cause they were like “whatevs”. Andy ordered a coke with no ice, and the waitress was like “no ice?” and andy was like “yes, no ice”. And they brought him a coke with ice. Owned. Sam took the leftovers from the bloomin onion, took some extra sauce, and put it between some bread and made a bloomin onion sandwich. I'm hungry as I type this so it sounds good, but at the time, I was like “uhh...no thanks” He said it was good, tho, and I believe him.

After we were done at outback, we headed back to monte. I played more arcana and melty. After we were all done at Monte, we headed out. Mike, Tony, and Sam were going to a club where they can drink all night, and me and Andy headed to Spa World.

We got there, and we figured we were gonna go to the pool for a bit, but when we got there, they told us “Oh, the pool isn't open.” I was completely surprised because I thought it was open all night like everything else. It's only open till like, 7PM on weekdays, and 10PM on weekends. We got there around 10:30, so even if was a sat night, we wouldn't have got there in time anyways. Oh well. We went to the bath area, got washed up first, and then hung out in baths for a while. After we were done, we got dressed and walked around a bit. We got some drinks and just sat on a couch talking about whatever. Right when we were in the middle of a conversation, some random Japanese guy in his 30s came up and was like “Hello, are you sightseeing Osaka?” I just said yes, and hoped he would go away, but he sat down and like, asked us random questions and told us “Please teach me English.” The thing is, I was in a conversation with a friend of mine that I don't see very often, and we were at spa world to relax, not to “teach English”. He just wanted to practice his high school English and didn't even ask “Is it ok if I sit down”, didn't introduce himself. He just asked random questions and tried to like, help us I guess? He was trying to be friendly, but it didn't occur to him that I know the area quite well, and I don't need his help sightseeing anyways. His intentions were nice enough, I guess, and for a Japanese person to come up to foreigners, it takes courage, but he was very “KY” as we call it here (It stands for something that literally translates to “Cannot read the atmosphere”.) He couldn't read the fact that we didn't want to talk to him and that he was completely bothering us. I was still nice and talked to him for a couple minutes. He told me I looked like David Beckham at one point. (http://img707.yfrog.com/img707/5250/davidbeckhama.jpg = Rob) After a couple minutes, I did a fake yawn and went “Well, I'm really tired, so I'm going to go now, bye.” And we left and went to the room where everyone is sleeping and passed out.

I woke up around 6:30 or so and went to the bathroom and stumbled back to my chair. I figured I would wake up around 8AM when the lights go on. Check out time is 9AM, so that would give me time to go take baths, and get ready. I woke up, and looked at the time. 8:55. I was like “umm......” and then I just got ready without shaving, messed up hair etc, everything. Andy was waiting for me right outside, and we went and checked out. Then, since we have a 30 minute time on our card (which doesn't really seem to matter because the gate machines are broken, and it's just some guy standing at the gate taking the “ok to leave” tickets) I went back upstairs and fixed my hair (sorta), shaved, brushed my teeth etc. It sucks that I almost overslept, but I didn't have to pay any extra, so that's nice at least. We got outta there and headed to Mr Donuts for breakfast.

We got to Mr Donuts and chilled there for a bit. At about 9:45, we headed over to SCOT. Instead of playing regular fighters, we went up to the 3rd floor where all the goofy games are. I played this one fighter called “Angel Eyes”, which I played for a little in Chicago against Webster. It was crazy seeing a cab for it, haha. I played Karnov's Revenge for a little, but there was no sound, so not hearing BALLOON BALLOON made it not as fun. However, I still got to balloon quite a bit. After that, me and Andy played some shmup called “Trouble witches”. It was cute and it was a lot of fun. Maybe I'll play it more again some other time. After that, it was about 10:30. The Morning Musume store opens up around then, and so we went there since it was only a few stores down. We spent about 45 minutes in there or so before we headed to Dotonbori. I picked up a DVD that has all each of the BerryZ girl's version of Dschinghis Khan. Andy got some small pics and stuff. After 15 or 20 minutes of walking, we made it. We waited in line at the really good Takoyaki place. Andy got some takoyaki and after that, I headed out to meet another friend for a bit.

In Umeda station, I ended up running into my 1st year in college dorm roommate, who I stayed friends with throughout college, who is also an ALT in Osaka now, and a friend of ours from the Japanese university I studied abroad at, who studied abroad in Chicago at Depaul. It was a huge coincidence, and it was great seeing people I haven't seen in a while.

After I was done, I met up with Andy in Umeda, we bought some cheap JR tickets to Otsu, where the concert we were going to tonite was. Since Andy got me into Hello!Project stuff by showing me a bunch of random youtube vids, we wanted to see a Morning Musume concert. We were like “man, it would be so convenient if there was a concert the weekend you were in Kansai” and sure enough, only an hour or so from where we were, they were doing a concert. Since Andy goes to Tokyo often, there's a specific store where you can get tickets in Harajuku, so he went there and got 2 tickets for 5000 yen each, when they're normally 7000 yen retail, and we got to pick the seats. Not too bad. Anyways, to get to Otsu, normally its 920 yen or so each way to get to Otsu from Umeda, but because we went to the cheap ticket place when we met in Umeda, we got round trip tickets for 1020 yen. So we saved more than 800 yen by making a quick 5 minute detour. We got seats on the train, which were really comfortable, and we got to Otsu no problem. The concert venue was about 20 minutes walking from the station, but we looked at a map and it was a really easy path, straight for a while, and then one turn. The one turn was at the lake, so it's not like we could pass it up unless we somehow didn't notice we were walking in water.

After we got to the venue, we noticed a bunch of people wearing purple and giving purple glowsticks. Apparantly, one of the band members, Mitsui Aika, is from Otsu, Shiga. So this is her hometown concert place. Everyone wanted to support her, so they were giving out free purple glowsticks, since purple is “her color” (each band member has a different color that's assigned to them). We took one each. We looked at the concert goods, too. I wanted a sports towel (because it's the only concert goods that I would actually USE,) but they were like, 2000 yen, which is way too much for a towel, so I didn't get anything. Andy got a picture set, which looked pretty good. Afte that, we got to our seats. We got 2nd row seats, kind of on the side of the theatre, but there was nobody behind us, and we were only 3 rows back. We had a bar in front of us too, so it was like we were in a little VIP section. And even tho it was the 2nd floor, it wasn't that much above the 1st floor. They were pretty close to the stage compared to other concerts I've been to. Maybe 50 feet? I could see each girl pretty clearly from where I was.

The concert got started and it was actually better than I expected. I didn't know as many songs as I would have liked to (since most were from their recent album, which I didn't purchase), but they all sang realy well, and the girls that usually get ignored actually got a lot of lines, and I didn't feel like they got ignored. Their outfits were cute, but not over the top, and the dances all looked good. Even tho it was their 2nd concert of the day, they still had a lot of energy. After the concert was almost over, the lights went off, and everyone took their purple glowsticks (Aika's color) and was waving it and chanting “A-I-KA! A-I-KA!” over and over. It was crazy. They came back out, did another 2 songs, everyone did their little speech, and it was cool. Then at the end, Aika came back out and said like, “Thank you” again. Overall it was fun. However, most of the fans were kind of umm...hardcore? I guess that's a nice way of putting it, but yeah...they're very dedicated to what they do, they knew all the dances and were totally wearing the concert “gear” and stuff. I personally just kinda waved the glowstick however I felt like, usually just in beat with the music, but some of these people are really into it, haha...Either way, Aika seemed really touched, and it was a nice gesture for them to get a buncha purple glowsticks to hand out to people.

After the concert, we went back to Umeda and met up with Mike, Sam and company. We went to the good cheese curry place, and Mike, Sam, and the others showed up with 5 minutes before the place closed. Tony was quite intoxicated, so he was a bit of a pain because he gets extremely loud, but everyone else ate and enjoyed the best cheese curry ever. I apologized to the guy who works at the cheese curry place, and we headed out of there. We played at Athena until closing and then went to this bar in Amerika-mura. It had a cover charge of 1500 yen with a free drink. I got a beer, but it was really loud and really crowded, so me and Sam stood off to the side talking. Around 2ish, I was dead tired, so I got out of there and went to the capsule hotel nearby. I went to sleep right away and woke up around 9ish. I took a bath, got ready and got out of there. I went to Athena and Denden for a while. I picked up some xbox s-video cables so I don't have to switch the cables from my CRT to my HDTV, I can just unplug one in the back of the 360 and plug the other in.

After a bit, I went back to Athena and played for a bit until Mike was ready and came up and got me. We all went to Kua Aina for food after that. Andy wasn't feeling like eating, so Emmet ate his food, but everyone else ate well enough. Everyone wanted to go to Osaka castle, so I figured “eh, I'll go with, why not?” because I wanted to hang out more. We got to Osakajo-koen station and it was packed. Apparantly there was a johnnys concert or something going on. Johnnys is pretty much the male version of hello project, but unlike hello project, where it's lots of 30's to middle aged men, it's a lot of younger girls, so it seems less creepy. We walked to the castle, and on the way, a buncha kids in baseball uniforms (maybe 2nd graders?) went HELLO!! to us. Me and Mike, being on the ball (and als having experience with this, haha) yelled “HELLO!!” back, while Tony stood there like “huh???” They came up and started shaking our hands, and stuff. Then they wanted to take a picture with us, so we did. It was awesome, they were cute kids.

We walked up to the castle, which is already on a hill, and then we got to the castle and because we didnt want to waste time waiting for the elevator, we walked up 8 flights of stairs up. The view was AWESOME, we got to see a lot of Osaka. It was really cool. The inside was ok. I like pots, but I don't need to see an entire floor of pottery, haha. After we finished looking around, taking pics, etc, we got out of there. Emmet was with Sam, and they went out first. I was with Andy, and we went out after that. We see Mike come out and see him walking our direction. However, his little brother wasn't with us (and lacks a cell phone, too). So we were like “oh man, I wonder if he thinks his brother is with us, let's see his reaction when we ask him where his brother is.” So he comes, and we're like “Sup, so where's your brother?” and he was like “WAIT, YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE HE IS?” It was suuuuper funny (at least to us). Apparantly, when we went to the 1st floor, he didn't notice so he was on the 2nd floor. Mike got him back so it was ok, but it was pretty funny. We relaxed around the castle while Andy was taking pics. We just chilled there, and when we were done, we headed to Umeda. Andy had to head back on the bullet train, so we said bye and parted ways.

I was planning on buying an Ipod touch, and Tony wanted to check out Yodobashi camera anyways for the figures and stuff. We went there and Tony picked up some stuff and used my point card. I got like, 5 bucks in points for free, woot. I saw that they had dream club plushies, but they were marked down from 3500 yen to 1000 yen. I picked up the Setsu plush for 1000 yen, because it was def worth it for that price. After that, I bought an ipod touch 32G. Got 15 bucks in points for that, so total right now, I have about 30 bucks in points! Not too bad. After that, I had to head back, so I parted ways with those guys and said I would try to come to Kanto sometime.

I got back, and set up my ipod touch, and named it “Eri” after my favorite idolm@ster character, and my favorite girl in Morning Musume. Looking forward to playing around with it this week!

Next week, I should be meeting up with Dan, who has been sick lately, so hopefully he'll be totally better by this weekend. Until next time!