Archive for May, 2016

January 2006 – Multiple girlfriends (not mine)

In most of the stories on this blog I write about my adventures with teaching, my life in Japan, or how much karaoke and beer I enjoyed the night before. However, from the end of 2005 one of my roommates had an interesting story happening which I never wrote about at the time (for reasons that will quickly become obvious).

When I moved in to my company apartment in 2004, Palmer was dating a youthful Japanese woman who spent a LOT of time in our apartment. She had a key and came and went whenever she felt like it. I’m sure this was a good arrangement for her and Palmer, but it annoyed Azeroth and I. The worst situation was when I had The Penpal over for some private time, and Palmer’s girlfriend came out of the shower wearing a towel. To be fair, Azeroth and I were not the world’s best roommates, but Palmer’s girlfriend, even though we liked her, was a regular source of stress at the apartment.

Near the end of 2005, Palmer broke up with his girlfriend and hit the rebound market pretty hard. He was tall, confident, fit, and fluently bilingual, which are all good qualities when you are on the prowl in Japan. Over beers we had learned that he was interested in two different female students at our branch. Note: for those who haven’t been reading, we worked at a conversational English school, so the students were mostly adults. Both of these ladies were in their 20s, and were regulars at our NOVA branch.

I guess he was working his charms on both of them to see if something would pan out. Somehow he managed to end up dating both of them at the same time!

NOVA policy strictly forbids teachers from interacting with students outside of the classroom. Most of the teachers did anyway, with the knowledge that if the supervisors didn’t catch you in the act, they probably wouldn’t say anything. In this case, Palmer WAS a supervisor. It was risky, but both of the students were aware of the policy and the position that they were in, so they were very good at keeping things quiet. This was convenient for Palmer, both for not getting in trouble, and it helped keep his two girlfriends from finding out about each other!

This arrangement presented some interesting situations. We would have one of them over to hang out at the apartment, and the other one would be over the next night. When he would be out with one, he would be very careful where he went. He had a very distinctive appearance, so it was easy to spot him in a crowd.

The most stressful situation happened at work; he ended up having both of his girlfriends in the same VOICE class (open conversation classroom) at the same time. He told us later that it was the longest 40 minutes of his teaching career!!

I’m not going to make any judgements about his behaviour (let he who is without sin…). I can say that it helped make life more interesting for not only Palmer, but his roommates Azeroth and I for the few months that this arrangement lasted.

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January 12, 2006 – Still haven’t been away long enough

My vacation is over. Today I returned to my regular Thursday routine of a private Japanese lesson in the morning followed by teaching English in the afternoon and evening.

I still haven’t been away from work long enough to want to come back!

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January 11, 2006 part 3 – Akihabara and farewells

Disclaimer – this story is about a friend nicknamed UPS. This story is no relation to United Parcel Services.

UPS and I finally got out of the Capsule hotel, clean, fed, and still hungover. We needed to be at the airport by 3:00, which left a few hours to visit Akihabara, one of the last places on UPS’s Japan wish list.

I have been to Akihabara several times before, but it’s always interesting to return and see new things. UPS wanted to visit the duty free shops, which I had generally avoided to date. There are some good deals to be found on export ready electronics if you have your passport on hand and are prepared to shop around. Akihabara Duty Free shops are also one of the few places in Japan where it is acceptable to haggle.

After a few hours of exploring duty free, comic, and porn stores, we stopped for Italian food. Yes, UPS’s last meal in Japan was pasta. During lunch we discussed some of our favourite fuzzy memories from UPS’s short trip, along with some of his upcoming plans for his 4 months in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

We also talked about The Penpal, and how UPS thought she was pretty cool. We discussed whether or not she would ever move to Canada with me when I decided to stop teaching English. I really hope she will consider it.

UPS and I had an adventure free trip to the airport, and after watching him go through security, I started my long train trip back to Numazu. I was looking forward to catching up on my sleep!

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January 11, 2006 part 2 – How not to use a sento

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.
Image courtesy of the good folks at Wikipedia

Image courtesy of the good folks at Wikipedia

After an epic night out in Roppongi, I woke up in my tiny coffin at the capsule hotel in Shibuya. It had not been a restful night, as people in the other capsules were snoring impressively. Also, someone’s alarm clock starting ringing just before 6:00am and continued for about half an hour. My head was spinning and I was tired from lack of sleep. UPS got me out of my capsule and we decided to get cleaned up and checked out. The capsule hotel featured a sento style bath, which UPS was eager to try out in the name of gaining cultural experience. I had never been to a sento before but I knew the general idea – clean yourself first, then sit in the shared bath.
We walked into the changing room outside the bath, still wearing the yukatas that we changed into when we checked in. There were large wicker baskets, which we assumed were for holding our yukatas and personal items. There were also two stacks of towels – large bath towels, and smaller towels that looked like long facecloths.
UPS and I removed our yukatas and underwear, wrapped the large towels around our waists, and walked into the bath area. The first thing we noticed (other than the other hungover naked men) was that nobody had the large bath towels in this area. We returned to the changing room, left the bath towels in our baskets, and confidently reentered the bathing area nude.
As we walked in, we got some very strange looks from two men who were walking out. At first I assumed that the cause of the strange look was that UPS and I were very brown and ghostly pale, respectively. However I quickly realized that everyone in the bath area were covering their naughty bits with one of the smaller towels, while we were exposing ourselves to the entire room. We quickly returned to the changing room one more time, this time equipped with privacy towels to hide our foreign members.
UPS and I proceeded to the washing stations. Each was equipped with a small bucket to sit on, a hand held shower nozzle, a mirror, and an impressive array of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I reminded UPS that we had to be completely clean
and soap free before moving into the bath. After a few minutes of hungover scrubbing, we moved over to the tub of extremely hot water to soak.
Japanese people have a national obsession with soaking naked in extremely hot water. I’m sure it’s relaxing for some, but the experience for me was like being boiled alive. After only a few minutes I needed to get out. UPS suggested we check out the nearby sauna room. Nobody else was in the sauna when we entered. We took a seat and pretended we could understand the business report showing on the wall mounted TV. After a few minutes, a Japanese man entered the room. He took one look at the two foreigners inside, turned around, and walked right back out the door. We laughed at how unpopular we were in the bathing area.
The rest of our time at the capsule hotel was uneventful. We shaved with free individual use razors. We brushed our teeth with free individual use toothbrushes. We ate a free but unmemorable breakfast, got dressed, then checked out. I still couldn’t believe that we had just stayed in Shibuya for just over 3000 yen. My only complaints were the rampant snoring and my hangover, and only one of those could really be blamed on the hotel.

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January 11, 2006 part 1 – Finding Capsule Land

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.

After an eventful evening in Roppongi where we drank at 5 different bars, UPS and I were looking for a place to sleep for the night. I was happy to find a nearby hotel, but UPS insisted that on his last night in Japan he wanted to stay in a capsule hotel.

A capsule hotel is a cheap option for a place to sleep if you don’t have a problem with small spaces. Instead of a room, you rent a small capsule to sleep in for the night. I had heard of capsule hotels before I moved to Japan, but had never stayed in one. In the interests of being a good host and trying new things, I agreed and decided to use my Japanese language skills to find us a capsule hotel.

We walked towards the big Koban across from Roppongi station. The police officer at the front appeared a bit nervous as we approached, probably because he had interacted with more than his share of drunk foreigners in English before. He appeared to relax when I greeted him politely in and managed to ask him where the nearest capsule hotel was in decent Japanese. This was particularly impressive considering the amount of beer I had consumed over the evening. The officer told me that there were no capsule hotels in Roppongi and that I would have better luck in Shibuya. Since the trains had already stopped, he pointed out where the nearest taxi stand was. I thanked him and we were on our way.

The taxi driver did not seem too pleased about transporting two obviously drunk gaijins somewhere after 2:00am. We were fascinated by the street level view of one of the world’s biggest cities. The cab ride didn’t take long and cost about 1200 yen ($12).

We got out at the Hachiko exit at Shibuya station, and I asked directions from a nearby Koban while UPS hung out at the famous dog statue. Hachiko is a well known meeting place, and after explaining the story I got a picture of a very tired looking UPS next to Japan’s most loyal dog. We set out for a large capsule hotel building called “Capsule Land” which was just up the street.


On the way we had another interesting encounter; UPS managed to get propositioned by a street prostitute. For real.

I didn’t even think there were any street prostitutes in Japan, so this was all the more surprising. As we slowly walked up the hill, she said “hi”, put her head on his shoulder, and said in an adorable voice “Sex? Sex??”. UPS said no thank you. She nodded her head yes while saying, slightly more confidently, “Sex! Sex.” this time as a statement, not a question. We somehow politely removed ourselves from her rather pleasant company and laughed about the ridiculous situations we had experienced during the evening while we continued walking to Capsule Land.

There aren’t too many other situations where talking to two police officers and a hooker would constitute a good evening. I love having visitors!

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Back (very) soon

For those few regular readers out there, my hiatus is almost over. I am getting settled in my new job, home renos are done, and life is returning to whatever can be considered “normal” with an active 2 year old in the house. Basically, I have some time to blog again.

Other than reliving some great memories, one of my favourite things about Drinking in Japan (the blog, not the activity) was the fact that I could repost my original stories 10 years after they happened. With the break I took I have some catching up to do. I expect that I will be posting more than once a day until I have caught up with the story before the end.

Coming up in the next few months:

  • The ending of UPS’s visit to Japan, including stories about male frontal nudity!
  • An change in my relationship with The Penpal!
  • Ninja museum!
  • Green beer!
  • A night out in Osaka!
  • A visit from parents!
  • Random stories about students and teachers!
  • Facial hair growth!
  • A farewell tour!

Thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures.


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