Archive for category Asako

December 23, 2003 – Light Steel Blue

For the backstory on Asako, check out these posts:

After the awkward romance fail on my last outing with Asako, I didn’t expect to hear from her again. I was surprised to get a text letting me know that her band, Light Steel Blue, was going to be playing at the John Lennon Museum Cafe again. I told her I would be there.

I took the long trip to Saitama, not getting lost like the first time. When I got there, I met Asako and she told me that her band would be on 4th and I could watch from the cafe. I took a seat and nursed a pricey cappucino through the performance. Light Steel Blue played Beatles covers, a few originals and some Christmas songs. The show was great, and I wish I had learned a bit more about the musicians in the band. The singer in particular was fantastic and I hope he is still performing somewhere.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the day. Mostly I just tried to not feel awkward sitting at a table by myself through 4 bands. I was literally the only non Japanese person in the place, and the only person sitting solo at a table. After the show I got a brief chance to talk to Asako who thanked me for coming and said that she had to get going. It turned out to be a “hey friend, come see my band play as a friend, buddy” kind of situation. This pretty much erased all doubt on the state of affairs.

At least I got to hear some good live music, so the entire day wasn’t all bad.

(complete rewrite of original post)

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November 27, 2003 – Cosmo Clock

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(2003 Original post)

I fought off the worst hangover of my time in Japan to go to Yokohama. I wandered around Chinatown and Minato Mirai which is on the waterfront. Minato Mirai has the world`s 3rd largest Ferris Wheel called the “Cosmo Clock” which takes a full 15 minutes for one revolution, and offers views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day. There were amazing Christmas decorations everywhere. Beautiful! I want to move to Yokohama.

(2013 Update)

This is another case where my original post was severely lacking detail at the time for a few different reasons, the main one being that I had a date with Asako from the band I met at the John Lennon museum.

The hangover was from my night out at a bar in Noborito which you can read about in yesterday’s post. After meeting a fairly epic night out with Marshall and some random Japanese guys I was feeling like death warmed over. I managed to get myself rehydrate, showered, and loaded up with ibuprofen so I could meet up with Asako in Yokohama.

Our first stop was Chukagai, Yokohama’s Chinatown. Chukagai is the largest Chinatown in Asia. We went to one of the many restaurants for lunch and had chahan (rice bowls). In Canada there are a lot of Chinese restaurants that serve fried rice, however they are all “Canadian Chinese” food that has been made more palatable for Canadians. Their fried rice is generally cheap and relatively flavourless. The fried rice we ate in Chukagai was simply amazing. It was bright and full of flavour, with chunks of meat and vegetables inside. When we were done eating, Asako literally sprinted to the cash register in order to pay for both of us, evening the score from our lunch in Shibuya a few weeks earlier.

After lunch we wandered around Chinatown and headed over to Minato Mirai 21, a shopping and tourist destination on the waterfront. Minato Mirai is home to Landmark Tower (Japan’s largest building), stores, movie theatres, an amusement park with ride and games, and Cosmo Clock. Standing at 112.5 meters, Cosmo Clock was at one time the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. It is also a very popular date spot. There is always a line of couples waiting to get into one of the 60 cars and make the 15 minute rotation with a great view of Yokohama.

Asako and I were having a fun day together, and she suggested that we go on Cosmo clock together. I took this as a positive sign, and about half way around the wheel I made a move.

For those who don’t know me, I am generally oblivious to signals that females give me. In fact, I am planning an upcoming article about my lack of skill when it comes to my romantic interactions with the opposite sex. The situation started with “awkward guy” as a baseline, added in hangover, homesickness, language barrier, lack of cultural knowledge, and mixed in being on the rebound from a 5 year relationship. This created a perfect recipe for poor timing. Perhaps after a few more dates things would have worked out differently, but the move was too soon.

Things were a little awkward for the rest of the time we spent together that day, and at the station Asako gave my hand a squeeze and walked away for her train. There was no discussion of the situation, but the message was fairly clear, she was not interested in turning our fairly new friendship into a relationship.

As I write this 10 years later I am cringing at the memory. It was a good day in Yokohama, but it could have ended better.

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November 11, 2003 – Spaghetti Dona

Spaghetti DONA

(complete rewrite of original post)

Today is Remembrance day in Canada. Our family has a military history, so growing up I always went to some kind of Remembrance Day service. It was strange not doing anything special to mark the day. Never forget the people who made sacrifices for your freedoms.

Instead of celebrating Remembrance day, I went out for lunch with Asako, the keyboard player from the Beatles cover band that I saw at the John Lennon museum. Her English was fairly basic, so I got a lot of Japanese practice. We were able to talk a little about food, music and family.

Lunch was at a chain called Spaghetti Dona that specialized in, you guessed it, spaghetti. They had a 780 yen lunch special that included a huge plate of spaghetti, salad and a drink. Since I asked Asako to go for lunch, I picked up the bill. This caused some confusion and protest from Asako. I learned later that usually on this kind of date both parties split the bill (betsu betsu). We took a brief tour around Shibuya before going our separate ways, with a promise to meet up again.

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October 26, 2003 – John Lennon Museum

(rewritten from original post to add much more detail)

Today I went to the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, which is a city just north of Tokyo that belongs to the Greater Tokyo Area. I met up with some of the teachers that I went to orientation with. We had exchanged contact information at orientation night, and shortly afterwards made plans on a mutual day off to meet up and visit the museum.

In early afternoon we met up at Akabane station and switched to a train heading towards the Saitama Super Arena. Since we were all pretty new to Japan, we took the local train instead of the express and got off at the wrong station. We left the station area and started looking around for a large arena. With a name like “Saitama Super Arena” we figured it would likely be a prominent part of the scenery. After a few minutes of wandering on both sides of the station, we decided to walk into the nearest Koban and ask for directions.

A Koban is also called a “police box”. It is a small office usually staffed by a few officers who patrol the local area and provide directions. Not knowing whether or not the officers would speak English, I decided that it would be a good time to put my University Japanese education and phrase book to use. I looked up the word for museum – hakubutsukan. This was combined with “wa doko desu ka” (where is it) from my Japanese course. After a few practice runs I walked into the Koban and politely said “すみません、(ジョン・レノンの博物館はどこですか?” (excuse me, where is the John Lennon museum). The officer took one look at me and answered in perfect English “oh, the John Lennon museum? This is the wrong station. You need to get back on the train and go one more stop. Get off at Saitama Shintoshin station and follow the signs”. This was a recurring theme in my Japanese adventures – when you don’t expect someone to speak English, they end up speaking it very well.

We followed the nice officer’s instructions and entered the John Lennon Museum. The museum chronicled John’s life from childhood to death, with different rooms for different stages in his life and career. There was an extensive collection of John’s personal effects (thanks to Yoko Ono) that included John’s elementary school report card, a guitar with a Beatles set list still taped to the neck, Sgt. Pepper stage costumes and song lyrics written on various scraps of paper or napkins. I am more of a Beatles fan than a John Lennon fan, but it was still a great way to learn more about John before, during and after the Beatles. All of the displays were in English and Japanese. The museum was fantastic!

After the museum we went to the attached John Lennon museum cafe. The cafe featured live music by a band called Light Steel Blue who played Beatles songs. The female keyboard player kept looking at me during the show. Afterwards my teaching friends and I were standing around talking when the keyboard player walked up to hand out information about her band. I told her in Japanese that her music was great. She thanked me and we had a bit of a conversation in broken English and Japanese and exchanged phone numbers. She also took my friend’s numbers as well, but I think she did that as an afterthought to be polite.

I got to see all of John Lennon’s personal stuff and got a phone number. What a great day!

2013 Update

The museum closed a few years ago, but you can get some good details here: http://amoderngirl.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/goodbye-lennon/

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