Tag Archives: japanese

Whiskey Factory, Umeda Fandabbery and All-Night Karaoke

Well … I’ve gone and done it again. Destroyed my body clock just when I was getting into the swing of things. It’s about 20 past 4, and I’ve just crawled out of bed and got myself some of the pizza taken from Tuesdays pizza party. But why did I do such a thing? Why did I not go to bed until about 7:10 this morning? Heck, why did I not get home until 7 o’clock this morning? Any why wasn’t I drunk? The truth is I wanted to experience the Japanese past-time of all-night karaoke. BUT! As most of you know I’m no stranger to staying up late, so why was today especially rough for me? Well, with the addition to a trip to a whiskey factory early in the morning I’ve done a hell of a lot of walking … more than the Okamoto to Sannomiya walk!

So the day (yesterday) actually started with a bit of a lie-in. The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery was further towards Kyoto, so the train to get there conveniently went through Kamishinjou. This meant that whilst everyone was meeting at Okamoto for about 8:15, at that time I was having breakfast and kicking back a bit, before meeting the group on the train at 8:58.

The Suntory itself was quite impressive and I did learn a fair bit (thanks to the English audio guide, which by the way was done by a Japanese woman who had clearly studied English in the UK … thank you ^_^) including whiskey being totally clear when it’s first made. The tour was shortly followed by a tasting session and many parodies of Bill Murray’s “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time” speech from Lost in Translation.

After the Suntory we all went to a little jazz cafe for a snack and drink. I had some Earl Grey tea (for what I believe is the first time in my life … take that stereotype!) and what was called a Milk Crepe. Delicious as pancakes with milk-sauce are (and I mean that literally, it was damn good), it was a little tricky to read the katakana on the menu; mi.ru.ku.re.-.pu. So at first I didn’t know whether I was getting a Mill Crepe (which sounds quite nice), or whether I was going to be subjected to a Milk Rape, a thought that scares me. When it came though I soon discovered it was a joyful combination of the two.

On the train back I found out that some students were going to be doing an all-night karaoke in Umeda. It sounded good, and if I went to Umeda straight from the train I was on, I could hang out in Umeda, do a bit mroe exploring, and take some more pictures. That being said, I’m uploading some more pictures right now. Today’s ones are the animal pictures in a park in London. I also wanted to get some more pictures from up the Acty Building. I’d been up there before, but the weather wasn’t great so didn’t take any pictures.

After a hell of a lot of walking around, exploring the city, and a few phone calls, I met up with some friends (other than those I was to meet for karaoke). Soon we arrived at a destination that wasn’t originally on my ‘list’ but sure is now; a Pokemon Centre. Though it’s true I lost interest in Pokemon after a the number of monsters surpassed 151, it was still an interesting place. In essence it was just a large pokemon shop, but it also had areas set asside so people could play, trade cards, and generally mingle.

We then went off for a look at Yodobashi Camera, the biggest electronic shop that I’ve ever been to. To give people back in Telford a general idea of it’s size, imagine the New Bucks Head stadium, only twice as high, twice as long, and twice as wide … twice as big really (ish). A lot of people at Uni have nicknamed this the ‘cheap’ electronics shop, but to be honest the best I way could describe their prices is ‘meh’. Yeah it’s not horrendously expensive and there’s a humongous range, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it cheap. That being said most of the people who have refferred to it that way are usually shopping on Daddy’s credit card, and easilly forked out hundreds of pounds on Denshi-Jisho’s (electronic dictionaries) without shopping around. Sod that, I’ll stick with my (old style) Nintendo DS with Kanji Sonomama and a good old book style dictionary. Maybe we should have a Jisho (dictionary) dropping contest and see how many people cry, hehehe. I don’t think we actually bought anything from YC, but it is a cool shop just to have a look in.

A trip to Den Den Town was had soon after, and had I known it was actually the same place as when a few of us went to Nipponbashi I probably would have stayed in Umeda. So for those who didn’t see my entry on Nipponbashi and are too lazy to look for it (don’t worry, I am too) it’s a large area of Osaka that caters for fans of Otaku culture and has been nicknamed the city’s version of Akihabara. Once again I mainly stuck to second hand stores, and after doing Through the Fire and Flames on normal to a small audience, went and bought some cheap manga titles. How cheap? Well the cheapest three I got were 50 yen each (see XE.com for exchange rate).

After we seperated I headed back for Umeda for some more exploring. I was meant to meet with the karaoke group at about 10:30 so took my time in having a good look around. After another yonk of a walk I ended up at Umeda’s 7th tallest building, the Umeda Sky Building. Note that I didn’t walk the obvious A-B or as the crow flies, but by an interesting curve around from the Acty building stopping off at a Softmap (what I would consider to be a cheap electronics shop) … tempted to buy a Wii for roughly 90 quid (second hand of course).

When I arrived at the building designed by Hiroshi Hara, I saw a notice which (I’m pretty sure) said it closed at 7:30. It was 7:50. I approached one of the doors and it opened. I obviously took this as an opportunity to become the stupid foreigner and walked right in. After taking a lift to the top floor, I was presented with no windows but instead an Indian restaurant. Going down a floor gave me a window and a perfect place to get some more pictures of the city at night, if only my camera wasn’t so cheap. T_T

After meeting up with the karaokers to make sure everyone was about, I then did something I hadn’t done since I first got to Japan; went to a random bar solo. I wanted, like before, to find a place that either had no other patrons or very few so that I wouldn’t get the ‘record skipping’ effect upon entry. Ironically on my way I passed a McDonalds and felt the thirst for an OJ. Buying a medium Orange Juice I kept on walking.

After finding a nice little place I kept on walking to find a bin and then intended to head back. The only problem seemed to be that Umeda didn’t seem to have any bins where I was, or where I wasking. After walking for about half an hour and ending up back at Hankyu Umeda train station I finally had a place to put my OJ cup. Now if I’d have bought a can or bottle from a vending machine then I’d have had no problem finding somewhere to put the rubbish, as most venders have bins for cans and plastic bottles.

So heading back to the bar I very nervously walked in, announcing my presence and enquiring if the bar was open; last thing I’d want to do is look like a complete tit by going into a closed place, or worse someone’s house that just looked like a pub! Thankfully it was open and eagerly awaiting someone to come in and buy a drink. Though me and the bar lady didn’t really talk much or for very long, I was thankful that at no point did she say something along the lines of “your Japanese is very good”, as that’s normally the key it takes for me to forget every Japanese lesson I’ve ever taken. After having a couple of (pretty damn good) beers, I was on my way and met up with the others.

Karaoke started shortly after 11 and ended at about 5 o’clock. There really isn’t much more I can add to the obvious; lots of singing throughout the night. For the record I did sing my usual Life is Like a Boat and Clubhouse Sandwich combo as well as an array of othertunes.

After seeing some of the guys off on their way, me and one other person stuck around waiting for McDonalds to open. After polishing off a Sausage (and cheese) Muffin and a Hashbrown (with that ol’ OJ favourite), I too headed home. It was roughly now I wished I hadn’t done so much walking throughout the day as my legs felt so angry with me it was taking all my might just to get my knees to function properly. I did fall asleep a couple of times on the train, but each time waking up as we approached a station, and I don’t remember much about the walk from the station to the dorm except for the fact that a dog was standing up in a car. The only real way I could remember that is because this dog (who we have nicknamed ‘Box Dog’) lives in a box inside a garage and never seems to leave it, occaisionally moving his head every now and then.

When I got back into my room I quickly swept everything off the bed put my head on the pillow and …


That’s something I keep forgetting to talk about! My beloved new pillow! For those of you who are fans of Azumanga Daioh out there think back to when Nyamo buys a new Danish pillow and Yukari tries it out. Yes, that scene! For those of you who have no idea what I’m banging on about, a YouTube video follows this paragraph. Well I too have now bought one of those legendary pillows which has swiftly replaced my sack of rocks with a permanent central dent. It has really helped me sleep better, but it has worked a bit too well. Somedays instead of me getting out of bed at 7 for breakfast I find myself abusing the snooze button more times than it can handle, with it swiftly saying “sod it, i’ll have your breakfast instead of you, you lazy git”. But it can easilly be forgiven. My major plus side is that unlike Nyamo I didn’t pay 10,000 yen for it, but a mere 980 yen … the same price as my awesomely cheap trainers! So here as my way of saying adios for now … here’s an English dub of that particular scene. Enjoy!