White Day, Manga School, Solo-Clubbing and Darlo’s Japanese TV Appearance

So yesterday started late, my body and soul (as well as my alarm clock) deciding I was due a nice lie-in. Yesterday was the 14th of March and that meant it was White Day. On this day in Japan men who received chocolate (or other assorted goodies) on Valentine’s Day, return the favour. I received a piece of chocolate from my dorm managers wife so I planned to buy some chocolate as an お返し (okaeshi, return gift).

Setting off at about 3 o’clock, not too long after getting my lazy arse out of bed, I headed off in search of some lunch and an appropriate gift. After not too long I found myself in Umeda, under the bridge in the restaurant that I ate in on Monday, eating the same niku-udon. After giving thanks to the woman at the counter I headed towards the far side of the Umeda Sky building, an area I hadn’t yet walked around.

Passing a wide range of small factories and small businesses (including a lot of mechanics), I was reminded of Telfords own industrial areas, the kind of places a normal guy like me could work. Maybe not a fantastic job with a great pay, but work is work. I also pondered the possibility of working in a place like this after my degree. I also considered the average part-time job done by my fellow exchange students, and how all but a few seemed to be doing the well paid English tutor/teacher thing. But the people I really take my (metaphorical) hat of to are the guys working ‘normal’ jobs, like in a cafe, or in McDonalds. Yeah the pay isn’t as good, but this is the sort of job where you’re using real Japanese in a real Japanese environment.

I (metaphorically) salute you.

Coming from the other side of the Umeda Sky Building I soon found myself face to face with a nice garden area with waterfalls, walkways and awesome plant-life. If the weather would have been more Summery (I had to allow for the fact that it wasn’t summer), like when we first arrived in Japan this would have been a very tropical environment, similar to when we went to Jamaica‘s Dunn’s River Falls over 10 years ago.

On the walk back, walking a different way from usual (as usual) by chance I looked up to see a sign attached to a fire escape advertising an ‘anime and manga production and training school’. Now I know that I’m more likely to find one of these in Japan than in England but I really wasn’t expecting to actually see one. Walking around the corner I came face to face with it, so casually picked up one of it’s leaflet packs from outside (which came with a copy of one of the schools manga publications). As much as I’d love to go to 大阪アニメーター学院 (Osaka Animator School), it’s a bit expensive for me. Not to mention I’m only here for another 2 months.

On the way home I stopped at the Family Mart convenience store to pick up some chocolate. I decided to buy a piece for all the staff members at the dorm, let’s face it they’ve been pretty awesome, so I bought about 15 or so small pieces. When it came to giving them out, the staff member seemed to be really shocked at the gesture, but at the same time really greatful.

Seeing as I didn’t go out the night before last, I made a point of deciding I would without a doubt go out last night. Checking the schedule for Sam and Daves (once again I couldn’t be bothered to go to Shinsaibashi, wanting to stay in Umeda) they were going to be having ‘Playboy Mansion Party’ theme, so decided to go to that. Unfortunately trying to convince others to do the same wasn’t so easy, especially as I’d left it so late to email everyone. For the homestay students, it was understandable if they didn’t want to go (the same reason I seldom go with them to Sannomiya, it’s too damn far) and for the dorm guys they had other reasons ranging from illness to plans already being made.

“Sod it” I thought, “I’ll go solo”, and so I did.

As far as Playboy Parties go, with the exception of the barstaff wearing dressing gowns on top of their normal uniform, there wasn’t really much different to be honest. Non of the customers were dressed up (neither was I thankfully), so if it wasn’t for the fact I’d seen it advertised on the website I wouldn’t have been any the wiser. However, apparently there were bunny girls there before I got there.

Even though I went alone, by chance I met three people in the club who I knew; a guy who I study with at Leeds, a Japanese girl that he knew and I’d met a few times at Konan (despite the fact she goes to another Uni), and one of the guys I met when I did that 初めての日本 (hajimete no nippon, first time Japan) TV show a few months back (skip to the bottom of this entry to watch the show).

So throughout the night I managed to practice Japanese and also held the occaisional conversation in English as I met a few people wanting to learn the language. I did meet one very irritating American buggar though. Here’s a brief of how the conversation went

Him: Approached with a nod of the head
Me: 今日は (konnichiwa, hi)
Him: Yeah, I could speak to you in Japanese, but I save that for trying to score with the ladies
Me: Riiiight … good luck with that.

I was very thankful to see him then walk facefirst into a wall. Karma, you gotta love it.

So like yesterday, the majority of today was spent in bed due to the fact it was about 7 o’clock this morning I got home. Hangover? Meh, if that’s what this is it’s not doing a very good job, more like I ate something funny. And speaking of eating funny things, I now present to you my first (and probably only) television appearance in Japan. Enjoy! (The Room of Living Dolls is on the second video)