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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #510  (Vol. 11, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of December 28, 2009--January 3, 2010.

"Nine"  by Mike Smith
Welcome 2010 and 1970 Revisited  by ED Tucker
Sexy Japanese New Year's  by Jason Fetters
2010 Resolutions  by Lisa Scherer
Movie Lines From 2009 .... Joe's Hoping There's A Cash Prize Also .... Definitely Dead .... All Is Forgiven...for Now .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Sexy Japanese New Year's

The 1999 Christmas season died away and was forgotten as the New Year’s celebration began. The Japanese were getting into the spirit of the holidays, which lasted longer than a week.

I was running low on money and my mother was sending money to me from the US. Unfortunately, the International Center, where my mailbox was located, was closed. So I decided to use the Suitomo Bank ATM on campus and just as I was about to walk onto the campus to get to the ATM, I saw the closed gate. I didn’t bother to walk around the entire campus because I knew the entire college was closed off. No ATM, and I couldn’t really afford to go look for another ATM because there really wasn’t one unless I took the bus into Downtown Hirakata and I lacked the funds to even do that. I passed the Lawson’s convenient store, which was overpriced compared to the grocery store. The supermarket was always so much cheaper. I bought pancake mix, ramen noodles, and canned tuna that I would put on top of rice. This food supply would last a few days. Hopefully the campus would open back up before it ran out. I went back to my dorm room at the Seminar House and I soon discovered that Eric, my partner in crime for shopping and over spending, was having the same problem.

Trevor, who did buy up lots of manga in boxed sets, graciously allowed us to borrow some money until we could find an ATM. Trevor didn’t have much either and I don’t think Casim did either. Casim was from Tampa, Florida and he live in Lutz, so we had a common bond together in Japan. Casim was always saving his money and his dorm room wasn’t filled with Jpop CDs, video games, videotapes, manga books, and all the crazy toys the rest of us were buying. Trevor, who started an Anime Club back at his home college, would buy entire sets of manga books and ship them back to Japan. Manga can be ongoing like US comics like Superman and Batman that keep coming out each year or they have a certain number of bound books and that’s it for the title following its run. Trevor had several whole series by the end of the school year. The only one with money was the one who refused to help us. That was Justin. He could see the desperate situation that we were all in and he did something that added insult to injury. We were all sitting around at the tables inside the kitchen and dining area and Justin asked us which pizza was the worst. I said I hated Hawaiian pizza and everyone agreed with me.

Justin got up and said that he had to go to the bathroom. I had to go too so I followed him at a safe distance. He went to the first floor and ran down to the front office where the host mother was. I listened to his horrible Japanese, got tired of listening, and walked back upstairs to the kitchen.

We were all sitting around and talking about what kind of food we wanted to eat once we got ATM access again.

Some time passed and we went back downstairs to play Vib Ribbon (a musical game involving a sound wave) for the PS1 with Colin. It was nice to have a quality communal TV to play games on. Vib Ribbon was an interesting game. At first I didn’t really like it because I thought the graphics were poor. It was basically a black screen with a white sound wave cutting across the screen. You have to hop along the sound wave until you got to an obstacle then you would have to press one or more buttons to be able to navigate through. Well, I decided to watch the others play and while they were playing, Justin jumped up, ran to the front towards the electronic sliding doors and a delivery boy from Dominoes was there. Since none of us had eaten hardly anything for at least two days, we were hoping that Justin was going to share it considering the circumstances. He grabbed the pizza box like it contained a million dollars. Justin held the box tight to him, and ran to our room. Then I heard a click as he locked it. I remember thinking, “What a bastard!!” What do I do to deserve a roommate like that?

I was tired of playing games and surfing the Internet in the computer lab. I really wanted to get out. Finally, things were looking better. The ATM on campus was going to open up just before New Years Day. The host mother told us that it would shut down again, and advised everyone to take out enough cash for a week. Most of the ATM’s in Japan would be shut down for the whole week. I took out my money; I still couldn’t get to the money that was waiting for me in my package from home until the week was up. But I paid what I owed to Trevor and Eric did do. Then we all agree to go out to Kyoto to celebrate New Years.

Several of my Japanese instructors including George Hlawatsch, my Professor of Japanese History told our class about the most famous shrine in Japan to celebrate New Years is Yasaka Jinja. This New Years was to be extra special due to the change from 1999 to 2000. I really wanted to celebrate in Japan. In the US there would be the usual fireworks but I knew Japan would offer something different.

When December 31st came, I was sitting around the Seminar house, getting ready to go out. I put on my bright neon orange pants that would glow in the night like a traffic cone. I also put on my bright yellow Nikes that went together so well with those pants.

In other countries, this might be perceived as an odd fashion statement but I do believe that the entire Kansai area and specifically Osaka, contains the boldest fashion I have ever seen. At the same clothing store I got my orange pants in Shinsaibashi, you can also buy green, yellow, pink, red, and purple.

We all gathered together in the computer room, which was already our second home. Everyone agreed on including Justin despite recent activities. You could never tell with Justin, because he might have a change of heart going forward into the 21st Century.

Sometimes it can be fun to take him along just as it can be fun to bring along a whiney snapping dog that tries to bite you ever so often.

Everyone had on their own costume for New Year’s. There was Jay who had a little goatee just under his chin, wearing a Santa hat that reminded me of an elf. Trevor was wearing a long black coat over a white T-shirt, and the standard khaki pants, with a white striped pulled down hat, that I will always remember as the typical J-hat.

Eric was the most creative, wearing a pink and red crown that looked liked the ones that Burger King gave out to kids in the '70’s and '80’s.

Justin was wearing a blue plaid shirt, with blue jeans; a belt and he also had an old style Member’s Only jacket that I can’t remember anyone wearing in public since 1989.

We got on the train at Makino, like always, and headed for Shouji Station in Kyoto. From Shouji we would walk down the famous Gion area, where you can see real Geisha, towards Yasaka Jinja. Eric and I had been there before with two lovely young Japanese girls back in the fall.

The Gion area is always delightful to walk through. Here you can see the expensive restaurants with the higher quality foods, you can also see the arts and craft stores with the beautiful hand-made ceramic tea sets and all the things that you would associated with traditional Japanese arts.

As we walked into Yasaka Jinja, I saw Japanese pop culture everyone. I stood at a booth that had various masks on display. There were the transparent Ultraman masks alongside the bright yellow Pikachu ones. Walking further down and eyeing the other stalls, I found lollipops in the shapes of Hello Kitty, Doremon, Pikachu, and Miffy.

Miffy looks like a rabbit who is wearing a red hood that covers her ears and most of her face like a creepy pink commando with a small cute white flower just above her left eye.

After seeing the stalls I decided to catch up with the rest of the gang. Everyone was standing near a Japanese koi pond near a bridge. Justin was arguing with Eric. Jay was quiet, yet he could shut Justin up with only a few soft-spoken words. Jay was the one person that Justin didn’t preach his sermon of the superiority of Kenpo Karate to. Justin used to practice Kenpo but was washed up now.

Right next to the bridge, I saw a group of 30 young, energetic and extremely happy Japanese girls. We all stood on the bridge, wondering who was going to talk to them. Trevor learned over to me and said, “Look at this situation. Nerds, computer geeks, and fanboys with a great opportunity to make social contact with the opposite sex and here we all are. Standing around with no one doing anything.”

I knew he was right, even if I didn’t want to admit it.

Justin complained about how uptight everyone was and walked right up to them. He started talking with them, which meant that he would say one Japanese word to sound impressive followed by 10 words in English. This one girl really tried to communicate with him and he fumbled and mumbled his best 4 Japanese words.

That was when Eric said, “If anyone can fuck this up. It's Justin.” Eric switched on his camera to film Justin’s big screw up. I was hoping that the one hot girl talking to Justin would get so sick of his lousy attempts at speaking that she would leap in the air and give him a strong sidekick to the face. That didn’t happen and I wasn’t doing any better speaking because I was too busy laughing at how stupid Justin was. Eric sighed heavily and said, “I’d better go straighten this out before he screws it up even more.”

Eric walked up, cut Justin off rising his voice and spoke to the one girl who was trying to talk to us. Eric said something along the lines that we were all cool Americans looking to meet Japanese girls and she called the other 29 girls over to meet everyone.

We met all these girls who were wearing next to nothing. Brightly-colored mini-skirts, revealing braless T-shirts with floral patterns, and lots of contagious happiness that would make anyone happy.

We bought some beer and sake and partied with them.

After, they broke away as the hour of midnight approached. The girls joined hands and danced around in a big circle. They would sing together and dance around when some young Japanese boys would work up the courage to run at the girls and scream. This went on for several attempts until one young Japanese stud ran into the girls’ hands and broke through to the center of the circle. Just like the sperm finally reaching the egg.

After the one guy broke the circle, the girls would reform until another boy would try and then another. One boy was so shy that he wouldn’t run at the girls at all. So his friends picked him up and threw him into the ice-cold water of the koi pond. Then a few boys took their clothes off and jumped into the pond.

Finally I heard a bell sounded off in the distance. I walked over to see it. Monks were using a wooden beam to strike a bell. The bell would sound off 108 times to signify New Year's.

Leaving Yasaka Jinja, I saw another Japanese New Year’s tradition. There was a long line of couples outside Hotel Sexxus, a love hotel. The line extended for about 5 city blocks. If you timed it just right you could go out with a bang as the clock changed from 12:00 to 12:01.

That’s it for this time. Happy New Year from the Asian Aperture!!

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.