Stop the World and Melt With Me

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Look closely ladies and gentleman. Those labels are INSIDE the bottle, and a basic representation of the wild activities I’ve been partaking in since I left the Far East and came back to the Farther East. Sipping tea and OCD style arts and crafts while slowly chemically bonding my ass to my chair.

nk.jpgI spent most of the rest of the summer craving korean food and waiting for classes to start again. Luckily I live in Korea town and korean food and people are easy enough to come by. The actual Korean situation in Japan is a complicated one (and perhaps terribly uninteresting). There are two organizations representing the Koreans living in Japan. One is affiliated with South Korea, and has around 65% of the 600,000 or so Koreans living in Japan. They are pretty integrated into Japanese society, sending their children to Japanese schools and often times raising them as Japanese. The other organization’s members identify themselves as North Koreans, loyal to Kim Jong Il. Many of the self-identified North Korean residents send their children to their own privately run schools, which teach Kim’s Juche idea. They operate 60 schools throughout Japan, from kindergarden to high school, and even a university, as well as several credit unions. The largest concetration of their schools is in my area, the closest being 2 blocks from my house. It makes for a Korea Town that isn’t quite like what you’d find in LA or New York, where you can find all sorts of neat things, such as this handy guide to get to know your fellow residents better. They do make a damn good octopus pajyeon.

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beer.jpgSo anyways, school finally started and I got my grades for last semester. Well I somehow passed all my classes. Even the law class full of german terms I didn’t understand despite my professor’s instance that I must. In a Japanese university you get graded like a video game. I got a B in Modern Law, an A in Behavioral Science, and a no-foolin’ S in Business Administration. If I did the extra credit I could have gotten an SS and unlocked the secret class. sun.jpgThis semester I missed one of the registration deadlines while I was in China with Avian SARS, so the total number of classes I could sign up for was a whopping 9. Which has me at school a mean 12 hours a week on paper (closer to 6 hours when you factor in sleepin’ in). This leaves plenty of time for karaoke and donkey bier with friends. One of these days I’ll write a guide for surviving 10 straight hours of karaoke. Coincidentally it involves lots of donkey bier. My american friend is also now in Osaka, as he was looking to come to Japan and was thinking about Tokyo. I put a stop to that right quick, though now it’s up to me to make sure the crazy Osaka grandmothers and North Koreans don’t rough him up too much. It involves a lot of getting drunk, which in itself involves a lot of money in Japan. I’m already missing the $1 warm flat biers of China. Last weekend I took him to Cafe Absinthe, a bar far too trendy for its own good.

As much as I hate going to Cafe Absinthe, it was only a matter of time before we ended up there. Absinthe is illegal in the states, and was made legal in Japan (hallucinogenic ingredients and all) last year. This makes Cafe Absinthe a must stop for all alcoholics visiting Osaka.

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Cafe Absinthe is like a yuppy stoner bar for the upper class. The expensive prices, classy art pieces that change weekley, boring DJs playing what I dub Slumber-House, and hookahs being passed around by people dressed for the opera don’t make an atmosphere conducive to any heavy drinking. They do have some interesting house shooters personalized by the various bartenders though.

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My favorite is the french (maybe?) bartender’s which involves lighting a lowball of absinthe cocktail, covering the flaming glass with his palm, extinguishing the flame and making the glass stick to his hand which he then shakes vigorously (hopefully not getting too much palm-debris in the drink). The drinking process is even more convoluted requiring the drinking to stick his fingers in the swirling drink, downing the glass, and sucking air through their fingers while trying not to cough and choke on the hallucinogenic fumes and look like a newb in front of the elegant and important patrons which dot the bar. For the more hardcore there is another drink which involves a shot of absinthe and freebasing with a water pipe.

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After leaving at 3am (the bar has a god damned last call at 3am, another reason to hate it) we headed for home. My bike was taken by the fuzz (for the fifth time) and put in bike jail again, so it was either walk home or hail a cab. There is a rather nasty hill that’s hard enough to climb without having inhailed narcotics, so a cab it was.

The driver of the first cab I flagged down waved us away with a flick of his hand, despite having his sign set to “available.” He was stopped at a light, right in front of us, so I contemplated whether or not to give him the sad puppydog eyes of guilt or the glare of 1000 soul piercing knives. It didn’t matter because apparently he saw something really interesting to his left and he stared away from us for the duration of the light. That is until a pair of Japanese girls strolled by and flaged him. He gets out of the car and opens the god damn door for them, as if to say, “I’ll bow down to my blessed Japanese customers but DAMN YOU FOREIGNERS.” And he totally probably muttered that under his breath.

This was a fine impression of Japan to make on my recently-arrived friend so I broke out of complacent-visitor-in-your-beautiful-country-mode and switched up my angry-amurican-with-a-beef-mode. The best way to get back at him was to make him lose face in front of his customers, so I smirked and yelled out in my best holier-than-thou tone “So, you’re just a racist afterall.” I was happy I really nailed “racist” too as it’s a real tongue twister in Japanese. (“jinshusabetsushugisha” for anyone feeling saucy enough to give it a go) He turned a nice shade of purple, and gasped out “Oh…you speak Japanese..” before speeding off with his two passengers laughing in the back. My friend thought it was funny, as the very first Japanese phrase I taught him was “You are a racist.” Not that he’d really need it that often (hopefully), but it takes some practice before you can really make it pop.

Luckily the next cab cut over 4 lanes and pulled onto the sidewalk to pick us up, a much more common cab-hailing experience. Before I could even begin to regale the cab driver about the first prick, he mentioned how great my Japanese was. In his exact words, “It’s even better than a drunk Japanese chick’s.”

That is the most uplifting compliment I’ve ever received in any language.

Pics from Cafe Absinthe snatched from and directions to/away Cafe Absinthe right here.

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~ by foomfoom on October 23, 2006.

2 Responses to “Stop the World and Melt With Me”

  1. […] on it for the Learn Japanese Pod Forums. I did find other blogs and reviews about it including this review which actually slams it although he does put up some very flattering pictures. I guess the author […]

  2. Hey there foomfoom, I liked your tongue-in-cheek review of Absinthe, 2500 yen for a glass of Absinthe is a little steep. But hey, I like that bar, what can you do.

    Anyway, great blog you got here and great pictures too.

    Alex from Learn Japanese pod

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