Monday, October 22, 2007

My New Toy

I got a NEW IPod!!!! My old one was acting funny. It kept freezing on me and not letting me listen to my music. I was already wanting to buy a new one with more GB so it was the perfect opportunity when my old IPod started to act the fool. I went to a MAC store in GINZA which is the biggest shopping area in Tokyo. I got the sleek Red IPod that is a(PRODUCT) RED Special Edition iPod model. Apple gives a portion of the purchase price to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. I hope they realy do that cause that would be really neat. While I was out I also ran into a Hard Rock Cafe where I had some lunch. Anyway, I have been playing with my IPod and one thing I am excited about is that it is a 8 GB which means I can put 1,500 more songs than my old 2 GB IPod. I guess it's an early Chirstmas gift to me. Or a Halloween Treat!

Here's a little update. Not much to report. The Shows have been going well. The other day on my day off I went to an ONSEN. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring. A volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen scattered along its length and breadth. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism.

Onsen presently come in many types and shapes including outdoor and indoor baths. Baths may be either public run by a municipality or private often run as part of a hotel, traditional inn or Bed and Breakfast.

There is an ONSEN one right by the apartment. The one I went to is both indoor and out door. And there are 2 parts. One part is the naked part which I didn't go to which is not co-ed but the outdoor part is co-ed and we have to wear bathing suits. All it really is are a couple of hotubs with a different scenic design, temperatures, and water type. For example I went into a hot tub that was a salt water bath and in another that was in a steam room. The Onsen feels like you are in a really styalized spa. Its really calming, picturesque, and therapeutic. They also have a section where they give massages, play arcades, and a food court. I got a fruit smoothie and a 40 min masssage that was well needed. After you leave the bathhouses you go to your locker and put on your Yukata to walk around. A YUKATA is a light robe(summer cotton Kimono) that looks like this:

I felt like a native while hanging with other Japanese peeps, "bathing" with them and wearing a traditional robe. It was a great experience and will be back again and again. I forgot to mention how ceap it is. The baic plat fee for the bathing part is only 1800 Y which is about $16 and you can stay as long as you want. The massages and food is extra.

Cultrue Corner:
I guess I could use the ONSEN as a huge part of the culture but I won't double dip with my experiences.

Here is one thing that is AWESOME that I love! There is no TIPPING here! Which means you can order what ever you want at a restaurant and not pay for tip. So what you add up in what you eat is all you have to pay for. You don't have to tip your hair dressers, bellboys, taxis, ANYBODY! Its really cool. So eating out is not that bad. I don't do it much but when I do I get really excited knowing that I don't have to me NO TIP!

On a more serious note I want to send my heartful prayers to those in California or with friends or relatives there who are dealing with those wild fires. My prayers and thoughts are with those who lost their homes or even loved ones. Natural disasters aren't forgiving! Living through Hurrican Andrew in '92 showed me that. I hope they get control of it sooner than later.

Have a Happy and safe Halloween to everyone!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tokyo Station

So I had 2 days off. I was supposed to have pictures of my really awesome out of this world trip to Disney Sea but it decided to ran all day. Arghh! I was sooo mad. I was going to go with this family at church here The Welch's who have 3 kids. They are really neat and have fed me dinner many times. They are a half Japanese and half American family. The Wife is Japanese and really sweet. Anyway, it would have been fun and the only reason that day was important was because it was a holiday for them and on a day I had off. So it was perfect. Maybe there will be another Holiday that land on my 2 days off(Mon. & Tues.) Well, Instead of enjoying the Disney Magic I ran errands, watched alot of Prison Break and went on a little trip to Tokyo Station which is like Grand Central Station. It is where all the subways and railways meet. There isn't much in the area but really big buildings and a nice park. I took a couple of hours to take some pictures and eat some lunch. Here is a little slide show of my time there.

I am going to try this new thing called, "Culture Corner." This is where after every post I write a little things of the culture I have learned.

This being my first C.C. post I better make it a good one. Let's see...ahh I got it.
Something that I have noticed is the bowing. It is very different in our American way of communication. To say hello we either wave, shake hands, maybe even tap on the shoulder. Even though the Japanese accept those gestures it is not customary.

Bowing is an essential part of Japanese daily life. People bow when saying hello, thanking someone, apologizing, saying good-bye and introducing themselves. I noticed I wave alot either to say hello or goodbye. It seems to be weird when to those I wave to don't really respond back. I am used to feeling stupid around here. I am sure by the time I get back to the states I will be bowing alot. Please be patient, humor me and just bow back :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Foreign Wound

There are so many experiences to be had...BUT WHY DEY GOTTA HURT! I'll have to get to that after I catch up with what happened before. As many of you know I opened the show last week. Rehearsals was a slow and kinda stressful process but thankfully it's over. I opened the show Wednesday, September 26th, 2007. I was "A shift" that day which means the other singer that I share the show with was there until his shift. "A shift" does the 1st three shows and the B shift does the last two. We alternate that schedule on the weekends. The days I'm off he works all day and vice-versa. Now the schedule is 11:20am call time with shows at 12:20pm, 2:10, 3:40, 5:40, and at 7:10pm. When you are shifted you have to be there all day even though you are not performing which is crazy to me but those are the rules! Speaking of rules. The Japanese have alot of them and some of the time they make no sense but are followed not knowing why. That's the culture and it is hard to accept sometimes. Americans think different and I noticed by the way I have reacted to some of these rules that we are used to having our way. We are little spoiled I am going to have to say. I tried to get Sunday's off so that I can go to church but they wouldn't have it. I even had a meeting with E-Productions who works strictly with the foreign performers and is our link to anything that has to do with work and our well-being here. The meeting was pointless and even though my points were strong and clear they said no. They told me these are the rules and the only days off you can have are from Monday-Thursday. I smiled and said well it was okay. I thanked them for their time and went my way. I understand(kinda) and am willing to follow the rules with out making a big stink while I'm here. As it is I think I can make the first hour of church and still make it to work on time. Sorry, for that tangent but I think I had to get that off my chest :) Where was I? Oh, opening! It went well for the most part it was flawless and not too many mistakes. The next day it rained and I had to give a cancellation greeting speech. Remember that our Theatre is outdoors. The cancellation speech is done when they let the audience in and then it starts to rain or the wind picks up so much that we can't perform. The singers and the characters go out and say the show is cancel. We do a little greeting and song that takes all of 5 minutes. I was nervous cause I only looked at that speech only the night before. But it went well. I also got to do a halfway cancel speech for the 3rd show. That is when you start to do the show then due to inclement weather we cancel the show at the end of a number. So with my first to days of performing I had every situation that is possible. So when it comes up again it will be no problem. Last night it rained all day long and we did no shows. I didn't have to do the speeches cause they cancelled the shows even before they let people in the theatre seating area. So we hung out all day doing nothing. It was kinda cool but I would much have rather been home. After the first day, we had an Opening/Sayonara party for those new people coming in which were 3 of us. Me, a new girl dancer, and a returning percussionist. It was also for those who were leaving. The singer I was replacing and a drummer. We had the party at a restaurant near E-Village where we live. I had a great time and had my 1st experience with SUKIYAKI...which is a very traditional dish and very GOOD! Here are some pictures and video of the opening night party.

So as I explained opening went well. The 2nd day was unexpected with all those cancellations but gave me the experience I needed for future cancellations. The 3rd day was when it all went down! Hopefully the last bad day in a while. It actually starts the night before. As I come home from work I turn on my computer to check my email and watch some Prison Break on DVD when I notice that my adapter is not working. I looked at my adapter and the cord somehow was frayed and clearly dead. I was so mad! So I only had like an hour of computer time before it would shut down. I knew I had to get an adapter but I didn't know where to go. I was going to ask when I got to work the next day. The morning comes and as I walk out the door with my I-pod in hand and noticed it was frozen and not working. I knew the battery was full cause I charged it all night. Then it turns on for a brief moment and then freezes again. It does this the whole way to work and by this time I am frustrated to the max and want to yell really loud something horrible in a crowded subway. I knew no one would know what I am saying but I am a DISNEY employee. I decide to hold in, take a deep breath and walked briskly to work. I get to work and know that I am "B shifted" and have a lot of time before I go on at 5:40pm. I have no computer to watch my Prison Break, I just finished The Kite Runner a book I have been reading and my Ipod was being stupid and not working properly. What was I to do. In the dressing room we have some exercise stuff. Like dead weights and the AB ROLLER. The culprit of the future scar I will have just below my chin. So having nothing to do this was my best option. Some of the guys were trying out this ab roller and I was interested how it worked cause I never done it before. So I go to try it and needless to say.....I go down to the ground and doing really well until it just slides back into me and I slam my chin on the ground. I lie there not knowing to think. All I knew was that I was in pain. I look up, cup my hand under my chin and watch the blood drip like a faulty faucet into my hands. I am just in shock and walk to the sink. I pour water over it and try to stop the bleeding with a paper towel. It keeps bleeding and by this time the Stage manager is in the room with the medical kit. She makes a face and applies a bandage that quickly turns red. I start feeling a little faint and I fall the the ground. I started to breath in and out slowly. I bust out in cold sweats. I hate the site of BLOOD! I am praying that I don't pass out. "Please Lord don't let me faint in front of these people over this minor cut!" How embarrassing! And I sure didn't know how to say "I'm fainting...please help!" in Japanese. 30 seconds went by and I was over it and I went to the bathroom to take a break. I was fine. I go back in the dressing room and lay down. The 1st show starts and I continue to rest. After the show I wake up and look at the cut. I have dried blood all over my neck now. the cut was still kinda bleeding. So I change the bandage, clean up and decide to go ask if I can have this checked out. I thought I might need stitches or get a better bandage. They call E-Productions and they send over someone to take me to a clinic. The clinic was in a 7-Eleven. I thought that was weird. You had to catch the elevator to the 4th floor. I get there and it just looks like a little hole in the wall with a lot of Asians just waiting to be seen. I get seen quickly and the doctors says I will need 3 stitches. He sows me up and the nurses put some bandages on it so that I can put make-up on it and perform the last 2 shows. Oh and the doctor also gives me antibiotics. lol! So dramatic, I know! So I get back to the stage and my stage manager doesn't want me to go on because he thinks the bandage is too distracting and the audience will notice it. I was like you have to be kidding me. I was thinking to myself that I can't be out for a whole week cause my little bandage under my chin is too noticeable. I tell them let me put make-up on it and then lets make a decision. I do and then they said it's fine. I perform the last 2 shows with out a problem. So needless to say my day was crazy and I was glad to get home that night. I was also told that I have to go back to the clinic everyday to get it bandaged up so that I can put make-up on it. I have to do this until I get it off this Thursday. A little annoying, yes! But I am glad it was only 3 stitches and not a broken jaw or something. So its been a couple days since that day of hell. My wound is healing nicely, I got a new adapter for my computer and I have plans to get a new IPod next month. I am really excited for that. Since I have been here I have gone on a real roller coaster ride but it is all going towards my experience here in Tokyo. I know I will look back at this time and smile. And when i look back in a mirror I will have a minor constant reminder underneath my chin of this precious time. My foreign wound that has healed into a beautiful memory. Well, until my next adventure and hopefully with out a doctor visit.