Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bubbles in a Glass or An Adventure Proving that Roads in Japan Really Should Have Names

I know your not going to believe it, but this is John - checking in for the first time.

I just finished my second week of work which ended the slow progression of getting into the swing of things. My first week was slightly slow with training etc. The fax/copy/phone system I find incomprehensible since I see these as instruments of bygone days not really worth my time to figure out. However, I also find the computer system slight incomprehensible because its all based on early 2000s technology that its just too expensive to upgrade. Therefore I have learn/remember how to do everything in Word 2003 and learn all the special add-ons that were created to "enhance" Word because Word 2003 is so terrible. There is, in fact, a separate add-on to make bulleted and numbered lists because occasionally Word 2003 will "corrupt" a document if its too long and has lots of numbered sections. Luckily, we're upgrading to Word 2007 (not 2010) in the coming weeks.

So it turns out that there are two other summers here, one is Japanese and the other is American. The Japanese one really wants to work in America and the American one wants to work in Japan. Perfect. However, the American one is strikingly like Will. He loves movies - complains about how no one actually knows how to work a projector in America and how something is always messed up - and likes amusement parks - he told me we should really go to Disney before June 20th because space mountain was going to be shut down for extended maintenance. I'm not sure about his love of beer, it would be better if he didn't like beer because its very expensive to purchase good beer in Japan.

Speaking of, we went to a beer bar called "craftheads" about 20 minutes away from our house a few days ago. It was the day that Christian got here so I planned to come up with something to introduce him to Japan and keep him awake. This bar was in Shibuya, which is the part of Japan that is always shown when you see a picture of Japan (kind of like times square or something). We got of the train, went out the gate and suddenly there are 40 story (read really tall) buildings everywhere, lights, sounds, and hundreds of people crossing the street. Now, the complicated part emerged: getting to the bar. Now, on google one address was given and on their website a different address was listed. Armed with two separate hand-drawn maps leading to the two possible locations we started out. First we to find a McDonald's which was a landmark on the hand drawn map, unfortunately there were two very close to each other, so from that point on it was all guess work. Very soon we were on dark streets with people standing around smoking and I was pretty sure we not going to find it. Therefore we headed to the other possible location. However, all we found were some very stern looking parking attendants that had no idea were this bar was. Desperate I stopped an asked at a Starbucks if they knew of a bar called Craftheads located at 1-13-1. They didn't, but they had a map.

Now for a brief digression to explain the dilleman. In Japan, for all its efficiency, roads don't have names. Instead blocks have numbers. I've heard it explained that in the west blocks are the space between roads and in Asia roads are the space between blocks. I'm not sure how true this is, but it kind of makes sense. Unfortunately, the numbers don't go in any order. Block 1 will be touching block 2, but it will also probably be touching blocks 3 and 4 and maybe 5. Therefore you have to just look around. The above address (1-13-1) meant that we were were trying to find block number 1 and then sub-block number 13 and building number 1. Also, to make things more interesting, buildings are assigned numbers based on when they were built so there is no order.

However, the man with the map in Starbucks said he thought it was over in "that" direction. Well, we heading in that direction and found sub-block 13. We were so close. The street we found ourselves on was very dark and I saw no sign of a bar (e.g. smoke, noise, music, sounds of a good time). Then, up ahead, we saw a sign that said "Beer?" and had an arrow pointing forward and to the left. Since beer was what we were looking for, we decided to follow the sign. Aligning myself with the direction of the arrow I headed off in search of glory. Soon (about 10 steps) I ended up at a building that was closed except for a hair salon. I turned around and went back to examine the sign for more clues. Taking another look at the arrow I decided that it did indeed point to the hair salon. We were almost out of options. Then up a head, not in the direction the arrow was pointing we saw a small sign that read "Craftheads." We had arrived. There were, however, none of the signs of a bar I had been looking for because it was a Thursday. In fact, there were only three other people in the bar when we got there. We perused the menu and there were a surprising amount of really good American beers that, thanks to Congress, we can't get in NC because bars can only by from distributors not directly from the brewery. The rest was really down hill. We got very small beers that cost 7-9 dollars, ate a pizza, went home, and went to sleep. It was really all in the journey.

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