Wendy's

Out of all of the American fast food franchises in Japan, I prefer to go to Wendy’s because it is relatively cheap, and their burgers are more palatable than the other option (McDonalds). I rely on the 150 yen menu, Japan’s version of the 99 cent meal, . Using components from this menu, you can make some pretty badass combos:
Frosty Fries:
I can not take credit for this, as it sprung as a collective idea between me, my brother, and my sisters while cramped in the back of our Dodge Ram Prospecter, most likely headed to or from a vacation to Mammoth. Although counter-intuitive, the best way to enjoy french fries is dipped in a Frosty.
The Chili Bacon Cheeseburger-
Wendy’s is the only place I know where you can make a Chili Cheeseburger in Japan. Unlike In-N-Out, you can not order this because they don’t have a secret menu. You have to assemble it yourself.
Buy a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, extra packs of ketchup (not only does this improve the taste, but it also contributes to filling your stomach- something I was always trying to do in college), and a small chili. Load the burger with ketchup, and spoon chili on your burger with each bite. Not only is this a fun and less messy way to enjoy chili in your burger, but it maintains the integrity of the ingredients (doesn’t sog up the bun or wilt the iceberg) until you are ready to eat them. Why doesn’t Wendy’s sport a Chili Bacon Cheeseburger already? I don’t know, but they’re missing out on a great untapped market with great potential.
The only other way to obtain a chili cheeseburger is to go to Mos Burger (although chili cheeseburger-esque, a mos chili cheeseburger’s components qualify neither as “chili” nor as a genuine “burger”) or to make it yourself.
If you happen to find yourself in Kumamoto City, craving some good genuine American food, drop into Masa’s and you won’t be disappointed (huge burgers and even locomoco!).

All Dressed Up But Nowhere to Whore

I’m on another business trip. It’s late, I’m sweaty. In a suit. Wasted from a day of picking up on the subtle nuances of Japanese corporate doublespeak, flipping the sentences backwards and into another language, then funneling it down the client’s ear.
Now I’m back at the hotel with several hours worth of work ahead of me and the shrill ring of an alarm clock not mine own to look forward to in the morn.
Time to sign off, folks, but before I go, let me give you the Buddha’s One True Way to get an annoying fat gaijin perv in a middle management position to leave you alone and quit dropping hints like, “so what are Jap girls like?,” and, “so what’s the deal with those hostess clubs we passed earlier?” over a business dinner:
When he gets all drunk and alco-sentimental with your boss later on and lays pictures of his kids on the table, echo everybody’s remarks about how cute they are and what a lovely family he has, then lean over the table and hiss, “God hates sinners.”
Note: It’s all in the angryasianman.jpg

Kobe License Plates

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Today I changed my car’s registration from Nara to Kobe. I don’t like the new number plates as much as the old ones – Kobe plates are a kind of status symbol in Kansai, much as Shinagawa plates are in Kanto. I have this nagging feeling that these plates might get me pulled over more often than the old Nara ones, although I can’t really explain why, it’s just a feeling I have (that I hope is never proved).
A few months ago I heard that Kobe plates illicitly exported from Japan were selling in LA for a pretty sum, mostly because of the Kobe Bryant case. In retrospect, I think the high price is justified; the process to get new plates in Japan is a colossal pain in the ass if you do it yourself (Most people just pay to have car shops do it for them; I did it by myself partly just to see if it was as a big a hassle as I imagined and I was not disappointed.)

Shakoshomei

Even though I’ve lived here on Awaji Island for nearly five years, I was registered at my friend’s house in Nara until last month. Basically, there was no reason to change my address officially until this year, when the immigration laws got stricter, plus I fucking hate having to tell the government where I live just on principle…
Just one of the many pains in the ass involves re-registering my car out here (in Kobe, actually), and in order to do that, I need a shakoshomei, which is proof that you have an approved place to park. If you live in a house, this might be your driveway or garage, but if you rent an apartment, like I do, you have to provide proof that you are renting a space somewhere.
This is an incredibly irritating process that takes a trip down to the local police station at least twice, once to apply and once to pick up the actual document, which is issued after an inspector goes to visit the parking space you have specified in the application (you actually have to provide two maps, one of the parking space in relation to your home, and another, more detailed map of the parking area with dimensions, etc. Most people hand-draw this stuff, but I, uber-nerd, did the work in Illustrator – may post it later so you can come egg my Silvia).
Anyway, after this long, drawn out process had gotten to its final stage, I was ready to pick up the document late last week. Before work, I went to the police station (cue: oh happy day) with my trusty hanko (personal seal used in place of signature) only to be told that the guy in charge wasn’t in. The fact that just speaking to the police in Japan – about just about anything, really – always puts me in the foulest of moods, only compounded my irritation at being brushed off because the designated desk jockey (and public fucking servant I might add) decided to make a run for the bento shop during normal operating hours. Whatever. I decided to jump through all the hoops when I decided to make the move out here official, so I sucked it up and went to work.
I didn’t have time to go again until yesterday. I walked into the police station all pimped out in my spiffy work uniform (complete with nametag; this is a Japanese white-collar job, thankyouverymuch) and requested service at the desk. This time, the balding desk sergeant in charge was there (oh joy), fat ass parked firmly in a seat with a bead cushion draped over it. He looks over my approval forms, sees they’re all in order, then announces to no one in general, “the window for processing shakoshomei is from 3 to 5 PM, please come back then.”
Me: “fuck, as in what the?”
Cop: “3 to 5”
Me: “But there ain’t nobody else here now! C’mon! ”
Cop: “Morning hours are reserved for driver’s license-related issues only – COME BACK BETWEEN 3 AND 5!”
Me: “THERE AIN’T NOBODY ELSE HERE – c’mon, cut me a break already. Pleeeeeease. Pretty please with azuki on the top.”
Cop: “Ungh.” (loosely translated: “wutevaaaa”)
Grrrrr. So I had to take off work early and got back to the police station just before 5. As I approach the desk sergeant, who I swear has not moved a single fucking inch since I last saw him several hours before and is now half-heartedly playing with pencils and rubber bands, looks up at me, then glances at the clock, gathers the approval papers again and says, “hehheh, you made it just in time.”
Motherfucker!
And as he stamps my hanko in the logbook and gives me the magic papers, he replies “I wouldn’t have minded if you came in a little later. I’m here until 7:00 anyway.”
I bit down on my lower lip, hard, and concentrated on quietly exiting the building.
As a good friend once put it, “why are cops such fucking cunts?”
UPDATE:
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Daihatsu Microbus

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In Japan, there is a micro-subcompact class of cars known as “keijidosha,” or simply, “K.” Under current regulations their engine size is restricted to 660cc, and their appeal in this land of super expensive gasoline and narrow roads is fairly obvious. They are also cheaper than standard size cars, so it cracks me up when I see a lot of money put into their modification. This microbus mod has been getting more and more popular recently, and on my island alone, I have seen red, orange, yellow, black, tan, and lime green versions of it.