As soon as we arrived, even in the tunnel that connects the plane to the terminal, we felt the Tokyo heat. It was like walking into a sauna. Once we entered the terminal, we were greeted by a bright-yellow-shirted person holding a sign that said “Welcome to Japan, JETs!” Another 50 ft. and there was another yellow-shirted JET pointing us in the direction of the baggage terminal. This pattern continued throughout the airport, so to get from the plane to ground transportation, we just had to Follow the Yellow Shirt Road. A two-hour bus ride later and we had arrived at our hotel in downtown Tokyo.

The next 3 days were Tokyo Orientation. It consisted of a lot of…orientating. Traveling in Japan, Traveling Outside Japan, The Do’s and Don’ts of Chopstick Etiquette, How to Operate a Rice Cooker…the list goes on. I think around 1,000 of us were orientated, the vast majority of which were Americans. I also met some Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and one South African. We were Group B; there was an equal-sized Group A who was orientated a couple weeks before, and a smaller Group C who is being orientated right around now. I think that puts the total number of new JETs at around 3,000. We’re taking over Japan.

By day, orientation; by night, karaoke. Karaoke is HUGE in Japan. In many karaoke bars, your group is assigned its own sound booth, complete with a flat-screen TV, sweet sound system, several mics, an equal number of tambourines, and an all-you-can-drink special – a disastrous combination. A friend and I did All My Life – I was KC, he was JoJo. Other favorites included Nelly’s Country Grammar, Michael’s Thriller, and Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer (Edward, Andrew, Jacob – you would love this). Of course, there are also the superstars who sing Japanese songs with lyrics written in kanji. It doesn’t really matter what song you choose, though; there are only 3 Japanese music videos that loop – 1) a Japanese punk band rocking out, 2) a Japanese man dramatically singing in a downpour, and 3) a Japanese couple making out on the beach. And it doesn’t matter if you’re terrible at singing; if you pick a popular one, we all sing, and the more inebriated we get, the louder (and less coherent) we become.

The last night we were in Tokyo, I came back to the hotel after a good time at karaoke. My roommate Brian, who was also my roommate in San Francisco and is living in the same prefecture as me, was already asleep when I got back, but semi-awoke when I came in. He had been out that night too, and after discussing our outings, our conversation went something like this:

Brandon: Brian, this is our last night as roommates.
Brian: Oh man, what are we going to do?
Bra: I don’t know. Maybe we could drive to each other’s houses and have sleepovers on weekends.
Bri: …Okay, but only if I’m little spoon.

Unfortunately, he had no recollection of this conversation in the morning, but I plan on holding him to his promise.

Japanese Word of the Day: “Kara” (Japanese, meaning “empty”) – “oke” (short for “oke-su-tu-ra”, in English, “orchestra”) kara + oke = empty orchestra.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James Fehr on August 27, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Woow Brandon. Don’t know about the Nilly or Michael songs but Bon Jovi certianly strike a chord. I experienced some of that Kareoke madness on my trips to China. Business doesn’t occur until after the banquet lunch with Kareoke and lots of beer. Glad you are having some fun. James


  2. Posted by Lubzy Lubz on August 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Just think, I could have been in that group C: I would be orienting myself with the rice cooker and following the yellow shirt road. Although I would need to be on the look out for flying ninja monkeys. We could have made a karaoke band and gone on tour. I’d be the lead singer and you could distract them from my horrible singing voice with your tallness and triumphant tambourine tapping power. I’m glad to hear that will have something else (Karaoke) to occupy your time other than Ninja Warrior training. Anyway, keep the detes flowing.

    peace bra.


  3. Posted by jacek on August 29, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    dude, sounds like a blast! Karaoke sounds like an all out affair over there. What are you all drinking over there? Seppora?


  4. Posted by Hu$$letyme on September 4, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I think I like this Brian guy… I like being the little spoon too.

    We missed you at the wedding 4 weeks ago… especially when we started a “love train” (congo line), compliments of the O’Jays, with EVERY single guest in attendance. Sorry we couldn’t pack up and move it to Japan, but it sounds like you’re having a great time!


  5. Posted by Brit on September 6, 2008 at 8:25 am


    ok, please forgive my feable attempt.


  6. People should read this.


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