viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2016

Is Passengers a failed wannabe Trigun?

Okay, so this article has nothing to do with An Ominous Book, but given my book series has a lot of elements taken from anime I thought it would be fun to write about this upcoming blockbuster.

I seldom watch TV but last weekend I did see the trailer of the upcoming Passengers movie starring Hollwyood darlings Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The trailer looks exciting enough albeit with a tried and used plot:

Sometime in the future Earth (that oddly enough is located in the middle of the Milky Way instead of it's real location of one of the farther arms of our galaxy) is overpopulated and passenger ships filled with humans in suspended animation are off to a mystical planet somewhere to seek their fortune. 

Okay, just out of my head I can figure out some anime that have a similar initial premise: Saber Marionette J, Last Exile, Vandread, one episode of Lost Universe, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, etc... Heck, even the classic 1980's cartoon Thundercats begins with a similar premise! The entire Gundam saga has a huge list of different spinoffs where humans either live in planets or build artificial colonies in floating space stations and a war eventually erupts because they seek independence from Earth.

Of popular Hollywood flicks Avatar sort of comes to mind although they merely consider Pandora to be a source of fuel rather than a planet (more like a moon) humans wish to actually emigrate. Total Recall (the awesome original version not the crappy remake with Colin Firth) has colonization of neighboring planets.

Of course, things go wrong and a ship with so much super technology has a failure of the hibernation system. Whereas in Thundercats, Lion-Oh suffers partial aging and grows up to be a full-fledged adult with muscules but remains in hibernation, Chris Pratt's character in this flick wakes up but he can't restore the hibernation system to fall asleep. Dumb, dumb, dumb. You'd think they'd place a few extra pods for these flicks or something.

So now Chris Pratt suffers from Cabin Fever without going Jack Nicholson loco thanks to apparently some sort of friendly robot and a while later another pod fails. This time the awakened human is Jennifer Lawrence and of course, a love story erupts and bad stuff happens.

I am indeed curious to see this movie, although my first priority is to watch Sully this upcoming XMAS Sunday before they take it out of the theater. I am iffy regarding watching Rogue 1 so I might have to flip a coin and opt either for Rogue 1 or Passengers on New Years weekend.

As for Passengers, until I see the movie I cannot claim how good or bad it is. However, I feel like the plot is a more dumbed down version of Trigun. Ever heard of that anime? It is a really popular 1990's scifi drama series that aired in Toonami that was very successful.

The plot begins with a similar space colonization premise albeit the ship has a permanent crew that remains awake including a woman named Rem Requiem. They locate a potentially inhabitable planet but they decide not to colonize it because it's mostly desertic without a sufficient amount of water to house all of the ships. During their voyage the ship bumps into a pod with two baby alien boys that they choose to adopt. One of them is named Vash and his twin brother Knives.

Vash grows fond of Rem and sees her as his adoptive mother whereas Knives feels angry that the human crew is pulling him away. Knives decides to trigger the crew into killing eachother which he does rather well and ignites the self destruction command of all of the ships to kill everyone.

His insane plan? To ensure he and Vash survive and inhabit the desert planet to live together in peace. However Rem sours his evil plan and sacrifices her life by sending at least some of the ships to safely land in the desertic planet.

The current plot of Trigun happens 100 years later where Vash who stopped aging once he reached adulthood goes on a crusade to save lives even if he destroys entire cities by accident following Rem's ideals.

While I am indeed curious to see this flick, I kind of feel Trigun simply has a lot more plot. Heck, while you are bored, why not give Saber Marionette J a chance as well? In that anime the colonization ship suffers a mysterious accident and kills everyone on board. The only survivors are 6 adult men from different countries and zero women. Instead of choosing to be the last generation, they choose to use complex cloning technology to recombine their DNA and found an entire planet inhabited by men. They build robots with female bodies to remind Terra 2's inhabitants what women used to look like. That series begins where a Japanese guy named Otaru finds a very special marionatte with artificial AI named Lime that expresses complex human emotions and starts an amazing voyage to return real women to his planet.

domingo, 11 de diciembre de 2016

A library in Mexico, an oxymoron?

Because of the nature of my regular job, I sometimes have to go to meetings in oddball places without previous notice. On my latest venture I had to go to a really hard to find conference room in Toluca which is a city I despise to go because the public transportation system is abominably bad. After being dumped by the taxi around 2 miles away I had to tread to the right place and discovered the conference room was located right besides this new park that was opened a few years ago called Parque Ambiental Bicentenario.

Once you enter the park from the main entrance you are greeted by a cute ceramic statue that was made by artisans in Metepec.

The artwork of the figurine is indeed really cool. However even though the park sure looks nice it has all of the traits of a PRI white elephant. The place was inaugurated by President Peña Nieto himself several years ago but some parts of the park haven't even been officially "opened" yet.

Yes, the very cute jungle gym paid by my tax pesos has a bunch of plastic wrapping and a yellow police cordon "Do not Enter" sign. I mean, this park was opened in 2011 or 2012 and after 4 years they still haven't taken the annoyance to remove the plastic.

I do not know if the map fell off or they never bothered to install it in the first place. What an informative white box!!!

Continuing the tour of the park to the library, you can see the sidewalks are being filled with concrete. I have no idea if they were replacing damaged concrete or they simply opened the park 4 years ago without even bothering to at least sort of finish the job and they are barely finishing the Captain Obvious final touches.

 The signs inside of the actual park are functional and it's a pretty straightforward path to the library.

As you approach the library there is a building arguably called "El lugar de la Tierra" or an Earth center. I have no idea what that is. I wonder if public schoolbuses ever bring busloads of kids to visit the park. Seems a bit like a white elephant to me.

We then reach the library. Most libraries I have been to in Mexico are dilapidated and unwelcoming buildings but I will give props to this place. The library looks unusually stunning from the outside and unlike some parts of the park it's 100% functional.

Once you go inside you realize it's still a very young library with a lot of open spaces on the shelves. It's indeed not a large library, I doubt it has more than 2000 books and it pales in comparison to the impressive Vasconsuelos Library in Mexico City.

However the place looks welcoming and cheerful in the inside, rare for a public library in Mexico. There were only around 5 people inside, two of them students doing homework and the rest were using the computers with free internet.

I browsed around the shelves to see what kinds of books were available. The place has a somewhat "odd" catalogue system. While it has a surprisingly decent stock of medical books that is better than the Vasconselos Library some of the medical books were scattered among the Physics and Chemistry section.

The fiction section has a really nice array of books (including some in english!). They have Twilight and the 7 Harry Potter books.

I think having welcoming libraries with a decent book selection is a good start for a country that doesn't have a book reading culture. The sad thing about the location of this library is that the public transportation system stinks. You leave the park and for starters there is no official bus stop per se. I was standing on the sidewalk getting exhausted after a 6 hour meeting for a whopping 45 minutes until the Metepec-Crisa bus showed up. Maybe people in Los Angeles don't mind buses that arrive in such a long interval but in urban areas of Mexico you seldom wait for 10 minutes for the right bus to show up. Even in the super rural village I work in has buses zipping by at steady 20 minute intervals. The buses weren't even empty; it was packed to the brim like sardines.

After 40 minutes of waiting in the cold I simply sat on the sidewalk and hollered insults to the arsehead drivers that honcked at me even though they had more than enough space. Not my fault the PRI builds fancy white elephants without decent bus stops or buses that show up at sufficient intervals. Oh but don't worry, In the 45 minutes I waited for a bus to arrive more than 90 empty taxis zipped by. Good job Toluca, I don't want to be stiffed with a taxi that doesn't even know it's own city for 90 MXN when I could ride a bus for 9 MXN. The only conforting thing about waiting here like an idiot was that the park's free WiFi was working.

If you wander around Mexico City and the metropolitan areas of the State of Mexico you will bump into dozens of posters like the one below featuring flashy mexican stars (many of whom aren't even avid readers in real life). Curiously enough Sherlyn is well-known to be a bookworm and they have never made an ad with her. Mexico logic.

I think opening decent libraries is a good start but if the bus service stinks and public schools don't take the tykes to these places people just won't go. The bad part about this park is that it's very far away from where large conglomerations of people are. They should seriously build a public library right next to the Toluca bus terminal. The place is oozing with people rushing everywhere. Chile has book rental joints in busy subway stations in Santiago. Mexico should bring the free books to the places where people will conglomerate as well.

At the end, when my ISBN number arrives of the spanish translation of An Ominous Book I'm still going to donate a copy of the book to this library. If at least one kid becomes inspired by my fantasy book I will have done a good job.

domingo, 4 de diciembre de 2016

The first fanfic of An Ominous Book is a horror

Sure didn't take long for a fan of An Ominous Book to imagine a fanfic story. What I didn't expect was it to be a horror story.

The protagonist is a medic assistant treating Spaulding's leg burn in Tindenfarel which is loosely based on the events of Chapter 7 and 8 of An Ominous Book when a malignant Nelida storms into the OR and demands the medics to amputate Spaulding's left leg for some sick motive.

Obviously the medics believe the little girl is insane to make such a ridiculous demand. And them BAM! Nelida summons her phantom beast and murders hospital staff in seconds splattering blood and body parts in every direction.

The expectedly terrified protagonist that was unharmed hurriedly detaches the entire leg and nervously gives it to her who rushes off with a menacing laughter.

I decided to draw this artwork as I scratched my head what was my fan thinking.

I can only count the days the first yaoi fic pops up somewhere. I'm not sure how I will react when it happens.

sábado, 3 de diciembre de 2016

The 6th book of An Ominous Book is now available!

I feel mightily glad that I have finally published all 6 finished novels of my ongoing Ominous Book series. I am going to change to a new job in a few months and when that happens I just won't have the time and energy to be writing. My favorite book of the series will probably always be A Calamity because it closes the circle of Leilandy and at the same time opens the story of Damantin which along with Froylan is arguably the character I like to write the most.

Whereas in A Calamity Damantin has an undecided loyalty towards the kingdom that exiled and eventually murdered his father Sharad along with a neutral relationship with the series protagonist Spaulding the 6th novel turns 180 degrees and we see how the 10 year Äimite training has transformed Damantin (perhaps with the aid of some brainwashing) into a subservient guard. Whereas in A Calamity you cannot even imagine Damantin to wear the Äimite uniform in Quandary his officially new attire seems to mimic his complete change of heart to a new normal.

However despite his undeniable loyalty and dedication Damantin is still prone to bending the rules. In the first few pages of the novel it becomes fully apparent that Damantin not only has moved into the Äimite Castle on a permanent basis but he had a son named Neimar in complete secrecy. If you have read A Calamity it won't take you very long to confirm the identity of Neimar's mother.

It's a well-known fact that guards are officially celibate and in Diaspora we discover Lord Jamarnid was sentenced to death because he had a child with a human but Neimar lives among the guard like they are just one big family. While even Froylan himself was surprised he nonetheless seems awfully pleased with the innate talent of Damantin's offspring.

A second grey elf becomes an important supporting character in Quandary: Tioja. In A Calamity we briefly get to meet him in his most mentally unstable state as he fights against Leilandy with utter heroism and while he still shows traces of his disturbing behavior he seems to be recovering his once lost sanity and revealing he knows a lot more than it seems at first. Froylan has an ulterior motive for treating Tioja which was already hinted in A Calamity: after discovering the sorcery potential of demonic beasts he is on a quest to automatically invite any grey elf that can summon one to the guard. The fact that Tioja is still reasonably young and can summon one of the most powerful beasts in the world is just too tempting for him.

Richard is starting to show his age and rapidly declining vitality as he is already in his mid-40's at the start of this novel whereas Spaulding has finally started to show signs of aging. We are now fully used to seeing Froylan as the anti-hero of sorts by now and he's worried that the two series protagonists will perish from old age. After several drastic turns and twists of fate, the true hero to this story will be revealed in the final third of the book.

Quandary is my longest finished novel with approximately 120,000 words. I felt that I needed to gradually increase the word count not to annoy the reader but because of the utter complexity of telling the background stories of so many characters. Whereas Damantin seems to steal the show in A Calamity in the 6th novel we get to see a little bit of everyone. I do feel bad that Trevilin takes to the sidelines in this tale because there is more to him that isn't yet revealed but that can be reserved for later.

I feel vastly satisfied with this story and hope the readers will enjoy it as much as I did. If I had to choose a part of the story that I particularly loved it would be the two chapters dedicated to Lord Shuran. I enjoy knowing more about the past stories of varying recurring guards and Shuran's tale will surprise you all.

martes, 29 de noviembre de 2016

Hakone: The Neon Genesis Evangelion Reality Tour

While by itself this post isn't directly related to An Ominous Book series but as a person that grew up watching 1990's anime it was really fun to visit the place in Japan where Neon Genesis Evangelion takes place in real life: Hakone.

I initially had no plans to visit this adorable city because of the anime. In reality I wanted to see the koyo autumn leaves in the mountains and have a slim chance of spotting Fuji Mountain without being too much of a hassle traveling by Tokyo. Hakone offered me all three pros and the fact that there are hot springs was like icing on the cake.

Getting there however was probably one of the only really bad things about my first trip to Japan. I was probably just unlucky and got an unusually disgruntled ticket seller in the Shinjuku JR terminal. There is supposedly a Shinkansen train that can take you to Odawara (there are no direct trains that take you to Hakone as such as far as I know) and also a very kitshy tourist romance car. But the salesman didn't sell me either ticket. What did I get? The super slow motion local train that took almost 2 hours. I didn't even save any cash because I had already activated my JR Rail pass earlier that day. I will say that is was funny how a japanese salaryman that was probably in his early 20's was snoring on my shoulder and magically woke up right on time for his stop.

Reaching the city somewhat later than I would have preferred, there isn't all that much to see in Odawara except a nice castle with some cool antiques. I'll probably write another post about that sometime because I don't have those photos on my external harddrive. My guesthouse was in Hakone as such meaning you must get there by bus. It's fairly straightforward to reahc the right bus. Odawara JR station has a great tourist help center and they sell you a 2 or 3 day all you can travel pass. While I rode on the bus a super friendly elderly japanese woman was eager to engage in freiendly conversation with me. I can only speak very basic japanese but I showed her a few photos of Mexico and she seemed eager to give me free lodging in her house! She told another lady in the bus that she was worried about me because it was dark outside and my stop was still a bit far away but I tried to reassure her I would be okay. There is one interesting thing about Japan, young men will run away from you even if you speak decent conversational japanese but old people don't feel ashamed and just want to brefriend you no matter what language you speak.

I can't remember my stay in the gesthouse very well, I drank too much sake and literally passed out on my futon with the tv on all night. :S I sadly missed my alotted 30 minutes to enjoy the complimentary onsen at the place to boot. Dammit!

The following day I set off for a mega trip on the Hakone tourist circuit. Sure it's touristy but it was fun as hell! I first went to a cool garden with lots of maple trees that were changing color. However given this post is to focus more an the real Evangelion sites I wanted to show photos of scenes of the Hakone circuit you might spot in the actual anime.

The first stop?

The elevated train to Gotemba. I can't recall which episode it was in Eva but in the show they refurbish these vehicles with super rifles that shoot at angels. They look so harmless in real life.

The japanese locals were going bananas with these things. Sure it's fun as hell to ride them but they have a halfway stop between the top of Hakone as Gotemba that gets clogged with people to ride a second train. However the outside views were spectacular.

The clogged stop is in Owakudani. And yes,. the photo below is Fuji Mountain. Some people might be disappointed but considering many tourists never get to spot the mountain at all at least I can say I saw it from afar.

If you are familiar with Evangelion you will recall Shinji constantly runs away from Misato's apartment for whatever silly reason and in the episode after he fights the 6th angel he runs off to Owakudani. Those are not clouds BTW, its sulphur that spews from the rocks. In the anime it makes you think they are just regular clouds. Apparently in one scene Shinji stands in a balcony where people jump to commit suicide in real life although I'm not fully sure which place would it be. The tourist hiking path has plenty of steep balconies to jump from.

One of the most interesting tourist foodie attractions of Owakudani are the black hardboiled eggs. Basically they are fully ordinary white eggs that they boil in the hot springs and the chemicals in the water turn the eggs black. The water gives them a really awesome flavor. Curiously enough I tried hardboiled eggs in Yudanaka which also contains sulphur but the eggs don't change color.

After you take yet a third elevated train down to Lake Ashi which appears in dozens of scenes of Evangelion you bump into this pirate ship. I don't know why they carry tourists in a boat taken out of a Sponge Bob movie (and yet these ships never appear in the anime) but the locals were going ape crazy.

I would have wanted to stick around Hakone for another day and actually enjoy the hot spring but I had to reach Kyoto as soon as possible. Once I returned to Odawara station I decided to wander around the shops and squealed at the sights.

Yes, that is a real life size Rei Ayanami mannequin. I'm actually taller than her which surprises me because I'm barely 5'1.

It's a shame most of the awesome sotres were closed and I discovered much to my chagrin that the "post offices" in Japanese villages are tiny malboxes inside of ordinary 7-Elevens. Sadly the ATMS don't accept my mexican debit card and I was running anemicly low on cash. Note to myself: withdraw extra $$$ when in Tokyo.

sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2016

Japanese food is not just sushi

I feel fortunate that I grew up in Mexico in the 1990's when anime was running on primetime public tv and it was actually worthwhile to get up on a Saturday at 7 am to record Revolutionary Girl Utena on my vhs player on Unicable before the show got cancelled before showing the final 7 episodes (I guess someone never told them Utena isn't a kid's show). And just like every weaboo I had dreams of going to Tokyo and visit Akihabara because every anime fan has to visit the mecca of anime at least once during their lifetime. However to be honest I had never eaten Japanese food as a teenager. Dragon Ball Z, Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon and Caballeros del Zodiaco were always primetime draws but Mexico didn't offer anything else about the country.

And then I turned 18.

I decided on my 18th birthday that I wanted to eat sushi for the first time. Cold raw fish lumped into balls of rice? Really? My parents were not too ecstatic with my paltry decision but we went to a reputable restaurant that still stands today called Mr. Sushi in the Zona Azul and the quality of the food albeit not 100% authentic easily overcame any previous misconceptions.

Sushi is now easily available in any major mexican city and every time I visit Playa del Carmen on a Tuesday or a Thursday I always try to visit the Sushitlán joints (there are two of them at walking distance from eachother downtown) and order the mango roll or the strawberry roll taking advantage of the 2x1 discount. I wonder what do Japanese tourists think of that.

Sushitlán's locally famous Strawberry rolls

Quite arguably my favorite chum from this joint, the Sushitlán special roll

However once you actually visit Japan, you soon realize you won't find sushi nearly anywhere. Visit the ubiquitous Family Marts and the 7-Elevens and you will find dozens of brands of sugar free green tea, bizarre alfalfa water without a tint of sugar (tastes really good once you get used to it), Kitkats and Onigiri Balls.

If you grew up watching Sailor Moon you would have seen Serena Tsukino eating those things all of the time. Basically they sell these lumps of steamed rice around a random filling and cover the side with a huge slice of seaweed. On my first day in Tokyo to eat something quickly while the sunlight was still in the sky I opted to buy one of these things and they taste okay. Nothing spectacular, just a rice ball with canned tuna in the middle, but it was cheap, like 15 MXN at the time. Try to find something that cheap in NYC.

You never know what to expect with food in Japan. Most of what they eat is steamed and pickled vegetables. One of the rules of wisdom when traveling abroad is to enter the restaurants where a lot of locals frequent. Japan is definitely no different and there are some killer restaurants down in Shibuya that have the most addictively good pickled cucumbers I have ever eaten.

Good Lord those pickled seed sprouts tasted so good.

If you are ever in Japan you might be lucky and visit a restaurant that serves Hoppy. And no, it's isn't beer. Quite frankly I have no idea what in the hell it is but trust me, it doesn't even remotely taste like beer and despite appearances it contains no alcohol. In my opinion the drink tasted awful, like some sort of dirty plant root with mineral water but after WWII ended the Japanese civilians had few other cheap food options and they survived on Hoppy among other things.

Visiting bakeries in Japan is also a mind-blowing experience. I seldom eat bread, or tortillas.. no wonder I'm so scrawny. However be kind, save for Pastelerías Maqui I don't know a lot of good bakeries in Mexico. Mexicans just don't know what they are missing and while some of the bread they sell in japanese bakeries are bizarre they taste really, really good.

Yes, that is a piece of bread with the shape of a pumpkin. And the roasted pumpkin filling was... well if you are ever near Asakusa Shrine in the back avenue on the opposite side of the nearest subway station there is a really, really good bakery. It's just a street or two away from a Fugu joint on a corner. If you are there try out the crystallized soybean pastries, I wished they could sell this stuff in Mexico.

What about American food?

Oh yes, the infamous I'm tired of eating all of this insanely healthy stuff that lacks sugary fattening goodness and I want a taste of home. Luckily at least the big cities have McDonalds type joints everywhere. I almost never, ever eat at McDonalds because the food tastes like plastic but they really up their game in Japan. Insanely expensive yes, but their morning mcMuffins are cooked right on the spot, no defrosted processed crap at all and they taste spectacular. I was in Tokyo in 2014 before Halloween and Burger King launched a thematic black bread mini whopper. Bizarre to say the least but the meat was nothing to write home about. More of a curiosity than anything else.

I love coffee, I probably drink too much of it according to everyone I know. I've even ended up hospitalized in the observation rooms of my job at least once from acid reflux from it. And unfortunately if there is one thing stopping me from moving to Japan it's the coffee. I feel for them because it tastes awful. Not even Starbucks saves itself from this curse. The Starbucks in Shibuya doesn't even remotely taste like the stuff you can buy in Mexico. Overpriced, watered down and bland. The worst of the worst I've tried so far goes to Bose coffee.

Ever heard the rumors that there is a vending machine literally in every corner in Japan? It's rather quite true and a lot of them sells Bose coffee. Heck, I've seen ads in downtown Tokyo of Tommy Lee Jones advertising that stuff (I doubt he has ever tried it). The kindest way to describe the beverage is that it's a fowl tasting motor oil with some chemical that dissolves paint. If that wasn't bad enough, try to realize people in Japan just don't like sugary drinks at all for some reason and they sell a presentation of this nastiness 100% black. I wished someone had been there to take a photo of me when I tasted that stuff without a tint of sugar or cream. I love black coffee but it was so bad the only reason why I drank the entire bottle was because it cost me 15 MXN. Hahahaha, not one of my most memorable memories of Japan.

In  Yudanaka I even found a vending machine that sold a mystery beverage. Silly Japan.

You will even see in Tokyo anime inspired drinks if you are lucky. One of the things that surprised me about Japan is that the Coca-Cola owned vending machines don't sell Coca-Cola, they sell bottled water and sugarless green tea. There you go, the secret to why Japan is free of the obesity epidemic. They never eat deep fried food and drink water. Give me my nobel Medicine prize please.

Now what about gourmet Japanese food is it worth it?

I had a Kaiseki dinner in Yudanaka as part of the hotel hospitality deal they offer to all guests and it's a cool experience. I wouldn't say the food tasted insanely awesome but it sure is flashy. They give you 20 different random bite size meals in little dishes and you sort of clean the table. The small pot was filled to the brim of rice that you self-serve and they give you complimentary water. As a mexican where complimentary water is like some sort of oxymoron it was kind of strange. Quite personally I would have preferred a beer to go with my meals but wearing a yukata with one of those comfy vests on top in a private room was awesome.

Other gourmet options? Kyoto has an overabundance of good ways to part with your money. As a tourist trap (still a very nice city BTW but not my favorite place in Japan) that every year seems to get flooded with increasing amounts of foreign tourists Kyoto is indeed expensive. Go visit the Gion area and while the famous Geisha district seems sort of lifeless with shuttered (and eeerily quiet) restaurants that are too prohitively expensive for a budget tourist like me there are other places in larger avenues that are more affordable.

The rule of thumb is to always follow where the japanese salarymen go to get their grub. The only downside is the huge clouds of cigarette smoke that billows the air but the food will not disappoint you. I went to this place that was packed with locals and the sashimi with edible flower petals was a nice touch. I simply loved the roasted lotus root, you can't find that vegetable in Mexico. I loved it so much I briefly mentioned it in a scene of my 5th book.

Shabu shabu gets mocked in Bill Murray's film "Lost in Translation". Okay so they charge you 30 dollars to cook your own meal, I get it. I went to a place with an all you can eat sort of deal for 3500 yen. The low price was because despite being a buffet they didn't serve you the best Kobe cut but man was it good. Basically they sit you in front of a stove in a booth that boils a pot of water. They then give you a bowl of veggies, cubes of tofu, slices of kobe beef and then three bowls of soy sauce, some kind of tasty peanut cream and I have no idea what was the last thing. You use a pair of tongs to toss everything in the boiling water until it looks sorta cooked, grab long hashi, dump everything in whichever sauce suits your fancy and chomp away. Once you clean the plate the remaining water is poured by the waitress into a bowl and you drink it up. Leaving soup for last seems kind of odd but hey, this is Japan, you go here for the sole purpose of being awed.

I'm poor! What can I eat in Japan that won't break the bank?

That would suck. I mean, you save 900 USD for a plane ticket and endure a grueling 16 hour flight just to eat pocky sticks. You can find cheap hostels and ryokans in Japan even as a solo traveler (the most expensive one night I ever spent in a hotel in Japan was 3000 MXN and it was a special treat in an expensive tourist retreat with few cheap options). I just think if you are going to visit this country once in your lifetime couldn't you forfeit daily starbucks, fancy cellphone gadgets and clubbing for a few months?

However if you insist, there are cheapo places for dinner and the food is quite good. Shinkansen trains serve boxed lunches for 100 MXN that sometimes come with a bizarre thread you pull that magically heats the food instantly (Japan is so awesome).

The food isn't spectacular but it's convenient and always stylish. Japanese have perfected the art of making food desirable to eat. They could make hospital food look like a 5 star Michelin joint. Izakayas are everywhere and while food options are limited they are fast, authentic & cheap. You don't even need to speak an iota of Japanese to go to one. You stand outside and locate the vending machine/menu, stare at the photos of the dishes that look somewhat appetizing, press the button, deposit the yen and a ticket is printed that you present to the cook inside. Within a minute they serve you your dish. You can order beer for extra or drink complimentary water.

Yoshinoyas are everywhere and the grub is really good. It's fast food but don't let the cheapness deter you from visiting one. I wished there was a Yoshinoya in Mexico.

If you are ever in Tokyo you will be committing a major sin if you don't visit the Ramen Museum. Trust me, it isn't expensive and you will be grateful you took the 40 minute train ride to the suburbs to visit it. The slices of bacon are to die for.

Indeed I believe this has been my longest ever post on my blog. I really love Japanese food and think people have wrong ideas about it. Sake is dirt cheap in Japan, just 5 USD a large wine sized bottle. Before I go I wish to show a photo of the most bizarre thing I have ever eaten in Japan while I visited Hakone. To this day I have no idea what in the hell it was.