Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cute Shit: Isopods

Recently I was reminded of the successful explosion of the isopod phone case last year by a reference to the fact that they're still around, and started Googling. 
Aside from the also very successful isopod plush toys that were originally $60 and sold out within hours at the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium (among others that followed suit), there are also larger, more pillow-like versions now.
As the Amazon description of them says, "This giant isopod doll has become less grotesque than real ones".

Here's a real one.

Aww! This picture and the video it came from made their rounds online pretty thoroughly

So did these Doritopods. Om nom nom


So, what the fuck is a giant isopod? VICE Japan is here to help:

Interesting, right? And sorry, Mr. Lead Aquarist, I really want to buy at least that adorable $2 mini isopod plush I saw there. Animals by themselves are great, but there's nothing wrong with a little gimmick and fluff, especially in this ridiculous country.
The Buzzfeed article that picture of the fisherman with the isopod on his arm came from is also fun.

Okay, so, these giant sea bug dudes are arthropods, related to crustaceans, and most people probably recognise some of their smaller cousins, pill pugs, potato bugs, or roly-polies as we called the little ones we had where I grew up:

Those cutsey nicknames are just nicer ways of saying "wood lice", 
but these are still pretty cute too, right?

Oh come on, we can all relate to this feeling.

And wait! Don't forget about the Kaiju skin parasites in Pacific Rim, which had a high black market value and were clearly just giant isopods:

Okay, okay, fine. You're probably still like, "this is not cute at all, this is horrifying", and I guess I kind of agree in some cases. Smaller sea-dwelling isopods, for example, act more like traditional parasites than their big doofy scavenging cousins, and sometimes wreak havoc on fish farm populations.

"Hey, you have something stuck to you. Omg wtf. It's really big. There's more than one."

Really not feeling it? Fine. You can eat them! The Japanese have weirdly decided to turn them into crackers, not unlike the jellyfish they turned into candy.

But, okay, okay, the merch is cute. IT IS! 
Don't believe me? Well, I saved the cutest pictures for last:

These are the ones that sold like hotcakes. I want one, but 50 or 60 bucks is just.. 
Too much.

Here's the pillowy but less-detailed one that Strap-ya sells.

Hey, there's an iPhone version! It's your lucky day, Apple enthusiasts!

And here's the original one I want, assuming I can eventually get a freaking phone contract here. It's a timeless classic, don't you think?

Finally, you can learn more about these weird giant sea bugs by checking out this handy, informative article, even if you don't think they're cute at all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Japanland: Osaka 2.0

After Kyoto we went to Osaka, because it was faster to catch our flight from there and because I figured Hannes should see the crazy flashing neon light-type place (Dotonbori) many imagine when asked to envisage Japan. I'm not the biggest fan, but I think that's because I don't have any local friends or anything there who could show me the nightlife done properly.

This is how Hannes feels about the size of things in Japan.

We stayed at the Toyo Backpackers hostel, and I found the staff curt and unhelpful to the point of being unwelcoming and rude. There were also really loud, annoying French people (I don`t know, either) running up and down the hallways all night, so I didn`t like it.

But they did have a beer can vending machine, and Hannes did like it, so whatever.

This was Hannes' birthday, and I took him to the exact same kushikatsu (deep-fried things on sticks) restaurant a couple of friends had taken me to for my birthday the year before. Yep, I ate breading again. It was worth it.

We had 90 minutes and I of course opted for the extra 1000 yen or (I think it is) charge for unlimited drinks during that time limit. The excitement was palpable:

As the eating of deep-fried veggies and salady side dishes continued, though, we started to lose steam, and guilt set in. All said and done, we powered through 9 glasses, highballs and mugs, 18 tiny side dishes, and an appalling 67 skewers.

And then we had dessert!
This is deep-friend mini taiyaki, mochi, marshmallows, and bread (yep, we battered and deep-fried bread) covered in chocolate from their fountain and topped with soft serve and maple syrup.

We passed through denial and regret phases, too, before the full effect of the drunkenness set in.

Then we walked all around Dotonbori.

I think this is the biggest he's ever smiled in a picture! Aww.

In German, "tittenautomat"

I wanted one of the phone charms that was a hamster in a latte or cappuccino, so of course I got the some-assembly-required sandwich hamster.. 
It reminds me of the Littlest Pet Shop toys I loved so much as a kid.

I forget exactly what the event was; the opening of a new club playing way-too-loud generic techno over speakers that sounded like they`d taken whole bottles of pills in an attempt to end it all, probably. See what I mean about not getting the nightlife here without a local?

Obligatory drunken trying-on of costumes

For some reason this looks like a still from a 90's movie to me, probably mostly because of grainy confused guy in the corner here

This whole sideways mouth thing is an inside joke making fun of the people who work at Lotte World in Seoul and the dumb faces and poses they have to make and do all day.

The following day we made the lengthy trek to the Asahi Brewery.

Their expansive lobby and tasting area

Hannes was obviously super freaking excited

I shouldn't drink beer at all but was feeling fine after all that tempura and kushikatsu, so I figured what the hell. If you're going to do it, you might as well chug the 3 free glasses (in 20 minutes) you get at the end of this cool brewery tour, right?

Our tour guide came around for pictures. We were pretty tipsy at this point, drinking as much beer as we could as fast as we could on empty stomachs, so all I could think of to say to her was, "Err, your hat is really cute," and immediately understood and sympathised with guys who try to hit on girls in bars the world over.

We stayed for the absolute limit of 25 minutes, and Hannes powered through 4 of those big glasses!

Aaaaand, drunk.

Before leaving for the airport we walked around near Dotonbori one more time, and hit this vegan café called Alt that I'd found online and that had gotten really good reviews. Everyone else in the place was just drinking the dairy-free coffee, but I wanted to order the (really overpriced) lunch set.

The soup and salad were pretty good.

But this risotto and bitter melon curry? No. 
I wrote a scathing review of this "food" on HappyCow.

The iced tea and coffee, though, were also pretty good.

Oh look, it's The Birth of Venus done in train tickets :B

We didn't have much else to do but go to the airport and spend the night there waiting for our awkwardly early flight, because no train in the morning would have been able to get us there in time. 

I didn't sleep a wink the entire night, caught a chill, and ended up with tonsilitis so bad that I had to take an entire week of work and was advised not to talk, so that was kind of a downer, but at that point Hannes and I were living together and Halloween was coming up (see my Halloweekends post), so it wasn't too bad!
... Except for when Hannes got the tonsilitis of doom a couple weeks later even though we'd been extremely careful >_<