Diamond Zippo Super Tank Oil Container

Surprisingly this one comes only from the lands of rising sun and not China.

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This little guy can do 2 things- act as a backup lighter fluid container with its rubber-sealed cap and a cover case, or as a replacement internal fuel storage instead of the usual cotton/rayon stuffing via its soak-able cap. To use this tank internally, simply gut any Zippo of its stuffing, cut the wick in about half, and route it towards the location of the soak cap so the fluid can reach it. If you screw the soak cap on just right (it has a flat-head screw on top to help you dial it in), your fuel will last much longer since the new container is much more air proof than simple cotton stuffing that dried up in about 2 weeks regardless of use.

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From Pictures to Words – First Fan Party [The Filler Series]

So reading some blogs recently, inspired me to try and write a proper, blog, kind of post. Mostly verbal, but about one helluva night last June in Tokyo.

The premise was roughly as follows: it was a rainy Thursday thus my skating buzz was completely killed and I spent the day sleeping, being online on my phone, sipping brew, and just generally totally dicking around.

From stage right- the past weekend I went to my first and only anime convention over there, but despite pretty awesome luck there I missed the reason I even bothered going so-to-speak: trying to get a hold of one of the very, very few niche celebrities I like and try to follow to my best ability after a completely random bump into each other back in DC three years ago.

From stage left- my awesome friend bloggers, with whom I’ve started collaborating for about half a year (once again, lucky random bump that grew into so much more), texted me saying that they went ahead and set up a party for some of my fans to come out and mingle with me or bask in my presence. Here’s the real kicker- it was for that Friday night. Less than 24 hour kind of notice. As grateful as I was, real smooth planning guys…

And center stage: running out of ideas and being completely bored out of my mind, I got the crazy idea to see if I could find my celeb’s contact info of any sort and try my luck at getting a hold of her. That ended up being, twitter. Love it or hate it, sometimes it ends up being the only way. I shot the message along the lines of, “hey, wondering if you’re remember that one guy you took a pic of in the States 3 years ago. I’m that guy. How ya been?” And after that, proceed to continue rotting from utter and complete boredom.

And so, the prelude act: later that night, she actual gets back to me. Whaaaaaaat?! And says that she remembers me and is glad I got in touch. Totally awesome. That alone improved my bored and buzzed mood quite a bit. Being, well, me, I go ahead and ask her if she’d like to come out and hang the next night and strategically link the blog post with the party info.

Now time slowed down. Quite a bit. Wait wasn’t particularly killing me since I knew I was just trying my dumb luck and chances are it was just in vain. Or was it?

She actually gets back to me saying that she’s busy as hell, but she can spare the time tomorrow night and asked if my blogger guys even knew who the hell she was. The real, whaaaaaaaaat?!! Now things got really kicked up a notch if not two, so I went ahead and told my guys the big and surprising development. They pretty much nodded and said cool. I went to sleep a pretty happy camper.

I decided to kick off the next day bright and early- 3PM to be out the door by 4 or 5. Motivators? Having to be in Shibuya at 9PM sharp and not having any cash nor debit on my Suica to get there, so a Citi bank run was a priority. Downsides besides having to walk it to Tokyo station area from Ueno, the relatively humid evening that almost sent my shower down the drain by the time I made it. Nothing exciting about the commute save me getting to ground-zero about 2 hours early. So, what do when you’re THAT early? Hit up Golden Bowl for some empty-stomach, pre-game beers! That and to change in their tiny, but very familiar bathroom. Lastly, to let them know I’ll be back later that night with quite a few heads.

Now fully equipped to defy almost every public conduct and cosplay rule out there, I’m swagging back to the station in my full getup. Something I didn’t quite expect happening on the short way there was being stooped by a few groups of your typical Shibuya girls for some pics and such (and damn, should’ve gotten their emails and digits instead of just saying I got places to be…).

Got to Hachi-ko. Calmed my nerves with a smoke. Awaited my crowds. My bloggers rolled in first and we managed to spot a few of my fans who rolled in as well. So the main question on my mind- my lovely celebrity and her appearance after all or lack there of. My guys told me that they reserved a pretty cool izakaya place for 10PM, so we had about an hour to kill/get there. I kept stalling our lift-off for the very obvious reason.

Phone bleeps a text message/email. “Hey, I’m running a bit late, so I’ll be there in about 10 min.” My heart skips two beats and I tell them that we’re just about set for our epic crusade.

Longest 10 minutes of my whole trip, I swear. And at long last I spot her making her way towards us. Super excited and happy- she physically made it!

We catch up as best we could with my broken Japanese against her equally broken spoken English, and part one of the night went really well. Izakaya was fun, but semi-uneventful save everyone being impressed by how I was just demolishing the unlimited beers (and rightfully so- I don’t waste my opportunities!). Then I get an email from one of my fans that she ended up being late, but made it, and wanted to know where we were. I told her the name of the place and had one of my blogger guy try to call her to explain it any better than I didn’t. She ended up making it in and we made room for her.

Now comes the only, but a pretty epic fail I had the whole trip. Take it, as best you can, from a Japanese perspective since its just not nearly as epic otherwise.

Half of us, this fan of mine included, proceed back to Golden Bowl for an after party kinda deal. Cool. Here’s where the twist came into play- my sash. It was tight as, well, you imagine whatever you want regarding that topic. About a total of 6-7 beers from my beginning of the night on a completely empty stomach. I was perfectly fine too. As time was nearing midnight, my lovely lady told me that she had never stayed out the whole night out in the town and I proceeded to assure her that since she was with me, I got her back and it’ll be lots of fun. Until another fan of mine wanted to do a beer race. Would I back from such a simple challenge? As if.

So 2 slow chugs and a half of the third glass later I finally choked. Bathroom was occupied and apparently I didn’t quite make the wait in line. Next thing from dying of waiting that I remember is waking back up on a stood right outside, with my crew and one bartender I knew checking if I was alive. Real smooth. Blacked out for 5-10 seconds, but at that point it gets unnecessary worry and attention. And that after me spouting off that I had my shit and my fan’s well being for the night together… real smooth. Ironically, my lifeline order of takoyaki was ready around that same time.

After puking some of my guts out (since taking care of my sash didn’t quite occur to me at the time) and pounding 10 delicious octopus filled balls, I was on my way to a slow recovery. I think a glass of water was somewhere in that equation as well.

Now with even less people left, we went to get some food (probably to help me recover) and I went ahead and had my saving grace beer there, really nurturing the guy.

So what’s the real kicker of the night? When I posted a question of extending my stay for three weeks per free place to crash and plane ticket change not being an arm and a leg, the girl I feel I made an ass of myself on the first meeting was the only one who actually came through. I really must have the devil’s luck, in Japan.

Georgia Coffee – Wind-up Benz [The Filler Series]

Probably one of the more random and awesome things I brought back from Japan. Plethora of these kinds of campaigns happen all the time and almost anything is involved- key chains from video games, anime, these little model cars, smartphone styli, etc. All of these are free and are attached to the neck of whatever beverage is running a particular campaign.

This guy is tiny and, as mentioned in the title, a wind-up. With rubber tires. Crazy stuff.

Sample Daily Route in Tokyo [The Filler Series]

Wake up before noon, grab couple ‘giri’s from sleven, crush a smoke or two, and get gone on a board.

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And thats with whatever bits of map were cached before I left and with a prayer that the route doesn’t get eaten and I’ll have to guess and check by hand where the hell I was going. Usually these went well though. One thing I’d do differently now is take more pictures along the course to help outline it better, but that’s definitely for next time I’m in town.

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Quite a few great snowboarding shops in this area. Certain bits and pieces kinda surprised me, all things considered.

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Here, the fork in the road kinda got me a little bit, so I took a minute to refuel and figure out my bearing.

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And this brings us to Harajuku and hence forth.

So this is how I get to know a new area. This is my style of tourism. I know I’m most likely of the very few who does it solely via skating and I love it so. If this wasn’t intense enough, try blading roughly the same route with some of the hills out here….

Chiba City [The Filler Series]

No idea why i didn’t post more snaps from Chiba city itself, but I did spend quite a few days rolling through. I remember seeing the monorail tracks the first day out and marveling at that thing, until I went ahead for a ride later on.

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Sitting down for a smoke and starting at these puzzled me until I finally caught glimpse of the tiny train which appeared like a unicorn galloping across a rainbow at the time. No bullshit.

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Chiba city itself was like a tiny, cozy snippet of Tokyo which felt nicely familiar and and the same time much more peaceful to me.

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Home to some nice hobby shops as well, which I scaled in my endless search for Kyosho Mini-Z with some fruitful discoveries. Also bumped into a Games Workshop store, of all the places, around here and that brought back some major memories.

Real Conveyor-Belt Sushi [The Filler Series]

So never mind the usually shitty and overpriced places like this in the DC area. Never mind some decent, but still hardly free ones in NY. Never mind them even in Tokyo. Once you go out of the city, things like food flip completely around in quality and affordable quantity. Lets look at this (whatever the hell it was called) place in Hitachinaka.

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The only price stapled to their WHOLE selection of sushi and sashimi… yep, just 105Y. Yep, just $1.10 if that. That goes for common plates floating around AND anything you’d special order as well. None of that plate colors dictating prices bullshit. One plate = 1$. Stack em high!

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So, special ordering- totally awesome procedure. You go through the menu on a little touch screen hanging at your booth. Once you pick what you want, you place the order and it tells you when your booth’s labeled plates are about to pass. Wild.

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And the gluttony resumes like no tomorrow.

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This was definitely a treat after beating my tonsillitis’ first stage boss like no other. And just as a total kicker of a reminder- tipping in restaurants or even delivery boys is considered rude, so there’s none of that. All food industry employees are paid proper hourly wages and take at least some pride in their work unlike back here in the States.

Rubber Variety [The Filler Series]

This almost impressed me, from the fact that they were like clothing from M-XL sizes, to intricate box designs, broken sexy type of Engrish, to simply hilarious gag graphics.

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So whether you are a real man or a pussy with a dick, Kenshiro got you covered. Literally.

Some of My Convenient Meals [The Filler Series]

When hungry and on a budget, Japan’s convenience stores got your back. From liquor any time of day… erm cold or warm foods, snack and various beverages, to manga and prize draws- convenience stores got you. Best part of it all though? Roughly the same prices are they are in the States, but instead of crummy Big Bites or Taquitos, things like these hot bento trays and instant delicacies like yakisoba instead of same old “ramen” bowls we can get in the States. And remember, everything minus (probably) the typical ramen with those intense flavor packets, is very healthy unlike their American counterparts.

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Multi-dish dinner and 2 tall cans of brew under $10? Not bad at all.

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Or how about pre-made soba and gyoza set to go with some brew? And what’s this? A free carton of coffee from a promotion draw for spending $10? Got the morning covered, for free.

The slightly more ghetto days consisted of woes as to what to use to cook regular ramen packets since they seldom come in reuse-friendly bowls like they do in China, but nothing one serving of yakisoba couldn’t fix…

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This was from the episode of having $10 to my name for a week, but I made it happen just fine. Granted, you really can’t be too picky with your 60-cent meals when you source ground for dropped smokes to pass the time by…

Now, instant soups are also quite cheap and quite damn good for what they are-

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I do save best for last though, and these were my main diet staple for roughly 2 months due to- being cheap and quite filling for the price, and just so damn good, and easy to stash and carry for later consumption. I present to you, the ~80-145Y onigiri.

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Note my glorious Yamasnote-sen chopsticks I got from Village Vanguard in Odaiba.

And lastly, my physically last meal I had last morning of the trip (granted nowhere near the last dinner, but hey)- the SDF instant ramen cup that was by far, the best I’ve ever had from that general variety.

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7 & I Holdings Co. [The Filler Series]

So our commonly known regular 7-Elevens teamed up with another company in Japan and became something completely mind-blowing from their typical small convenience store image we all have engraved in our minds:

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Giant? Bloom? Walmart? All in one? Nope, just a 7-Eleven in Japan. lol

Itoen Tomato Juice – Simply The Best [The Filler Series]

As the name states, and inspired by our crappy tomato juice here state-side, I’ll write some filler episodes to my past trip for things I was too lazy to blog then/forgot/whatever.

So, one night on my stroll to Shibuya along roppongi-dori route, I stumbled upon yet another 100Y vending machine with a true, buried treasure inside: the Itoen brand tomato juice.

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This, ladies and gents, is the sweet mother of all canned/bottled tomato juices I’ve tried to date! The silky smooth, watery consistency; the freshly squeezed sour-ish taste; not a bloody half a can of salt- its all there! And for what, only ~$1? Needless to say, I’ve plowed through this route some day JUST get me some of this godly drink.

My other encounter with Itoen Tm.J. was in Chiba where a bigger pet bottle was on sale. This tasted just as godly. I’ve also tried Kagome and it simply didn’t have that same fresh edge that Itoen had.