What in the world is a potato party?

Have you ever heard of a potato party? No, it’s not a delicious new political group, but instead, a party… where you just eat fries from McDonalds…

Not this either

Not this either

 

We can trace this crazy phenomenon to Japan, of course. Last October, McDonalds started discounting their large fries in an attempt to get the Japanese people to start accepting the larger portions. Some students took this as a challenge, and attempted to scoff 23 large fries. After sending a photo of the attempt online, it quickly got a lot of love, a lot of hate, and a whole lot of re-tweets.

As the picture became more and more re-tweeted, a group of students from Okayama decided that their warrior spirits could easily handle a mere 23 large fries, and instead went and got SIXTY large fries. To celebrate this momentous occasion, they even had a special balloon made.

 

 If you’re going to consume 30,000 calories, you at least need a balloon

If you’re going to consume 30,000 calories, you at least need a balloon

 

The fad swiftly spread to South Korea where teens have been reportedly kicked out of mcdonalds restaurants for causing a mess, and disturbing other customers.

potato-party-frite-se-gaver

You can’t really blame the staff…

 

 

3 Japanese men, 10 burgers, what could go wrong?

Have you ever heard of Megwin TV?

If you’ve not, that’s understandable, since outside of Japan, they aren’t all that well known, they are however, one of Japan’s most prolific YouTube bloggers, uploading videos just about every day.

The group was started by Megwin himself (real name Ken Sekine), and has since expanded to include two of his friends, who go by the names Bandy and Falcon. Megwin regularly gives lectures about creating internet success and how the new “digital hollywood” is evolving. But how did they get this popular? By making awesome videos of course (with English subtitles, so we can enjoy them too!)

Take, for example, their burger eating contests, where they travel to America, and try to eat 1o hamburger combos in a day.

megrules

The rules of the game are simple: they drive to a restaurant, and whoever’s colour is touching the ground when they arrive, has to order the most popular combo on the menu, no matter how big it is. This of course leads to some pretty funny moments…

hegotstoeat

1- The “hirarious Engrish”

I’ve taught English in Japan for two years now, and I’ve gotten used to the way they pronounce things. The poor staff however, have no idea that when the guys ask for “za mohsto popyurah conbo” they really mean “the most popular combo”…

megengrishmegmoreengrish

maybeifhesaiditlouder

 

2- For a guy in his mid-thirties, Megwin is a bit of a big kid…

Megwin himself is the star of the show, and he shows off by having an unusually outgoing personality (for a Japanese person anyway)…

burgergod megkid

tNlyoJ

3- The size of the burgers

This being america, they have some pretty big burgers available…

eattheface

wQIRxX

4- The overconfidence falls apart

Of course there was no way they could eat all that meat, plus it doesn’t help when they make mistakes with their orders…

3EnjqZ

combo

give up

5- Extra challenges are issued.

Put a few guys together on a road trip in L.A. and of course there will be shenanigans…

dsg

SnlgAm

Capture

 

 

 

There are a whole load of other great moments, so you should really check it out yourself.

The videos are available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2LYx2GubsU&list=RDJ2LYx2GubsU&index=1

5 odd taste ‘sensations’ I’ve experienced in Japan

Japan is a nation of strange tastes… really strange ones, but we’re talking about food here, not … other stuff. After trying some ‘Irish whiskey’ flavoured coffee last week, I decided to make a post about five strange tastes I’ve encountered here. Not the five tastiest, or most disgusting, just five ‘odd’ tastes…

 

1- Irish Coffee

I’ll start with this one, since it inspired the post.

100_0483  Seriously, it’s a can of coffee

I could see where the appeal for the idea came from, an Irish coffee is, after all, one of the most indulgent after dinner treats I can think of. But the execution left a lot to be desired. Not on the taste front, it tasted quite like a milky, sweet Irish coffee. The problem was, without the alcohol… what’s the point!?

 

2- Umeboshi (Picked plums)

Seriously, the first time I tried this, I had a co-worker describe it as ‘sweet’. ‘It’s a… a… how do you say… Plum! Very sweet’.

umeboshi  I’m innocent, right?

 

God no! those things are as sour as can be. I secretly think he was lying to me, to be funny.

even he can't handle it   Even they can’t handle them!

 

3- Matcha flavoured… everything

I think we need to hold an intervention for Japan. It seems like everything they have here can come in a matcha, or green tea, flavoured variant. they do it for literally evrything. Nothing escapes the green tea, be it chocolate, baked cheesecake or even that most sacred of drinks, the coffee!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAbaked cheese tart  that poor coffee

It’s not even that nice! The matcha lattes leave a kind of powder in your mouth, and any matcha product you buy has so much sugar in it, so you can’t really taste the tea.

 

4- Whale

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’ve eaten whale. In Japan it is quite hard to avoid eating whale, especially when you go to somebody’s house and find a whole load of dishes in front of you. So, even though I only ate whale that one time, I think it was enough to make an opinion… It’s not bad.

whalestew

You try figuring out if this is whale or beef

whale burger

They even make whale burgers!!

 

 

It’s not great either, but it could definitely be a tasty meat, if, you know, there was a sustainable way to eat it. It definitely tasted like fish, but the texture was far more meat-like than fish. All in all, I would eat it again, if it weren’t for the questionable ethics of that.

Raw whale meat

Raw whale meat

5- Melon Soda

I apologize to any of my cousins across the pond in America who might have experienced melon soda in their lives, but DAMN, that’s an odd taste. It’s a bit like marmite in that some people hate it, and some people pretend to love it.

meloncreamtastyDon’t listen to that ‘tasty’, it’s all a lie…

I have tried a few different varients of melon soda, from ones that purport to have bits of melon in them, to ones that try to emulate the taste of an ice-cream float, and I can tell you, they’re all just a big, over-sugared lie! You might as well be drinking sugar water for all the flavour of melon that you get.

Give me some red lemonade any day. What flavour is red lemonade? Red, of course. Red lemonade has no notions whatsoever

completely notion-less!

completely notion-less!

 

So that’s it, five odd tastes that you can find here, there’s obviously hundreds more, I’ve just scratched the surface after all. Pumpkin flavoured kit-kats, and sea urchin salads have, thus far, eluded me

5 things I’ll miss about Japan (and 3 that I won’t)

1- Customer service

You have never experienced customer service like Japan’s. Every visit to a convenience store, post office or restaurant makes you feel like you’re just about the most important person in the world.

imhuge

It was a shock, when I visited home last summer, to see Aer Lingus’s flight attendants. I had always thought they were the final word in customer service, boy was I wrong.

I remember feeling vaguely offended by the bored look on the F.A.’s face as she ran through the seat-belt demonstration for the umpteenth time.

firstworldflight1

I actually had to stop myself, and remember that I’m a grown up, and I should know how to operate a seat-belt, and that her reaction was perfectly normal.

 

2- Views like this

Seriously, this is my school

20140331_161146

My town

IMG_0156

and a temple on a nearby mountain

IMG_0593

Right now, it’s cherry blossom season in Japan, and streets, parks and mountains are covered in the little pink leaves. Japan is obsessed with cherry blossoms, so much so that they put out maps, with dates of when the blossoms are going to be at their most beautiful.

sakura_front

 

3- Napping at work

As I write this, I’m on a bit of down-time at work. The last term is over, and the spring term is still about a week away. Most of the curriculum for the coming school term has been decided, arranged and timetabled… which means it’s nap time!

naptime

 

And this is at a senior high school no less. But why do my co-workers and I get to nap? Because it’s Japan of course!

In Japan, not only is it ok to nap at work, but it’s actively encouraged. If people are seen to be falling asleep at their desk back home, we assume that they had a rough night and are barely fit to work. Over here, however, they view these desktop dreamers as being so devoted to the job, working so hard, that they physically can’t stay awake.

napwin

Sometimes, people will even fake being asleep so it seems like they’ve been working harder.

 

4- working out what the ‘Engrish’ means…

Ah Engrish, I love you really. Once I got past your incredibly confusing packaging for eating my…I learned to love you

pasta

Seeing posters, shop names, slogans and other things written in Engrish lights up my day, and if there are a few foreigners around, trying to work out what these signs mean, is a great way to pass the time if you’re stuck in traffic

hotcommunication

(what exactly is ‘Hot Communication’?)

 

5- Finding something awesome tucked away down dark alleys

Usually, if somebody says that they had a good time down some small alley in the middle of town, it’s time to back up and exit the conversation

But Japan, with it’s confusing, higgledy-piggledy streets, and tiny restaurants and cafes, is something of an exception. Last weekend for example, I discovered a tiny little sandwich shop near Nagasaki’s train station.

Only open from 11:00-16:00, café on the route caters strictly to the lunch crowd, and serves up, what are, without a doubt, the best sandwiches that I have had in Japan.

The owners are a funny bunch, using simple enough English, which most Japanese people can understand, while also attracting English-speaking customers. The stairs up to the café proclaim ‘only six more steps to sandwich’, while the notice-board has little cartoon additions every day.

1396257152275

And the food! Just see for yourself

20140329_132809

yumyum

 

1- Finding raw egg in my food

Unfortunately, for all the awesome dietary discoveries, there are also bad ones. I’m not a fan of eggs at the best of times, but Japan has an odd obsession with raw eggs. They even have a dish called ‘’ or ‘parent and child’. This refers to the fact that just prior to serving, a raw egg is cracked over the rice and chicken, (hence the name: ‘parent and child’) leaving the egg to cook, using the heat of the meal.

chicky

I’ve also found eggs hiding beneath sauces in my curries before! It’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to order food in a restaurant in case it secretly comes with a raw egg.

They even put it on that most sacred of dishes: Pizza

eggpizza

GODLESS HEATHENS!

 

2- Doing the ‘what’s this?’ sniff.

Have you ever been in a restaurant, seen something beside your real food, and wondered: ‘what the hell is that?’ Well, come to Japan, and you can experience that at every meal!

bento

In the end, you have no choice to break out that old reliable instrument, the nose.

isthisfood

Oh how I long for the simplicity of spudz!

 

3- Toilets

toilet

Oh god. The horror! How are you supposed to use that?

howto

Gross! No wonder plenty of visitors to Japan react like this:

LAB014_Toilet-WelcomeHome_Int

I can hardly wait

6 Things you Need to Know About ‘Enkai’ (drinking parties)…

It’s the end of the school year in Japan, which means there are a whole load of work parties to slog through. The Japanese love office parties, for a few reasons. They give the lower level employees a chance to voice concerns with their bosses, they let people from different departments mingle (important, since Japan’s birth rate is collapsing), and they have all you can drink alcohol…

 

all the beers

 

We had the end of year party for retiring teachers and the English department had a separate one for the departing English teacher. Next weekend, after the new term has officially started (but thankfully, before any classes) we’ll have another big party to welcome the new teachers, then the English department will have YET ANOTHER party to welcome the new teacher.

 

In a short couple of months, I will be leaving Japan for the cloudy skies of Ireland, and

 

If you were an alcoholic in Japan, it would be very easy to hide it, what with all the unlimited booze parties.

CTHN

 

1- They are expensive

All that beer and food has to come from somewhere, and the average enkai will cost upwards of 5,000, ($50). Enkais up to 10,000, are not unheard of, and usually the big parties clock in at around that price tag.

 

For all that money, you could be forgiven for wondering where it all went, after all, it didn’t go on the food. Hotels and restaurants serve up the tiniest portions of food that they can get away with. Undoubtedly, it’s tasty, and of a decent quality, we just wish there were… more of it.

 

Where'stherestofya

 

2- All you can drink, means all you can drink (to an extent)

Yes, what I said earlier is true, these parties are all you can drink, except you’re limited in two ways.

 

– you cannot fill your own drink. It’s a weird custom that since everybody is friends at an enkai you should never have to fill up your own glass. So, if you run out of beer, wine, whiskey or sake, you need to fill up somebody else’s glass to give them a gentle reminder that your throat’s as dry as the Sahara.

 

-the glasses are tiny. In keeping with the control of the food portions, the beer glasses hold (at most) 100ml of beer. Thankfully, there are large bottles of beer on every table, now all you have to do is remind a co-worker that you’re running empty, and try to avoid the temptation to take two of the bottles and attempt to recreate the ‘Edward 40-hands’ scene from ‘How I Met your Mother’.

 

edward40hands

 

3- Even though you are drinking, you must still be polite

Yup, this is Japan, and even while drunk, you have to follow the rules. At some stage during the party, you will have to stumble your way over to the boss’s table, make some polite conversation, fill up his drink and get out of there as smoothly as possible.

 

dontdothis

 

4- The nijikai (second party) is all but compulsory

Every enkai is followed by a nijikai, usually this happens when the ‘all you can drink’ time at the first place expires. The most hardcore of drinkers will stay for the sanjikai (third party), but you don’t need to concern yourself with that. After all, if you’re not completely polluted after four hours of non-stop drinking, what will two more do?

 

The nijikai is even more focused on the drinking than the first one (if that’s possible), and it’s where all the office gossip, promotions, assignments and schedules are arranged. Make sure you attend, or you’ll find yourself out of the loop when your co-workers are getting all the choice jobs.

 

afterparty

 

5- You will make new friends (for an evening)

In my school, there is a teacher who only talks to me at enkais, seriously. This guy’s English, combined with my Japanese means that we can have a grand old chat together. At the last party, he got… a little tipsy, and started comparing the female teachers’ breasts to fruit, from grapes to melons.

 

Did you know that there was a size difference between apples an oranges? Or that kiwi is an acceptable measurement for cup size? Me neither, but this guy did…

 

gooddog

 

But the point is, this guy won’t talk to me if he doesn’t have a glass full of Dutch courage in his hand. Apparently, he’s shy… (I’ll never be able to look at pears the same way again.)

 

howilook

(How I think I look)

6- If you’re foreign everything you do will be remembered

Seriously, I don’t need to say much. This picture summarizes it perfectly.

 

2009-08-17

 

Remember when the foreigner (and everybody else) couldn’t handle their drink? Great times!’

 

 

It might seem like I’m coming down on enkais, and I suppose that I am, a bit. I still love them, they’re a great way to let your hair down with your co-workers, as well as have some fun, interesting, and downright terrifying conversations.

 

But hey, if Japan is anything, it’s fun, interesting, and a little terrifying!