The past few days have been a mix of crazy and relaxing. On Friday, my program, Japan Study, had a final meeting about our upcoming cultural practicum, which, if I haven’t explained it before, is something that everyone in the program has to do. We each go somewhere for a month and volunteer, intern or something similar. There are several options provided by the program, and what I’m doing is working at a café and a day center in Kyoto. The café is supposed to be open to anyone, so I think the idea is that people who feel discriminated against and want a safe place to stay can come. I will work there for two weeks, and the following two weeks I will work at a day center for elderly and handicapped people. I’ll be living alone in an apartment. So we got more information about our cultural practicums, and then had a little reunion party. I got to see people I don’t normally see, which was nice.
After, I went with Cory, Kayla, and some other people to this place called Cat Street in Harajuku. It’s a cute hidden street with a bunch of unusual shops, as well as sporty clothing stores. It took me a while to realize that it was right near the apartment where I stayed with Erika, my girlfriend, during winter break. It was there the whole time and we just walked past it every day.
After that, Jon, Cory, Vageesha, and I filmed part of a music video that the Niji no Kai girls are going to present to the guys on Valentine’s Day. The way Valentine’s Day works in Japan is that on February 14 girls give guys stuff, like chocolates and cards. The next month, on March 14, which is called White Day, guys give girls stuff. I think you give milk/dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day and white chocolate on White Day, though I may be making that up.
Then we all went to Dragon Men, a gay bar, to get drunk for cheap. 1000 yen for two hours, not bad! Again, I got hit on by multiple guys, two of whom friend-requested me on Facebook, which I don’t understand because I didn’t give them my last name…
That night I was invited to go to a club where Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was supposed to be, since she was celebrating her 21st birthday. I was incredibly excited since I’m kind of obsessed with her. If you don’t know Kyary, here’s one of her music videos to give you an idea of how insane she is.
I kept pestering the guy who invited me, Joey, about whether it was happening or not, but he and the people who were planning ended up not wanting to go because it was too expensive. But, that’s ridiculous because it was only 2600 yen (about $25) per person, which is about the same price you would normally pay to go to a club, maybe a bit more expensive. But, a world-famous pop icon was going to be there, so of course it was going to be pricey. We ended up all going to this club called Adam, which was supposed to be famous but I don’t see why because it wasn’t all that great. However, I was absolutely hammered so I couldn’t care less. In fact I think that was the drunkest I’d ever been. I talked way slower than usual, and the next day people kept telling me all these things that happened that I didn’t remember at all. Kind of scary since I’ve never really blacked out before. I ended up falling asleep on the train home and missing my stop by over an hour, so I didn’t get home until 8:30 in the morning. My host family was already up, but luckily they were very cool about it and told me to sleep. Definitely one of my worst experiences.
The next day I had agreed to go to a ryokan, or Japanese-style inn, where they had onsen, which are these really hot outdoor baths. Of course I overslept and felt awful but I rushed to meet my friends. I thought I was going to have to bail, which would mean I would be out 7800 yen since they had already booked me, but I ended up getting there in time, thank god. At first I was kind of hesitant and awkward about going into the onsen—I’m not exactly that comfortable being naked in front of other people. But after a while, I did get used to it. The baths were so incredibly hot I thought my insides were going to boil (which they apparently do after about half an hour…).
Our dinner was incredible—perhaps the single nicest meal I’ve ever had. Each person got two nabe, which is like a pot of vegetables and meat in boiling water, plus all these really fancy foods like snail and sushi. We went into the onsen again after that, and then got cozy with a bottle of vodka and hung out in one of our rooms, telling ghost stories, riddles, and just generally having a great time. Zack and I roomed together, which was pretty hilarious, because we were both still hungover from the club and acted incredibly stupid the entire weekend. I’m pretty sure I lost a good amount of my brain cells because that might have been the stupidest I’ve ever been. Forgetting things, not knowing what’s going on…but it made things pretty funny, to say the least. I forgot to take pictures, but here’s something close to what our room looked like:
The next morning we got up bright and early, went into the onsen, had another nice meal, went into the onsen again, and went to this nearby beach that, even though it was very cold and early, was filled with surfers (see below). At first I thought all those black shapes were shark fins, but nope, surfers.
Even though I was incredibly tired by the time I got home, my host family had people over so I had to drink and talk with them. It was fun though, as always.
Thanks for reading!