Mike's Really Long Japan Trip Post
Was I really in Japan? It was so fast and I was so tired I don't even know if it was real. As I type this I'm sitting back home in the states, still trying to sort it all out.
Well, I really needed to go. Like, I had been waiting to go for so long it was really messing with my head. It was painful in a way, actually. As I was riding the train from Narita to Yokohama, looking at all the boxy houses and bright pachinko parlors along the way, all I could think of was, it's good to be back, finally. But of course it was all over too short. Good news is, I'll be heading back soon for JET. So that will make the wait a little bit easier.Arrival
Anyways, so yeah, on to the recap. Of course it was a long flight over, I didn't get much sleep (soon to be a common theme). I called Shingo from the airport, it was cool to finally be able to talk to the guy again. After some futile Japanese practice ordering my N'Ex ticket, I got a window seat and checked out the sights. When I arrived at Yokohama station, though, it was packed as hell and I still wasn't sure where to meet up with Shingo. So I'm standing around for about half an hour, thirsty, and when I finally decide to go get a drink, who is it but Mark McInnes pulling on my arm. Even better, he brought one of his school friends to drive us around. Which was a nice surprise.
After dropping my stuff off at Mark's, Shingo and I wandered around Yokohama, stopping at a Yoshinoya for some gyuuyakiniku don (mmm good). Then we found a bar/restaurant to watch the Japan/Australia game on a projection screen for the low price of 1200 yen- drink included. Let me tell you, soccer fans in Japan are quite enthusiastic about their team. It's too bad Japan blew the game, allowing three goals in the last 15 minutes. But it was cool to see everyone so excited. Of course, I was so tired from the flight I nearly passed out a couple of times, but hey, that's just a small detail. Tuesday
I managed to sleep in for a little bit. Met up with Shingo and Yugo, and we went to Machida. The whole day, we were worried about being able to meet up with Sammy. No one was sure if he had cell phone #'s, or even what form of transport he was going to take to Yokohama. In other words, it could be a lot of fun. It kind of became a running joke. But sure enough, thanks to some planning and teamwork, we met him as soon as he stepped off the train. Of course.
Then, it was time to go to Chinatown for dinner, a move that I approved of. Somebody knew a good place to eat, which we checked out- and then the guy promptly told us to follow him. But to where? It was kind of strange following this guy through Chinatown. Turns out they needed to sit at a different building in the same restaurant, and it turns out the food was pretty decent.
So decent, in fact, I forgot I was going to meet Ayana at Yokohama station. Crap! So I hightailed it over there, and eventually we met up, but all that after a long day of work meant I don't think she was very happy with me. Anyways, we found a little cafe near the station, to meet and catch up on old times, but we really didn't have enough time to sit and talk. Of course, I forgot to get a picture. Wednesday
There was no letting up, on Wednesday we got up and went right to Fuchinobe and the Obirin Campus. Just like old times, we caught the bus from the station, but unlike old times, the campus was totally transformed. There's a new giant building where you used to park the bikes, the old cafeteria is now an am/pm store, the chapel is gone, they rebuilt the bus stop and nurses building, and worst of all the soccer fields where we used to play are now closed off for future building. It was really quite a surprise seeing all of the differences.
Then it was over to the International office to meet up with Otsuka-san who was such a great help to us. It was cool to catch up, also we met Kanami for about half and hour before she left for Canada the next day. It was fun to talk about old times, unfortunately Kohji-san, another great Obirin guy wasn't there, though. There were also several current exchange students there; we hardly talked to them. It's hardly surprising though. Even when I was a student it was difficult to talk to former students, there's definitely a feeling of "they're in a different group" or something like that. Kind of strange, but an observation that I made.
The fun at Fuchinobe wasn't over yet. We went to Sakuranbo, a great little restaurant near school, and also Hard-Off, where I found some sweet used Famicom games. Oh yeah! That night, we saw Masa's band Brena (www.brena.cc) at the Machida Playhouse. It was rockin.Thursday
We had planned to go to Tokyo proper, but there was so much other stuff to do that it just wasn't going to happen. So we're off again after a short night's sleep to Yokohama's Minato Mirai, a really cool futuristic part of town. We went up to the Landmark tower, the tallest building in Japan, and got some good pics. Back at ground level, we stopped at World Porters for some delicious Freshness Burger, mmm good.
While we were up in Landmark Tower, we happened to notice a blue tent and a green field next to the Akarenga warehouse. Sure enough, upon closer inspection it was a mini-soccer arena set up by Kirin beer for the World Cup! We'd get to play some soccer after all. It was maybe about the size of a basketball court? Anyways, Shingo, Sammy and I probably played there for an hour, it was really great, but eventually the attendant told use to leave. Next to the field was a Kirin tent with a lot of promotions, a shop, and a little museum set up inside. All in all, it was pretty cool and one of those little things that makes it nice to live in a place such as Yokohama.
Then off to Machida, where we met up with Shin, Taka, and Yugo, and here's where things get really fun. First, a trip to Yodobashi Camera, checking out all the toys and game softs. I couldn't help myself, I ended up getting New Super Mario Bros. for DS, along with a couple of other things. Then, yakiniku, which actually wasn't really that great but everyone was having a good time. Then, of course, karaoke was next, and this had been a long time coming. Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Motorhead, were some personal highlights but I know everyone had a rockin' good time.
Then some folks split up to go to Shibuya, but I elected to stick around for a little more karaoke. I don't remember much from here, except that I tried to do "Ch-Ch-Check it out" by Beastie Boys and failed miserably. After that it was too late to catch the train to Yokohama so we went to Shin's place in Fuchinobe. Now Shin is a nice guy and all but make no mistake he has one of the filthiest apartments I've ever seen. I don't think it's been cleaned in years. Literally. The funk coming from the fridge and bathroom was beyond description. Somehow, I managed to sleep while Shingo and Shin played Mahjongg until the wee hours of the morning.Friday
It took a while, but the next day I met up with Sammy in Machida. It would be a real shame if I went to Tokyo without actually going into Tokyo, so we took the new Odakyu express to Shinjuku and went to the west side, checking out some game centers and shops. Next, tired of the crowds, we went to Ebisu, where after a 45-minute search we found another Freshness Burger. Then we went to Ebisu Beer Garden, but the museums were all closed, still we had a McFlurry (Makkufururii) and chilled out. Then back to Yokohama, where I had to take a shower and get my stuff packed for the return trip on SaturdayRecap
In a way, the biggest benefit to come out of the trip is peace of mind. I no longer feel the burning need to go back to Japan every five seconds. Like I said, after about two years, it starts to mess with your head. Still, I wish I could have stayed longer. But now I can look forward to JET, and other future trips to Tokyo, with a clear frame of mind.