This weekend was outrageously fun! I went to Himeji castle on Saturday with Chris and Kim. There was a little JET get together there at a place called a Beer Garden. A Beer Garden is an all you can eat all you can drink restaurant and they are always on the rooftop of a major department store. Only in Japan! Chris, Kim, and I got to Himeji around 1pm and we walked around looking for a place to eat that did have western food. Himeji Castle is a huge tourist area so there were many foreigners there and therefore most of the food places were fast food like KFC and McDonalds. It took a long time, but we finally found an Udon noodle shop. We all ate and tried our best to slurp our noodles without spraying all of the broth all over ourselves (Slurping noodles is polite in Japanese culture). I had tempura udon, which had a fried piece of shrimp or crayfish; I don't know which, in the broth along with the noodle, some seaweed and other vegetables. It was quite delicious and I was glad that I had it because later on the food at the Beer Garden wasn't that good.
After eating we decided to take a tour of Himeji Castle. It was magnificent. The tour guide was really nice and very informative. There were so many intricate details about the place like how they used optical illusions, drop holes, secret escape routes, and other things to keep the castle protected. The castle was huge and we went to the top of the castle. The stairs in the castle we extremely steep and I think we all got a pretty good workout going around the castle. The tour took two hours to complete. It was definitely worth the 600 yen we paid. After that, we met up with the other JETs and headed to the Beer Garden.
It was 2800 yen for men, 2500 yen for women. The waiters and cooks wore Hawaiian outfits and they were pretty pleasant people. The food however, was not as pleasant as the people. There were some fried shrimps that tasted like rocks. There was fried chicken that was okay, some lo mein that could have been a lot better, and other things that I think my mind has purposely blocked out for my own sake. The fruit was good; I had a few orange slices but was unfortunately not able to get any pineapples, my favorite fruit. I met a lot of nice people, some of whom I will hopefully stay in touch with. One girl, Celeste, was one of the more interesting people there and was not a JET participant. She had piercing in her lower lip, and a little piercing on her upper lip with a gem in it, which made it look like a sparkling mole. It was cute. To top it off though, she had blue hair. She definitely stood out. She ended up being a person I could relate to quite well. We had conversations on internationalization of Japan and how America is a world leader but most of its citizens are ignorant about the rest of the world. I got her email address, so hopefully we can keep in touch.
After the Beer Garden, the adventure began! That night I went to Osaka with six other people. We arrived at Shinsaibashi around 10 or 10:30. We spent quite some time walking around trying to find a place where we could all go and enjoy ourselves. In the end we decided to split up. Three of us went to a hip-hop club called Donflex while the other four stayed at a 50's era bar. That place freaked me out because it was a bunch of Japanese people imitating rednecks. I don't like rednecks back in the U.S. so I was surely not going to sit in that bar very long and look at Japanese people imitating them. The hip-hop club also freaked me out because many of the people there had dreadlocks or Afros. I thought to myself, “These people haven’t seen a real afro! Not like the one I used to have!”
I didn't really think that many people idolized Hip-Hop culture in Japan but I was mistaken. The music was REALLY good! The DJ's really impressed me. They were actually some of the best DJ's I've heard in a while. The atmosphere was nice. Everyone was just having fun. There were three Japanese girls dancing with each other that blew my mind. They really danced well and I thought to myself, "Damn, I wish I could dance like that!" All I could do was shake my butt to the beat of the song, but these girls had their moves down pat. What was also weird was that some of the girls had tans and were so dark that when I saw them from afar I couldn't tell whether they were Japanese or black. (How you doin’ sista? I know you lookin’ for a strong brother…what? You’re …Japanese!?) That freaked me out!
We left that club around 4:15am after thoroughly dancing the night away and went back to the 50's bar. We slept for about fifteen minutes before leaving and heading out to the train station for our separate journeys home. I had the longest journey of course because I live on Awajishima. I actually got lost and it took me 4.5 hours to get home. It should only take 2.5 hours! I didn't know which stop in Akashi to get off at so I ended up going to Maiko where the bus that goes to island is. However, if you don't know where the bus stop is, then there is no way you can get on the bus. I ended up asking a man where the bus stop was and he guided me almost all the way to the bus stop. The bus stop is actually on the bridge, which is something I would have never guessed. I finally got back home and passed out around 11am.