Friday, August 31, 2007

I have some catching up to do! Toyota Bon Odori!

Well lets get to the dirt shall we! It is long overdue!

Great intro huh?

So in the middle of Obon Vacation, I took a trip to a small village near Toyota, where Sayaka's friend Sayuri lives, and we went to a Bon Odori dance festival. This was probably my 3rd one this summer, but definitely the most memorable.

I got to see Sayaka in her yukata for the first time and she was amazingly beautiful! I wore my jinbei because I didn't want to struggle with my own yukata that day.

We headed on the subway from Tsurumai to the nearest station where we were picked up by Sayuri after she got off from work.

When we arrived to Sayuri's house, their friend Miyo was waiting for us. We all entered the house and the girls changed into their yukata, and Sayuri's mother helped Sayaka fix her obi (cloth that wraps around the waist). Sayuri's mom was sooo sweet and polite to me, as she likes foreigners and even hosts exchange students or people doing homestays there, so I felt super comfy being there.

We went to the festival, and saw that Sayuri's brother, who is very good with English might I add, was the leader of this year's festival (I think he is every year though haha). Not only that but Sayuri is in charge of the dancing, so she gets to go up on stage and dance all night!

Sayaka and I kicked back and ate free kakigori (think snow cone in a cup), drank free beer, and watched everyone have a ton of fun!

Some old man came to me and pretty much forced me to go down and dance and Sayaka joined me. While he escorted us he said I should give a speech and started laughing and whisked away! Uh oh...

Before we even made a complete circle, the man was back, to grab my arm and take me to a microphone! What!?!?! Was he serious?!?!? I watched the probably 100 or so people at this festival and then the music stopped and all eyes were up on the stage area. The man gave an intro in Japanese, gave me the mic and said in his best english "For Los Angeles!". Wait, how did he know I was from near there?!?

I can't remember what I said, but everyone clapped and cheered at my horrid Japanese speech. After that, I was asked to give a speech in English too! All I know is, Sayaka said my Japanese speech was MUCH better. Oh god...

After my speech, the village elders (for lack of a better term) scurried to me to give me some of their sake they had ( presented in a white bag, kinda like how people brown bag it back home). They even had some appetizers from their plates that they shared with me. LUCKY!

Then it came time for the games! We had to pass out fans, with numbers on them. They would draw numbers, and whoever's number was called, would win a prize. Prizes ranged from Nintendo DSs, air conditioners, down to a 24 pack of soda or Pocari Sweat! I was asked to help hand out flyers, since I was a friend of Sayuri's and when I grabbed a handful of fans, I literally had about 80% of the people there form a line in front of ME, when there were at LEAST 9 other people passing out fans! I had people screaming "Tommy-chan!" with their hands out stretched to get a fan from me. Now I know what a celebrity feels like!

After the drawing and all of the prizes were handed out, it was time to clean up and start the nomikai (drinking party!!!)!!!

All of the young people involved, met up after changing into some regular clothes, at a huge room near where the festival was held, and we had ourselves a fine nomikai! Sayuri, Sayaka, and I made a trip to the conbini to buy some more alcohol, and food for me (since I can't eat the fish!). When we arrived, there were maybe, 16 people there. We did our initial compai (cheers) and started eating and drinking. This was pretty much all in Japanese, and if there was any troubles, Sayaka became a translator. I hade someone (Hyde-kun) show me some Japanese jokes, that I only laughed at one. I made a fool out of myself with some chocolate covered strawberry candy, that made everyone laugh (Oh Pink! You had to be there...)and we made initial plans for our NINIKU TOUR! (Garlic Tour!). Hyde went to somewhere in the Gifu prefecture, that has garlic everything on their menu, and I am a HUGE fan of garlic (ask Sayaka, haha...).

This party started around 10PM or so, where I even got a call from my mom near the beginning (I was still sober!), and it ended around, hell I don't know! All I know is I couldn't stay awake much longer, and the last time I saw the clock, it was 5:50AM! Someone woke us up at 7AM to start cleaning the mess, and that took around 20 minutes or so! Afterwards, we said our goodbyes and we were off on our own ways!

Sayuri drove Sayaka and I to the station again, and we made our long sleepy train ride back to Shin-Moriyama station, where we walked back to our apartment. I seriously think we slept about 14 hours after that, but it was much needed after such a great day (2 days?)!

Sayaka "dancing" by herself!

Sayaka and I waiting for the train to the village!

Getting the special stash of sake from the village elders!

The only thing better than kakigori, is FREE kakigori!

Haha! Sayuri's mom wanted to take a pic with me!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I've been quiet, but I am alive, well and happy!

Bought tickets to California last week, going to a wedding party tomorrow, Mexican food tonight, Turkish food 2 nights ago, life is just great as usual! I promise something more interesting. I have quite a bit on my backlog to write about...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's official! I got the days off for California!

Short and sweet. Days are official from my company, and we just need to buy tix to Cali. 2 more months!!! This will come quick!

Friday, August 03, 2007

A day at the beach, onsen, then Toyota Oiden Matsuri (a summer festival)

Now I am about to be extra lazy and paste this from my mixi diary, so I apologize in advance for anything that doesn't make sense!

So yeah my first journal is about my day at Shiomi beach in Shizuoka with Sayaka, Naomi, and Maki! Sorry, it is in English!

I woke up at 5AM in the morning so I could leave Shin Moriyama at 6AM, to get to Akaike by 7. When I arrived, I was picked up by Maki, Naomi, and Sayaka, after a short wait.

We went to the conbini to pick up something to eat and drink, and headed on our way to the beach!

The drive didn't seem too long because it was a very fun and INTERESTING drive, which made the time just FLY!

Upon arriving at the beach, we didn't see too many waves, which we needed for body boarding, but we did see many people in the water with surfboards! This was interesting to me, because in California, if there aren't any waves, no one even tries to get in the water. Things are different here. People would wait for the tiniest wave to ride it, for a few seconds, then go back out into the water. Weird...

While watching the girls body board, I took the chance to snap some pics of the beach and them while the rode the waves. Oh yeah, which reminds me, the water was very shallow here. When it was my turn to body board, without flippers mind you, I would go out as far as them, and when I would try to kick, without flippers again, my knees would touch bottom! I am too tall, or the beach is WAY too shallow!

When Sayaka came back from bodyboarding, her and I decided to play and walk on the beach, when I saw something interesting on the ground. I instantly recognized it as the weirdest, largest jellyfish I have seen with my bare eyes! It was a weird blue color and definitely still breathing! I took pics to compare it to Sayaka's feet, because it was definitely large! (hmmm not saying her feet are large at all!). We wrote "Kurage desu yo!" in the sand and an arrow pointing to it with some sticks we got, but I skipped a very important part before this.

Sayaka had to relieve some aggression with the sticks we found. She was stabbing the hell out of the poor fish as it lied stranded on the beach! But karma got her back, and she got a splinter that I had to operate on for a while. She said she learned her lesson though!

After operating on her finger, we went back to the water and played around for a bit before returning to the car to head to an onsen to wash up and relax after the beach! That will be in another diary!

Enjoy the pics!

To continue the line of "Went to the/a/an" from this weekend, I went to my first onsen after going to the beach.

We were all covered in sea salt, and sand, and saw an onsen on our way to the beach, that we said we would go to, so we did!

This was my first onsen experience, so I didn't know what to expect.

We bought our tickets, just 550 yen, and headed to the changing rooms. I realized I left my towel in the car, and had to go get some rental towels to use, 150 yen lost!

I went to the changing room, the remove all the crap (aka, clothing) on me, and headed to go wash myself. This was incredibly interesting to say the LEAST. Bathing in front of other bathing older men, interesting...

After a quick shower, I headed to a bath with jets like a jacuzzi, that was around 39.4 degrees. I stayed there until 1:30PM, around 20 minutes, knowing we planned to all meet at 1:30, but also knowing the girls wouldn't get out at 1:30 themselves. I was right. When I got out I put in 300\ for a massage chair, and didn't see Sayaka until I was about 10 minutes into it.

When everyone arrived, we drank some juice, and coffee, then ate the onsen's food. Everything we ate was VERY good, but the naan curry I got, everyone said, looked like microwaveable food. Sooo sad!

There are no pictures of this event, but expect some for the Toyota Oiden Matsuri fireworks! Coming soon!

After the onsen, we dropped Naomi off, and Maki drove us to meet Sayaka's mom at a conbini, where we put our stuff into her car and drove near Toyota station.

When we parked, we headed to a place that I believe is famous for kakigori, and ate some. It was SOOOOO good! There, I saw the cutest old lady, who was working so hard to clean the tables, take orders, and take people's food to their tables! I wanted to take pictures with her, but she told Sayaka "30 years ago she would have done it" Haha!

After kakigori, we went to look for a place to sit and watch the fireworks. We walked sooo far, and Sayaka's mom was soooo fast, but we finally caught up with her and started turning left to find that perfect spot.

After a while, and not far from where we ended up watching, Krystin, who works with me, ran up and said hi to Sayaka, her mom, and I. Apparently her friend said "Hey there is a foreigner, do you know him?" and she was surprised to find out she did know me! What were the chances?

We were getting hungry so we saw a place that had okonomiyaki (DAISUKI!!!) and yakisoba! We went inside and ordered beer and tea for mama, and then ordered our okonomiyaki! Unfortunately though, the grill was so small, we couldn't have okonomiyaki, because everyone was getting yakisoba! GRRR! So we ate yakisoba, and Sayaka and I agreed, we can make better stuff at home! Thanks to mama for the food and drinks! ご馳走様でした!(maybe that is the right kanji...分からん!)

After eating and drinking, we went outside to watch another great year of Toyota's fireworks.

We began to leave early so we can ditch the crowds, and not get stuck waiting at the station, and we drove to the station, where her mom dropped us off.

We got lucky and boarded the first train and made it all the way to Tsurmai, then Shin Moriyama, but we were SOOOO tired!!!

Such a great day!