Archive for August, 2003

Mt Fuji

Dormitory Food tastes SO GOOD after starving and freezing on top of Mt.Fuji…

Mt. Fuji: the largest mountain in Japan, and sleeping volcano (last erruption in 1707-1708). Climbing Fuji-san is something you *have* to do if you come to Japan and like hiking. There is a saying: “You are a fool if you do not climb Fuji-san, and you are a fool if you do it more than once.” I’d have to agree with this.

Saturday morning, 9am – Ben, Alex, and I left on our bikes to ride to Ogaki station, a 40 minute bike ride. We ended up missing a turn off on our way, so we missed the train we were originally going to catch, but that was ok. From Ogaki we took a few trains (maybe 4-5 hours) and ended up in Fujinomiya. From there, we took a bus (3000yen round trip) to the half-way point on Fuji-san. 2 hours. It was 5:30pm, and we hadn’t even started hiking yet. The weather, however, was perfect!

Even though we knew we did not have to leave until maybe 9pm (we didn’t want to have to wait too long at the peak in freezing weather), we started our casual ascent seeing as the weather was so perfect. It was really beautiful, and we could not have hoped for better weather. We were lucky. The bus had dropped us off at station 5, and by the time we reached station 7, it was very cold. I had brought a full change of clothes, and I ended up tying my spare shirt on my head to keep warm. Ben, the “experienced hiker,” didn’t even have pants! (Or a camera!) I believe it was also at this station that we ran out of food. Yes, to say we were prepared for the night ahead would be the lie of the century. So… we were prepared, because we’re professionals. ^_^

To keep warm, we had to snuggle. Three guys cuddling together… maybe “huddling” would be more appropriate. What a bonding experience! I suppose most near-death experiences are…. =) We tried to sleep in many places. We were exhausted! But, the wind was not allowing it. I don’t know what the wind chill factor was, but it was VERY cold, and it was so difficult to hide from. We were at the wind’s mercy. The best place we found was nestled in some crevace of the volcanic rock… I may have slept for 15 minutes there… If I was lucky. Poor Ben had to try and make a cocoon out of his cheap **parka**, and Alex.. well, no matter how much stuff that guy wore he was never gonna be warm. We were all starving. Ben had thought that we could buy ramen (instant noodles) at one of the mountain huts, so that kept our spirits high: “Yeah, we get to eat hot noodles when we get to the top!”

Eventually, we reached the top. Of course, it the windiest and coldest place on the mountain. I think we reached the top at 3:00am, and we still had maybe an hour and half before the sun would rise. And guess what? No ramen. It was as if the mountain just spat in our face. That was one of the longest “hour-and-a-half”s I have ever experienced. I was extremely uncomfortable, wedged in between a big rock and a narrow wooden bench, and the icy cold ground. I couldn’t get any sleep, and I couldn’ even stay still because I was so uncomfortable. But, at last, the sun started to show its colours. The sky gradually lightened. The clouds (we were above some and below others) began to turn a fiery orange. This was it. The moment we’d been waiting for. We quickly headed over to a better viewpoint. I was extremely happy to move – it generated some badly needed body-heat for me. I found a really good location behind a big rock that shielded me a bit from the wind, and took many, many pictures. There must have been hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing. The sunrise was magnificant.

It was morning, and we had our priorities straight: 1) food 2) get the hell out of there. The mountain hut at the peak was open after the sunrise, and it was packed like a Tokyo train in rush-hour! And for what? Over-priced instant noodles. Oh, I know you’re wondering… just how over-priced were these instant noodles? For a cup of noodles that maybe costs 150yen at a konbini (convenience store), we gladly paid 800yen (almost $10 CDN). It wasn’t even a question, we would probably have paid 2500yen – we were starving. And it was a pretty damn good cup of noodles, let me tell you!

Fuji-san has many different routes. We took the Fujinomiya route (starting at 2400m) up the beast because it was most convenient for us to get to. This is the shortest and steepest route. We took the Gotemba route down. As soon as you start heading down the mountain on the Gotemba route, you can see your destination: a some shiny cars way-the-f**k off in the distance in some huge parking lot. For the whole way down, maybe five hours, you can see this same destination. It seems never to grow in size or appear any closer. The trail, itself, is very easy. It’s not too steep, and it’s very sandy. This is why it is a good trail to go down. The last half of the route is a HUGE sandy/gravel hill gradually ending up at the parking lot. I had lots of fun running and jumping down this, because the sand was very deep, and would absorb impact very effectively. It was like running down sand dunes, only this hill took hours to descend. Ben trodded on and Alex kept saying, “I can’t believe they expect people to walk this far! It’s so unreasonable!” He wasn’t very happy. =)

At last, we were at the bottom dumping piles of rocks and gravel out of our shoes and looking at our black feet in disgust. Soon after that, we were on our bus returning to Fujinomiya city, where we would begin our train trip back home. The trains were crowded, and we weren’t lucky enough to get a seat a lot of the time. Normally, I wouldn’t have minded that much, but I was SO tired… (no sleep) + (hiking Fuji-san) + (no food) = Steve, tired like the dead. I managed to get a little bit of precious sleep, but it seemed to do me no good… or make my situation worse. I think it was around 4pm Sunday when we got back to Ogaki, and we still had to bike back. We had all agreed that stopping at the first place we came across to get some ice-cream was a good idea. And that’s exactly what we did. Alex nearly had an accident on a bridge on the way back (a girl tried to pass him and they ended up grazing each other and coming to a stop), but other than that, it was pretty uneventful. It was good to be home.

The best things about Sunday were the sunrise, the 800yen instant noodles, the massive sandy hill, the ice cream, and finally, the shower… the shower was badly needed.

NOTE: I may have started this journal entry at work, but I barely got to do anything on it before I became super busy… I wrote the rest of it over the next few days in my spare time at home (mah cozy dorm room). ^_^

1:20am

We took Vasileios, the crazy Greek intern that we all know and love, to the local izakaya for his going away party, tonight. The bill came to 20000Yen for 7 of us. That’s $240CDN! Oh, what it means to have a job/income. We’ll miss that guy, he’s always fun to hang out with.

Right now, I mainly wanted to write the following: Tomorrow, Ben, Alex, and I are going to bike to Ogaki, get on the train for 4 hours, get on a bus for 2 hours, and arrive at Mt.Fuji. Here, we will commence a 7hr (avg) hike up to the top of the mountain during the night. Once we reach the top, we will wait (with everyone else who will inevitably be doing the same) for the sunrise. Oh, that will be good. It’s a shame I don’t have a better camera, yet – cuz this is going to be a prime picture oportunity!

Anyways, I’m tired and have to pack in the morning.

Catching up; Dinner with “Mayu” & Friends :)

I’m at work right now, tired after having only a few hours of sleep last night – on the floor, not on the bed.

Yes, I was suppose to get lots of things done (that *really* need to be done), last night. Little did I know, that when Alex entered my room around 9:30pm, that I would be talking for the rest of the night. Initially, Ben, Alex, and I had to talk about our plans to hike Fuji-san on the weekend (no rest for the wicked). We looked at a Hiking-in-Japan book that Ben has (he has lots of really cool books) and a train tome that Alex has trying to figure out where we were going to go, and which route to hike. Unfortunately, I couldn’t provide much to the conversation: I don’t know maps like Ben does, and I don’t know Kanji like Alex. So I mainly listened and attempted some extremely slow searches on an online train planner.

We had something sorta figured out, so Ben left to do his laundry. Alex and I continued talking, but not about the hike. Topics ranged so wildly, and largely consisted of rants. In person, rants are much different. Nearly everything you read on the net will be a “rant,” but a rant on the net is well composed. The author has had time to organize their thoughts, and it’s usually fairly coherent. But having done a few myself last night, I realized I couldn’t just say what was on my mind – I had so many things on my mind that I couldn’t concentrate on one and convey a clear thought. I had to really stop talking, and take time to organize my thoughts. This is okay, because I saw Alex doing the same thing, later. We talked about anything from video games, to religion, to relationships. It’s really funny, and I would not have expected it, but Alex and I have a lot in common.

Eventually, we said good-night a little after 4am. I was afraid to go to sleep, fearing I might not wake for work. I went to the bathroom, and saw at least one person also walking in the hallway on my way – this is Japan, after all. I came back to my room and read my email, and then I must have laid down on the floor….

Had it not been for my life-saving cell-phone which was nestled in its charger, I may not have waken up. But I had cleverly set the alarm on that awesome cell phone of mine to go off every day at 7:45am. Usually, I wake up by the Wal-Mart alarm clock I brought from Canada, but I must set that every night. Maybe I won’t bother, anymore – my ketai works great! I can wake up to melodies of sorts rather than that irritating beep. Much better. Amazingly, I managed to have a shower and still be on time for work. God, did I need a shower!

So, I just finished reading Ben’s monolithic journal entry about his crazy adventure around Japan during Obon the holiday. Yes, I’m at work, but I was alternating between technical documentation. I actually relied on Ben’s writing to keep me awake, so I can justify it. After reading it, I’ve decided I may go back and try to add a few details from my Obon holiday – which I completely glazed over.

I have to wait for a computer to arrive before I can “work on my project,” but I can always read… it’s just so boring. So my day today is not so interesting. Can’t wait for lunch.

10:20pm – Just got back from dinner with Ben and 3 Japanese Girls: Yukko, Mami, Mayu

And a good time was had by all…

The girls took us to an Okonomiyaki restaurant in South Ogaki. They even picked us up! 😮 Ben knows an uncanny amount of information about food! And maps. But, I guess he enjoys both of those things, so that’s ok. I love food, too… but Ben is not satisfied til he knows all the details of how a certain dish was prepared and exactly where the ingredients came from! However, this kind of info is great for ice-breaking, because it’s really quite interesting. As such, during dinner, we talked mostly of food. We also talked about Vancouver and Canada because all of the girls had been there.

I have been wondering where the closest swimming pool was almost since I got here, and Ben remembered I wanted to know that, so he asked the girls. After dinner, they looked at map books in their car (I could see Ben was getting excited – maps!) and they made a couple calls, and they decided to drive us there. It didn’t take long for us to appear completely lost in the deep dark inaka (countryside). That’s okay, we soon found it, and it turns out it’s really easy to bike to. It’s about twice the distance as the Hashima train station we usually bike to, however, so it’s a little far.

That was a nice casual night. Didn’t cost much (1200yen), and it was refreshing. Thanks to the three ladies for taking us out!

I’m tired… and must do things BEFORE I sleep. *sigh*

sitting on a train, heading back from Tokyoo – the end of my Obon holiday

Yes, I’m using my laptop on the train, again… I swear, I’m only a geek *most* of the time…. plus, this wireless internet is so fun to abuse!

It’s odd, I didn’t take many more pictures on my trip. A quick rundown of what I did since last writing:
Thursday – watched Pirates of the Caribean with Hana and went out for an awesome dinner with her parents;
Friday – went to an izakaya with Hana and a couple of her friends (Ako-chan and Akiko-chan), and we even went to a puri-kura!;
Saturday – last day at Hana’s house. Sabishi. The plan was to meet a bunch of the CJP people for dinner and drink, and stay with Jeff again, at his NTT dormitory. The next day, Sunday, I would head home. I asked if Hana wanted to come out for dinner with us, and eventually she decided she would! Sugoi! Because Hana-chan was with us, we went to an izakaya in Shinjuku that she knew, and even had a membership at, so we got a 30% discount! Izakayas are awesome – one of the most social meals you could have. Anyways, the plan followed through mostly accurate, and now it is the next day, and I’m on my way home.

That’s everything! Without all the interesting details, of course!

So, looking back, I’d say that was an awesome time. And I owe it all to Hana-chan and her generous family. I stayed with them for almost a week. THANK YOU! Everyone was willing to spend so much time with me and aid my oh-too-slowly developing Japanese skills. And it was not easy, because they do not speak very much English! (And yes, I speak even less Japanese…) =( Electronic dictionaries are *highly* recommended in situations like this! I’m thinking about getting an electronic dictionary, but I like Shirley’s reasoning: “Why not just buy a pocket pc and put a dictionary program on it?” YES! What a great excuse to get another toy! 😀 But, that really is a good idea! All these things I have to research the costs in Japan, however. Maybe I’ll do that now… if the Internet can connect. Wireless Internet is great when it works, but a lot of the time the trains are out of range… but it always manages to connect at the stations.

I’m a mere 40 minutes away from Ogaki. From there, I will take the bus to Anpachi-cho. I’m looking forward to returning to the dormitory and unpacking all the stuff I bought. I’m not looking forward to returning to work, so much, and I’m also not looking forward to doing laundry. =/

wearing Jinbei, kinda tipsy

Today, I got to dress up in samurai armour. How cool is that? =)

And before I even got to type anything, I fell asleep. hah! Why am I so tired, this week?! O.o

August 13 – 11:50am; I am guilty of indulging in a glutinous sleep of 10+ hours…

So, as I was saying… I got to wear samurai armour YESTERDAY….

The day started with a walk around the local area with Hana and Osamu (her younger brother). We walked to Tome river, and watched some fish jump and made a couple failed attempts at skipping non-skippable rocks. Hana had to work at her part time job at a curry restaurant in Akihabara, so we returned to eat breakfast. After breakfast, Hana left for her job and her family took me out to some tourist areas in Narita. Cool! We got to see an old farming village replica (I’m not sure if it was rebuilt or not, but probably), and Narita-san (a huge temple). Both were really cool. I was so disappointed in myself, I was not able to use the bamboo stilts in the village. Apparently, during festivals, the temple is much more lively… but it was still massive, and very beautiful. Why is it that places of worship always look so cool? (I could answer that, but I’m choosing not to, because it did not make it past the “potentially-offensive comment remover.”) I even got to get some omiyage while we were out. Cool.

Today, I went to visit Yukari and her husband, Takashi. Hana and her mother were super generous and saved me lots of time by driving me to and picking me up from a station near to Yukari’s house. Yukari made an awesome dinner, and we talked about all kinds of things. I had a really good night. I learned some interesting vocabulary, including “bishoujo.” I even got to use the Internet (on my own computer), while I was there!

After we all got back to Hana’s house, Hana, her mother and I all drank and ate snacks. So far, every night we have drank and ate snacks very late; but, they say they don’t normally do this. =)

Lying on Jeff’s tatami mat (lower back is sore…)

Jeff was gracious enough to provide accomodations. Have to leave soon. Going to meet Hana (she stayed at our house in Canada a few years ago) in Shinjuku.

12:49am

I just got out of the shower (at Hana’s house!!)

This is a big surprise: I’m sitting in a room that Hana’s family has prepared for me! There’s even a TV and a Super-Famicom (Super Nintendo) and a Playstation! It’s a traditional Japanese room with sliding paper doors and really nice tatami mats! SUGOI! When I went to meet Hana, I had no idea that she had planned for me to stay a week at her house! I thought I would be back in Jeff’s dormitory with Alex eating konbini food… which would not be bad, but this is really cool! Already, I’ve learned so much Japanese. My Japanese level, which is VERY low, will probably double just because of my stay here! I’m so excited! =) Thank you, so much, Hana and Hana’s hospitable family! ^_^ The only bad things I can possibly think of would be that I can’t seem to connect on my wireless Internet, and that I don’t have any worthy omiyage for Hana’s family. =( I will have to “order” something from Canada. =)

I actually met Hana in Meidaimae. Sadly, this marked the first time I took the train by myself, in Japan – but I made it! I’m so proud! Actually, I was early, because Jeff and Alex were meeting Sound, John, and Larry (I think) later that day, so I had to leave with them, of course. I took a long walk around Meidaimae, sneaking into air-conditioned stores whenever possible, and met Hana a little later. I would not have been able to do it if I did not have this super-cool Japanese cell-phone with VERY USEFUL email support! *phew* I love my ketai denwa. =) Hana showed me where she goes to school, Meiji University, but we were not able to go inside. 🙁

8:15am – the next day (I fell asleep) ^_^

From Meidaimae, Hana and I went to Shinjuku.

She took me to a famous ramen restaurant, where we must have stood in line for 45 minutes! But the ramen was the best ramen I’ve ever had! SO GOOD! Unfortunately, it was a very hot day, and I was sweating badly, especially eating a hot bowl of ramen. =) After that, we went to Shibuya, I believe, and walked around some “popular” places where I got to see SO MANY crazy fashions! Many girls dressed up like dolls. I really wanted to take pictures. I will ask, next time. We walked around a lot, and were pretty tired, so we decided to find the closest cafe and sit down to have a drink. At this cafe, which had a really cool fountain in the middle, I had the 2nd most expensive drink I’ve ever had. 500 yen Orange juice. Yep, about $6 CDN for a large glass of OJ (filled half w/ice). But, it was the best glass of OJ I’ve ever had! I think they used 3 real oranges. I saw them make it – they rolled the oranges into some kind of juicer. It was so good! I even had a seed in my drink! heheh ^_^
So we sat at this cafe for a long time, trying to decide what to do. You see, I did not know I was going to be staying at Hana’s that night, so I did not bring all my stuff. It was at Jeff’s. I had to wait for Jeff (who doesn’t have a cell phone) to tell me when he was going back so as I could grab my bags. We decided we would go to a “game centre” to kill some time; after all, I saw F-Zero GX when walking earlier. =) But we must have really liked that cafe, because we went back again! (Hana forgot her hat ^^).

Earlier, I had given Hana some cookies I bought while waiting for her, and she put them in her bag. They ended up falling out of their package and making a mess of her bag! Gomen!

I got an email from Shirley saying Jeff had already left, so then Hana and I changed our destinations, and I immediately left for the dormitory. I would meet Hana and her mother at Shinjuku, later (once again, taking trains all by myself – scary, but necessary). A few non-interesting events followed: I went back to dormitory; I packed; I left; I met Hana and her mother and appologized for making them wait; we road trains together for maybe an hour, and Hana’s father picked us up at a train station, and drove us to their home. Hana’s family does not speak any English, so I will have to try to speak a little Japanese! Cool! =)

Thank you, once again, to Hana and her nice family for taking me into their home. This Obon holiday is going to be great!

Sitting on a train, using my wireless Internet and playing w/my laptop :)

I’m with a couple country boys from Gifu (dorm mates), and we’re heading to one of the largest cities in the world. Typhoon Etau (“storm cloud” – not Japanese) is creeping across Japan. We left Anpachi just before it hit. It will probably catch up with us in Tokyo.

I barely got any sleep last night. Packing. Writing important emails. No really, they were important! Skipped going to the cafeteria for breakfast; as usual, no time. John, Alex, and I (Ben had other “bigger” plans, and Shirley decided to wait a day for possibly better weather) headed out at 7:45, running for the bus to Ogaki. We were rushed, and by the time we got on the bus, we were very wet. About 15 minutes later, we arrived in Ogaki; we had a bit of time to kill before taking the train, so we grabbed something to eat at Mr.Donut.

Train from Ogaki to Hasamatsu: ~2 hours

At Hasamatsu, we had to transfer to the train heading to Atami. This is the train I am currently on. When we transferred, I was not at all prepared for the rush of people to fill the train. We had to get off, but as soon as the doors opened, a flood of people rushed in. I’d like to describe it as opening a container under water. John expected this, and escaped before being crushed by the flow of people. Alex and I, however, were still scrambling to get our bags, and were pushed right back into our seats by the masses. Eventually, we squeezed out, holding our bags above our heads and repeating “sumimasen” over and over. I thought we were gonna get stuck on that train and end up backtracking! Luckily, we escaped. I’ve NEVER in my ENTIRE LIFE seen a huge group of people panic so much to get a seat! It’s like musical chairs: when the doors open, the music stopped, and whoever doesn’t get seat is SOTO!

What a crazy-insane costly day!

Today, me and Ben… oh, sorry (Pat) – “Ben and I” took the train to Nagashima Spaland – a super cool amusement/water park.

Why did we decide to do this? Well, it was Pat’s birthday, and the plan was to meet Pat and some other guys (Adam, Wojtek, Edwin, and some french people I’ve never met before) at Nagashima. Wait a sec… Ben has these crazy fireworks on his birthday, and Pat has a party at an amusement park for his the next day… there better be something cool going on for MY b-day! =)

On our way there, we ran into a “fat sweaty Japanese man” who was selling discounted tickets for Nagashima that included the bus ride there. Well, it must be really easy to swindle some poor gaijin, because we got the water park ticket, the bus, and the roller coaster ticket… but this roller coaster ticket was only going to last for ONE ride! To cut a boring financial tragedy short, we ended up having to buy the all-day ride pass ON TOP of what we bought from the swindler. Okay, so he probably wasn’t really a swindler, there was just an evident language barrier.

Nagashima Spaland is home to the Steel Dragon. This is the biggest friggin roller coaster I’ve EVER seen. And so it should be! It holds 4 Guiness World Records! I think it was Fastest (150km/hr), Longest (2.5km), Highest, .. and something else. There was hardly any people at the park, so line-ups weren’t bad at all: 10-15 minutes, maybe. People were apparently going to a festival in the city later that night, so the park seemed very empty compared with most places in Japan. We went on almost all of the good rides. Oh crap! I just realized: Pat, Ben and I never got a chance to get super wet riding the crazy “Shoot the Chute” because we arrived a bit later. =( Oh well… looked super fun, though. After doing all the potentially stomach-tossing rides that we wanted to, we had lunch, and did a couple more after. Then, we decided to go to the big water park.

Ben and I got split up from the rest of the group at this point, but we had lots of fun riding the inner-tube slides and a couple regular slides. The weather was perfect, and so was the scenery… eheh. ^_^ It’s weird, I hardly saw any overweight Japanese – especially girls. They do exist, but not in the water park, it seemed. Eventually, we ran into the group again, and we went on a couple last slides, the fake river that used ocean water (filtered, I hope), and left.

After getting dressed, and some grabbed something to eat (I resisted with all my might, as the day was already SUPER expensive) only a few of us… okay, everyone except for the French people, went on a couple last rides. I really wanted to stay longer, because the park was looking cooler and cooler the darker it got, but it was good we left. We (Ben and I) actually had the easiest journey ahead of us, because everyone else was either from Osaka or near Kyoto, and Nagashima is near Nagoya. I bought a “chili dog” from a bakery in Nagoya train station, and that was pretty good. After we got to our last train station, (after switching a couple of times – I really have to do this on my own, some time), we got on our bikes and biked back to the dormitory. Home, sweet home! I sorted out a couple of things, had a BATH (so badly needed), and here I am. For some reason, it seems like I have SO MANY things to do! I have to organize my trip to Tokyo this upcoming week. I have to do school related and student loan related paper-work. I have to iron my clothes. I have to download pictures from my camera. Many more things, I’m sure….

Today was lots of fun! However, it easily cost over 10000 yen with travelling and food.

It’s now 12:47am, and I really REALLY do not want to iron. I want to sleep. What an exhausting weekend! Usually, I like to have one day of rest before going back to work. Not getting that, this week. So tired. Maybe my shirts and pants will just have to be wrinkly… can’t say it bothers me that much. =)

Waiting for my laundry…(again)

Today, I saw the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, (and possibly, ever will see) in my entire life. Sugoi!

The day started early, meeting at the train station and waiting for friends to arrive. Once we were all together, in Gifu city, we headed off to Inuyama Castle (in Aichi), where we had a very interesting complementary tour-guide that spoke English AND German (one of our frieds is German). Apparently, this castle is the oldest castle left in Japan. I’ve been to a few castles now, and this is the only one that was NOT rebuilt. This was the original (real – yes, I’ve seen lots of fake!) wood from 1537. 1537!!! That’s SO OLD! The guide explained how the castle was designed with with cracks between the floor-boards so as the people above could see intruders below, and if they had long poles (people below) they would try to poke people above them… so the cracks were very important! Another cool thing, was this room that the lord would sit in to work (the classic room you’d see in anime and asian movies). The lord would sit in this room, but if there was any trouble, two samurai that hid and waited (and listened) in a small room behind him would jump out to protect their lord. That’s… just like a video-game! A final boss, or something! ^_^ Cool…. To quote Alex, “You know, it’s pretty cool actually coming to a place you’ve owned in a video game.” heheheh

The real reason we came to Gifu, was for the fireworks… it was, after all, Ben’s birthday. So, we left Inuyama Castle: back on the train. After we arrived back in Gifu, we had a long walk ahead of us. But so did MANY other people! We just followed the masses. Having come last week to the fireworks, we knew where would be a good spot, and we came prepared: we had mats/tarps to sit on; sake to drink; and snacks to eat – oh yes, we were doing things right! After our long walk (remind me never to wear sandles with bare feet again..) we found a spot on the road and claimed it. The pre-show fireworks made a very satisfying BOOM and you could feel it pound your chest. Nice. We were very close!

I had heard from somebody, that these fireworks were going to be bigger than the ones we saw last week, but I was not prepared for the show we got! Even if you don’t like fireworks, some of these would have blown you away! At points, the WHOLE SKY was covered in showers of pyro-technic colour. COOL! I couldn’t believe how many they would fire at one time! How to describe it… if you’ve been to The Symphony of Fire, you know that the various countries always have a finale. These fireworks, were like a constant finale, and at the end (of an awesome 1.5 hrs), it, of course, had its own finale. Seriously, at points, you couldn’t see all the firworks in the sky at one time without turning your head! I’ve never seen such a good show…. The Japanese take their hanabi very seriously!

The way home: wading through the sea of people all over again for a long walk. We took the train back to Hashima, and got our bikes. This ride home was going to be a little different, because we had graciously offered to double our visiting friends, who happened to be girls, back to Shirley’s apartment (they couldn’t stay with us, because they were girls and we live in “Sanyo Men’s Dormitory”). =( Anyways, I’d never tried doubling anyone on my sexy basket bike before. Muzukashi! It was so much harder than I thought it would be! Especially getting started… moving so slowly, the balance was really hard. So the ride poor Nina received from me was probably not the best initially, but I think I got the hang of it half way. I couldn’t do much about the metal she had to sit on, however. =/

Those cheap bikes… sometimes I wish I splurged a few thousand yen more… Two people is very difficult on them, I was very worried going over bumps that the weight caused the back wheel rim to actually be impacted directly by the pavement – that’s how it felt. I have to pump up the tires, again, already! And my handle bar has come loose, so I need to find an Alan-key to tighten those, or I may get into an accident…. Eventually, we got to Shirley’s (had to make a pit-stop at a circle-K convenience store first, of course) and dropped off the terrified passengers safely. *phew* Today was the HOTTEST day I’ve been in! Just walking around, I could jerk my head toward the ground and at least 5 drops of sweat would fall right off my face. I was not built for this tropical humidity! And riding the bike with the light enabled AND an extra person, AND compensating for my screwy handlebars… ingredients for Steve to perspire like his life depended on it!

I would probably be quite willing to sneak girls into the dormitory, as I’ve seen other people do it a couple times. =)

My laundry is done; it’s 3:04am; and I have to go to an amusement park tomorrow (for another friend’s birthday); so I’d better go to sleep now. So tired!

Just got back from Sanyo Solar Ark Festival….

Holy crap! I’m SOO CUT!

The festival was awesome! Some of the nurses that we met last week came and hung out with us for a bit. Also, Sanyo has these festivals every year (apparently) and every year they hire brazillian dancers. I’ve heard of the term G-string before, but never “T-back.” They’re similar. And man did these girls have six-packs!! Very nice! But, the best part was getting totally wasted with everyone! Initially, Ben, Alex, and I, took part in a couple LARGE shots of Kumashochu (the 25% poison that has actually started to grow on me) before we left. This made our spirits high very quickly! In fact, for those that really know me, you’ll know I do not like beer. There was no sake or any other alcoholic beverage at the festival, so I started drinking beer. And other people (co-workers and such) started buying me beers. So, I drank. I drank so much, that eventually, the beer actually started to taste good!

But I’m a little worried about Ben. I think he may have drank too much. He was knocking over tables and cursing a lot, by the end of the night. Ben was more gone than I was, but…

I repeat: I am wasted!
Bath time!