It’s been a great Golden Week so far. A lot of free time, hanging out, eating, and most importantly, NOT WORKING. Basically, Golden Week is like a national spring break here in Japan; a week long period where so many national holidays ended up being close together that the country decided just to declare the whole week like a holiday. Technically, May 1st and 2nd this year were the 2 weekdays that weren’t national holidays, but a lot of people take these off anyway. Overall, a lot of people have a full week off at the beginning of May, including luckily AEON staff.
Sunday, spent the entire day sleeping and relaxing. Nick decided to come to Chiba/Tokyo for Golden Week, and flew up via Haneda. There is actually a bus that goes directly from Haneda Airport to Goi Station, so he took that and I met him at the station. Headed to Global Viking for dinner, that enormous yakiniku all-you-can-eat plus more restaurant up in Hamano. Checked out arcades in Chiba and Goi, and watched some of Curb season 4, which I had never seen. On Monday, we checked out Asakusa and Ueno, then stopped by the Don Quixote on the way back. The JR Holiday Pass or the Tokunai pass have been pretty useful so far this week, although I guess we haven’t been using it to the potential that we could be. Overall I think we’re at least breaking even on the value of the ticket versus how much it would cost if we bought separate tickets every time we went somewhere.
On Tuesday, had a scheduled “geek day” with Matt, Yori, and Nick. Went into Akihabara to play in the arcades, look at video game shops, etc. Also we decided to try a Maid Cafe, since none of us had ever been to one. We wanted to go to the one near Super Potato that they used in Tadano Hitoshi, but there was a long line and we didn’t really feel like it would be worth it. We just walked around and picked one, since there were quite a few around the same area. Overall, it was a really weird experience. The one we went to was really small, and had a little stage (more like a 2×3 ft platform against the wall that was only about 4 inches off the floor. Drinks, food, and coffee were of expensive but fairly normal prices for Japan. I guess where they get you is paying for maid services, which is not the sexually explicit stuff you would maybe expect when talking about a place like this. Maid Cafes are, in many ways, like sex clubs without any reference to or inclusion of sex. The nerdy customers who frequent these places are apparently perfectly satisfied with just saying Hi to a girl in a maid outfit, or maybe springing to take a picture with them. There is no kind of sexual interaction, no flash of skin, no dirty talk. In fact, the maids and stuff generally talk in a disgustingly super-cute manner. Oh yeah, maid services. We didn’t buy any of them, but we read the menu. Most things cost around 700 or 1000 yen, but they had stuff like “take a Polaroid with a maid,” “play video games against a maid,” or “have the maid do a song and dance on stage.” Really strange. During the 15 or 20 awkward minutes that we were there, this creepy guy in the corner paid for one of the maids to sing a song on stage. The entire time he just kind of stared at her like a creep. Overall, I’d have to say that maid cafes are extremely uncomfortable, expensive, and not really even that interesting as a cultural phenomenon. Or maybe we just went to a bad one.
After the geek day, we headed back to Chiba and were just hanging out in the Hana no Mae up there, which is very different form the Makuhari one, but a really nice place overall. Hana no Mae is another one of those Japanese restaurants that changes their menu with the season, and apparently the “new” menu now features horse meat and a whole selection of whale dishes. I’m going to try them sometime over the next few months just to say I did. After that, Yori headed out and Brian took his place after spending a day showing his mom around Tokyo. So it was me, Nick, Matt, and Brian. We then proceeded to Utahiro for 2 hours of karaoke. As if that wasn’t enough, we then headed to Kamatori, sort of near where Matt lives, for more karaoke. Of course by this time it was after 11, meaning we had to commit to all night. Oh well, we were having fun and it was Golden Week. Overall a very fun night although as expected making it all the way to 5AM was very very rough. Surprisingly, I think this was the first all-night karaoke session where I didn’t fall asleep, although Nick and Brian were sleeping for about 15 or 20 minutes near the end of it. As they did that, I played a bunch of Kamen Rider songs just to watch the videos in a daze.
Got back to Goi around 6AM, then showered and went to sleep until the late afternoon, which felt absolutely amazing. Completely refreshed. Some people would see waking up at almost 4 int he afternoon a complete disaster, but I see it rather as a great triumph. Finally got out of the apartment and headed to Soga with Nick to see Spider-Man 3 and eat tacos. What’s that, Spider-Man 3? Already!? Yep. And that will deserve it’s own blog post next…