Big roundup part 2: Y’s, Kanamara, Namja
Now onto the weekend of April 4-6, an action-packed three days full of events ranging from ridiculously awesome to just ridiculous. On Friday morning I headed into Tokyo to discuss a full-time position offer, and after that I headed back home to get ready for the big day. Steve checked out of his hotel and met me in Chiba, where we cabbed his luggage to my apartment, where he would be staying that weekend. That night was the first 2008 reunion at the rightfully legendary Y’s Makuhari. We had a pretty good turnout, with A-Team representatives, old friends, new friends, and of course a big grilled fish head.
We showed up before opening at 5:30, hanging out in the lobby with a decent number of middle aged salarymen, all waiting to enter paradise as well. Matsushita-san opened the place up and gave us a wave. He was telling some of the staff (Kanda students) that we’re the ones responsible for popularizing Y’s with the foreign students and probably Kanda students in general. Amazing. The place was probably busier that night than ever, since April is the start of the academic and fiscal year, meaning there were a lot of companies having welcome parties for new staff members. All of the private rooms were full, every table was packed, and even the counters were populated by tons of young Japanese workers all wearing the same suit. We weren’t able to get the usual middle counter, but I guess it was permissible this time. Steve and my friend Jini were the only ones who had never been to Y’s before, and they were both very pleased I think. It’s hard not to be.
After closing the place out around 10, we headed out towards Kaihim to try and find a karaoke place. There was a slight mishap and delay due to Steve’s glasses, but it was temporarily remedied with some 7-11-purchased scotch tape. Unfortunately, all those new company employees wanted to do karaoke as well, meaning that both King Arthur near the station and the place in the new shopping center were totally packed, and we were out of luck. We ended up cabbing to the big place near Hongo station and doing an all-nighter there. The group had been reduced to about half since a lot of people didn’t want to stay out all night. It was a fun night but the cold walk to the station at 5AM is never pleasant.
On Saturday after waking up in the afternoon we had a pretty lazy day in Chiba. We took Steve’s glasses to the Megane Super (メガネスーパー) glasses shop and they did a free and quick repair job that was of course not perfect, but it was a lot better than scotch tape. Went to Bochi Bochi (ぼちぼち) for dinner, letting Steve try okonomiyaki and natto. I don’t think he was a big fan of the natto, but most foreigners aren’t. I sure hate the stinky stuff.
Sunday was another busy day, waking up around 8AM to head to Kawasaki, which is south of Tokyo. It was the first Sunday of April, meaning that it was time for the 2008 Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り), the Iron Penis Festival that I went to last year when Ari was in Japan. I didn’t think I’d end up going again, but with Macie and Steve both here, it was time to go see the giant pink penis float again. This year was very much the same as last, but it seemed like it was a lot busier. There were people all over the place, it was super crowded and still just as loud and lively as before. Konosuke had never been to this before either, and even being Japanese he was pretty surprised that such a weird, messed up event happens in his country. It was my second time and I’m still finding it difficult to believe. And hey, let’s make a quick collage!
So that was that.
After the Penis Festival, we headed up to Ikebukuro to go to Namjatown, the “Golden Saucer” of Tokyo. In addition to the usual zones like Gyoza Stadium and Ice Cream City, there was a Cheesecake Expo going on and some other new stuff. It was great to see the mayor and the Namderbirds. Going with a big group to Gyoza Stadium is always a good idea because that way you can try a lot of different kinds of gyoza (pot stickers/Chinese dumplings). There was an awesome one made with a beef filling that I don’t think I’ve had there before. We walked around some of the amusement areas that I’ve never looked at before, and they were kind of interesting. Not interesting enough to pay for, but they were free so it was all good. After Namja we went across the street to The Lockup Ikebukuro location, giving the visitors a taste of a weird Japanese theme restaurant/bar.
So pretty much after that there wasn’t anything as special, at least with me. Macie left on Tuesday and Steve headed down to Kyoto on his own. He came back at the end of the week and left the following Saturday. I was still busy doing work and job interviews and stuff, but I was able to make it to the airport with both of them.
It was good to have visitors! It is tiring though, haha. But anyone else who’s going to come for a visit, let me know and I can help you out. I’ve got a decent amount of free time until June when I start the new full time position and have to go into Shinjuku everyday to work.
If you want to see some pictures from the places we went, there on the Pictures page.