Satoshi and I went out Saturday night, we went to a basketball game. The Japanese Basketball League has only been in operation for a few years, but the Oita Heat Devils have so far managed to finish both seasons ranked in the Top 5. Did I mention there were only 6 teams?
Saturday rolled around and it was time to blow off some steam, so the usual suspects were rounded up and plans were drawn. It was going to be a typical sushi & karaoke outing, but with a twist – we were going to visit a brand-new SCBR that had opened a few kilometers west on the same road as the one we usually patronize… bit of foreshadowing here for you: we were not going to be disappointed.
Saturday, the 29th of April 2006, can unequivocally be called my best day in Japan ever. It started unremarkably enough around 8:30am with the four of us staggering one by one out of our rooms and towards the kitchen as we bravely fought hangovers of various severity from an impromptu margarita bash the night before.
Finding a human in our floor’s kitchen before 10am on a Saturday is generally nigh impossible, finding *four* humans battling various stages of inebriatory-consequentiality rather than zonked out in bed is downright absurd. These kids must be up to something…
Yah damn right.
Saturday was a big, big day, one we had been looking forward to for an entire week – Saturday, you see, was bowling and soccer day.
Being the good little students that my friends and I are it took us exactly two weeks before we just couldn’t take it any longer and had to zip out for a night of karaoke. Saturday night was a special night because it was the first true group activity of the 4th Floor Team 2006. While not every member was in attendance – Jessica was conspicuously absent – all of our new additions made it out and the overall attitude and pervasive style of the group was firmly maintained by Satoshi, Taw, and myself.
Sunday afternoon, the day after my return, the remnants of the 4th Floor Team gathered together and went down to Beppu City Park to see the sakura, or cherry blossoms. We’ve lost 3 previous members: Ting is back in Hong Kong joining the legions of working stiffs and Arami and Yunji are now living somewhere downtown. However, we’ve already recruited two new ladies to the team though, so our numbers weren’t too depleted.
Fukuoka was the chosen location for celebrating the completion of our first quarter at APU, and Fukuoka was the place we found ourselves bright and early on a Thursday morning after a 2hr bus ride through the boondocks of Kyushu. It was Ting, Satoshi, and I’s first time in Fukuoka. It was just like any other big city, pleasantly beautiful so long as you didn’t look too closely.
We had the run of the place for two whole days and must have walked 40k easily once everything was said and done. My pictures from the trip are reflective of my mood at the time, which is to say, light-hearted.
That is by far the strangest pair of mannequins I’ve ever seen…
It’s been a crazy couple of days around here, I hope you’re ready for a massive journal! Thursday’s talk by Amartya Sen was interesting if you’re the sort of person who gets excited when Alan Greenspan comes on CNN, otherwise, it was pretty dry. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the inherent importance of economics, and also the indisputable credentials of a Nobel Prize winner who also teaches at Harvard. Even with that in mind though, it was a struggle to maintain focus in light of the early hour. APU provided simultaneous translation via radio-headset for the Japanese students — I thought that was pretty cool. Moving on…
Last night, as promised, Satoshi, Ting, and I hit the streets of Beppu to visit one of the greatest inventions known to man: a sushi conveyer belt restaurant! Now before we begin, I should clarify that there are two types of SCBR’s in Japan, differentiated by price. At the first type, plates whirrrrrr about in a variety of different colors, which signify different prices. These restaurants typically serve more upscale sushi and sashimi delicacies, but the bill can add up pretty quick. Furthermore, after several mugs of beer, you may no longer be able to distinguish between red, pink, and reddish pink plates, leading you to select the $8 ’emperor’s plate’ when you really wanted the $2 ‘lil fishie’ plate! This was not the type of restaurant we visited.
We went to the other kind, the everyman’s SCBR, where every single plate can be had for the flat fee of 105Y – tax included(~$0.92). Therefore, one can snatch any damn plate he feels like and still be able to immediately calculate his current tab. After having eagerly anticipated this event for an entire week, we arrived a little after 5:30pm Saturday evening. Early yes, but these places are ridiculously popular, and not 15 minutes after we got there every single seat was taken and people were queuing along the walls.
6pm found my stomach demanding food, so I did what any self-reliant, fiercely independent young man would do – I cooked myself some dinner. For reasons of national security I cannot divulge my recipe, but I can say that there were vegetables involved, some chicken, even the odd spice or two. Ok so I completely made it up, but there was also a noticeable absence of smoke and/or fire, which have traditionally served to notify everyone in the vicinity that I’m using the kitchen. In fact, things were going so well that I inspired my dear friend Satoshi to make some gyoza.