We did the typical touristy things in Tokyo wherein I ended up burning myself on an incense pot outside a temple. New stigmata? We can only wait to see. Then after seeing all we could see of Akihabara, Harajuku, and Ginza, we left the city of Tokyo to an outlying national park area called Hakone. There we stayed in a traditional japanese lodging where all we could do was sit and wait for the dinner we would have there. It was a long meal served to us in our room by a lady in a kimono who laughed when I said I spoke a little japanese. Jerk.
Everything tasted like fish. And not good fish, but slightly old and putrified fish. Even the fruit tasted somehow of fish. My aunt ended up expelling some of it into a toilet and the meal lost a bit of momentum after that. It was cool but pretty gross. The breakfast the next day had a painfully similar tone to the night before. We even thought the crustacean carcass found floating in our miso soup bore a striking resemblance to the crustacean we had eaten for dinner the previous night.
Leaving Hakone took me back to JCMU in Hikone. My mom came for lunch on friday which was nice. I really appreciated seeing her. After lunch, she left back for Kyoto to finish what was left of her vacation.
All in all, it was a great vacation. I really enjoyed the time off from studying and I got to go to one of the coolest cities in the world. However, I still hadn't met a japanese person who wanted to be my friend and I had been in this nation for almost a month. This completely changed yesterday when I went to a barbeque in Minami-Kusatsu. I had signed up for this without really thinking about it and I was annoyed that I had to be at the train station at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. We were never told how long it was supposed to go or what we could expect when we got there, so most of us who had signed up started wishing we could take it back.
We went anyway and just thought if it got really bad we would complain a lot and it would make us feel better. Our mood changed a little when we asked the college student who was in charge and who met us at the station what we could expect. "Well," he said, "we get there and there will be game to know each other." I rolled my eyes at another damn icebreaker game. "Then there will be lunch and another game after with map and surprise at end. Then there will be bee-bee-queue with tequila." Every single person looked at Yoshi and asked him to repeat the last little bit. Yes. Tequila. They are just going to give us tequila with out meat. How japanese of them.
So we get to the university that is hosting this barbeque. There are lots of japanese college students there and they break us into groups of four or five. Each group only had one american student. We played a few little games while Eminem and American Boy echoed through the speakers of the student center. One of the first friends I made was called Toppo and he was a giant. 188 centimeters tall, he asked if he would fit in in america. Cooper and he bonded over the distress that they feel in Japan.
The games and the treasure hunt that we heard about on the train were surprisingly fun with all the new japanese friends I met. I learned that japanese people really really reeaaallllly love taking and being in pictures. I heard shouts of "SHASHIN!!" and before I could register what was going on, I found myself in a group or with one other japanese person holding up the peace sign and smiling at three cameras that were flashing around me. I felt famous.
I also helped Toppo learn a little american slang. He had learned "fuck you" from movies and I thought it would be wise to instruct him on the proper uses and variations of this phrase. I did it a little too well as he started calling all his friends "motherfuckers." I also told him of the phrase "badass" and he seemed to really enjoy that one. Any time he did something remotely cool, he asked me if he was badass. Of course I had to say yes. What is more badass than a 6' 4'' Japanese college kid calling his friends motherfuckers?
When it was time for the barbeque I was starving and really looking forward to some beef and chicken. They had all sorts of sliced beef, chicken, pork, and vegetables like carrots and corn. All of it was delicious. Everyone was quite excited about the prospect of tequila but before anyone could leap toward the glass bottles, two more college kids came around the corner carrying cases of beer and plum wine. I really didn't expect this when I woke up. By now, I had met at least fifteen new japanese friends and they all wanted my facebook, email, or skype name and took pictures with me. I could only use my camera for three pictures before my memory card was full which made me sad, but if they find me on facebook everything will be fine.
While waiting for the food to cook, the college kids I had met asked me about american drinking games. I smiled and tried to explain two very popular games called Beer Pong and Kings. At the conclusion of this explanation one girl shouted "I want to try!" and the other kids all nodded eagerly in agreement. I couldn't help but laugh and I turned to Toppo to hear him say, "that's badass."