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Golden Week, Part Three

May 11, 2012

Welcome to Golden Week: Part Three!

I last left you all, dear readers, at Youko’s apartment in Yokohama, after we had finished eating dinner and were getting ready to leave. The plan was that if Kris’s separate schedule allowed it, we would all meet up at Yokohama station and then go back to Kamagaya together in order to get ready for a night out in Shibuya! We planned on taking the last trains there and would stay there until the first trains would begin running again, which is around 5:00 AM. After some struggle due to dead and dying cell phones, we found Kris and we made it all the way back to the apartment and back to the train station in time to meet all of our trains. We arrived in Shibuya at 12:15 AM and decided to begin our night at the HUB, which really brought back memories of my Fridays back when I studied abroad in Kyoto! It just so happened that there was a soccer game between Chelsea and Liverpool, so the place was filled with foreigners. (Liverpool won the game, much to Joey’s delight)

The night was filled with lots of walking around and enjoying the sights of Shibuya. We stopped at another bar for a short while, but moved on after we paid our bills. The best story of the night by far was when we saw a sign for a music night at one of the bars, and decided to try going there. We were positive that it was in the building that the sign sat next to, so Becky began heading up the stairs. The rest of us were too lazy, so we took the (small, scary, and dirty) elevator to the floor the bar was on. The first thing we saw was a drunk man snoring on the staircase, which was fairly amusing. Then, we turned to enter the bar only to be met by a shirtless man with black scribbles all over his chest (no idea if it was pictures or writing — I wasn’t really looking all that closely) and a black marker in hand. Everyone in the bar stopped to stare, and someone even stopped the music. Over the stunned silence we heard someone in the bar say 「何だよ」(nandayo) , which pretty much means, “What the hell?” and someone else asked. 「なんでここにいるの」(nande koko ni iru no), meaning “What are you doing here?” We took that as a cue to hightail it out of there, all the while calling out Becky’s name. It turned out she had seen the drunk man on the stairs and turned around to go back down. It was quite hilarious, especially as we were going down the stairs because I then heard someone call after us 「待って!」(matte!), which means, “Wait!” It’s not often that we’re able to stun an entire bar into silence. It was something we’ll never forget, that’s for sure!

At around 3:00 AM, we stopped at a McDonalds to get some food into our systems, and then began walking in the direction of Harajuku and from there part of the way to Yoyogi. It was really strange and surreal to see the normally bustling streets of these districts completely silent and devoid of people. At 4:30 AM we watched the sun rise from a bridge next to Yoyogi Park. That wasn’t a typo. The sun really rose at 4:30 AM! It was really quiet, and there was absolutely no one around except for our group.

Sleeping in McDonald’s

On the bridge waiting for the sun.

First hints of sunlight.

We took trains back to Kris’s place from Harajuku and crashed in our beds at 6:00 AM and didn’t wake up until around 12:00. We had school the next day at our respective placements, so we packed up to leave and Jess, Becky, and Joey went to load the cars, but discovered someone had purposefully parked us in. Joey managed to finagle her car out of its parking spot, but as Jess was trying to get out this scary man came out of his apartment and began speaking to them in angrily rapid Japanese. Both Becky and Joey are just starting to learn Japanese, and Jess was asking him to speak more slowly so she could be sure she was understanding what he said, but he wasn’t having any of it. Becky came inside to get me, and she ordered the boys to stay indoors and out of sight. This was one of those situations where having angry non-Japanese men present would not have been ideal!

It turned out that we had parked in Scary Man’s parking spot, and he wasn’t pleased about it. He called the company that runs the apartment complex and told us that we’d better prepare our wallets in case we had to pay a fine (which was a case where we understood what was being said, but didn’t quite fully understand everything he was saying). A representative drove out and very kindly explained to us that the residents of the apartment complex pay a certain amount of money every month in order to rent the spaces. There was one verb that he kept using that I wasn’t understanding, but luckily Kim (a fellow Wisconsinite, in fact), who is also in the JET program, appeared at Kris’s request and translated for us. It turned out he was telling us places where we could park and he indeed was asking us to move the car to one of those places. We told him that we really would if we could, but the man who called him in the first place parked us in to make a point. The representative seemed less than impressed with Scary Man’s decision. It was pretty obvious that the manner in which Scary Man had handled the situation was very poor.

With everything sorted out (and us not having to pay any fines) we quickly loaded the cars with everything except the futons and moved them in front of Kim’s apartment. We decided to go to an udon restaurant for lunch in order to get out for a bit, and we had a chance to talk to Kim and Kate (another JET who lives near Kris) a bit more. It wasn’t until around 4:00 that Jess, Becky, and I left Kamagaya with our next stop being Moriya so we could drop Becky off at her place. Along the way, we had what I call the Great Gasoline Scare, which was when the car told us we were almost out of gas but we could find absolutely no gas station along the road! We kept driving and driving but there were no gas stations where we could refuel. It got to the point where we were crossing a long bridge and the gas light began blinking at us, which got us all the more desperate to find a gas station. It wouldn’t have been fun to be stuck on a bridge with no gas! Luckily, we did find one that ended up being rather close to Becky’s apartment, but it was quite a scare.

Jess and I didn’t get back to Koga until around 8:00 or so, and we quickly got my things out of the car so we could get ready for our next week of school. It’s always a strange transition to go from vacation mode to work mode, and I know that I’ll spend many days thinking on what future adventures our merry group might have!

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