Sunday, 24 August 2014

New Kids and Big Dicks!

What a week! I've had so much good food and and quite a few interesting experiences!

This time it starts off with a BBQ and a great time. It was a rainy Sunday and we didn't know what to do. We sat around in the lounge over breakfast thinking about what to do with this not so great weather.

My host family has a bach which is about 10 minutes away and up in the mountains somewhere so we went there for a BBQ! We set up the grill under shelter on the balcony and then went out looking for stuff to cook.

Host Dad and Asahi stayed back to set up the BBQ some more and I went out with host Mum and Kumi in search of nice meats to grill. We got a whole bunch of stuff and returned to find that most of the beer had been drunk in our absence. No worries, a feast lay ahead of us!

Kumi on the grill

Aw man, I'm hungry again!

Not cooking with gas today

Taking a break from all the food

Host Mum and I. Chopsticks vs knife and fork
So we ate a whole heap of stuff. From lamb, pork and beef through to shrimp, cow intestines and maybe one or two vegetables. It was an awesome day!

But the weather let us down. There is a word in Japan; Ame-Otoko. It translates to "Rain Man/Boy." Basically, bad weather always follows the AmeOtoko and poor Asahi seems to be one.

When he would go inside, the rain would let up. Then he'd come out and it'd start up again. He even went outside at one point when it was clear and yelled out "I am Rain Man!" and it literally started up and soaked him. It was hilarious and uncanny.

We went inside after our feed and ended up arm wrestling. I don't know why. The stakes were the loser had to snort a line of black pepper. I won over Asahi and he did the thing. It looked painful.

Then I versed the host Dad and I swear I was going to win. I was so confident that I stopped just above the table to prolong his suffering but the cheater grabbed my arm with both hands and overpowered me. No one filmed the battle so he denied cheating and I had to snort a line of pepper.

It was like fire had rushed through my nose and ignited half of my face. My eye was watering and it was horrible. I don't know how many times I blew my nose but every time I did, a whole bunch of pepper would come out. I was like a pepper shaker.

Aside from hurting like hell, it was hilarious. What an awesome day it was.

The next day, Monday was pretty standard. Host Mum and Dad had work and I slept in. I pretty much relaxed all day. I didn't take any pictures at all but I can promise that it was a pretty chill day.

Tuesday brought with it both pain and excitement.

It started off as a standard day with a nice sleep in but the I was brimming with excitement because it was Tuesday. Tuesday means karate. After so long I was able to fight again. (It was like, a whole week!)

I got to training and changed into my gi. What a good feeling! Fuyuki turned up and he was rearing to go as well.

We started off with the regular warm up fights and then it got more serious. We were an hour into the session and we were sweating like anything. We were hoping for a break but Sensei ordered us all to do a 10 minute round.

Fuyuki and I were full up with adrenaline so I knew straight away it was gonna be one of those fights where only one person walks away unscathed. If they're lucky. I think we both knew that neither of us would be able to walk after the fight.

I was hoping that he would pace it out because of the fact that it was 10 minute round but he started off with all guns blazing. It was about two minutes in when he landed his killer punch. Whilst it put me out of the fight for a good 30 seconds (to Fuyuki's cheers) I finally figured out how he does it.

He pushes of his back foot into a literal lung position, punching with his reverse hand. Because of the height change, he is at the perfect level to hit me in the sternum. Combined with the height is the forward momentum and the power of a the reverse punch. With that, I was out.

But now I knew and I got him with it as soon as I had my breath back.

At about seven minutes in, I landed a half power front kick to his guts. I was kind of surprised at how easily it just sunk in. So I skipped stance and got him with a bit more power and he hit the deck. He rolled away and then ran off and out of the dojo for fear of throwing up.

I got a much needed break and my pride swelled a bit. He came back soon enough, a little bit paler than before. We got straight back into it and had what I think was our most vicious punching bout yet.

We were both gunning it with energy from our small break. We were both aiming to kill. We were both landing punches. It was starting to take its toll on me and I felt my breath leaving me. But I pushed forwards and found an open spot in Fuyuki's guard and abused it. I had the upper hand now, he was moving back and I was landing hits.

Then out of literally nowhere came a front kick (quite similar to the one I got him with earlier) and it put me way out. I stopped and lay down (actually I fell down in pain.) Fuyuki also fell over and we just laughed. There was about a minute left and we literally just tapped each other for the 60 seconds. It was an amazing fight but we were done.

After a big break and some stretching, we were all ready for the last part of the session. Tournament style fighting. Fuyuki and I had two fights. These fights were conducted as if it was a tournament, with judges and all.

I won the first fight but it was close. Our second fight was tough.

Fuyuki pushed me around and dealt to me in the first half but I managed to get a sneaky back step head kick in. That got me a point and time to collect myself. For the next thirty seconds I layed into him and I reckon it was pretty good. I felt the hits land and I even put a mean roundhouse kick across his ribs.

This is great! I remembered the success of my front kick earlier and put all of my power into another one. In slow motion I saw my leg come up, followed by my foot. I had invested all of my power into this kick. It was rising at high speed when I saw Fuyuki's elbow come down. All of the momentum and force of my kick was exerted through my little toe as it collided with his elbow.

Now this is simple physics. "Every action will have an equal and opposite reaction." Newton said it himself. And we know that my little toe is not going to move Fuyuki's elbow so that means all of the force my foot was moving with is going to me rebounded backwards. Into my little toe.

I thought it broke. I'm still limping now, a week later.

Doesn't look so bad!

It got worse
Poor little thing
Regardless of that, it was a fun night.

I got home and had a shower and a feed. I went back to the lounge to find my host Mum had captured a beetle. Standard stuff. She was planning on giving it to her mate who collects bugs.
It ate a whole grape that host Mum had given it.

"Oh shit!" I thought, "It's gonna eat me!"

Host Mum wasn't phased in the slightest
I don't think I like bugs.

Wednesday was another one of those days where nothing happened. I got a small shock though when I was having a shower. I was standing there thinking about how creepy it would be if someone could see through the big frosted window to my left. (Dunno why I thought this.)

But of course I turned and looked at the window. And sure enough, I was being watched. 

There was a frog sitting on the window (what is gravity, anyway?) just chilling out like he lived here. It was a bit bigger than my thumb but I reckon it would've eaten me if I gave it a chance. So I got out of the shower quicker than Usain Bolt runs a hundred metres.

Thursday was yet again pretty relaxed. I limped to karate and did my best. It was a hard session. Whenever I fought I would pretty much stand still or walk very slowly towards my opponent. I relied mainly on punches because whenever I kicked it felt as though I was breaking my toe. 

I got home pretty exhausted and went to bed.

I just remembered a story I wanted to tell last week but forgot. When Jake and I were in Nagoya the day before the roller coasters, we were waling about the city as per usual.

We were speaking English because it's a nice change and it's good to be able to completely understand each other. As we were walking and talking, we got stuck behind a big group of high school girls who were of course speaking Japanese.

Because Jake and I are bilingual, we could hear and understand what these girls were saying. Jake and I were just talking about pizza but these girls were saying something like this: 

"I wonder what they are saying! I wish we could speak English, foreigners are so cool. It's too bad they can't speak Japanese and are just tourists."

I heard this and thought that this was just too good. So I said to Jake in Japanese with an extra loud voice as we overtook the slow girls:

"Yea aye! But if we speak Japanese they get so surprised!"

And they all just about got whiplash as they turned to look at us and their faces were absolutely priceless. We were in hysterics for the next few minutes because these girls pulled the best faces. It was a moment of magic and I still smile now as I remember it. I really wish I had photos of it.

Anyways. Friday was back to school. My alarm was set for six in the morning but I woke up at 4:30 am and I panicked. "Awww man, I don't wanna get up!" But then I saw the clock and went back to sleep.

I repeated the above mistake another two times at half hour intervals until finally it was six. I got up and had a huge breakfast. I got to school and it was pretty hot. I had forgotten to wear an under shirt so every drip of sweat could be seen through my white shirt. It wasn't even nine o clock yet but my shirt was transparent and I was embarrassed.

We had a big opening ceremony and then got straight into tests. Luckily, I'm exempt from tests because I'm foreign. But I studied in the library all day and I was pretty pleased with my work. It made me want to get more done instead of sleep. I'm actually looking forward to school on Monday a wee bit!7
It's pretty satisfying to see this and understand it
We had lunch and as per usual, it was delicious!
I probably have the cutest lunch in class with all this pink and all these hearts
The leaves are "hoba-zushi." It is sushi rice with things like fish or vegies in it. Hoba means leaf. The rice is served on the leaf and it gets some flavour from it or something. It's delicious! It's also unique to this area so I feel quite special being able to eat it.

It was a good day.

But Saturday was the highlight of the week.

Finally, after the sadness of our seniors leaving. After the excitement of the thought of us becoming seniors ourselves. After all these things, it was time for us to meet the new kids!

We went to the regular meeting as always, speeches ready and a little nervous. We arrived at the big hotel and sure enough, there were the chairs and tables all lined up as they always are. Of course we didn't see our seniors as we had gotten used to but in their place were four new kids. (Minus one who has had some travel agency problems.)

It was oddly nostalgic as we listened to the rules of the exchange and watched the new kids do their introductions with shaky voices. I watched them as they spoke and couldn't help but remember how nervous I was.

I was literally shaking when I gave my first intro. I couldn't eat the meal that was put in front of me and I couldn't even speak English properly.

But now I sat back, relaxed. I knew my speech. I knew the audience. I wasn't nervous at all! But seeing the new guys begin the journey that I started only six or so months ago was something quite moving.

I got up and gave my speech and I think it went well. I told the Rotarians about my tournament and how I got 2nd place. They clapped for me.

After the speech, they asked us big kids to give the newbies some advice.

I told them to always smile. Wherever you go, whenever it is and whoever you are with, smile. It makes everything better. People always want to talk to someone who is smiling.

I had to translate some of their English speeches into Japanese for the Rotarians and I really felt like a senior. It was cool. The Rotarians asked us big kids if we could act as translators on the upcoming trip we are going on. "Of course!" I was pretty stoked.

Of course we pulled funny faces and did poses, as is the tradition. The newbies didn't hear the call and it is pretty similar to our first photo.
For Comparison:
Here we are, plain-faced and badgeless, as nervous as all hell.
But then there are the seniors, confident with heavy blazers. I hope I can be like they were.
 At first, I was a little jealous of the new kids. Especially one who had well above average Japanese. I was scared that maybe she her Japanese was better than mine. What would I do if the new kids had better Japanese than me! I'd be ruined!

Well for a start, it motivated me to study harder. It's not a competition but I still (as vain as, I know,) want to be the best. So I will study as hard as I can!

But the jealousy soon faded as we got to meet the newbies and talk to them. They are all awesome people and I feel that we are going to be a pretty tight knit group. I'm not jealous at all now, even if this newbie has awesome Japanese.

Next week from Tuesday we are all going to Nagasaki on a trip with Rotary. It's going to be awesome.Three days on Japan's southernmost island with the newbies. I can't wait!

There was one part of the meeting that disappointed both Jake and I. We had painstakingly brought along our jandals to the meeting. We smuggled them inside our blazers and swapped them for our shoes under the tables. It took a fair bit of stealth.

It was great though, we had the most comfortable footwear and we looked pretty cool at the same time. We walked around during the break times for no other reason than to show off our casual shoes. Everyone loved it too, it was great.

But the real reason for the jandals was to take a funny photo. We had our pose sorted! We would sit down all dressed up in our blazers with everyone else in their suits and shiny shoes. We would be sitting there with our funny faces and way out of place feet. It was going to be awesome!

But unfortunately, there was a lack of chairs and we had to stand. We were gutted. It sucked. We managed to recycle a pose we did way back in February but it wasn't the same. Bugger.

I got home from the meeting, carrying my black shoes and wearing my jandals. I had dinner and recounted the day to my host parents and ranted on about how cool the new kids were. It was a late night but no worries, tomorrow was Sunday.

I got up at lunch time and had breakfast. What are we going to do today? It was raining again but we decided to go to this limestone cave near Takayama. Apparently there was a great big stone penis in there.

I'm not even making that up.

We drove off in search of this cave and soon enough arrived at this big tourist attraction. It seems a whole heap of people wanna see this dick.

A whole bunch of shops selling phallic goods

Host Mum and I in front of this big pot
They used to cook miso soup in it, back in the day
We had a look in this museum which said no photos...
Sometimes I pretend I don't speak Japanese...

Apparently made of ivory

All of the above is either elephant tusk or made from it
 We shuffled through the museum and made our way to the cave. We stood outside the entrance and my host Dad asked me, in a loud voice in front of all the other cave-goers if I was excited to see the big dick.

I was a little embarrassed but replied back with a loud affirmative. Japanese society is quite shy so when we talked so openly about giant penis, everyone else got more embarrassed than I did.

It was pretty funny.
Host Dad leading the way.
Caves are pretty interesting

They make me pretty claustrophobic though

But it was pretty cool walking around inside of some mountain

And there it is. A great big stone dick.
It was clearly man made so that means a team of people got together and decided to craft a big penis and stick it in a cave. I wonder why.

There was a gong and shrine in front of the dick where people were praying. It was pretty odd.

There was a shop nearby that sold these:
For show, made of stone
We decided against buying these. 

We had a feed of ramen and then went back home.
I think I am in love with noodles
It was a pretty long day. We got home and watched Japan lose the final of the female volleyball world cup. Brasil smashed them pretty good. There was a little bit of yelling at the TV as there always is when your team is playing.

And now here I am, writing this. From this weekend it has been like the official start of phase two. From here on out there will be a new gang of foreigners roaming about Japan, taking photos of everything and laughing loudly everywhere we go.

It's gonna be good.

And that's all I have for now!

Until next time!
Jake, trying to freak out the newbies by biting the head off of the wee fish
(It was already cooked so it's not so freaky)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

More Festivals and More Farewells!

So last week I had just gotten back from the tournament, as tired as ever, and all I wanted was a big sleep in. But nope, there was no time to rest!

My host sister was going to leave for the states tomorrow! We had to get up at around 6 am which isn't actually super early but I was more keen to sleep until noon or sometime around then.

No worries, might as well make a day out of it! I had planned to stay at my mate's place and then go to a big theme park the next day. That was exciting and all but first we had to say goodbye to Mayu.

It took a few hours to get to Nagoya and from there the airport but we got there and we were early. That meant a lot of sitting around and waiting in the airport. There's not much to do there, especially since I've been about a hundred times now! I know the place like the back of my hand!

We had sushi for breakfast and it was pretty delicious.
Sushi and beer for breakfast!? It's a special occasion so why not?
I told my mate that I'd meet him in Nagoya station at about 1 o clock, seeing as it takes about an hour to get from the airport to the station and Mayu was supposedly leaving at 12.

At 12 we found out that she would be boarding at 12:40. Well, a bit more waiting then.

At 12:40 we started milling our way over to the departure gates. Time was ticking on as we stood about exchanging goodbyes. Soon enough it was 1 o clock.

I had better tell my friend that I'm going to be late. This was really being dragged out! But no worries, we had all day so no need to rush. 

Finally came the time for Mayu to go through the gates and start her adventure. It was a little tearful but not to bad.
Mayu's the one with long black hair.
Apparently someone said silly face but I missed the call. Good thing I look silly already!
From there I was all keen to go to the station but my host Mum was worried I would muck up the trains. I tried explaining to her that I've ridden this train more times than I can count and I couldn't possibly make a mistake.

But she made me go with two of Mayu's friends so I would get to Nagoya in one piece. "Sorry girls, could you please take Brennan with you to Nagoya? He wants to meet up with a friend." Said my Mum. I was quite embarrassed.

But it turns out they had no idea where to go at all. So I taught them the way and off we went. 

And we made it to Nagoya on time and in one piece!

From there, Jake and I went and got Turkish kebabs, as is our tradition.

But today there were a whole heap of foreigners in the shop. Now we've been in Japan for long enough to not feel foreign, of course we are and we stick out like anything but we can speak Japanese and what not. So when we saw all of these white people, we got quite intimidated!

They were big and they were loud. Jake and I sat there kind of scared. Then we realised that that's how the Japanese view us. It was like a small epiphany. 

We inhaled our food and got out of there real quick. We laughed at ourselves afterwards.

We took the trains back to Jake's place which was about an hour away from Nagoya. (We had to run to catch our train which was already packed to the brim.)

It turns out that Jake's host family owns a hotel and they live on the top floor. It was pretty cool. We had dinner and played poker all night with his host brother. We also played a whole heap of weird Japanese card games and it was quite a laugh as Jake and I started to forget our English.

We got up early and enjoyed the buffet breakfast that the hotel offers. Jake gets this every day. It was great!

But we had better plans that eating for today. We were going to go to: "Nagashima Spa Land." A theme park that had a big water park and then a big amusement park. I've never been to a place like this before!
We were pretty excited!

No one would take our picture so I had to do a jump by myself. Sad.

We went to the water park first having just had burgers for lunch. Apparently it's not a good idea to ride a roller coaster with a full stomach. I've never been on one before so I assumed my friends knowledge was sound.

The water park was awesome. We started off with this massive slide. Just your regular water slide; you lie down with your arms across your chest and let gravity do the work. It was pretty tall and looked like fun. We get to the top of this thing and it's about 20 metres tall. Cool!

The man at the top asked me if I spoke Japanese as I was lying down getting ready to go down this slide. I said of course I can! As he pushed me down this slide he asked in English: "Wea you fwom?"

And I was gonna say "New Zealand!" But it was more like: "New Zeaaaaaaa--"

It felt like the slide was dropping straight down. Holy shit I thought I was gonna die falling. I could only open my mouth as I looked down. Man it was fast. It gave me the biggest wedgie and when I got out of the slide my shorts had gone from being normal, knee length togs to super short shorts. My white thighs were almost reflective and it was pretty embarrassing cos a whole crowd of people were watching me.

Never before had I experienced this dropping sensation before. I was pretty confident walking up the stairs to this slide, I'm not even afraid of heights! But shit! It was pretty damn scary!

Next on the list was another big slide that had been advertised on TV recently so it was quite a new attraction. It was fully worth the hour long wait.
It was pretty huge
(I didn't take this photo)
Jake, myself and our German friend all lined up and climbed the stairs to ride this thing. We waited for literally an hour. We got to the top and had to be grouped up with another group of three because it was a six person minimum thing. No worries, we spoke English and they had no clue.

We waited in this raft thing at the top as the staff started to spin us in circles. This should be fun! One final push and off we went. It was pretty tame for a start. Tame but fun. We laughed as we spun in the raft down this big tube. When we got to the drop, I was facing the opposite direction and didn't see it coming.

Oh man. I almost lost it. I couldn't help but scream as I plummeted backwards. We were moving so fast it was unreal. The picture above doesn't do justice to how big the ride is but it was massive. I was still facing backwards when we scaled this wall. It was like we were levitating.

As we got higher and higher, I could only look down this wall and fear the inevitable. Of course it was all safe but i felt like we were falling without control. What an adrenaline rush. It was truly amazing. It was insane! I was so scared but frightened at the same time. I'd do it again in a heart beat.

We had a go on a bunch of these water slides and it was awesome. We didn't realise how long we had spent in the water park so we decided to leave and go straight to the biggest roller coaster in the amusement park. Our German friend, Florian decided against riding it and Jake was pretty nervous. I wasn't sure of what to expect but I was pretty excited. 

The Steel Dragon 2000, a pretty cool sounding roller coaster.
It looked like fun!
So we had to wait for another hour but time went by pretty quick and before we knew it, we were at the front of the line. I wasn't nervous at all but I was pretty excited. Jake was getting real nervous. I would soon find out why.
It's insane. It looks big from above but from below it's awesome.
(Not my photo)

Makes you feel pretty small
It looks like it should be a fun ride!
(Not my photo again)
So we got to sit at the very front. We were pretty lucky actually.
Number one!

Keen as!
So we're rolling up the coaster towards the big drop. Jake is starting to look real scared and I don't even know why. He asks me if I'm scared and I said I don't know what to be scared of.

But I found out real quick.

Real quick.

We got to the top and it was like the track had stopped. I couldn't see the track in front of me and all of a sudden we were dropping and oh my God it was like nothing I've ever experienced before. I screamed. Jake might have screamed as well but I couldn't hear anything over my own voice and the wind rushing past us. 

I didn't realise it but my hands were in the air as we moved at speeds unknown. It was amazing. Round and round we went around these loop things that pushed us against the seats. It was like gravity was coming at us from a different angle. 

Eventually the ride started to slow down and come to a finish. I didn't realise it but there were tears coming out of my eyes and streaming not down my face but rather backwards towards my ears. I wasn't truly crying, it must have been the wind or something...

But man, what a thrill. It was amazing. My throat was sore because I think I was screaming the whole time. Once again, I'd get back on that thing in a heartbeat. 

I later found out that the steel dragon has a drop of 93 metres at 65 degrees and reaches a top speed of 153 km/h. 

It was pretty extreme.

We walked off towards our next ride, the Giant Frisbee. It looked pretty cool until I got close.

It looked like it would do horrible things to my stomach and I wasn't sure if I was keen. But I was still pretty buzzed from the Steel Dragon so I jumped on without thinking too much.

Next thing I knew, I was upside down, looking at the sky, plummeting towards the earth, falling towards the sky?

I didn't even know. But it sure did do odd things to my stomach. Aside from being a tad sick, I loved it. I screamed at one point but then couldn't help but laugh. I don't know why I laughed but I just couldn't stop. It was a pretty good feeling.

We had time for one more and it was essentially the "lamest" of the lot; just your plain, rock back and forth boat. We got on laughing because we had just conquered the biggest and scariest rides in the park.

It started rocking and had barely started when some wee girl sitting not too far away from me started crying. Her big sister looked over at me with a half amused, half embarrassed look. I just smiled.

Jake and I were cheering and making a good scene as the boat reached some decent heights. But real soon I got that horrible acidic taste in my mouth. Oh man. My stomach was not where it should have been and I felt like I was gonna blow chunks yet the ride kept going.

I did my best to keep it down. I looked over at the wee girl who was scared before. She had her face buried in her sisters lap. Poor thing. Her sister laughed and so did I, it was kind of comical.

The boat slowed down and just in time too, I really thought I was gonna chuck.

I looked at the time, I had about an hour to get back to Nagoya station so I could ride the train home. My planned route to the station; Bus, small train station, local train, change train, station. Would take about an hour. No worries! Should be right.

We got out to the front of the amusement park before the bus stop where I planned to go. But it turns out there was a bus going from the park straight to the station!

I sure hope this is faster then my previous route. I got on and hoped for the best!

I did manage to make it in time and got home without a problem. My stomach was still in knots though and the bus ride did nothing good for me.

I got home and all I could do was talk about roller coasters. I had to go to bed early though because I had more plans for the next day.

I was going back to the hostel! This time as a customer instead of an English teacher. I was going with my previous host family because their daughter had come back to Gero-city for the Uni holidays. I had only met her a few times so it was cool to see her again.

We got to the hostel at the wee village called "Maze." I know this place pretty well now too. We get inside and I already know everybody. There's always a few new foreigners coming or going but I know all the permanent residents. Rocky, the boss, comes up to me and says:

"Brennan! Today would you mind being a guide for the ropes course?"

We had planned on doing the ropes course anyway so it worked out great! I was a staff member for the day, explaining the course in Japanese and instructing all the newbies at how to do it. The best part was that I, of course, got to do the course with them. For free!
Woo! I'm teaching!

Can't climb as well as my little brother though

I was going along this and literally said:
"Look Mum! No hands!"

And then I fell off.
Good thing I had the life line attached! 
As I fell off a part of the log I was standing on broke and dropped to the ground. I almost dropped a log of my own as I just about fell to the ground.

Naoko, myself and Nobuhiro
Nobu has a fear of heights so it was quite the achievement when he finished the course. Good effort!

Naoko did an exchange year in France a while back and is fluent in English, French and of course Japanese. That's pretty damn cool.

After we went around the course, we returned to the lodge and then went out for lunch. From there we went back to the lodge and chilled in the river.

We ran into one of the families that I had helped teach before and we hung out with them. It was quite cool! I've made so many friends and I just love it.
Dunno why we're all doing press-ups here but it was a good laugh!
Once the river got a bit too cold, we decided to go to the onsen!

And it was pretty good! I love relaxing in the hot waters. I'm totally used to the fact that everyone is butt naked now. It sure shocked me when I arrived here in Japan.

I got back home and ended up talking late into the night with my host family. We talked about almost everything there is to talk about! We had a beer over dinner and maybe I had one too many because I was doing most of the talking that night.

But it was great fun. I learnt a fair bit of "bad" Japanese which is used pretty frequently when I have a conversation with my host Dad. It's quite a good laugh and there have been many times where we've been sitting around the lounge, unable to breathe because we are laughing so hard.

Standard stuff
There was to be another festival on Thursday! So of course we were going. We had a bbq for breakfast and then a decent sized lunch before we set out for the evening's festivities.

Everyone was having a good time!
I had a go at the traditional dancing
And won a few coupons!
Probably because I'm foreign but I reckon it was my dancing !
We at lots of food and once again talked late into the night. We won something in this big raffle and we were stoked! It was a box full of hot chocolate sachets (which turned out to be delicious) so it was a pretty good win.

Unfortunately, the weather really packed it and started bucketing down before we left so we got soaked on the way to the car. But that didn't dampen our spirits!

We got home and kept laughing into the night, all excited for another big day tomorrow.

And Friday sure was a big day!

We had a huge assortment of meats for breakfast! It was amazing! Steak, bacon, tongues, pork and fish. I ate far too much but it was just so good I couldn't stop!

I forgot to mention that it's currently a big national holiday so everyone gets a few days off. Hence all the eating and late nights lately.

We had this massive breakfast and got straight on to planning lunch. We were going to travel up into the mountains and go this shop that is literally in the forest, only accessible by foot from a certain point. At this shop there were these long bamboo shoots with cold, flowing water running through them.

Near the shop there was this big waterfall that was pumping out a ton of water due to the heavy rain we've been having recently, it was pretty awesome.
"Norimasa O-taki"
The spray coming off this was soaking us as we tried to take pictures

Noodles would come down these shoots and you'd be sitting there, ready and waiting with your chopsticks to catch them. It was great fun and delicious at the same time!
Asahi, looking the wrong way while waiting for the noodles

Fresh wasabi!

Got em!

Action shot!

Picking some more wasabi!
After the noodles we got stuck into the "kei-chan"
A local dish of chicken, garlic and a bunch of vegies. It's delicious!
Good food, good people; it's all good!
After a big feed, everyone went home and slept. We were pretty exhausted from all the eating and needed a rest before we had dinner.

Of course dinner was at the festival again!

Bigger turnout for the second night

The power went out!

Better add to the confusion with bright camera flashes and silly poses
The guy serving drinks had had a few too many himself!
He had the loudest voice at the festival and you could hear it over all else. No matter who came up to him to buy a drink he would scream "OK!, Thank you Baby!" With a real strong Japanese accent so it was more like "OKEI, Shank yuu beybey!!" His daughter (my age) helped run the stand and she was so fed up it was hilarious. He was talking yelling at us when she said to him "Oi! go serve the customers you old man!" It was hilarious!

It was another awesome night with lots of food eaten. We won something in the raffle again but this time it was some dried fish or something. Not as nice as the hot chocolate from yesterday.

Before the raffle though there was this lolly-scramble-ish event. Except they threw out a bunch of bags of chips and the like. You were allowed to bring a bag to catch the goodies and there was a whole army of wee kids ready and waiting.
The event was inside because of torrential rain.
The tension was still as high as, though!
So we took advantage of the fact that I'm taller than a lot of the Japanese kids but unfortunately my shitty catching skills totally negated our advantage. We were still able to walk away with enough snacks to last us for weeks though!

We got home and talked for a while, it was a big week so we were all keen to go to bed.

It turns out that in this one week, I had put on a shocking four kilos. And my gut showed it too. Oh dear.

Looks like I'll be laying off the sweets for a wee while. I'm blaming the weight gain on the holiday season and lack of karate (it's karate holiday too because of the tournament) so I haven't been active whatsoever. 

I'll have to fix this once karate starts up again on Tuesday!

Saturday was another day of rain. It's been heavy all over Japan lately causing flooding in some areas and soaking all of the holiday-goers. 

Regardless of the rain, we decided to visit an old, authentic wayside town and have a feed of soba.

These towns often had small inns for travelers back in the day who didn't have wheels to get around on
A fair bit of water running by

These hats were being hand made in the store

I wonder how many people have walked here before me

More horse meat!

Zaru Soba -- Buckwheat noodles
Zaru is the round bamboo plate

Vanilla ice cream with green tea mochi
There were cornflakes inside the cone too!

Traditional Japanese 1800's passtime

The rain came back and it was time to go home!
We got absolutely soaked in the process.
We had planned to go to another one of these wayside towns but the rain was so heavy that we couldn't see the turnoff and ending up going home. It was still a pretty big day with lots of driving about but it was nice to get home to the warmth. 

We had a hot meal and watched some scary movies. The whole time we were watching these horror things, thunder was booming about the mountains making for an awesome atmosphere.

The movie itself wasn't so scary but there was a whole lot of suspense. Host Dad did the classic "BOO!" to Kumi during one of the scary parts and she screamed like anything. It was hilarious and none of us could stop laughing.

That's all I have for now! I'm sitting here writing with a big grin on my face because everything is just so fun. We're all poking fun at my big belly (figuratively and literally) and I'm laughing about it too but whilst it's a good joke and all, I'm not very happy with my current physical state.

I'm determined to shape up! I don't know how I'll be able to cut back on the eating (I do over eat a lot) because the food is just so good. 

Take everything in moderation, including moderation.

Until next time!
He was a good laugh!
"Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" He'd keep saying