This weekend was an intense and fun weekend which has left Danielle and I feeling happy, but worn out. First we joined several JETs out on Friday to wish Katie a happy birthday, (which was actually thursday but who’s counting.) Then we headed out with the other jets to Camp Horado. Camp Horado was the final major welcome event open to all of the JET’s in Gifu prefecture, and as such there was much merriment.
Katie’s birthday party was a grand old time. We went out with several other Jets to a yakitori place. (thats Grilled Bird for you non japanese speaking types.) It was a great restaurant that had several things going for it.
1. A goofy japanese waiter who speaks a bit of english. Also this guy seems to make it his goal to memorize all of the Jets names. My personal favorite of his quirks, when you order two of something he insists that you phrase it thus. “Aspara-bacon JAPAN please” (aspara-bacon is asparagus wrapped in bacon, so yummy). This is because in japanese you would say “ni-hon o kudasai” meaning “two sticks please” (everything is grilled on a skewer), nihon also is the name for the country. Thus, Japan. I think I may just like it because I was so proud of the fact that I got this little joke, but no worries.
2. It is exceptionally cheap to eat here. The food is pretty good, I wouldn’t say great, but decent and the beer comes in these huge bottles for only about 3 dollars (think the size of the big bottles of Fat Tire they serve in MN and IL.) Coming from chicago where a much smaller bottle would cost you a couple more dollars, this is pretty good.
3. There is usually a crowd of foreigners here. Due to the above to reasons this place is super popular with the Jets and other english speaking foreigners in the area, so there is almost certainly a couple of foreigner’s sitting out front on any given night.
After the Yakitori place we went to a park and played on the swings and playground equipment, while a couple of people ran off to a combini to pick up various things. It all went pretty well, except there was this slide that was made up of a series of rollers. Perhaps I had one too many of the cheap large beers at the yakitori place, but I rode the slide down a bit to fast and landed flat on my butt at the bottom of the slide. (As a side note, japanese people have not yet discovered soft play surfaces the way we have in the states. You fall on a US play ground and you land on the soft springy rubber surface. You fall in japan, concrete.) The rest of the group relished in showing me how easily they could manage the slide without hurting themselves for a couple of minutes, before we too off to our next and final stop of the evening.
Our final stop was a Karaoke bar called Bottoms Up. This bar was unusual in that it was much more like a traditional american karaoke bar. There were no individual rooms for you and your crew, you were just out in a big group. You entered your requests and the microphones were handed around. My favorite part was this japanese guy who kept coming over and singing along with us on our english songs. Later he even started coming over and thrusting a microphone in our faces when the japanese song he was singing contained a couple of english lines. A very nice guy and his girlfriend thought we were a hoot.
We left the bar before most of the rest of the group, although many people had dwindled out either at the park or when we left the yakitori place.We had missed the last train home and were going to take a cab home. Except Danielle, who is always a bit of a walker once she has had a bit to drink, insisted that we walk home. The walk took us about an hour but we got home safe and sound, at three in the morning. This made getting up for Camp Horado the next morning a bit tricky.
We managed to crawl our way out of bed a little after 10:00, (quite literally, our futons are on the floor after all). We spent a panicky hour bathing, throwing things into a couple of backpacks, and dashing out to catch a train to Gifu station where we would catch the bus. Fortunately, we needed little more than our swimsuits and a change of clothing.
Camp Horado was only about 18 miles away, but due to the roads to get there, it took us about an hour on the bus. The day was mostly spent standing and playing in the water. Jumping off rocks in to the river, and drinking. I took to calling the gathering, “Camp stand in the water and drink beer.” My great contribution to this event was my realization that, if you were able to wedge a rock in the bottom of your beer can, you could set it in the river and allow it to float without spilling. I had people coming up to me all day showing me how they too had found a rock they could wedge in their beer cans. Ah, innovation.
After the sun started to set, there was a large grill out with some great tasting food, and of course more beer. It seemed everyone needed a bit to drink before they could convince themselves to retire to the cabins which we had rented as a group. Danielle has already mentioned the cabins but, I kid you not, the first cabin we went to put our stuff into had a plant growing out of the floor. We managed to score one bed for the two of us a little later, but it was hardly hospitable. My biggest regret is that we failed to take a picture of these places to show all of you.
The next day we spent the morning eating breakfast and playing in the water again until we took the noon bus home to grab a quick lunch and collapse at our apartment. Tired, but very happy, what a fabulous weekend! For more photos from Camp Horado, Click Here!!