I woke up this morning with one of the worst hangovers of my life, easily top three. I think a horse came and kicked me repeatedly in the head while I slept. I am not sure what time it was when I passed out last night, but it wasn’t too late, probably around 1 or 1:30. I woke up at 7:30 though, far too early but my body clock is still not on Japan time. But when I woke up I wished I was dead, I wanted to tell myself that I wasn’t going to do that again but I am a realist and realize that there is a very good chance I will be doing it to myself again tonight. The pain wasn’t letting up, I tried drinking water, that didn’t seem to help, Susan gave me some Japanese powder stuff, and that didn’t seem to help, luckily we put on the TV and I was able to fall asleep again and napped for 3-4 hours and that seemed to have done the trick, it at least took the pain down to a managable level.
We had a very lazy morning and early afternoon, Susan and I slept through most of it Scott somehow managed to go for a jog, went to the base and lifted weights and then ran some errands, I have no idea how he pulled that off. We finally got our butts in gear and they took me for some fried Japanese food.
I am happy to say that I finally getting the hang of chopsticks, for those of you out there who were like me and couldn’t use them to save your life, the key is a very gentle touch, you don’t need to really pinch the food at all, you just need enough to hold it in place. We had awesome fried Japanese food for lunch, I got some friend chicken and they had a fried hamburger with cheese that looked amazing, a ball of hamburger meat with cheese inside and then deep fried, sounds awesome doesn’t it? I didn’t want to treat my body that badly after what I subjected it to the night before so I stuck with chicken. Susan, God bless her, ordered beer with her lunch, Scotty has himself a keeper.
After lunch we went for a drive, just checking out Misawa, looking at some incredibly cool houses and we eventually made it to the beach. Kind of weird to look at the Pacific ocean while facing east. We went and walked out on this pier type of thing and I went and touched the water (very cold) and then we did some offroading on the beach in Scott’s diesel four-runner which was awesome (Scott and I used to go four-wheeling in his old 72 Bronco back in High School).
It is really weird how it gets dark here around 4:30 and the 4:30 – 7:00 or so time period is the danger zone for when you are tring to get used to the time difference, luckily for me it wasn’t too bad.
Scott and Susan have made friends with a japanese couple who run a little bar, and this is probably the most bar like place. The normally serve little to no food and their place seats maybe 15-20 people. They are an older couple, both of them around 50 but they love Scott and Susan. They have even done things together like went and had lunch and I think they helped Scott and Susan move something into their house or something like that. The problem was, Scott and Susan didn’t know their names, they had no clue. They had taken to calling them noname-san So it was my job to find out. The couple was having a private party at their bar to celebrate it’s one year anniversary. Thirty-five dollar cover charge all the drinks you want and lots and lots of finger food, count me in. But first they wanted to take me to this little wine bar for a starter drink or two.
Now remember, these aren’t you typical bars, this wine bar had a bar that sat maybe 5 people and one table, these places are tiny but this makes them very intimate. The bartender at the winebar spoke excellent english, some of the japanese love americans coming into their place becuase it gives them an opportunity to practice their english, this guy I think was one of them. He was increidbly nice, very polite (it’s amazing how polite the Japanese are). He even sent over some free snacks for us. We chatted with him for a bit and then thought of a game plan to try and figure out noname-sans real names. Game plan in hand we said goodbye to super cool winebar bartender and headed to the anniversary party.
We arrived there probably around 9 and by the time we did both noname-sans were fairly drunk. Now the plan was for me to immediately try and introduce myself hoping that they would introduce themselves back and the mystery of their names would be resolved. This didn’t work out as planned though. I did as I was supossed to but they didn’t reciprocate, their English isn’t very good and I don’t think they realized I was with Scott and Susan at first or they didn’t understand me. Luckily for us, there was another American there who knew what their names were and he clued us in. The American guy was quite creepy though, he is married but has an obvisous crush on Susan and shamelessly hits on her right in front of Scott. Scott has nothing to be worried about though, the guy has as much sex appeal as toothbrush. But thanks to him the noname-sans are now known to be Ken and Hiroko and they were very sweet, Hiroko even gave me a hug when we were leaving.
Actually, when we tried to leave their place the band was gearing up to play another set and we were encouraged to stay for one song, which we did. I am so glad we did because what we witnessed was absolutely amazing. The one song was like a 15 minute, twelve song medly of Christmas music. The first song in the medly was Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Susan just about lost it which in turn almost made me lose it, Susan couldn’t make eye contact with either Scott or eye becuase she knew if she did she would laugh uncontrolably and her problem was infectious, I came very close to just laughing my ass off but thankfully we made it through without laughing at them too badly. The main singer guy was actually quite good, and his accent wasn’t very strong at all. It was still one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time and so far one of the highlights of the trip.
After the Christmas song extravaganza we finally escaped and wandered off to find the next bar. We tried going to a couple of place but one of them was packed and the other one as soon as we opened the door we knew it wasn’t for us, loud, terrible music poured out and it was most likely filled with stupid americans. We ended up in a place that I doubt many american tourists will ever go and it was a hell of an experience.
There are tons of little bar like places around Misawa, I actually just asked Scott about them and here is what he told me. There are very few bars, Hiroko and Ken’s place is a bar, they don’t serve food and it’s just for drinks. Then there are Izakayas these are little place that sit maybe 8-10 people serve food but there is no karoake and finally there are snack pubs, these are like Izakayas but there is karaoke.
We ended up in Snack Pub run by a mama-san, this place was well off the beaten path, actually it was in a rather scary looking alley. Scott and Susan had been there before though but it was still a bit sketchy going in, we weren’t sure if they were going to allow us to come in or not. Apparently lots of these little places wont allow americans in, it’s not so much because they don’t like us it’s just that the language barrier would be a major issue and space inside of them is very limited so they would prefer to serve their regular customers.
I want to describe getting to this place a bit more. It is literally in an alley like place, there are public urinals where the urinal is seriously right on the street, no door, nothing. This alley is just lined with doors and you never really know what you are going to find behind them until you open them up. It’s a bit of a surreal experience.
Edit: I went back later with my camera and took pictures of the approach to mama-sans.
The mama-san allowed us to come in and sat us on the tatami mat at the low table which was pretty awesome. When we got there, we aren’t sure on the time but it was probably around 1:00AM there was one other customer there and he was singing some karoake when we opened the door. This guy was probably in his late 50’s early 60’s. We ordered some drinks and then the mama-san brought us our hot towels (you get a hot towel everywhere you go, I rather like it. There aren’t really napkins anywhere) she then returned to out table with a bowl of stew for each of us, the stew was awesome, very tasty. Shortly after that she brought us some raw scallops, not really my thing but I did try one. The scallops were followed by three pieces of sushi and later she brought us some dried squid, the squid was kind of weird, it was kind of like beef jerky. I had one piece and that was enough for me, Scotty ate it up though.
About an hour after we got there an older man walked in, this guy was probably about 139 years. Ok, probably not that old but he was easily in his 80s. If you are following the timeline here, this 80 something year old guy came to this place at around two in the morning. We all sang some karoake, the locals sang some and requested us to sing more. The mama-san and the old man did a rocking duet of some Japanese song and we were rocking The Beatles most of the night. So we were just chilling, having this amazing time in this little tiny place that is the back of an alley with some old school japanese people. After awhile some older guy came in with a cowboy hat he was dancing while Susan was rocking the mic, cowboy didn’t stick around long though, we aren’t sure what happened to him. This place was really awesome and I feel lucky that I was able to have this experience, I don’t think many tourists would. The mama-san wasn’t super nice like some of the places we have been, I don’t think she was 100% thrilled that we were there but she welcomed us into her place and treated us very nicely. For instance, whenever you came out of the restroom she would be waiting to hand you a new hot towel.
About half an hour before we left another woman came in and joined us which made the full party the three of us, mama-san, the original guy that was there when we got there and the awesome old guy. In between karoake songs I I turned to Susan and asked her what time it was. The look on her face when she looked at the time was priceless, I was thinking it was probably between 1:30 and 2:30 at the time she showed her phone to Scott (phone had the clock) and Scott didn’t believe it, he thought her phone was broken. I kept having to ask them what time it was and they didn’t want to tell me, finally they did. It was 4:20 in the morning. We left shorlty after that.
Now if you following attention here you will notice that a woman entered this place about a half hour before we left. That means that this woman didn’t come to this place until around four in the morning, this lady wasn’t young either, she was at least in her 40s and most likely older than that. The original guy and the old guy were still there when we left too. These people know how to party. Plus the old guy was really old, Scott and Susan said they have been to this place 2 or 3 times in the past and he has been there everytime. How does a 80 something year old guy drink, smoke and sing karoake every night?
When we got home we were all in shock as to what time it was and we just hung out for a bit, by the time we crawled into bed the sun was out.