Yesterday night was a confusing mess of social interaction. I always have fun in Japan at night, but I think after last night I have had my fill of karaoke...
Firstly, I had basically staked out the limits for tonight's dealie in advance: only certain people were going to be doing this with me, we were first going to go to some sort of residence-hosted party in Nada station (the first station east of Sannomiya on the JR line). Afterward, yesterday was my friend Matt's birthday, so I wanted to make sure I stuck with him most of all and buy him a few drinks for his birthday.
It started off without a hitch: Joe was with me, we went to the party, everything was good. I met quite a few people at the party, met up with a larger group of people who were going to a bar in Sannomiya. I haven't been there all that often to do anything at night, and what I did go to was a club I didn't like. Somehow (I am not sure how) people invited people invited people and six people turned into twenty-five or more. So this massive group went downtown and after ten minutes of standing around, I tried to split the group to go somewhere, but it inevitable reformed. Finally I took Matt and some friends (and whoever had decided at this point to hop on to our bandwagon as well) to a cheap izakaya so that this original bar-going group could do what they originally intended to.
Izakaya was good, and the people were nice, but the group was a big group of guys which is always weird... like, if a group of people has around six guys and four girls, its different. The group actually had one girl who largely sat. Her English was bad and my Japanese is pretty bad at this point, so there wasn't any hope for that at all. A Chinese friend ordered two strange things: Tako (Octopus) Wasabi and what he described as "chicken bones" but were actually chicken cartilage. That is probably the weirdest thing I have eaten since I came to Japan, and their texture was a relatively tenderized version of a rubber bouncing ball. Guh.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was drunkenly rushing through a store here called "Don Quixote" which I had heard much about but never entered. The place is four or five floors of discounted items, but arent placed in any particular order I could discern. I rushed around trying to find (surprise!) more alcohol for people outside but I got lost and actually couldnt find my way out of the store. Someone had to come find me in the labyrinth so that I could buy some melon chu-hai and try to make conversation in Japanese with the clerk. That was probably one of the most surreal experiences I have had since I came here. In fact, in that moment I achieved a state of mind which probably has been addressed somewhere in French literature with much more vigor and detail, but which I simply call "Raoul Duke on Ether." It was quite fantastic and I am looking forward to doing it again.
How was I able to get away with all this public foolishness you say? Read: using my gaijin powers for evil. See: Gaijin Smash. http://www.gaijinsmash.net/archives/gaijin_smash.phtml
That's just a good blog in general. Even after coming to Japan, I still maintain the guy at least appears a little too rude and apathetic for my tastes, but not that I am here, I completely understand what he is talking about around eighty percent of the time. It's actually kind of scary how accurate they usually are.
Well, speaking of parties, I'm supposed to go drinking with a load of French people tonight. I love French people; they usually have two social stages if they are the same age as you. Fake nice, and He's-not-an-unreasonable-American nice. I should add that if you start swinging a your American flag around without explaining yourself (for a Frenchman doesn't care if you are a patriot so long as you are not a warmongering jerk who always tries to talk politics with people as an icebreaker) you'll be stuck in a "pocket" nice stage wherein they will ignore you and try again to be nice once you've stopped bleeding hamburgers, apple pie, and pizza, screaming "MERICA" at the top of your lungs.
So these French guys and girls are fantastic. Alexi, the guy who took me to Osaka for the first time, will probably be there as well. Should be a good Saturday night, and also Monday is a holiday so I might head for Kyoto or Meriken Park here in Kobe. Who knows. It's a bit easier to just go with the flow here, but I have learned that you need to sort of group up at the start of something so as not to get lost in the ebb and flow of gaijin who will desperately cling to you in order to share tabs at an izakaya or karaoke place.