Published: October 29th 2006October 29th 2006
Ah, the third day. I was excited to be involved in this. But, first things first. We had breakfast, the main unusual thing being a hard-boiled egg that was boiled in the onsen. It's apparently quite common to do it, and we did see a place where people picked them out. But onsen eggs just sound odd. We piled onto the bus around 9 am and went to pick apples and make mochi. I was especially interested in apple picking. Family, we need to start that tradition.
Nagano is famous for its fruit, especially Fuji apples, peaches, blueberries, grapes and chestnuts. We got to the apple orchard and listened to speeches from Shin-san, the apple workers and a city representative. Then we split into groups of about 10 people and went with a volunteer. We were each allowed two apples and it really didn't take very long. They were tasty and there were also some inappropriate pictures since there were two apples and Liz, Pris and I are naughty. We walked back to where we were going to pound mochi.
We heard an explanation about it, then watched them make it for a bit. After that, anyone who wanted
to could pound it. Casey, who by the way makes an excellent commentator, went first and things rapidly got funny. Adam, who is apparently loaded, started pounding mochi when people were making jokes and giving advice and one person shouted to him "Pound it like the Nasdaq just dropped!" which struck me as incredibly funny. Matt pounded mochi and did a Xena war-cry...which I got on film. I highly approve of aiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiai-ing while hitting rice with a large wooden hammer. Anyway, when the mochi was done, they made it into 3 different flavors that were good. They made the inevitable azuki flavor, which I am heartily sick of. There was a sweet soy bean flavor, which tasted vaguely like peanut butter. The last one was my personal favorite, sweet black sesame. With the mochi they brought out some Japanese pickles and tea; from there it rapidly descended into gluttony, with all of us conveniently forgetting that right after this we had lunch.
We had lunch at Shinshu Fruit Land. Yes, Fruit Land, the magical place of all the fruit products you could ever want. Lunch was kinoko gohan (mushroom rice), mushroom soup, apple slices, mushrooms in a bowl and
soba with mushrooms. I thoroughly enjoyed the mushroomfest and I think there should be more meals consisting of fungus. After lunch, we went to the store where almost everyone bought booze and people accidentally bought vinegar thinking it was sake since the kanji are similar. I personally bought blueberry tea, grape drops, grape cake, a keitai strap with snowmen and snowflakes, and two presents for people.
We boarded the bus, started watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Japanese, and went to Obuse. We went to the Hokusai museum (Obuse's claim to fame is Hokusai lived there for four years) and I DID get to see the originals of Hokusai ukioye (woodblock prints, of which Hokusai is the renowned master) including a series of 4 oni prints. I really wanted copies of them but they didn't have them. In that gift shop though, I bought 3 postcards of some ukiyoe I liked and a music box. I also got a 4 leaf clover from Kim, who was hitting on me all week. We also went to a museum of a friend of Hokusai's and then took a tour of Obuse's sake brewery. I would really like to say something
nice about that, but honestly...I've got nothing. It was late and were were tired and cranky, plus the tour was rather dull. The oke ok pun was not cool. Afterwards, we hung out in Obuse for an hour.
That, on the other hand, was quite enjoyable. There were several interesting photos, including me with a beetle, and the people I wandered with were awesome (aka Betsy, Liz, and Matt). We even found a tacky Japanese kitsch shop. Then we ran into Shin-san, who I'm convinced was drunk since he let 3 people try his chestnut ice cream. Liz and I even did it together, and then we looked at Shin-san and I asked
Did you enjoy the ice cream orgy?
and he did the most evil laugh I've heard him make yet. Shin-san is pretty pleased with himself as an individual but this just took the cake. Hyung-hye (Lee-san) also had her moments, such as when she was writing a postcard, stopped, looked at Liz and I intently, then said
Guys wait....what's my boyfriend's address?
"You have a boyfriend?!"
"Yeah, he lives in America."
"What's his name?"
"Seth. I think long-distance are better relationships because then you don't have to see them."
Hyung-hye, I love you so much my
Almost as good were the comments from Matt. I need to get the pictures of them, but by far the best was of Anna. Matt needs to be a professional photographer because he got the funniest facial expressions I've ever seen. To illustrate, he got Anna to make the best face, looking up at the sky and his camera by saying
Anna, look up as if you were being touched by the grace of God.........inappropriately.
Anna's face is the funniest mix of confused and disgusted I've come across.
We piled back on the bus and Matt immediately declared "Happy Sleepy Time." It would have worked too, except the ride was short and by the time we were almost asleep we were announced at over the bus PA system. Dinner was precluded by the biggest, best endurance onsen possible. Pris and I went to bathe and had the water so we weren't cooked alive. We managed to stay in for an hour! I stayed in long enough to get prune-like! That's incredible.
Dinner was a fast affair as we had 3 onsen to go to before we had all 10 of them. One smelled like rotten eggs and ass. When I say "ass" I mean donkey, by the way.
It was nasty. But we stood in the building for a second, then heard some old woman make the hocking noise and we ran away. The other two were uneventful and it was good.
But the highlight of the evening happened when we returned. Oh yes, what trip in Japan is complete without it? It was time for karaoke. Malik-san has a professional CD, so he sang. But the best part was definitely the students. Our group came in when Casey and Aubrey were singing the "Final Countdown" and it was a long song....we wondered when it would actually BE the final countdown. After that, Danny and Rob got up and sang "Stayin' Alive." This was a shocker for two reasons; they sang in falsettos, and they nailed
the harmony. And Danny stripped. Life was interesting. Of course, this prompted all of us, who were by this time at least not sober, to chant Shin-san's name until he agreed to sing. Before him some other students went who were not good, not bad. Shin-san, however, was also surprisingly good. Kudos to him for singing too.
At this point, we left to buy the best chocolate ever, covered in
cocoa powder and returned to a drinking party. Kim came and hit on me for a solid hour, which prompted a realization. I do not like being drunkenly hit on when I am not drunk. It mostly just smells bad and is not humorous.
During the party, a guy we really don't like, one name of Jakob, showed up and the girls were marginally creeped out. The reason is that he wears really tight pants with no underwear and his CRACK HANGS OUT. His attention was called to this once before by Liz, quite tactfully when she said "Hey Jakob, might want to pull your shirt down, 'cause I can see your crack" and his response was disappointing - "I don't care." I doubt it ever occurred to him that we did indeed care.
Back to the party. Apple wine is hilarious to get drunk off of and we definitely did. Pris started dancing and Liz had to get up and prove she could dance sexier than Pris, which is true. Drinking games occurred and more drunken hitting on. After a while, Jakob left because he'd never been that drunk before, and the party died down. We then
went to bed.
Later on we found out that Jakob got to the point where he really needed to throw up but he wouldn't. The result was him and 4 other guys, including Shin-san, sitting in a bathroom with the guys demonstrating the way to make yourself vomit. "No it's easy, just stick your finger back here.." and Jakob being a wuss and not doing it. Shin-san is rubbing his back while this happened and eventually Jakob did manage to be sick. I tell this story to illustrate that whatever I say about Shin-san, and whatever he says about us, including
If you are late, we will leave you...and I will not care
, he does care about us.
Friday night really was the hardcore drinking night, as some other guys did the most colosally stupid thing I heard of on this trip. They got drunk and went in an onsen. That causes DEATH. They didn't die, but they did get sort of sick. I personally think they deserved it for being idiots but am glad they didn't die.
A last caveat: Shin-san quotes!
Don't make fun of my 'eto'! Eeto...
(at Monkey Onsen)
Are you excited about the monkey fight?
'Please your body before entering the onsen' - what? That is not right...but yeah, please your body before entering.
Man, no one is smart - I found the secret exit here!
(at the Ninja Theme Park)
There are more photos below