Weekend Adventures, Friday (3/21) to Monday (3/24). Hanging with Darren Kamiyama!

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March 24th 2014
Published: March 24th 2014
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Hanging with DarrenHanging with DarrenHanging with Darren

After dinner, Darren walked us to the Shinkansen. What a cool cuz.
Weekend Adventures

Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Kure

Friday 3/21

We went into Hiroshima and did some shopping and went to some restaurants. With my rail pass expiring on Saturday, this was a chance to make sure I pick up the omiyage that I needed. It was raining during the day, but we mostly stayed in the covered shopping streets and managed to stay mostly dry. In the evening, we went to a vegan café, a rarity in Japan, and the food was really good.

Saturday 3/22

We went to Fukuoka early in the morning and went to Space World, an amusement park somewhat reminiscent of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. We called Brandon to wish him a happy birthday, as it was still his birthday in Utah, from the amusement park. It was really good to talk to Mom, Dad, and Brandon again, even though it was a little hard to hear. After that, we hit up the rides. The amusement park had three major roller coasters, which we were able to ride over the course of the day. Each of the three had their own little special cheers.

At Venus
Space WorldSpace WorldSpace World

Space-themed amusement park in Fukuoka.
GP, we had to make a rock on hand signal, with pinky and index extended, and wave it to “power the roller coaster.” Before it took off, everyone cheered and a sound meter gave you one of three outcomes, “Good, Great, Excellent.” The group right before us all cheered together and got an “excellent” rating, the only one I saw. Two before us, only one guy cheered and they got the lowest rating. You have to admire that one guy who went along with it and followed directions even when no one else did. His solo cheer, rising in pitch in the expectation of others joining him, still stand out in my head. Our group got a middle ranking. It was a fast roller coaster with a lot of g-force around the twists and turns and its loop.

The Zaturn is a very short ride, only a large vertical ascent followed by a vertical descent. Instead of being chained up a hill, the car is launched forward with crazy acceleration, shooting straight up a large climb followed by a large drop. It’s a very different experience than a traditional roller coaster, but it was very exciting. The attendant made
Venus GPVenus GPVenus GP

Roller coaster pictured is Venus GP.
us take everything out of our pockets and put them in a locker. I initially thought she said put everything in your pockets so she called me out. I forgot what we all cheered, but they counted down like a space launch before we shot off. I’m not sure what shot us off, actually; if the motion was powered by a motor in the car or by strong magnets, I can’t say. It was a thrilling ride, though. Normally when I cheer on roller coasters, it’s more for fun than because it arises naturally. When we shot off, though, a short kiai forced itself from my diaphragm uncontrolled. So for me, it was one of the more thrilling experiences.

The Titan is a long roller coaster that covers some horizontal distance, taking up almost a complete side of the amusement park. It’s a longer ride and you cover more ground, making it a scenic ride. I actually like rides like this and think more amusement parks could use the longer ride roller coasters. It feels like you actually went somewhere on the journey. It had a lot of hills and ups and downs and was a good last ride
Zaturn Roller CoasterZaturn Roller CoasterZaturn Roller Coaster

This one goes fast, shooting you straight up and then dropping you straight down.
for us to take. The special cheer involved making the peace sign and extending our arms up as we cheered.

We also had an all-you-can eat buffet and went on a few 3-D screen rides through the course of the day. The first of these was like the Star Wars ride at Disneyland and was called “Mission to Mars.” The general plot involved getting power from the sun and delivering it to the colony on Mars, but along the way you shoot down asteroids headed for the colony, too. It was pretty cute. The other 3-D attraction we went to was a sky dome that showed the constellations and took the viewer to a few different places in the galaxy. It was after lunch, though, and Ellen and I both dozed off during the show, unfortunately. Ellen really enjoyed the nap, though. She apologized for falling asleep, so I had to reluctantly admit that I had fallen asleep, too.

All in all, we had a great time at Space World, which Darren Kamiyama had recommend to us. When evening approached, though, we went to meet up with Darren after basketball practice and get some dinner. Darren and two
Hiroshima Carp GameHiroshima Carp GameHiroshima Carp Game

Carp trailed the whole game.
of his friends took us out to a yatai stand for food and drinks. We had a really fun time catching up and talking with him and his friends. I brought omiyage for Darren, which he was reluctant to accept, but at the end of dinner, his friends went to the “bathroom” and came back with omiyage for us. It was a very nice dinner and I got a little drunk on the Japanese Soju. It was really good, and had flakes of rice floating in it, giving it a bit of texture. Afterwards, Darren and his friend took us to the station and we went home on the shinkansen, whose motion never bothered me until that night. It was nice getting to actually get to know Darren after all these years. He’s a really cool guy.

Sunday 3/23

We went to a Hiroshima Carp game in the early afternoon, which was a lot of fun. Our seats were unreserved for 1500 yen, but were in a location that would have cost a lot of money at AT&T or Dodger Stadium. The Hiroshima Carp were playing the Fukuoka Hawks, and they were already losing
Hiroshima Carp GameHiroshima Carp GameHiroshima Carp Game

Big strike out. Costco visible behind center-right.
2-6 when we showed up in the third inning.

The atmosphere of the game, which was a preseason game I’m pretty sure, was really fun. Cheering together is really popular, and there’re a few cheers that everyone knows. In the outfield, there are two sections for the hard-core cheerers for either team, and the band and flag wavers for each team are there. I liked that although there was a lot of team spirit, it was not hostile towards the other team. There was no booing of the other team and in the middle of the sixth, the stadium gave the spotlight to the Hawks fans, and all the Hawks fans released their yellow balloons. In the seventh inning stretch, the Carps fans released their red balloons, which Ellen and I took part in. People in the stands eat ramen and drink Kirin, and it’s a really nice atmosphere. In the end we lost 5-11.

Afterwards, we went to the Costco right next to the stadium and stocked up on food. There were a lot of Carp fans doing the same thing. The Costco looks a lot like it does in the United States, but there is a section for sushi and you can get a variety of Japanese candy. We packed it in my backpack, as you have to bring your own bags and bag your own purchases in Japan, which is a pretty good system. It’s a little funny at Costco, though, because it’s a mix of the two models. You still take your cart out and the people check the receipt at the door. Then you get outside and bag things up or take a giant ramp escalator to the parking garage if you drove.

For the rest of the day, we had the Hiroshima Carp song stuck in our heads. It became a little bit of a “and her name is Michiko.” Ellen eventually told me to stop singing it, but I heard her singing it, too.

Monday 3/24

Now that my pass is expired, it’s a little bit sad not to be able to hop on any train. I stayed in Kure today and cleaned up the apartment and caught up with emails and the photos for the blog. Around sunset, I went for a walk in the hills behind Ellen’s house, which rise steeply. The houses continue up the hill and are only accessible by steep, narrow staircases that San Francisco would be envious of. Up there, I found an old cemetery and watched small bats dart around in the dusk air. They were smaller than the ones I’m used to seeing, and pretty agile. The path went through dense, overhanging trees and bushes and looked like a scene from Totoro. I had a good view of Kure from places along the way. I headed back in the dark, though, which must have seemed a bit sketchy. A man was smoking by the school and saw me coming down the long staircase and hurried away. I think when night falls, everyone is in a hurry to be somewhere.

Note: Pictures have been updated for all the previous entries, so check them out if you have time! Not all are captioned yet or edited really, but they are all there as of now.


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