Posts Tagged all you can drink
Tonight I made another important stop on my farewell tour – Gotenba Kogen Brewery with my roommates.
For those who haven’t been reading my blog, Gotenba Kogen Brewery is a brewery and buffet restaurant located at a resort on the side of Mt. Fuji. They offer a 90 minute all you can eat all you can drink experience for about $30. It’s pretty much one of the happiest places on earth!
To fully take advantage of the 90 minutes of feasting, you really need to plan in advance. Azeroth loves beer, so he spent most of his 90 minutes refilling his beer mug. Klaxman doesn’t drink, so he spent most of his 90 minutes refilling his plate. I managed to find a nice balance that left me both slightly drunk and wishing I had worn sweat pants. So good!
Happy birthday to my roommate Palmer!
To celebrate, we went out for “a few drinks” at the garlic themed restaurant Ninnikuya which literally translates to “garlic shop”. Almost everything on the menu features garlic, and you can find the restaurant by smell alone. There was a short lived restaurant in Winnipeg called Gilroy’s with a similar theme.
In addition to a garlic heavy menu, Ninnikuya also featured a 90 minute all you can drink offer. After a long day of work, English teachers are known to take full advantage of such offers. Tomorrow is going to hurt.
Holy crap – my favourite izakaya now has 1000 yen all you can drink for 90 minutes. 100 yen beer nights have the potential to be dangerous, but all you can drink on a timer is just asking for trouble. Unlike some of my friends, I took it VERY easy on the all you can drink both because I have to work tomorrow and because I ate a huge dinner and was still full.
If you can’t get drunk for cheap in Japan, you are drinking in the wrong places.
Only 64 lessons left until my vacation!
Somehow I had another special topic voice at Keikyu Kawasaki school. After work I was supposed to have my official office farewell party. Unfortunately due to lack of communication and the evil cold that is going around, only three people (including me) showed up. To make up for it, there will be an extra large crowd at karaoke on Thursday.
I went home, still in a party mood, so I Okonomi and I set out for food, drinks, and karaoke. Karaoke is better in larger groups, and can be awkward with just two people. However, after making liberal use of the all you can drink service, we didn’t seem to mind.
In the middle of one of Okonomi’s songs, a drunk Japanese guy walked into our room by accident. He looked around and realized that he was in the wrong place. He instantly started apologizing. We told him that it was no problem, and that he was our new tomodachi (friend). This made him happy, so he started dancing while we were singing. Suddenly, without any warning, he reached over, grabbed Okonomi’s chest with both hands and said “opai!” (boobs!). Normally getting groped by a drunk stranger would start a fight. Okonomi was surprised, but then started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Our new friend and I started laughing too. He then apologized once more and left to find his original karaoke room.
Okonomi and I kept singing and drinking until our time expired, and then went to settle the bill. Before we left, one of us got the idea that we should see if our breast grabbing friends was still around. We peeked in the windows of the other rooms until we found him and his friends. We opened the door to say hi, and he quickly welcomed us in and gave us drinks.
Somehow we were part of their group now. The group picked songs for each of us. I can’t remember what Okonomi sang, but she did a great job at it. For my turn I had to sing “Changes” by Tupac Shakur. I had never heard the song before, but managed to follow along and got a standing ovation at the end.
On the way home we stopped at Family Mart for some food to absorb some of the excess alcohol in our systems. There is nothing quite like convenience store pastries after way too much fun at karaoke. Okonomi was in worse shape than I was, so I had to walk back with her arm around my neck to keep her stable. When we returned to Hello House I tried to take her to her room, but she declined and said that her room was too lonely. Uh-oh. We returned to my room, where I graciously offered her my futon while I crashed out on my foldy floor couch.
At some point during the night I woke up sweating with a large weight on me. No, it’s not what you think! Okonomi had woken up and decided to return to her room to sleep. In her intoxicated state, she mistook my futon for a blanket and put it on top of me before she left. Judging by how hot I was, I must have been sleeping under my heavy, warm futon for a while.
It was another fun and crazy night drinking in Japan, and one that I was going to pay for the next day.
Tonight was Phoala’s official farewell party. I traded for an early shift so I could go home and get ready for a big night out. Our plan is Thursday night karaoke in Yokohama, then staying out all night in Roppongi.
I met up with Phoala, Archie, and K-Lo, who used to work at Kawasaki NOVA but had been transferred to Hiyoshi to try to improve the school. K-Lo was slightly annoyed to find that Ruby, one of our karaoke regulars, had brought along a female student that she was interested in. Hanging out with students was an official no-no, but since it was Phoala’s last night, K-Lo decided to turn a blind eye.
In addition to Ruby’s guest, Jem’s sister was visiting from England. I have talked before about how amazing Jem’s singing is. Jem had been telling us that her sister had an even better singing voice than she did. Jem has always been the best singer in our group by far, so we couldn’t imagine anyone actually being better. However, she was right and we were all treated to some amazing singing by Jem and sister. We were seriously blown away by their talent.
The rest of us sounded extra terrible by comparison, but all you can drink karaoke has little to do with actually being a good singer. We all had fun badly singing along to our regular songs. Archie made sure to sing the entire Styx classic “Mr. Roboto”. The album version is five and a half minutes long, but somehow it seems much longer in a karaoke room.
After two hours of karaoke, Phoala, Archie, K-Lo and I headed off for Roppongi. We got there just after midnight so the story continues on the next post.
(Author’s note) My memories of the evening are a bit fuzzy, and the notes from my original blog post are vague, so I am doing my best to reconstruct the events.
After witnessing the 20 Frosty challenge in the morning, we all had a relaxing afternoon at Hello House before heading out in the evening for Thursday evening karaoke. Green was still not feeling well, so he was a lot more restrained than usual. I believe the rest of the group decided to do some pre-drinking at Hello House.
We rode Nanbu line to Kawasaki and then took Tokaido line to Yokohama in order to meet up with my usual Thursday evening karaoke group. When everyone assembled, we all walked to Big Echo. Unlike the previous week, Code Red had left his video camera back at Hello House.
We had two fun hours of karaoke, making good use of the “all you can drink” policy of our karaoke room. Green was not drinking much, so Flounder, Hippie, Code Red, and I all decided to pick up the slack.
During the evening, one of Jem’s roommates, let’s call her Rana, was flirting with Code Red hard. Code Red was wearing a t-shirt featuring Stewie from Family Guy. On the walk back to Yokohama station, Jem’s roommate told Code Red that she really liked his shirt, and wanted to trade. Code Red did not want to trade his Stewie shirt for Rana’s shirt. She kept asking, and he kept refusing.
At this point, Green, Flounder, Hippie and I decided to act like helpful gentlemen and get Rana the shirt she wanted. We grabbed Code Red and pulled off his Stewie shirt while we were walking through the shopping area of Yokohama station. We handed the shirt to Rana, and then she proceeded to remove her shirt to give to Code Red.
While Code Red was shirtless, we all started slapping his exposed back, leaving huge red hand prints. Yes, this is the kind of thing that drunk frat boys do when they like each other.
Unsurprisingly, the spectacle of a shirtless gaijin guy being attacked by his friends while a gaijin female removed her shirt in a major train station attracted some attention. We received a lot of stares and laughs from people passing by, and also got noticed by the train station security staff, who watched us carefully as we bought tickets and waited on the platform.
Although he probably could have turned the “give my shirt back” game into a night outside of Hello House, Code Red instead insisted that he get his Stewie t-shirt back before our train came. Rana reluctantly agreed and they again swapped shirts.
At some point during our excitement, we actually lost Hippie for a few minutes. I can’t exactly remember the details, but he did turn up before the train left.
Through most of our adventures so far, Green had been the drunk crazy guy. With Green taking it easy, we all stepped up our game. As it turned out, our group was better when we only had one designated drunk crazy guy rather than four.
We met up with Rivers and Jem at Yokohama station. They were fresh out of NOVA kids training and looking for some beer. After some phone calls and texting we were able to meet up with the rest of the usual Thursday night karaoke group. All together we took a group of 15 thirsty people into Big Echo for some all you can drink karaoke.
The pitchers started flowing fast and furiously, as everyone filled the karaoke queue with an eclectic range of songs ranging from Ring of Fire to Anarchy in the UK. Code Red had his video camera out and decided to start filming our experience. After a while, Code Red took a page out of my book and started visiting other karaoke rooms. He would open the door and tell the surprised people inside “smile for American TV!”. This got a lot of smiles and cheers.
We had a busy, beer soaked two hours of karaoke. Since it took so long to get our group together, we had only 10 minutes to catch the last train after we paid. Half way back to Yokohama station, Code Red suddenly announced that he didn’t have his video camera and then ran back to Big Echo. I quickly gave Jem some (incorrect) instructions to get Flounder, Hippie and Green on the last train and then I took off after Code Red. In the worst case I assumed that Flounder, Hippie and Green could find their way back to Hello House, and Code Red and I would find alternate transportation or a place to crash.
I waited outside Big Echo for a few minutes, and then decided to go into the building to look for Code Red. I took the only elevator up to the floor where our room was, just as Code Red was coming down the stairs. He got outside and saw that all of his friends were gone. He was on his own, drunk, in a city far from home. After a brief moment of panic, he cleverly walked up to the first gaijins he saw and asked where the station was, explaining that he needed to get to Noborito. The two Australians looked at their watch and told him, probably in an awesome Aussie accent, that he was f**ked.
After looking around for Code Red in Big Echo, I went outside to see nobody that I recognized. Just then my phone started ringing – it was Jem and she couldn’t remember which train to put the other guys on. By this point the last train back to Kawasaki had already left. On the way to the platform I received another call that Code Red had just showed up on the platform. I met up with the group and we found out that the video camera wasn’t actually missing, it was in his backpack the entire time. As a group we voted that Code Red was not allowed to talk for the next 30 minutes.
Jem and her roommates came to our rescue, offering to put us up at their NOVA apartments. We took a quick train ride to Hodogaya station and started walking. And then we walked more. And then we kept walking.
I like to complain about Hello House at times, but it is only a five minute walk from the station. Jem’s apartment was a full 15 minute walk, mostly uphill. The apartment building itself was literally built on the side of a hill with a steep 50 degree staircase. Flounder, Green and Code Red slept at Jem’s place, while Hippie and I got a spare room at the other NOVA apartment that was about half way down the steep hill.
Travel lesson for the day: before you sprint off on your own in a strange country, check your freaking backpack for your lost item. It will save some excitement.
During the day we hung out in my room playing Playstation games and generally recovering from our adventures so far. In the evening we had plans to go to a family restaurant in Machida. Most family restaurants in Japan feature a “drink bar” for about 200 yen. A drink bar is a self serve soft drink area where you can enjoy free refills of coffee, tea, sodas and water. This particular restaurant also featured a 600 yen drink bar with alcohol. You read that correctly: for the low price of 600 yen a customer can mix their own cocktails. I think the intent is for customers to have one or two drinks with dinner, but there is technically no limit.
Yes, this does sound like a terrible idea in the making.
Lux and Zoe were going to accompany us to the restaurant. Before we left they took me aside and expressed concern that my friends would be in the restaurant all night taking advantage of the unlimited alcohol. They suggested telling the guys that there was a one hour time limit on the drink bar. I disagreed and tried to explain that the idea of a time limit would only lead to problems. I explained that I knew these guys, and a time limit would be a challenge to them. Lux and Zoe continued to disagree with me, so eventually I told them I would play along, but I assumed no responsibility for the outcome.
We all boarded the Odakyu line for Machida, and explained the “rules” of the drink bar. The guys were all very excited and started asking questions about when the one hour time limit started – from the time we sat down? from the time we order? I told them I would get the details at the restaurant.
We got a table for 7 and placed our orders. As soon as the orders were taken, everyone rushed the drink bar and started mixing drinks. We started slowly, with everyone checking their watches. By about the 30 minute mark there was always at least one of us refilling their drink at any time. For the last 10 minutes I am pretty sure that Green did not return to his seat at all. We all left full of delicious food and booze for under 2000 yen per person.
When you drink a large amount of alcohol in a short time, you can go from feeling completely sober to drunk in a matter of minutes. This happened for most of us on the walk from the restaurant to the station. We passed two large gaijins walking in the other direction. Code Red asked if they were Canadian like us, and the said that no, they were American Marines. Code Red responded “Go Yankee Go!”, to which Flounder added “home”. Our military friends did not take kindly to this, and suggested they would meet us later. Code Red, missing the implicit threat in the comment, answered “awesome! We will see you guys later!”. The marines clarified that it would not be a pleasant meeting. I believe Hippie and Code Red tried to apologize as we continued walking away.
By the time we arrived at the station, we were drunk and belligerent. While we waited on the platform, I noticed that a few train security officers watched our group from a distance. They seemed relieved as we boarded the train and ceased to be their problem.
When we returned to Hello House, Green removed his shirt and started walking around the house. Lux and I hung out on the stoop reflecting on the amount of alcohol that we all drank for 600 yen each. Eventually one of the other Hello House residents, a gay British male, came to the stoop to complain about Green walking around shirtless. His comment was “nobody wants to see that”.
Video games, cheap alcohol, pissing off Marines, train security, and unwanted shirtlessness. All in a days work.
Tonight I went out to the Thursday version of a going away party for a long time Hello House resident, let’s call him Sean. Since conversational English teachers have different days off, the going away party was offered on both Thursday and Friday to allow more people to celebrate Sean returning to Ireland.
Like most going away parties, we started off at a nearby izakaya. One of Sean’s Japanese friends, Rex (likely not his real name) was pouring drinks Japanese style. This meant that everyone had small glasses and Rex was filling them with beer from 1 litre bottles. As soon as there was any space in a glass, Rex dutifully topped it up. This is a great way to get hammered because you have absolutely no way to know how much beer you are drinking. I realized pretty quickly that if I wanted to survive the night that I would have to take over as the official beer dispenser.
In addition to going through 1 litre bottles of beer at an alarming rate, we also ate some great Japanese bar food including deep fried cheesy rice balls and deep fried pregnant sardines. Yes, every single sardine in the order was full of eggs. The beer helped us all get more comfortable with this concept.
After the izakaya, the party moved on to nearby Karaoke U-Bou, which was affectionately known as “Karaoke U-Drunk”. For those who don’t know, karaoke rooms in Japan have a magical phone on the wall that allow you to order drinks. Most karaoke places offer an all you can drink option, and Karaoke U-Drunk was no exception. The plan was to stay for an hour, but we ended up leaving after 3. The highlight of the night was Rex singing Earth, Wind and Fire.
Leaving parties are awesome!