Posts Tagged nomihodai
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!
(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.
An uneventful day relaxing at Hello House was followed up with an eventful evening out in Kawasaki.
Code Red, Green, Flounder, Hippie got on Nanbu line headed towards Kawasaki, where we would meet up with some of my coworkers and friends. On the train, Green asked me how to say “you are beautiful” in Japanese so he could talk to some ladies. I got an evil idea, and then spent the rest of the train ride practicing Green’s new Japanese phrase, which was absolutely not “you are beautiful”.
We met with Jem and Rivers and went to a nearby izakaya for some food and drinks. By this point I had informed everyone except Green the meaning of the words that I had been teaching to Green. We were all having trouble containing our excitement. Green practiced a few more times to try to get the pronunciation correct, and then waited for his opportunity.
We pressed the order button in the izakaya – a wonderful invention that summons your waiter or waitress to your table. An attractive female waitress arrived and took the order for our group. At this point Green spoke up with the phrase he had been rehearsing for the past 30 minutes.
“Excuse me” he said in Japanese. The waitress turned and looked at Green. You could cut the anticipation in our group with a knife.
“I have a small penis” said Green proudly in Japanese. The waitress looked confused. Green, assuming his pronunciation was bad decided to repeat the phrase slower and more clearly.
“I – have – a – small – penis!” he repeated, again with a smile on his face. At this point the waitress started laughing and walked away, which caused our entire group to crack up laughing hysterically. Green realized what happened “I just told her it was small, didn’t I?” he cleverly guessed.
Green asked me how to explain to the waitress that it wasn’t small, but actually very large. I taught him how to say “very small” instead. His BS detector went off and he decided to give up on the whole idea.
After the izakaya, we went out to karaoke again. Karaoke quickly became the fun activity of choice for our group, mainly due to the incredibly cheap drinks. We spent a few hours rocking out and making liberal use of the all you can drink policy before heading back to Hello House on Nanbu line. The trip home was not boring – one very drunk member of our group started walking up and down the train cars with a condom in his hand. This presented the other passengers with an excellent opportunity to pretend that he didn’t exist, which they did very well. Never a dull moment!
After work a group of teachers from different NOVA branches all met up in Yokohama for nomi-hodai karaoke. For those new to this blog, nomi-hodai means “all you can drink”. To leave enough time for everyone to get to their last train, we only rented the karaoke room for 90 minutes. As soon as we got into the room we immediately started ordering drinks on the convenient wall phone. I sang some of my usual karaoke songs, and tried out “Bust a Move” by Young MC and “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy (Canada represent!). We all had fun and decided to try to make Thursday karaoke into a regular event.
On the way home, there were two drunk guys waiting for the train. There was less drunk guy (LDG), and really drunk guy (RDG). RDG couldn’t stand by himself, so LDG was holding him up and got him some water. Seems like a pretty nice guy, right? That ended when they got onto the train.
When the train started moving, LDG called RDG’s girlfriend or wife and then put RDG on the phone. RDG was barely intelligible, which I am sure didn’t do him any favours when he got home. After the phone call, RDG was starting to fall asleep. Just as he was nodding off, LDG leaned over and flicked him on top of RDG’s bald head. Hard! RDG tried to swing a punch at LDG, but he was so intoxicated that he basically just flailed his arms ineffectively. Naturally, LDG found this to be funny and so he flicked RDG’s bald head again. RDG started yelling “ITAI!” (it hurts!). LDG was an ass, but at least I got a free show on my train ride home.
My former roommate and coworker Azeroth left Japan a few years ago to return to the US. Last year he returned to start working for a rival English conversation school. His new home is in Koriyama, located about 60km due west of the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear reactor that had a meltdown in 2011. Having never need north of Nikko before, I volunteered to travel to Koriyama to visit. Since Koriyama is just outside of the evacuation zone so it is considered “safe” by the government, but I was still happy to only be going for one day.
The easiest way to get from Numazu to Koriyama is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo and then switch to the northbound Tohoku Shinkansen. Since I was on vacation and not expected until mid afternoon, I chose a route with 4 trains instead. From Ooka I took the scenic Gotemba line to Matsuda. At Matsuda I had 5 minutes to leave the JR station, walk across the street, buy a ticket at Shin Matsuda station and then get on the Odakyu line for Shinjuku. The Gotemba line train was full of Mt. Fuji climbers, so getting to Shin Matsuda station on time involved weaving in and out of crowds of backpack wearing climbers with big sticks and a questionable rush in front of a bus. I got my ticket and got to the platform with seconds to spare, jumping on the first train I saw. Unfortunately for me, this train was going the wrong way. I would have noticed right away, but I was in the middle of a good book. It’s a good idea to bring a book when traveling, but you should always make sure you are going the right way before you start reading.
My train ended in Odawara. Fortunately I had a few minutes before a limited express Romance Car train was going to leave for Shinjuku. I bought a ticket and settled into a nice cushy window sweat. The Romance Car is Odakyu’s version of a green car, but is part of an express train that only stops at the biggest stations. “Romance” is a bit of a misnomer because the children running up and down the aisle are hardly anyone’s idea of romantic.
The entire distance from Odawara to Shinjuku is almost continuous city. The only difference is that the city gets much more dense as you approach Shinjuku until it reaches a critical mass of high rise buildings stacked on top of more high rise buildings. At Shinjuku station I switched to the Shonan Shinjuku line for the first time ever. It is a unique train in that it doesn’t have it’s own line, instead running on other passenger and freight lines. I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly until my destination at Omiya station. At Omiya I boarded the Tohoku Shinkansen for Koriyama.
I had never been to a Japanese city like Koriyama before. It is an inland city on a small plains area between mountains to the east and west. Unlike the greater Tokyo area, there is actually some (mostly) empty space before the next city starts. I was met at the station by Azeroth who took me for a brief walking tour of the area around the station and a stop at the 23rd floor of the planetarium building to get some city pictures.
The next order of business was getting beer and snacks at Don Kihote. One of Azeroth’s most valuable contributions as a roommate was his ability to recommend good snacks and drinks. We stocked up and went to his apartment to kill some time. His apartment was small, even for Japan. For those who work in an office, imagine the total space that 4 cubicles would take up. Now imagine that one of those cubicles was a bathroom, and the other 3 were an open space that functioned as the kitchen, dining room, living room and bedroom. That’s how small Azeroth’s apartment was. At this point I was very happy that I booked a hotel near the station for the evening.
And thus the drinking began.
We had a beer at the apartment and went to Azeroth’s current favourite place, an izakaya that was decorated in a 1950’s Tokyo theme. There were old movie posters everywhere and classic 50’s Japanese music was blasting out of the speakers. The izakaya was mostly full, but since Azeroth was a regular we were able to get counter seats. For traveling so far, Azeroth treated me to a 2 hour nomi-hodai (all you can drink) and izakaya food. I had 3 large beers and an excessive amount of meat on sticks before we got the last order warning. With my beer fueled Japanese language skills I asked the waitress for her recommendation. She recommended a peach fizz. Azeroth made fun of me in two languages for ordering a girl’s drink. It may have been a girl’s drink, but it was f**king delicious!
The next stop was a nearby modern styled bar. It was a Sunday night, so we were the only customers. The 3 bartenders knew Azeroth well and immediately started calling him by his nickname imoyaro, which could best be translated as “potato bastard”. We had a beer and then two special gin tonics. The karaoke microphones came out, and the staff encouraged the drunk gaijins to rock out. I pulled out classics like “Baby Got Back” and “Baby One More Time”, and then we got one of the bartenders to rock out on X Japan. At this point, despite me spilling half a drink, we decided that scotch was a good idea for some reason. Fortunately the remaining few sober brain cells that I had left suggested that it would be a good time to leave.
You know you are good friends with someone when you can go years without seeing them and then pick up right where you left off the last time. I am fortunate to know a few people like that before, during and after my Japanese adventures.
After the bar we had a slightly crooked walk to the convenience store for snacks and went to hang out at Azeroth’s place. Playing Call of Duty 3 is especially difficult when hammered. Despite going on an impressive stabbing spree earlier on, it didn’t take long for me to get shot by the weakest enemies in the game, a sure sign to call it a night. Azeroth made sure that I got safely back to the hotel where the last few sober brain cells let me know that I should find out what the checkout time was.
New rule: if a hotel has a 10:00am checkout time they should have that in giant bold letters on the front of the building. 10:00 comes way too quickly when you have been out late drinking in the danger zone.