Maybe it was just a coincidence, or perhaps some kind of benevolent guiding spirit influenced my fate, but I showed up in Nayoro just in time to check out Takeshi and Makoto’s university festival (remember the posters from the Mission?).
The food vendors were all university students, but they might as well have been Bangkok cabbies battling for my attention. I suspect that it had something to do with my race, which often gave me an undeserved (but not entirely unwelcome) celebrity status in Japan. The students hounded me until I’d eaten about 15 plates of yakisoba, yakitori, takoyaki, and all kinds of other delicious Japanese festival fare. I topped it all off with ice cream. Yes, my life is rich.
While I ate, I planned my escape from the food tents. It would not be easy. With determination and focus, I strode quickly away from the tents, complimenting the students on their cooking accomplishments as I passed.
“Eat more!” they cried, but I ignored them.
“Come back!” they yelled, but I played deaf.
I did not share their interest in slowly killing me with hot, delicious karaage.
My escape landed me in the audience of a comedy show, which I’m sure was funny if you’re fluent in Japanese. I was better able to appreciate the second act of traditional dancing, complete with flags, drums, and elaborate costumes.
By the end of the day I was exhausted from all the eating and didn’t want to go back to my campsite to sleep in the rain. A stroke of luck sat me beside Yuri, who offered me a place to stay for the night. She invited some friends over and we took turns killing zombies in a subtitled version of Biohazard for Xbox. Who’s too old for a video game sleepover? Not this guy.
In the morning, I must regretfully report, my masculinity took a big hit, as I was convinced to try a favourite Japanese activity known as purikura. Yuri told me to be as ‘cute’ as possible. I hesitate to post this picture, but see below for the unfortunate results of my first foray into modeling.
Now listen here, reader – instead of thinking less of me for participating, be impressed that it took more than a year in Japan for me to get roped into the extremely popular activity (very few boyfriends in Japan have the option of saying no). Also, I can’t help but think that the cameras were somehow mis-calibrated to produce the creepy, pale, ghost-faces you see in the photos.
It was time to hit the road again, but it was nearing noon so Yuri and her friend made some lunch, sending me off with a full stomach. Thanks, girls.