But I'll discuss that later. First, as promised:
1. Being called "Gaijin!" while blindfolded and being forced into playing an arcade game on stage in front of lots of Japanese folk.
Last week I went to an arcade festival with Sam, a guy from CIEE whose homestay happened to be close to mine. So we walk in, and it's just like all those E3 game conventions...as in, really weird (in that quirky Japanese way). Stages were everywhere and on them stood Japanese women dressed interestingly, to say the least. Most were dressed in pretty hilarious costumes, ranging from maid outfits to what seemed to be a take on something from the Jetsons. Video game stalls were set up everywhere and the entire area (the size of a stadium perhaps) is flowing with traffic. Ages ranged from 5 to 50 but I would venture a guess that Sam and I were 2 of the 3 gaijin (foreigners) present.
So we walked around, mostly in a bit of a haze, until we noticed a timer up above one stage clicking closer and closer to 000; so we stopped. When the clock hit, music blared and a woman ran out dressed as one of the aforementioned Jetsons. She babbled in Japanese (I caught such words as "new!" and "ahhh, so fun, hai!" and then introduced two other woman (who ran out in similar costumes, only with less costume). Suddenly people in the audience started raising their hands; so I did too...why not?
This is where it got interesting!
It's nice being here because this is one of the very few places where I am usually the tallest person in the room. It's also nice to know enough Japanese to yell "Gaijin!". This is what I did. And being fairly noticeable, when I waved my hand in the air and yelled, they did too. The leaderwoman pointed at me and said "Anata, gaijin, kite kudasai!" (You, foreigner, come please".
So I went up on stage. A large arcade game (one of those machines where you attempt to grab a stuffed animal) was rolled out. I was then introduced to a Japanese guy, my opponent, and given the mic. Not really sure what I was being told, I simply announced "My name Brian. Me come from New York. Me foreigner." The crowd cheered and the women proceeded to blindfold myself and my opponent. A woman was assigned to each of us and on "ichi ni san!" (figure it out) we were supposed to start. I, however and of course, wasn't quite sure WHAT to start. So I stood there until my assigned woman helper grabbed my right hand and smacked a button on the machine. I then realized that her shouts of "migi!" (right) and "hidari!" (left) corresponded to buttons on the machine.
To make a long story short, I lost the contest when the Japanese guy managed to capture a stuffed animal from the machine. Although he won, I was given the microphone once again. This time I shouted "Konnichiwa Tokyooooo!" followed by "Boku-no Nihongo-wa totemo damedesu...sumimasen!" (Hello Tokyooooo! My Japanese is very bad, sorry!" I was given a nice ovation (thank you Tokyo video game freaks!) and was led off the stage. The rest of the afternoon passed nicely but uneventfully.
Oh wait yea....Sam and I also found an arcade game (after an hour wait) in which the goal is to turn a wheel round and round. The wheel controlled a cartoon figure who stirred a pot. In 3 minutes a box of popcorn popped out of the machine. This is Japan.
2. Heated toilets.
3. Scavenger hunt.
4. Nikko- when I return, as we leave tomorrow for 2 days.