Saturday, October 07, 2006


This weekend is a long weekend for most people. There's a holiday on Monday, and since it's the beginning of the new term, I'll have Tuesday off as well. It also happens to be Oktoberfest in Yokohama, so I headed up there last night to check it out. Originally, there were going to be quite a few people out. But some people couldn't make it that day, another cancelled because she thought we were going in the daytime, not at night, another couple cancelled to make up a dinner date they'd cancelled before (dunno how that one works), and Julian wanted to spend time with his girlfriend, who's decidedly a non-drinker.

So it turned out being my friend Yuriko, who works in Narita, and me. I'd shown up early to meet people, then they all ditched, and I had to wait for Yuriko to come all the way from Narita. So I ended up wandering around by myself. Oktoberfest was being held at one of the redone wharfs at the harbor, right next to the famous ferris wheel and Landmark Tower, tallest building in Japan. The promenade there is a pleasant stroll, and it's cool enough now to make it possible to walk outside and not sweat buckets. I wandered along, but eventually got bored and booked it over to the festival to grab myself some of that special brew. And man, was it ever expensive. $10 for the mug (refundable if you returned it when finished) plus another $7-15 for the stuff to go in it. Granted, it was quite good, and much better than the local, mass-produced stuff, but still. Well, if I wasn't reeling already from the beer, the prices would've knocked me flat.

Needless to say, when you're in a crowded area by yourself, with a container of alcohol, it tends to go fast. If you don't have anyone to talk to, or anything to do, and lots of people are around but studiously ignoring you, then you tend to focus on what you've got. And what I had was a very large mug of beer in front of me. It went down pretty quickly. By the time Yuriko arrived, I was well into my 2nd mug of special Oktoberfestbier. It was pretty good. She finished it and I went off for some "authentic German food," ie, fried tuna and french fries. Yeah.

The band kicked up around then, with the tubas going and a couple maybe-Germans in lederhosen singing. It was entertaining, but the main tent was packed and we were shunted off to the outside tables and left to watch on the big-screen.

One thing that drives me crazy is that when I head to the big city, everyone wants to speak to me in English. I'll go up to the information booth to ask a question (in Japanese) and the answer I get always comes back in mangled English. I know they're trying to be helpful, but sometimes I can't figure out what they're saying in English, but I can get the gist in Japanese. Maybe I sound the same way to them in Japanese. Who knows. But it happens a lot in (foreign) touristy places, such as this one.

Anyways, as with all things Japanese, the festival ended rather early, by 9pm everyone was dutifully returning mugs and heading home (I guess they have to catch trains or make the torturously time-consuming drive back). Yuriko and I wandered around some of the sights, watched an American street performer/magician, and then took the long route and walked back to Yokohama station, which from the Minato Mirai area we were at, is a long walk indeed. But it was pleasant, since there's a long public walkway almost the whole way. We walked for only a block or two along the street the whole way back. I'd like to see that more often back home.

On the way home, I got a message from Julian, wanting to meet in Fujisawa with a couple others and go for a nightcap. What we realized was that what our friends had in mind was grabbing a tin and standing around the Bridge Bar, not the best bar in the world, but certainly the cheapest, so I swallowed my pride and went. It was full of new teachers I didn't know, and didn't particularly care for. Maybe I've been here too long. Anyway, I decided to use my costly Spaten mug to drink my beer out of. I finished and set it on the ground, when some random friend of theirs came up, greeted them, and promptly kicked my mug over, shattering it. She looked down at it and said, "I didn't do it." and wandered away. So much for that.

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