Thousands of Miles from Home


Birthday Celebrations Part 2

Back when I went to see The Killers in Hiroshima, and realized Club Quattro was quite excellent, I put some thought into seeing Jack Johnson who was coming in May. Angela was so nice as to let me crash at her place and said I could come again if I could find my way to her door. In the meantime the plan for getting tickets to the show fell through, but with rumors of a JET party night in Hiroshima I couldn’t help but spring at the chance.

And so, Friday after school, I rode my black stallion (the Shinkansen) to Hiroshima Station and then to Iwakuni in Yamaguchi-ken. Angela met me at the station, knocking me off my feet by sporting a blue dress and fauxhawk! Feeling a little underdressed (but amazingly sheek), Angela led me to a nearby restaurant for some Yakitori, exciting conversation regarding a trip back to the states, a deep dialogue on our personal lives, and no less than three parfaits split between the two of us. Gluttons, yes. But young, attractive gluttons.

The next morning Angela and I fled to the city of Hiroshima at the crack of noon for a little shopping before the big night out on the town. We ate lunch at Granpa, one of the best (and only) lunch restaurants in Iwakuni I have frequented, serving the most delicious bread this side of the Atlantic. Angela continued the weekend of gluttony by purchasing no less than four donut-like items at a bakery, and promptly falling asleep on the train into the city. At PARCO Angela and I both bought hats which is especially unusual for me because although I am rather impartial when it comes to cranium accessories, and I never seem to look great in hats.

Throughout the day I met up with the Yamaguchi JET clan/posse/gang at random shopping venues. Although I hear Yamaguchi has one of the smallest populations of JET teachers, it appears to have the largest total number of bloggers in any prefecture of Japan. Throughout my tenure in Japan I’ve followed their blogs (mostly through Angela, who I originally met over the internet), so it’s personally satisfying to meet these people in a non-electronic format. Some were going to the Jack Johnson show and others to a Beer Garden for dinner, but Angela and I decided to score fajitas and other Mexican delights at “The Shack,” a delicious treat after a long haul of Japanese food.

Around 9ish, Angela and I made our way to Club Quattro to meet a selection of Yamaguchi folks coming out of the concert. While I did not get to see Jack Johnson in person, I did get to hear him sing which is almost as good (and free). Meeting Bren, Sarah, and Chris, the five of us made our way to Molly Malone’s (Authentic Irish Pub) in downtown Hiroshima. The place was packed but we grabbed a side table before the crowd became too heavy. Other JETs arrived, and this is where I start to forget names.

There was Selene who was celebrating her birthday (which was the main reason most of the JETs came to Hiroshima). With her was Rei, who introduced herself as “Ray, like the plumber’s name,” also a North Korean spy (or LA native). There was Paul (soon to become a swan), Jo (who actually possesses a small face, it’s not smoke and mirrors), Ben and Osamu (who I never quite pulled off a conversation with but were roommates at Harvard), Laura (from “The Isle of Man,” coolest place in the world according to their flag), Jenny (who claims to possess an amazing ambidextrousness), Jeanette (who was an exchange student to Japan in her High School days), and Tori (who eventually ran away for reasons I still do not comprehend, but was a fun dancer if I can remember correctly).

After Molly Malone’s, and a sizable amount of liquid refreshment, Selene escorted the crew, along with a few stragglers that I haven’t mentioned, to MAC, a small bar with a large collection of all-request music. Sarah, who I soon realized was an incredible dancer, made my 19-year-old jaw drop to the floor while Rei, Bren, the Brittish crowd, and I “danced like Americans.” Angela pointed out that although I do not speak with an English accent, I am starting to change the pitch of my sentences without realizing it. Never expected to acquire an English accent in Japan.

The music requests at MAC spanned many genres and eras, but I was not in the best state of mind to remember all that was played. I do remember the “Macarena” being requested in lieu of “The Electric Slide,” along with some Beck, salsa, and a whole slew of “I don’t remember.” In retrospect that cross-section appears lame, but I promise it seemed like appropriate music at the time, with a little help from my friend, the Moscow Mule.

Sometime in the morning, Bren, Sarah, Chris, and about half of the Yamaguchi crew retired to their hotels to get some sleep. I couldn’t find Angela and was starting to get worried when she and Paul walked in dressed like a Cow and Swan, respectively. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Where do you get costumes like that at 3 in the morning?”

Angela and Jo escorted me to the very location, a bar across the street called “Chew Me,” featuring the craziest bar staff (a mother and son) and patrons (most were passed out on couches) I have ever seen. I bought Angela and Jo mango juice, and made some friends while they returned to MAC. Around 4:30 I was rescued from Chew Me and taken to a small ramen shop for nourishment (ramen, surprisingly, is most delicious when completely exhausted). Selene, Laura, Paul, Jenny, Tori, and Angela moaned, groaned, and slept among the bowls of ramen before escaping to a late night Karaoke shop where no karaoke was actually sung but we did kill a good 30 minutes. After a quick stop at a Family Mart konbini with a seating area, the crew hiked back to Hiroshima station to sleep in awkward positions all the way back to Iwakuni.

At the station I bid goodbye to Paul and Selene before taking a bus with Angela to her place. I slept for a few hours before waking up, turning to Angela, and calmly saying something along the lines of, “they jumped in with their towels! My wallet and my phone!” That must have been one hell of a dream.

Angela took a shower, during which she apparently screamed her head off at a centipede the size of her arm which crawled up out of the drain (I was listening to music at the time and could not hear her cries for help)

Grabbing ice cream for lunch, and completing an amazingly sugar ridden weekend, I boarded a train back to Hiroshima and caught the afternoon Shinkansen to Okayama, munching on a delicious fish and egg salad sandwich.

Great to meet everyone this weekend, and a big thanks to all you Yamaguchi JETs (expecially Angela) for accepting the crazy 19 year old kid who should have been at home in bed like a good little exchange boy.


  • tsk tsk
    all of those wasted brain cells

    glad you had a spectacular birthday

    By mom, at 8:46 AM  

  • glad you had a great time ben, it was lovely to meet you.
    for the recod, i didn't think you sounded english at all!

    By Jo, at 8:55 AM  

  • so this is your blog...more to read at school..!! Also great to meet you, glad you had fun with us all! Some of those photos are a bit undesirable! But has to be said, you suit that red wig way to much..!!

    By Selene, at 10:53 AM  

  • glad you had a good night. It was good to meet you, just a shame your lasting impression might be me as a swan. oh well....

    see you at Angela's party??

    By Paul, at 11:09 PM  

  • sham i missed you in my neck o the woods ben, i owe you a mix cd!

    By Kat, at 4:05 AM  

  • wow look at all your friends! finally.

    miss you. write me an email, lets make loose summer plans.

    By Kostya the Bear, at 6:08 PM  

  • ben-jammin

    had a wonderful time indeed...i think our musical requests were spectacular...hope to see you soon...

    By Sarah, at 11:11 PM  

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