So there I was at Saty, cruising the aisles looking for the "half-off" sticker on perishable food items when all of a sudden, somebody right in front of me said "Hey, are you new to town?" I looked up and was astonished to see somebody who wasn't Japanese. Now, I have had hints that there are other non-Japanese people in town. Last Friday I heard someone speaking English outside my window. This Thursday I saw a clearly non-Japanese person off in the distance when I got off the train in Yagihara. I knew there are other ALTs in town, because every school has one. In fact, the board of education was even going to introduce us to eachother this coming Monday. Well, as it turns out, I met almost everybody on Friday. Within 1 minute of meeting Scott, the guy at the store, I had been invited to a party that night. Went to the party, met some people, played Taboo, and went home 5 hours later.
But not before being invited to a rave that was taking place the next day out in the mountains. Knowing nothing, I heartily agreed. What had my prior plans for the weekend been? Taking a bath and cleaning my house. Bath vs. Adventure. Adventure wins. By the way, I have been worried about meeting other foreigners in Japan. Most times people have a positive attitude, which is great, but I have met some people that live in Japan and just hate it here and complain about it constantly. These people depress me. I haven't made an effort to make friends with foreigners up until now, but I am glad I did, because actually, the foreigners in Shibukawa all seem to be really nice. Moreover, they all love in here. Shibukawa is great, after all.
So the next day I got up and cleaned house anyway. The rave wasn't going to start until 9, so I had lots of time to kill. The big fun thing that happened on Saturday day was that the police came by. Now, when the police showed up, it looked to me as if they were about to arrest someone. They showed up with purpose. Sternly getting out of their car and radioing HQ. They were jogging, and looked very serious. Then one of the officers got on the loud speaker to make an important public service announcement: could the owner of the blue car please come and move it? It was blocking someone's driveway. Japan is a serious country, what can I say.
Well, a guy named Josh picked me up at 8, and we drove for about an hour into the middle of nowhere. There, in a tiny river valley that was thickly forested, was the rave. There was a sprinkling of rain, but that didn't stop over 70 foreigners and, by my estimate, 350 Japanese people. I have never been to a rave, and I have never been to a club, but I think as far as raves go, this was probably a good one. There were people dancing with fire...
A very disorienting laser and smoke show...
3 separate dancing areas with multiple DJs for each area, 3 food stands, cabins to sleep in, a tepee, tons of fires, movie projectors, an 8 foot tall wall of speakers in front of the main stage, dimly lit paths through a beautiful forest next to a crystal clear river, and lots of very attractive people, many of whom came all the way from Tokyo, 3 hours away.
Well, it was sure an experience, and I had fun, but large social events really aren't my thing. I really think to either need to drink, or go with friends to have fun at one of these. I don't drink, and while I have met people, I haven't exactly gotten to know them yet. So, after 2 hours of dancing, I got bored, left, and camped out under the open sky in a deserted place with a beautiful view. I bought the blanket, pad and pillow for this bed yesterday at the hundred yen store. This basic camping set cost me the equivalent of 3 dollars. It wasn't bad, and I was warm, despite the minor rain.
When I woke at 6 am one of the stages was still going, 12 hours after after opening.
This is the view from where I slept. Very nice, but I'll need to get a better pad or check for rocks beforehand next time.
At 7 the Shibukawa group drove back, went to Yoshinoya (a meat and rice place) for breakfast, and then returned to our respective abodes to sleep. I'll be meeting everybody again tomorrow, when we will officially be introduced for the first time.