Heather's birthday happened to be last weekend, July 3rd. Which happened to be about the time of Laura's birthday. And America's birthday. So, to celebrate in a grand and generally obnoxious American way (we've been so good so far and I feel like the 4th of July is a legitimate excuse xD) we went to Goryokaku for nomihodai (all you can drink plus dinner; you just pay for a set amount of time ie. $30/person for a two hour slot and order away!)
But not before doing some necessary errands first.
The HIF office's Okada-san was nice enough -- no, make that: she was her normal angel-of-a-self, and got me in contact with a local taiko group in connection with my Independent Study project. I really wasn't sure what to expect but I had to get the ball moving on this IS thing so Heather came along with and we trekked out at 9am to find this place armed with just the memory of the map on the school wall.
It wasn't hard to find. At all. Like, it was probably the easiest time I've had getting somewhere in Japan. The group - Tomoe Daiko - is a 5-man taiko drumming group (the kind of drums you've seen if you've been to the Japanese World Showcase in Epcot) and they were also amazing enough to let us try and play. Actually, that's an understatement, they actually taught us a drum sequence and we got to play with them! They even let us keep a pair of taiko drum sticks afterwards! (plug time: Go ahead and follow Tomoe Daiko on twitter @hakodate_rengo)
As if that wasn't awesome enough, Heather and I wandered about Goryokaku and killed time until dinner (naturally, by going for kaitenzushi for lunch) and working on some IS stuff in the library. Which would be a really nice library if it were actually air conditioned.
7 o'clock rolled around and we finally managed to coordinate the meeting up of everyone at the station and heading of to "watami-I forget the rest of the restaurant's name" for dinner. And by everyone I mean all 25 of us. Dinner was amazing though: what started out as one pot of Ghengis Khan on each table quickly turned into french fries, crisps, flatbread "pizza", yakitori and more. I don't know how this is economical for the restaurant since people were gulping down drinks like mad in that two hour time limit xD
Afterwards there was a bit of karaoke and I ended up walking home with Michael and Neil (since
everything stops running at 9pm even on the weekends ><;) because I didn't really didn't feel like forking over $50 for a taxi. Luckily, they waited until I was home before they proceeded to set off the fireworks they bought at the conbini xDD
Also, tomorrow is Tanabata! Papa and I stayed up tonight decorating the take (bamboo) with these really epic paper lanterns he taught me how to make. But more on that tomorrow :)