The Triumphant Return to Saijo: Sake Matsuri 2012

This blog comes a little over a week after the event, which was on the 6th-7th. What a glorious, blurry weekend it was.

“Sake Capital Saijo”

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I went to this festival during my study abroad. You may remember that I recommended it to everyone in Japan. True to my own word, I went back to the place where I spent a year of my life in order to drink tons of Japanese rice wine!

As soon as I got off work, I hopped on the new 新幹線 (shinkansen, bullet train) from Kagoshima to Hiroshima. The journey takes roughly three hours. Though it’s a bit expensive, I doubt there’s a faster or more convenient way to get between these two cities. I spent the whole ride texting old friends in Saijo whenever I had service.

This resulted in me getting a phone call the moment I got into the city. One of my oldest friends from Saijo, who had also studied abroad in Minnesota, was in Hiroshima City and wanted to grab a drink before I headed off into the rural college town. We ended up going to the bar where my former jazz bandleader works. It’s a place meant to allow Japanese people with interest in Korea talk to Korean bartenders, drink Korean liquor, and sing Korean karaoke if they so wish. The moment I walked in I found that my bandleader had already been drinking, and so he rushed up and hugged me. Then he handed me a glass of some rather expensive Korean liquor that turned out to be absolutely delicious. Somewhere in there we sang a few Korean songs. Somewhere in there we ordered another bottle.

It was a good welcome back. I don’t really remember much between the Korean bar and Saijo, but I do know I showed up at my friend’s apartment giggling. Even in this state I managed to thank her for letting me stay with her, and then hold a fairly long catch-up conversation. When we went to sleep, I was thoroughly pumped for what the rest of the weekend would bring.

The first order of business on Saturday was to get Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. I don’t know if I’ve talked much about this food on my blog, but let me tell you, it is one of the best foods on the planet. Anyone who says otherwise is either from Kansai or has no taste buds. After this my friend and I went to a few of the old hangouts – mainly the supermarket YouMe Town so that I could buy a sweater (Hiroshima is a bit chillier than Kagoshima), and the game center where I won a Gloomy Bear plushie for only 200 yen!

After this it was off to the festival. Immediately I entered the Sake Hiroba (酒広場), or the closed-off park where you can drink all the samples you want. Here I met with a former HUSA who is also doing JET, and the current Minnesota HUSA. Mostly we drank and talked to strangers from all over the place. If there were foreigners, there was a 90% chance they were JET. We also bumped into a few old friends from our study abroad days, which was really surprising and fun. We had intended to count cups of sake when we went in, but we’d forgotten that somewhere along the way.

Despite the fair amount of imbibed alcohol, I just had to visit my two favorite bar hangouts in Saijo that night. First was the bar where S works, if any of you recall that post. Much to my surprise, he was working that night, too. (If you do remember my other post about him, well, he still has my button!) Until he got off work, the group of us drank there. When he finished everyone was tired and went home, except me – together we went to my other favorite bar for a few games of darts. I lost miserably. It was around four in the morning when he finally walked me back to my friend’s place.

Meaning, on Sunday I hadn’t had very much sleep. This wasn’t going to stop me. I knew a lot of people who were going to the festival that day, so I had to suck it up and go again if I wanted to meet them. Luckily for me, no one actually went into the all-you-can-drink area. I spent the earlier part of the day wandering about with the friend I have nicknamed Pink. I then met up with the friend who I’d met up with in Hiroshima City, and then we bumped into my former bandleader. From there we kept expanding our group until we had enough to go out to an izakaya and karaoke that night. We spent the entire time laughing and reminiscing.

Which made it difficult for me to leave Saijo. I was something of a wreck on the train back to the city, much to the chagrin of the luggage-burdened passenger next to me. I got back to Kagoshima and didn’t feel like doing anything. I just wanted to sit around and pout about how I wasn’t an exchange student anymore.

Still, I went to work. I wasn’t at all in the mood, but interacting with the students made me feel a lot better. No matter where you are in life, there’s always something to look forward to, I suppose.

I’m fine again now, but I think I’m going to Hiroshima again next month. Both of my schools have tests, leaving me with not much to do. I was at one point planning on going to Tokyo in order to see a few of my favorite bands, but meeting friends seems more appealing now. There’s also a visual kei concert in Hiroshima City, which is probably the real selling point.

It seems that even now my heart belongs to Saijo. However, I’m hoping soon enough it’ll be sharing with Kagoshima!


~ by megumiwasframed on October 15, 2012.

3 Responses to “The Triumphant Return to Saijo: Sake Matsuri 2012”

  1. ahhhhhh meccha jelly!!! next year next year >_<

  2. Lol. You’re not an exchange student anymore, you’re an immigrant! I bet you got an adorkable sweater. And i’m going to have to learn how to skype for sure when I move to Nova Scotia. Nobody knows yet! SHHHH! Yep, there’ rum involved in this comment. :) It’s not even for sure that I’ll be going yet, at least 5 years out.

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