Besides the throat thing and just an overall feeling of mortal tiredness, I absolutely wanted to go to this part because parties are awesome and free for staff. So despite the soreness, I drank. The fun thing about this is that drinking helped immensely. Within no time, my throat pain was a thing of the past. Second wind? Check. Thus the party was fun. There were long sitting tables, a karaoke machine on wheels, Disney songs (I sung the theme song to Beauty and the Beast which I know all of 2% of the lyrics), and of course an endless flow of beer. Good times.
Then came the second party. Which, somehow, I had the mental fortitude to only stay at for a total of like 15 minutes. Why such a weak second party game? Simple. Tomorrow (today at this point) was a sake festival in Fujinomiya which starts at 9 f***ing am. So I got a total of about 5 hours of mildly-drunken sleep before some act of god getting up to meet my crew at an 8:00 train. Some funny things, I forgot my wallet and one of the three people I was meeting decided sleep/living was more important. That was a smart move. However, I went back for my wallet (necessary) and trained/trained/bused to the middle of absolutely nowhere for a now 10:30 am sake festival.
By the time we arrived at said sake festival I was still a bit hungover, super tired, and still pretty sick. Oops. But man oh man, was it the right decision. The sake festival was like is some powerful force picked my brain for the absolute perfect day and manifested it for me a whole bunch of friends to enjoy. I don’t know how to explain this. Okay, so like, the sake festival had a strict zero yen entrance fee and all of the super delicious sake was also free. Not free like buy this $20 wristband free but more of a walk up to the different sake stands as much as you’d like and have someone pour you sake free. If this sounds impossible, that is how I felt. This was top shelf sake too, I mean, I’ve never had better.
Collectively there were probably about 20-30 of us, most people I didn’t know. We had a tarp (and yes, even on a Japanese tarp in the middle of a middle of nowhere field you take off your shoes when getting on it). We just well, partied. The sake was about a three minute or so walk but instead of us all going individually people would collect the cups, fill them, and then bring them back for everyone to just start drinking from. In such matters - your cup doesn’t matter. Does the cup have sake in it? Yes - then drink it. A simple philosophy. Did I mention that the sake was free?
There were also delicious food stalls. They, however, weren’t free but pretty cheap. I’m talking like a stick of bacon for 300 yen. Pretty solid. Food was also shared because why not. Did I mention the festival started at 9 am? 9 am. When we arrived at 10:30 people were already hammered. I taught many Japanese people that day what “hair of the dog” means. There is a similar saying in Japanese but hell if I can remember it. There was also live music and performances? I saw a man doing a show with bananas. He had a knife, was cutting bananas, was using bananas as props, giving bananas to the crowd, and weird enough everyone loved it. After all, how could you not? What he was saying? Unknown. Apparently he is there every year. Noted.
So the sake festival that starts at 9:00 also ends at 2:00. Also, unknown. This we bus/train/trained
back home. This is the part where I was going to go home and sleep (reminder, sick). Instead, a bunch of us went out for ramen and drink until 11 pm. Oops (again). Yea, well, you got to keep the train going… right? Right. Mistakes were made but it was an amazingly fun day. I payed for my decisions both Monday and today. A man whose belly is full of ramen and (free) sake has no regrets.
The moral of this story is to arrive at the sake festival right at 9:00 next year to get the free limited sake cups.