More Parties and Fun

I’ve made it through my first week of school. As I mentioned in my last post, things are slightly different from my school at home so it might take me a little bit to adjust, but at the end of the day, it’s just school. Yesterday I went to the welcome party hosted by JOINUS, which is a club (here they are called “circles”) designed for international students and domestic students to be able to interact with one another. Then in the evening I once again went to karaoke. Today, I went out bowling with a few friends from the dorm, and we also played a few of the arcade games and took a purikura.

Yesterday was the JOINUS welcome party, so after my classes on Friday, I made my way across campus (which really isn’t very far) to where the party was being held. At first they just had time for us all to mingle and eat some light snacks. Then they gave a short presentation basically explaining what JOINUS is and introduced the board members. They then had some simple ice breakers. Basically, when we got our name tags, they all had a number on them, so we were divided into groups accordingly. Well, I was put in group seven, but unfortunately I never actually found my group. I walked around the room several times trying to find where group seven had gathered, but I never found them. Eventually one of my friends just pulled me into their group and said screw the number, haha. Once in our groups, we had to talk to one other person in our group and then introduce them to the rest of the group. Easy enough. From there we took a group picture, which was quite the challenge considering the sheer number of people that were there.

Overall the party was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say I had a blast. I’m more on the anti-social side. If I’m put together with someone, I can talk to them, but I’m not the kind of person that can go up to a stranger and start talking. I need to be forced into a scenario with new people in order to be able to make friends. While the party did put us into groups, the activity really didn’t give me the opportunity to talk to many people in the group. I really only talked to one of them. Thankfully one of my friends who is also a little more on the anti-social side was there and we just stuck together for most of the evening. Still, I was able to make a few new friends and I hope I get the opportunity to talk to them again at the next JOINUS event.

After the party I went to karaoke, again, haha. This time however we only went for about 2 hours, so I actually got home at a reasonable time. Also, there were only maybe 9 of us this time, opposed to the 13+ people that have gone the last couple times. With fewer people we were able to sing more often which was nice. Also, I really liked the group we went with. We were all there to have fun, but it was a laid back fun. Nobody was looking to party or get super wasted.

Today I went bowling with some people from the dorm. Before that though, I hung out downstairs in the dining hall while I waited for them. One of the students had a guitar so he played while a couple of us sang along. It was a lot of fun, but I think we could all use a little more practice, haha. Maybe we’ll have to do this more instead of karaoke, because singing in the dining hall is much cheaper than going to karaoke.

When we went bowling, we took the bus to Round 1 in Asaka, and I actually think I liked the one in Asaka better than the one in Ikebukuro (where I went the last time I went bowling). The building was much less crowded and, while everything is small in Japan, I felt like I actually had space to move around between the games. We got registered at the front desk and then while we waited for our lanes we took a purikura (explanation of purikura can be found in my previous post). I’ve been telling Tomo and Nobu that I wanted to take a purikura with them for weeks now, and I finally got them to take one with me!

We got done with the purikura just in time to get our bowling lane. We made our way upstairs to the floor with the bowling lanes and then got our shoes from the same type of vending machine I did the last time I went bowling. I still can’t get over how awesome it is. While bowling is pretty much the same in the United States and Japan, one big difference between the actual bowling alleys is that the Round 1 bowling alleys here in Japan often have challenges called the Moon Light Strike Game. They stop everybody from bowling for a moment and turn down the lights (they had black lights so it really wasn’t super dark) while one of the workers steps out and explains the challenge. Guys need to get a strike, and girls and kids needed to get 9 pins or higher. The worker would then step back and say, “Ready, Go.” Basically everyone then bowls at once, and then the lights come back up. The person that participates in the challenge is whoever happens to be up to bowl at the time. Well, they did the event three different times while we were there, and I happened to be up every time! The first two times I managed to get the required 9 pins. When the lights came back up, they put a necklace of flowers around my neck and took a commemorative picture of all of us. They then printed the picture and put it in a cute little bowling picture frame. If nothing else, it’s a great souvenir.

After bowling we had some time before the next bus so we walked around and checked out many of the arcade games. When we finished bowling, we received coupons for some of the crane games, enough for each of us to try, and Shota, one of the other guys who came with us, actually won a cute little doraemon (a character from a popular manga) stuffed animal. It was probably sheer luck that he managed to hook the crane through the tag (he didn’t even actually grab the stuff animal), but it’s cool that he won something.

After the crane games we played some other games. I asked to play air hockey because it looked a little different from the air hockey tables back home. This table had four paddles instead of the standard two that I was used to. It probably could have been played with only two people, but the goals looked much wider than the ones back home, so it would probably be harder to play with just two people. The four of us decided to play, Shota and I vs. Tomo and Nobu. Well, Shota and I didn’t do the greatest, but that’s okay. Air hockey has always been one of my favorite arcade games, and it was cool to play this one. I was really surprised when a bunch of smaller pucks of all different colors suddenly flooded the table. I was so confused as to what was going on, but it was so awesome all at the same time! After that, Shota and Tomo played a Jurassic Park shooting game and then Nobu and I played a rhythm game with drums (which I later found out was called Taiko no Tatsujin). I started off on the easiest setting which was rather easy. Then they moved me up to the harder level, and it was an epic fail. Words cannot describe how awful I am at rhythm games.

Overall I had an absolute blast today. Honestly, I think the most enjoyable part of being here isn’t Japan itself. So far my favorite moments in Japan are when I’m just hanging out with my friends. I could go bowling or play arcade games back in the United States, but it just wouldn’t be the same. The friends I’ve made here in just the past few weeks have been absolutely amazing, and I look forward to doing more fun things with them in the future!

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