I spent a 4-day weekend in Nagano. All weekends should be four days, though I'd need at least twelve of them to hit up half the restaurants that looked appealing in NAGANO, CITY OF CASUAL DINING.
Friday: I hopped on a bus in Tokyo around the same time every Japanese what owned a car hopped onto the highway to spend their (paltry) 3-day weekend in some exotic locale. So the 3.25 hour busride was extended. Or, more specifically, doubled. But whatev(yo). Finnegans Wake and my own genius kept me company. I also had a block of cheese and it was good.
When I got to Nagano, Shannon and I, erm...whatidwedoonFridayennihow?...OH. Shannon heard there wuz gonna be a fireworks show so we went to where the fireworks show was gonna be AND there was a fair AND there was food SO we had food AND 'twas this: good. It was about as cold as you'd imagine.
So the fireworks. Maybe it's because I never gave much thought to fireworks and so accidentally let my default American nature take over, but I wasn't expecting anything great. I mean, y'know, we got the bombs, so why oughtn't we have the best fireworks? Well. Because the orients a fucking lot older and more experiences with colorful explodey things than THE ENTIRE WESTERN HEMISPHERE, 'tis why.
It went like this. A bunch of words I didn't understand, then, "Roku (VI)! Go (V)! Yon (IV)! San (III)! Ni (II)! Ich (1)!", then the sky exploded everywhere at once. There must've been a hundred fireworks in the sky at once. It looked like the best parts of the forthcoming alien invasion, or possibly the halftime show of Armageddon. Nonetheless, it was far and away the best fireworks show of my life. It was two hours. It was so cold, but so awesome, and all the more since I've been grumpily oldmanish about fireworks for the past few years. My singular complaint is towards the big chunk of time in the middle of the show when I guessed they were thanking their sponsors. It went like this: [single firework]. [pause]. [Japanese]. [pause]. [single firework]. [repeat].
Saturday: Shannon had to work, so I took to the mountains around town. There are still leaves on lots of trees, even out (and up) here. I climbed one mountain, then saw the one right there was a little bigger. I did that eight or nine times over six hours. Andandlike this one time I was picking my way up this really steep face of a mountain andandlike the only way up was to climb on these dead/hanging trees andandlike right near the top I stepped on a dead tree what broke under me weight and I would fell like a thousand feet (but really like twenty) but I grabbed onto another tree as I was falling and it didn't break and it was cool Indiana Jones style and I have scratches on my arm. Later, I heard wild boars inna woods and tried to chase them to see them and knew it was a bad idea but it ended up being okay cuz I didn't see them anyways, just heard.
Afterwards we went for karaoke. It was nice.
Sunday: Tina came up. We four (Shannon, Tina, Yuri-the-Japanese-English-teacher, and myownself) went to Zenkoji (Temple) and saw some stuff and wet into a lightless labyrinth and touched a key that was touching the oldest Buddha statue in Japan. Tina and Shannon felt sick. I just felt blind. Then we had soba and it was good. Then we karaoke'd again. Until 5ish this time, because it was all you could drink/eat/sing for 2000 yen. They had ice cream. I sang Johnny Cash a lot. It was fun.
Monday: Shannon (she lives in Nagano, by the way) and I took a walk somewhere and then up the mountain looking for 1) a shrine and 2) a gorgeous sunset. We found neither, but did walk in the woods again, so I felt quite and completely relaxed.
On our way back we expressed to one another our grave desire to eat wantonly at restaurants even though we knew we should save money. We settled on eating out only if we found a smallish local restaurant (which are much more difficult to find in Japan than Europe or America, surprisingly), which we then did. It was the smallest, most local restaurant in the whole world. A guy what owned it for 30 years (and spoke no English whatever) cooked us the best yakitori I've ever done eat. I was all nerves the whole time, because I felt like I was making him nervous, since neither Shannon and I could do anything in Japanese besides thank him. But he chatted with us all the same, and the food was great, and the whole place smelled like propane, but it was so damn quaint I want to go back and talk with him after I study summore.
Today: I left Nagano at 6:00. I got to Tokyo at 9:40. I forgot my backpack and omiyage on a train at 10:20. I rushed to my house at 10:55. I decided shaving and bathing would be impossible at 11:01, when I unlocked and opened my door and 200odd BALLOONS OF VARYING COLOR AND SHAPE AVALANCHED DOWN UPON ME.
I need to get that spare key back from my neighbor. But damn that was funny. And thus was my weekend.