On Friday night I went with Hanako, a Japanese student at Hokusei who lives nearby and my who host mother knows, to a party at the college put on by EASCOM, a club like HI-C that focuses specifically on holding events for Asian exchange students. According to a lot of different people in the know, EASCOM is supposed to have nicer and more trustworthy people in it that don't just invite people out to all-night drinking parties every week. And indeed, this party was pretty laid back. I was the only non-Asian there, but I did know a few of the Korean students. We divided up into groups and ate food and snacks while chatting. Then there was a game of "Who/What am I?" where clues were held up (in Japanese) describing something and the first team to guess what it was got points. The fewer clues used, the more points you got. Some people guessed the answers amazingly fast like "cell phone" for the clue "Everybody loves me" and "Totoro" for "I live in the forest", though admittedly I did consider guessing Totoro for that. Our team tied with two others for third place and I was nominated to represent out team in a game of rock paper scissors, which I won, winning our team a bag of snacks to divide up among ourselves.
On Saturday, I went with my host parents to a place that was selling furniture and other smaller items that were made by prisoners. I was surprised by how nice everything was and for most of the stuff it seemed like it couldn't have been entirely made by the prisoners but was maybe just assembled by them. I ended up getting a nice wooden shogi board and piece set for a reasonable price, although I have no idea how to play it yet.
In the evening I went with a bunch of people to a club in Susukino called "alife" that was holding a zombie walk. I was surprised by how normal everyone there seemed, even though everyone was dressed in mostly scary Halloween costumes. There weren't that many people and about half of them were from out own group. The walk was surprisingly well organized too, though it wasn't that big of a thing, especially since we could only go in groups of three or four so that we didn't cause too much of a disturbance. After we finished applying zombie makeup, we headed over to Odori park and had a volunteering challenge to see which team of three could clean up the most trash in the park. There were also a variety of missions like taking pictures with five strangers or handing out pieces of candy to people. After that, we headed back to alife and hung out for a bit for free soft drinks and snacks. Some people were planning to stay out drinking all night but I left before that started and was overall surprised at the lack of drinking and the fact that the event was done in a unobtrusive way and involved picking up trash in the park. It was a pretty nifty experience and now I can add another point to my being social score.
[More pictures added to Japan 2011 Album!]