Monday, March 16, 2009

A weekend in Sasebo!

So this past weekend I went to Sasebo with Walter, Miho, Mike, Chris, Josh and Monica. Sasebo is famous throughout Japan for three things:

1.) U.S. Naval base / overrun with American servicemen
2.) Sasebo burgers - they're big and juicy with lots of bacon and egg
3.) Huis Ten Bosch - a replica Dutch theme park that looks eerily like Amsterdam

We left Saturday afternoon from Hakata station (Fukuoka) and arrived in Sasebo somewhere around 3:30, checked into our hotel, stuffed our faces, went shopping for a while, and regrouped around 6:30 to stuff our faces again at a Tex-Mex restaurant. It was heaven on a plate; I haven't had enchiladas like that in forever and there was REAL sour cream. I may well never shit again after eating that much dairy in one sitting, but I'm at peace with that.

After dinner we opted for the obvious and went out on the town for drinks. We ended up at a bar called "Rogiq" that Shaun recommended and it was JUST. LIKE. HOME. except much more of a sausagefest than typical Albany nightlife - maybe 80/20 male/female. There was a brilliant Japanese band covering all the well-loved American classics, from Sublime to Jon Bon Jovi and RHCP, and dozens of bros from all over America raised their glasses and bellowed along. I tried to go into it all with an open mind, distancing the whole Village People thing from the navy, but it was impossible as there were shirtless men in construction hats gyrating in close proximity to one another. At 2:30 they kicked us out and amidst fistfights and other forms of chest-beating, we escaped to the safety of our hotel - which, by the way, had a special U.S. Navy discount for "rest only" (meaning "using the hotel room as a one night stand sanctuary")...

The next day we had Sasebo burgers for breakfast and went to Huis Ten Bosch, which is honestly the WEIRDEST place I've ever been. It's like some kind of entirely soulless brightly colored impossibly tidy brand new Amsterdam with working windmills, huge fields of neatly planted tulips, and Japanese people. There are no coffeeshops or Dutch pancakes, but you can buy imported cheeses and eat red wine flavored soft ice cream. Everyone was either hung over or sleepy so we spent most of the day taking pictures. The tulips were admittedly really pretty, but overall I left Huis Ten Bosch feeling wholly unfulfilled. Sometimes Japan does that to me - things like modern weddings and the lemming-like hand clapping at concerts are just so tacky and feel so superficial and bizarre, like if they existed in America they'd be crushed by the "uncool" police or something.

It was, in total, a lovely weekend.

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