Aya was able to get the day off today, so we hang out until I had to return to Sapporo. Which I didn't want to do. There's not much going on in Nayoro, but I love how relaxing it feels, and how pretty the Hokkaido countryside is. After breakfast, we went to the big new shopping mall to take a purikura (those little stickers that are typically covered with hearts and glittery text and a million Japanese girls and are too small to actually see what the picture is). Wait, actually, they sent two of them to our phones, so I uploaded them to my Flickr account:
Right, yeah. So after that we went to Sun Pillar park, which was still under construction when I went with Aki 2 years ago. We were lucky that the weather was nice, because that meant we got to play on the "Fuwafuwa Dome", the most amazing playground equipment in the world. Basically, it's a bunch of big vinyl lumps with some incredibly bouncy material underneath, like a big weirdly-shaped trampoline. We must have played on the thing for half an hour before we were all tired and sweaty. Aya even has the honor of being the cover photo for my post-RSR photo album on Flickr.
So after that, we went inside the relatively new activity center thing and played badminton. I hadn't played in a long time, and I sure wasn't dressed for it, but it was damn fun, and made me miss playing regularly. Besides the Fuwafuwa Dome, the activity center, and the incredibly cool playground that Aki and I previously explored, it turns out that Sun Pillar park is ridiculously huge... so next time I visit Nayoro I'm going to have to really check it out. On the way back to town, we stopped for soft-serve ice cream (something I had been craving for months), then at Aya's house so I could shower and say goodbye to Moco. We then stopped by her parents' cosmetics shop to take a family photo, and then Aya and I parted ways for the millionth time and I headed back to Sapporo. Back in the big city, it was time for my going-away party. 18 people from our Rising Sun group showed up, so it was like a really awesome after party. We went to Kirin Beer Hall for all-you-can-eat Jingis Khan (a Hokkaido dish involving lamb and a goofy-shaped grill) and all-you-can-drink beer.
What with it being Friday, a lot of my friends were fresh out of work, but everyone got drunk and had an awesome time. After we finished feasting, the plan was that people who still wanted to hang out would go out for karaoke. Well, it turned out that EVERYONE wanted to go. We even had a few more people show up. So we got one big room for our group, and went absolutley nuts for four hours.
At four in the morning, we stumbled onto the streets of Sapporo, and did what you're supposed to do after a night of heavy drinking in Japan... we went out for ramen. It was fantastic. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Yuusaku (yes, that's his real name), who ordered an extra-large bowl of ramen, and fell asleep with his hair in the bowl. At 4:30 am as the sun was coming up over Sapporo, I said goodbye to my Rising Sun friends, and vowed that someday, I will be living in Sapporo and we will hang out like this every weekend.
...maybe not every weekend.