Shortly after Kengo left for work, Chiaki picked me up and we headed along the coast towards Shizuoka City. She had a secret appointment, so I wandered around the city, including a park (Sunpu) that was long ago a castle. Shizuoka felt a little like a smaller Sapporo to me... a [relatively] big city, but not everwhelmingly so, and with a much more relaxed pace of life than someplace like Tokyo. Oh yeah, I received the rest of my paycheck today, so I would be able to survive the rest of my time in Japan.
After Chiaki finished her secret appointment we met up and went for lunch. Two years ago, Kengo and a friend of his and I went to a CRAZY futuristic conveyor belt sushi place where the sushi doesn't just go around in circles. You select what you want from a screen, someone hidden behind a wall in the center of the room prepares it and puts it on the conveyor belt, and when it gets to your table it a sensor senses it and automatically sends it down a track of rollers onto your table. One of the last things that we ordered that night was anago (aka river eel), and I swear it was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten in my life. So anyway, this time in Shizuoka, Chiaki and I went to a restaurant in the same chain minus the hidden chefs and the table-specific track things. So we ate a bunch of sushi, and everything was fabulous. But I was afraid to order the anago. What if it wasn't good? What if it was good, but not the most delicious thing I had ever eaten? I was pretty happy with the memory I had from last time, so why chance it? But I told my story to Chiaki, and she insisted that I try it again. So I did. And I'm happy to say that it is still the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. HELL YES SHIZUOKA ANAGO.
After lunch, we debated what to do next, and I decided that we should do one of my favorite things to do in Shizuoka; go to the ocean. So we drove back along the amazingly beautiful coast and to Haibara (the part of Makinohara that Kengo lives in, for those of you keeping track (mostly I'm just proud that I was able to track down all the parts of Shizuoka that I've been to on Google Maps/Earth)), to pick up our bathing suits (I came prepared). Chiaki's house is kind of amazing... Haibara has a lot of hills and a lot of tea farms. Her house is on the top of one of these little hills, and it's completely surrounded by tea bushes. As in you can't see any other houses, you just see tea. Also, her family's cemetery. Freakin' awesome. I want to live there. Not HER house, per se, but a house in the country. Yeah, so yeah. We went to the ocean. It was one of those beaches where lots of young, kind of trashy (by Japanese or maybe just my standards) people hang out. But it was also late in the afternoon, so pretty much everyone was gone. The Pacific Ocean is one of my favorite things/places in the world, so it was fun to hang out with my waterproof camera and my new friend on the other side of the ocean. It was a little weird that not only did the beach close at 6, but there was closing music blasting over the speakers that were playing hip young generic beachy Jpop for the patrons of the beach houses. This picture I took underwater was wicked phresh:
After swimming, we stopped for ice cream on our way to meet up with Kengo and had a nice long conversation and bonded while waiting him to get his stuff. We went to my third onsen for this trip to Japan, Koumare Onsen. Chiaki went to the ladies' side by herself, while Kengo and I got naked and bathed together for the millionth time. What a great time to spend time with your friends. Japan is great. After the bath, we went to on-site cafeteria for some damn tasty soba and beer (except for Chiaki, who was driving, and according to Kengo a "bad drunk"). That was damn tasty. The next step on our tour was to some really tiny karaoke place that had weak drinks and a not very good selection of songs. It was great singing all our old favorites with Kengo, though, and Chiaki and I sang a lot of duets, including a lot of Unicorn. Eventually we ended the night at Kengo's house with more drinks and looking through pictures from my previous trips to Shizuoka.