While the main point of this trip was to see Miwakorn, what kind of a jerk would I be if I spent thousands of dollars to fly thousands of miles and didn't bother seeing my other friends? That kind of jerk. I had contacted a few people beforehand, but I talk to Kutchan on a semi-regular basis, so I let him know what was up and figured he'd do the work of organizing everyone else for me. Sucker.
Last summer, I spent a lot of time with Kutchan, and we traded girlie stories. While I was getting ever closer to tricking Miwako into dating me, he also had a girl whom he'd had a giant crush on for a really long time, Pigutan (don't worry, at one point after meeting her I learned her real name but immediately forgot it). He started dating she around the same time Miwako started dating me. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get Miwako to meet the whole Rising Sun gang, but she was at least up to the challenge of a double date with Kutchan and Pigutan (I had never met Pigutan, Kutchan had never met Miwako). But... because Kutchan was reliable indeed, he scheduled a get-together with 10 of our Rising Sun frieands, and not surprisingly, I couldn't convince Miwako to go along. DON'T WORRY, I did spend most of the day with her, though.
Once again, we took our time getting up, and for some reason her mom insisted on driving us to Sapporo, even though she's afraid of driving both in the big scary city and during winter. We went to one of my favorite music stores, Weird-Meddle Records, where I picked up the newest releases from my favorite Sapporo band qodibop (which is pronounced by saying each letter individually), and also picked up a CD by another Sapporo band that I had previously only heard of, olololop, which turned out to be totally awesome. We then went to Tower Records, where I picked up, among other things that I couldn't afford back in August, the latest by OOIOO to complete my collection of bands with weird names. Sadly, when we were looking for a guidebook to Hakodate, we discovered that the bookstore on the floor below Tower Records had gone out of business since last summer, which is weird because it was the book store I most frequently frequented in Japan since I was an exchange student.
After roaming around for a while, we ended up in Susukino, which was hosting its own addition to the Sapporo Snow Festival, the Susukino Ice Festival. Instead of big sculptures made from snow, the big sculptures in Susukino were made from fire. I mean ice. Whatever. Perhaps the most perplexing was the big ice sculpture of Gundam entitled, "Gundam in Odaiba". Why was it named after the life-size Gundam sculpture in Tokyo? Why didn't they just name it "Gundam", or "Gundam's 20th Anniversary" or something? Weirdos. Another awesome series of ice sculptures featured actual factual delicious sea creatures preserved in blocks of ice (see below). When I went to this thing with Mizue a million years ago, the weather was warm enough that the ice was starting to melt and the fish were starting to drip various fluids, but this time around all of the ice sculptures were intact.
After Miwako saw me off at the subway station, I randomly ran into one of my favorite people in Sapporo, Nao, in the subway station on the way to hunt down my frieands. We met up with everyone at an awesome yakitori place, where we ate many tasty things and enjoyed a nomihoudai (I already posted an informative link to that one, right??). It was weird not only seeing everyone only 6 months after the last time, but also in winter. Yet another thing that made me feel at home in Hokkaido. Among those present were Chihirock, Asami and Yochan (whose wedding this coming July I REALLY wish I could attend), Nishio, Natsu (minus Yusaku, sadly), Hiropon, and a girl from our Rising Sun group whose name I can't remember. Oops. Oh yeah, and Pigutan, who I met for the first time. It was fun catching up with everyone, but not feeling like I had been away forever. I got asked a million questions about Miwako, and everyone was disappointed that they didn't get to meet her, but we're all hoping that I can get my two friend groups to merge for the Rising Sun 2010.
After our nomihoudai time was up, Nao, Natsu, and Asami had to leave, but the rest of us went to karaoke. It was like a small version of my going-away party last summer. Once again, I stuck to the ol' standbys. I sang Unicorn with Kutchan and Yochan, and a million Fishmans and Polaris songs with Chihirock. This time around, I went all out with the high-pitched wailing on Yurameki in the Air and couldn't stop smiling the whole time. Alas, the kids kept trying to get me to stay, but I had to catch the last subway to the last train back to Zenibako. So I said goodbye, and drunkenly made my way back home. Next time I will trick Miwako into meeting my friends. Next time.