The weekend following Jen’s visit was my first free weekend in nine weeks. Which, of course, I couldn’t allowed. Even though I get tired and rundown when I’m constantly busy, I’ll almost always choose that over having weekend with nothing to do. My friend Michael invited me the Wednesday beforehand to come visit him down in Nichinan. Nichnan is a long train-ride (3ish hours) away from where I live, so I rarely make it that far south. Faced with a weekend with no plans, though, I decided to do something I never do: be somewhat spontaneous.
There was basically no planning involved with this trip, something even less like me. I packed the night before, took only my backpack, and got on the train when I was finished with everything else I needed to get done on Saturday morning. It was kind of freeing traveling with so little thought beforehand. Michael picked me up at the station and we went to his friend’s cafe for lunch and coffee. I’d met his friend Yoshiko a few times before so it was really nice to see her again.
After that, Michael needed a shower so we went back to his place. I tried out his new Wii while he got ready, then Yoshiko picked us up. We grabbed one of the new ALTs, Syd, along the way to one of the area’s festivals.
Next up we went to another festival where one of Michael’s friends was performing in an older-woman K-Pop dance group. It was hilarious, ridiculous, and a ton of fun to watch.
The next day it was time for the main event, the reason Michael had invited me on that particular weekend: the bodybuilding contest. One of our fellow ALTs had entered, so we all wanted to go support him. However, I hadn’t slept more than three hours the night before and I was considering calling it a day after exploring a bit during the morning. Thankfully, at lunch I was able to rally enough to go to the contest with Michael, Syd, and a new CIR, Lisa. It was brutally hot, but Michael was kind enough to loan me a hat since I had forgotten mine.
There were two competitions: with tank tops and shirtless. Some of the contestants competed in both, but most chose one or the other. In the middle of the competition was a break followed by a hula performance by a local hula class.
I’m not sure that I need to see another bodybuilding contest, but the experience was definitely a unique one. It was nice to do something so out of the ordinary and hang out with some great people as well.