Sapporo Snow Festival, Day 2

Friday morning, everyone awoke bright and early but me. I know girls get a long time to get ready, so I counted on some extra shut eye before I threw on my clothes and sprinted out the door. What can I say? I have a lot of practice every day before school.
The greatest thing about traveling with super responsible people is that they plan everything, and they just tell you where to go! It was like I was a little kid on a family vacation again!
On this day, Charlotte’s main goal was to get a delicious cake from the cake shop a block away from the hostel. They were really extravagant and fun, and I bought a little fruity tart with a shiny shard of something on top that was either one of those edible gold sliver things or some trash accidentally dropped on the center of each cake. Whatever the culprit, I scraped it off without eating it. I’m a classy lady, but I don’t need to eat potentially-trash gold, thank you very much.
We headed to see the famous fish market, where Crystal astounded a vendor by wishing him an “ohayo gosaimasu.” The irony, of course, is that she speaks the best Japanese of any of us — so good that she could possibly explain the concept of irony TO HIM, which doesn’t even exist in Japanese — and here he was fawning over her ability to say Good Morning. I guess this happens to a lot of foreigners, but of course, their stereotypical low expectations of me are horribly true, as I often tell people “thank you” instead of “good morning.”
We ate lunch at a swanky-looking sushi place — the type that give you an assortment of disgusting fish, instead of you getting to choose the ones you can swallow. My comrades were more accustomed to eating mystery fish, so they cheered me on by assuring me that this tentacle on my plate was actually soft and squishy. After reminding them that neither “soft” nor “squishy” are good selling points for sucker-based sea life I’m about to consume, but I was able to mix it with enough wasabi and soy sauce to render it edible.
An awkward encounter came at the end of lunch when, with our cake boxes in tow and ready to be eaten, we asked if it was okay to eat in the restaurant. A normal question to ask in America, no doubt, and it’s not like they served some kind of dessert fish we’d be robbing business from. Then again, in America when you can’t do something, you’re told like a normal person. Sometimes you’re called a rude name and the chef throws something at you, but at least you KNOW.
Here, the woman informed Crystal that, “Well, we don’t have any coffee…” Shereena piped in with, “That’s okay! We don’t need any coffee!” which was exactly what I was thinking, but apparently we both missed the subtlety. The woman sucked air in through her teeth and ran back to the kitchen, presumably to ask the owner if she could be allowed to live if we ate dessert there.
It appeared he was a merciful owner, and sent her out with…a stack of plates and forks AND refills on our (full) cups of green tea that had JUST passed beneath the scalding level where we could have begun to drink them. Now came the guilt. Sometimes I think Jewish mothers should come to Japan for some training.
We hastily ate our cakes, wondering how we should pay back this act of kindness in light of our blatant disrespect for unspoken, subtle codes of conduct. The girls tried counting how many workers were in the back, perhaps to buy them each a cake from the same cake store. I suggested buying an entire cake that they could all share. Dave, being a guy, happily chomped down on his delicious dessert, not giving it a second thought. That is, until he could hold his estrogen-deficient opinion back no longer and asked us why we didn’t just buy them all luxury cars for their trouble. He had a point. We just left and bowed deeply. They probably spit in our green tea refills.
We finished the afternoon by visiting a nice outdoor bath in a hot spring, followed by (ugh) more shopping. Arguably the antithesis to a relaxing spa, I was a little shopped out by this point and joined Dave in the corner, who was reading a book he had brought along just for the occasion.
I didn’t have high hopes for this dinner everyone had been talking about. Remember how some people call buffets “baiking” (viking)? Well, there’s another type of meal that is inexplicably called Genghis Khan, and it appears to mean lamb (or other meat?) cooked on a grill on the table. It’s also often all-you-can-eat, and I didn’t know if I was the biggest lamb fan. Well, it turns out, I am a huge lamb fan. In fact, if I bike past a lamb ever in this farming town, I can’t promise I won’t pedal over to it and take a bite out of it right there.
Shereena opted for the all-you-can-eat version, and they made her sit at a different table, because you can’t trust us shifty-eyed gaijin. I shared a hot plate with Crystal and damn if I didn’t channel Alton Brown or something. I was flinging meat, onions, and sprouts, dousing them with some mystery delicious sauce — just enough for maximum succulence. Oh, and we were all wearing bibs, so we looked pretty ridiculous.
After the waiter brought out Shereena’s first serving, he asked her if she understood what “all-you-can-eat” meant. It’s true, she doesn’t look like the sort of person who would take a bite out of a live lamb on the side of the road like some people, but she assured him she knew what it meant and, I assume, did him proud.
Afterwards, most everyone was in a food coma, but Dave, Crystal, and I wanted to do karaoke. We found a place across from the hostel and paid for an hour (that turned into two). Yeah, 3 people singing to each other in a small room may seem weird to you, but we made the best of it! Crystal had a really good voice, and Dave and I were kind of humbled by our own oft-off-key tomfoolery, but when you’re with friends, it’s nice to know that it’s okay to do things like that. It’s okay to rap Eminem, even if you’re a girl and all the words are wrong because the Japanese transcriber couldn’t understand him. It’s okay if Crystal chose “Jump Around” and Dave and I shot up to mosh awkwardly like it was a 7th grade dance. That’s how you know you feel comfortable around people.
Finally, exhausted, we headed back to the hostel for some shut eye, even though there were now strangers sharing our room, since it was the weekend. I told Dave that I would cut them in their sleep if they stole my DS while we were out. He suggested I stab them pre-emptively, just so they know who’s boss around there. I’m still king of the top bunk, you know. I could leap at them like a spider monkey.

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