Ah, to be on an all expenses paid vacation (excluding ichi mon for something and incidentals, but hey its pretty darn cheap) with the men of the Ubuyama Shobodan (Fire Brigade, or as we Americans say Fire Department).
Right now we are in Naha, and as you can probably guess, I am in an internet cafe. Just before this we went out for a phat teppanyaki dinner complete with some excellent grilled shrimp (shrimp stew, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp sandwitch, barbecued shrimp, shrimp ice-cream, shrimp jello...), rare steak (I thought they only knew how to do well done in this country), vegetables, dessert, and beer. Okinawa is famous for a bitter melon know as Goya- it is bitter as hell, and only tastes O.K. with other food (like eggs and bacon) to mask it.
Rare tenderloin- bloody steak tastes like heaven after all you've had for the past six months has been well done kwakisurpiniku. Oops...What I meant to say was well done kwakisurpipiku.
This is the head of the giant shrimp. The teppan chick used two steel spatulas to squish it criss-cross style, and then used what looked like a concrete spreading tool to mash it into a "cracker" (read, well done shrimp brains, eyes, antannae, carapace, and other parts of the head which I now do not come to mind). It was actually pretty good if you were not thinking about brains while you ate it, but was still good even though I was indeed thinking about them.
This was followed up with pig intestine soup (hormone miso shiru) and sweet beans soaked in black sugar syrup topped with shaved ice.
Honestly, the whole dinner kicked major ass, and the 5000 yen tab was picked up for me! Makes the intestine soup that much more memorable.
Anyhow, after dinner, the guys (all married with kids) decided to go out to a snack bar (basically a place where you pay for young girls to talk to you. The good ones are pros at feigning interest in whatever you say and laughing at jokes that are not at all funny. What a shitty job!). I was offered the option of paying 4000 yen for all you can drink for 50 minutes with the girls, but graciously declined. Why should I pay money to have a conversation with someone who sees it as work? Why do people pay money to have one sided conversations? What do they get out of it? Many of them opt for "special treatment" later on, so why not just cut to the chase and save the pillow talk with someone who isn't really listening? I am really curious, but I don't think that I will ask anyone these questions on this particular trip.
The other reason why I didn't go just to drink and to hang with the boys is because we are diving tomorrow. Now, I'm not a professional, but diving is a very demanding and dangerous sport. These guys live in the mountains and are not really good at swimming or marine sports. Most of them are in relatively good shape from farming, but daikon picking skillz do not carry over to functioning under water. I am worried that these guys who have been drinking since 8 O'clock this morning are gonna be dehydrated tomorrow. Physical exertion and a hangover might prove to be a problem. Hopefully the dive master will be experienced and competent.
Anyhow, I am snapping away with the digicam and hopefully I will have some good ones to show when I return. Wish me luck.