While I was on my Far East visit to see Felix in Japan, needless to say, we spent far too much time pouring sake down our throats.  He was living there teaching conversational English to Japanese business people and when I was in town, his students wanted to take the round-eyed American to dinner. 

Felix lived in the small town of Fukushima, which is pretty much the Dayton, Ohio of Japan, just a small nondescript town in the middle of nowhere.  (Fukushima coincidentally is the town that had the nuclear disaster in March 2011)  After 48 hours of traveling the globe, when I jumped off the train, Felix greeted me with a “Welcome to Fukushima, congratulations on being the fifth American to set foot here in the past three years.”  The other four being Felix, Charlie Hustle and Felix’s parents. 

On the first night in town, Felix’s students offered to take me to a fancy Japanese dinner.  (I guess in Japan they probably just call it “dinner”)  They picked Felix’s regular hang out, Shoya, where we ate a huge pretty amazing meal. Felix somehow sneakily pawned off a plate of horse meat on me by presenting it to me as a beef platter.

His student’s were eager to practice their limited English, so for the entire meal they dropped some deep English knowledge on me and I spent two plus hours answering questions like:

“Chip, do you like the color blue?” (Pronounced: Barooooooa)
Very deep… how am I supposed to answer this? “Yes, I like blue. Do you like Blue?”

“Chip, do you like to ski?”
Hmm, nice, real question. “Yes, I like to ski. Do you like to ski?”
“Yes. I do like to ski.”
“Cool. Where do you ski in Japan?”… Silence, smiles and shoulder shrugs.

Great at asking the questions, not so great at the actual conversation.

Before dinner they brought me a can of Asahi which Felix encouraged me to shotgun.  I’m not being pompous when I say I am awesome at shotgunning beers, because I am.  So, I took the can, poked a hole on the bottom and cracked it open.  In typical shotgunning fashion, I finished it in about one nanosecond.  Apparently Japanese men don’t shotgun beers, because all of the women started pointing at my belly, giggling and looking into the empty can as if I had just pulled off some kind of magic trick , making the beer disappear.  “Hehehehehe!  Where did the beer go? Hehehehehe!  Is it in your belly?  Hehehehehe!”  Yes, the fat American has poured the beer into his belly.  Thanks for making me feel like a slob Felix.

After dinner they brought a huge bottle of sake to the table.  The server made a big presentation and put a plate in front of me.  Huh?  A plate for sake?  He then put a box on the plate, a large bowl in the box, a small bowl in the large bowl and a sake glass in the small bowl.    It was like a little Japanese bowl tower.  The server then reached over my shoulder and quite grandiously began to pour the bottle into the glass.  As the glass filled I reached for it and he pushed my hand away and kept pouring the entire bottle.  It overflowed like a waterfall filling the rest of the bowls, boxes and plates.

One of the students gestured for me to have a drink, so I took the shot glass and like a typical American, threw it back.  This drew a small round of applause from everyone and Felix smiled and gave me a thumbs up.  I felt like I was embracing this Japan thing.  “This isn’t so weird.  I can do this.”

I’d finished the shot glass but still had the rest of the tower to go, so I thought, “Holy crap.  How am I going to drink this whole freakin’ thing?  Well…  there’s no time like the present.  Let’s not screw around. I’m a professional here.  Let’s get to drinking!” 

I grabbed the small bowl, tilted it back and slugged it down.  A much bigger round of applause followed and a much bigger thumbs up from Felix.  I thought, “Glass and bowl number one down…. bowl two, box and plate left to go.”

I grabbed the large bowl and Felix’s eyes got as big as the plate.  I leaned the large bowl back and poured it down my throat.  No real round of applause this time, as much as some scared faces on most of the students.  Felix on the other hand was dying laughing, so I asked,
“What’s so funny?  I may as well chug this thing.  Why prolong the pain?” 
Felix calmly replied, “Nothing’s funny.  Just keep going.”

Picked up the box… Boom!  Chugged it.   Blank stares and more giggling from Felix.

Picked up the plate… Kapow!  Slammed it.  Everyone’s jaw is in their lap and Felix is now rolling on the floor laughing.

“Dude, what’s so funny?”
“You idiot, that was for the whole table not just for you! That was a $200 bottle of sake!”
“Why didn’t you tell me!? How was I supposed to know? You kept laughing so I thought it was ok.”
“It was too funny to stop!”

These people took me out to a nice dinner and bought me the most expensive bottle of sake.  Of course the asshole American decided to chug the entire thing, in typical fat, rude, American fashion….

Apparently after you chug an entire bottle of sake in five minutes, you do not feel so great the next morning.  (Please attempt to ignore Felix’s naked roommate in the background.)

Advertisements