Oh, holy hell do I have a lot to cover. Unfortunately, due to a lot of the strenuous events listed below, I’ve come down with a 100.5 fever and the flu. I’m being confined to my room for the next couple days. Oh well. Plenty of time to blog.

First, I finally uploaded photos from my birthday. We went to this bizarro theme restaurant called Alcatraz ER, which had an insane asylum theme. When you checked in, they asked your name, what your mental illness was (schizophrenia, the only one I remembered the Japanese for), your mental age (8 years old), and then they clapped you in handcuffs and gave you a shot from a gigantic needle…

…which ended up being just a hand stamp.

The rooms were prison cells, there were bloody handprints and dismembered limbs everywhere, and overall the atmosphere was just amazing. The men’s bathroom was completely mindblowing in the dark. The drinks were extremely entertaining, from the denture-filled “tooth replacement” to the vibrator-mixed “play by yourself.”

The coolest part had to be the show they put on every two hours. There were monitors in all the rooms, which they’d switch to a scratched-up video of a puppet (like in the movie Saw), they’d kill the lights, and set out monsters to fuck with you. They would then choose one guy, drag him from his cell, wrestle him to the ground, and give him a shot (the big shot syringe). Afterwards, they’d play happy music and celebrate him being “cured.”

Overall, a grand time was had by all.

Which brings us to the next bit of travel, up to the great white northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. They were putting on their famous snow festival (Yuki Matsuri), which we Ibaraki JETS had heard was a don’t-miss-it event, so our JET chapter arranged a big trip up north. Around 40 JETs came along, taking an 18-hour boat ride each way. On the ride up, we caught the eye of some extremely drunk truck drivers, who decided to party with us. Highlights included:

  • My friend Sid being given a package of tofu.
  • This guy stealing April’s hat and dancing with it for like 15 minutes straight.
  • Shawn stripping down to his boxers and giving everyone a show. He wouldn’t get dressed for like 30 minutes after that.
  • Some insane 53-year-old, who introduced himself by patting my crotch and declaring that it was “soft.” He pointed to his own, and said it was hard. He then offered to show me. The conversation went downhill from there. I am actively trying to forget this part.

After getting to Sapporo, we went to Satoland, which is sort of like a snow-themed amusement park. It had snow golf, a snowman village, a snow labyrinth, a massively long snow slide, and hot air balloons (which sadly were not functioning the day we went). It also had some insanely creepy snow sculptures. We befriended some local kids, whom we convinced we were from Mars, and that we crash landed on Earth. Good times.

We saw rather a lot of cool ice and snow sculptures, as well as some nightmareinducing ones, but the highlight of the trip was meeting a rather charming young lady named Kana.

Because our JET group was so large, we tended to splinter into smaller groups for exploring. One such group consisted of very few Japanese speakers, so when they were discussing in English which stop to get off their bus at, Kana, who is extremely good with English, helped them out. They struck up a friendship, and she offered to show them around Hokkaido a bit the next day.

I tagged along for the tour, which involved going up in a cable car to the top of a nearby mountain overlooking Sapporo. There were adorable bunnies. It was great. I practiced my Japanese with her, and generally had a good time. Later that night, we all went to a club, and Kana tagged along. We ended up dancing together… getting closer… talked for a bit…

…and ended up being “that couple” at the club. The one that makes out all night in the corner. In our defense, neither of us had ever done anything like that before, and neither of us had so much as held someone’s hand for, literally, years.

We ended up talking at the club for a long time about life, the universe, and everything. What sort of jobs we wanted, what we’d like our ideal lives to be, good and bad things about Japan and America… the girl’s better traveled than I am, and pretty sharp to boot. We share a lot of the same general ideals, which has actually proven to be a rarity here in Japan… so it was a pleasant surprise.

The next day we ended up visiting lots of snow sculptures and posing for photos. Long story short, I think we’re going to try to do the long-distance thing, and specifically meet up in Okinawa sometime in May. We’ve been emailing back and forth since then, seemingly confounding many of the JETs who wagered it was going to be a one-night stand.

The cap to this story is an explanation of this post’s title. In Hokkaido, there’s a very famous type of chocolate called Shiroi Koibito. Super-famous — it’s practically synonymous with Hokkaido. The name Shiroi Koibito literally means “beloved white one,” and it was named after falling snowflakes. Because Valentine’s Day was imminent, they were making huge pushes for it everywhere, and Kana got me some. When she gave it to me, she called me her shiroi koibito.

I just about melted.