This past weekend I had an amazing time. I studied abroad for a year in Kyoto at Ritsumeikan University from 2011-2012, so I hadn’t been back to Kyoto or my campus in over a year.

I was part of a theatre club that was extremely strict. Every day, even on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, we had to spend about 6 hours working because we had to put together a play in less than two months. My club has been around for many years, and all the posters of past performances cover the ceiling in our club room. We make our own costumes, choreograph dances, do all the sound and lighting ourselves, and most of the scripts are written by our club members.

I mostly have memories with my club members, and they were by far the biggest part of my experience in Kyoto. So I waited to make my way to Kyoto until they had a performance. Monday we had a holiday, though Ritsumeikan Students still had to go to school, which was good for me because I got to randomly bump into a lot of people I knew on campus.

Starting on Friday, I left work and took a Shinkansen to Kyoto, arriving around 8:30pm. I was starving. My friend picked me up and we went to eat in the underground shopping center, called Porta, and took a bus back to her house. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, so it was fun to catch up wtih her. She studied abroad in Canada and now she has to start the rigorous (and in my opinion, totally archaic and destructive) system of 就職活動 (job hunting).

Saturday we woke up and went to Kawaramachi, the shopping district of the city, to meet up with some of my former classmates. One of the girls was celebrating her birthday, so she reserved a karaoke room for us. Except, this wasn’t just any karaoke room. The karaoke building had an attached, yet seperate, Premium karaoke suite collection, and since it was her birthday, we were able to get chocolate cake and champagne for FREE. Um, yeah. It was fancy. The room had three huge TVs, plenty of seating, tables, and a stage with a microphone stand. We also had fancy lighting and a disco ball. Jealous?

So we got to sing our hearts out for about 5/6 hours (yes I’m serious) and eat cake and champagne. We left there and went to 焼き肉!!!! Pretty much, yakiniku is my favorite thing ever. You usually get about 2 hours for all-you-can-eat meat, veggies, rice, and ice cream. We sat and chat, and when time was up we went to a game center to do purikura, and then a UFO (crane game) machine caught my friend’s eye. She REALLY wanted this bunny plushie, and we told her to try it once. Well about 20 dollars and a lot of beggin the staff for help later, she finally won it.

Then we caught the bus and went home. I had to buy batteries for the keyboard for my iPad so that I could get some wordage in on my NaNo WIP because the night before, I hadn’t gotten much done at all.

The next morning, my friend had to basically kick me out because she had to take a train to Osaka to go to some sort of information session for job hunting purposes.

I was meeting a friend for lunch, and she was coming in from Osaka, so she couldn’t get in any earlier, so I decided to sit in Starbucks and write for a few hours. I was actually able to meet up with one of my JET friends who lives in Hiroshima and also went to Kansai for the weekend. She was in Starbucks at the same time I was, so we talked a little before she left to go exploring. I pulled out my iPad and the guy next to me kind of laughed and at first I was embarrassed, but he pulled out some sort of e-writer as well and I knew his amusement was because of understanding.

I sat and wrote for a good while, and finally my friend came and we were able to have lunch and shop. We didn’t really have a plan, but I had written on Facebook that I was in Kyoto station, and one of my Ritsumeikan friends told me he was heading toward us and was free to hang out. So we waited for him and sat in a cafe eating ice cream and catching up on all of our friends who are now graduated and working.

She had to run, so I hung out with him for a while, as the girl I was staying with still hadn’t gotten back from Osaka. We found a pet store and I squealed over the cuteness of the kitties and a little shiba inu who was trying to claw his way out of his enclosure. Then we spent a good hour in a massive bookstore, and I bought a book on Taiwanese phrases to help me when I go next summer.

Finally, my friend got back, and we were hungry again, so we ate dinner in Porta. I swear this weekend alone I’ve spent more time in there than I had my entire year in Kyoto.

We went home and went straight to sleep because Monday was my biggest day. We woke up, and mistook our bus time, so we ran for it. I didn’t have time to eat breafast, so running really took it out of me. We had to stand on a bus that was way over capacity. Mostly I couldn’t breath, but I was occasionally forced against the railing, hoping I wouldn’t die on the bus before I was able to see my play.

When I got to campus, my friend had class, so she ran off, and I wandered around for a while trying to see people I might know. I didn’t find anyone, so I left, discouraged, but excited because I had made plans to meet my old dorm manager. I took the trolley to my old dorm and it was really nostalgic walking down that road for the millionth time. Nothing has changed and yet everything has.

I got to my dorm, and the couple who manages it were waiting at the door for me. When they saw me, they got excited and ushered me inside for tea. I got to drink warm milk tea as we talked about how it still looks the same as when I was there. They told me that I lost weight (something I have been hearing a lot recently, but usually in the South, hearing it isn’t a good thing, and my grandma is always telling me I’m too skinny) and she told me something else. She told me that I was more grown up, and I looked more relaxed and healthy. A lot of things happened the year I lived in Kyoto. I ran around doing plays, I didn’t get along with most of the people in my dorm, and after a few weeks, I usually gave up on studying for class. I also got in an accident (I was on my bike and I was hit by a motorcycle) and I had to be rescued by my house managers many times.

It was really nice to hear that I looked well, because I think I am always looking inward, so sometimes I am hard on myself. When I got to hear that I looked more like a lady, more at peace, it really made me feel better.

I got to see a few people in my dorm who still live there, including a girl who had just been in an accident herself. She and I were really close during my time in Kyoto, so it was nice to see her, and I hope I made her feel a little bit better by making the trip to see her.

When I left, they gave me snacks they had bought for me (these people are too nice. I went home and opened them, and they are brownies. ugh. too nice…) and they waved at me as I went to catch the trolley back to campus.

I got back to school, and I saw a few of my friends around campus and most of them were really surprised to see me, which was fun. I bought snacks to give to my club members, and I invited one of the current SKP students to go to see the play with me, since neither of the friends I had invited could make it, and I had an extra seat reserved. She agreed to go, and when we got there, a few of my senpai were waiting outside.

We were able to go in 30 minutes before the play started, so I made my way inside. I used to have to do almost every job we have regarding reception, so it was funny seeing it from the opposite end. When someone comes in, we have to bow to them and tell them ‘welcome’ and take their umbrellas or other big luggage if they want us to. Then, we have to ask for their ticket or reservation name and give them a pamphlet. If they bring sake or snacks, we have to get them to write who it is from and to, and then we have to walk them to their seats.

As I walked in, I was greeted by a guy I am good friends with, so I laughed when he was super polite, and when I said his name, he snorted. I gave them my ticket, told them I had a reservation, and gave them the snacks, and then the guy who walked me to my seat, who is also good friends with me, had to try really hard to be polite to me as he said, ‘This way please.’

I was giggling the whole time. I saw a few other people I knew as they came in, and then the play started. It was amazing. One of the former set directors wrote the script, and I thought it was fantastic. The acting was really well put together, as it always is, and there were a good number of dances. One of my best friends was a yakuza character, and he had long hair and had to scream at the main character for a long time. I wanted so badly to be immersed in the scene, but all I kept thinking was, ‘I’ve seen you cry before hahahaha!’

After the play ended, I got to see all of the cast members and most of them were extremely shocked to see me. I didn’t want to tell any of them I was coming precisely so I could see their faces when they saw me come out of the theatre. I got to see so many good friends of mine, but at the same time, I didn’t have enough time to talk to them, so it was bittersweet. One of my fellow members wasn’t in the play, and he didn’t even work sound this time around, but he and I did sound and worked next to each other every single night for my entire year. I got my friend to text him, and even though he was in class, he came running out to see me for a few minutes before he got yelled at. I managed to get a picture with him before he had to run away again. I really love that about my club; the members are always so passionate and caring.

I had to take a bus to meet two girls who had studied abroad at Alabama, and we ate dinner before I had to catch my Shinkansen home. On the bus, though, a Russian lady was asking a Japanese girl if she spoke any English. Of course, the girl said no, so I tapped her on the shoulder and told her I do. She sat down next to me and told me she wanted to go to a castle and wanted to know if it was the right bus. The funny thing is that her English wasn’t the best, so she had to keep looking up phrases in a tiny, yellowed phrasebook. I haven’t been in many situations like that for a long time, since I’m fluent in Japanese and I went to Korea once after taking Korean class with a passable level to get around the country. It was really fun to talk to her. She told me she was a doctor, and she was getting older, so she wanted to go out and travel the world, spend her money, and get in better shape and get healthier.

The whole weekend went by so fast, but it was an amazing experience. I realized how many people I have who care about me, and even though most of them are far away, I always have means to talk to them.

I will update this post at the bottom with my word count for the day, but since I’m at work, I haven’t written yet today.

I know I need to write a ton today to catch up, but I am so ready to relax and watch tv for once that I’m not sure how much I will be able to pound out before bed. Wish me luck!

Updated: Word count for the day – 6112.

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