School festival, day two.

Everyone worked hard to keep up with the demand for yakisoba.

For day two of the school festival, I got a later start than I meant to, putting me on campus closer to 12:30. (What I didn’t know was that it ended earlier on Sunday, probably to allow everyone to strike their booths and put the campus back in order.) The club had added extra cooks this time so as not to fall behind, so they cranked out trays of soba (with meat and vegetables and sauce) as fast as they could.

Rather than advertising, I was put at the back of the line with a sign to show people where to stand. They were every bit as popular the second day, so I stood next to a tall guy in a maid outfit and greeted new customers. When more people came to help there, I moved to the previous day’s position and called out to passersby. My Saturday cohorts had been put on soba duty, so I was by myself most of the time, but the stuff was selling well enough they didn’t really need me. (Basically the same as Saturday minus the biting wind.)

Shortly before the cut off time, they stopped selling yakisoba. Apparently, they had run out of noodles, and there just wasn’t enough time to make a resupply trip worthwhile. They’d just cut up a mountain of cabbage, however, and had plenty of meat and sauce and other vegetables left, so they continued cooking for the club members to eat. It was pretty damn good, and I asked why we didn’t just sell that instead, but was told they’d also run out of trays. Thus, we all ate pretty well that day.

Cleanup was much more involved this time. Not only did the trays have to be cleaned, but a party was sent out to take down all the flyers they’d stuck to walls and poles around campus, the garbage had to be collected and hauled to its appropriate spot, and the final profits had to be tallied. With that finished, I helped them carry off the chairs we’d borrowed (not so heavy, but awkward to move around). The area was swept, the tables were broken down, and the leftover, unused ingredients (along with a full bottle of Suntory oolong) were given to Ryouhei (who’d won a game of jan-ken-pon for them). Someone produced a can of odor-masking spray, and the cooks (whose clothes undoubtedly smelled like soba and sauce) began using it… then playing with it, spraying each other and having a good time. (As a side note, Natascha never did show up; she later explained that the Halloween partiers had kept her up for a long time, so she’d slept in very late.)

Atsumi had told me that after events like that, everyone usually met somewhere for dinner. People split up, some going to bikes or buses, and one upper-classman even had a car. The plan was for everyone to meet in Sakae, but past that my group — Ryouhei, Konan, Bunji, and Hibino (I never have gotten his given name) — seemed to know very little about the specifics. We were also apparently charged with taking several things back to the club room on the other campus. Bunji and the upper-classman took the boxes ahead of us by car, while I discovered that there was a special bus going to Hoshigaoka.

Once we got to the other campus, we located Bunji, who’d been left to mind the boxes. We each grabbed something and started up the walkway into campus. It was dark by then, but Hoshigaoka had been just as busy as Nagakute, it seemed. Everyone was gathered to watch what looked to be a massive talent showcase, so we didn’t have to fight through crowds, but when we reached the right floor to walk over to the kendo club room, we were stopped by a member of another club. She told us that we couldn’t get through and would have to go around — I never quite caught why — so we took a long, wasteful route around and finally dropped things off in what looked to be what the kendo people use mostly as a storage room (since they practice in the gym). Finally finished, we walked back out of campus, this time passing through where we should have been allowed to go beforehand. (Bunji spent the rest of the evening vaguely peeved about being made to take the long way.)

A short subway trip took us to Sakae, where the five of us stood around while Bunji fought to get hold of someone who could tell us exactly where the hell we were supposed to meet. We finally got hold of a guy named Satoru, and descended into a below-ground restaurant (whose name I never did catch). Most everyone was there already, since they’d come straight to the meeting place. It was nice, with just enough room in our part to accomodate everyone. Each table had its own plates of food to be shared, so four of us (Ryouhei picked a different table, since the limit was four) sat down and began to eat. We were also under 飲み放題、which meant we could drink as much as we liked. I’d had a bit more than intended the night before, so I stuck to sours (which are heavy on taste and light on alcoholic content).

The food was tasty, and mostly stuff I’m not used to eating. Konan and I ordered sours, tried each others’, and then chose what the other guy had for our next one. We drifted from table to table, enjoying conversation. I met a handful of people — mostly upperclassmen — whom I didn’t normally see at club meetings. Most importantly, I felt kind of like I belonged, which is a good feeling, especially in a country where belonging is so important.

At the end of the night, one of the upperclassmen went around and collected money from everyone for dinner and drinks. I gladly paid, but a bit later she came back and returned about half what I’d given her. She explained why, but I didn’t quite understand, so I just took the refund and figured she had a good reason. Everyone moved back up to street level and we all went our separate ways, though I did ride the subway for a few stops with a couple club members before finally coming back to the dorm. Joining the kendo club was definitely the right thing to do.

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