I hung out after the show with Stephanie and her mom and dad. That was fun. It was my first time to meet her parents, who turned out to be really down to earth (but I wasn't that surprised since Stephanie is as well). All in all, it was a fantastic, music filled night.
The weekend before I traveled up to Nagano with my friend Mike and his buddies. That was both fun and frustrating at the same time. For one, the organization was awful. First they told me to meet them at 1pm at Akabane where I'd get picked up. Then at 11am they called to say make it noon. I got there at noon, but they didn't show up until 2pm.
It took a good 4 hours to get to Keisuke's home. Keisuke is a friend of Mike's from LA who is now back in Japan and a singer with a rock group. He came with two of his friends.
First order was to check into his parent's house. A big home, as big as any you'd see in the US, which just goes to prove that the image of small homes in Japan is really limited to the urban areas. From there were went over to a "Firefly festival" going in the center of town. Lots of people, lots of stands... It's been a while since I was at one of these "matsuris." The stress of the drive behind me, I was able to enjoy the totally Japanese atmosphere.
The main event was a field filled with fireflies. That was nice to see. I grew up with fireflies back in NY. Unfortunately, you'd get these morons who would try to take a photo with their flash completely blinding everyone around.
The next day we went home, but first stopped by some large lake in the area that had some of the clearest water I've ever seen in Japan. My favorite thing was this insanely huge, tacky boat made up like a swan. Only in Japan.