Mark turns 40!

February 24, 2007 - Tokyo, Japan

After taking the long way to Tokyo, we returned to Kofu in Yamanashi prefecture for my birthday on the 20th. I am now 40! Ouch! We went to Miki’s parents’ house for a birthday dinner. More like a feast! There were 10 of us total. Afterwards five of us went out for for the karaoke nijikai (second party) until midnight. Terry is good at getting me to do things I might not otherwise have the guts to try. I have no problem eating crickets, but I mean things like shaving my head, and singing karaoke. We really had a blast. I think Terry and I hogged the mike most of the night.

My second birthday celebration was at Noya. Mari, the owner, calls her self my ‘Japanese mother’. I have known her now about seven years. She told all the regulars, so the small restaurant was jammed packed, as the Japanese like to say, ‘like sushi in a box’. It is a strange mix of characters, a president from my previous company, a grape farmer, a teacher/shrine operator, gasoline stand owner, and a sake manufacture. We had lots of great food and it was great fun seeing everyone again.

We visited an old hangout of mine, The Vault. The owner is Australian and I wish I had more time to chew the fat with him. I went to his bar twice, but the place is always so busy he doesn’t have much time to spend with everyone. Still it was great seeing Mark and his wife, Kimie and doing a little catching up. On our last day, I met two previous Japanese coworkers. The four of us went out to eat and drink. It was a great way to end our visit in Japan. We got our second chance to eat deep fried lotus root, one of our favorite Japanese foods.

And now it is time to leave Japan and continue on to Cambodia. We have been fortunate to have good Internet access here in Japan. We do not know what to expect for future destinations. We have had so much fun here and the 3 weeks have gone by fast. Japan is familiar enough to me that it seems like cheating counting this as part of our adventure. But from today, we venture into the unknown. Should prove to be a challenge I am sure. As always I am sad to leave Japan and my friends here. I made all the usual promises of coming back next year, and I intend to keep them. We have already started making plans to meet Miki and Shintaro in January 2008.

After meeting Glen and his wife in Tokyo (thank you so much for showing us around and treating us to dinner) we came back to Yamanashi. Then my memory is kind of hazy probably due to daily alcohol consumption. On the 20th, we celebrated Mark's 40th birthday with Miki and her friends. Miki's parents are awesome chefs!!! Since I can't speak or understand Japanese, while everyone was chatting in Japanese, I got really good at sampling all the yummy food (pigging out). But there was just so much great food!!! I was in a food coma when Mark told me we were going to karaoke. I have never heard Mark sing except for the New Zealand video with Malissa so I was happy to finally have the chance. To my surprise, Mark sings really well. He has a really great voice. Karaoke has always been about making fun of myself since I love to sing but I sing horribly. Miki is a great singer and she has a very sweet voice to go with her personality. I think Mark and I sang better once we gulped down more drinks, but it could just be our askewed perception. The next day we woke up late and around noon we went to karaoke by ourselves... so we don't have to share our microphone and wait for our turn. We drank beer and sang for 3 hours!!! We still sucked after 3 hours of practicing but I still think Mark has an awesome voice. We were exhausted from all the singing so we took a nap for 2 hours; then we went to Noya (Mark's Japanese Mom's restaurant) to celebrate his birthday yet again!!! Food is always great, but along with food we had beer and sake. Strong SAKE! They all treated us to dinner and drinks! As soon as you take a sip of sake, they insist on pouring and filling your cup to the rim! I tried horse meat for the first time, sashimi style. Mark's idea. Then we met Miki and Shintaro for drinks at the Vault at night, but I can't remember when that was. I just remember feeling sick and wanted to sleep again. Mark said he used to worry that he was becoming an alcoholic while living in Japan; I was worried I was getting alcohol poisoning. Miki and Shintaro, sorry I had to bail early that night... I had a great time with you guys and look forward to seeing you guys in Florida! Last night, we met with Mark's previous coworkers and I got to have fried lotus roots again! They are my favorite. They ordered lots of food including guts and tongue and I sampled them all. Lotus roots are still my favorite. Mark’s coworkers all spoke English so I chatted and didn't end up pigging out too much. We are leaving Japan today so no more Japanese beer for me until next year.


Birthday feast at Tanpopo
Okame and Hyottoko
'Mabudachi' members
High-tech toilet


February 24, 2007
Loved the birthday photos and stories. Bet no one ever had such a long birthday celebration and so internationl. Makes you happy to be 40 huh? Best of all was the one with the feast before you and you with your ams open wide in front of it. Awesome.
Com'on Terry you did not eat that tongue did you????
February 27, 2007
Happy Birthday, Mark!
February 28, 2007
Check your email.
John and Kazumi:
March 2, 2007
Happy Birthday Mark. Looks like you and Terry are having a great time on your adventure. We hope to see you in Hawaii after you guys get back...Maybe August?

Cheers and Enjoy!
John and Kazumi
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