Alright then, onto the next holiday season item: the wine festival! It was on November 15th, and the night before, we'd gone to a show at Earthdom called TJLAFEST 2015.
There was this interesting, low-key, one-man Swedish act called Years Passing..
And Coffins? I think this was a Japanese band called Coffins.
And mainly, especially, a German band that was the reason I wanted to go,
Downfall of Gaia.
They're this really interesting, hybridised, atmospheric-black-experiemental-post metal, which is just the kind of thing I've been listening to a lot of for a little while now.
But, unexpectedly, we spent almost their entire set in the adjacent room with the bar talking with The Caution Children, a screamy gazey American band from Florida, and getting drunk.
I remember that they'd paused during the set as if their drummer had made a mistake, but their singer explained to me that the guy had actually, semi-accidentally taken a kidney punch from a professional martial artist the previous day and was pissing blood, so they were just making sure he was okay to continue playing lol. He was really nice and seemed alright, so here's hoping there's no permanent damage.
The singer was a very thoughtful and intelligent guy with whom we talked at some length about the difficulties and frustrations we've been having here, and how Tokyo isn't shiny and chrome forever like tourists and vacationers all seem to think after spending a few days being dazzled by the nicest bits of it. One of the guys in the band is also stupidly handsome, but I don't remember his name. Even though we missed most of the set of the band I'd really wanted to see, we had a great time.
...Except then we had to wake up super early the next morning after not enough sleep to travel inland about 3 hours to the wine festival, which is held every year at a farm just outside Ashikaga, in Tochigi prefecture.
Rejon and a group of her friends have been going for about 5 years in a row, and she'd told me about it a good couple of months beforehand.
I'd been super excited about it for a while, but man, we were so, so hungover. It was really bad. I just couldn't get up and get going because every time I moved I thought I would fall over and puke, but then couldn't make myself do it. You know how it is, when you're like, alright, this is clearly the only way for me to feel better.. But then it won't happen. Terrible.
Hannes was in a bad mood because we left like, I don't know, 40 minutes or an hour later than we'd wanted to, and we hadn't caught a faster train (for the first of I think 3 lengthy train rides), etc. etc. We both passed out a little bit on the last train, and miraculously were fit to be among the living once again just in time to drink all day! Woooo!
So nice, right?
Getting to this area they'd set up was a treat; because of the too-warm ocean the weather everywhere this year is fucked, and Japan's been having an unnaturally toasty, latecoming winter. We almost slipped and fell on the muddy vinyard slope trying to get up to this spot, which wasn't more than a few steps up but felt perched on some distant precipice considering how we were feeling, and we were totally sweaty by the time we got to the group. All I could do was strip layers off and put my hair - which I had of course chosen to wear down, thinking it'd be quite chilly - in a messy ponytail for a while. But, alas, we had made it.
Speaking of how this spot wasn't at all far up the slope, Rejon and Don, who were already quite buzzed, told the fantastic story of how they actually had been up at the top one year, near the treeline, and how an enormous spider slowly dropped down on them from the tarp above, clearly unused to humans encroaching thusly. They were very slow to react to it because of the wine and the dramatisation of the whole thing was abolsutely hilarious.
Look! Little wooden stakes you can buy and stick in the ground to hold your complimentary wine glass!
It took the trees so long to change. The bright yellow ginkgos in Shinjuku are still shedding their leaves even now, going into mid-January.
For the 3000 yen entry fee, you got this little goodie pack with your choice of a bottle of white or red, a complimentary glass, a little packet of wooden silverware, and either a packet of parmesan or a nice variety of mixed nuts. Hannes bought the number of different cheeses you see and ended up getting I think a couple more bottles of the vinyard's wine over the course of the day. He also ended up leaving his complimentary packet and glass behind and being drunk enough not to care. And you'd better believe I made myself a bit sick enjoying all of it, because developing allergies to milk and casein is total bullshit. The cheese was better than the wine, imho.
Love this one!
I bought myself that black floppy hat I found in our awesome local second hand store for my birthday because I'd been wanting one for a while.
"Hmm, why yes, my good sir, I think I would like to drink myself drunkier."
Nope, okay, there are Christmas decorations for sale. Just feels springtimey. Got it.
It was decided that we would walk up to the top of the little mountain thing on the southward-facing slope of which the vinyard was situated, because it had become somewhat of a tradition, and because the giant inflatable wine bottle advertising the event was anchored up there.
so folyage. such autum. many sunny. waow.
Love this one, too!
Great view, right?
We sat up there a while and had really, really nice conversations at just the right level of drunkenness for everyone to be good natured and have a great time. I can see why this is such a perfect event to go to!
-sexy dances with wine bottle-
Okay, so like, you know, basically the perfect, approproate level of drunkenness.
Ah, and just as we were coming back, so too was it getting dark and winding down..
The festival finishes at 5 I think, so we just had a few hours of good times there, but it was honestly worth the long trip.
After we all loudly and drunkenly boarded the free charter bus back to Ashikaga's train stations and had been riding it for some minutes, it was decided that we would get Indian food near the site of Rejon and Don's "Triple P" story, which involved an extremely drunk man they'd seen a few years before.
A friend was standing there with him as he was puking his guts out onto the sidewalk.
"Aw, man, that's rough," they said as they approached.
As they got closer, they could also see that the guy was pissing himself.
When Rejon first told this story I was like, "Oh god, I know what the third P is".
Yep, this sorry son of a bitch was also shitting himself, right there on the sidewalk, as his poor friend was like, "What am I even doing with my life". The infamous "Triple P".
There's been a lot of discussion about how we all would have thought this would literally have meant that the guy was dying, or how, if he were also to hiccup or sneeze during this bout of Dantean torment, that one of those on top of everything else, at least, would have surely killed him instantly.
So, we had a moment of silence for Triple P Guy, wondered briefly if he was ever able to live a normal life after that, and then we were served our curry. Who wants poo-coloured curry?!
To be honest, the food was crap lol. But we had an awesome time all around, and definitely want to go to the next Coco Farm Winery Harvest Festival if we can.
Look! The train station's schedule board was even bedecked in inflatable grapes. Cute!