The Moriyama family (Semmy's friends who absolutely loved him) invited me over to their house for two nights. Mr. Moriyama is an art director for Anime such as Bleach (you can see his name in the credits!!)and Mrs. Moriyama works on Pokemon at a studio. They have two daughters, Natsumi and Ayumi. Natsumi is my age and has really good English and Ayumi is a highschooler. They are a very loving and energetic family, eager to take me everywhere and anywhere.
I met Mrs. Moriyama in Shinjuku to watch Natsumi and her hard rock band play a live show. There were a bunch of local bands playing, so it was a lot of fun! Shinjuku is known as the "dangerous" city because of its nightlife. Host clubs (see above picture for host club ads) are really popular in this area, a place where adults go to buy drinks from "hosts" that will give them lots of attention and compliments. They even have "hosts" hang around outside the clubs, dressed fashionable and in black, to get customers to come inside. Along the streets they have ads with pictures & names of the popular "hosts". Ends up being a very expensive night. Sort of like a more innocent version of a strip club. Afterwards, we went out to a traditional-looking Japanese restaurant for dinner and drinks with her band. It was a lot of fun meeting her band because they knew enough English for us to get along really well.
We ended up staying out pretty late, almost missing the last train back to Takasago where the Moriyama family lives. They have a traditional Japanese house (pretty tiny), where all the girls slept in the same room on padded mats on the ground. The next morning we went to the neighboring town to get lunch and see the shrine where Natsumi had her Coming of Age Ceremony, a celebration of adulthood for those who turned 20 the previous year.
Valentine's Day is coming up and is HUGE here. All the girls make chocolates for their boyfriends, crushes, and guy friends in hopes that they get chocolate back from their lovers on White Day on March 14th. Everywhere you go you see advertisements and chocolates specially set-up. Japan is definitely heavy on the couple scene, so it is kind of a depressing time to be hanging around here, ha ha.