I won’t be able to pull this off in my financial state right now.
So, for the rest of this post, allow me to speak as a restless rich young billionaire who’s about to throw a surprise birthday bash for his best friend—because he kind of missed the real birthday this year.
Like what usually happens, I’d tell Jake that we’d be going on another food trip this weekend. He says yes. And since the supposed restaurant is near their place, which is conveniently near the airport, I swing by their house and we go off. In to the airport and on to a plane.
Off we go to Japan!
How I got him a passport and visa is but a mere sleight of hand. Of course he can’t resist asking where are we going and why. Hah! Like I’d tell him.
From the airport we go straight to Sawada-koen Rotemburo Onsen at Dogashima, Izu-hanto, which happens to be one of best outdoor hot springs in the country. And when we go in, we are greeted by Japanese women in beautiful kimonos who gives us smiles and offer us a fresh change of clothes. Yukata to be exact. But when he comes out, he’s wearing a hakama. By now, he suspects something else altogether.
We are called out of our room and into another where a bigger surprise awaits.
Not only is the room bigger with a better view of the Pacific Ocean, a number of his friends are there—all dressed up in a particular Japanese uniform. I take off my yukata and reveal the uniform underneath. What kind of uniform? The ones from the anime series, “Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei!” which is one of his favorite anime. By now, Jake gets why he’s wearing a hakama: he unknowingly cosplayed Nozomu Itoshiki, the lead character of the anime. This also gives everyone a good excuse to cosplay or crossplay, since the girl characters outnumber the boy characters. Or any of the Itoshiki household.
They greet Jake as if he was Nozomu Itoshiki and class was just beginning. And, of course, we all sing him a happy birthday.
We lead him to the seat of honor. And the games begin. Cue in the groans and complaints and the objections. But that’s the condition: to get a pass for the bath, we must play games. So variations of the hangman are played.
As promised, after working a good deal of sweat, we head out for the baths.
Dressed in yukatas, we head back into the room where Japanese and French fares await us. Practically everyone is inebriated in a matter of two hours, thanks to the overflowing sake. And while everyone is making a ruckus, a lonely plate of cake watches me as I go out to and call our parents. They have to know that we arrived okay and we’ll go home tomorrow with a terrific hangover only an otaku could have.