Livin' the High Life, Otaku-style

Last weekend my Warhammer role-playing group held a traditional bonenkai party. Bonenkai translates as “forgetting the year party” and is basically an end of year party, with a few formal details (a little tiny speech at the start, then a toast). There is often also a follow-up shinnenkai (“new year party”) to greet the new year. These are important parties, because new year in Japan is as important as christmas in the west, so usually you will have a series of bonenkai with work, hobby mates and friends (my partner has 4 in a row this week).

Our bonenkai was held at the house of one of the players, Mr. Shuto, which is in distant Mie, so it was a sleepover with board games. The date coincided with the same time last year, when I had a farewell/christmas party with my group in the UK, also at a player’s house, also involving good food and board games. The picture above shows the spread we had this year:

  • Chicken tempura
  • Bruschetta
  • Pescatore pasta
  • Tofu satay

which was all delicious. Mr. Shuto is what, in Australian, we would call a “foody” – someone who really appreciates food. But unlike your average Australian foody he is completely unpretentious about his interests, which is nice. His food was really good. Below we see a close-up of the Red Bream (Tai) that he pan-fried whole in white wine and olive oil.

Celebratory Yumminess

This Tai was sooo damn good, that within a few minutes it ended up like this:

Not so celebratory for the fish...

Mr. 123 ate both eyes, and you should be able to see the tiny centre of the eyeball somewhere in that picture if you look really closely. Being given the eye is an honor in Japanese dining tradition (god only knows why!) and Mr. 123 was not reticent about indulging!

After dinner we played poker. This is the first time I have ever played poker, so I was happy to win a few rounds and come third. I’m usually a pretty crap card player, and Texas Hold ‘Em (which we were playing) is fiendish difficult. However, I had the pleasure of winning one hand by calling another player’s bluff – only he and I were left, and he started laying on the bets, but I guessed somehow that he was lying through his teeth, so I matched him all the way, even though I already knew my hand was a guaranteed loser, until he folded and I won. It was like being in a tv drama or something. Except I didn’t win anyone’s girlfriend, car, or job. Or FLGS. Oh well, maybe next time.

Finally, at about 1am, we rounded up the poker (it wasn’t going to end by itself). We spent a few minutes admiring Mr. Shuto’s extensive collection of first edition games (see my next post!) and moved on to Talisman 4th Edition (Japanese of course):

Multi-tiered Sleep Destroyer

If there’s one recommendation I would like to make to the designers of Talisman, as a man who played it at 2am after too many beers – make it a little easier to get over those damned bridges! It took us 3 hours to finish that game, and I didn’t crawl into bed until 4am, having lost horribly (Mr. Maple destroyed us in this game, and not just through luck). As a sign of how exhausting Talisman is in Japanese at 4am, here’s a picture of my character, suffering under early morning photographic composition skill decay:

Immune to alignment effects, but not to sleep deprivation

So at 4am we crashed, and I was astounded to discover that though I was sleeping in a room (on the floor) with 3 other nerds, no-one snored. Must be a Japanese thing. Or maybe it comes from sleeping on hard floors? Anyway, we had green curry and chips for breakfast and were late home because Mr. FLGS took a crash course in espresso making from Mr. Shuto. All round an excellent party. Mr. FLGS was chosen to make the speech at the beginning of the meal, and I thoroughly and whole-heartedly agree with his wish, that we continue playing together next year, and the year after.