Yes, back again at “I Love You.”
There’s not a lot to really talk about with that night, mainly because I drank too much beer and stayed up too late. So I’ll try and sketch out what I remember. Before the beer started I was about to show Sam and Alvin the Tim Tam Suck, when a couple walked into the dining room area, and I asked if they were Australian. They said no (they were Canadian), but pointed to their travelling companion as she walked in. I casually commented I had some Tim Tams. She ran over and scoffed one fairly instantly. (Although, she’d probably describe it quite differently but it was a good scoff.) Anyway, none of us doing the actual act of the Tim Tam Suck had a major chocolate explosion, which is a shame because that’s what makes it so good. Sam didn’t really understand the significance of it all, thinking it was just another chocolate biscuit. Heathen.
We stayed up pretty late talking about things like squat toilets and drinking cheap beer. There was a Japanese guy with us, who didn’t say much most of the night. His English was okay though. He was flipping through my Lonely Planet phrase book, and in a pause in the conversation he just says “I’m not religious, but I believe in God.” (Which is in the section on religion and politics.) It was funny at the time.
Most of the conversation had to do with me and Karen (the Aussie shelia) using expressions and terms that were new to these Candians. And trying to dispel common myths, about Fosters Beer mostly.
We also consumed a lot of Tiny Teddies. And beer.
I was travelling to Okayama the next day, hung over. Not the best thing. Also had way too much stuff to carry again that I had bought at the Astro Boy shop (on the second visit.) I’m starting to miss things like my CD collection, but I’m glad I didn’t bring (or buy here) a portable CD player. Just another thing to lug around. And I didn’t get a seat for most of the trip, so I sat on the floor and read my Kafka.
At Okayama it was raining. It’s starting to be a trend really. I go somewhere, it rains. Perhaps because we’re getting into the rainy season, it might rain more. I don’t know, it’s just a hunch. Also needed to wash clothes and wash self. When it rains, I just forget about the personal hygene thing, there’s no point. Especially since it was a humidity rain.
When I arrived at the Youth Hostel the guy who runs it freaked out, he thought I was coming the next day. I got the last available bed. I wouldn’t have minded going back to the station and finding a business hotel, at least I’d get a private bathroom, and a decent bed. I had dinner and brekkie there which was really good, but I had to watch the other people (not the students) to see how they were eating, so I didn’t do a fox paz, so to speak.
The place was full of students from a kendo club. I think I freaked them out a bit. I think I freak out a lot of Japanese people. In Japan before someone eats a meal they’ll say “itadakimasu,” and when they finish they’ll say “gochisosama.” Think of it like grace, but I don’t think it has a religious background, more a cultural one. Anyway these kids did it in unison, with a clap. It was so cool. And at the end, they all made sure everyone had finished, and did it again.
At the YH there were a few blokes doing trips for Golden Week. One had caught a ferry from near Tokyo to Kyushu and was riding his motobike back home. Another was doing a driving trip. Another was doing a cycling trip. This last guy wanted to make an early exit. A 5am exit actually. And all his stuff was packed into those plastic shopping bags that make a lot of noise when they move. And he was repacking his bag, which had all these shopping bags of stuff in them. At 5am. In the morning. And because we had all these students staying there, as 16 year old boys are won’t to do, in the next room they stayed up quite late the night before just chewing the fat. So, at least breakfast was yummy even if I couldn’t identify the food, nor how to eat it. Or focus properly from lack of sleep.
Okayama has one of the Top 3 Gardens in Japan. I saw one of the others in Kanazawa. It rained on me there as well. The Okayama garden was okay, at least it wasn’t too packed full of tour groups with microphone weilding tour guides. Reminded more of The Botanical Graden in Sydney, except this one had really lush green grass which was roped off and you couldn’t walk over most of it. But being the Sunday of Golden Week Holiday, there was a festival amosphere. I got to see some Taiko drumming which was really good. It’s Japanese traditional drumming, but very active and rythmic. There were a few blokes dressed in full Samurai gear for photo taking too.
I went north to Takahashi as that afternoon. I think I keep finding these little towns where I’m the only Westerner to visit for years. There was a poster in the Youth Hostel for this really, really good looking zen rock garden. It’s in Takahashi. So I decided I’d got for another train trip. Very zen, or maybe not, that’s the question. It wasn’t the sort of rock garden like before where you end up questioning the nature of existence, but more of a reflective point where the nature of things come into focus. The whole shrine was opened up as well. I wished the Shinto Abbot could have spoken English because I’d have loved a chat whit him. As it was all I could do was ask if it was okay to take photos, and did they have any postcards for sale. Sometime I feel sorry for these guys, imagine if the minister at your local church for 5 days a week sold tickets to people to visit and gawk at the church, and on Sunday do all the religious stuff.
My last day in Okayama consisted of walking down to the coin laundry I spotted from the bus. A nice, huge, clean place. When I started walking I came across this small, dingy, disgusting place. It could not have been that. No, I said to myself. So I kept walking, and soon I found washing nirvana. It was the Ying to the other Yang (or the other way around, whatever.) Huge, cheap (well, I think they were trying to compete with the scungy place 2 minutes up the road,) and very cool washing machines. Self sudsing so your clothes get a rinse first, wash, rinse, everything. And the dryers. Properly vetilated, large devices that took so little time. I washed everything. I was tempted to strip off and do the Levi Jeans ad, but I didn’t. All these other people were bringing in their blankets and so on. I was folding my underwear. Clean clothes. All of them (well, except what I was wearing, which really, really stank, as did I.) And the magical part, all my socks matched.
And then it was off to Hiroshima.