Since the daily write ups are being taken care of elsewhere, I might as well go and write small blurbs about every visit we’ve done the way I know best. Snappish and to the point.
So let’s get to the point, snappish.
Saturday 27 – Ohanaming down Yotsuya park.
We went to a park with our buddies Yumiko and Tomoko -friends of my Japanese teacher, we were introduced last Christmas in Spain- and celebrated the cherry blossom festivities eating some Spanish food under the trees. We were also there with their fellow Spanish students, mostly involved in tourism. A bunch of really nice girls, except for one really nice guy, Suguru san. One day I’ll be able to decipher his business card, written in an extremely classic Japanese style.
After that, drinks in a Mexican bar. Sorta. The dudes there surely weren’t Mexican, but the Daiquiris they made were the shit. Best ones I’ve ever had.
Sunday 28 – Mingling with the rich.
After I spent the morning playing KOF XIII at the HEY Arcade in Akihabara (it was a location test, so the game wasn’t complete and the developers where there taking notes. Couldn’t pass up on that) we met Yumiko who had invited us to some sort of lunch party at his friend’s place, a Japanese woman married to an American. Some mixing of the cultures is always a good thing.
Creo que será buena experiencia para vosotros ver una habitación de Japón.
She wrote to me via email. Something probably got lost in translation here, because I sorta expected a cute cottagey place with tatami floors and wooden sliding doors. For reference, here is a picture I took from the window of the place.
Yumiko’s friends were mostly people who worked or used to work with her in JAMCO and they were all extremely nice. David, the host of the party, was also kinda geeky -he had a PS3 with the Fist of the North Star game in it- so we bonded quite fast. We spent the afternoon and part of the evening there and there was also jamón running around. We can’t shake Spain, no matter where we go.
We went to bed early, because we were up to a 5 hour train ride to Hiroshima next morning. Bullet train my ass.
Monday 29 – Floating souls
The train ride to Hiroshima, despite being long, was quite allright. Split into two, since our nation wide rail pass didn’t allow us to board the most expensive trains, but overall pleasant, and we got to see a lot of countryside. Like half of the country, give or take, but I didn’t really care about the long trip. Going there was one of my main objectives for a big personal reason.
I pride myself in being able to shrug off the most gruesome shit known to man. I’ve seen countless videos of the worst humanity has to offer. From paraphilias involving feces to russian live beheadings, everything on the Internet that can offend people, I have seen. And I revel in showing all of those heinous stuff to friends and watch their horrified reactions. Not only that, but I’ve also had my fair share of kinda tragic shenanigans happening during my tenure . A good consequence of these things is being able to keep my calm in whatever situation life has to offer. The downside though, is that I often feel that I am utterly desensitized, period.
So I challenged myself to not feel anything while standing on the same spot where nearly 65 years ago one of the toughest decisions that mankind has ever taken happened, while extinguishing upwards of 140000 lives, just to prove a point to the world. One could argue that ever since the nuclear bombings in Japan there hasn’t been any further World Wars.
Good luck arguing that one.
As to my personal challenge, I was surprisingly overwhelmed by what was floating in the air there.
But it wasn’t all tragedy. The people of Hiroshima were remarkably more open and outgoing that the ones in Tokyo. A volunteer guide gave us the walkthrough of everything with the widest of smiles and there was some occasional laughter and life all over the streets. Felt way more human. Also, there is this Japanese dish called Okonomiyaki which I’ve been wanting to try for years, and no Japanese restaurant really does it. And since my Japanese teacher was born there, he knew exactly the place to go.
Conceptually, okonomiyaki is a mixture of pizza and sandwich full of whatever you want to throw into. Mine had udon noodles, a bunch of greens, some fish, maybe some meat and a lot of love!
After that and a quick trip to some mallish marketplace, back to home base. The fancy temples of Kyoto, the ancient Imperial capital city awaited!
So yet another five hours of almost-bullet train. Go Japan.
Tuesday 30 – Screw Kyoto
I got gypped 1000 yen by a fat clerk acting all uppity at the Kinkakuji temple, we saw the tiniest museum in modern history and ate at a piece of shit buffet that had a whopping three different dishes, crappy meat and a time limit. And after that, the bus hit gridlock and we weren’t able to see any other temples.
So if you want to see the Kinkakuji temple, Google image search it. I’m not giving them any more attention, let alone bandwidth.
For all intents and purposes, screw Kyoto.
Wednesday 31 – The best burger I’ve ever had
On the 31th we meant to go to mount Fuji and visit one of those hot springs to soak a bit in there and find our inner peace, but the prospects of me being denied entrance (since I am a rebel and an outcast sporting a bunch of tattoos) turned us off, so we first went to Akihabara to raid the retro gaming shops and then we went to Shibuya to have a typical meal.
Recommended by CheapyD, we went to the classiest hamburger joint in existence. A small and charming place located near Shibuya station with soft techno-minimal music, a friendly staff and the infamous TOWER BURGER, Pakutch Burger is awesome. No two ways around it. Even if my arteries were already crying for help by the third bite.
It was surprisingly lighter than I had thought, probably because the beef was juicy and perfectly cooked. Best burger ever, bar none.
No visit to Shibuya is complete without stopping by the statue of Hachiko, a dog that way back in the 20s waited for his master every evening by the train station, and when the master suddenly died at work, the dog kept showing up every evening, expecting to see his master, until his death nine years later.
They even made a movie about it starring Richard Gere. I wish I was making this up. And I paid my respects to this dog by shoving one of my cats under his face.
We fought our way through a bunch of über painted Japanese hipsters to go back to the hotel. There was still one day to screw around.
Thursday 1 – Raiding the gift shop
Oh man, Thursday already. That means that we have to leave at 6 in the morning tomorrow and fly for 14 hours. It also means that we have to go back to the gift checklist for every single friend that asked something from Japan and try and find that or some other useless contraption that is cute enough to warrant a smile at the moment of delivery. And that’s what we did. That, and going back to Pakutch for yet another burger and taking a few touristy pics at the infamous Shibuya crossing.
So yeah, Japan is a strange place. Most people here appear intimidated by human interaction, which is quite the shock coming from WE GREET DUDES BY HUGGING AND KISSING – land. And the architecture kinda looks like when you give Sim City with infinite money cheats to a 12 year old. Cool in a sort of juvenile way, but really really messed up.
Also, crows are all over the place.
Ok, time to hit the “Mexican” bar Los Cabos. The owner, Seigo Takeda, was really nice and I kinda want to say goodbye before leaving for good.