Super-productive day!

I woke up at 6:00am today and pounded the streets, exhausting myself with a jam-packed day of sightseeing.

Only JOKING!
I woke up at 11:40 when a hostel cleaner barged into my room to collect the rubbish from my bin. Embarrassed, and surprised at how late it was, I leapt out of bed and into the shower- a special kind of shower that provides very hot water or very cold water- an Extreme Shower. Fortunately, given how hot it is here, I could bear the freezing option. I then dried my hair very very very slowly -note to self, don’t bother- with the super-low power hairdryer. After all that bother I hung about a bit in the sofa area planning where I would go. I finally worked up the courage to step out of the hostel (loser!) and headed for the river , Lano-Gawa. Overlooking the river I found a nice little cafe with an incredibly soft-spoken waitress, who brought me my unadventurous Caprese salad and chips, along with an almost obligatory iced coffee. I self-consciously read my phrasebook and stared out of the window at white cranes wading in the shallow river, a girl taking a photo of me sat in the window, and some smart, suited, smoking Japanese men who I enjoyed imagining as secretly extensively tattooed Yakuza. I then paid by panicking, forgetting Japanese from the phrasebook apart from a squeaked “arigato gozaimas!” and headed to the river to stare at the cute cranes some more and buy an amusing canned iced coffee.

Unfortunately, because I’d spent so much time faffing around, the park I went to, Shosei-en, was about to close, so I decided to leave it til another day. I then walked to nearby Kyosen-do, a shop with an array of incredibly beautiful fans. I watched as presumably wealthy clients designed and ordered their own fans, and peered at the fan-makers hunched over their work. Needless to say, I bought a few fans. Though not the flashiest (which were expensive), they are very sweet and nicely made. I then visited a few more shops; one being a cloth dyer/painter(?) in a traditional house. He was sweet, and appreciated my iPhone as I took a photo (“i-hone?”). By the time I got to the temple nearby, Higashi Hongan-ji, it was closing time, and sadly the same went for Nishi Hongan-ji, which I arrived at after popping into a small shop that seemed to sell religious statues and beads to hang on them. This shop played the funniest music; tiny xylophone/chime versions of “She’s leaving home” by the Beatles, and something by James Morrison. Hilarious. I also gawped at the gorgeous carp in the moat of one of the temples, and it gawped at me back. PLUS, I used my first Japanese public toilet (as unappealing as&very similar to a Thai toilet), and unwisely bought a mystery drink from the vending machine which tastes like sesame and is absolutely rank. I still have it right next to me, because I refuse to waste it and refuse to drink it.

Then I found the accommodation that my friend Emily might be staying in when she comes in a week (doing a year here for her degree). Hi Emily, hope you’re reading. It might be the right place, at least it’s called Doshisha Maison Iwakuni. It’s opposite the gates to Nishi hongan-ji, a bit further away than I thought it would be but never mind! I found some traditional Japanese hotels (ryoukan) nearby that I’d like to try staying in.

I then wandered around in a very posh incense shop before heading back to the station area. After browsing a few sections of Isetan Dept. store, and being shown how to use a massive bun hair pin in four different styles by a keen&kind shop assistant before she did mine in front of giggling staff, I headed up a level or two in the station to get some dinner. The restaurant I chose was an Italian restaurant, Japanese style. I had some really tasty mussel, mushroom&tomato pasta and tried to eat it in a tidy unslurpy way which was hideously difficult. Then after more failed squeaked Japanese I phoned my stepdad Andrew from an international payphone using the cute kitty-theme phonecard I had bought (see photos from earlier post). Sadly calling internationally was ridiculously expensive and so after a lot of dialling and a few minutes I had to go but it was nice to hear Andrew’s voice! Hi Andrew, hope you’re reading. Do you not have a direct number at work? Some kind of secretary answered and it wasted AGES!

Things I have learnt today:
• Pull your metaphorical socks up and bite the bullet or you waste valuable time!
• Karaoke means “empty orchestra”
• Phonecards are cruel and do not last long, even if they have cute cat photos on the front
• “Casual sweets” (I am currently munching one in bed) are not as fun as they sound. Ever eaten a piece of soggy yet chewy styrofoam with custard inside? It would appear that I have.

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2 Responses to “Super-productive day!”

  1. Andrew Says:

    meg, this is great. I know I’m biased but it’s a great blog – keep it up!

  2. Joanna Says:

    Aww such pretty fans. Here I am sat at work and reading your blog, willing myself to vaporise and then regenerate by your side in some cute Japanese cafe. I mean come on… cute smiley faces on everything, karaoke, a cheese bar… Japan is so perfect for me :o)

    Keep on doing supercool things and writing about them so that I can escape my mundane 9-5.

    J xxxxxxxxx

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