The strange day

Oh yes, it was a strange day yesterday. So strange that I was too tired to write about it last night, so here we are with a catch up.

Katie had to go to the hospital to get some tests done after the monkey incident, and I slept til twelve in a mammoth unexpected sleep. Must be my body trying to get its timing right; it still hasn’t quite got it. So I ended up meeting her at the entrance to Nijojo castle after her trip to the hospital, where we were stopped in our tracks by a nervous looking young schoolboy with his friends giggling and gasping in a group behind him. He asked us a few rushed questions in English, obviously part of a school project to test out their (superior) language skills with native speakers. Afterwards his friends wanted a photograph of all of us as a group, so we got excited and asked them to take some on our cameras too! It’s a shame it was on my Canon, I suppose I’ll show you when I’m home.

Walking to a nearby cafe, we were shocked to see a tall, thin youngish man dressed as a schoolgirl, with long socks, a pleated skirt etc which was very very bizarre given the levels of conformity witnessed so far in Kyoto, and reminded me of the eccentric artist Grayson Perry (look him up, bit weird).

At the cafe I decided to have a black sesame icecream with my (standard!) aisu kohii (…iced coffee). Check out the photo below (it’s GREY ICECREAM!) – actually very yummy.. Oishiiiiii!

And then the nasty bit of the strange day. A crazy pervert at the street crossing who wiggled his eyebrows and said “sex?” No, we said. Go away. After much persistence on his part the lights FINALLY changed and we crossed: as we walked away he grabbed his crotch and shouted after us, so I turned around and put two fingers up at him (obviously because I felt so affronted.. but being careful that I was not offending anyone else) but then I realised that in Japan that just means peace anyway. Dammit. The whole thing was a bit shocking, because here you’re surrounded by Hello Kitty and happy cartoons and everything has a smiley face, and it’s easy to forget that Japan also has a weird sleazy underbelly, like anywhere in the world. What makes it so bizzare for me here is that cute and sleazy aren’t necessarily very far away from each other, take Manga for example, or some videogames, or the “love hotels”: one of which apparently has a Hello Kitty S&M room. Now whoever thought of that needs therapy.

The highlight of the day besides nearly being molested was Karaoke! Our first Japanese Karaoke trip. We went to a place called Jumbo karaoke and gradually overcame language difficulties to get ourselves a room and two peach drinks. According to Hiroko, the female half of Katie’s homestay family, karaoke can often be a dodgey affair for foreigners, as they can be shoved into booths with strangers, potentially creepy molesty boys. Seems to be a theme emerging today. Anyway, Jumbo Karaoke is known to be very safe. It must be said, though, that the premises we were visiting were far from plush; the room smelled stale, of smoke and drunken (good?) times. No quitters, we plonked ourselves down on the green plasticky seats and began our hour long extravaganza. And dammit we sang. No soundproofing, no shame, no song too low or too high: if we didn’t know the tune, we made it up. The selection of English songs was pretty extensive and up to date, we covered some classic hits I’d never like to hear again; “Poker face”, “Year 3000”, “I’ve had the time of my life”, “Can you feel the love tonight” (ehrwton jonnnnn!), “Skater boi”, “Boom boom pow”, and “Barbie girl”, the latter two being absolute winners for Karaoke. I enjoyed the way that the actual background music could not be used so each had been cleverly and beautifully adapted for MIDI keyboard…the original and surprising adaptations made us laugh so hard we could hardly sing. By the end of the hour when Hiroko came to collect us for dinner we were singing Elvis and falling about all over the place, and couldn’t wait until our next trip to Jumbo K. Yes, it has a nickname I liked it so much.

Photos:
Takoyaki = octopus balls. Yum, yum, yum. If I keep eating these i’ll gain enough weight to become a sumo wrestler.
Typical Japanese needless but pleasing smiley inanimate objects.
Black sesame icecream
Iced Coffee with teeny weeny jugs of sugar syrup&milk type stuff (coffeemate?.. Shudder)
Mr Ben perhaps.. (remember him?) in the subway
Doggy in a pet shop πŸ™‚
Mr KFC man looking welcoming (or just plain creepy?)
Stuffed polar bear in shop window
Jumbo Karaoke!!!

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One Response to “The strange day”

  1. Hiya Meg
    Just to say how much Angela and I are enjoying your blog! Am glad that you are looking after Katie so well πŸ™‚

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