Thursday, July 28, 2005

Do I have to go back to Korea?

I've been having a really great time in Japan and I'm not ready to leave! I don't even know where to start, but I'll give it a try.

On Wednesday morning I woke up pretty early and ended up heading out to the Korean consulate with Brandon, a fellow Canadian staying at the hostel who is heading to China tomorrow to start a teaching contract. I was concerned about the visa and whether or not I had all the necessary documents but that went off without a hitch. I'll write in detail about that another time.

After getting that out of the way and being told it would be ready at 4 o'clock, we headed out, walking along midosuji road and venturing off into the numerous alleyways and sideroads. We saw some incredible things. Closed off avenues lined with casinos and packed with men who seemed to have been there for hours. Store after store of those claw games where you pay 100 Yen (about 1 dollar) to try your hand at winning a stupid stuffed toy. Strip joints and "massage parlours" one after the next, more than one featuring women dressed as nurses. Only nurses. What's with nurses?

Here is a casino.
And here is a claw game that allows you to win guns!

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant that had good looking plastic food displayed in the window, as many do, and instead of placing an order with the waitress we had to feed money into a machine and press a button, then give the printed receipt to the waitress who had helped us find the correct button to press in the first place. A very odd thing indeed, but one that seems to be recurrent everywhere around these parts. Ticket machines for food, subway, entrance coverage. Everywhere.

We wandered around aimlessly checking things out for hours. At one point we came across a touristy ferris wheel that begins on the seventh floor of a huge shopping mall and reaches high above the city. For 500 yen (five dollars) we got a great view high above the city.
Somehow we ended up back in the neighbourhood of the hostel and crashed for a while. I headed back out into the BLUE SKIES (can you believe it?? Blue skies and while fluffy clouds?? It's like heaven here.) to pick up my visa. Waiting in the consulate I saw another guy obviously in my same position so I went over to say hello. Turns out he also works in Suji, which is nuts, and has been here for one week. He's from Pembroke but has spent a lot of time in Petawawa and knows my friend Andrea! And he went to Trent and knows D'Arcy's friend Jess. Small world, really small world.

His name is Aaron and he had no idea where he was sleeping so obviously I brought him back to my place. Ohh, snap. Aaron, Brandon, and I hit the streets in search of the floating garden, a really high building with a great view. Seems like Osaka is all about great views. We went for some Omo-rice, a rice filled omlette covered in sauce and two shrimp. Not bad.

We headed for drinks, met two guys from England and hung out at some bar until we tripped home late at night talking about crazy things and laughing like kids. It was a good time.

Whewf. I know this is long but I've got to get today out of the way so I'm caught up tomorrow.

This morning I woke up a bit later and headed out again with Brandon (Aaron went back to Korea this morning) towards the Osaka Castle. We pretty much jam packed every touristy thing into two days. I'm exhausted and worn out. The castle was very nice but the day was scorching hot and sweaty.

After the castle we ate some sushi and headed to another area of town to get tickets for traditional Bunraku theatre. The tickets were 4600 Yen but you only live once so we decided to go for it. At the last minute I decided to try whipping out my ISIC card - I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before - and we BOTH got the student price of 2300 Yen instead. Sweet! I love a surprising good deal.

The show was really neat. It is essentially an elaborate puppet show with three people dressed something like Ku Klux Klan members all in black manipulating one puppet. They really bring the puppets to live so much that you forget they are there. At one point there were six puppets on stage and I suddenly realized that there were 18 people standing around. It was unreal.

The two other roles are a guy who plays some kind of string instrument which is apparently incredibly difficult and straining to learn, and a guy who narrates the story, using different voices and many facial expressions to get the emotion and meaning across.

We had English headsets that explained everything in detail, which was great. Sadly the two hours and forty five minutes stretched on forty five minutes too long and we just wanted the heroin to kill herself already. It was well worth it nonetheless.

Dinner, some wandering, blah blah blah, and that brings me here to the hostel where the number of guests has jumped from three to at least 8 in the time I have been away.

I feel like I can do anything. I've mastered the subway, I knew where we were going, and I solved the problems. It is amazing when something that seemed so foreign and unmanagable becomes a snap. Truly amazing.

Tomorrow I am heading back to the land of the morning calm. What time? I better check my plane ticket...


At July 28, 2005 10:23 a.m. , Anonymous Carina said...

Jess, it sounds like you're having an amazing time...I love looking at all your photos! Last night Rick and I went out for Korean after his game...we had 'Yummy Combo One'....True to it's name!

At July 28, 2005 7:00 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Hey Carina! Good to hear from you! Don't worry, there's more photos coming!

What did you guys eat, do you know?

At July 28, 2005 9:49 p.m. , Blogger Shells Bells said...

That's awsome you are having such a blast in Japan..lucky you missed the torrential down pours in Korea yesturday! But it will be nice and sunny when you get back! Can't wait to see your pics...I myself got to drunk last night and I'm hung over today and heading back to bed!! :)


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