‘Hello, would you like to do an interview please?’
‘Umm, what’s it for?’
We both looked at each other with narrowing eyes, but that may have been because we hadn’t slept for 27 hours.
‘Sure!’ The muttering of that word had made their day. With a camera in our face and two desperately eager interviewers shoving microphones at our mouths, we were asked generic questions about our trip, which didn’t have much meat to it, as we had only just arrived. They finally let us go after realising we didn’t quite have the energy they wanted us to have, and we made our final leg of the ridiculously long trip from England to the hostel. It was going to be tough being such huge superstars in this foreign land.
We checked into the hostel and were introduced to what seemed to be the family, then squeezed through the crowd to discover that our room was simply a double bed. Well, I say bed, more like wooden boarding and the hope that your back is made of steel. Our backs aren’t made of steel, so this morning, as I write this, we are as crooked as that geezer what lived on the crooked street with the crooked cat.
We went out for a spot of dinner at a lovely restaurant just down the road from the hostel. When we went in there and sat down we were handed a menu with no English, and when we realised none of the staff spoke English, knew this meal was going to be great! After some awkward laughing, pointing, pretending we agreed that we knew what they were saying and visa versa, we were digging into some truly incredible sushi. The waitresses were all giggling to each other behind us as they watched pathetically use the chopsticks they had only just given us a crash course in. Once we had finished up, one of the waitresses, Yoshiko, gave us a free bag of traditional sweets and two place mats she had sewn herself as a gift! It was then we decided that we were going to like Japan.
Another day tackling this strange land and the first odd find was a long queue of people desperately awaiting something. At the front of the queue there were people actually filming themselves getting to the front of the queue – this must have been important. We approached a man holding a big sign with pictures of seductive cartoon girls and asked him what the fuss was all about. He stopped shouting out the same sentence he had been shouting out to the public over and over and explained that it was the national lottery and the grand prize was 10,000,000 yen which equates to around 47,000 quid. Two things:
1. The man said this was the only place you can get a ticket. In such a technologically advanced country, could they not do an online purchase? Online Lotto works just fine in the UK. This could actually be the first thing where Japan can use England as a guide.
2. £47,000! They were queuing for ages, and it’s not like it’s a poor country.
About an hour later we saw another little stool down the road selling the same lottery tickets. Empty it was, yet no 100 mile queue. I have no idea.
One thing we/the fruit addicted Ednora had noticed was the lack of the healthy stuff. We checked out a supermarket only to find that inflation had battered these healthy goods. An apple averaged five pounds! A collection of fruit decorated and made all fancy schmancy with bells and ribbons on was getting on for £20, and it could barely contribute towards a fruit salad. It was the most expensive apple I had ever eaten, and it tasted only a-ok.
It was then that we stumbled across the Kabuki Theatre – the biggest in Japan. For those of you who don’t know what Kabuki Theatre is, and utter shame on you if you didn’t, it only caters to old myth and legend stories where the actors wear the old traditional garb. Inside was large, but not as impressive as outside, as the interior was more like some kind of conference room with a shit ton of school kids, rather than a famous, historic theatre. Naturally, the show was all in Japanese, so we had absolutely no idea what was happening. Fortunately, there were a lovely couple next to us who had this helpful contraption which translated the actors’ words. I sat next to the guy with the translator, and Ednora sat next to me, so I had to translate the translation to her. Our Chinese whispers for the entire show went something like this:
Helpful guy: gives nod and leans translator to me.
Translator: woe begat me for my troubles lay thine amongst the pity of my existence. My love for thee hath no grounds but your brutal heart does hurt ones soul as one waits for your acceptance.
Me to Ednora: he wants her.
We thought Kabuki was crazy, but then we went to the most insane thing we have ever seen in our whole entire lives thanks to our friends Joe and Tania. This is a tricky one to put into words, because words don’t have illuminous strobe and cosplay girls on crack.
Basically, imagine a small bomb going off in this arena/stage/underground funfair and the particles inside the bomb are full of illuminous flashes and electro-lights. Next, a bunch of Japanese singers, dancers, performers and general nutters come rolling out on huge contraptions banging drums and shouting as though they’re fighting off a wrathful pack of wolves, then some fighting between huge snakes, dragons and spiders, against this robot tribe (that’s actually the only way to describe it). All this is performed at 10,000 miles per hour and it’s massively overwhelming. Everything is at a million decibels and everyone is on LSD. You come out of the show not really with an opinion because you have had absolutely no idea what has just happened.
Still in a hypnotic state, we found a restaurant nearby where you choose your own molluscs and shellfish, and then have your own grill on the table and BBQ your own shellfish! That was a pretty cool experience, but as I write this, I’ve had a sudden realisation that the staff didn’t actually do anything. They simply gave us some shellfish and we cooked it ourselves.