"Get your little ass back to the penitentiary, motherfucker. You know what you did last time you was here."

Second Reality

Filed Under Newspost

I woke up early in the morning after a nifty 13 hours of sleep to an emerging feeling of thirst. I’ve watched enough Sprite commercials to know what to do in those situations so I dragged myself to the vending machine I had seen near the elevator the night before and attempted to buy water. Needless to say, I failed at the task. The can possessing the biggest “Water” title, did not, in fact, contain water. It contained a weird sparkling liquid called “乳清 Water (with Natural Mineral Water)” that tasted something like Mountain Dew (Don’t take my word for it as I have no idea what Mountain Dew tastes like). I wasn’t too displeased because it was quite refreshing and was able to fill the mission for which I had bought it, namely quench my thirst. However, I couldn’t help laughing inside when something that, to a Kanji-illiterate foreigner, clearly seemed like water was only standard lemonade.

It looks like water. Only, NOT

I spent the few following hours in my room doing random stuff on the computer and writing yesterday’s blog entry. I was abruptly stopped when Visa, the other student from my school that is going to KGU for the school year knocked on my door. We decided to go walk around a bit and eat lunch before his Jujutsu training. There was a huge commercial centre a few blocks away he had been to the day before to buy some manga and receive zero help from the 3 salespersons, none of which knew any English. Did the last sentence make any sense? Not sure. Anyway, we went to the same manga store and oh boy, I was in heaven. At this point, those who do not care to hear anything about manga can jump straight to the next chapter. As for me, for the first time since entering the country I produced an uncontrollable grin on my face, something that happens quite rarely when I’m sober. The store had all the imaginable manga titles neatly arranged into long corridors of bookshelves, with the popular shônen titles costing as much as ¥360 per book. My grin widened as I started planning to buy shitloads of series, send them back home by boat and eat nothing but rice for the remainder of the year. I should also have taken a photo of the shop but I didn’t dare to. There is a limit on how stupid one can look and that one would have crossed the line. One corner of the store was painted in pink and hosted little schoolgirls giggling at something potentially funny. There were also two goddamn corridors full of shônen-ai books.

We continued our non-shopping tour by checking some of the clothing stores and restaurants, an experience that effectively destroyed all the preconceptions that Japan would be a very expensive country. Quality clothing was drastically cheaper than in Finland and in the end we had a normal Japanese lunch at a normal Japanese lunch restaurant for ¥1460 for two people. That is not a price anyone in his right mind can call expensive.

Before returning to the hotel we visited a slot machine club and a pachinko parlor. Both places had a noise level that bordered on ear raping and personnel that could not help us understand how to buy credits to actually play the games. In the end we realized we would need a local to introduce us to this thriving national sport.

Cultural remark: Most of the Japanese, while being exceptionally eager to help you with your questions, enter a state called “total lock up” when they are approached by foreigners who speak either English or bad Japanese. Characteristics of the state include speaking very quietly and fast, waving hands wildly and slowly trying to back away from the situation. Now that doesn’t help me much, because if they actually talked a bit more slowly I would probably be able to understand what they are saying and get the information I need or my message through. In the end it all comes down to my low knowledge of Japanese, though, so I’ll just have to get better at it.

In the evening we were invited to dine with my speaking partner and her friends to Hirakata. We had nothing planned so we decided to go, be it only in order to get to know people in advance and check out the trains we would have to use the following day with the entire luggage to get to seminar house III. We also tried the traditional Japanese bath at our hotel before leaving for Hirakata but I’ll write more about that failure in a different post. The barbecue restaurant we went to was noisy as hell, but with all drinks and meat plates priced at ¥280 there was really nothing to complain about. All the other students present were also from Kansai Gaidai and were able to speak some English so communication was rather easy when compared to the average until then. Eventually we left the restaurant to head back to the hotel, making an effort to chat a bit in Japanese with two of the girls from KGU who took the same train back to Osaka.



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