Izakaya, shopping and sushi.

Managing to slip through last week with little money and eventually finishing my TEFL course meant that I could prepare myself for payday. I could finally start to properly think about what I want to do and where I wanted to explore next. After a nice day at work on Saturday I received my first full wage packet, which was a lot more that I received before, and compliments to my performance from Teru, although he emphasized that “its quite an easy job isn’t it? You basically get paid to study and explore Japan”. In response to this I made it sure that I was grateful of him putting up with me and letting me have this job.

So with my newly acquired money I first treated myself to some ramen, as I was starving, then I headed out to an izakaya, a Japanese style bar, that I had my eye on for a couple of weeks as it looked like it had a cozy and relaxed feel, a place I thought would be good for meeting new people. Once inside I took a seat by the bar, unfortunately there was not many other people in there, which I thought strange as it was a Saturday night, although, because of this I stood out a great deal and the owners took interest in me. A recently retired school teacher with her son and daughter opened it a few months ago in the style of Okinawa, Japan’s southern most island and tropical paradise, which explained the decor. The daughter could speak a bit of English although not much so I was forced to try speak and understand as much Japanese as I could, which did not get me very far. Although it was quite fun as they were getting me to try various things. They gave me a sample of “umibudou”, literally translating to “seagrapes”, a type of seaweed that looks like a mini vine of grapes. They also gave me a shot of “habushu”, which is a type of liquor brewed in Okinawa that is appropriately named after the “habu” snake which is put inside the bottle to drown then, I assume, add flavor. In return I introduced them to “White Russians” as I noticed they had Kahlua, which of course went down a treat.

After a while, the mother said that she had called a friend of hers that could speak quite a bit of English. He arrived with a present of Japanese apples and sat down next to me, looking eager and excited to talk to me. He explained that he was part of a English language society where he had just come from a meeting. Learning English was his new hobby he started after he retired. We talked over the next couple of hours. Despite his English being quite good I misunderstood lots of things and he misunderstood lots of what I was saying, which all in all made it quite hilarious as it seemed like we were talking about the most random things. He asked me “can we be friends, even though I am a lot older than you?” which made me laugh. If I promised to help him with English he would show me around and help my Japanese. It seemed like an interesting deal.

On Sunday, I woke up after missing my Japanese lesson as I felt too sorry for myself as a result of the previous night’s drinking. I decided to take it easy for the day and not do too much or go to far, I could save going to Tokyo for next weekend. So, I got on the train to Hanyu, a small city not far from Kazo. From here I hopped on a bus to the large shopping centre just out of town to do a bit of shopping. I did not really consider it but it was ridiculously busy as it was a Sunday, so I felt a bit uneasy as I stuck out so much and the crowds were not doing my hangover any good. I walked around a bit not really knowing what I was doing then bought a hat and left. Instead of taking the bus back I decided to walk back as I saw a cheap sushi place along the way, although, within minutes it turned to night and started raining heavily. However, I did manage to find the sushi place, where I took refuge for a while. It was a “kaiten” sushi restaurant, one of the places that has the food circling round on a conveyor belt. It was a large restaurant and different to the other place I had been to as the tables were not set up around an open kitchen but rather in rows, as to fit in more seats, explaining, I guess, why the sushi was quite cheap. To solve the problem of not be able to shout to orders to the kitchen each seat had its own touch screen menu where you could order anything you wanted. This was pretty fun to play with and every time your order was nearing you on the conveyor belt a cute little animation of a boat chugging along would play on the screen to say your sushi is on its way. After filling up on lots of lovely sushi, I braved the rest of the walk to get home in the dark and pissing rain.

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