Guess where I was last night. Go on, guess! No, not at Ell's Ditch drinking Guinness, not in my living room staring at the ceiling. Yesterday I decided to pack it up and head to Fukuoka for an impromptu getaway.
It's Golden Week here in Japan. Im lucky enough to have ten days off. I spent the first two pretty wisely, taking care of personal grooming procedures and taking two Belgians around Hiroshima.
I wanted to do something fun before my Cinco De Mayo party Monday. And I just couldnt stand the site of my dirty dishes any longer. So I stuck some socks and pens in a backpack and was on my way!
I chose Fukuoka for two reasons. It was the biggest city that costs the least to get to, and it's famous for it's yatais. Being cheap, I took the slow local train to get there. It took about 4 hours. Being lazy, I didnt leave until noonish, so I got to Fukuoka at fourish.
My first stop was Starbucks! I ordered a coffee, found a table, found an outlet to give my iPod a quick recharge, and stared blankly out the window for about an hour.
After my Whiteness-refill I headed out to explore the city. I had picked up a little illustrated map from the train station, pointing out all the sites and hotels in Fukuoka. Canal City was the closest and easiest thing to get to, so I headed in that direction.
Canal City is a giant indoor/outdoor mall with Japanese clothes. And an Indian Food restaurant.
Before I left I was given the advice "find a hotel before you start drinking." Part of me wanted to sleep in the park or in a Mister Donut, but I was given lectures about yakuza and crazies. So I used my little map to try and locate a capsule hotel. I was really disoriented so I went into a 7-11 to ask the clerk where I was in relation to my streetless, nameless, illustrated map. I kind of used Japanese to ask her, too. I think I said, "Koko doko desu ka?" I know, when did I start speaking Japanese? The weird thing is, is that she understood. A few months ago if I went to a train station and said "Tokuyama" the clerk would stare at me like I was speaking in tongues.
Anyway, I found the capsule hotel, but "no ladies" allowed. They pointed me to the nearest business hotel. And when the woman outside gesturing and giving me directions couldnt remember the word for "right" I said, "migi?" Then she was all "oh, you speak Japanese" (in Japanese) and I was all "a little" (in Japanese).
I was looking for Washington Hotel. Luckily for me, I finished learning Katakana last week, so I could read the sign for ワシントンホテル. And then the humiliating part began--I walked in to see how much a room was, and I didnt want to right away ask in English, or do the "stare blankly" and hope they offer me answers thing. So I reached into my 100 words of Japanese vocabulary and squeaked out, "Heya? Uh, ikura desu ka?" The clerk replied, "7900 yen" (in English). Panicked to find a place (and get to a yatai) I agreed, and spent one week's grocery money on a bed.
Then I wandered down the street and chose a yatai, from the long row of them along the canal. I chose number one solely on the fact that it had the least amount of meat on display. "Biru onegaishimasu!" And I was on my way.
Yatai number one was boring. No one talked to me, but they stared. I drew in my sketchbook a little. After I finished the drawing and the beer I did a few laps and chose yatai number two. Im not going to lie and say I didnt chose yatais based on the attractiveness of the employees.
Yatai number two was lamer than number one, though. They didnt even stare. Oh, and then I had to pee! Which meant: asking for permission to leave yatai without paying, finding a toilet, squatting (while slightly inebriated).
After that beer I chose yatai number three. This one was bad. I sat down and then was quickly asked to move to another stool. Then, I ordered a beer. The employee asked me if I wanted some food (ewwwww, yatai food?) and I said, "no." He said I must! So I left.
Yatai food is different combos of meat on sticks, or oden, which is floating meat and tofu that sits in a bat of soy sauce all day. And it's all cooked outside and dirty.
Yatai number four got me when the employee standing outside the stall (assigned to harass every passerby with "irashaimaseeeeee") said "HELLO!" Sold! I took a seat and ordered a beer. The four employees were all young and pretty cute, and they seemed to think the same of me. The first five minutes was them all taking turns saying, "You-are-cute!"
They asked me where I was from, I told them "Tokuyama." I dont think that's what they meant. They asked me how old I was and my job. They used easy English, I used easy Japanese.
The other customer was from China and spoke perfect English and less Japanese than me. We talked for a little bit. After he left the employees would all come over and ask me some random question they spent the last 10 minutes thinking up.
I was also told that one of them was "shingaru" and "alonely." He asked me if I had a chest hair preference. I told him I did not.
More drinks were poured, edamame was served, and at one point I was drawing a picture of someone's baby from a cell phone photo.
Blah, blah, wandered back to hotel. Woke up, went to Starbucks, more shopping, caught a train home and finished reading "The Easy Way To Quit Smoking."
Even though I dont smoke.
I wanted to post the drawings on my Sketchblog, but it's not working at the moment.