Hair has gone through a couple of changes since I last blogged. I wanna have as much fun with it before i chop it all off!
Also I celebrated getting another year old in Fukuoka! It was a good session of partying, definitely enjoyed myself, my peeps looked like they were having fun too!
The last blog was the final leg of my first trip to Hiroshima at the beginning of April. This next stop on the Only the D Brave tour was the Okayama prefecture to be more specfic - Kurashiki.
How did I end up there?
Well the plan was to get a hotel in Okayama. Through expedia I found a reasonable priced one and booked it. It was only the day before leaving Hiroshima that i checked my booking again and discovered that I had actually paid for a hotel outside Okayama city (15 mins away by train). Wary of having to pay a cancellation charge and look for another hotel I did not make any changes - and im so glad I didnt!
I stayed in was an APA hotel in the building right next to the station! It took me a while to find it tho because it wasn't obvious. The Hotel actual started on the 9th floor of the building next to the station, the floors below were either car park space or shops and dining areas. The room was a throwback to the 70's with its decor! I was happy with the little paper crane placed on my bed and the kimono style dressing gown. Actually my first impression of Kurashiki city was that i had been transported back into the past. It was the first city on my adventures that didn't have the archetypal Japan look to it.
There wasn't the many high-rise block buildings, numerous 24 hour convenience stores i was used to. 30 secs walk in any direction from the station and you were in a more suburban surroundings. This was quite refreshing and since I knew nothing of this city, gave me more of an incentive to explore.
A 15 minute walk from the station and I found myself in the Bikan historical district. This was a very traditional part of town. During blossom season the view were amazing
While I'm happily snapping away at the blossom and beautiful surroundings,a group of senior ladies (Obaachan crew) caught my eye. They are trying to take a group picture one turns in my direction and beckons me towards them. I take heed of of her calling, take their digital camera and take a picture of them. They seem pleased with the final result, thank me and then I turn to go about my merry way. Then I say to myself, wait this is a photo opportunity, let me take a picture of them with my camera. So i do a 180 and ask if I can take a picture of them. They happily agree, i take the picture and show them end product and they are impressed (not sure if its because it was really goood or if it was a digital DSLR) then for the next 10 minutes I get questions flying left right and centre from these cute senior ladies, all in Japanese!
When I had used up all the Japanese I knew I said my goodbyes and continued to take pictures around the area. However I did keep bumping into the Obaachan crew multiple times around the . This was particularly amusing when sitting on the same bench as a Japanese woman, the Obichan crew passed by giving Konnichiwa's smiles and waves, one of them even gave me a sweet! The Japanese woman sitting on the bench was bemused to say the least
After leaving the Bikan historical district, I decided to explore the path leading to a shrine I had seen earlier in the day. Here a saw a group of senior men (Ojiichan crew) having their Sakura lunch. Had to walk past them to get a snap of the city landscape from an elevated view. I gave them a Konnichiwa and while taking my pictures one of them asked me where i was from. I turned around said England and then was invited to sit down and and chat for a few minutes. 2 hours later we were still in the same spot getting along like a house on fire! Their English was a little better than the Obichan so it was easier to commuincate, they with Japanese and broken English, I with English and broken Japanese. They had offered me some of their sakura lunch of fruit, salad, rice and chicken, a couple of beers and some shochu! I was amazed and touched by their kindness and friendliness, thinking to myself that this kinda thing wouldn't happen in Britain! Eventually convo led to hair and the inevitable question "could i touch your hair?" Now in terms of multiculturalism, Japan quite a way behind England therefore they a lot of people are still amazed when they meet someone non-oriental. I've lost count of the amount of trying to touch my hair attempts in Japan, with or without permission. I was feeling in an amicable mood (maybe from the shochu) so I let them touch the afro. I got the usual response - "wow your hair is so cool, do you want to touch mine?" I respectfully declined their offer.
One of the guys then asked where i was staying, I told them next to the train station. He suggested that i join the Ojiichan
The Ojiichan crew knew the owners and introduced their new foreign buddy (me) to them. They then proceeded to order me a steak and some 15 year old hibiskki whiskey. This was a good combo, in the back of my head I was thinking about how much this would cost, but hey, this was an Only D Brave once in a life time adventure, I may as well enjoy it. I pull out the wallet to pay for my meal POW my hand gets slapped down. I attempted again - same slap down. They weren't letting me pay for the meal! So I returned my wallet to my pocket and tucked into tasty steak and some fine Hibiski whiskey. During the meal one of the guys suggested a round of Karoke after dinner. I laughed "heheh watashi wa genki (i'm ok)" thinking he was joking . Then he asked again in a more serious voice. Hmm this is crazy but again another Only D Brave experience so why not!
After a hearty meal we moved to the Karaoke bar which was directly on top of the restaurant. Again I got introduced to the owners of the bar and then the Karaoke fun began. With Hibiski whiskey and Umeshu flowing we started belting out hits, the crew singing Japanese songs while i stuck to Karaoke classics like, Aha take on me, Oasis Wonderwall, and Bohemian rhapsody
Japanese word of the day - Ojiichan -Granddad