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Miyajima, Vending Machines and Drunken Women

Seen in every Japanese guidebook, the floating torii or Miyajima is one of the most famous sights in Japan. In the old days, the fishermen from the town would go in and out of the torii to keep the bad spirits out. Torii protect against those evil spirits, ya know…

Miyajima is s scenic, heavily touristed town known for its desserts and oysters but I wasn’t about to eat an oyster on this morning as the night before had not helped my appetite…

It started innocently enough when we checked into the hostel. The receptionist was very nice, though a bit disoriented and then the first alarm went off. Instead of paying the hotel directly, you use a vending machine to buy a ticket for your room. The Japanese love vending machines, stuffng them full of 100 different times of drinks, food products, batteries, beer, tickets for meals, cigarettes and even slightly used girl’s underwear, on occasion.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to see everything for this hotel went through the vending machine. Except when I went to use it, it started beeping uncontrollably and it took the frazzled receptionist about 30 minutes to figure the whole thing out.

We got to our Japanese-style dorm room, which was basically a big tatami room that fit 8 people. We actually paid 5 dollars extra to sleep on the ground next to 6 other people but it does seem cleaner and of course, more Japanese than the bunk beds.

That night we went down a few streets to a little restaurant where nobody spoke English and there were no English menus. Again, this isn’t surprising either and it actually makes the travel very interesting. We played charades with the sushi chef and eventually ordered some sashimi, sake, rice, tempura and chicken. When some, what appeared to be fermented squid showed up, we ate that too, only to later discover that it was meant for a different couple. Oops! It wouldn’t be the last time we accidentally ate somebody else’s order!

It was a good meal and the workers were amazingly friendly considering we didn’t speak a lick of Japanese. I can only imagine what would happen if a foreigner went into most restaurants at home, couldn’t read a menu and then couldn’t speak any English.

When we returned to the hostel a few hours later, the weekly takayaki party was in full swing. One of the hostel workers was frying up squid balls on a little takayaki maker and passing them out with the usual mayo compliment. They were really good and we sat down to eat some with the other foreigners, buying beer from the hotel vending machine and sitting around a big table on the floor in the middle of a tatami room.

Every once in a while, a very drunk Japanese girl in full yukata would come in, oush the guy away and start making the takayaki herself and she didn’t speak any English so she would just ramble on in Japanese, never waiting for a response from anyone. Every once in awhile she would say “More more more!” or “Money money money!” or “hai hai hai” i think more for comedic effect that anything else.

The night proceeded on. A few Australians were there along with some Koreans and even some Indians from Canada – of course they were from Edmonton – where all Canadian travelers originate!

By the end of the night, the beer vending machine was empty, I had been harrassed by the Australian doctor for America’s foreign policy (this was the first and only case of American (borderline) hatred we faced on our trip) and the drunken Japanese girl had come down and grabbed my hand to hold, to which I asked, laughing, if she was OK and to which she replied in, I’m guessing, broken Japanese gibberish. She left soon thereafter.

So I wasn’t in the mood for oysters but was in the mood for Japanese curry and eel. Tonkatsu Krruy is one of our favorites and we ate it probably 5 times in Japan…

Tonkatsu Kurry

Tonkatsu Kurry

Anago Set

Anago Set

After lunch we walked around, petted one of the 50 or so deep wandering the streets, and spotted a perfectly circular rainbow.

Deer

Deer

Rainbow

Rainbow

That night we headed into town and went to the supermarket to prepare a feast of sushi, salad, seaweed salad and agedashi tofu.

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One Response

  1. […] CaliforniaStyle wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThat night we went down a few streets to a little restaurant where nobody spoke English and there were no English menus. Again, this isn’t surprising either and it actually makes the travel very interesting. We played charades with the sushi chef and eventually ordered some sashimi, sake, rice, tempura and chicken. When some, what appeared to be fermented squid showed up, we ate that too, only to later discover that it was meant for a different couple. Oops! … […]

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