Ten days of ‘rest’ and it’s on the move again! Although it was probably more tiring that the 500miles previous!… The drinking rates and erratic sleeping hours of students is hard to keep up with after the relative peace and quiet of the Japanese coast and mountains!
Kobe itself is a lovely city and once I’d finally found my way around – yes involving a lot of trail and error, a lot of error, it could of easily been called home!
Despite being under twenty (the legal drinking age) I had no trouble. The Japanese are very trusting and always polite, it feels like the kind of place where if you left an iPhone5 in a club you could be safe in the knowledge it would make it’s way back to you eventually! Even in supermarkets all you have to do is press yes on a screen to ‘prove’ you are legal! The locals are always friendly – if deservedly curious, I get SO MANY people asking about my lip ring, they aren’t big on piercings or tattoos here (apparently tattoos are still mainly reserved for members of the mafia!). That and what country I’m from are usual staples. Although most people speak basic Japanese they are usually limited to the basics but bless they alway try to make me feel welcome.
In bars they are incredibly chatty, it’s a very Japanese thing – host bars, essentially what you pay extra for is good service, instead of the bored bartender who would rather be anywhere but serving you right now (I.e me when working in Yates) it is part of the bartenders job to ask about your life, make you feel welcome, it isn’t odd to come to a bar here alone, as you will always be chatting to the staff, they seem to alternate too, So you don’t get bored of their conversation! They struggle with me because it seems wrong just to let me have a quiet pint – even though I’m more than happy with it! – in Kobe however the constant presence of a Japanese student meant translation central, with full conversations happening through a drunk bored twenty year old- I do wonder what they must of censored/cut out!
On finding out about my adventure the lovely staff at this bar decided they wanted a picture with us crazy gaijin, I’m hopeful it will disappear into the midst of lost photos on her camera and not that our faces will grace the bar wall… Or just as likely their Facebook advertisements! It was full of lovely people though, I don’t have quiet the same problem as most western girls going to japan… as I’m usual mistaken to be a man (I’ll excuse them given the short hair and fact I’m a foot taller then nearly all Japanese women. But a lot of western girls complain about staring men, who badger, want photos, etc. meh personally it’s not an issue, but I deffinatly don’t understand the Japanese obsession with looking pale or stereotypically western. On some days in 20degree heat I will be cycling in shorts and tshirt fully sweating while comming towards me is a local covered in heat to toe with gloves on and not kidding, a face mask!? I don’t know how the commit so much to it! I deffinatly don’t have that drive in how I look.. Don’t you dare say it shows!
Ha and yes, here we are at the purikura machines! Apparently the thing to do for young Japanese girls, they makes your skin paler (good luck with me, id probably disappear) and your eyes bigger and rounder. All to make you more ‘kawaii!’ (Aka cute!) I don’t have the actual picture but instead here we are modelling for your enjoyment. We gave the Japanese amusements ago which was great – if pricey, although they’d deffinatly give blackpool a run for their money! The love of manga, gaming and cosplay is almost as strong here as the west presume it to be. They have floors of department stores devoted to card games – god if they’d sold English copies I could of finally completed my original Pokemon collection, but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve had total conversations in bars with Japanese men resorting to throwing back and forth the names of Japanese TV shows (which were brought to England) which we both love!… If you couldn’t tell already the bloke on the right is doing spider man hands and the one on the left kamehameha from dragonball z. A great conversation that started with them shouting ‘david beck ham.. erm… wayyyy runey’ Across the bar at us, talk about transcending language barriers!
I had a great time in Kobe, it was actually quite useful being shown all the secrets that you can only learn by living in a place! I tried sake (like watery tequila) not for the faint hearted but so cheap its hard to turn
down, was attacked by a wild boar – fear not, I did survive, and discovered my favourite dish – udon and tofu, simple yet lovely! But after over a week in a cramped student room bring on the new horizons!