Friday, 6 September 2019

Kyoto birthday

It's Andrew's birthday. Slightly odd having it fall while we’re in Japan.

The typhoon is a bit worrying as they're warning of train cancellations tomorrow, too. Though it mostly seems to be west of Kyoto. We're just outside the red area here so hopefully the trains will be running to Tokyo tomorrow. The TV news has been showing empty stations.

“That bottle of whisky looks emptier than when I went to bed last night.”

“I had some after you’d left.” Andrew replies.

“Who said you could drink my whisky?”

“You shouldn’t have left it here if you didn’t want any of it drunk.” I hate logic like that.

We try to visit an old mansion but it’s closed on account of the storm. It's a bit windy, but not too bad so far. Seems a bit over the top to be closed for a little breeze.

There are quite a lot of old wooden buildings on the way. Many of which look abandoned. Though that could be the style. A postman seems to be delivering letters to at least one. They have barred wooden windows, I guess a hangover from pre-glass days. Some newer posher buildings, too. With double car parking spaces in front. Plus one dead grand traditional looking house.

See one house that can't have been more than 2 metres wide. Even smaller than the stupidly narrow houses in Amsterdam.

“Dad, can you stop taking photos?”

“Can’t you see the interesting old house?”

“Stop it, Dad, and hurry up before the weather gets too bad.”

Brilliant. We’re in a really interesting bit of town and I’m not allowed to take photos. The kids can be real twats sometimes.

“What do you want to do, kids?”

“We could take a closer look at the tower.”

“I’m OK with that. It does have a pub, doesn’t it?”

“Can you shut up with that shit?”

“Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Don’t. It’s really annoying.”

The kids are so tolerant.

We trail down to Kyoto tower. The light rain is making walking more than 100 metres a possibility. We've walked almost the whole way to the station. It’s the longest walk we’ve had – other than in an airport – since arriving in Asia.

“Do you want to go up the tower, kids?”

“No, I don’t need to do that.”

“Do you want to go into the food court underneath it?”

“No.” The lads are very adventurous today.

This definitely seems to be downtown. Looks like the main shopping district. What with all the shops. And people.

Alexei has taken my last paracetamol. Spotting a chemist, I nip in to stock up. The shelves are helpfully labelled in English, so I can find where the pain-killers are easily enough. But all the packages are only in Japanese. I grab a random packet and ask at the till if it's paracetamol. A bloke in a white coat says no and walks over with me to show me which are.

Outside the wind is picking up and the kids are getting nervous about the weather. They’re keen on getting back to the hotel.

“Uncle David was in Jamaica when that was hit by a hurricane.”

“Yes. What’s your point?

“He said it was dead windy.”

“Now, there’s a surprise. You have some rubbish stories, Dad.”

Andrew's stomach is buggered. Me and Alexei go to eat in a little Japanese fast-food place a few doors down from the hotel. I noticed it the other day. The low prices grabbed my attention. For food and beer.

At the entrance they have machines where you order and pay for your food. It spits out a ticket, which you give to the waiter. Some foreigners must struggle with the concept, as there’s a sign on the door in English saying you have to get a ticket from the machine first.

It’s amazingly fast. Our meals are delivered just a couple of minutes after we sit down. A Japanese family come in and they’re gone in 10 minutes. Served and fully eaten up.

The food isn’t bad at all. I’ve not had a single duff meal in Japan. The quality of the food is very high. Even in fast food restaurants or convenience stores. Did I mention that I really love Japan?

It’s been raining a bit this evening and it’s quite windy, but nothing too crazy. We seem to have missed the worst of it.

Watching more baseball. The other incomprehensible stuff gets boring after a while. Baseball I can understand. But Japanese baseball does have some odd features. At a certain point in each game, the fans sing a song and wave sperm-shaped balloons, which they release at the end of the song. Then there are the 6-year-old cheer leaders who troop out at one gap between innings.

The typhoon is having some effect. When I go to the 7 11 with Alexei for more nosh, it’s absolutely pissing it down outside. We wait for the lights to change and sprint across the road.

Suntory Highball, sushi and squid jerky for me. Another sausage on a stick for Alexei. This time it is like a corn dog. Obviously, we get cans of Strong Zero for Andrew. Then a sprint back over the road.

We’re watching a Japanese programme where people are just fishing from a boat in the sea. Half are women. None of the throwing the fish back shit. Back on, land they're now cooking it.

Japanese and Korean TV has loads of graphics and other shit on the screen. It often looks very cluttered. Adding little bits of animation over live TV is weird.

The Japan Korea trade war is a big deal. There were loads of Boycott Japan signs in the Seoul metro - on every train door, in fact. Just saw video of people in Korea pouring away Asahi and Pocari Sweat. No problem with the Sweat, but that's a waste of beer.

When we watched the English-language Korean news in Korea, the first five items were about the problems with Japan.

Andrew was feeling a bit shit with his stomach earlier today, but he’s perked up this evening a bit. That’s probably due to the Strong Zero. That usually cheers him up.

Luckily, the trains look like they'll be OK tomorrow. The trains were running from here to Tokyo today, so I think we'll be fine tomorrow.

The hotel left a card (with notes on it) and sweets for Andrew in his room today. They must have noticed from his passport that it was his birthday today. They really are very nice here. I love Japan. Only seen two policemen so far, but no anarchy on the streets. Social control, obviously.

“What’s your favourite ELO song, Dad?” Alexei is going on about the Electric Light Orchestra again. It's so weird. And annoying. It makes me wish I’d dawdled more taking photographs earlier.

“Roll Over Beethoven.”

“Not Mr. Blue Sky?”

“No, not Mr. Effing Blue Sky.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s shit. I’ve told you that several times.”

I quick whisky or two and I’m off to bed. Another day of travel tomorrow.

Yayoiken Gojo Karasuma
600-8173 Kyoto,
Tel: +81 75-353-1805

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