Our last full day. The plan is to visit the Mikasa. Which is about an hour away by commuter train.
We walk to the station, which leaves us melting again. Andrew's T shirt is soaked through.
We have to change trains after a couple of stops. But we can't get the train we expected to, because it isn't a JR service. There is a JR train going the same way, but it stops at a different station. We'd expected to go to one much closer to the Mikasa. Though there is a dirty great aircraft carrier just over the road.
“Look Andrew, ‘a helicopter carrier’.” I do the inverted commas with my hands.
“I know, Dad.”
“It’s quite big, isn’t it?”
“Can we save this for later when we’re somewhere cool?”
“Those Japanese ‘training ships’ we saw in Amsterdam weren’t exactly small, either.”
“Stop with that fucking quotation mark shit and get moving. I’m about to die.”
We're not sure of the direction to the Mikasa. Andrew is getting impatient. But he has a point: it is boiling hot. Luckily there's a little ticket restaurant just over the road. We head there to regroup. And for refreshment.
They’re quite fun, these ticket places. And dead easy. Even without the English version, as they have pictures of the food on the machines. You can see exactly what you’re getting. Just bung in enough coins and notes to pay for it, then hand the ticket it spits out to the waiter. In this case waiter and chef. As he’s the only person working here. It is pretty tiny. There are just a few seats at the counter and three small tables.
We all get a beer. I get some fried dumplings and Alexei fried chicken. Both are pretty good. It's weird to see how the dumplings are cooked. First they're deep fried, then the cook poured the fat away and sort of grilled them to finish off. Never seen anything cooked that way before.
On the TV they have the bizarre programme with the enormous transvestite bloke. I’ve never managed to work out what the hell it’s about. It has “brunch” in the title so I suppose it’s something like Sunday Brunch on Channel 4. Just with dollops of added weirdness.
The food is pretty good. Just fills a hole nicely.
“That beer was just what I needed, boys.”
“Something alcoholic is always what you ‘need’, Dad” Andrew replies cynically, complete with air quotes. The bastard.
Cooled down, we make our plans. It's a bit far to walk.
We quickly grab a taxi that takes us directly to the museum. Luckily, cabs are neither rare nor expensive here.
I notice loads of places obviously geared to American servicemen. Like a gun shop, tattoo parlours and military tailors. There's a big US naval base here as well as a Japanese one.
The Mikasa is dead interesting. Though it's odd to think that, despite being one of the most powerful battleships in the world when built, it was obsolete just a couple of years later after the first dreadnought was launched.
The displays inside are excellent. Though some of the historical stuff is a bit dodgy. And a lot is only explained in Japanese. Odd that at the rear there's a little admiral's suite, as in wooden sailing warships.
They have quite a few interactive displays to recreate Tsushima and even virtual reality. It's mostly pretty well air-conditioned, too.
We get another taxi back to the station. Where I quickly nip into the shop to get myself a can of beer.
"Dad, do you really need that?"
"It's hot and I wouldn't want to get dehydrated."
"Not much chance of getting dehydrated the way you knock back beer."
"Better safe than sorry."
Considering it's the weekend, the train is pretty crowded. But the airco is good, making it pleasant enough.
Is that young woman over on the other side of the carriage looking my way? Surely not? She’s sitting right next to the door. The one I get off through. I throw her a smile as I depart. Which she returns. Nice people, the Japanese.
A little ramen place with Alexei - another ticket place. It seems to have a samurai theme. The door handles are samurai swords.
"Do you want a large or a small one?" the waiter asks. We both go for large. Which may have been a mistake. I feel totally stuffed. So much so, I can't even sip on my can of Highball for an hour.
We finish the evening in the kids’ room finishing off the booze and snacks.
It’s been a really fun holiday. Despite the heat. The kids definitely seem to have enjoyed themselves.
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