10 July 2010
Chasing you with a knife
Only three more bullets left and I’m left wishing the barrel would hold more rounds; of Shinkansen trains that is. Once empty, I’m out off to South Korea for a brief squint. Today, however, I shall mainly be heading to Fukuoka (or Hakata), which is by the sea and I’m hoping will serve as a nice base for a few days.
And what a nice place it makes for; in typical fashion, as a small city it is brimming with friendly and helpful people who stop to ask if I need help whenever my map makes an appearance. Find any given Buddhist Temple and be invited in; “It’s free, OK, go in. This is Buddhist no charge. Please”, I’m told and so enter I will.
I really like this town; it’s quaint, petite, cute and full of charm. Whilst Tokyo almost brought out the misanthropist in me, here I feel relaxed and at ease without a worry or stress in the world; carefree and safe as I notice several people walk away from their belongings here too; reverting to discover absolutely nothing has changed. Hiking around a few random Temples,
I’ve worked up an appetite and notice that I’m close to a large shopping Mall so I head in. It’s enormous considering the small population and with the faint dulcet tones of falsetto pop music filling the air, somewhere for me to relive my childhood fears.
Walking past and noticing the rather large and overbearing cuddly toy I feel a shiver rush down my spine; I was utterly frightened by these things as a child. Preferring to keep shtum and firmly bottle my fears as a child, rather than look to my large guardians for sanctity; I can recall how my eyes were transfixed on the TV screen as strange noises and images filled my head with the kind of fear that weeks of sleepless bed-wetting simply couldn’t compensate for. Well, perhaps time is the best healer and with my reminiscing over it was time to confront my phobia of what in hindsight seems actually rather placid and harmless. Deciding to overcome my childhood horror, I resolve to enter and enjoy a hot beverage though on realising that these monsters are in fact placed on each table (presumably to scare children in to buying more sweets), I can’t quite bring myself to walk past the door guardian.
Instead, I’ll head to the “Robo Museum”, which is more of a room of ludicrously expensive toys for sale, rather than somewhere to peruse the history of robotics. The two girls inside are piqued with interest (having clearly had nothing to do for precisely the last several months), at both my ethnicity and presence and hence delight in putting on some shows for me. Whilst Aibo dogs have benefits over real canines, I can’t help but feel that the speaking Hello Kitty-bot would be far better suited to terrifying children in to submission. It’s like a friendlier looking Chucky from the movies, where it recognises your face and follows your every move, shouting Japanese to you – and more – and more – when you don’t reply. Lock your doors and windows kids, it’ll be chasing you with a knife just as soon as you get it home. That is, assuming your old man can afford the £3,000 asking price.
Nearby is a tower of strange design, facilitating simply a view over the city and sea. With a metal mecano-like inter-nal structure and only a handful of floors; the sole purpose seems to be hanging padlocks to the windows in a bid to signify resolute and unbending love between the latest teen hopefuls. Let’s be honest; we all know it’ll end in enough tears requiring some serious rehydration; so save your money for the next fumble at the back of the Cinema during the next instalment of Gundam.
Passing through the Park, there’re some interesting photo opportunities and plus it’s en route to my final Temple for the day. With a Japanese garden in one corner also in the right direction, I can’t help but pay the 3 quid to get in for a squint. On entering I can hear drums and children screaming in time to the beat, so having whipped round I head off in search of the commotion. I’m drawn by ear through the remains of the castle here, which is literally just that and nothing to behold, though it seems the school kids are practising their cheers; there must be a tournament coming up.
As evening chimes in I’m off to find some nightlife and I hear the British pubs are good around here. In actuality, any drinking hole is good in Japan and having made several new friends within the time it took to remove camera, bag and order a drink; I’ve very much warmed to this city quickly. It’s a shame my next bullet is scheduled for tomorrow, but back to Tokyo I will be headed for a scheduled date with Shinjuku, some Karaoke and a Museum.