Monday, March 21, 2011

Go WEST! (and south a bit)

I spent the long weekend in Kyushu; not because of the disaster, but because I hadn't seen Yoshie in a while. By the way, power to the Village People, but I hate that song.

Although I read at one point that Japanese spinach is now radioactive and that Tokyo's water supply has been contaminated, on the whole the little news I read while away seemed positive. Supplies seem to be getting in to Tohoku as infrastructure is slowly rebuilt, and the immediate situation in Fukushima is improving with time. Japan will soon be making the transition from crunch time to long-term recovery. There are a lot of people who have been displaced by the disaster, and they'll need to be clothed, fed, and housed...not necessarily by the government, but for sure there will be many who are too old or too young to make their own way. All most of us can do it to continue to offer prayers and charitable contributions.

For those indirectly or minimally affected, the return to normalcy has already begun. And so long as we don't forget what's going on in northern Japan, that's important. Life must go on. 

As for me, I had an interesting time down south. While visiting a local mall, we were passing by one relatively unremarkable "party" store, when some familiar packaging caught my eye. Star Wars action figures! I have some of these packed away back home, for when they become worth something. Just wait and see. At first glance, a world of possibilities began to swirl through my mind. 8,000 yen for one of these things?! But my scheming was foiled just as quickly. All these figures were signed by the actors who played the respective characters, and some of them were special editions with the actors' portraits on the packaging. What the hell? This is the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a comic book store - not a random mall shop in Japan. I snapped off a couple photos before noticing the "no photos" sign. Oops.

Flies like a kite!
To my delight, they were also selling an R2-D2 trashcan, and this "Parasail Kite" Darth Vader. You know, from that scene in Star Wars where Darth Vadar parachutes out of the Death Star. Ah, I kid. Though maybe they've got that scene lined up for Star Wars in 3D. Keep squeezing, Lucas - think there may be a few more drops of blood left. The depressing thing is that I'm sure there are plenty of people who will pay to see the first three (chronological) movies with an added dimension (so would I if that dimension were plot). But this is quickly devolving into nerd rage. Maybe I need another blog for that.

We also visited the onsen at a hotel where Yoshie works part-time. Apparently some onsens use cannibalized sake-brewing barrels as tubs. They're quite luxurious, I assure you. Think the part I liked best was the fact that it wasn't one degree below scalding. It was hot, but comfortably so; though I suspect that's not due to the fact that the tub was a huge former barrel.

Yesterday evening we checked out the new Hankyu department store in Hakata (Fukuoka), since it's right next to the station and Yoshie hadn't been there yet. It was packed to the point of me getting annoyed at all the people for not having anything better to do but mill around a damn department store. I was a little distressed that we were delayed for lunch and wound up not arriving 'till about 3:00. But just about all the restaurants had queues 5-10 people deep! People had seriously been waiting like two hours just to try out new restaurants. We found a Mexican restaurant but quickly decided we didn't want to stand there for 30-40 minutes for the equivalent of $4 tacos, so we found a nearby Okinawan place where we only had to wait for 3 minutes. The portions were a little small, but the taco rice was good! Also, I discovered that plants can have eggs:

海のぶどう(sea grapes)

Oh, one last leak of nerdiness - I had the chance to watch some episodes of Firefly while Yoshie was at work, and damn...not perfect, but pretty damn good. Leave it to me to get into a half-finished, canceled TV show. At least they made a movie.


  1. Glad to hear life is going on around you too! Some people are getting all "you can't go out and have fun - think of the suffering people", but personally I think we should, as you say, remember them and do what we can, but also get on with our lives.

    By the way, Firefly the movie... uh... don't get your hopes up too much!! >_<

  2. Hey, thanks Ali.

    Ah, damn...not that good, huh? Oh well - I guess I'll try to watch it with low hopes. =P

  3. I love the Miyazaki area. Don't know if you made it there but it's gorgeous near the sea.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Chris.

    I visited Miyazaki last autumn - yeah, it was beautiful! Wish I lived closer to that kind of place.

  5. Oooh, yeah I'd heard they finally finished the new station! It was a mess both times I was in Fukuoka (Augus last year and then again Feb this year). Must be quite different.
    Shame you noticed the no photos sign, would have loved to have seen the R2D2 trashcan!

  6. Thanks for the comment, Ri!

    Yeah, did work on Hakata I guess. Also saw Shin Tosu, the new shinkansen station. Wasn't too impressive, honestly.

    Haha, yeah. In retrospect, wish I had snapped a photo of that.

  7. My friend is obsessed with firefly/serenity. It's good from what I've heard so enjoy

  8. I am. You should check it out, too!