Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fireworks and Fukushima

After my second day in Kyoto our entire hostel went off to the firework festival. When asking why this festival was happening the answer our host was, "It's summer and fireworks are fun." Reasonable answer, silly me for thinking all festivals have to have a deeper meaning. I must have been living in China for far too long.

We get to the metro to take the train to the festival and the train is SUPER crowded! We are so packed in there that is getting to point of ridiculous. There are many girls in beautiful kimonos and wooden shoes and I couldn't help but feel bad for them. I had a great conversation with a hot guy in a yukata and his very nice girl friend. Here's how it went.
First a little background info, before we started talking he got a text message and read it out loud to his girlfriend. What I heard : "Japanese, Japanese.... I want you, I need you." Girlfriend giggles and hits him.

I have to stand very close to him and say, "Gomen, nasai."
He says. "okay."
"My japanese is terrible."- me
"I speak no English."- him
"I want you, I need you."- me
Girlfriend giggles!!!!!
"Segoi!!!" -him
"Arigato." -me

Our whole deep meaningful conversation. He asked to take my picture. I agreed and hopefully I am being immortalized somewhere on his facebook page forever. We get to the festival and then I get separated from my group with fellow traveler Ken. We watch the fireworks and at the beginning we are very jilted Americans. They are going "oo... aww!!" and we are standing there going, "That's it?" And then the magic began. We saw fireworks that were in the shapes of cartoon characters and 9 colors at once, there was this one that left little worms at the end and then the worms crawled across the sky. My camera is not great at taking photos of such thing but I got a couple shots.
Fireworks Festival
After the fireworks we tried to find our friends, no luck. Then we wanted to get some food but everything had a cue out the ass.  So we decided to get in line for the train. This was terrible and magical at the same time. Here I stood in line for about 2 hours. Horrible, right? But I also got to see a drunk girl in a Kimono! WIN! I mean, super drunk. We're talking Snookie on Jersey shore drunk. She and her boyfriend got in line behind us. It was very hot and they had a cooler of beer with them. Both were in traditional dress and looked very fancy. They open some beers and enjoy them while we were standing in line which was a smart idea, at first. 7 beers later tiny Japanese girl is super wasted and boyfriend is having to lift her up by her obi because she keeps falling over. It made my night and was one of my highlights of the trip. Poor boyfriend.... :(

We got back to the hostel and ran into our crowd on the way home, stopped at a 7-11 for icecream and a drink and had a lovely 7-11 dinner. Super cheap, yummy and I think an acceptable food option for the backpacker. Some people in the group did not like the idea of a 7-11 meal and went out for sake and soba afterward but I was really tired and had to get up early the next morning so I could make the most of my trip to Osaka!
7-11 is called the 7 "eye" holdings in Japan.
The next morning after a lovely lie in 7:30, I packed up and treated my sunburn from the day before which made me look like a lobster! Then I headed out around 8 or so. Said my goodbyes to the lovely peeps at the hostel and the Americans who were going to the Memorial Service at Hiroshima. Apparently it was that day. I had no idea, I should learn my history more... But I thought I should stick to my original plan and see Osaka, especially since I had some things to do and people to see in Osaka that could not be moved.

 Osaka we need to have a talk about your train system. If a public transit system can almost put me into tears it can reduce almost any traveler to tears. It's not all owned by the same company so you have to buy different tickets for the different lines. Sometimes it's just easier to walk as long as your hostel is in a good central are. I chose the Fukushima district which is known for being a good central location with good nightlife. I stayed at J-hoppers which was a chain hostel. It was clean and they were very nice. The bed and the air conditioning were lovely! And the showers awesome! But, being a chain hostel with many locations it didn't have the personality that other local places have. But I think if you were doing like a 3 month tour of Japan it would be a great place to stay because you can buy a membership card and if you stay at a certain number of locations you get a free night here and there. It's a good deal for backpackers and has great locations and facilities.
See this sign and the Donut shop and you are right next to my hostel!
I had to do some interviews for a project I was working on and I got those out of the way first after that I walked over the modern art museum of Osaka. Osaka's art museum is famous for the architecture of the building. It's a very beautiful building. For being that beautiful on the outside I was kind of expecting more on the inside. All the pieces were very spread out and they could have housed more art. A ticket for the whole museum was 1,000 Yen. Which is quite a bit for a museum in Japan, so I expected a lot for my money. The modern art section was well done but the world premiere section took up 1/2 of the 2nd floor at it didn't have anything in it. They had a fourth floor and all it had on it was a viewing deck and a cafe, surely they could have put some art up there!
Designed by Arata Isozaki, it is a representation of bamboo's lifeforce

I guess I'm jilted now that I've been to the Louvre. But as a serious lover of modern Japanese art and culture I was a little sad to be so disappointed by this museum. Especially because it's really beautifully designed!
The museum and the Cirque tent sticking amongst the city

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