Japan day 5
Japan day 5
From the Pacific coast, it was up into the mountains towards Mt Aso, which sports the biggest volcanic crater in the world. Last night the temperature had touched freezing point, but my 2 season down bag, plus a few layers of clothing, kept me snug and warm. Taketa, however, is nearly 400 metres above sea level, so what of my sleeping arrangements tonight? Will this man, for once, have to pay for lodging? More of that later.
But first, let me tell you about Osato
I stopped part way up the mountain at a layby with one of the ubiquitous drinks vending machines, bought myself a drink and started eating a snack. Osato got out of his car and started asking me the usual questions. I offered him a banana cake, he accepted, and two minutes later, out came his wallet and gave me a 1000 yen note. So then began the pantomime……
Accepting a gift in Japan has a set ritual…..you always (but always….no exceptions allowed) refuse. They will insist, you refuse again; they will insist again and you keep on refusing……until, of course, you are worn down into accepting. We Brits would just wonder why all the fuss….just accept the damn thing and move on. Life’s too short. In Japan, however, even though the outcome will always be the same (ie. you end up accepting) the preceding pantomime of refusing and insisting has to be played out…..if not, you will simply offend.
So Osato and I were nominated for an Oscar with our performance, and in return, I gave him my personal card, which he thought an excellent exchange. (Now I’m counting how many cards I have left, and how many thousands of yen they could earn me…..).
Saying farewell to Osato, I went into this facility thinking it was a loo, or a benjo
…and, of course, it wasn’t. It was, in fact, full of dirty mag vending machines, trying to peddle porn to pedalers like me (I presume). The plethora of front cover pictures suggested there are a lot of women out there with nothing to wear……a fairly typical female problem, I know.
Once in Taketa city, I sought advice at the Information centre about an address I have, dived into the onsen next door and luxuriated in the thermal baths for an hour, went to a restaurant and sampled ‘karage’, the local chicken speciality
….and waited for a lift. Reason for the lift? ……tune in for the next post.
(this is beginning to sound like a bad episode of ‘Corrie’….sorry about that).