Let’s go Fly a Kite – Muroran, Japan

Next we slipped into a supermarket and I was elated as I panned the huge superstore selling every form of goods imaginable. Jackpot! We began snapping photos of everything like the odd shaped mushrooms to the new fangled toothbrushes. Everything was so different especially with the language difference. I felt like a Japanese Tourist. Ahhhhh…now I understand.

We all spent some time picking out snacks and drinks for the day. I got stuck in the drink aisle trying to figure out what was sweet and what wasn’t. The only really way to figure out much of anything was to scan the caloric info which was still in numbers, the only writing I could understand. I ended up with a small can of iced coffee (88 yen) and a bottle of white milky water pop stuff (98 yen). I don’t know how else to explain it but I saw a crew member from the ship buying it who said it was good.

The prices were ok for food but we had been forewarned that Japan was NOT the place to do your shopping. As I scrutinized the general cost of things, I reigned in my impulse to buy. We tasted a yummy fried bean curd sample which was by the sushi roll deli. There was also a lot of makeup and a ton of expensive accessories. It was near 10 dollars for a hair clip and 5 dollars for a notebook. A pair of cheap shoes cost about 30 dollars. Best way for conversion, we just divided the yen by a hundred and called it US dollars. Not perfect but served the purpose for getting a general sense of the currency.

We hopped back on the bus and got off at the next shuttle stop where they had set up a charming little fair for us tourists. They showcased all things Japanese including origami, juggling, sake, yakitori, arts and crafts, music and even photos with a samurai. It was here that I had my first Asian toilet experience. It was not nearly as awkward as I thought it would be. Though it was a squatter, it still flushed.

I learned how to make an origami elephant and crane, that I still don’t like sake, and that Japanese are polite, slightly timid and love to be helpful. There is something distinctly childlike about the Japanese culture. From the smaller size, to the cartoons used to sell practically everything, to the playful colorful nature of their arts and crafts.

Perhaps the highlight of my day was when I made a kite with one of the volunteer ladies. First she had me pick a symbol from a chart (I chose love, of course) which I copied by swishing it the brush dipped in black ink onto the paper kite. She wrote my name in Japanese at the bottom and I was surprised to learn that my name can be written in only 3 characters rather than the 8 letters used in English. Together we secured the sticks and tied on the string before attaching the long yellow ribbon tail. I was brimming with joy as I thanked my teacher profusely. I wondered if it would be wind worthy but didn’t really care as I would hang it proudly in my stateroom as an art piece.

We climbed up a bunch of steps to a shrine. We purified our hands and mouth with the water spouting from the dragons mouth. Then we found our way up to the temple where three delicate young ladies handed us a little bowl of sake. We tasted it then bought our fortune for a dollar. My “Written Oracle” turned out to be excellent and said of travel, that my destination will do me good.

We spent the next hour or so hiking up to the top of the mountain to take in the panoramic view of the portside town. We stopped at a little tea house on the way up and sipped an expensive coffee. The place was decorated in a cluttered way and I wondered if he hadn’t done all his shopping at the junk store we had visited earlier that day. I realized that it had been a while since I had taken in any vitamin D so for that I was grateful that we had hit a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. While we were waiting for the bus to go back to the ship, I decided it was time to try out my kite. There was a slight breeze and it was enough to launch. She flew high and strong with her yellow tail streaming behind. I am sure at that moment, I was stiff competition for the sun I was beaming so brightly.

I was pooped by the end of the day and was quite looking forward to getting back on the ship. We all took a little nap before dinner but I am not sure I ever really woke up. I must have been running on nervous energy because at dinner, I was so giggly, I was crying. I couldn’t contain myself and soon Darren had caught the laughing bug too. We were a couple of snickering fools and after a while, it started hurting. I suppose that is one way to get your abdominal workout.

Grateful for politeness.

This entry was posted in Asia. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply