Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Kagoshima people don't like the honkies.

So a rundown of Kagoshima City.

What, you want grades? OK.

The city? Strong B. Good food, easy to get around, nice sights, good stores for foreign food and whatnot, etc. etc.

The people? Straight up D.

Now before we begin here, let me explain my philosophy on life: every now and then you get into some shit. Sometimes it finds you, or you find it, but regardless the shit-into-gettin'-dom thing happens invariably throughout the course of your life. It's not good for you, it's not good for them, and overall it often obfuscates and confuses things into a state of general dissarray and anarchy that just flusters and annoys you.

Sorry for the grand prelude and introduction, but long story short: we got into some shit.

So a few weeks ago, myself any my buddy headed down to Kagoshima City to fight off the rainy winter blues here in Kumamoto. During the winter I've been in "extreme savings" mode so that I could actually sock something away for the year, but I decided to break with that idea for a bit of fun because frankly I've never seen this much consistent rain on a near-daily basis. I figured "screw it, I make OK money, this'll be a nice one and a half day trip. We'll get some food, see the sites, meet some people, and have some drinks. Awesome."

Anyway, my friend comes in, and I bike out to Shin Yatsushiro station... during which I promptly get lost. From there, we try and get discount cards but I botch the name of the damned things so no discount for us.*

*= For all of you wondering, ask for a "Nice Going" card to get money off on trips to Fukuoka and Kagoshima

So we get on the shinkansen. Gold. I love the shinkansen and haven't ridden one since I got a pass for them year before last and taxi'd my fine ass around Honshu on a constant hunt for cool shit to do. My buddy was stoked to see how fast and efficient it was, and I just kicked back and relaxed and checked out some of the cities to the south. We also discussed the "COMSAT" (*cough* SPY SATELLITE! *cough*) that was being launched from Kagoshima Prefecture that day.

Then we arrived.

Kagoshima looks pretty cool, honestly. It's circularly designed and in a valley next to the ocean so that you basically see a city that's a big circle. Damn cool. We looked around a bit and found some possible options for places to stay and checked out the massive Amu shopping plaza next to the Kagoshima Chuo station. Homedude and I found a store called 'Deli' that had snack food from all over the world. I then took the oppurtunity to inject Dr. Pepper straight into my veins, and became a happy little cowboy.

So far, so good, right?

From there my friend and I decided that we should find a place to crash and drop our stuff off. I concurred. So we headed over to the "business hotel" section of town, but unfortunately the only places available won't allow access after 11 PM. "Fuck that, yo" we said, "I believe there are better options."

We criss-cross back over past some old funky shopping districts and liquor stores until we're back at the Amu. "Let's look inside and scout it out dude," I say to my friend. Sure enough, it's like all other Japanese malls... nice, but not life-changing. However, on the escalator, some girl said something disparaging about me in Japanese, basically equating to "not here, gaijin!" and I called her on it. She then got all red-faced and shy. My friend stopped me afterward.

"Wow man, you've really got some restraint."

"Dude, it's just 'cause I don't care."

"I would've gotten mad."

"She's 14, what does she know about anything? It's not like she called me "beaner" or bombed my family's church or anything."

And THAT was my first taste of Kagoshima hospitality. And by hospitality, I mean, "fuck you ferrners!"

From the shopping center we decided that we would head over to the nicer part of town and find a place to zonk out at the next morning. Sure, we'd probably pay more, but it's called a "vacation" for a reason, no?

This takes us to about 4 or 5 more hotels. How's the staff? Well, you know the meaning of "nice," right? Dig:

adj. nic·er, nic·est

1. Pleasing and agreeable in nature: had a nice time.
2. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance: a nice dress; a nice face.
3. Exhibiting courtesy and politeness: a nice gesture.
4. Of good character and reputation; respectable.
5. Overdelicate or fastidious; fussy.
6. Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle: a nice distinction; a nice sense of style.
7. Done with delicacy and skill: a nice bit of craft.
8. Used as an intensive with and: nice and warm.

Well, uh, these people were the EXACT FUCKIN' OPPOSITE.

"Uh, we have no doubles."


*long pause to hide obvious bullshit and disdain*

"Uh... no."

"Great, thanks."

*shrugs, walks out*

After two stabs at this, my friend starts going in alone to curb what he feels was discrimination. I was basically of the argument that if they didn't want my fucking money than they could kiss my ass and die in the street whilst covered in their own vomit, but my friend was bothered by this. We eventually end up with a room that's twice the price of what I'm willing to pay, and after my friend comes out I spy a cheaper place down the street.

"Dude," I tell him, "go back in there and tell them that you're aunt's sick and we're going back to Kumamoto. We're paying 7500 yen to pass out for 7 hours max? Fuck that."

"No, it's cool," he says.

"The hell it is! Who am I, Paris Hilton?!?"

So after much debate I give in and we go with the more expensive place. For those of you wondering about cheaper accomodations, Toyoku in DOES exist in Kagoshima, so we can knock off over a THIRD of our travel costs between that and Nice Going cards when we go back. Smart tip for you travellers out there. Also, you can book online.

Anyway, from there we got a case of the hungries going. Kagoshima is FAMOUS for it's shabu shabu, and I love shabu shabu like Madonna loves dick. Armed with directions, we're off to a family SS joint.

We enter the place and it smells fantastic. Sizzling meat, smiling families, cold beer... all the amenities of "awesome" are in front of us. THANK YOU, GOD.

We request a table for two. Then an old obasan comes up and runs this classic on us.

"We're very sorry, but we're not seating anybody anymore."


"Yes, we're sorry."

(Yeah, and I'm a retarded monkey.)

"At 6:15 PM on a Saturday night?"



So from there on in we're off to our next spot to hunt for shabu shabu. We swore we wouldn't leave Kagoshima without the remains of some cow rotting away in our guts. I was going to drop a meat-shit if I had to eviscerate the heifer myself.

Regarding the "exclusion" thing... well, I was swayze, but my friend was miffed about the varous goofy bullshit that has happened by that point, and we discussed it as we walked back to the big shopping complex. You know, the one that would probably let us SIT DOWN at 7 PM. None of it was really mean-spirited, awful shit, but it still bothered us.

After this trek we reached the restaurant and it ruled. Great food. They were a little slow, and we had to politely bother them a few times to keep our plates filled, but everything was cool. We even had a nice conversation with a 17 year old girl and her mother sitting across from us in English AND Japanese. It was nice to meet a high school girl that was serious about her studies, and her mom was cool too. But from that point on, we just couldn't shake that feeling that "we" were invading territory that wasn't ours.

The thing is, folks, I'm not a "loud" gaijin. I'm laid back, quiet, and even though I look overly serious or whatever I try to be inimitably respectful of Japanese culture. I'm hear because I've wanted to be here for twenty some-odd years, OK? I don't sit there and drink and scream like "look at the funny Japanese guy!!! HAHAHAHA!! Hysterical!" In fact, I'm disturbingly uncomfortable when I end up in situations like that, and often leave because I don't want to be seen as a clown.

Unfortunately, I am yet to translate this into Japanese and print it onto a t-shirt.

And so from there the funk set in. We made a perfunctory stab to go out drinking, but despite our delicious and awesome dinner, our various attempts to carouse were half-hearted at best. I regained a step or two, but my friend was just sick of dealing with crap, so things were kinda funky from there on in.

And then, of course, I spotted two punk rockers walking in front of this and tailed them for a kilometer and found the punk rock bar. AWESOME.

Finally, a chance for both beer and some jams. Sweet. While I'm not crazy about Japanese punk bands in general ("Look at how crazy I look! Look at my hair! It doesn't matter that my jams are boring as shit!"), it's nice to go out and hear some music and meet people. But even then, the vibe was wack... dealing with bartenders almost refusing to serve us, having to almost push a guy down when he wouldn't move his back off me as I put my hooded sweatshirt on to leave, and talking to people who just generally resented us being there.

My attitude remained "fuck 'em." They probably got pissed because the girls were stoked to talk to us too. I can't help it because you're boring, dude. Don't be hatin'.

After awhile, the vibe was just too negative and we got tired. I didn't want to leave, but I didn't want to ditch my friend, so we headed out. After a long walk and detour we arrived back at the hotel and crashed. The next day was spent walking around and looking at some cool historical sites as well as visiting the lackluster Meiji restoration museum, but after that we were shot. We got our discount cards, grabbed some truly awe-inspiring American snack food, and headed out.


Thanks Kagoshima. Now we just have to figure out how to rid your city of every third inhabitant.

PS: I'm still going back next month. Dicks.