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All by Myself...

Posted on 2005/09/01 13:05:28 (September 2005).

[Wednesday 31st August]
Given that me and Chie are unemployed at the moment (by choice!) we've been spending pretty much 24 hours a day together, non-stop for several months... Naturally now and again we start to wind each other up a bit! So I determined for the greater good, I ought to be the one to make a sacrifice and selflessly go out for the night. Given that I don't really know anyone in Hiroshima, I thought sod it, I'll just go out by myself.

I had a surprisingly good time - just like my recent jolly in The Bukuro. It's a cliché to say "oh the people are so much friendlier here" whenever you go anywhere abroad, but I do seem to have had a really good time going out by myself in Japan - something I would be a little unsure of back in England.

I went to four fine establishments during the course of the evening. First off The Shack, where I'd been before once with Chie (see here). Here I had dinner (a very tasty vegetarian burger and chips) and a couple of beers, all for next to nothing as it was happy hour.

I then went for a couple more (somewhat more expensive) beers in Molly Mallone's, the Irish bar across the road. Had a nice chat with the barman, and learnt a bit of Chinese (yes, an Englishman learning Chinese at an Irish bar in Japan). Apparently "Li Hai" means something similar to "subarashi" in Japanese - i.e. sort of fantastic... although I was issued with a caveat that Li Hai tends to be more for something record breaking - an amazing achievement, which has perhaps not been, err, achieved before. I have an image of Chinese people watching Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, and enthusiastically shouting Li Hai!

This was all a bit too easy though - both of these places were pretty gaijiny, right on one of the main roads, and I'd been to them both before at least once. I thought for the remainder of the night I ought to set myself some more ambituous challenges.

So next off I decided to try and find Bar Fukuzawa. This fulfilled the criteria of not being a gaijin bar, and although I had been once before, I had pretty much no idea where it was, so getting there would present something of a challenge. Thankfully I had kept the little business card from my previous visit, which had a map on it, and, after asking a few people directions (I didn't even realise I could do this in Japanese!) I managed to get there. Had a few very nice whiskies there - a 10 year old Clynelish, an 18 year old Caol Ila and then an Ardbeg (I think) to finish. Had a bit of a chat with the barman, who may have been the owner, and is apparently a friend of Watanabe-san from Quercus Bar.

My final venue for the night was going to be even more of a challenge - I decided I should attempt to find somewhere I had never been to before. Now this may not sound like much of an achievement, but believe me, finding somewhere from an address in Japan is no mean feat. Most of the streets do not have names for a start! So often addresses are little more than a string of numbers, the numbers defining areas and buildings. I'm not really that familiar with Hiroshima - it is very rare (almost never) I go into the centre by myself, so I'm almost always following Chie like a dumb animal, and pay very little attention to where we're going. Maps are often of little use in Japan - if you're lucky they might have English on, but often they're all in kanji (Chinese characters). Anyway, despite all of these obstacles I somehow managed to find my way to the final bar of the evening.

This was the interestingly named Alcoholiday. It was quite trendy inside and the owner - who I believe is called Chie - obviously loved music. The place was covered with posters and flyers for gigs etc. The music was pretty great in there - I was pleased as punched to hear The Divine Comedy's Songs of Love (perhaps better known as the theme tune to Father Ted). I was a little confused by the presence of a number of Bob the Builder toys - I hadn't realised this had got as far as Japan... Mind you, I never cease to be amazed by the obscure bits of European culture the Japanese seem to pick up. There were only two other customers there - it was a Wednesday after all, so it made for a very low key atmosphere.

Anyway, this was a great little place and I'm glad I found it, even though the area around it was a little... well... dubious. It was bizarre, there seemed to be an awful lot of unusually dressed young ladies standing around on the pavements waiting for something or other, and on my way out of the bar an old-ish gentlemen made me an offer involving a sum of 20,000 Yen that I was compelled to politely decline.

It's a funny country, Japan.

Comment 1

John .... you are beginning to rival Bill Bryson as a travel writer .....

Posted by Dad at 2005/09/03 16:45:32.

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