mandag den 23. juli 2007

Monday Oct. 30 - Scaring the living daylight out of a Japanese

Time for goodbyes again, but Iwashita-san has to have a box of chocolates before I leave. Then he gives me a set of old lithographs in the traditional style, which I happen to be crazy about. Then he gets a couple of pages of gift-wrap paper I made with Santa Claus on a Nimbus. Then I have to have a copy of the CD playing, because the girls remember I really liked that one, when I was here the first time. If things continue like this, it’ll just be a matter of time before my leather jacket goes, so I get out to pack my stuff on the bike.

While waiting for the world’s slowest CD-burner to finish the job, a group of tourists come into the museum. This says a lot about the eclectic collection – or maybe about me – that while I stand there, fully dressed in my leathers, quietly thinking about today’s program, one of the Japanese stops in front of me. He stares at me like no one else has stared at me before, least of all over here. Suddenly I move, while he lets out a scared shout and jumps away. I crack up, of course, but he can’t see the fun of this situation, so shocked he is. Had my day not been saved already, it would have been now.

138 turns later I’m back in Beppu, visit the expensive hotel with free internet access, and catch a ferry to Shikoku, the fourth largest island of Japan. It is conveniently located on my way up to a vintage bike rally in Kyoto at the end of the week. On board I notice that most of the Japanese are in the rooms with tamami mats, while I and a select few others prefer the soft chairs and sofas. If the Japanese could invent something even harder than a floor to sleep on, I’m sure they would do it.

On Shikoku I head south along the coast, in fast approaching darkness, to Uwajima, whose main attraction is a phallus-worshipping temple. Turns out this was pretty common once, before the West with its Victorian morals did away with most of that dirty stuff. Apparently it still survives in a few places. If I have to see temples – and in Japan you do see temples – it might as well be the more entertaining ones. In any case the town is placed perfectly for my time schedule.

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