Thursday, September 21, 2006


[Now Experiencing] [Personal] [TGS]

I went to Kisarazu today. For those who don't know, it's a relatively small town on the Chiba pensinsula, on the coast of Tokyo Bay and south-south-east of Tokyo itself. It's also the setting of the Japanese TV series Kisarazu Cat's Eye.

The Kisarazu Cat's Eye theme song promises me that the town contains a "street full of raccoons". I'm not sure if that's literally correct - there's ugly, ugly raccoon statues everywhere - but not really any one street that can be said to be "full" of them. I've got heaps of raccoon-themed photos to share and I did manage to pick up a couple of hideous little raccoon-statue souvenirs.

Kisarazu was frustrating in a lot of ways, though. First up, it's an unseasonally warm autumn over here - a combination of ozone-hole-raw sunlight plus horrible sticky humidity. Not what I expected from Japan at all, and enough to already have me sunburned and sweaty by 10 in the morning.

Also, while the English signage around Tokyo, Makuhari and the airport was all very comprehensive, and there's a lot of English speakers around in the places I've been up until now, when I got to Kisarazu I discovered that the English doesn't extend so well into the suburbs.

I'd been ordered by friends to try and obtain Kisarazu Cat's Eye merchandise, but I wasn't successful. And my lack of success was very annoying, because giant posters for the show were everywhere - literally, in every window in town. You couldn't escape them. Despite that, I only found two places that sold merchandise.

The first place was this tiny hovel-like shop that had a very prominently displayed "Bussan 1/2" shirt near the entranceway. But the shopkeeper refused to sell it to me. When I made enquiring motions towards it he just waved me away and made it very clear it wasn't for sale. It's not like it was one of a kind, either - there were packs of them nearby. I'm confused.

The second place was a full-fledged T-shirt shop with a very nice woman running it. They had a variety of shirts with the legend "OZZY", depicting the character of Ozzy from the show drawn in the style of a raccoon and holding a foaming mug of beer. They would have been perfect, and the lady seemed willing to sell, but this is where the language barrier struck - there was no written price on the shirts, I wasn't able to understand her spoken numerals when I asked the price, and in any case she kept thinking I was enquiring about what sizes the shirts came in. I produced money but she looked very shocked and waved it away. (I found out why - see below.) In the end I had to back out of the store, apologising, and just admit my communication skills weren't up to the task of buying clothes.

I did manage to visit the Kisarazu footbridge, also depicted in the show. It's a scarily tall structure. I'm afraid of heights, so getting to the top was something of an epic journey for me. As you're walking up it, it looks like it's literally a bridge to nowhere (see picture). It has a very steep incline. There's a legend that if you carry your partner over the bridge on your back you'll be together for life. I imagine the legend hasn't been tested much as it would take an exceptionally fit person to carry a body-weight the length of the bridge. It's a bit of an ordeal just crossing the thing by yourself.

Finally, on my way back to the train station, I stopped just before my train was arriving and purchased a BBQ bento from the station kiosk. Much to my surprise, after not finding a single person who could understand me anywhere else in town, the kiosk owner spoke fluent English. She happened to notice the wad of Japanese cash stuffed into my wallet as I was paying, and made it clear to me that the sum of money I had brought, which I had though was reasonable spending money, is in fact an amount of currency so extremely large as to enable one to live like some kind of feudal lord or visiting dignitary. I guess the exchange rate was stronger than I thought. I can replace every console in my house with what I have in my wallet, and still have enough left over to buy a PlayStation 3 when it comes out. New plan: stop flashing around money.

I'm spending the afternoon resting up for TGS tomorrow. My laptop is about to run out of batteries, so this is it for me until I either (a) find a net cafe, (b) obtain a suitable converter, or (c) get to Perth. Take care, everyone.


Phrancq said...

No merchandise? Damn. Ah well, thankyou, though. If any other opportunities arise, they would be much appreciated.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Oh! GURPS! See if you can find Yassai Mossai!!!!

GregT said...

Will try!

Jey said...

"New plan: stop flashing around money."
Sounds like a plan!