I’m big in Japan: Ja! Mata ne! (2005 May 19)

3 minute read

It was with heavy hearts that we woke up and picked up our last taste of yummy Japanese breads at Sazuya (693¥). Our flight home to the frigid north would be leaving late afternoon. We scarfed down our final breakfast and beat feet back to Asobe, the lacquerware store that was closed the previous day. Why was karma conspiring to have stores we really wanted to see be closed on the day we scheduled to visit them? Why?! Well, karma was about to come full circle and surprise us again.

We arrived a bit earlier than the 9:30AM time the guidebook said it would open. We probably were there around 9AM if not a bit earlier. The lights were off, but Jm could see the items on display in the shop window. Shortly after 9AM, the lights snapped on, and two ladies began to sweep the floors and prepare the shop for the upcoming business day. They went on for roughly five minutes before spotting us and inviting us in to shop. We were, to borrow a phrase from Gordon Ramsey, gobsmacked; Jm was overjoyed but a bit nervous to disturb them while they worked.

However, they were very gracious and kept cleaning while she browsed. She picked out a lovely box but was balking at buying it. So, I made it her (belated) birthday present; it wasn’t a hard sell, no protestations at all. The lady wrapped it up in some exquisite gift paper; we thanked her profusely in Japanese and English for their hospitality. Honestly, I don’t know of too many shopkeeps in major cities that would do something like that. We had to rush back to the hotel though to make sure we packed up her latest goodie, checked out, and make the airport shuttle on time.

We checked out and sat in the lobby waiting for the shuttle to arrive. Naturally, my bowels picked that exact moment to begin moving. I rushed to the loo and tried to squeeze things out quickly, but my timing in these matters quite frankly sucks. Jm was yelling into the door that the shuttle had arrived, and the lady wanted us moving now. I had managed to finish enough of my business to get out in a minute and off we went to Kansai International Airport. We road in a van with a Japanese mother and her two kids; my stomach was still a bit unsettled and was grateful that the driver pulled into a truck stop.

Irony… sweet irony… I had managed to go the entire trip without encountering one, but here it was staring at me, the dreaded squat toilet. Faced with trying to figure out how to do my business without soiling my garments or worse losing items out of pockets into its drains, I did the only sensible thing available; I walked away and held my mud until we made it to the airport. As with any flight, we had to be there early leading to much sitting around being bored. There were supposed to be restaurants and shops in the airport, but we must have missed them on the way inside. Once we got past the security gates, our only option for food was fried rice and drinks from the conbi (506¥, 300¥).

Don’t remember much about the flight home; I think they showed King Kong twice on the way back. There is only one thing that really stood out; once we were back in Logan, my nostrils were assaulted by an ungodly stench. Having gotten used to the cleanliness of most of Japan we saw, it took me a few ticks to realize it was the stench of urine. I was home.