Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saturday in Hiro

I spent the day yesterday in Hiroshima at the wonderful Diamond City Soleil mall. It took about an hour and 45 minutes to get there, and I know I should just take the train, but I'm not used to public transportation and there's the dilemma about where to put the crap I purchase. For now I'm driving and coping with my road rage.

I had lunch at my favorite place, Picolino Mario's Pizza, and lunch consisted of a mini pizza and this wonderful sarada (salad). It's hard to describe the joy that comes from finding a salad without fish tails or eye balls in it. It's truly something to write home about.

Afterwards I went to my favorite foot massage place, La Veille, where everything is purple and the whole place smells like lavender. It's nummy. It is really the reason I drive all the way to Hiro every few weeks. They were too full to fit me in this time, which was a bummer, but it just means I'll go back soon.

The whole mall was cram-packed full of people like how Americans would think of a mall at Christmas time in the States. The only thing I can figure out is that Valentine's Day is a big deal here, and there were lots of chocolate vendors set up throughout the mall. There's an interesting twist to V-Day here . . . it's for men only, meaning 2/14 is the day that women buy men chocolate and presents. A complete rip-off, if you ask me. Women get "White Day" which is March 14th, but I still think it's a scam. Men get everything in Japan, and they have Valentine's Day, too. (I think this is true in Korea, also, but I don't know other cultures/countries that have White Day.)

I ended up going to a movie at Wald 11, the Cinema at Diamond city. I chose Munich, which just came out. (We get movies late here.) Um . . . intense. It was interesting to me, and Lord knows I love a good dramatic, traumatizing event, but this went a little over the top for my personal tastes. It's extremely violent (yeah, I know, it's the subject) and definitely one-sided (which isn't necessarily wrong, but it is), and I just left with a feeling of total hopelessness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about Middle East relations in general, and even about all inter-cultural harmony. Ugh. Intense movie. The lead actor was amazing, I have to say, and it's so enjoyable to see a really great performance that it almost made it worth it. I wish I would have learned more about the whole thing, but it didn't seem to follow the history too closely. It was more about the Olympic massacre and resulting revenge from one guy's point of view.

At the theater I did notice that Crash is coming in a few weeks. That is a bit crazy. Japan has some pretty overt and widely accepted racism going on, and I can't imagine what the subtitles for that movie will be like. I'm not sure a Japanese person would get it like an American person might. (Is that wrong to say? I'm just speculating based on the culture here.) I'd love to have a good conversation with some locals after they see the movie, but that would be hard. There are lots of restaurants and bars where I live that have signs that say, "No Foreigners" or even signs refusing specific ethnicities. I guess in northern Japan it's very common to see "No Russians" signs. It's a homogeneous group on this island. I really wonder how Crash will impact viewers here.

A complete side note on the movie thing: you know how back home they sell maybe popcorn, soda and some Red Vines in a movie package or combo deal? Here the combo deal is popcorn, soda and french fries. Yum! I can almost hear my arteries getting clogged! Also, and this really *bugs* me . . . assigned seats. That's right, you heard me. You purchase your movie ticket (about $18, and let's not even talk about that), and then the cashier whips out a seating chart and asks for your preference. I can't help it, it BUGS me. We can't have completely chaos with everyone just sitting wherever the hell they want now, can we? Anarchy! I chose seat E-1 and then purposefully sat in seat D-1 just to rebel, just like I did last time. Right on, LSL! Rage against the machine!

That was the day. I went to my favorite bookstore/stationery shop, had some gelato, and just walked around window shopping. I live such a (relatively) traditional Japanese life here, sometimes it's just fun to do something really American like troll around a mall and see a movie. I was followed a few times (by curious locals), which is nothing new, and I had a few kids stop dead in their tracks and look at me like I was a ten-foot tall monster. Yawn. I've been here for 3 1/2 years, people. You're going to have to come up with something better than that to shock me now.

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