Moore Than This

"Here we are living in paradise, living in luxury..."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fukuoka: Part the First

So, on Thursday I went down to Fukuoka on the shinkansen. It was raining in Osaka, and all across the area of western Japan we tore through in the morning. Arriving at Hakata station, though, the sun was shining. Hah! Moore - 1, weather - 0.

I dumped my stuff in the hotel, then met up with Jake and the other Leeds people studying at Fukuoka. I got a miniature guided tour of the city, wandering through the Canal City development, across the river and up to Tenjin, the big shopping/partying centre. I was struck by how small it all seemed after Osaka, but that wasn't necessarily such a bad thing. It was nice to be in a city where "the centre" was something you could cross on foot.

A rough trajectory of the evening follows:

- We see a animation show on the top floor on a bookshop, by an outfit that do short films of oddly-done jungle animals. They are giving away free badges on the way out. I grab a few for presents.

- We sit outside a conveience store where one of the girls says she's going to look for "HedgeCat". I assume this is someone she knows, as she uses nicknames for everybody (real quote from her: "I'm not worried about MaxiHat anymore, because now I have MiniHat.") Turns out HedgeCat is a real cat, who lives by the store. For a stray cat, he looks remarkably healthy. We pet him for a bit, before he takes offence to me, hisses and runs off. He must be able to tell a Kansai resident from a Fukuoka one.

- We go to an izakaya (Japanese pub-style place). When ordering drinks, I ask for a "big beer" and am brought something the aproximate size of a rain-water butt. I drink it dry and ask for another. Finally, a place that knows my tastes and does its best to accommodate them.

- We go to an amusement arcade. The girls try a game where you throw balls at a screen to zap various things threatening cute characters. The game is called "GASHaaaaan!" which makes me laugh out loud. The guys go for "House of the Dead 4". I mow down crowds of zombies in a tube station, an experience which brings back traumatic memories of rush-hour Osaka and Tokyo. We meet back up, and have all have a go at the ball-throwing game together.

- We head upstairs to go bowling. As I haven't gone bowling in over a year (and I was rubbish back then) I'm not looking forward to this. We talk about the low-rent bowling alley near Morrisons' back in Leeds, and how my old flatmate from last year stole a pair of bowling shoes from there to wear in clubs and other places with "formal" dress-codes. I am surprisingly good at bowling, even though Jake tells me I strike a "Spiderman" pose at one point. I explain that I was bitten by a radioactive bowling ball.*

*(I actually didn't. But it would have been funny as hell if I'd thought of it at the time.)

- We go to a club called Happy Cock (yes, really) to have a few drinks and watch the England-Trinidad and Tobago match. Because we get there super-early, we get wristbands which mean we can drink all we want for 1000 yen. I pronounce this the greatest thing ever, and immediately get a drink to celebrate.

- The dancefloor is filling with Japanese people in b-boy clothing. They look like the breakdancers who practice in Hirakata train station, and throw shapes at each other in a hilarious "You Got Served" style. Jake tells me that they are members of the Fukuoka University breakdancing club. I tell him that I "could do better than that." He motions to me to go ahead.

- The dancefloor has turned into a circle of breakdancers, who take turns performing jaw-dropping moves in the middle. Jake asks if I'd like to try and do better. The circle breaks up temporarily, and I step to the dancefloor and tear it up for a bit. They don't ask me to join their crew, but I think I earned their respect. Now all I have to do is beat a Japanese person at Dance Dance Revolution, and I will have something to legitimately boast about.

- Jake introduces me to two friends of his, who happen to be hot Japanese girls. I try to think of things to say to them, and realise my level of drunkenness has gone right past "Language ability magically improves" and into "Language ability goes straight to hell." I must be more drunk than I thought. This is confirmed when one of them asks me to go up and get a drink. Let's break this down a minute:

Normal thought process:
Hot girls suddenly interested in me + lack of nomihodai wristbands + request to buy drinks for them = manipulating whores using me to get alcohol
My drunken thought process at the time:
Hot girls suddenly interested in me + lack of nomihodai wristbands + request to buy drinks for them = Wow, I'm such a stud. I'd better get them a drink.

- Having got what they wanted, the girls proceed to ignore me. I am angry beyond measure. Charging up to the bar to get a drink for myself, the following conversation takes place in my head:
"Dude, you've been drinking a lot. Don't you think you should slow down, get some water in between?"
"Well, they are cocktails. They're not strong. In fact, look at the amount of vodka she put in that last one. That's a piss-weak drink by anybody's standards."
"Yeah, I guess there's not a lot of alcohol there."
"And the mixer is basically like drinking water anyway."
"Yeah. Slam a couple more, you're doing fine."

- It is later. I am not doing fine. I am sprawled on a sofa trying to watch the match, but sinking into semi-consciousness with each passing moment. I miss seeing England's last two goals, but hear the reaction and manage to cheer with everybody else as the replay unfolds.

- We leave the club. I decide to rant to Jake about how women are "manipulating whores" and that his friends are "off the list". Perhaps sensibly, he does not ask me to elaborate.

- The Leeds people point me in the direction of my hotel, and get a cab back to their dorms. Although it is literally a straight line to my hotel, I have to stop people several times and ask them for directions. I stagger into my hotel room, and glance at my watch before I pass out. I have been in Fukuoka a little over twelve hours.

To Be Continued...

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