At the moment I am in my cabin, getting ready for the first of two Magical Dreams performances tonight. For this show I use my cabin as a dressing room, since all my entrances and exits take place stage right, and the men’s dressing room is off stage left. I wouldn’t have thought of this myself, but the guy before me did, and who am I to break tradition? Besides, in between entrances I get to watch game two of The 2010 World Series, rebroadcasted from last night, where it’s tied at zero at the top of the second. That’s about all I know, because the commentary is in Japanese.
So, with about half an hour before the show starts, I have some time to sit down and tell y’all about all of my comings and goings during the past few weeks… and to be quite honest, it’s just one big piece of news surrounded by filler. But hey, gotta make you work for it, so let’s start with some filler.
First of all, we made it back to Sakaiminato… which we all know is best known for it’s awesome slide. Well, it turns out that the passengers like to visit the city for an entirely different reason.
This is Mizuki Shigeru Road, named after a famous Japanese cartoonist. Hard to tell from the picture, but lining the four or so blocks of this street are hundreds of bronze statues that represent his creations, including this:
I forget the name, but this is Mizuki’s Mickey Mouse. The eye he is holding, which is usually seen popping out of the kid’s head, is also his father. That’s about all I know, but the popularity of this character spans many generations, and is literally plastered on anything that can be purchased with yen. For example:
To my knowledge, I’ve never seen Mickey or Donald hawkin’ malt liquor, but this eye knows how to move sake.
With all the excitement of bronze statues and merchandising, it only took me an hour to get the whole experience, so I hopped back on the crew shuttle. Back at the ship, and with over four hours of port time remaining, I felt like I should do something productive to take advantage of this fine city and all it has to offer… so I went back to the slide.
If you think that’s sad, wait until you see part three… and four… don’t worry, I’ll pace myself.
In other ho hum news, I recently visited the port of Hamada for the first time. When I looked out my porthole to gauge my potential enjoyment, I realized I may need a new formula.
Okay, so since I’ve replaced stacks of wood with hundreds of earth moving machines, how does that affect my “amount of piles multiplied by size of parking lot on pier inversely equaling my enjoyment factor” equation? Well, let’s see… what did I do that day?
Went to a Japanese flea market… no joke. If you’ve been to one in America, or Russia like I have, you realize that any country’s junk is just that… junk. All the things you’d expect to find are here, like old family photographs, vintage postcards, ancient and outdated electronics, and my personal favorite: taxidermied animals.
I must have saw a dozen of these… still, I didn’t see any trophy deer or sets of longhorns. I guess a Japanese flea market does have its differences, but that doesn’t change the fact that large amounts of stuff on the pier generally make for an disappointing port experience. The equation stands.
Okay, okay… enough putting off… let’s get to the main event. Not to long ago we made it back to Hakodate. You’ll recall that it was here that I met a woman named Yoshie, and her daughter Miyuki, who each showed me around the city, and later the neighboring town of Onuma. With ports like Sakaiminato and Hamada fresh on my mind, Hakodate is a welcome change of pace, and once again I was shown around town by my expert tour guide Yoshie.
First stop was an observation tower, then a Western style fortress, lunch… but the big highlight of the day was finally getting acquainted with live squid. And by acquainted, I mean eating it. Or to put it another way… I ate live squid.
(This is the part of the blog that you came to see, by the way, so you can stop skimming here)
Tell you what, since words really don’t do the whole experience justice, let’s just take a look at the video.
So, is it really alive? Well, not really… but from the time I hooked the squid, maybe three minutes passed before it was hitting the bottom of my gullet. The reason for this is because the squid tastes better when it’s fresh. At least, that’s what the Japanese tell me… having had quite a bit of sushi style squid up to this point, I really don’t think it has much of a flavor anyway. Eating it live is certainly exotic, but I’d be lying if I said I could taste the difference.
Here’s a close-up of my plate of live squid. You can see the tentacles there at the bottom. Above them is the body (which I think is the part that is usually fried up for calamari). The yellow stuff is ginger, and the little chunks just above and to the left is the squid’s liver. Not shown is a pint of Sapporo, which greatly aids in the appreciation, and digestion, of live squid. The whole thing cost us 1200 yen (a little over fourteen bucks), and is enough for three or four (like minded) people to share.
And, as far as the movement is concerned… yeah, it was still moving. You could notice the tentacles slowly writhing on the plate, but once they were dipped into the soy sauce, look out. Those suckers, as you saw, were dancing. Fortunately, I did not feel them putting up a fight as my molars did their thing. However, I did not try to keep the thing in my mouth as if it were a lozenge, so perhaps my chewing stopped it from moving (as it should). And speaking of suckers…What you are seeing is the squid still clinging to its body. This picture was taken over ten minutes after this poor, ugly thing met its eventual demise… that’s it buddy, never give up the fight.
The big question is, would I have it again? Well, first of all, I would eat live squid over a South Korean bug any day of the week; I prefer wiggling and mostly flavorless over not moving and tasting like ass. It certainly was an event, that’s for sure, but not one I would go out of my way to repeat. Still, Hakodate is well known for this, so the odds of me catching squid in my lifetime are pretty slim.
Okay, that was the big news… anything else to report?
Saw this at a Yako Yen shop (Japanese dollar store). Apparently, in the shrink wrap is some special panty hose, with holes for four heads. Perhaps after you and your three buddies get done eating some live squid, you can each pop this sucker on your head to see who picks up the tab. Let’s see what the rules are to this… game.
The rules on the back state:
- Put the panty hose on your head.
- Pull with four people at the same time!
- If you keep the panty hose on your head to the end, you win!
Wow… Below the rules of the game are the warnings. Make sure you:
- Do not put the panty hose game in your mouth… bad enough you’re breathing it in.
- Do not use this product improperly… which I find interesting given the whole nature of the product is improper.
- Do not wind product around your neck (to be filed under improper usage).
- see a doctor if “unusual symptoms” occur.
Also, you need to be aware that this product could discolor from use, which is another indicator that this shouldn’t be put in your mouth. But man, that’s an embarrassing amount of fun for 200 yen! Still, I would like to see four ingenious bank robbers pull a heist wearing one of these.
And finally, I think I’ll end with Hello Kitty. I’ve noticed Hello Kitty in a lot of places during my time in Japan. The thing is pretty popular, and I’ve seen the kitty on things from merchandise to advertising. However, the other day I found a very suspicious, and official, Sanrio Hello Kitty product.
You can say what you want, but Hello Kitty is definitely flipping you off.
Keep on Livin’ the Dream,
(Hanging out on top of Mt. Hakodate)
I finish up the blog after my two previously mentioned performances of Magical Dreams. During my last entrance I miss the last two innings, and, hold on… when the hell did the Giants get seven runs? Better step it up, Rangers.