Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998

Day 15 - The water rations are almost out. Salted meat is in short supply and I've had to post guards round the clock to keep the rats at bay. Rumors of a mutiny are at hand. We are running out of time to press onward, but a return trip can only lead to certain death. We must find land soon. -D.P.R.

Oh, sorry, wrong journal. We got up early and got dressed. We *are* almost out of clothes, but that's ok since we'll be in Tokyo soon with a washer and dryer available. We crammed the suitcase shut and headed out the door. Spoke too soon about the suitcase; one of the wheels broke this morning. But it was just the axle that came loose, which was easily fixed. Phew! It was one of the back wheels, too. The obasan gave us eggs again, which we politely accepted. We got Mister Donut again which we ate at the bus stop. We caught a pretty cheap ferry to Yawatahama from the International Boat Port. The ferry was interesting - there weren't any chairs, just a bunch of carpet areas with pillows. You took off your shoes and could sit down, lie down, whatever. One group of people brought a bunch of food and beer - at 9:30am. Kel grabbed a pillow and zonked out while I tried to write email.

However, this brings up the one thing I won't ever understand about the Japanese - this whole smoking thing. It's like the whole country chain smokes. Coming from Austin where people might take a firehose to you if you light up in a remote wilderness area, this is sometimes hard to take. After I watched one couple go through 4 cigarettes apeice in the poorly ventilated room (and they weren't the only ones), I headed outside for some fresh air. As I sat down to write in the pleasant sea air, I was joined by another sea-farer seeking the crisp ocean atmosphere, who promptly whipped out a Marlboro and began puffing away. I wandered around the ship seeking solace from this barrage of brimstone, but everywhere I went a cloud of odiferous outgassing always managed to find me. My headache grew steadily worse. I finally gave in and crawled under the cloud next to Kel and attempted to sleep. Fortunately the Dramamine (super-drowsy formula) kicked in and I managed to sleep through the rest of The Tabacco Trip From Hell.

We got off in Yawatahama, and after consulting the guide book, took a taxi to the train station because it was too far to walk. The ticket guy said we didn't need tickets to Uwajima, so we sat down and waited for the train. Finally got a chance to send email, and I hope it's still working - both Bianca and Colin emailed us wondering whether we were OK or not since we hadn't updated in a while. We finally surmised it had been two days, but still didn't know if that's why. Hope so. As we waited, smoke wandered over from someone nearby. We didn't know which were the reserved cars so we just got on the first available so we wouldn't miss the train. After we got underway, the familiar stench began to arise again; our luck was to have hit a smoking car. Erg. What's sad is that even the non-smoking cars get smoke that flows between them and other cars. But not 2 feet away. The conductor came by and said our seats were fine. 30 minutes and 2 hours off our lifespans later, we got to Uwajima. I'll break this one up. -- M

Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998

Day 15 continued - We arrived in Uwajima with only the goal of going to Taga Jinja. As such we went to find the lockers. Hmm... Only little lockers, much too small for our supersized carryon. I went to the information counter of the obviously newly built station. The man said they would hold it for 380, much cheaper than even a locker would be. We checked it and headed next door for lunch at a little open-air cafe. I had beef curry, and Kel had spaghetti again. But again, more smoke, even though it was open air. Bleah. I was very happy to get out of there. We got directions to Taga Jinja which was a good thing - I hadn't checked my compass and we would have attempted to use the guide book map and gone trotting off in the opposite direction.

We headed down the street and around the corner to Taga Jinja. Taga Jinja is one of the few surviving Shinto shrines that still dedicates itself to sex; when Puritanism was imported from the West, Shinto shrines all but lost this well-integrated aspect of Japanese religious culture. The shrine is much smaller than I expected - we almost passed it up. It has quite a few stone people shaped like penises and the much heralded tree trunk penis, which Kel refused to take a picture of. It's the one I showed to a few people in the guide book. I did get it on video though. Next door was also a sex museum, although of a more objective nature than Beppu's. It seems the older gentleman who sold us tickets (in between cropping pictures of seductively posed naked Japanese women) has been travelling all over the world gathering sexual artifacts, pictures, statues, and other paraphenalia to add to his personal collection. The admission to view this collection funds further trips around the world, as evidenced by the dozens of pictures of him with various remote tribes of varying cultures and in exotic locations.

The museum is 3 stories high; it's packed to the brim with everything sexual you can imagine. The first floor is mainly three dimensional, filled with hundreds of phalluses, vulvas, and copulating statues of differing origins and materials. The second floor is mainly artifacts from other cultures such as Indian prints and chastity belts. On the way to the third floor is an interesting picture of Sweet Pea catching Popeye and Olive Oyl in a particularly amorous moment. The third floor is filled with Japanese shunga (hanga?) prints - thousands of them. So many they don't all fit on display. There are stacks of them underneath the display case, some of them hundreds of years old. In one end of the building are about 200 little statues of people making love, each one about a foot high, in every position you can think of, sometimes with 3 or more participants. These are from a South Pacific tribe. There are also beastiality prints from different societies with such things as huge octopi, elephants, cats, dogs, and a stork or two. It's all very interesting but as the guide book says, 'saturation soon sets in...' We headed back to the station where Kel found her Jumbo-sized Happy Turn. Then armed with three bags of 'crispy and sweet' crackers, we sat down to wait for the train. 20 minutes and one bag of Happy Turn later we hopped on the train (in a non-smoking car) for our short ride to Matsuyama. -- M

Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998

Day 15 part three. We both passed out on the train to Matsuyama. Luckily we woke up right on arrival. We ducked off the train, and right as the train was leaving, Kel slapped her head - she left her brand-new never-before-used-umbrella. We headed to the nearby Terminal Hotel and checked in. Nice rooms, and the Super Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku TV show on the tube. We watched the rest of the show, and saw it was sponsored by Animate Matsuyama - an anime store there. Kel tried to get me to get the hotel to look it up for us, but I figured it would probably be in the shopping arcades, so I looked on the map and led us the 1.5km over to them. As luck would have it, as soon as we turned the corner into the arcade, there it was!

Wonderful stores, wish they had these in the US. They're just starting to pop up, but not this cheap. Ok, we ARE in Japan after all. We dumped a large sum of cash on anime stuff, then headed further into the shopping arcades which were immensely long. What confused me is that when we started looking for restaurants, all we could find were Italian restaurants! Like 15 of them to every 1 Japanese one. I didn't see how they could all survive so close to eachother. We passed up one after another until we came upon a McDonald's. Kel wanted to eat there, I couldn't stand another Big Mac, and there wasn't anything else big enough to satisfy me. I finally just led us to Mar Di Napoli. Kel just had Italian for lunch and didn't want it. Hence we were both in pissy moods. I ordered a calzone for both of us but the lady said they were very large and we'd probably just want to share one. We sat there grumpy until she brought the calzone, which was indeed large (14"). We dug in, and I must say it was the best omelet we've ever had. We were both expecting the pizza-like tomato sauce bit, but not even close. Plus, when I cut in it deflated to be a flat bread shell with an omelet inside. I don't know if maybe this is authentic or not, but it threw us so far off we started laughing and were suddenly in great moods. On top of everything else, after deflation it just wasn't very big anymore, so we were still hungry. We paid and darted back to Mickey-D's where Kel had nuggets and I had the Potato Pepper Burger, something that won't ever come to the States, but is damn tasty. Not like the Teriyaki McBurger - something not for the faint of heart.

We left and went to the nearby arcade where we blew more money. Arcades here are so much more fun it's incredible. Kel and I played Side By Side 2 again (separately) and she's gotten to like the late model yellow RX-7, while I stick with my trusty SR20DET powered 180SX (same as a 240SX in the States). The fighting games are different here - instead of one console with two joysticks, they have two back to back consoles with one joystick so you can't even see who you're playing. Plus most of the games are sitting height with little stools. Kel got challenged in Marvel vs. Street Fighter and it surprised her because she never saw it coming. She won, of course. :) Some Japanese guy now has a bruised ego.

We walked down a bit and saw another Sega arcade and decided to look around. A game due to appear in the US is Armadillo Racing I'm sure. It looks like a hoot. We saw a huge Jurassic Park: The Lost World and couldn't figure out why it was 500 a game. Until we realized it was a motion ride shooting game! We had to try it. We plunked in the 1000 and sat down, pulling the bar down over us and getting our guns ready. And...nothing. I went to ask the guy for help and he came trotting over with a key. Apparently more of a ride than we realized. The doors closed behind us and the whole seat spun around slowly to face the exit. The sound of huge footsteps. Jungle. Then wham, the seat whirled high speed back to the screen and... stopped. My backpack had flown off the back of the chair into the path of a motion sensor and stopped the ride. The guy came in and moved my bag to the trays in the front (doh!) and exited.

But the game didn't start up again. He called over someone else and motioned us out. He explained what I think to be that the game was broken and that we could play our 1000 on any other game in the house. Well it was mostly a crane-prize place and nothing particularly appealed to us. Kel said to tell him never mind, so I did and he looked confused. I explained again and we started to walk out. I thought something couldn't be right, so I walked back in and we chatted for a bit trying to figure out what was going on - was he saying until that it was fixed we could play for free? Was it going to be fixed? After a few minutes of banter, he said he'd go get someone to explain in English. He ran to a phone and a few minutes later, a supervisor came running in. He headed to the game and showed the other two guys how to fix it. He said in english it would just be a moment.

He led us into the game and said, "when you get sick, press this (flashing red) button. You don't normally press it." He thought we had hit the emergency button. I explained in english how my backpack had fallen off into the sensor but he just nodded and smiled. His english wasn't *that* good. He left and the game started again. This time we spun around to snarling raptors. Every time we fired the 'dart gun' it gave a huge kick and fired a blast of air back at us. It was lots of fun. Plus the car kept rotating throwing off our aim. When the T-rex bellowed in our faces, a big blast of air sprayed in our faces. It was a blast and well worth the money. There were only three levels including one not in the normal arcade game. We almost won, but the guns were heavy and that durn moving car threw off our aim. We got out laughing and two Japanese girls apparently drawn by our screaming got in. We headed out and walked back to the hotel. What a day! We broke out the new anime cd's and went to bed. -- M

:: Beginning : Tokyo : Matsushima : Hakodate : Sapporo : Kyoto : Hiroshima : Beppu : Shikoku : Tokyo : The End : Travel Notes ::

Marc Hernandez :: Kelly Bickford