Yesterday, while Sheldon was in his last day of conference, I went back to the shopping district. The first store I went in was a book store, thinking I might find an English section. It was apparently a used book store- all the books were 150 yen. I flipped through a few of them, enjoying the 'backwards' orientation of the book, and the lovely characters on the pages. I wandered into one section where the books had plastic covers on them, and slipping out a random book, I realized that I had found the porn section. The books were sort of anime porn, drawings vs photographs. Several of the salespeople were looking at me with amusement.
Next I went into a pharmacy store looking for band-aids for the blisters on my feet from walking the day before. I figured band-aids would be easy, they come in a pretty universal type of box.
Walking further down the walkway, I was enticed by a few pretty blouses on a rack in from of a clothing store, so I wandered over to have a look. The very sweet and polite saleswoman was quick to point out the rack with the 'larger' sizes and proceeded to take blouse after blouse off the rack and hold them up for my inspection. I pantomimed that I was just looking, she understood that "ah...looking". She came up to me with a large gingham checked blouse and proclaimed 'Checks!' which made me laugh out loud.
Next I found a Japanese store- maybe the equivalent of an American Dollar Store- pretty much everything was 100 yen. I picked up a few souvenir items and moved on.
Walking back towards the hotel, I realized I didn't have any antiseptic for my blisters so I went back into the pharmacy store. I asked the shopkeeper if she spoke English- of course not, so I figured I would look at boxes on the shelf to see if anything seemed to jump out at me- many of the products have English words so I hoped I would be able to find something. The shopkeeper then brought out an enlarged picture of the body with Japanese and English words on it so I could point to the body part I was having trouble with. The picture did not have feet blisters, so I shook my head. Next she brought out what looked like a calculator, but turned out to be a translator. I typed "antiseptic" into the device and the Japanese characters came up on the screen. She went right to the shelf and selected a bottle. I have no clue what it is, but I am diligently spraying it on my blister.
Then I returned to the room and packed for our trip to Kyoto, checked out of the hotel and waited in the lobby for Sheldon for the next phase of our journey.
We walked about a block to the trolley station and found a map that let us know which tram to ride, and that the trip would be 150 yen. The transportation in Japan- everything is on time, and very efficient. Then we rode to Hiroshima JR station to turn in our Japan Rail vouchers and get our tickets. The voucher process was fascinating, the clerk had 4 or 5 different stamps he used with different colors of ink. We each filled out a questionairre and handed over our passports. The young man studiously copied our names on the rail passes, stamped our receipts and looked up the train schedule in a book for us. We were each given 2 tickets, one for the trip from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka, and the second for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto.
While we were waiting for the train, there was a what I would call a fast food noodle shop on the platform with a push button machine on the outside next to photos of food. The trick was to match up the Japanese characters for the food I wanted with the same characters on the machine. Total FAIL. I called Sheldon over to help, and he also agreed that there was no match. But the selection I wanted from the picture that looked like a ball of rice wrapped in seaweed was 190 yen. Since there was only one 190 yen button, I figured I would just selct that and take a chance on what I got. Stepping inside the little shop there were two men at the counter loudly slurping noodles and broth. I handed my ticket to the woman behind the counter and she pointed to a selection of rice wrapped in seaweed on the counter. I picked one that had a green tint and one that had an orange tint. She asked "take out?" and I said yes, so she wrapped my selections and I felt a great sense of accomplishment for figuring out how to get something to eat - which has been one of the more challenging things about this trip. I really had to decide that I won't always know the content of the food I am eating. When I come back to Japan, I will definitely learn more about food words so I can ask for what I want.
We settled ourselves on the train, which quickly accelerated. It had a feel of being on an airplane and the same sort of smooth ride. Not at all like the clackety clack of trains in the US. This was a "hikari" bullet train. There are 3 types of bullet trains - Nozomi, Hikari and Kodoma. Our pass allows us to ride on the Hikari and the Kodoma. We were placed in the 'quiet' car, which meant that there were no overhead announcements and people were asked to have their cell phones on silent. The train vendors are not allowed to announce their wares in this car. The first leg of our trip was an hour and a half to Osaka. This is a view of the train from our seats:
Some views of the countryside out of the windows. Sheldon was taking pictures, we were going so fast I am surprised any pictures turned out. Clever guy had increased the shutter speed! But you can still get a sense of movement in the shots:
The entire track is elevated above ground level, and the tracks are in a sort of concrete half pipe.
Fukuyama station- you can see a castle out the window:
When we arrived in Shin-Osaka station, we had 6 minutes to make our connection. It was a very tight connection, and made us very glad we are traveling light. We got on the Kodama train for a short ride into Kyoto.
Kyoto station is one of the largest stations I have ever seen, multiple levels, multiple exits. We found an information desk and between our limited Japanese and the clerk's limited English we were directed to the bus. After a short bus ride, we ate dinner at the hotel restaurant- European style (forks and knives instead of chopsticks).
This morning, we are about to head out into Kyoto. We wanted to see the Imperial Palace, but found out this morning that you need reservations, but we may wander over and see what we can see from the outside. More to come tomorrow!