Necking in Hiroshima


Before you go to Japan someone should tell you to do neck strengthening exercises.
Westerners used to looking for signage for places they are looking for at street level are in for a surprise.
Buildings have an infinite variety of uses and floors alternate between homes, bars, offices, restaurants, shops, flats and loads more.
After arriving in Hiroshima we went in search of okonomiyaki – batter and cabbage cakes cooked on an iron hot plate.
We were looking for Okonomi-mura – 25 stalls serving the same stuff on three floors of the same building.
It seemed simple to follow the map to a few blocks away but the block, street and building numbering threw us.
Fortunately yet another helpful young lady led us to the right side street and and pointed up to a sign hanging over the middle of the street.
Upstairs we slid onto US-style diner stools and ordered.
The beers were cold and the glasses frosty-chilled.
We went for the super-deluxe – pork, prawns, squid, finely shredded cabbage, batter, egg, sauce and pickled ginger cooked on the hot plate in front of us.
We got metal spatulas looking like small wallpaper scrapers to get chunks into small bowls to devour with hashi – chopsticks.
It all went down very well.
Someone should do the same with North Staffordshire oatcakes and all the different kinds of fillings that work with them.
It was chucking it down with rain as we came out so a quick search – more heavy neck work – led us to the 7th floor of a nearby building and a dark bar with alcoves and pull across slatted doors to hide behind and enjoy your meal and drink (just a beer for us).
Emerging to find the rain had eased off we went in search of Kuro-sawa – a bar recommended in the Lonely Planet guide to Japan.
Young ladies were super-helpful again and pointed us in the right direction.
We must be careful of overusing this facility. A lot of the places we passed had lots of pictures of the ladies who were inside but it seemed to cost at least 2,000 yen to go inside and see whatever it was they were doing.
The Kuro-sawa – a Japanese-style ‘public house’ – was on the fifth floor (more neck work)..
Talk about basic concrete interiors – the beams were even scraped back at the edges to reveal the rusty reinforcing metal inside.
Beer was taken from cushioned chairs at the bar.
The alternative was on low velvet Japanese seating in a raised red-carpet area where you needed to get your footwear off before eating and drinking.
Yet again the toilets were odd.
What is it about the Japanese and toilets?
This time there was a single space with three ‘thrones’ positioned facing each other.
Presumably this is so guests can continue their conversation even when they have to leave the bar or table to attend to their needs.
The barman confessed not many people use the facility.
Going to see the Peace Park tomorrow and how the destruction and loss of life in the first use of a nuclear bomb on a civilian population is presented.
Monday is a national holiday for Respect The Aged Day but we still hope to get out Miyajima island.
For the first time Japan has more than 50,000 people who are aged 100 or more so we might see a few about .
Looking at the fellow grey, and not so grey, tops zooming around on thousands of bikes, walking around at high speed and eating a diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and rice it’s no surprise.
Not that they don’t indulge in risky behaviour.
Their Mexican stand-off with China and Korea over a set of islands went up a notch after Japan decided to buy them.
Now the Chinese have sent gunboats a la Lord Palmerston and Japanese people, cars and property are being attacked in China.
More risky behaviour as they took the top off the Fukushima nuclear plant yesterday.
Cross fingers Typhoon Sanba stays south of the mainland.

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