Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Towards the disaster

As I leave Fukushima city I wonder if an how much the geiger counter would go crazy had I had one with me. After a big and tasty breakfast I get a bag full of food and sweets, quite a bit of chocolate actually. I don't really care that my food is radioactive, I might have cared before, before I ate raw eggs on Shikoku. If I survive raw eggs, I can drink water from the Fukushima core reactor no problem.
After all, I am a resistant person, a bit of radiation won't kill me and if it does then someone else would too in a different way.

I didn't mean to visit Honshu (main island) much after the prison episode killed ten of my precious days that I have left. However, since I didn't get Hokkaido straight from Oarai I have to try Sendai next. And going to Sendai means going through Fukushima.
"My house is alright," says my driver, "but my friend's house is destroyed." I will keep hearing similar stories over and over.
My ride to Sendai is a funny one. I am in a sportscar with two guys, my bag barely fits in the space. One of the guys is a glass artist. He blows glass into all types of stuff, it looks really nice. The second one is a famous traditional japanese drummer and boxing champion. They are also climbers by the way and looking for rocks to go bouldering. I climb too so I come with them. Just by the way I get lunch at a kombini courtesy of my hosts.
Me and the guys in front of a ferry terminal



They are both amazed that I am hitchhiking boats and instead of saying it's impossible they decide to help me. But first we climb a hill, there is a temple on it and climb a bit. Unfortunately there is not much to climb on.
improvised bouldering


One of the guys' phone battery died so he had to charge it at some phone store and we had to wait. So we had a second lunch in a restaurant which makes a great ramen (noodle soup).
So we arrive to Sendai with the guys and all three of us go to the ticket counter. Last time japanese people tried to negociate the ticket I didn't get it. Negociating free ticket just isn't a japanese thing. So I tell the guys to back off. And here it goes again.
"I have a very complicated question"
"Do you want to take the ferry?"
"Kind of. But it's complicated. Can I speak to the manager?"
"But why?"
"Because too complicated to explain"
We keep the empty ping-pong until I annoy them more than the fear of calling the manager and the manager comes. He is the kind of man who doesn't like to be disturbed and doesn't care much about anything. When I see him I almost instantly know that I won't get it.
He has a slight hesitation and I can tell that he's thinking: "there might be a way but damn that is too much work, I prefer to sit there and talk to less difficult customers who know how to behave themselves".
It's a no, insisting doesn't work on japanese culture, they'll just repeat the same thing or possible call someone who will tell you the same thing.
Meanwhile my newfound friends have cornered one of the staff and explained to him my situation.
"Seriously guys, be cool, give him the ferry, he's come all the way from the Czech Republic!"
They manage to trigger some interest in this guy's mind and he asks me to take some of my presentation documents to take to his boss. But the boss has made up his mind so he is very sorry but I can't get the ferry for free.
It is amusing how the Japanese manage to be sorry for something that is definitly not subject to being sorry for. You work for a ferry company that sells ferry tickets. Why are you sorry that your company wants money for ferry tickets?
Anyway, the guy was pretty sweet and I tried to explain to him that even though I asked for a free ferry I didn't really expect it or take it for granted. But that's the thing with Japan, people ask realistic things that they can take for granted.

I say goodbye to the ferry staff and to the two guys in the sportscar who are more dissapointed than me. I am not really surprised, Sendai is still a long ride from Hokkaido, the realistic option is Oma, Aomori or hitch/blackride the underground train.

So after getting some more food at the convenience store (I mean after the guys got me soem more food because I didn't buy anything since the beginning of my stay in Japan) I continue to Miyagi with a guy who is going anywhere. This is a funny things, I sometimes meet people that just drive "anywhere" which makes it very easy to match my destination.
"Are you a hitchhiker?," he asked as I was walking along the street.
This guy was going anywhere because his house was destroyed by the tsunami, he was basically homeless and living at his friend's places.
He had a bunch of tatoos so I asked him if he was Yakuza but he wasn't.
"You smoke weed?," he asked
"Yeah sure. But not in a car."
He takes out a small bud, it isn't the best stuff that I've seen.
"Can you cut it?"

I cut the weed and put it in a weed pipe, he has a special metal weed pipe with a magnetic opening. I don't smoke often and when I do I need perfect condutions. I get a paranoid very easily when I'm on weed, it can turn into a bad trip really fast so I am extra careful about the where and with who I smoke. Random dude in a car after being arested by the police that's not really my definition of a good environment to be stoned in. I don't want to end up in a park stoned out of my mind to try to build my tent. Not to mention that I don't want to get arrested by the police... again.
But I do smoke out of politeness a little bit, I am just careful not to inhale.
The good thing about Japan is that no matter who he is, no matter how he looks like, chances are I am still more dangerous to him than he is to me. For that reason I am never afraid of anyone.

The tatooed dude takes me to a bar/restaurant which is part of a "libertarian culture" as he likes to call it. The place is really nice, all made of wood with rock music playing and some dude tuning his electring guitar.
Tatooed dude tells me that he has LSD and pretty much everything and I realize that since the Japanese law tends to put all drugs on the same level (all drugs very bad) there are seldom people who just smoke weed. There might be a bit less people who smoke weed in Japan than in other places but usually, when they have weed, they also have everything else. In my european culture there are many barriers to cross until I get myself from orange juice to cokaine. In Japan there is only one: the drug barried. Once you try weed, you are a junkie and criminal and doing coke doesn't really make your case worse.
It is a nice and cozy bar wih guitar playing

The food is great and the owners are really fun. I even dance with the waitress and tatooed guy sits behind the microphone and starts flowing some japanese rap.
After that we continue a bit north-east to find me a nice place to put my tent. Tatooed guy is getting more and more stoned by the minute and he's still driving. He leaves me at a kombini and gives me a 1960s japanese toll doll. It really looks like something you would throw into the garbage but appearently it is a collector's item so I better be extra careful to take her home in good shape.
I get a 1960s japanese doll