We’ll always have Kobe

After the black light party, we slept late at Kristen’s place on Sunday (well, everyone else did, Maya got up and went for a walk around the city) and by the time we decided we were going to try for the three pm ferry to Kobe it was already midday and we were in a different city.

Like that was going to stop us.

 We took the train back to Tak and I swear it stopped at every inaka station on the way, then trained back to my place where we just threw some stuff in a bag (no showers for us!) and caught the next train back to Tak. There was no time to return Maya’s bike, I just crossed my fingers and hoped it was still in the parking lot when I got back.

We tried and failed to find the bus stop that the free ferry bus runs from, and since by that point it was 17 minutes until the ferry was due to depart, we just jumped in a cab.

At the ferry terminal, with about negative 30 seconds to spare, we ran to the ticket counter. I couldn’t remember my address so I made it up for the form, we threw money at the cashier, grabbed our tickets and sprinted towards the ferry. Everyone was shouting and pointing and using walkie talkies and I ran straight into a clear plastic door.

In my defence, it was clear. 

Anyway, when we finally went the right way, we sprinted up the ramp, thrust our tickets at the man by the door and did a dive roll onto the boat.

Dive roll, uncoordinated run, same thing.

The first ten minutes of the boat ride was spent coming down of the adrenaline high of the action film-style entrance we’d just made. After that I slept for most of it, as I recovered from the previous two days and nights.

We arrived in Kobe around seven, took a bus to the city and set about trying to find a love hotel. We had decided we should stay in one because it would be hilarious, but neither of us was really sure how to go about finding one.

I tried asking in shops, but the looks we were getting (two slightly dirty gaigin girls looking for a love hotel at 8pm on a Sunday?) were too much for me and we took to the streets.

Of course, being Japan, it wasn’t long before we were approached by a group of boys wanting to practice their English.

“May I help you?”

We explained that we were looking for a hotel, but decided not to mention that we wanted a love hotel. They gave us their umbrellas and took us to a spa, where there was a capsule hotel but it was only for men. They then insisted we wait in the foyer out of the rain while they made phone calls, walked to nearby hotels and checked the internet for prices.

We kept saying that we just wanted a cheap hotel and hoped they would suggest a love hotel, but they obviously had too high an opinion of us because I eventually had to tell them that that was what we wanted. They were dubious but we eventually managed to convince them that love hotels were famous around the world and we wanted to try one.

At this point, the cute, quiet one who had been standing on the edge of the group took charge and led us without hesitation, through the streets to his recommended love hotel.

It’s always the quiet ones, eh.

Anyway, they helped us check in (to the horror of the woman behind the desk who thought we were all checking in together) by pressing a button under a picture of the room we wanted, then disappeared leaving us with the gift of an umbrella and entreaties that we enjoy our stay in Kobe.

I love Japan.

Anyway, we went up to our room and spent the next half hour in hysterics over the in-room karaoke, the seedy ambiance music, and most amusingly, the complimentary condoms next to the bed.

It was by no means the worst place I’ve ever stayed, it had a clean private bathroom with a tub, a big TV, a couch, a queen sized bed and…well…no key. When we went out we just took all our valuables and figured everyone else in there was too busy to be snooping around.

We freshened up and headed out, much to the confusion of the woman behind the desk who clearly thought we didn’t understand the purpose of a love hotel.

We wandered the streets for a while looking for something to entertain us, played some arcade games, followed some girls into a snack bar building and eventually came across a bar that looked weird enough to be awesome. The sign proclaimed it to be “Game Bar: Tidbits X Canned food” so we had to go down and it turned out to be as hilarious as promised.

It was in a basement lit up in green with three young guys behind the bar making cocktails. We took seats at the bar, ordered drinks (Maya ordered a beer and gin, I threw caution to the wind and asked for an original creation) and had a conversation with the bartenders.

They spoke almost no English, so it was a little stilted, but highly amusing. They were all young, and two of them were from Shikoku, and we were cracking jokes and talking about cool stuff to do in Kobe and about Australia and New Zealand.

Other patrons were coming and going, and after a while, two girls came in and took the seats near us.  They were sneaking glances at us for a while before one of them eventually turned and said hello.

I find that the same bell curve applies to my Japanese as to my pool playing, so after two cocktails, my Japanese was excellent and we all became instant friends, in the way that only girls in bars can.

They were students at the university studying rehabilitation and they were just as funny as the barmen. We communicated in Japanese (with me translating badly for Maya), a lot of sign language and a smattering of English.

The karaoke machine inevitably came out, and one of my favourite moments of that night was making one of the barmen sing Poker Face with us and loving the look of utmost determination and concentration on his face.

Around one, I announced to the barmen that we had drunk too much already (nomisugi—one of my favourite phrases) and we left, promising that we would come back one day.

We slept in the next morning, due to the total darkness in our love nest, then checked out (read: walked out) and went downtown to check out transport. I decided to take the two pm ferry and a lovely little woman walked us to the bus stop to help me check times and show me where to wait.

People go so far out of their way to help you in Japan, it’s lovely. This woman was rewarded for her efforts with a caramello koala from Maya which rather tickled her.

Having found my bus stop, we had time for a quick purikura (obviously) and a delish okonomiyaki lunch.

Then Maya walked me back to my bus stop and we said goodbye. Two years, three continents, five countries and countless gins make for a pretty special friendship and I was sad to be leaving her again, but I know it won’t be too long before we are freaking out locals in some other unsuspecting country.

And we’ll always have Kobe.

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