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Buddhas and Hostesses


After finishing up with last night’s photos and posting, I packed up my things, and headed up stairs to my room. The door was open a crack, and the light was on its dimmest setting. I could tell there was another person in the room, even without the light. Yep, K from accounting was there, and he was snoring quite loudly. I thought this was rather funny, but went out to brush my teeth. When I went back in, I closed the door, and suddenly, the snoring stopped. K started to sit up in bed and he mumbled something in Japanese! With the speed and agility of a striking cobra, my arm darted out and and snapped the light’s pull cord, plunging the room into darkness. I stood there motionless, waiting for K to turn on the light. I figured that was the next thing he would do. And the first thing he’d see was “White Ninja” poised with his deadly throwing tooth brush. However, after 30 seconds, the loud snoring resumed. I began to figure that if he could sleep through that noise, I could get into bed without worrying about waking him up.


In the morning, I could see that K was awake now, and he was going about preparing for his day. I also got up and gathered my camera equipment. We talked a bit and he seemed like a really nice guy. Used to work for TI, and now was staring this own business. Though I was going to Ususki today, I appeared to have an open invitation to join him for dinner tonight and for future nights in Beppu.



I went to the train station, and got some more money, and a quick breakfast of sandwiches and pastries. The train ride to Usuki lasted about 40 minutes. I no longer read the signs much. I just look up the time that my train departs, go to the train station, look at the schedule board to see which track has a train listed for that time, and go to that track. Simple as that.


In Ususki though, it took a little time, some walking around, and asking for directions to find the stone Buddhas. They were about 5 KM away from the train station, though I think I might have ended up walking 7 or 8km. I paid the money, and saw the Buddhas.


The weather was raining, and with low clouds. It wasn’t too bad actually, and was even beautiful in a way. The downside is that its difficult to keep lenses dry, and I’m beginning to worry about my lenses and the D70. Even the D300, as they’ve all been subjected to getting rained on several times now. I ended up stashing the D70 and just using the D300. Hopefully nothing will be damaged.


I also played around with my flash unit to try to increase the overall depth of the scene and perhaps adding some shadows for contrast. I think it turned out ok. I had honestly pictured a different look of these statues. I was thinking they would be in a narrow canyon, and as you walked along, you had to look closely as some statues would be hard to spot, and some would be very easy to see. However, they were all set up so that you couldn’t miss them too easily, as they were all under covered pavilions. They were worth a trip I think, but the rain was a bit of annoying.


Luckily, on the way back, I was just in time for the bus, which took me to the train station. From there, it was a 40 minute train ride back to Beppu. I’d brought along Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I started and finished in less than 1 hour. I’m surprised at how short the book was, and that hey were able to make a movie out of it. I’ve seen both, but I should see them again.


Once back in Beppu, I went looking for a camera store. I wanted to buy desiccant which would hopefully dry out my cameras, and plastic bags to put the desiccant and cameras into. I found both, and then at the hostel I called K by using a pay phone.


Lets see, I think the things that annoy me the most about Japan are the lack of trash cans, and the insanely expensive pay phones. 20 cents gets you about 1 minute, maybe 2 to call someone, and talk before you are cut off. The first conversation:


Hello? Who is this?


This is Ben.


Where are you? Are you in the hostel?


Yes where are you?


I’m in the mall, and you can join *click*



Well, that’s a bummer. I knew where the mall was, and it sounded like he was about to invite me, so I walked to the mall, found a pay phone, and dialed his number.


Hello, this Ben.


Ben? Hi. This is K. Where are you?


I’m in the basement, where are you?


I’m on the 7th floor in a restaurant called ####### and if you take the elevator I can *click*



I’m not kidding, the this is what 20 cents paid for with these overpriced pay phones. I’m still annoyed more by the lack of bins, but then again, I need them more often.



I went to the 7th floor, and K went running out to greet me. There it was interesting as he told me each person’s name, (Alice and Memume or something like that) but with a couple, I think he only told me the man’s name, and not the woman’s name. I may have been mistaken though.


We sat down. Turns out K and crew had been there discussing his business idea for some time that day. However, beers were ordered. I talked with Alice a bit. She was from the Philippines and was into entertainment. She kept mentioning she knew lots of Girls, as she had owned bars and had contacts. She talked about something other things as well. I talked to Mizumi’s wife and the husband a bit, as well as K even, though K and the couple seemed to be discussing the business idea in Japanese. Kaz, another friend of K joined us in a bit. Kaz and K both had a history with TI, only Kaz was an engineer. He spoke pretty good English, but K’s English was excellent.


After spending time talking, and drinking, and eating, it was time to leave. The restaurant was closing. Now, K had the idea to go to a bar and I left that up to K and Kaz, explaining that I probably wouldn’t stay out much anyway. I was a bit tired actually. K and Kaz decided on a hostess club, and asked Alice for a suggestion, since Alice used to own a bar. K said he wanted young and attractive girls and set a limit of about $30 per person. Alice found us a club, and the left us.


Inside, it was a rather small joint. A long bar with I think about 10 chairs, maybe a few more, and two settee areas, with enough room in each sofa/settee for about 8-10 people, I think. The bar was empty except for the hostesses themselves, who were I think about 5 or 6 I think. From the inside, it looked more like a room in a hotel or something. Not a bedroom, but a lounge. However, the door opened right up to the street. It just felt like you were part of a building. Anyway, none of the women, who were about 24-30 could speak much English. So I pretty much sat there eating snacks and hoping to engage with K or Kaz, since they could speak English. The women were seated around the table with us, but getting them to drink cost more money, so they just sat there. I’d say most of the talking was done by 2 or 3 of the women. The others sat there mostly, but refilled your glass, and wiped off the condensation.


After a bit, two older gentlemen, and an older woman in a black kimono came in. Apparently, one of the gents owned the club, and the woman owned another club. The woman had a deepish voice, and there was a great cloud of smoke around her as she puffed away at her cigarette. She would frequently just start clapping her hands when she heard something funny. All three of the people might have been villains in a comic book or video game, but the woman was just interesting. The smoke, the cackly voice (probably from smoking) and the black kimono really grabbed my attention. And the fact that here was this woman, (this “madame of the house?) was sitting with two men also her age, and two 27 year olds and just carrying on with the men. I never got her photo though.


We spent about 1.5 hours in this club, and then left. I did get only a couple of photos.


I’m not that big on hostess clubs, bars of any sort, strip joints, etc. Its a strange thing to pay a person to sit and talk with you. Its not something I’d normally do by myself, or with other people.



That being said, let it stand that I was thrilled to be able to see and experience this bit of Japanese culture. I’m really happy I met K here in Beppu. In fact, I’ll stay until Monday, and then I think the plan is to head to one more town on Monday, spend the night, and then hit Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday.


No photos, as I’m too tired and I’ll deal with them tomorrow.


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