Gion Restaurant

Tonight for the first time we ate a Japanese meal without the benefit of any of the following:

– an English menu
– a picture menu
– plastic models of food we could point to when ordering (I don’t know who makes these, but they have them for everything, including non-Japanese food like pizza)
– restaurant staff able to explain our meal to us using verbal communication, written communication, pantomime, interpretive dance or any other means.

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Canal City

Canal City

Here in Fukuoka we’re staying at the Grand Hyatt (strictly in honour of our anniversary; we can’t afford three weeks of it), which adjoins Canal City. Canal City is a shopping mall such as only the Japanese can create: flamboyant, luxurious and bewildering. Instead of an information desk, information robots (infobots?) patrol the centre, automatically stopping and entering info mode if you walk up to them. A series of fountains rising out of the canal (which flows through the centre of the arcade) does a choreographed routine to music every hour on the hour: on our first day we were present entirely by accident when ABBA started playing.

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It’s been an exhausting first full day here. Of course we woke up at about 7am and thought we’d get up and around and not waste the morning – only to realise that we’re staying in an area that doesn’t wake up before noon. I’m psyching myself up to try the Japanese version of breakfast at our hotel: this morning I chickened out with toast, while at the table next to us a man ate rice with raw egg and fermented soy beans. And orange juice; I guess some things are universal.

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