Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 14 June 8th

Today I explored the downtown Sannomiya area by myself. I wanted to find the YWCA because they also offer free Japanese lessons, their intensive class is at about the same time each day and for the same duration, and they are a lot easier to get to with my limited understanding of Kobe public transportation. While I was walking around trying to figure out where I was a very nice woman stopped and asked if I needed help in ENGLISH! I was so happy. I showed her the YWCA flier with a map and she told me I was totally in a different spot than I thought and directed me to take a right at the next intersection. I am choosing to believe that she was a very kind but mistaken woman. When I got up to the next intersection there was a map and I was exactly where I thought I was and needed to turn left. It was actually really easy to find and less than a 15min walk from the train station. I got all registered, will take my placement test on July 9th and start taking my lessons.

After finding what I needed to I decided to wander around. There are three major train stations all next to each other, one that goes along the north side of the city (Hankyu, that's what we take), one that travels through the middle (JR) and the third (Hanshin) takes the south.

Surrounding the biggest station, the JR, is a giant mall. I read that shopping is a major pastime here and I believe it. Surrounding the mall on all the streets, none of which make clean, perpendicular intersections, are more shops and restaurants. These are the streets that are full of people shouting at you to try their shop or restaurant. None of them were out now but there were still a lot of people. Remember, this was at about 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

I finally picked a restaurant based on its models and it turned out to be another place where you use a vending machine to order and pay. Unfortunately it did not have pictures on the vending machine so I went outside, copied the kanji and made my best guess. I actually got what I wanted to! I've seen that some restaurants post the calories of their meals. According to the menu this was 932 Cal. It was probably the most food I've been given to eat at one time since I got here. I couldn't actually finish it all, which is very rare for me. I thought it was fried shrimp but is was battered and fried pieces of pork.

I tried perusing some stores but I really am not a shopper. I did go in a pharmacy to see if I could find face wash. I discovered that, not only are the employees on the sidewalk shouting for people to come in, and the radio is turned to perpetual commercials (I think), but there are also little mini TVs in the aisles so you can watch and listen to a products ad. I think if I could understand what all those things were saying I'd still be confused.

Since I keep mentioning walking up THAT hill I thought I'd try taking a picture to explain what I'm talking about. This was taken at street level across the street from our apartment building. There is a fence and then a vertical drop to the block below, things are built onto steps in this neighborhood. I think the train station is somewhere in the red circle area, you can almost make out the steeple for the Catholic church to the lower right. I'll try again with my better camera soon. As you can see it is a good climb.

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