It`s not everyday that you see a red faced devil, horns and all, happily posing for a photo with a baby in each arm, but I feel I might be getting ahead of myself a little bit, so let me rather take you back to this last weekend. At the risk of balancing on the border of bragging, please allow me to say that weekends in Hiji are fan-friggin-tastic. On Saturday Roland and I made our way into Beppu in search of a screen to match his newly arrived computer. This however proved to be a fair bit easier said than done and while Yamada Denki (the huge two story electronics store) carried everything from a camera that can airbrush your face to flawless perfection to an electric toothbrush for your poodle, they were sadly lacking in the screen department. All they had on offer was one scruffy little flat screen for monitoring emergencies hidden in a cobwebbed corner. We had to make another plan. This contingency plan landed on our doorstep last night in the shape of a monster 27 inch monitor that barely fits on our dodgy little desk. We ordered him from Japanese Amazon on Sunday night and are still smiling at how cheap he is compared to his South African brothers.
The rest of the day was spent sweating to death at Harmony land (Hello Kitty World) where we were served up two huge platters of super cute. For breakfast we rode the huge Ferris wheel (yes I shouted at Roland for making it rock back and forth), for tea time we rode an amazing 3D ride, for lunch we controlled our own mini rollercoaster around a very high track (yes I shouted at Roland for making it go too fast around corners) and for dinner, along with hundreds of other Japanese families we watched a spectacular fireworks display.
Sunday was Ducky day and me and my quieter half went to visit Roland`s second wife in Kunisaki. Oh my goodness, by Japanese standards Ducky lives in Buckingham Palace. I was under the impression that my apartment was a good size but at her mansion I kept looking around for the moat or at least the changing of the guard. After hiking down her corridor for many days, we finally made it into the lounge and just in the nick of time too as we had been running low on food and water. While I would be loath to give up my close proximity to the train and everything exciting in Hiji, her nice sturdy bathtub does make my box filled with water look decidedly sad. We stole some of her internet and ordered our screen and then it was time to get back into `Ouma` (that is the new name we have given our little car after a few days of use). You see grandma is still very strong and loves walking around town but you don`t take grandma up a mountain and you don`t make grandma run marathons to Nagasaki or Kumamoto. We also realized with much regret that you don`t buy Ouma a lemonade scented air freshener that smelled nice in the shop because after an hour behind the wheel you will lament the fact that it smells like someone spilled a two liter Sprite on the back seat.
Monday came a knocking with some unexpected adventure. After having taken the train into Oita so as to attend a meeting in the city, I was glad to catch a lift back with Ducky. We had stopped at this insanely awesome secondhand shop and browsed the isles of Louis Vuitton bags and playstation 3`s till about 20:30 ish. When we jumped back into the car and when no sound at all escaped as Ducky turned the key, we knew we were in for a bit of trouble. Roland attempted the old push start but the car was as dead as any plant I have ever tried to grow. We asked the owner if it would be ok if Buta (meaning piggy) could sleep in his parking garage that night and then headed for the nearest train station. After wearing fancy shoes all day I had developed two prize blisters on my heels and when the second one popped I had quite enough of my shoes. Shoving my baby dolls in my bag I walked the streets of Beppu bare footed. I must have looked beyond peculiar as I tried to hide my feet under some bags of shopping while we grabbed the train home. Ducky then stole `Ouma` as Kunisaki is yet to get round to installing a train, so she would not be able to go to work the next day if she did not have a car. I hear `Buta` has had some surgery and is recovering nicely.
|You cannot really tell here but Ducky had a pretty big house.|
Then Tuesday the sweetest English teacher you will ever meet and I asked my vice principle if we could sneak out and go watch the dancers at the local shrine festival. There was fan dancing and samurai sword cutting and even a clown in the traditional Japanese fashion wearing a hilarious mask with a skew mustache. At one point he stole a little boys cap, making him ball his eyes out, he then threw a huge amount of candy in the air and everyone grabbed a few treats, after which he stole the same little boys’ candy causing more water works. Roland even got a big hug from the jester, much to the delight of the all Japanese audience and finally we get to the red devil. As the performers portrayed Japanese mythology through dancing and plays a big scary demon stalked the audience grabbing tree branches that the audience had brought along from home. They would have a tug of war and I think the aim of the game is to let the devil win but one little girl got so excited she clung on for dear life and the devil had to concede defeat. It was particularly sweet watching him pose with all the little kids and babies, most of whom stopped crying the moment he gave them some of the yummy candy he carried in his pocket.