Saturday, 26 April 2014

I need to learn the kanji for "special massage place"

There's a funny story in here but first for context.

I'm in Japan. (Catch up!) Tokyo at the moment. Soon I'm off to Kyoto.

I'm an awkward traveller. It doesn't really come naturally to me. Does it for anyone? For a start I get lost...a lot. Which I'm oddly okay with, but it does mean I end up with sore legs and feet (trying to find 'west' wherever that is). I also tend to do that ridiculous homesick thing quite a bit too. Something to do with being fostered as a child. Boooo. Although the homesickness usually passes after a week (so, I'm right on schedule).

Sometimes when I travel I wake up in the morning and think oh I so cannot be bothered sight seeing today maybe I'll just get bored and see what happens. This happened yesterday when the stranger on the bunk bed below me answered her telephone at 3am and had a whole conversation and, no, I am not kidding.

Anyway I don't care that I'm awkward and get lost and sore feet and freak out a bit when I travel. Because I love seeing new things. New places. I love meeting interesting people. Sometimes not so interesting people, but that is often worth while too. I love eating cool new food (like chicken gizzards, true story) and speaking new languages.

I love feeling the wind in my hair. (No helmets in Japan!)

I love pushing myself outside my comfort zone a bit (in manageable ways). It's always so rewarding.

For instance, did you know in Japan you can purchase a soft or hard boiled egg at a convenience store that has the salt already on the inside of the egg? How do they do that?

It blows my mind every time.

Not necessarily the eggs. That's probably something ridiculously simple.

It's more the stuff you discover when you travel. And there's only one way that discovery can happen and that travel. For me, the awkwardness is just part of it. I do it anyway.

Worth it. You get my point.

Anyway in a bid to relax my tired, awkward, and sore body - I like to have a relaxing massage.

Told you there was a funny story.

This isn't my first time in Japan and so I'm familiar enough with the massage market here...or so I thought.

Yesterday on my way back to my hostel I wandered around trying to find a place to get a massage. I was wandering for an awfully long time too, perhaps an hour? I tried my Google machine but no joy.

I had some brief success and found a place but the lady told me to come back in an hour. By then I was too tired to wait that long. I considered just heading home (hostel) for a shower when I spotted a sign nearby. It was in kanji but they all are here - and it had pictures of massage on it.

Perfect. In I went.

The lady greeted me with a slightly confused look on her face. First clue in retrospect. But at the time I thought nothing of it. I have limited Japanese and she had limited English. Not unusual! Anyway she offered me a seat and then the massage menu. My second clue was the prices were a little steep. Usually a massage is around the Y6000 mark. This one said Y10000. I thought it was a little odd but nodded my assent anyway. Keen for a massage.

Still seeming confused she asked me to wait. She went to get someone else. They came in with a telephone and did a Google translate. "We're very busy can you wait 20 minutes" it said.

I nodded, so after some whispering they showed me to a room and told me I could lie down if I wanted. Third clue? Massage mat on the ground. No biggy they do that in Thailand right?

But a little while later my fourth and fifth clues came.

'Why can I hear someone having a shower...?' By now my face had a little frown on it. Maybe it's next door...

And then...'okay that sounds like quite a relaxing massage'.

Wait. I put my glasses back on and carefully looked around the room. There were some shelves with towels and some bottles of things and what are those things...?

Yep. Okay. Oh. Right. What do I do now? Just quietly leave. Okay bag, got it. Shoes, zip zip zip zip. (My shoes have zips, not laces). Coat. On. Curtain, aside. Lady comes out of the room next door (and I dearly wished she hadn't...mainly because I felt a bit silly but also because I didn't particularly want the visual) and I sort of stutter out "ano sumemasen, totes forgot I have to meet someone in 10 minutes, very sorry! Okay-see-you-bye-bye".

The lady looked even more confused (poor love) and asked me if I wanted to come back tomorrow.

"Iie, it's okay. Domo arigato!" a cheery wave and I was on my way.

And actually I'm not 100% certain my suspicions were founded. But either way, I was content to just chill out back at my hostel. 

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