Monday, March 10, 2014

I see you seeing me

I planned to go into Kamakura, a city that has a ridiculous amount of shrines and temples, last Friday, for some fun photos, but I decided instead to stay in town and look around. I took the train in, and walked toward one of the two malls in town, and got a quick bite in the food court. Not before the woman joked to the cook about my struggles of ordering, and not before three teen boys openly stared and talked about me, of course.

I chalked it up to looking good that day… it helps ease the mind when it wants me to retreat back to the apartment away from all the scrutiny.

It goes without saying I get lots of looks. I’m tall. I wear knee high boots that for whatever reason gets a lot of looks. These ones to be exact, and maybe it’s because the zipper is on the outside; I don’t know, but they get their fair share of stares. I can’t quite say why I get side glances and quick peeks when they think I’m not looking, but I do. Maybe they’re curious. Maybe I have something on my face (which I honestly worry about when they stare a lot) but I do my best to pretend I don’t see them and go on my merry little way.

I stand out. As much as I wish I could blend in, I don’t; so I keep my eyes forward and ignore the world. There have been a couple instances where they’re friendly toward me, however. When I was walking around town Friday, a construction worker I was coming upon made eye contact, tipped her hat, and said konnichiwa (good afternoon), with a big smile; and I couldn’t help but respond in kind. It was so unexpected that it practically made my day. I never get random acts of happiness by people on the street here.

One thing that’s big in Japan is they don’t eat or drink while walking. Well, there are some that do, but its mainly the very disrespectful ones who aren’t looked on favorably…or the drunk ones. But it’s considered very rude to walk down the street and eat. Even when vendors are handing out samples of coffee or little cakes, people take them, step off to the side, eat them and only when done do they start walking again. It makes it harder to eat and drink on the streets with no trashcans anywhere. You’ll literally find yourself holding your trash for hours if you want to dare eat while on the run.

You won’t see the people walking with their Starbucks cups, or their travel coffee mugs, or their 7-11 sodas either. You just won’t. So when I decided to get a gelato after my lunch Friday and eat it outside to enjoy the warm 46 degree weather, it wasn’t surprising I got a couple looks.


It helps to say I’m an American, so I can get away with it more. American has no respect…but at least I didn’t eat it until I sat down! That has to account for something, I’m sure. And I even tucked my trash in my purse to take back to the apartment with me. That has to account for something too, no doubt. I felt mildly validated when I began walking again and saw an old woman eating her lunch on a bench as well.

After all was said and done, I decided to avoid all trains and make the long walk back to the apartment. It may sound boring, but I’ve been wanting to time how long it would take to walk from a particular train station back to the apartment, so I started my stopwatch and got to walking. I actually loved the walk. It took all of 20 minutes, and that included me stopping to take pictures, and I was amazed it was so quick. What amazes me more is how much I hate walking in California, but love walking in other countries. I have driven four very short blocks to a store in CA, that’s how much I hate walking there.

I still plan to make the trip into Kamakura but I’m glad I got to walk around Yokosuka. There’s so much more of it to see that I’ve only just begun to explore it. Here’s a few more from that day.

about to tour Yokosuka’s port.

the daiei mall (pronounced: die-aye)
steep stairs are everywhere. I’m in stair heaven here with all the potentials I could run up for a great workout.
I’m not sure how much they’re going to like me running them, but I think I found my new “bleachers”.
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