Although Gabby and I were pretty tired when we arrived back at our Hiroshima hostel after a day spent on Miyajima Island, we were determined to check out the okonomimura, a “village” of okonomiyaki (a type of Japanese pancake assembled and cooked on a flat top) stalls. Julie recommended it, advising we should just go to which ever stall looked like it had the most fun people. (If you ever visit, here’s a great guide to all the stalls!)
However, the place were pretty dead when we arrived: most of the stalls had no customers, so it was tough to gage the fun level. After checking out all four floors, I was drawn to a stall decorated with old records on the wall. I had seen a young girl working there, whom I assumed was the decorater, and I love anyone with an appreciation for the classics.
We pulled up a couple of stools in front of the large flat top grill. Behind us the wall was covered in old Japanese rock and roll records covers and to our right was a TV showing a Japanese man jamming on a guitar. Turns out the stall was actually run by an older man, who smiled at us with a mischievous glint in his eye.
Right away we asked him about the records and he said they were some of Japan’s best musicians. The man we would come to know as Kazu-chan asked us what type of music we liked and I answered, “Classic rock, you know, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac.” At the word BEATLES, his eyes lit up and he went around the counter to a shelf full of DVDs.
“Beatles documentary!” He said and popped a carefully labeled disc into the DVD player, while the girl we had seen before dutifully began to make our order of seafood okonomiyaki and cheesy oyster okonomiyaki. Kazu-chan poured us some beer and we started watching the documentary. It was pretty interesting, especially since I had just read Shout!, so I could trade as much information with Kazu-chan as the language barrier allowed. You know, learning important stuff via word association like: “John Lennon: Kakkoii (cool). Paul McCartney: Pretty boy. George Harrison: Younger Brother. Ringo Starr: Oshikii (funny)”. For the record, Kazu-chan’s favourite Beatle is John.
Kazu-chan practically had the entire documentary memorized, he sang along with all the songs and seemed stoked when we joined in. He told us he was around 20 when the Beatles broke up and that when he was 16 he had a Beatles mop top. I asked to take his photo and he insisted on putting on a fedora. We ate our food (the oysters in particular were DELISH) and tried to convince Kazu-chan to play us the guitar we spotted in the corner. He finally relented and after pulling out a microphone for us that was revealed to actually contain toothpicks (love a guy that can run with a theme), he sat down and played us a Japanese love song.
At one point I went to the washroom and when I came out, Gabby was cracking up as she shook maracas to Kazu-chan playing “Twist & Shout” on his guitar. Even better, there was a tambourine waiting for me! We all jammed out, the other stall vendors wandering out and watching us with big smiles on their faces. It was such a hilarious moment and I was glad my intuition about the owner of the shop had been correct.
Out on the street, we spotted a cool looking bar with nice lights in the window and Gabby offered to buy me a drink so we dashed up the stairs, bypassing the empty “classical music” themed bar and coming to a door on the third floor, where a cute guy stuck his head out from the curtain in surprise. “Are you open?” We asked and he nodded, so we ducked inside. The bar was empty but cozy and cute and the proprietor was adorable. We ordered some Hiroshima-brewed sake and it was amazing. He filled our glasses to the very brim without spilling a drop. We tried to chat with him and we managed to find a few things to talk about (I recall Gabby waxing poetic on vegemite) and would have stayed for a few more rounds had we known that beautiful sake was only 300 yen a glass!
But alas, we were on the hunt for purikura, so we bid the cutie sayonara (I took his photo… for posterity) and went back to the street, stopping to watch some more cuties playing music. The previous day I had sat under a bridge listening to a boy strumming his guitar, apparently there are lots of music loving people in Hiroshima! We wandered through some streets lined with bars and drunk salary men until we found the multi-level purikura place I had seen the other day.
Gabby was STOKED on purikura, which made me so happy! We were laughing hysterically doing all the poses and decorating. On the second floor there was a wall of costumes and we asked the guy working there, “Ikura desu ka?” and he replied, “Zero” and we were like “OMG” and next thing you know, we were on round 3 of purikura (barely) dressed as school girls. Like, what more do you need in life? It was glorious.