Wednesday 18 April 2012

Day 18: Hahah You Went To A Keirin Race?

The night before, for dinner, I jumped on a train bound for Hiroshima. By its own right that night, Hiroshima turned out to be a pretty rad place to hang out, but when you remember that over half a century ago most of it was laid flat by the Yanks and a Little Boy, it earns a little bonus credit. Anyway, after walking out on the train station, I jumped on the city's interpretation of a tram, where I noticed a banner advertising a keirin event taking place the next day at the Hiroshima velodrome. That's where I was headed, after checking-out, today.

People board trams in Hiroshima similar to how they do on a lot of other forms on transport in Japan. Everyone embarks from one (or a select few) doors, and disembark from door(s) supervised by a conductor ensuring you pay your fare. With me being the size I am, and no seats free, the journey can be a little awkward as I dance around people who try to pass me on their way to an exit door.

Nice and warm now, after busting all those moves on the tram, I at long as make it to the velodrome and I can't help but notice most of the folks walking through the front gates are old men. "Is this really it? Perhaps I made a wrong turn again." Nope, this was it. Following the crowds to the gates, I hand ove¥50(!) to the ticket lady in exchange for some flyers and my admit ticket. My first keirin event. My first keirin event. My first keirin event. Cooool.

 A track bike on a trainer at one of the game stalls catching my attention, and I catch the attention of the assistant. Sitting on bike that's clearly too small for me, I spin the wheels as best I can. My prize? A bright smile and that 'have a nice day' look. Well that sucked.

Not gambling or knowing any background history on the riders, I left the velodrome after a hand full of races. I still tried to get into the spirit of things by rooting for the guys on the Nagasawa frames. It was cool seeing track racing undertaken in this more traditional setup. So much respect.

Sitting on the tram back into town, at a lose with what to spend the rest of today on, a little camera shop close to the river bank catches my eye. Just as my hopes raise at the thought of finding some ravishing thing from photography's history pages, I'm reminded of my light weight wallet. Now I'm half hoping I find nothing all that interesting, but of course, I find something. Amongst the row of rangefinders sits a Canon 7 with its monstrous 50mm, and it's at a reasonable price. Looking inside, the owner is napping away. Chuckling to myself, all I do is stare back at his cameras.

Enough with the creepy talk. As my luck would obvious have it, there are a couple more second hand camera dealers along the block, and walking into one of the larger shops a discount lens shelf awaits me on the counter. "Excuse me. Why are these so cheap?" Thank goodness for language phrase books. "Ahh," the owner exhales looking down at the shelf through his reading glasses "duuuust." Picking up the lens I was pointing at, he holds it up into the light to show me, and all I can make it is a freckle of a dust speck. That's it? I don't give myself time to second guess myself, and buy it. I feel better now. Handing over very little yen, I walk out back onto the street with a neat little f1.4 50mm leaving the owner to watch the rest of his TV drama. Today's a good day.

After picking up a couple of new books to read, and chowing down your regular Hiroshima okonomiyaki tourist dinner, I'm sitting outside on the balcony of a cafe with my hands wrapped around a hot cup of tea, and a complimentary blanket wrapped around me. It's a cute cafe. They usually always are. Warm lighting inside, cheesy cheerful soft ambient music, adorable little cakes on display in the bar fridge, a couch in the centre for groups, all surrounded by couple tables with the magazine shelf not far away.

My cup has been empty long enough for it to grow cold in the Winter air. I close my book, it wasn't as interesting as I hoped, and make my way back to the station to catch the bus to Kyoto.

Good-bye Hiroshima.

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