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Saturday, June 24, 2006

JAPAN LITE

Geta fliers and Bo(y) Derek on a jet ski


The Moooo! Bar season has started on Shiraishi Island and I have to admit that I am a little disappointed. Now into our third season, not one cow has come to the Moooo! Bar, even though I advertise that cows drink for free.

News photo
Alvaro de Marichalar is out to set a record by taking a jet ski from Hong Kong to Tokyo.

But this does not stop people from coming and drinking until the cows come home. The Moooo! Bar has developed a very unusual clientele, and the clientele is often what makes a bar. Many bars, for example, get famous musicians stopping by. But not us. Other bars get actors and actresses or famous CEOs. Not us. Our clientele is a little more -- eclectic. You just never know who is going to wash up on the beach at the Moooo! Bar.

Last week, for example, we had Makoto Murakami, world champion geta kicker. This little known sport consists of "geta tobashi taikai" (literally "geta flying competitions") held all over Japan to see who can launch a geta sandal the farthest by kicking it off the foot. I wasn't so sure about the authenticity of our newfound celebrity, but after a mock contest on the beach to prove his skills, I have no doubt that Makoto is a champion geta kicker. He kindly gave some hints to the other customers who gave it a try: "Don't follow through with the foot. Snap the leg back just after you feel the sandal leave the foot." Flinging geta is a fun beach sport, but geta competitions? Get a life!

Maybe it's the salt air or all the udders, but something drives people to do some crazy things at the Moooo! Bar. Last Sunday, a yacht arrived with a very unusual crew aboard. Two of the crew, a man and woman, wandered over to the Moooo! Shop next to the bar and started looking through the wraparound beach skirts. The next time I looked over, the man was standing there with just his shirt on, his dingaling swinging in the breeze. Perusing the beach skirts, he finally decided on a short brown-and-white number and wrapped it around himself. Just when I felt relief that he had covered himself up, he started dancing around the shop while lifting it up, saying, "Ookii desu ne?" ("Isn't it big?"). The man was on a roll and there was no way to stop him. With a glass of red wine in one hand and the other hand on his skirt, he paraded around the beach lifting up his skirt saying, "Ookii desu ne?" His girlfriend stood looking on and smiling, still wearing the love hotel slippers from the night before.

But apparently, not satisfied with "ookii," he came over, took a banana from the bar top and added that to the dangling collection under his skirt. Needless to say, it was a great relief when he finally collapsed into a drunken slumber. He only woke up when his crew told him it was time to go home. But before leaving he didn't hesitate to come over, lift his skirt to the customers and say, "Ookii desu ne?" After their departure, we all looked at each other in bewilderment. The conclusion was unanimous: "Chiisakatta ne." ("It was small, wasn't it?").

You'd think a customer like that would be hard to top, but yesterday, the most unique visitor of all landed on our shores. Like Bo Derek running down the beach, a handsome man with a wild mane and tight stretch pants arose from the sea onto the beach, striding in my direction. He came up to me, kissed my hand and introduced himself as Alvaro de Marichalar, from Spain. "My dear Lord, what can I do for you?" I offered. Looking around to see exactly where this man came from, I spotted a yellow jet ski covered in sponsor logos and loaded with tanks of gas. A direct descendent of St. Francis Xavier, he told me, "I am on Expedicion Javier 2006, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the saint's birth." He was traveling from Hong Kong to Tokyo -- by jet ski! On his way through the Inland Sea, he had stopped here for a brief rest before continuing on his attempt to set a record for the smallest boat in history to travel from southern China to Japan.

He offered to take me with him, saying I could ride on the handlebars, and promised me that when the expedition was finished we'd go to his secret palace under the sea. But of course, I had to refuse. After all, I have a bar to run.

Visit the Moooo! Bar at www.moooobar.com


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