If being blonde (ish) and standing 5'6" in a country of dark-haired, 5'2" women doesn't garner enough stares on a day-to-day basis, try walking alone through a shopping mall in a stupid cat outfit on a Saturday night.
People literally gape with their mouths open.
That's how it went down for me yesterday. I'd volunteered to pass out candy at a children's Halloween Party sponsored by Fukui's International Club (IC). The party was hosted at LPA, a shopping mall on Fukui's north side. But LPA is a very big, multi-floor place, and apparently I missed the memo about where specifically the party was going to be held.
So that left me wondering through the mall, fruitlessly trying to contact my fellow volunteers on my cell phone and forcing a smile as shoppers stared me down. Some were discrete in their gaping, others yelled "kawaii" (or was it "kowai"?) in my direction, while still others literally stopped in their tracks, mouths open, to gawk. C'mon people...
Later that evening, the IC hosted a slightly more adult-focused party at a local bar. Many of my fellow JETs dressed in costumes ranging from samurais to lions to uniform-clad Japanese junior high students. But the talk of the evening was "Steve" (you'll remember him from my back-of-the-bike Brazilian bar exploits) who dressed up like a shower. Yes, a shower.
Steve was kind enough to give me a ride to the bar on the back of his bike, under the condition that I hold his costume while he peddled. So, if I wasn't getting stared at before, just imagine us zipping through the streets of Fukui, Steve in a tank and towel and me in my black cat costume, trying to balance a plastic-pipe shower curtain contraption with one hand and myself with the other.
Thanks for the lift, Steve.