26 May 2010

Day 9: Relax

Posted by Roland under: Travel .

Time for Tom to enjoy his last taste of Japan. While the second half of my trip would begin in earnest after we parted ways, we wouldn’t do so right away. The rain was falling down pretty hard in Tokyo, so there was little we could do to occupy our morning. Tom wasn’t flying out until the evening and I had no immediate need to run out to Shizuoka to meet with Saori so we wandered the Ueno area (it was a logical choice for both of us to make our next travel moves), at first looking for a bank where I could exchange money (there are a shocking few banks that actually do that for you in Japan) and then indulging in a nearby tonkotsu ramen shop to keep my ramen streak alive. It was a heavy broth, unlike Hakata ramen, so I would be full for most of the day afterwards but Tom needed one last Tokyo meal, of course. We would part ways afterwards at the station as Tom decided to head out to Akihabara to kill some more time in Tokyo while I decided to finally make my move for Shizuoka.

Unfortunately my timing was a bit off so I couldn’t hit the straight line train from Tokyo to Ito. I would take a bullet train to Atami, miss my ideal transfer and end up taking a local train out to Ito. The train was quite interesting, not the usual style I was used to in other parts of Japan. Rather, this train was set up with seats facing the windows, as if it was set up to help people take in the sights of the ride a bit easier. I didn’t get one of these seats but I could see where the scenery appeal would be, if again, it wasn’t raining and cloudy in Shizuoka. Once I got to Ito, I could easily identify (rather, she would see me), despite her shorter hair (a more aerodymanic version of her).

As always, it was great to meet up with Saori and despite our long awaited meeting in person, since we speak so much online, there wasn’t a big feeling of nostalgia for the two of us. Rather, we got right down to the business, just like we spoke online, although we had a little trouble finding my hotel in Ito. Once we did make it in, I was very pleased with the size of the room, happy to have something with a reasonable sense of size, after the cramped rooms I shared with Tom over the last week. After dropping my bags at the hotel room, Saori would take me out to her apartment where we attempted regroup and find something to do in the rain. We could not find anything worthwhile unfortunately (there really was nothing to do in Ito in the rain) although we entertained ourselves with her watching me chat with people online for some amount of time.

Truly, with no plan and no options in a rainy Ito, we would wander the rainy shopping streets of the city, which was very very empty, a stark contrast to busy Tokyo. But I enjoyed the escape from the busy city so me and Saori would spend time just chatting with each other, at first at a local cafe, then as we attempted to find a place to eat, then at a very delicious and reasonably priced seafood restaurant, then finishing up the night with a bit more night walking (and an even quieter Ito) and a local whiskey bar, although we both decided to just settle on (fantastic) cocktails.

I found it funny that I still managed to hang out with Saori almost at least once a year, trying to make time to hang out with her with each Japan trip. And somehow, over the last 5 years, we still managed to remain close friends, even as other tutors I met in Tsuru started to fall out of contact. For the most part it was a quiet day, there would be no crazy walking all over, no trying to get through crowds to that next tourist spot, it was just me hanging out with a friend and enjoying each other’s company. That’s all I expected and that’s all I needed.

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