1 June 2010

Day 14: How It Felt

Posted by Roland under: Travel .

I ended up waking up seeing a poster of Utada Hikaru on the ceiling wall of the room where Saori’s family put me. Not the worst sight to wake up to in Japan. The family had worried a bit about what to do today while I was in Shiga, despite briefly flirting with the idea of going to Osaka by train, it would be pretty far for the family to go so we decided to go to a German themed amusement park in Shiga. Again, I had no real plan and had already seen the main big sight in Shiga (that is, Hikone and its castle) so I was more than happy to go with their plan. We picked up Saori’s other brother, Kenta, along the way there so it was five of us (including Takashi and Saori’s parents) heading out for the day.

When we got to the park it looked very nice at the front but quickly revealed itself to be not as exciting as we had all hoped in the beginning. While for all intents and purposes, it was a very nice place, it was mainly a very nice place for young kids and we all fretted about the lack of fun for older folks. It was a nice day so it was very beautiful and gave a good view of the surrounding mountains and open fields. But most of our fun was limited to petting farm animals, shooting a few arrows at a archery range and eating sausages (which were surprisingly good!)

We tried our best to stretch out our stay at the theme park but even after visiting a few shops we found little else to keep us occupied and we headed out for a nearby ramen shop for a late lunch. In keeping with my theme of the second week it was a quiet, relaxed fun. Nothing super exciting. By the time we all did get back to the house I checked online to see that I needed to leave pretty quickly upon arrival to get on a train out to Tokyo, so I quickly said goodbyes once again to the family after my very short stay and headed from Tokyo from Yasu.

I enjoyed my last bullet train ride for this trip (as my rail pass would expire the next day and I wasn’t leaving Tokyo anymore) as apparently did many other groups of people on my train. Not that I had a problem falling asleep, catching up on a bit of my sleep debt. I was also a little proud to notice that the person next to me was a tourist (she could’ve passed for Japanese but I noticed little things here and there and gave her away) showing that I was getting used to my time here. Of course, just in time since I would be leaving in two days. (I just hoped I wasn’t giving off too many of the same tourist signals, since I always liked to blend in when I go traveling.

In a repeat performance I would stay at the same hotel as I did with Tom last weekend, for the exact same days. We didn’t plan it as such but we apparently had been both attracted to the cheap rate of the room. I wouldn’t be in the exact same room (like in Kyoto) but I would be right across from it. While it was a crowded place with Tom, when just all alone it was actually quite a spacious room (not as spacious as Ito of course but more than enough for me in Tokyo). I didn’t stay long though as I had recieved a call from Yuko (a different one than the one from Tsuru) while in Shiga-ken to let me know she was in Tokyo with another friend so I quickly hustled over to Ikebukuro to meet with the two of them, Yuko and Miki. I gave her a call when I got to Ikebukuro and she quickly found me (I guess I do stand out) and lead me into a nearby izakaya where her friend, Miki, was already sitting.

While it was my first time meeting Yuko in person and was meeting Miki for the first time ever we quickly got into a groove with our conversation (drinking did help). I think there was more proof of my “drinking helps me Japanese” line of thought as I did pound a few drinks along the way so my usual worries about Japanese disappeared as I did my best to talk with the two of them, which it was relatively easy to do so. Miki worked in Tokyo and was a friend of Yuko, who came all the way from Yamagata (in the north) to visit but also knew enough to drop me a line if we could possibly meet. I had a great time meeting with the two of them and hoped I could keep in further touch as I made my way back to Asakusa, a bit drunk. This might have been a slight taste of how Tom felt his morning after clubbing at Ageha.

At the hotel there was nothing left to do but just rest up. I ended up staying late watching Japanese TV, I would watch another episode of CDTV, a memory of the last TV show I watched in Tsuru back in my old apartment there.

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