Me and Henry definitely needed a break after international week, so we decided to take a trip around Japan with our given vacation days. Something we learned was that you can buy a JR rail pass for 33000 yen which is about 200 bucks. This gives you unlimited usage of the shinkansen and all JR trains for about a week. To put this in perspective the 3 hour shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto is about 15,000 yen and that takes you about 600 kilometers which is just insane when you think about things like Amtrak in the states.
To start off we had a trip to Kyoto where we got to try some meatbuns and steamed riceballs at a popular fast food restaurant near the station. We then checked out the Kiyo mizudera temple and then had some dango and sakura macha ice cream. I even bought a tea cup for my mom as a gift. We then checked into a capsule hotel for the next two days and I was surprised by the 2000 yen price ($13.82). The next day we climbed up mount Inari to see Fushimi Inari shrine with the thousand tori gates. This was a brutal multi hour trek through the rain, but I got to see so many beautiful sites. We went Osaka and got some Okonomiyaki which is what the area is known for. One cool thing that happened was we went to a Starbucks and I talked with the cashier who was in college studying English and she gave me a voucher for a free drink up to 1000 yen.
Next up was Okayama to visit Taiju, an international student we met in IWU. He promised to give us a tour of his hometown which I had been looking forward. First though we went to Fukuyama castle, and I got to see a katana for the first time in my life at the museum they had inside. Then we took the train to Kurashiki where we met up with Taiju. He took us on a walk around where we got to eat at a parfait restaurant and a miso tonkatsu restaurant. We even got to go on a mini boat ride through a little shopping district. I also got to buy a bunch of souvenirs like a cat plushie and a daruma. Last thing we did though was visit Okayama castle before saying our goodbyes. On the way to the capsule hotel I did notice the stations in Okayama had a bunch of momotaro related snacks and figurines. Apparently the area is known for peaches and he is the literal peach boy. Finally though we made it to Fukuoka and got lost on our way to the capsule hotel. It was all good though since I got to eat some yaki ramen. I am proud about getting to eat yaki soba, yaki udon, and yaki ramen during this trip. Overall though my impression of Fukuoka was just that it seemed like a Shinjuku with a stream going through it. It was just as sketchy during the night with a suprising amount of street preformers
On the last day of the trip me and Henry split up. He didn’t wanna risk missing work the next day while I wanted to go to Oita in Southern Japan, and was fine with taking the overnight train back. I had to be smart about this though, and right after getting up I made my way to the station. I got see a shrine on the way to the station, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Apparently my rail pass doesn’t let me reserve a seat on the sunrise train using the machines. Instead I had to wait in a line for 2 hours to get a staff member to do it manually since there were about 20 people in front of me. In the end it took the worker about 2 minutes to get me the ticket which was mildly annoying. The ride to Oita was really cool though since I got to see the mountain from season 1 of demon slayer, and when we hit the last stop I got to flip the seats on the shinkansen. I ended up in a very small town and got a lot of stares and a couple kids ran away from me when I tried to eat lunch in the park. It was surprising to see a halal vending machine though. Sadly this was my last day and I had to get on the overnight train in order to make it back on time at 9 am for work. I ended up getting to tokyo station at 8:30 am and made it to work barely 5 minutes late and carrying all my suitcases in.
My last week was a sad one as I had to say goodbye to many of the people I grew close. I got to share lots of laughs, exchange lots of gifts, and said goodbye to all the people I needed to. I went back to the old lady from the restaurant who gave me her bike to return it and said goodbye to her too. I had the last meal in Japan at her restaurant.