Last weekend I took a trip to Osaka which I planned basically at the last minute. The result was that I was only able to spend one day with my friend who moved to Thailand early this morning. But I was also able to spend time with another awesome friend.
Last Saturday was a work day like any other day. After an 8 hour work day I headed on over to the bus station and boarded a bus to the location the overnight bus had told me to go to. I bummed around that location for about 2 hours waiting for my bus, but when it finally came it marked the beginning of a 9 hour bus ride across Japan. How did I sleep? I slept… somewhat. It was more like I slept a few hours before I was awakened because my neck got stiff, or the bus stopped at a rest area. Despite the fact I didn’t get much sleep, I was able to function decently the rest of the day. Kazu, on the other hand, took a nap! It gave me time to talk to his family in better, but still broken, Japanese.
Speaking of Japanese… I would say that since I first came to Japan in April that my Japanese has gotten better but the area that it has improved the most has been listening comprehension. As far as speaking goes, I still feel as though it’s an embarrassing broken mess. I really do need to crack down on fixing the simple and stupid mistakes I make in every-day speech. Anyways, digression aside…
With Kazu I went to lunch with his family and had lovely unagi. It was very delicious, but there were very small bones within it. There was no way to pick them out so in the end you were forced to eat them. My only problem with unagi, or that unagi, is that I had to eat it bones and all. After lunch Kazu and I headed to meet up with Byung for some after lunch coffee. It was a really nice get-together. It was easy to think about days that had gone by and it was also easy to forget that time was still moving fleetingly forward. After the after lunch coffee and telling me how to get to the correct stop to meet Byung the following day since Kazu had other plans, Kazu and I bid farewell to Byung for the day and returned to his home to share dinner with Kazu’s family. The dinner was very delicious. It was chicken breast with a very nice salad and some interesting potato dish. This potato dish was something that was served to Mandi and I three years prior. I seemed to remember a lot from my last trip to Japan.
The next day Kazu had to leave early for work to clean his office and finish up some paperwork as well as say goodbye to his coworkers and after lunch I was taken to the station where I boarded the subway to go meet Byung. To be honest I was really sad to see Kazu go. I know it’s not goodbye but I knew it would be a long time before I saw him again. It was also an interesting sight to see Kazu in business man attire. I have never seen Kazu wear a suit before and I never once thought about him wearing such a thing whenever I thought about him going into work. I hugged Kazu goodbye at the front door and waved goodbye and he was gone. Goodbyes seem so easy until you are at the moment where you have to give them.
I was able to navigate the subways just dandy in Osaka. I made it to where I was to meet Byung with no difficulty. I met him at the entrance he told me to go to and from there we went to his apartment. I very much enjoyed the view from his apartment. However, we did not spend much time there because we had plans to go to Kobe. Ah, Kobe! It was a very nice city to visit. There is so much to see and I only saw a fraction. I would love to return and I do indeed plan to go back again sometime in the near future. Byung and I visited a lot of foreign homes. I was told that Kobe was a foreigner port at one time so once upon a time only foreigners could live there. It really didn’t feel like Japan. It felt like a place in between countries. I ate delicious Chinese food, as well. My coworker tells me the next time I go I should take one of the wire-cars up the mountain–it’s supposedly very wonderful. That night, after we returned to Osaka, we met up with Diego and went to karaoke. After that I got drunk, which is both stupid and embarrassing, so we will move on from that topic.
The next day I was to take the overnight bus back to Kumamoto, but I was stupidly sick from my stupid decision the night prior and I decided to take the shinkansen (bullet train) back to Kumamoto and save myself the possibility of making a more embarrassing mess on the bus back home. I wasted a lot of the day lying on Byung’s couch in the living room and mentally kicking myself. When I finally felt better we had dinner, which was delicious tempura. I really wish I didn’t feel like crap the entire day. There was so much more that we could have done or seen had I not been a log.
The next day I took the shinkansen back early in the morning. I bid Byung farewell and I was very sad to have to go. I really do enjoy the company of others and I was off to my life of solitude back in Kumamoto. The ride back was smooth and quick. Many of my students or parents of my students are always surprised when they ask for my opinion on how long it takes to get from one place to another and I respond with 3-4 hours being such a short time for travel (especially on land!). It took 3 hours alone to get from Canby to Mankato, and that was by car. I hated that ride, but after a while it didn’t seem too long. I look at the map of Japan and think that it took only 3-4 hours by shinkansen and I still find it really interesting. America is a large country and it takes more time to cross it than it does Japan. That difference in size has made travel in Japan for me feel quick and easy. I wonder if this opinion will change.