Thursday, September 17, 2015

Back In Japan, Five Years On - tadaima-tte!

Travelling in style
Usually, this would be around the time of year that I start talking about (or complaining about) the annual Japanese Language Proficiency Test. But this year, oh no, you're all off the hook! Since, by some miracle, I actually passed last year's test, I am giving myself a break and saving myself the $70. other words, there's no way I could possibly make N2 level with my remaining study time, so I'm not wasting my money this year. ;)

That's okay, there's plenty more to blog about, if I ever sat down and made the time for it! For example, I have 1500+ photos from my trip in February, and I've posted very few of them here. Every time I think about blogging, I can't quite decide what to write about...but maybe it's time I shared some stories of my trip, so that I'll have a diary of sorts to look back on, like the one I kept when I was actively living in Japan.

We tried to cram a lot into this trip. It was my first time back in 5 years, so I had a lot of catching up to do! I bought the ticket on a whim during an absolutely stunning $745-round-trip seat sale (via Delta, of all things), and got literally the last available dates on the sale so that I'd be able to save up. A few days later, my cousin Cassius was overcome with envy and bought a ticket of her own for the same time frame, minus a few days. I love showing people My Japan and also discovering new things about Japan, so we put together an itinerary that was a good mix of both, chock-full of train travel, Pokemon Centers, and the occasional onsen.

This is where Cass and I differ. Whereas I could go to Japan and literally just take a bath every single day, that is not her cup of tea. When she visited me in Japan 7 years ago, I morbidly embarrassed her by taking her to the onsen and being so excited that I didn't even notice her level of discomfort. So I tried to play nice this time, and also add in lots of things she likes. And she likes Pokemon, so I decided to take her to a Pokemon Center!

I decided to take her to every Pokemon Center in Japan!

That deserves a post all to itself, so I will come back to the Pokemon topic later.

He knows where you've been.
Anyway, in the months leading up to our trip I tried not to over-plan, but I also wanted to hit a lot of places. I had to go back to 〇〇 City; 〇〇 High School. I wanted to ride a bunch of blue trains before they went out of service forever. I wanted to go to Hokkaido, which I'd never been before, and revisit Kyushu to do research for a novel.

And if you haven't looked at a map of Japan, those places are literally on opposite ends of the country.

That's okay, though, because trains! In the end, the pre-departure itinerary looked something like this:

Date Start Point Travel
Day 1 - Wed Feb 18 Narita Narita > Tokyo (4 PM arr.)
Day 2 - Thu Feb 19 Tokyo Tokyo > 〇〇 City > Kyoto
Day 3 - Fri Feb 20 Kyoto Kyoto > Rinku Town > Namba > Kyoto
Day 4 - Sat Feb 21 Kyoto Kyoto > Haneda
Day 5 - Sun Feb 22 Tokyo Tokyo > Aomori
Day 6 - Mon Feb 23 Sapporo Sapporo > Jozankei
Day 7 - Tue Feb 24 Sapporo Jozankei > Sapporo
Day 8 - Wed Feb 25 Ueno Ueno > Nakano > Tokyo
Day 9 - Thu Feb 26 Osaka Himeji > Shinsekai > DenDen Town > Kyoto
Day 10 - Fri Feb 27 Kyoto Kyoto > Osaka > Fukuoka? > Beppu
Day 11 - Sat Feb 28 Beppu Beppu > Ajimu > Beppu
Day 12 - Sun Mar 1 Beppu Back to Kansai, via Shikoku
Day 13 - Mon Mar 2 Kyoto Kyoto > Otsu > Kyoto > Tokyo
Day 14 - Tue Mar 3 Tokyo Asakusa > Haneda > Odaiba
Day 15 - Wed Mar 4 Tokyo Odaiba > Shinjuku > Akasaka > Odaiba
Day 16 - Thu Mar 5 Tokyo Odaiba > Narita

Oh my! Well, if you glimpsed the map from Brother Google, you know we did all that and more. So stay tuned for the first days of our grand cross-Japan adventure!