Today we’ve left for Nagoya. Our pink Willer Bus is charting its way between tall forested mountains and we’re getting our first hints of rural Japan. It’s a six hour bus ride and I’m spending the time switching between catching up on my writing and cooing over the view out the windows. For whatever reason, be it lack of finances and man power or some eco morality, Japan seems to have left its mountains and therefore its trees mostly alone. I’m loving it. It reminds me of Mushishi, Princess Mononoke, and Japanese folklore. (Duh! Since that stuff was based on/created here.) It feels very magical like anything could happen. (I just hope I don’t walk into a traditional Japanese house and feel anything Grudge related will happen. *shudders* Stupid Japanese horror movies…)
Later that day:
Wow. Our first transit day and it was pretty crazy. I didn’t mention before but we actually missed the bus we had reserved this morning for Nagoya. We were 12 minutes late and had to book a new bus. Up until this point we had been traveling fairly quickly and easily on the rail system (after the first day of obligatory confusion). I really felt like we had mastered the system; no more help from cabinet men.
Hmmm. I suppose I should explain that last part. If you ever find yourself confused by the Japanese rail system (as we did at first), never fear! Cabinet men are here! You simply press the help button on the machine and a minute later a small ten-inch door that previously looked like part of the machine will swing open. A concerned Japanese man’s face will appear and as you try blindly to pronounce the station names right he will look at you, see that you are foreign and known nothing Jon Snow, then close the tiny door. But do not despair for Cabinet Man is back! A larger door in the machine will open (or sometimes a full sized door around the corner) and the man will emerge from a small, cabinet-sized room. (They’re completely air conditioned back there so I can’t feel too bad for them.) Then he will come over and sort the matter with precise efficiency and a little confusion as to why you are so stupid. Then the brave Cabinet Man returns into the hole whence he came and you are on your way.
The ticket machines, if you do not want to rely on small closet heroes, work by price. That is, the prices sans destinations or any relevant information are displayed on the screen. Above the ticket machines is a route map that locals look at. The price needed for each destination is written beside it. So you simply press the price it takes to get to your destinatin, pay, and it pops out a ticket. The ticket doesn’t have a specified destination on it, simply where you started and it is scanned before and after you exit the train. If you’ve either over or underestimated the price there are Fare Adjustment counters and machines at regular intervals. Instead of looking at the route map we use either Hyperdia or Google Maps. It’s so much easier.
But returning back to today. We vastly underestimated the size of the Shinjuku Station. (So..many..stairs!) And Japanese buses leave on the time exactly. On the bus we did make it on, I notice he left when the large bus clock turned exactly from 10:39 to 10:40. So being 12 minutes late is like being 2 hours late. After some period of berating ourselves and eating a small breakfast, we caught the next bus. It’s a six hour drive but the views were gorgeous.
Here’s our bus. It’s really comfy and the seats can recline 120 degrees.
I’m hiding under the privacy hood here. Nice sleepy time.
Some pictures of Tokyo before we left city limits.
Quick shot of Tokyo Tower. It’s 332.9 meters tall. Skytree is almost double it’s height at 634 meters.
Here is Allen’s nemesis: the almost constant wall that blocks cool pictures.
We stopped twice for a twenty minute food/restroom break. A storm front began rolling along with us.
Back on the road…
Nearing 6:00PM, the bus pulled up to a little stop and everyone got off. We were a little surprised since we had expected a station not a bus stop on your average Joe street. What made it worse was the mobile wifi we had rented had run out of battery so there was no way to look up where we were. But we stayed calm, grabbed our bags, and followed everyone else. It felt rather like being in a school of fish if perhaps maybe one of the fish in the back. The rush hour crowds were enormous. They lead us to a station however and we popped into a coffee shop with outlets to let Alaina know we were close.
The real trouble and annoying bit of the day was yet to come. The Nagoya Meitetsu Station works different than any other station we’d seen thus far. People were lining up behind different color pieces of tape. Different train lines were all funneling onto this one platform. As we arrived, we saw a train leaving for our destination Inu Yama pack full to the brim with people. Like a clown car, people just kept walking in and mashing themselves into the human horde. The doors had trouble closing on the last two (very optimistic) people, but they just shoved further in. There was no way we could have squeezed in with our luggage. So, we waited in a green line. And waited. Then we realized after a 4 car train had come that the reason we were the only ones in this green line was because it was the green line for 8 car trains. It seems 8 car trains did not often go to Inu Yama if indeed at all.
In fact, Inu Yama came up surprisingly rarely as a destination. Another green line place was Shin Kani and we kept having to step out of line for them to pass. After nearly an hour of continually stepping in and out of line we asked Alaina if Inu Yama might be on the way to Shin Kani. She replied that anything on the green line would probably get us there. I shall let you imagine for yourself how we felt at this time.
It wouldn’t have been so confusing if we hadn’t specifically seen those other 2 trains go straight to Inu Yama or if Google Maps (as it usually does) said Inu Yama towards Shin Kani. Ahhhh well.
We finally got on. Alaina had wanted us to take the Super Express or Express instead of the Local line but that business along with all the confusion was too much. We just got on the next bus to Shin Kani.
…And promptly (well 45 minutes later) got off at the wrong stop. The stop preceding Inu Yama is Inu Yama Guchi. All we heard was Inu Yama. We didn’t realize until we were outside the station with Alaina telling us to meet her outside of the building and us teller her we already were outside of the building.
Here we are waiting at the wrong stop.
So! We bought another ticket for just one stop, got off at Inu Yama (the proper one) and met Alaina.
After that we had a really wonderful supper she cooked for us (Kimchi Nabe) and met her husband Nao (a very nice guy). Their apartment is very cute. I forgot to take pictures but anyone who knows Alaina’s fashion sense and love of cute figures can instantly picture what it would look like. We were very lucky and grateful to be able to stay with them. We went to sleep soon after dinner, exhausted from the stressful transit day.