Originally published on 2 June 2006. This post is part of a series of e-mails to home from my first ever solo trip abroad: Japan!
Monday, I went to Nagoya. This was the first time I’d ridden on a real train, and by myself at that! We made lots of stops along the way (it was about a 2 hour ride because I was on the slow train), which made me nervous because I wasn’t sure how I should know where to get off. There was a cute little lady doing oragami across the aisle from me, and I asked if this was the train to Nagoya (I pointed to the floor and said, “Nagoya?”), and she smiled and nodded. A little while later, she walked over as I was writing in my journal, and she spun that origami thing she made on my journal. It was a top, and she gave it to me! It’s very cute, and it’s got a reserved spot in my scrapbook.
So anyway, I did get off at the right station, and I had the hardest time trying to get to the place where I could turn in my exchange order for a rail pass. Non-Japanese visitors are allowed a week-long rail pass, but you have to exchange a voucher for it. Some signs in the train station were in English, but I didn’t see anything for “rail pass exchange.” So I asked several people in uniforms, but we couldn’t understand each other, and it was pretty frustrating. I kept going in the directions people pointed me, but I kept being redirected by everyone I asked. And they kept speaking in Japanese! (Imagine that!) It’s all part of the experience of visiting a new country for the first time–frustrations and all.
Well, finally I found out I was just supposed to go to the information desk. I was so happy to finally find the right place. And they at least spoke enough English to get the rail pass to me. You’d think since only non-Japanese people can get a rail pass that the people who have to communicate with the pass holders would need to know a language other than Japanese. The world is a mighty big place!
So by that time I was completely hungry, and that’s when I found a place with amazing sashimi. It was awesome, especially since I was so hungry. There were shops in the train station, but everything was entirely overpriced, even for Japan (as I expected, but I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised and find some sales–nope!), but I did have fun looking. I did finally venture out of the station and found another shopping place where things were overpriced, but there was also one little shop with tourist-type stuff and postcards (which is exactly what I was hoping to find!), so I got a few things there.
For dinner, I went to a sushi place in the train station like Sushi Lo (where we went on Sunday), but I didn’t get quite as much as before. It was delicious, though. I rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Ise, and it only took about an hour and a half. I got back to the apartment about 8, and got ready to go to Yoko’s!
More to come. I’ll tell you about staying at Yoko’s place and our adventures in Osaka and Kyoto! More soon! I love you and miss you. Thank you for the prayers and e-mails.