Originally published on 27 July 2006. This post is part of a series of “e-mails to home” from my summer living and working abroad in Japan!
On my next day in Tokyo, I got up and got to walk the dog with Mr. Fujita. That was fun. And when we got back, I got to have my oatmeal for breakfast! They have very different things for breakfast around here. Things like salad, miso soup, and rice. I was content with my oatmeal, but didn’t want to be rude so I had salad and an egg, too. We also had grapefruit. I really REALLY miss my fruit!
The morning was realy laid back, and about 10:00 am we set out for Hakone National Park. There’s a gret view of Mount Fuji from there, but it was foggy, so we couldn’t see it. The park is very pretty, though.
After walking around the park for a while, we went to a music box museum. There were music boxes of all kinds. And there was a place where you can make your own, too. Very cute. There was one with a shield that turns in a circle on the man in armor, and you crank the little 20s car in the front to “start” it.
Then we went to a place I thought was most intriguing. THE 400-year-old immigration gate run by the Shogun. If you wanted to come into or leave Japan by way of the Pacific 400 years ago, you had to go through that gate. Maybe it makes me a nerd or something, but that’s just incredible to me. I mean, it’s older than our entire country, and so many people had to go through it. I know it’s the same kind of thing as Ellis Island, but it’s so old and was run by Shoguns! They’d kill you if they caught you trying to sneak across!
After a walk though the museum, we headed to a nice hotel for lunch. The Haoke Hotel is the oldest one there. The one we went to is new, but the chain is old. Lunch was a buffet, but I knew Mr. Fujita said we’d go for sushi that night, so that made it easier to behave myself!
So then we went to the natural hot springs. They smelled like sulfur, but it was cool because it’s the real thing! We didn’t get in because there’s a resort for that down the mountain that smells better! The Fujitas said we’d go there on my next visit–they’ve been way too good to me. Something interesting about it, aside from the bubbly, steamy, smelly water on the side of this mountain, were the black eggs. Apparently the sulfuric acid makes the chickens there lay black eggs! They hard boil and sell them there, and Mr. Fujita bought some. Tasted like a regular egg to me! Very interesting.
So after we did that and got all smelly, we headed back to their house to relax for a while util time for the Sushi Factory. Mr. Fujita and I went while Mrs. Fujita stayed home. The Sushi Factory is the same type of place as Sushi Lo with the sushi going on a conveyor belt all around the restaurant. It’s a little more expensive, but they had different things from Sushi Lo. I had abalone (rather expensive shellfish they get pearls from), crab insides (mmm!), and fish ovaries (I think from carp, not sure though). The fish ovaries are in a sack on the rice. They were too salty for me, but I’m glad I tried it! I also had the pleasure of eating the biggest scallops I think I’ve ever seen in all my born days! And so, so good. Mmm! And I had mackerel and akami tuna as well, but those are pretty normal.
We got back to the house and had “real” peaches and watermelon. It was good, but (aside from the watermelon) I really do prefer the skin on my fruit. That’s where all the fiber and nutrients are! Plus, peeling just takes too long. After that, I got to call my family again.
The next morning, I had fruit, oatmeal, tofu, and miso soup for breakfast. I could have done without the tofu and miso, but it’s traditional Japanese, and I think that’s just neat. Just as a side note talking about food, I really enjoy using chopsticks. It’s a challenge, and I get a nice feeling of accomplishment every time the food makes it into my mouth!
I called my family one more time, then it was time to go to the train station. Mr. Fujita had to catch his train to work (an hour and a half one way), and mine came 8 minutes later. And so my 7 1/2 hour trip back began! I had about 15-20 minutes between each train (as outlined in my detailed schedule from Mr. Fujita). All the trains seemed to be a little behind all day, though, which is unusual for Japan. My first train was about 5 minutes late getting to the station, but I still had time to find my train and buy a riceball, so that’s the most important thing!
The other trains were fine–I had time to buy a boxed mackerel sushi lunch at a convenience store on the platform of one station, and I had time to take care of other business as well. One train, however, was 15 minutes late. FIFTEEN MINUTES! That’s almost unheardof in Japan. I think it was because a Shinkansen had to stop at our platform or something, though, and they have priority, even if it makes other trains late. I was kind of annoyed, but I knew I could just catch the next train to Nagoya, whenever that would be. My 15-minute break between trains was, of course, taken away, which was rather unfortunate. Everyone on the train was getting antsy, and when we finally arrived and the doors opened, people rushed in every direction. I had no ide where I was going, of course, so I asked a guy in uniform where the Nagoya train was. He pointed to the next platform over, where they were holding the train for several of us! It was about 3 minutes late leaving, but we made it to Nagoya on time! When I got on the train, there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me–a Western style toilet! I’m telling you, God just takes care of you when you need something. And at that point, I needed a Western toilet!
So I made it back to Ise at 5 and went for a bike ride. 7 1/2 hours on a train is draining. Stopped for discount sashimi and pumpkin and came back to the apartment to start getting my pictures ready to e-mail to you all.
My next step is to turn in my uniform and paper to Yuri, then hopefully head off to the beach! I hope I haven’t bored anyone or stuffed your inbox too full. Have a great week! I love y’all. Thank you for the thoughts, prayers, and e-mails. I’ve loved my time here, and I’ve learned and grown more than I can even comprehend right now, but I’m ready to go home and see my family. Enjoy the pictures! Let me know what you think!