Non-Fiction

My Trip to Japan | Day 2, To Naruto!

Previously: With luggage issues, the trip could only get better.

November 3

I had contacted Jessica Nov 2 about our meet-up time. We agreed somewhere around noon, but I intended to go early. Without my luggage, I felt like shit wearing my sweaty, nasty clothes from the flight. I didn’t want to explore Osaka for a brief morning. I didn’t have the energy.

I woke up around 7am due to the jet lag and I was wide awake. As I said before, it was an amazing sleep. The room was dark, so I quietly tiptoed to the shower. This was the only place I stayed that didn’t have conditioner, which made me very angry because I had brought some.

BUT IT WAS IN MY LUGGAGE.

Check out was 11am so I ventured back out into Osaka for breakfast. At the time, I was not privy to the wonders of Japanese Convenience Store™ breakfasts (the majority of my breakfasts over the trip), so I asked the front desk where I could eat.

It was another frustrating back-and-forth because of the language barrier. I thought breakfast was a pretty universal word, but not so at this hostel. Only later did I realize A LOT of my words were lost on them, even though I was trying to simplify my speech. ‘Though’ is not a word Japanese English-beginners understand. I kept saying “Yeah, but breakfast though,” and I was still too frustrated from the day before to realize the problem.

(Sorry hostel-employee! You didn’t deserve my anger.)

I eventually conveyed my desire for breakfast via ‘bagel,’ and this led me to a café in the nearby train/bus station. I said my thanks and shoved off. I don’t know why I didn’t Google nearby breakfast places, but either way, the café was the best I got. It was less than a five-minute walk. It was a nice day too, which had made me feel a little better.

It was sometime past 9am. I still had a drink from my excursion from the night before and I wanted to have it with breakfast. Thus my intention was to find something to eat and take back to the hostel.

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Can you believe the building with that circular window is the bus station? You’d never guess from this side of it

The station was huge; going up were the buses, going down was the subway. I had been instructed to go down.

The ground floor of the station was either part mall, part office space or both. Only a couple of shops were open the four or five times I went there, and there was a long hallway that lead somewhere I never went down. There appeared to be a tourist desk, but it looked more like a travel agency. It too was never opened while I was there.

Downstairs, as said, was the subway. Immediately in front of the escalators was a café – the place I was after – and a McDonald’s next to it (not the same from Nov 2). There was a ticket office I would use later in the trip and a lot of open space. They had decorations for Christmas hanging from the ceiling.

I entered the café and, buffet style, I grabbed a tray and started picking out a few good-looking pastries. I went for a croissant and a melonpan bun. I also got what I thought was an orange juice but turned out to be more like Five Alive.

Anyway, I went to pay for my food and the cashier asked if I wanted to eat-in or take out. Long story short; I accidentally said I’d eat in (which wasn’t my intention) but because of my drink selection I couldn’t eat-in anyway, so everything worked out in the end.

I retraced my steps up the escalators and back to the hostel. I got my tablet and yesterday’s drink (originally chilled, but now room-temp) from my room and headed to the downstairs lounge. There, a Japanese family of four were chatting, but we ignored each other. I took a seat and watched YouTube videos as I ate. English Youtube proved to be very comforting during my solo travel.

I finished about ten minutes later and tossed out my trash.

This is the beginning of my never-ending confusion of the Japanese trash system. I think it’s divided into burnables and non-burnables, but I was never able to figure it out because symbols were not consistent. The recycling is similar to Canada, but I always had troubles with plastics.

I apologize for any mistakes I made on this trip.

Back in my bunkbed, I packed up my meager belongings and checked-out. Before I left, I used the hostel’s WiFi to confirm my trip to Jessica’s town. She provided me an English website for the bus schedule, so I knew what bus to take and what stop to get off at. I also had a departure-time, so I would be able to locate the correct bus based on that.

I approached the bus terminal desk and I didn’t even know how to start.

It’s a weird thing I have where I know what I want to ask, but I hesitate speaking because of mental hang-ups. In this instance, it was the language barrier. I fumbled my words for a few moments and eventually blurted out ‘Tokushima” (Jessica’s closest city). I showed them my phone and pointed at the bus schedule.

Thankfully, they understood me and I got a ticket. I waited around and soon enough my bus pulled up and a couple people got on along with me. I sat in my assigned seat. It was a pretty empty ride for two hours; no one sat next to me #bless. There were seat belts, but I didn’t put it on. There were also electrical outlets, so I charged my phone a bit.

For what I swear was the first 30 minutes of the trip, an informational video played on the TV at the front of the bus. It’s all in Japanese so it’s basically white noise to me. I’m assuming it said stuff about safety, but it just kept going and going, I have no idea what topics were covered so extensively. There are graphics and stuff, but who knows. It was mostly text.

It eventually started displaying upcoming stops, so I kept it in the corner of my eye.

I remember thinking how Osaka was an ‘urban jungle’ based on it’s chaotic highway overpasses, tangles of electric and phone wires, and the general tight-packed building layouts seen in most Japanese cities.

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Taken from the bus. So picturesque!

It was a really nice day, so I looked out the window as we left Osaka. Unfortunately, the highways started to have large partition walls and my view got blocked. I read one of my three novels for the trip A Good and Happy Child, which I bought because the store-owner claimed it was very scary (but it really wasn’t.)

I tried taking some pictures during the two-hour ride, but none turn out too good. It was lovely scenery, however. The ocean was very blue (kind of, but not quiet Caribbean-esque), and the hills are green with cute houses. We crossed over big fancy bridges.

Two hours passed and nothing of great note happened. There was a couple a few rows up playing Pokémon Go, but really, an uneventful trip.

I’m the type to not sleep on Greyhounds or trains because I’m paranoid about missing my stop.

Thus, when the arrival time of my stop was fast approaching, I was keeping a close eye on the TV (which, #bless, displayed stops in English). Even if I did miss my stop, Jessica had informed me earlier that it wouldn’t be too much trouble for her to pick me up at the next one.

My destination was not Tokushima, as I had requested from the ticket counter, but rather a highway stop in the town of Naruto. When it was next, I packed my stuff, confirmed I had everything, and got up when the bus stopped.

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My bus trip from Osaka to Naruto. (Thank you Google Maps for still having this data)

I found it interesting that a good amount of the bus got off with me, maybe six others. Considering the bus had a max of MAYBE 14 people, I took note.

As I was getting off, I saw that the bus driver was taking everyone’s ticket. I have no idea why. At the time, however, I didn’t want to give my ticket. It was the only proof of purchase I had for this ride and I was thinking I could use that as a reimbursement against Air Canada and my delayed luggage.

My thinking was, “hey I’m going to abuse this system as much as possible because fuck them they forgot my luggage.” I also really doubted that anyone who would be handling my case could read Japanese and anything I submitted they’d probably greenlight.

But, I’m also a nice Canadian kid™, so when he stuck out his hand for the ticket I automatically gave it to him. I tried asking for it back, but it was a huge language barrier, so I just gave up and moped as I walk away.

The bus drove away. The other passengers had disappeared from the stop and I was alone.

This was probably my first ‘I’m really in Japan’ moment. All the crap of the flight and my luggage was suddenly gone. I didn’t have to check-in somewhere, or catch a bus, or buy emergency panties. I could stand and observe.

It was my first real feet-on-the-ground experience.

Next time: I meet a friendly face

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