Akita, Japan

July 22 - 23, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

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Our Travel Experience

We had bought a week long JR. rail pass in Singapore, so even though we were perfectly happy to stay in Tokyo, we decided to take a trip. We were extremely undecided on where to go. Even up to the time when we were in the station, we couldn't decide. The first ticket we bought was going South towards the 3rd most scenic place and Japan or maybe the island just off of Honshu. However, less than three minutes after we bought the ticket to the South, Seth decided that we should instead go North. So, Tara went back up to the same ticket agent and explained in halting Japanese "sorry, we've changed our minds. We'd like to go to Akita in the North instead".

As we headed North, we hoped for cooler weather and hoped we'd made the right decision. As soon as we stepped out of the station, we knew we'd made the right choice! The evening air was cool and smelled of cedar trees. It was a very refreshing feeling. We started walking towards a foreigner friendly guesthouse Tara had found in the Japanese Inn Group brochure.

Our guesthouse was very homey-ish. There was a parrot who greeted us in the entryway and we were lead to a couch and served fruit and tea while we waited. Waited for what, we don't know, but we waited. Finally, we were given a chicken form and shown up to our room, a simple Japanese style room with a tatami-mat floor. We would have settled in for the night, but we needed dinner, so we headed back out towards the station.

Akita seemed like a very small town after Tokyo and some places already looked closed at 10pm. We wandered around for a while, looking for a place to eat. We finally found an inviting looking place in the train station. We enjoyed our yummy curry and very friendly service. It seemed like foreigners in Akita were a novelty since we caught many glances and big, uncertain smiles. I'm sure the waitress was relieved when we ordered in Japanese. After dinner, the Mister Donut was still open, so we stopped to pick up some breakfast before returning to our guest house. Our futons were all laid out for us when we returned and Seth climbed right into bed with a donut while Tara went for a soak in the common tub.

The ants come marching in, the ants come marching in.... We awoke to a parade of ants intent on sharing our Mister Donuts. Probably a bad idea to eat donuts in bed on the floor.

In the morning, Tara searched through the tourist brochures she had brought with, trying to decide where we should go. We were still waking up when we got a call saying that check-out time had passed. Amazing how "juju" and "Ky." can sound the same when you're not paying attention. Tara's thought that check-out was at 10 am (juju) was  incorrect and we quickly departed at 9:20am. The train station tourist office was semi helpful in determining where we should go, but the deciding recommendation came from a fellow traveler in the office whose English was perfect since she's lived in Scandinavia for years. She suggested we head South along the coast to Kisakata, a beach town. To Kisakata it was.

We had a few hours before the next express train left, so we headed to Akita's park in the center of town. We sat on a bench in front of a small lake enjoying the view and the cool weather. Periodically, we'd see a small frog, bird or fish doing something interesting. It was very relaxing just to sit on the bench and read. After a bit, we walked into the main part of the park and wandered through the Japanese gardens. It was here that we saw another foreigner, the first since arriving in Akita the night before, who ignored us totally. We discussed the phenomenon of being different in a very homogeneous society and how some foreigners, like the man we'd just passed, would totally ignore another foreigner vs. how others would at least smile and often stop for a small chat to show some form of solidarity in the fact of we're not Japanese and it shows.

When it was time to head for lunch, we decided to go to the same restaurant where we'd eaten dinner the night before. The curry was just as yummy!

Then, it was "bye-bye" Akita, hello train ride - South to Kisakata!

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