A Travellerspoint blog

Where Do We Go... From Here?

Understand, we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear.

Drone, that is how to describe how I felt the next morning. It may also describe how I looked. Joe calls it my "Yoda eyes," the way they poof up around their tear ducts after I have cried myself to sleep. It was our last day at the hostel in Hiroshima, so we had to be out by 11am. But where were we going? I was supposed to have already planned that. I had vague plans of where I wanted to hit, but at the moment, I couldn't think of any of them. Joe took over, not out of want, but necessity. Beppu was on my list of maybes. It was on the southern "island" from this one, but in the north, so it was the next closest place. Mochan! told me to get a hold of his friend in the city next to Beppu and we could stay with her a few nights. However, we were doing this very last minute. We sent her an email asking not for tonight, but maybe tomorrow night. Tonight, maybe we would stay in Beppu. That city was known for its hot springs, one of the top three cities in all of Japan for its hot springs. The ride was going to be long however, maybe around 5 or 6 hours by
the bullet train, Shinkansen. We of course got a late start, leaving exactly as they were kicking us out, and then we waited a long while for the bus to come and pick us up. We had to let many busses pass us because we needed to pick up the JR bus, as our JR passes would get us on for no additional charge, or "free" as Joe puts it.

At the train station we discovered that we wouldn't be hitting Beppu until late in the afternoon, and by then many of the hot springs would be closed. "Well then, we better hurry." Was all I could think of to say. I didn't want to spend another hour working out where we should go. I just wanted out of this city.

On the train we sat in... normal conversation? I want to put silence here, because that was my mood. I didn't want to talk. I felt like shit. I felt that Joe felt that I was shit. But here we were, talking as if the past 3 days never happened. I hated that Joe could do that. I hated that I hated that Joe could do that. Why couldn't I just let it go? Holding onto it wasn't doing my mood any favors. But isn't he just brushing it under the rug? Won't that come back to bite us in the end? Did I care? Right now, I needed to worry about right now. The future could crash, burn, blow up, implode, whatever, just as long as right now I was taken care of. And right now, I needed a friend to talk to.

Once on the island of Kyushu we had to get off of the Shinkansen in Fukuoka and switch to the regular line. This train traveled gut wrenchingly slow. It stopped every few minutes, and slowly let passengers on and off. We were really not going to make it. But, eventually, as the sun began to set, we made it to Beppu. Joe actually led the way to the information desk, and he hurriedly looked to me and asked me to tell him how to say this that and the other thing. I was complacent, but I wasn't completely unhelpful. I turned to the woman and asked her what we should do in Beppu if we only had the afternoon to do it. She told me that we had to see the Red and Blue Hell hot springs. She showed us pictures, and one hot spring looked like someone pored blue Poweraid into it, and the other truly looked like Hell. "Demo..." she began, and then said something else, and then "Go-ji han desu." "But I think she said they cose at 5:30." We only had time for one, and even then, we would only get in maybe a half hour before it closed. "Arigato-goziimasu." I thanked the woman and we headed back out to the train. She informed us that the springs were actually closer to the stop before downtown Beppu, so we had to backtrack.

Once off the train again, we decided to buy a locker and ditch our luggage while we waited for the bus. "You can't miss it!" The train station operators told us after we asked which bus to catch to the hot spring. "Get off at the stop where you see the plum of smoke near the top of the hill!" It sounded easy enough, and it was. We made it to the Red Hell spring with just about a half hour to view it. We decided on the red hot one since we had seen things similar to the Blue Hell in Yellowstone.

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We paid about $5 to get in...

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But you couldn't actually "get into" the hot spring. It was a look only spring (bummer) because it is so hot, that it actually boils the red clay, which give it the red coloration.

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You could however, dip your feet in the natural hot spring pool they had going next to the hot spring. It was cute, they had the little hot spring demon sitting there with you while you boiled your feet in the cooler water.

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And from there you can look out at the hot spring and the demon table and chair set.

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They also had gardens and coy fish and waterfalls all around the hot spring, so the whole area was very beautiful.

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You can see Joe over there in the background, meditation between the hot spring and the waterfall.

And here is a video of Joe interacting with the Japanese tourist business men who apparently know the secrets of the magic fire.

Then the place was closing, and we had to leave without ever getting to strip down naked and take a really hot bath. This was upsetting to us, and some of the Japanese people there picked up on our vibe, and told us that there was a very nice Onsen just up the road that uses pretty much the same water that flows through this hot spring. Its not red of course, but its not a tourist place either, so it is very cheep and a good way to get to see the real Japan. Okay, we were sold.

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We basically followed this creek all the way up the road, and it was just beautiful. The Japanese really did know who to work some fung sue.

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Then, hidden off the side of the road, a temple gate:

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(The building behind the water shed is the Onsen: )

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And now, of course, I don't have any photos. Joe went into the man's side, and I the women's, and we stayed there for one hour, and it only cot $1.5 each. There were several baths inside, and one bath outside. I preferred to sit in the outside one b/c I was alone in the outdoor one, I could see the tops of the forest trees all golden and green, and did I really need any more reason than that? I almost passed out in the sauna (real log sauna outside next to the hot spring), a place I ducked into after 2 old women had entered about 5 minutes earlier, and they still stayed in there after I fumbled my way out. I was glad they were still in there when I left however, because I would be nervous to be left in there alone. I fumbled with the handle a bit, as the wood was held together quite firmly, but I managed.

Joe was bout 5 minutes late meeting me outside, even after he promised he would leave the Onsen early to make sure he was on time, but I told him I didn't care, and I didn't. It was behind me. Caring about making it to places, about not walking the streets at night, about anything, was beyond me at this point. I was back to being a drone, which was apparently better than who I was when I had a decent personality.

On the way back down to the bus stop Joe found a fruit tree (they are everywhere in Japan), and stopped for dinner.

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And, I can't forget to mention that there is always a vending machine selling drinks, even in the middle of nowhere.

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You'll never find one with candy bars or chips, but no matter where you are, you can always get a tea, coffee, juice, soda, or water, and yes, most of the time you can choose if you want the heated can or the chilled one.

Back at the bus stop we made a solemn pledge to each other to always check when the last bus was going to be running past our stop as we were about 10 minutes away from the last bus to head back to the train station, and we were up in the hills some where with no idea how to get back to the station with all of our things locked inside its lockers.

Luckily everything worked out, and we made it back to the train station with no problem. We got our stuff out of the lockers, and then decided to head back to downtown Beppu where we might be able to find a cheep hotel or hostel easier.

Posted by - Rain 17:03 Comments (0)

War Criminals

Nothing like heavy a dose of mass torture to make your troubles pale in comparison.

Today we headed out into the morning overcast to tour around the Hiroshima memorial sights. First off we made our way to the Atomic Bomb Dome, the symbol for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

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Here they had free tour guides walking around with booklets of information and pictures that you could be taken through. Joe and I joined a group from Australia listing to one man speak. He was a survivor of the blast, a mere child at the time, but his mother was a survivor as well. He told us her story of how she was at home, outside the main city, and how she was waiting in desperate hope for her husband to come home as they watched their city burn. Here is a link to her memoir:

My Father's Sixth of August, 1945 in Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima story -- Mito Kosei and his family

In February, 2009 our guide at the Hiroshima Peace Park, Mr. Mito Kosei received an award from the Hiroshima International Cultural Foundation. The Foundation presented awards to two groups and two individuals to honor their efforts to promote international relations.

Because of his strong belief that everyone should know what happened in Hiroshima, Mr. Mito became a volunteer guide in the Hiroshima Peace Park in 2006, when he retired as a high school English teacher. He has guided 46,300 visitors (including 9,500 foreign visitors from 115 countries). He is now teaching trainee guides how to guide in Japanese and English.

Mr. Mito sent us the story that his mother, Mrs. Mito Tomie, had written about that fateful day when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mr. Mito said, "Please read her story and remember Hiroshima."

And here is a picture of Joe and Mito:

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He guided us through photos of the buildings, and drawings made by children of people who resemble bloody zombies more than citizens of Hiroshima. He also told us about the experiments done on the survivors of Hiroshima. Of how they had control groups much grater in number to the treated groups not due to lack of treatment facilities or medicines, but simply out of scientific curiosity. "What happens next?" They would continue bringing in survivors to check how their growths were forming, how their pain was increasing, how their health was depredating, while stock piles of aid were stacking up. They did this because the effects of being hit by the nuclear blast were so vast, that almost every person exhibited different reactions depending on the dosage they received, their age, their genetics, the list goes on and on. But maybe worst of all, a fact I never knew, the United Stated of America has yet to submit an apology to Japan for committing this wartime atrocity. How can we stand tall, take the moral high ground, and say we are the land of the free, home of the brave, and yet drop 2 nuclear bombs on civilian cities, torturing / killing almost 200,000 people, and never, not even 65 years later, admit that doing so was wrong.

And here is my Hiroshima rant, feel free to skip down to the next part

International law that expressly forbids targeting the civilian population. But I guess that doesn't matter since the Geneva Convection was signed after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So it was okay? Right?

I think you will have to agree with me that it is not okay, and so why have we not apologized for this yet? If Americans were living in Japan, and they forced them to live in internment camps, and if they nuked Honolulu and Seattle, would we have ever forgiven them? They attacked navy bases, and we retaliated by attacking their civilian populated cities.

But here is the key: they have forgiven us without our apology.

This is why I assumed that we had apologized for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They have forgiven us, so we think that everything must be okay. Japan has very good relations with the USA, so we must have apologized. But we have not. We would never forgive them if they did to us what we did to them, plain and simple. Not even if they submitted a formal apology. But they have forgiven us, and I think that is why we are off the hook. I think that if the Japanese weren't so Buddhist about what happened, then the international community, if not the American people themselves, would have a huge outcry for the USA to atone for this unspeakable evil. We are a Christian nation (apologies for everyone who disagrees), so shouldn't we repent?

And here is my last point on this rant I'm having: We did not bomb the Japanese because of what they did to us, or to the Chinese, or to end the war with them. We bombed them to show Soviet Russia what we can do if they cross us.

Winston Churchill:
"It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the bomb fell."

It was not necessary for the war with Japan to drop the atomic bomb. Not even once. But we did it twice. Why? To prove to Russia that we could. This wasn't a one time deal. We have this weapon, and we can use it again and again. Now how many people want to argue that Japan should apologize for Pearl Harbor before we apologize for doing something to them because we are worried about Russia? We didn't attack their cities because of anything they had done, we did it to prevent the Russians from becoming aggressive towards us. The Japanese just gave us the excuse we needed to do what we wanted to do in the first place. In all fairness, Germany would have been the better choice for the bombs, but they never gave us the excuse. They never attacked our soil. And so, it was the Japanese who suffered and died at our self righteous hands, and we still cannot say we are sorry.

End of Hiroshima rant

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The above memorial is for all of the children who died in Hiroshima, and for all of the ones who survived, either mutilated, diseased, or healthy but whose futures were cut down, and dashed into so many little peaces as it was up to them to clean up the dead, to scrape for food, to become the head of so many broken households. These children never had a chance to be children, so this is their memorial. Hung from it are so many colorful origami swans that children string up to this day to honor these brave children.

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Here you can see Joe touching concrete that survived the blast. Since the bomb exploded in the air, and not on the ground, most everything was struck by the energy blast, hence why the city was caught on fire more than disintegrated.

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It was raining hard now, and so Joe and I stayed inside this memorial. It takes you down a circling ramp with writings on the walls, taking you slowly back in time. At the base you enter the room you have been circling, and in the middle is another clock, like the above one, but eerily lit with a lime green light, and a blue hue around its base where water pools from the fountain that runs down its sides. Then as you walk around the room, you can see a panorama of the city after the bombing. It is hard to pick out any buildings other than the Atomic Dome. Most others are so far beyond destroyed. Then beneath the photographs of the city, are the names of the families who lived in those areas. They had benches in this room where you can just sit and take it all in. Joe and I did this as we mimicked so many other people who walked into this room with us. We held each other. Nobody walked through this room like so many other museums, hands either held behind their back as they observed, or pointing out areas of interest. Everyone held onto someone else. This was not a room to be alone in. It was a room to hold onto the person next to you, and let them know that you are glad to be alive with them in this moment in time, forever paused at 8:15am.

After we left the room it was still raining really hard, so we spent maybe an hour in the memorial library, sitting at the computers, watching documentaries, looking through photos, and listening to people talk about how they were there, how they remember how their clothes clung to their skin, and they couldn't tell where their clothes stopped, and their body started. It was horribly depressing, and the rain pounded on the tin roof as a constant reminder that it ain't any better outside of this tomb.

When I finally couldn't take it anymore, we hid through the trees for the museum.

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At the museum Joe bought us some chocolate, and I got us a hot, thick, sweet green tea.

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That is the peace drum given to Japan from Korea. It was all we really had time to see since the museum was closing in 5 minutes, and we both agreed that it was probably better that way. We had seen and heard enough for the day, and it was nice to end on that note.

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Next to the Peace Park was an out door/ in door shopping mall, so we walked around and searched for some new shoes for Joe, some vegetables for dinner, and cookies. I decided that we needed cookies. Joe was really hungry at this point, but I couldn't really think of lunch, and then we found a happy compromise, something that we both really needed that day. We found our first Japanese Subway! Joe got his foot long sub, and I got my 3 cookies and a juice box of milk.

Then, as the rain was letting up, we walked back to our hostel, and we held each other. He kept rubbing his hands up and down my arm as I shivered because of the cold, or at least that is what I told myself it was because of. The wind bit through me that day, and my body had no defenses to it, none other than Joe's warm body curled around my own. I was grateful for our civility. Even though Joe hadn't made a formal break up, in my mind, we may as well have been. Thats just the way I operated. But I still could take in small pleasures, tiny comforts that made me not go screaming into the night, and right now, Joe's arm around my shoulder was all that was stopping me from doing just that.

We popped open the lap top at the hostel in the cafeteria since we couldn't use it together as we had male and female separated dorms. But we were the only ones at the hostel at the time, so we camped out on the long cushioned benches, lying down on our sides, Joe holding me from behind, and we watched several episodes of Castle.

That evening while Joe was continuing his financial brawl with his bank/ credit card he skyped with my mom, and this is when I lost that lingering warmth I had inside from our day of holding and mourning. "No Vanessa, I'm serious!" Joe was talking to my mom about the money from his account that was supposed to be transferred into my Key Bank. Japan had hit my bank account hard as we were planning on using some of Joe's money when we got to Japan, but his bank has apparently shut his account down b/c someone keeps trying to get into it from all these different Asian countries (strange, right?). We finally had my mom scrounge up some blank checks we each made before leaving, and had her fill one out to me from Joe's account. This seemed to have worked, as my bank accepted the check, and the funds were being processed. So we couldn't use his ATM card, but we could just transfer funds from his bank to mine, and then transfer those funds into the AAA travel Visa card for us to use at ATM's. My bank account was below 1,000 dollars, so we couldn't use any of those funds to reload our AAA card b/c I needed money in there to pay my credit card bill that was getting sizable since we didn't have any money on the AAA card. But, my mom had transferred almost all the money I had in my account into the AAA card while Joe's check processed, and normally that would be fine, but I had a credit card being paid at the exact time that the money would be gone from my Key Bank, and Joe's money would yet to be transferred into it! "Mom, you needed to transfer the money from Joe's account into the AAA!" Joe stopped me again. He would not let me go in front of the computer. "She's my mother!" "Yes, and your upsetting her!" We had a hushed argument away from the computer that even if I talked calmly and rationally, it would only make matters worse, and that he was handling it. He said that me talking with her would only upset her, and that just by hearing my voice for those few sentences I got off before he silenced me, she was sent into a teary panic. "You are just like your father!" Something caught in my throat, I couldn't breath, as if the wind had been knocked out of me. This was not the first time I had heard those words spoken to me. All defiance in me wilted and died.

My voice, just the sound of my voice, for those few moments before Joe leaped out of his chair and hushed me up, caused my mother to crumble apart. What kind of a monster was I? Who am I? What was I?

I am a self righteous, bully.

I am an American.

I am Rain, no, I am Vanessa.

Why wasn't I Rain yet? Or better yet, why was Rain seeming like worse of a person than Vanessa ever was? Whats in a name? Something deeper, something more core needed altering, I needed to be someone else. Who I was, wasn't a person. Joe didn't want to even look at me anymore, my mom didn't want to hear me anymore, I was all alone.

All alone, due to no other fault, than who I am, what I am. Is it to late to say I'm sorry? Would the people in my life be like Japan? I think they already have been. How many times can I be forgiven without apologizing? I think Joe may have a number, or at least he has a time. 4 years.

Posted by - Rain 16:06 Comments (2)

Happy Birthday, I Hate You

What is it about adult birthdays?

I woke up today and decided that I was finally ready, I want to write about this.

The morning had a strange taste of bitter sweet feelings, twangy mixture that you could sometimes get a hint of in your birthday cakes loaded with too many candles as your parents attempt to make it a magical cake like it once was when you were a child. But now, you know its just a cake, and something about it both depresses you, and makes you feel loved, supported, and special all at the same time. Do we ever really realize that there is more magic in a cake made with love than that "etherial" magic that is indescribable and unknowable which you experienced as a chid? I think we all hope that, and say that in our heads, but do we really, truefully, FEEL that?

"Hi..."
"Morning..."
"Do you want some grapes?"
"Sure..."
"..."
"..."
I got up to get some coffee, then sat back down.
"Coffee?"
"Yeah."
"Where did you get that?"
"Over there." I pointed to the machine.
"You know, we have instant coffee packets, and free hot water, you should really use those."
"... I know, I just wanted something with milk in it, I'm tired of bad black coffee."
"I could have made you something, we have sugar, and I'm sure we could borrow some cream from the kitchen."
I just nodded. I didn't want to fight. It was his birthday. FUCK! I should have already said that shouldn't I? SHIT! Now it was going to be awkward when I said it. Do I say it with a smile? Do I mean it? Did I want him to have a happy birthday? Yes, of course I did. But did I particularly care if today, it if wasn't for it being his birthday, was happy? No, I really didn't give a rats ass. I was mad at him, irritated by him, and I think he feels the same way about me, but just won't allow himself to know. He is "always happy," whatever that means. I am so cynical at this point, I can't wrap my mind around anything he says. We get up and clean our bags of food.

"So... Happy Birthday?"
"Thanks..."

Joe and I walked in silence to the bus stop, and then I sat there waiting for the bus while he walked off somewhere to do Kung Fu. The exhaust from the road was bothering him, so he disappeared behind some bushes. "God Damn IT" I thought to myself as I watched bus after bus pass me by. It was 7:30am, 30 min later than I wanted to catch the bus. We were told to get to the Miyajima island around 8am to have the magic of having the whole place to ourselves for an hour or so. This was exactly what Joe has said he wanted for his birthday, a beautiful old Japanese village that acted like pre-industrial Japan. With no other tourists in the streets, it would just be us wondering throughout this old preserved town on a small island covered in beautiful mountains. Supposedly, Miyajima was one of the 3 most romantic places in Japan. 3, being the number of places always associated with something famous.

I was already irritated though, it was barely sunrise, and I already knew that this place was going to be waisted on our mood. Then the bus came. "JOE!" I had no idea how to tell the driver to wait for my friend. "Choto mate, watashi no tomodachi..." "One moment, my friend..." I pointed out of the bus to the sidewalk. Then Joe appeared in a jog. "Okay" The bus driver told me holding his first finger to his thumb, lifting the three others behind. I showed him my JR pass, and then I took a seat while Joe fumbled to get his secret pouch out, and then slowly work the pass out from that. "Okay, Okay, Okay," the bus driver said as he waved Joe not to bother getting the pass all the way out.

I sighed loudly, and Joe sat in the seat across from me. "Okay," I said, obviously hurt. "Okay what?" he asked, obviously hurt as well. "Look I know you don't want to sit with me b/c I'm annoyed, but come on! You could have done Kung Fu at least somewhere where you could see me and I could easily see you, and then you could have already had your bus pass out since you knew you were going to need it, you just make everything so..." I couldn't think of the word. Joe took that as a sign that I didn't mean what I was going to say. It was just the opposite. I meant it so much, that I couldn't even think straight. He explained to me how everything was "Okay," and how I was stressing out over nothing, and how he is just being himself, and on and on and on. I told him "Okay, Okay, Okay!" And we both let it go... or did we?

We took a train a few stops over to the ferry. The morning was beautiful.

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Joe and I were both smiling once the ferry started. "Get that!" We kept saying to one another depending on who had the camera at the time. We were happy. Pain and sorrow washed away by the boat ride to this magical island. The morning breeze whisked through our hair, and the day was starting out clean of every worry or expectation. We made it, and it was great.

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And getting off the ferry, we realized that we really did have the place almost entirely to ourselves.

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Well, us, and the deer.

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We were taking pictures of the red shrine in the water, when another couple came up to us. "Picture?" they asked us as they held out their hand, indicating that they would take a picture of the two of us. I faltered just then. Do we take a picture together? Do we pose, holding each other as we so often did? I looked to Joe, and he shrugged his shoulders, nodded, eyebrows raised and lower lip puffed out. He handed them the camera, and then wrapped himself around me. I melted. Would we really be okay? Was that all it took? Was this all we needed?

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This temple is also supposed to be in the water, but it was low tide.

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You had to pay to get in, so we decided to come back to this one later when the water was a bit higher.

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We aimlessly hicked up a stone path and we found this beautiful old looking temple with plane, unpainted wood. Admittance opened in 2 minutes, so we were the first, and only ones in line.

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Inside the ceiling was lined with all sorts of wooden carvings and paintings.

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Joe and I wondered around, heads towards the sky, pointing out all the daemons we recognized from Inuyasha, one of our favorite anime shows.

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Then other people started showing up, and I felt the push to move on before the island was swarming with tourists.
"Are you ready to move on?"
"Not yet."
I explained to him that we really needed to move on b/c while we did pay to get in, I would rather get to see more of the island by ourselves than see more of this place to get "our moneys worth" b/c remember, money doesn't matter. I thought I would really get him on my side with that one, and he told me not to rush him, and he started wondering around, looking at things we've already looked at. I hate you so much! Surprise attacked my seances. I could actually see the physical signs of hatred in the furrowing of my eyebrows, the hunch of my shoulders, the balling of my fists. I hated him, I really truly, deathly hated him! Why? Why did I feel this way? I don't want this! I don't want to hate him! I don't want to hate anyone! Why do I have this inside of me! I want it out! "JOE!" He looked at me intently. I was about to cry, and he knew it, even though no tears were forming, he could see the look of pure desperation in my eyes. I told him everything that just happened in that past minute. "I don't want to hate you!" Tears should have been flowing down my cheeks at that point... by they weren't. I grabbed his arms and tucked myself into his chest, a move that I do when I can't bear to have him look at me anymore, because looking at him, looking at me, is one of the worst mirrors in the world when I am like this. I hold him like I might die if I let go, and he, if it is possible, seemed to be motionless. Not a breath taken, not a mussel moved. I pulled away from him. I know how much he hates it when I bury my head into his chest when we are fighting. Its comforting for me, but an isolating move from him, with his head and eyes free to look around the world above me and wonder "what am I doing here?"
"Thats not normal." He told me, and began walking again. I walked beside him and tried to explain myself, and tell him how I wanted to change, and how I don't really hate him, but that I just hear myself saying it under my breath a lot recently.
"You've done this before?"
The shock in his face hurt me somewhere I think may have once been my heart. I wasn't thinking, at least not about him, I was just saying how I've felt, and how that makes me feel, and how I wish... I wish... I wish I could take it all back. But, it was too late.

We left the temple in silence, neither of us able to speak. He was that angry/ upset/ shocked/ I don't know b/c he wouldn't talk to me. I started out scared, then I turned to angry. My body warmed to the though. Angry was better than afraid. "Can I have the camera?" I asked at one point, completely void of emotion. The words even sounded tired to me. Great. I moved from angry straight into exhaustion, and it wasn't even 10 am yet.

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"Wait one sec." I told him as we walked by a shop with little Russian dolls. At least they seamed like Russian dolls, you know, the ones that unscrew to reveal another doll shaped container, then another, and another, etc. It was a beautiful purple, and I thought that maybe Jessica would like it. She always liked it when my parents would wrap something small in several larger boxes. I found it irritating, but she seemed to enjoy the charade. But these dolls weren't openable, they were just shaped funny. I could tell that Joe was anxious to keep walking, so I hurried up away from the store.

"Okay, never mind," but he was already about 10 paces ahead of me.
"I'll just see you this afternoon then. Lets meet at the ferry at 4?" He was so stern, it was my turn to be shocked.
"Wha?"
"You want to go shopping, and I want to explore the rest of the island, so we should split up, you don't seem to want to hang out with me today anyways, so lets meet at the docks sometime this afternoon."

Again, so stern, so out right bold, I couldn't breath. I didn't know what to say. I started walking over to a bench past the sidewalk near the water, and I just collapsed. He wanted to split up? That would be okay on any other day, strange for us b/c we seem to have this sick need to spend every waking and not waking moment together this trip, but okay. But today was his birthday, and I had all these little things planned. We were going to actually go to a restaurant together, and I already knew how to ask the waitress to put a candle in green tea ice-cream for his birthday, and it was going to be great b/c he wouldn't be able to understand a word I said to her. These were the things floating around in my head. I couldn't even think about what he had said. I just kept thinking about the rest of the day I had planned, and how it was never going to happen, not even if we decided to stick together.

"Let me get this straight," I decided to say.
"You want to spend your birthday alone b/c I took a few seconds to look in a shop for a souvenir for my sister?" I was getting pissed again, bully for me.
"No, thats not what I said..." and he continued a long riddle of reasons that he would rather spend his birthday alone than spend it with me. Ouch. Ouch in so many ways. And then, the big one.

"I don't think we should be together anymore. I'm not saying I want to break up now, b/c now isn't the right time, but we don't fit anymore, and I think that we should break up in the future."

Now, finally, after hours of building, the tears finally came. I broke down in a huge mess of sobbing. I can't remember what I said, or what he said, or what color the sky is or what food tastes like. Lost, lost was all I could describe the next 30 minutes of my life. Questions thrown from both sides about what does this mean, what does that mean, how could you do this after all we have been through, how can you keep treating me like this after all we've been through, can we really keep going through all of this, are we right for each other, have we ever been right for each other, was this trip a huge mistake, I love you, but I can't stand to be with you, I love you so much, I can't take being around you anymore, why can't we just start over, how many tries do we get, why can't I stop crying, why don't you care, gasp gasp gasp, then a sigh from a breath that was only recently discovered as being held. People were beginning to trickle past us on the side walk. I wonder how much of it they understood, or if they even needed to understand english to know what we were talking about, if talking is what you could describe our actions as.

"I don't want you to go."
"... then walk with me."

And simple as that, we got up, and started walking.

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Then we passed a shop making Takoyaki, and we were very tempted to come back here and buy some when they opened. (We needed a sweet breakfast treat.)

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We stumbled upon the most beautiful and our favorite temple of the trip. I think that you may have had to pay to get in, but Joe and I had been wondering through the forests for so long and far, that I think we just appeared onto the temple from a place that nobody would think tourists would come, so we just entered and walked around.

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Inside this temple they were holding a ceremony, similar to the one we went to in Hawaii. It was some form of Shinto Zen, as they were changing each syllable of the prayer to the beet of the drum. I did not want to go in at first, so I agreed to wait outside while Joe sat in on the ceremony. Then after about 5 minutes, I sat down in back on a square pillow and joined in on the bowing as well.

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Here we ran into the Australian girls who were taking up all the info desks time yesterday when we needed to book a place to stay as well. We made nice with them for a minute, and then moved on.

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As we were hiking up the river next to the temple, Joe brought up one of the reasons he had been moody with me lately. "I was hurt when you told Eelke that she was your spiritual guru."
"What? Why?"
"Because when she tells you the same things that I've told you,"
"She didn't"
"You treat her like she is something amazing, and you treat me like everything I say is bull shit."
"You know thats not true,"
"It is True!"
<arguing ensues>
"But my point is, that I don't feel bad about it anymore b/c I figured out that she is simply just what you needed."
"I do need a guru, and it can't be you, you can't always be my teacher,"
"I know that now, and I know why too. You need someone you can respect, and Eelke is older than you, and I am younger, so that makes sense, and she is also a woman, and you can connect with her better and take her advice more b/c its not a man telling you, which is fine, and I am not upset."
"You aren't upset?!?! You have basically boiled down what was probably one of the most spiritually important moments of my life into, 'Its because she is older than you and a woman' and you have the nerve to reassure me that you aren't upset? As if I could give a shit?!"

Now we have a huge, large, enormous fight where neither one of us raises our voice, and in fact, we have to ask each other what the other said sometimes because the tones we were speaking in were so hushed and erie I can hardly think about it without getting goosebumps. And this was the moment I knew, I was not going to fight for us. We were not the people we were at the beginning of this relationship. The Joe I fell in love with is not this same person. We have been holding onto a dream. I cannot be in love with this person any more. I will not fight for us. It is all up to him now. Fate will decide. If he fights for us, if he changes his mind, then we may work this out yet, but if he doesn't, then we are over, finished, broken up. I cannot love this person anymore, and yet I will love him for the rest of my life. I knew, right then, that maybe he felt the same, and so for the next how every many days or weeks it would take for it to be the "right time" for us to break up, we would wait for the other one to make a move. We would hold our battle formation at the ready, and the fight for our relationship would never begin. How long can we wait on this battlefield before these opposing forces get tired of waiting, and need to go home? Where is home for my forces? Home has been defined for so long as the place where Joe and I were... that now I don't know if I have a home to go to... now, am I truly homeless?

These questions were tiring, but we move on and up the stairs along the river of boulders to the waterfall near the top.

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Up this path we hopped the fence and crossed over the boulders to this immensely powerful waterfall. It was narrow, like a large shower, but it came from quite high, so the crash seemed to be from a much larger waterfall. There was also a section of it that fanned out over a large flat stone that created this curtain of water at about head height. Joe climbed up on top of one of the boulders near the top of the waterfall, and I climbed down into the base of the waterfall and dunked my feet into the river. We were both exhausted from getting up at 6:30 this morning after getting in so late the night before, and from the emotional baggage we had just been through again, that we both fell asleep for almost 2 hours.

Afterwards, it was time to get some food. But first, I had to get out from the base of these boulders, and my rock climbing skills are much better on the way down then they are on the way up. I slipped, and rocks crumbled from beneath my hands and my feet, the higher I climbed, the further from the other side of the boulders I would get. I needed to get onto this one, long, steep angled smooth rock, but every time I'd get near it I would slide in some way. Joe eventually helped navigate me towards it, and when I almost had my body on it, I started to slip. "Get the weight of your whole body on it!" He called to me, but that would mean I would have to talk my leg off the side of the rock where I had an almost decent foot hold... but then that broke, and I began to slide. "Nooo!" I pulled my leg onto the rock beside my other leg, just to act as weight so friction could keep me from sliding off. Joe eventually made his way over and by pressuring beside and below me, I was able to stabilize and get down from the rocks and across the river. You would think this experience would bring us closer, the clinging and holding of each other would light some sexual feelings, but it didn't. I was going to be okay with or without getting down safely. Just one way involved getting wet and possibly some bruises and scrapes I could live without. And Joe was just doing his thing, that he would do with any friend, he was helping them with athletics. He was a rock climbing instructor. Platonic, friendly, and that was that. Acceptance.

Now, time for food. We walked to a restaurant that had plastic representations of their food outside, and we ordered Chicken Katsu curry with rice and a large crushed ice green tea and red bean desert.

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So much yum.

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BTW, this next picture is posed b/c we kept making this face as we would take a scoop and and avalanche would fall onto the table.

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Then we went around and looked at some of the neat shops they had.

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Joe particularly liked this wood carving shop.

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Then we went hiking some more on our way back to the main temple by the red shrine in the water.

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It was getting late, and if we were in a romantic mood, I would have pushed to stay until night fall b/c this place supposedly lights up like some Italian villages at night, but we weren't so we caught the next ferry into town, and then took the train back into Hiroshima where we searched for a place to get dinner... and Joe found what he absolutely had to have for his 25th birthday...

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I don't know if you can tell, but there are 10 beef patties on that thing! I helped out by eating one and a half of them, and yes, I did get yelled at for that half b/c I ate more than one, and I ate it with bread. "I need that bread! I have 5 more patties to go and thats all the bread I have left!" He ate it open faced four patties on one side and four and a half on the other. I bought him some spinach at the grocery store that was next to the restaurant as well as some juice to drink that sucker down with. It took him a while to eat the monstrosity, but he did it, and now he had all the energy in the world to convert all of that "protean" into mussel as we waited for the bus back to the hostel.

Posted by - Rain 18:06 Comments (2)

The Calm that Comes Before the Storm

0 °F

The next day:

Its the day before Joe's birthday, and we were traveling to Hiroshima. The island Miyajima was just off of Hiroshima, so we decided to spend the night at the Hiroshima hostel and travel to Miyajima tomorrow morning since the accommodations on the small island were quite expensive. This morning I woke up and spent a lot of time trying to make sure that we had everything in order before we hit Hiroshima. Where was the hostel, how do we get there from the Shinkonsen, what time does the ferry leave for Miyajima, do we have to take a bus to get to the ferry, or can we walk, what are the walking directions, etc. However, some assholes were watching really loud reality tv in the lounge I was sitting in and I couldn't get anything done. I had a huge headache and was having trouble reading with all the noise. I gave up after wasting shit tones of time and sanity. Joe came into the lounge to get some breakfast and found me as I was leaving. "Hey, we should..." yeah, I cut him off and told him to screw it, we'd just have to play it by ear b/c it was almost checkout time and I didn't figure out anything. He let it go at that. Smart.

We hit Hiroshima fairly quickly after boarding the "bullet train" from Tokyo, and after arriving there we waited about an hour at the information desk for these two girls from Australia to have the guy book them a hostel, give them travel directions, and explain what there is to see in hiroshima. Fuck! All we wanted was to make sure we could reserve a hostel too, and here these girls were taking up all the info desk time during a huge baseball game and a kimono festival! Problem- tuns of Japanese people were booking up all the rooms in Hiroshima for the festival and for the game, and these girls knew we wanted help reserving a room, and all they could do was turn to us and apologize for taking so much time "hihihihi" (that was a giggle from the Australians). Needless to say, I wasn't laughing.

When they finally left we actually ended up getting 2 beds at the Hiroshima hostel that these girls refused b/c they wanted a hotel (yes!). Joe and I would be sleeping in separate wings b/c of the gender issue, so that put a little kink in my plans to have makeup... stuff, but then I thought that maybe it was for the best. Who says that you have to force feed us playing nice on someone's birthday. If we couldn't resolve things out of the bedroom, than we shouldn't be resolving them in it either... right? Right!

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We decided to ditch our things at the train station lockers and hop on a bus to the street where they were having the kimono festival and check that out for a few hours. All in all, this was a fairly good idea. There were some awkward moments where we still weren't quite sure how to act around each other, but we had fun I think. Getting to the festival we agreed that we would just follow the girls in the kimonos off the bus, and that seemed to work just fine. Then from there, we walked about a block, and then bam! Both sides of this side street were filled with venders selling all sorts of Japanese carnival sweets and deep fried foods. As we walked we passed about 80% of the people on the street who were in kimonos.

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After walking around, ducking into smaller side streets we found a central square that seemed to be set up for some sort of show, so we sat down there and waited for a bit to see if we could accidentally catch something. Joe ended up talking with a little old man about simple things, "How are you?" "Do you like Japan?" "Where are you from?" "Do you like dogs?" And then his little old wife rolled over in her wheel chair and let us pet her puppy that sat in her lap. This was when we noticed that she had no legs. It was really sad, but the two of them seemed so happy. They were happy to meet us, happy to speak english with us, happy to hear me tell them in Japanese that I thought their dog was cute, and happy to be at the kimono festival on this beautiful summer day.

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We hung around for a bit longer, watched a bunch of really cute kids play run around the square and scream, and then decided that it was getting late and we better grab some dinner and head out for the hostel before dark.

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Those girls were adorable. Their dad caught me trying to get a pic of them, so he stopped them, explained to them that I wanted their photo, and then tried to get them all to look at me for the picture, but they were so nervous and giggly that the above pic was the best one I got. - Adorable.

But, after we got back to the train station, and Joe found a restaurant he wanted to eat at, and I found a place I wanted to eat at, and we both got our food, and then we both found a place where we could both sit down and eat it, and then we finished and went to get our stuff out of the lockers... it was dark.

I screwed up big time and even though the guy at the info desk gave me times for the bus departure to the hostile, I didn't rush our meal to catch the bus that left about 15 minutes ago. Now we had about 40 minutes to wait until another bus left for that part of town.

Joe wondered off to do some kung fu not in the bus station while I diligently sat in the exhaust.

Decked out motorcycle:
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Fountain outside the train station:
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I was so freaked out to follow Joe to this fountain b/c the bus should be coming any minute, that I kept looking back at the bus stop while Joe explained what he liked about this fountain, and then the bus pulled in and I forced him to run we me the 50 feet to the bus and we got onto the second last bus leaving for that part of town.

When we got off the bus I was completely lost. We walked back and forth for a bit, squinting at my directions, and then looking at the half assed version of a map we had. We were way out of down town, so there was hardly any light or places to ask for directions. There was one convenient store in sight, so i went to it and asked the clerk in Japanese if he could tell me how to get to the hostel. Thank god, he spoke some English. His directions were about right, and it turned out that whether we followed the part of the directions that said how many streets to cross, or the part that said turn down the street with the parking garage sign, we would find small posters pointing out how to find the hostel.

We had a pretty long walk up a steep hill to what appeared to be a mental institution on the top of the hill, but it was the hostel, and we made it in just 5 minutes until 10 pm when the doors are locked and the front desk is closed for the evening.

Joe and I sat in the cafeteria for a minute and we logged onto the internet, and then we split up our things. "Okay, well, you can take the phone and charge that in your room, and I'll charge the video camera in mine." I said. "Yeah, I can do that." He said. "Okay then..." I continued. "Yeeaah." He sighed. Joe dug through the backpack for the phone charger while I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I got back I said "You can have the toiletries tonight now, I'm done with them." "Okay, thanks." "..." "..." What to say... what to say. "Well, good night." "Yeah, night." We turned our backs to one another and started walking. I cradled the laptop against my chest as if I was hugging it, or someone. When I got to the end of the hall I turned around and looked at him. He was still walking, his hall was longer than mine before he had to turn to go to the men's wing. I wasn't going to have one of those moments, where I turn, and he isn't looking, and then I turn back, only to have him look to me moments later. I waited. I wasn't going to call to him, but if he turned around, then that would be that. It was up to him. Would we make eye contact, would we say something else, would we fight again, it was up to him. He wasn't turning. My heard was beating so fast I wanted to squeeze my laptop so hard it would smother its movements. "Hey" I called. Yeah, real willpower there. We met back up. "I miss you.” No explanation needed. He understood what I meant. We talked for a minute. He agreed, and we hugged, but it was only a friendly hug. We were not making up. We were just acknowledging that neither one of use were fooled by our general cordiality. I wanted to kiss him, but not then. I just wanted the idea of it. I wanted the memory of it. I wanted this moment to be like a moment out of our past when we kissed, and both of us were there, both wanting to kiss one another, not because of who or what we were, but because in that moment, kissing what what those two momentary people desired to do with one another. In this moment, we did not want to kiss each other goodnight. We both seemed to want to want it, but knew that in this moment, these two snap shot people, would not be kissing.

Live in the moment.

Forget your past.

Forget what tomorrow is.

Who are you right now?

How do you feel about the person in front of you?

Do you want to kiss them? Do they want to kiss you?

If the answer is no, shed a tear, give a shy grin, and say goodnight.

The tear didn't even make it down my cheek before I was already walking to my wing of this crazy place we were in. Stillness crept over me as I passed the dark and empty front desk area. I was numb by the time I reached my room. I was alone when I curled into bed.

Posted by - Rain 23:34 Comments (0)

Destination: Tokyo

0 °F

But first, its 5am, and we are ready to see Mt. Fuji.

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Just barley, but there it is, with the Shinkansen passing in front of it.

So, what do we have to do to commemorate this moment? Human pyramid!

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Then it was time to leave our Wish Club Japan Highlight Trip for or last destination: Tokyo.

And, I think I know another reason why we can't see Mt. Fuji:

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First we dropped Bjarke off here:

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And he is spending the day hitch hiking back up Mt. Fuji to the top road point, and then he is going to climb to the very top. Here is a recap of his days journey before heading back to Mochan!'s for the night (BTW, it took him a month to get me these pictures):

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Next time Japan! Next time! Joe hates hiking b/c his feet are flat and this that or the other thing. I am not good at hiking, but I really love it, and I want to climb Mt. Fuji someday. I want to climb a lot of things someday. Since I'll be in New Zealand, I hope to climb many beautiful things and see places like this.

But, we went to Tokyo, and this is what we saw:

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The Tokyo Tower! We were actually on our way to the famous Tokyo Fish Market, but we made Mochan! take a pit stop for those of us who really hadn't been to Tokyo yet to get a good glimpse of this monstrosity.

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And then, down the road, we wondered around the fist market for about an hour.

Redic fresh sushi:
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Then while we were waiting for Mochan! to come and pick us up Esa and Meri showed us that they were actually the couple that inspired the story Born Identity (JK... or am I?):

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They showed us these as they were getting ready to head into the Russian embassy to get their visas to take a 2 week long, non-stop train ride across Russia back to Finland because it was "cheaper" than buying a flight. (That, or they were planing a train heist to capture the Tsar's jewels!)

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After we dropped them off at the embassy we went to the "Lolita Park" where girls supposedly are known for dressing up in little bonnets and big pouffy dresses to get spotted for Japanese television. This happens really only on Sunday though, and it was Friday, so here were the slim pickings we found:

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Then we ate lunch with Mochan! for one of the first times b/c we actually found a place to park the bus just around the corner from the park! So we had (once again) 7-11 sushi and things from the convenience store, and then it was back to pick up Esa and Meri as they were staying with Mochan! one more night as well, and then he dropped the rest of us off a the Lost in Translation intersection (The busiest intersection in the World!)

Joe and I were meeting Shelly's husband at the dog statue here to pick up our JR rail passes, and then I didn't know what our plans for the evening were! Joe was the one in contact with Shelly all week, so I really didn't know what the plans were. Then Joe had to go to the bathroom. So I sat there at the dog, waiting for some Japanese man to find me somehow to give me our JR passes. This place turned out to be a popular meeting ground for everyone in Tokyo! There were so many people walking around looking for people, I couldn't tell which one was looking for me! Especially b/c the guy looking for me is looking for a couple, and Joe was spending his usual 30 min. in the bathroom. Then a white girl sat down next to me. "Go away! I'm tired and I need this railing to rest on! And you are totally blowing my cover as not a girl traveling with another girl!"

When Joe eventually found me, this guy who I thought may have been the husband came up to us and gave us a FedEx package. We talked for a few minutes, and then he left. "So... we aren't hanging out with them tonight?" "No, they were busy tonight, so maybe we will hang out with them later. I got us a hostel for tonight." Then we got in a fight. He was being really short with me all day, and now he was blaming me for not knowing what was going on b/c I had to go off and have a "religious experience" with Eelke for several hours. "That is so not fair! I do one thing for myself! One thing! How often are you off meditating or practicing Kung Fu while I'm on the computer planing things, booking places to stay, figuring out where we are going to be next?! And I have one night where I have maybe one of the most spiritually important events of my life, and you are trying to guilt trip me about it?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

We ended up getting way lost after arriving at the proper subway station, and I wondered up and down the streets asking people for help, and getting absolutely no where! Then I finally found it on accident, and it turned out that the original directions we got from the police man were right, and we just passed the place b/c it was a small hole in the wall CAPSULE HOTEL! Straws were just falling down left and right. I had just told everyone at dinner the other night how I love Japan, but I could NEVER sleep in one of their capsule hotels b/c I am claustrophobic. He really didn't care about me, or maybe he cared too much and this was his way of getting back at me for abandoning him for an evening. I'm not sure what was going on here, but I was glad that they had girl and guy rooms. I went up to my room, and locked myself in for the few hours we had before we were meeting Eelke, Ida, Jorn, and Nono for Kareoke.

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The capsules ended up being large, and set up like bunk beds with curtains, so it wasn't like I was stuffed inside someone's sock drawer, so I was fine. But I couldn't stop fuming about it because there was no way he could have known that this wouldn't have been a problem for me. And to top it off, we had to sleep here b/c I dropped the ball for one night, one night where he had to make the plans. Tomorrow is his birthday. I planned all week for this, getting train schedules, and finding directions to get to the only ferry covered on our JR pass. The ferry to Miajima island, one of the most romantic, traditional styled towns still in Japan with amazing gardens, temples, shrines, and mountains.

I wasn't feeling much in the mood for a romantic get a way.

I got Joe to come out with me early to meet Eelke at the Subway station b/c I knew it was going to be confusing. I had no idea. Ida told us to meet her at the zebra walk (cross walk) under the bridge outside the Ueta station. Well... there were like 5 bridges outside different station exits over zebra walks. Luckily we picked the right one and we found Eelke about a half hour early! "What are you doing here so early?" Well, it turned out that Ida had called her making changes in plan since it was very hard to find the right meeting spot, and then called her again and told her that they were going to be late, and it was up to Eelke to pass this message onto Joe, Nono, and I without the use of phones or computers since we didn't have phones, and Eelke didn't have a computer. Joe needed dinner, and Eelke and I needed a drink, so we split up for the next 20 minutes while we waited to meet Nono. Around 9pm we had Joe running from exit to exit to see if he could find Nono in his bright teal construction workers pants, I waited at the zebra walk that Joe and I met Eelke at earlier, and then Eelke went to the Kareoke bar to meet Ida and Jorn. Not too long I spotted Nono, and then Joe came running in shortly after. But when we got to the Kareoke bar (more like a bunch of individual rooms set up with personal Kareoke machines... thats a Kareoke bar in Japan), and Ida and Jorn weren't there! We got the people to push back the time 30 minutes for our friends, and then they finally showed and we ran upstairs to our room. The drinks were expensive so we tried to supplement that with Nono's beer collection he brought in his backpack, and then we went to figuring out how to work the machine. I read all the labels for everyone, but we still couldn't figure out the system, so after Bohemian Rapacity played for the 4th time in a row, we called someone to help. I attempted to ask them how to fix it in Japanese, but Ida did just fine with miming. The hour went by really really quickly with some Michel Jackson, show tunes, and Aqua (I put up Barbie Girl for Ida and Jorn b/c they were from Scandinavia just like Aqua, and damn, they acted it out and everything, good pick me!) Nono of course had to put up the "Are you hoping for a Miracle" song, of which I sang every lyric and even added in my own rendition apology saying its not my fault my parents did it in America so I was born American. Joe was shocked by the lyrics, he never knew what they were saying, he just jammed out to it in his car. You may be too:

"Helicopter"

North to south
Empty
Running on
Bravado
As if to say, as if to say
As if to say, he doesn't like chocolate
He's born a liar, he'll die a liar
Some things will never be different

Stop being so American
There's a time and there's a place
So James Dean
So blue jeans
Gonna save the world
He's gonna

Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?

Three out of five, three out of five (it's not enough)
Six out of ten
Better luck next time
Just like his Dad, just like his Dad (the same mistakes)
Some things will never be different
Hungry and dumb, hungry and dumb (so wait in line)
Queuing up for some more junk food
It's not my fault, it's not my fault (just this once)
They're getting so much younger

Why can't you be more European
Bastard child of guilt and shame
Bury your head in the sand
I'm thinking six, six, six
I'm thinking six

Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?
Are you hoping for a miracle?

It's not enough.

Anyways, they came in with 10 minutes left, and we all agreed that we could afford one more half hour (Kareoke is expensive!) Eelke was leaving tomorrow morning, so we had to party just a bit longer.

When the night was over we tried to hang out on the town a bit, but it was getting late and it was raining really hard. Then Ida had to run to their hostel to skype with someone really quickly (she had a time setup), and we had to bale. We tried to find Eelke a photo booth to do the sticker thing b/c she didn't get to do that last time, but all things were closing up early due to the rain (Japanese people really hate the rain).

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Joe and I rode the subway 2 stops with Eelke, and then we were the next stop after her. I gave her a great big hug, and I felt some tears start to form as she ran off the train. "Bye Eelke! You are my spiritual guru!"

The train doors closed and I felt my heart slow down and I got control of myself. It wasn't that sad, we weren't really close or anything. I just wish I could have known her longer.

"SHE... is your spiritual guru?" Joe asked.
"Yeah, maybe, I don't know, it just sort of came out."

- Fight -

Basically ending with Joe was upset that someone like Eelke could gain my respect, but I just think he is full of shit. For anyone who knows us, please let me know what I think of him, and if I'm right, and its not like what he says, then you can let him know too. But if he is right, and I think he is full of shit, than don't tell him that, and we can just keep that bit between us.

Posted by - Rain 15:41 Comments (1)

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