Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Japanaventures 8: Day 5 - Matsuyama

We spent the night Thursday night at T’s parent’s house, along with the women’s badminton team (they board there). Although they slept upstairs, while we slept in room off the main living room downstairs on futons on tatami mats. This was fine, except we were dying tired from the long day on the bullet train. When we crashed hard at about 11, most of the house was still up, including T’s 2 year-old niece who technically lives next door. T’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece all live next door, but they do everything from eating to bathing at their parent’s house. Our room was not only next to the living room where they were all hanging out, but also next to the hallway leading to the house next door. The paper thin screen doors don’t block much sound and, well, it was loud.

Needless to say, the next morning after a leisurely Japanese breakfast, Diana and I were quite eager to get to our hotel and check in. Unfortunately we couldn’t until later in the afternoon.

Instead A&T dropped us off at a tiny little beach where we enjoyed the coolest temperatures of the trip and spent several hours reading and enjoying the view of the Sea of Iyo in the Seto Inland Sea. We also went into the Buena Vista café (no not that one) and enjoyed some root beer. We were starving and would have ordered food, but couldn’t read the menu and no one there spoke English. In spite of this, they had Izze.

Now, I'm not one to confuse "traveling" with "vacationing", and we were definitely "traveling" on this trip. It's always good, though, to take a little vacation while you're traveling and sitting on a beach for a few hours with nothing to do is a great way to do it. When I did my big Eastern European trip in college, I spent a few days in the middle of the trip sitting on a beach in Greece with my sister. It was wonderful. These few hours on the beach followed by a couple nights in an actual hotel on an actual bed were much needed.

After we checked into our gloriously fabulous hotel, which had ROBES, we spent most of the afternoon hanging out with A and her various friends who had traveled in either from other parts of Japan or the States for the wedding. This included a very interesting meal a restaurant that had traditional Japanese décor and seating (no shoes, the area under the table was sunken so you didn’t have to sit on your knees) but served Italian food. This must be how they feel eating at a Japanese restaurant in the States.

Remember how I mentioned how efficiently the Japanese make use of space? Well, in the middle Matsuyama, a fairly large city, in the middle of a the parking lot of a pachinko parlor, there was a rice paddy:

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