Japan Part 15: Bohemian Rhapsody

Breakfast this morning was fantastic, just as any breakfast that includes Japanese toast is bound to be. I had two pieces (which is the equivalent of four American pieces of toast), some strawberry yogurt, and a glass of deliciously fatty milk. Man that was good. I’m glad they don’t have it widely available in America – I’d get fat REALLY fast.

Unfortunately, Mari could not stick around to see me off at the train station; her part-time job was calling. I said goodbye to her and promised to keep in contact via Facebook (which I am). Shortly after that, I also had to say goodbye to my host father before he too went off to work. Though it was sad to see everyone go, I was once again feeling that relief of knowing that I only had a few more hours until my very exhausting homestay was done.

And this time, they’re done for good.

I also made sure to spend some time with Himapi, the bunny, before I left. He and I had almost become siblings – he obeyed me like he obeyed everyone else in the family (he was, after all, a trained bunny who could do tricks). We spent some time sitting on the couch together before I had to grab my stuff and head out the door.

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We had a short walk to the station, though my host mother seemed a little unfocused and wasn’t giving me enough room to lug my suitcase down the street beside her. Once we got to the station, we worked together the carry the luggage down the long flights of stairs to the gates. I thanked her profusely for all her help and said my final goodbye, watching her disappear as the escalator took me and my “substitute host father,” Ura, down below to the train. He was kind enough to take my biggest piece of luggage for me.

Once we got to the meeting place in the station, we stored our luggage in coin lockers for the day; we’d be coming back, of course, but we had some things to do in Nagoya before we finally made the journey to our last destination – Tokyo. Sarah was the only other one who’d arrived so far, so I went to stand by her. She then proceeded to hand me the most epic sandwich ever, courtesy of her host mom.

It had an image of Lelouch on one side and picture of Ryuk from Death Note on the other.

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Epic host mom for the win.

Once everyone had arrived and stashed their luggage for the day, we left the station and got on a tourist bus because it was the quickest way to our destination.

Let me amend that. We didn’t get on the bus…we kneaded ourselves into the doughy mass of people within it.

Thankfully, it was only a few stops until we arrived at our first destination, the Toyota factory and museum in Nagoya. Although I wasn’t super excited to visit a car museum, that’s not to say that I wasn’t happy that we went. I also didn’t realize that the Toyota museum would be about much more than just cars.

As it turns out, the Toyota industry started out as a textile manufacturer. Who knew?

We got to walk through at our own pace and check out what we wanted to. I went with Amy and Brian around the museum, and eventually we ended up in an interactive room where we could operate windshield wipers and stuff by hand. It was fun (and even nicer that we didn’t have a tour guide). Many of the machines had buttons that you could press to actually turn them on and see what they do.

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After we met back up at the entrance of the museum, it was back on the dough bus for a short trip to Naritake, a pottery place that represents the center of Japan’s porcelain and pottery industry. It was a cool place, and we even got to paint our own pottery. I think pretty much everyone chose to do a plate, not a bowl. I painted a Japanese dragon on mine. 🙂

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After that, we spent some time just wandering around in Nagoya, visiting shopping malls and small stores. I didn’t realize that our host parents would make a reappearance! Sarah’s host mother (the anime-loving one) made sure to take us to a Pokémon center! That was something I wasn’t expecting. But it was fun.

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We’d been told to meet back in front of such and such a place at 5:30PM. Unfortunately, we’d all returned and sat down for dinner…except Taylor and Brian. They somehow went missing.

We all sat and waited for a few minutes, figuring that they were just lagging behind. But twenty minutes later, when they still hadn’t appeared, we got a bit worried. I went up to Sensei and offered to help her find Taylor, but she said that one of the host fathers is outside waiting for them. I approached Taylor’s host mom and asked her if she had Taylor’s number. After a long bout of confusion (during which time she gave us HER number and said it was Taylor’s), we determined that we just wouldn’t be able to call or text Taylor.

Looks like we’ll just have to wait until they get here.

Thankfully, it was just a simple misunderstanding – suddenly, Taylor forgot how to read clocks. Literally. I can’t blame her; when I’ve had a long day, I do that too. You look and think it says 5:30 but it actually says 6:30 at a glance. So, she and Brian arrived an hour late, but safe and sound and that’s what matters.

The dinner was an I-don’t-know-how-many-courses meal, but it was a lot of food. It was also a karaoke room, so we were able to entertain our host families during this farewell dinner. Taylor signed Brian up to sing “A Whole New World” with her…but he had no idea what the melody was.

It was more like an epic narration than a song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TByjjNExGwk

We continued to sing and have fun, but our host came in and told us we only had five more minutes. So, for our host families, we decided to go out with a bang. We’ve got one song left. We’d better make it good.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

Needless to say that our host families were laughing so hard that they were crying, and Sensei was hiding her face in her hands in a mixture of hilarity and “oh my gosh I can’t believe I’m with all these Americans.” It was A BLAST – especially toward the end of the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko_im5yPbYw

[You HAVE to watch, at least from 2:20 on!!]

Once dinner was over, our host families made sure that we left with an ample amount of leftovers. Considering that I was still hauling around the food that my first family in Hirado had given me, I was quite ready to NOT be carrying any more food. But, I had to accept it.

We walked to the station, but some problems arose with Sarah’s ticket (if she would have had her JR pass, it wouldn’t have been a problem). My host mother was trying to push me through the gates to catch my train, but I refused.

I can’t leave without the rest of my group! We have to get on the same train, lady.

Let me rephrase that. I shouldn’t leave without the rest of my group. Would I survive? Absolutely.

Anyway, our host families didn’t really understand that there’s no rush to get through the gates ahead of each other because we all have to wait for each other anyway. My host mother had her hand flat on my back directing me like a 5-year-old.

Let me tell you something, host mama. I truly appreciate everything that you did for me. But I am not a child. I do not need your hand on me to help me turn corners.

Once we finally got through, we bid a very quick farewell to our families and sprinted toward the train – it would be leaving in about 30 seconds thanks to Sarah’s mishap. Thankfully, we made it just as the doors were closing.

Now, with a nice, soft seat on a quiet, fast shinkansen, we were headed to our last few days in Japan in the bustling metropolis that is Tokyo.

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