The day started off well, I woke up pretty early (about 5:30 AM) which has been typical for days so far. I managed to download more pictures off my camera cards and wrote up yesterday’s unexpected excursions. I think I’ll coin a new word for this kind of thing: a “fiascadventure”, an exploration that begins by making a big mistake. Columbus had a “fiascadventure” big-time. But today was a good day.
After we both woke up and cleaned up, we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant for a breakfast buffet, which was about half Japanese traditional and half Western style. Scrambled eggs and bacon, but also salted salmon, fish cakes, rice soup, and wasabi. Darrell discovered wasabi and was about to put about a half-tablespoon on his food, but I warned him before he could have a food-related “fiascadventure” of his own. I don’t know if wasabi can induce a heart attack, but I didn’t want to find out. So, he tasted a bit and found he didn’t like it. He also discovered an even more powerful sauce of some kind that I didn’t recognize, but he only had a tiny taste of it.
After breakfast we checked out of the hotel, and proceeded across the street to the Sendai train station. We learned how the coin lockers work from a helpful passerby, and checked our bags in temporarily while we went to Matsushima. We caught a local that went to the Matsushima-kaigan train station, which is the main touristy part of Matsushima, down on the bay. Matsushima is the third-most popular tourist site in Japan, and almost all the people who got off the train with us started taking photos. With trains that look like this, it’s easy to see why 🙂
Matsushima is a nice small seaside tourist town, with all the things that go with it. Lots of food places, and lots of souvenir places (“omyiage” in Japanese). We wandered in to the local shrine, which was started back in the 800’s AD, and took in the public places. We didn’t bother with the 700 yen tour of the shrine grounds, since a lot of it is under reconstruction. We did go on around a couple of side back streets, which were nice, and then went over to the bay proper.
We walked over to the tiny island where the even tinier shrine called Godai is situated. We took a couple of pictures, but stopped after getting looks from people and after Darrell asked one of the men there if Westerners taking pictures was okay. It was the first time that anyone said taking pictures was bad, so we refrained afterwards. Strangely enough, other places had said it was okay, but we’ll be careful from here on.
After walking around a bit along the bay
we stopped in a little shop and got ice cream cones, soft ice cream, which was really really good. Then we went on to the little island of Fukuurashima, which is connected to the mainland by a long red bridge, and which has one of the oldest nature preserves in Japan, started in the 1600’s.
It is pretty nice, lots of plants marked with signs indicating things that only grow there, or variations that are local to that microclimate. Because it was low tide, we got to see some folks digging for clams or other shellfish along the edge of the island. We would have gone down to see them, but the fact there was a rope hanging down to help them, we decided not to try it ourselves.
After that, we went back to the train station, caught the train back to Sendai to pick up our suitcases and to catch the next shinkansen down to Tokyo, and the train to Yokohama. We managed to find our way through Tokyo station, and caught a local that went right to Sakuragicho station, where our hotel is. We checked in, took a load off our feet for a few minutes, then went to the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama to get dinner. This area has the Landmark Tower, which is the tallest building in Japan, and has an observation area on the 69th floor, which we didn’t go into (yet). All we were interested in was food, and we found a really good restaurant called “Goemon” which serves all kinds of variations on spaghetti. We walked around the mall a bit, I was looking for a LAN cable to get on the Internet here in the hotel, but never found one. I was afraid they’d charge me for using one, but it turns out it was free, so here we are!
Today we’re going to the Mt. Fuji area to see if we can see the famous mountain.