Today I woke up bright and early for an adventure with obaachan. For the past few weeks we had been planning on going to see the ocean today, and our plans involved a boat ride to see dolphins or some such thing. Earlier in the week we were watching the news and heard about the typhoon moving through the area. Obaachan started mumbling to herself about the boat ride being okay, and then more loudly said—in an incredibly vague Japanese style—“It should be fine.”
Needless to say for the rest of the week I was semi-terrified—especially because my idea of things and her idea of things is generally very different, and I was envisioning us riding a miniature fishing boat in the middle of the ocean with higher than usual waves due to the typhoon. So I was more relieved than disappointed that the boat was canceled today due to the weather!
We still did go to the ocean though, and went from Makuhari to Chiba-shi and then transferred to another line in order to go to Inubo. Makuhari is located at the farthest inland tip of the Tokyo Bay, so technically we are next to the ocean, but today we went to the opposite side of Chiba prefecture—almost to Ibaraki Prefecture—for our adventure.
As we got farther out into the countryside, there were more and more fields, fewer and fewer houses, and the train stations became smaller and smaller. By the time we got out to Inubo about 1.5-2 hours after we set out the train stations consisted of a sidewalk and a one room building with a stone floor.
As soon as we got there we walked over to a lighthouse and went up to the top—99 steps!—to get a better view.
Wow. I have decided I love the ocean.
Seriously, I have been to the ocean before, but I just felt incredibly happy to see this kind of scenery and I would have been perfectly content to grab an iced beverage and sit and watch the waves for the rest of the day. Maybe I have just been deprived of ocean views from living in Minnesota for too long…
After we were in the lighthouse, we wandered down closer to the water and climbed around on some rocks and took pictures of the area. Down at that level, the waves were massive. At first the weather was so pleasant I was having a hard time imagining why the boat ride was canceled, but there is no way you could have gotten me out in the middle of those waves!
There was an aquatic zoo/museum thing in the area, which we went to after a quick lunch in the area. It was hilariously pink and looked like something you might find in the Wisconsin Dells, so I was appropriately skeptical before we went in, but it actually turned out to be a good experience. It was a really fun thing to do with obaachan and was good for my Japanese as well.
Being in a situation like this was a good basis for conversation, and it wasn’t such a foreign experience that the information was new to me in Japanese—that is, I knew what the English equivalent should be so it was easier to pick up words and follow what obaachan was saying.
After that we took a bus ride up a hill/mountain with some San Francisco-esque hairpin turns. I didn’t really understand where we were going at the time, but we ended up at this fantastic observation tower where you could see for miles in all directions—and about ¾ of the area was ocean. It also showed which direction things were, even if they weren’t visible. For example, it pointed out Ibaraki Prefecture, which you could see in the distance, but it also pointed out the direction of the Philippines and America.
As we walked back toward the train station, I took lots of pictures. Walking down this road in the countryside with obaachan really gave me the feeling of being in Japan. Obviously I have been here for almost a month now, but I got a profound sense of not just traveling here but of living here.
There were also a lot of hilariously placed cabbage patches—clearly the Japanese know how to utilize the space they have!
By the end of the day I was incredibly tired—physically from the adventuring around, and mentally from exclusively using and listening to Japanese for the entire day. So I spent the 2 hour train ride home listening to Talk to Me in Korean and Spanish music! >.<
Once we were back in Makuhari, we went to a Korean restaurant that is between the station and obaachan’s house. I haven’t eaten Korean food in over a month, and it was like an internal hug. So delicious.
The restaurant was really great—it only had a bar and two tables, and all the walls were plastered with posters of Korean celebrities. In other words, it basically looks like my bedroom back home! 😛 I also got to speak with the guy working there in Korean, which was just a cherry on top of the already great day I had.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more! I hope to talk about not just my travels but also get into some other topics like language and being a foreigner here, so keep an eye out! ^_^