Thursday, May 8, 2014

A good day for trains

May 3rd was a good day for taking trains. The day started with a train that was specially scheduled to leave Sendai for a festival in Hiraizumi. While we were waiting on the platform for the train, this guy appeared.

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It’s Sendai’s mascot. Some characters in battle gear arrived next.IMG_2080[1]

The platform started feeling pretty festive, but then, the train arrived. The cars were green, purple, and pink.

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A teenage girl peeked in and said longingly, “I want to go…”

When I got in, I discovered why.

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Welcome to the party train! The cars had no regular seats. And they had tatami mat floors. One long row of tables ran the length of the car, with floor seats that scooted up to the table.

As the train pulled out of the station, the Sendai character and several people in festival attire waved goodbye and held up a banner wishing us a pleasant trip.

It was so weird, but fun. I took off my shoes, stowed them, and found my seat. I wound up sitting across from someone who spoke English pretty well, and some other people who had been to the US. We chatted a little, and I did some reading and writing. It was quite a pleasant way to travel!

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My neighbor saw me taking pictures and offered to take mine.

After the festival, we hopped on a little train and headed up to the next big station, Ichinoseki. We went there in order to transfer to the Shinkansen, aka bullet train. I’d never been on one before (they aren’t in Hokkaido, and they are incredibly expensive).

We moved from the regular train area to the Shinkansen platform. It was like entering a huge warehouse.

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Here it comes!

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Here I go!

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How about a little ham to go with the coffee?

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From the window. We were standing still for the first and moving for the second. I think the best part of the ride was just that it was soooooooo smooth! What took us almost 2 hours in the morning took us 30 minutes in the afternoon. It was so bizarre and really fun.

Finally, we got on another train that was just a regular train, but one that ran through a beautiful area.

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I had a lovely time bopping around trains!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sendai Love

Everywhere I go in Japan, I think “You know, I could really live here.” Sendai was no exception. I’m ever-so-slightly in love. Well, it’s probably a bit more of a crush.

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It may have been the abundance of green. Possibly the Starbucks.

I think what really did it was the easy access to gorgeous areas and relaxed city feel. And the green.

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I miss you, Sendai!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Home

I just arrived home from a long and luxurious vacation.

Home.

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It’s a strange thought. Running through the cold rain with my luggage to get home, it struck me. This ancient apartment, tucked away in the distant north of Hokkaido, has been the place that I’ve lived the longest as an adult.

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It’s the place to which I always return, whether I’ve made a short jaunt to the gym or a long haul voyage to my other home.

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I know its little quirks. If you use the oven and a space heater at the same time, you will blow out the power. But there are several excellent out of the way closets that are great for storage.

It has been my hospital for two bouts of flu and a place for several rounds of guests.IMG_6910IMG_6829IMG_4939

Sometimes, it is a refuge from the demands of the world and sometimes it is a holding pen I pace restlessly.IMG_1507

But mostly, it is just home.

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Back in Hokkaido

So, I'm back in Hokkaido now. I just flew in this evening. 

Boy, are my arms tired!

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I'm staying with my friend at her in-laws house, and it reminds me a little of my grandparents' house. It's interesting to see things that are the same around the world. 

It's midnight, and I have to go to bed, but here's a tiny taste of what I saw today. 


Can't wait to give you the low down!



Sunday, May 4, 2014

Greetings from Yamagata!

Hello from Yamagata! There have been so many beautiful places to see in the Tohoku area. I only have a second before I have to go, but I'll try to show you a few things. 





Explanations to come soon!