Saturday began our week of field trips, and our first day would see us ride the 新幹線 (bullet train) to Hakata. It rained the entire time we were gone, and that’s not an exaggeration.
We had to be up unpleasantly early to make all of our trains, and had to pack lightly, since we’d be staying overnight in Hakata and having our luggage stored by the hotel. I jammed what I could into my backpack and picked up my netbook. (Later, I realized I should have just uploaded all of my camera’s current photos and charged my Nano the night before, then left the netbook here.) We rode a few trains by way of our JR passes, finally arriving at a Shinkansen station. The train’s pretty comfortable, with vending areas and bathrooms spread throughout the cars. It travels pretty damn fast, allowing a brisk view of the scenery, but it was raining and we were tired, so I dozed and listened to my Nano.
We arrived in Fukuoka and set off for 太宰府天満宮 (Dazaifu Tenmangu), a huge shrine. We all purified, prayed, and then left after only a short stop; we really didn’t get much time there. Everyone did a little shopping on the long street outside the shrine, and Nou-sensei got each of us a bit of heated mochi.
From there, we took the train back and checked into our hotel, a place called Hotel Com’s. The room was tiny, compared to this one here, and the bathroom was barely large enough for one, though despite its appearance, it was actually sufficient (though there wasn’t a place to hang my bath towel, dammit). The one nice thing about the hotel was that its had a direct lobby door into the Family Mart on the corner, though I still ended up buying another 100円 Coke at the 7-11 across the street — you can’t pass up that price!
Nou-sensei announced she’d treat us to yakiniku, which was good, since Heaven and I still hadn’t had a chance to go. The place was lavish and probably very expensive. We sat around a huge table and they fired up two grills (one near each end, set into the table itself), then brought us small, tender cuts of meat (ribs, sirloin, and tongue) to grill ourselves. We also had some mixed Korean vegetables I didn’t really recognize, but that were much tastier than they looked, a bowl of rice, and Warren and I split a bowl of egg drop soup (which wasn’t quite the same as in America, but still tasted good). We ate and ate and ate — quite a feat, since it wasn’t 食べ放題 — and then headed to a large shopping complex called Canal City. They had fountains and restaurants and stores of all sorts. We found a Shonen Jump store, a Bandai shop, and a bunch of other places otaku might like. Mike got a large One Piece figure of Luffy, which was also an “eternal calendar” (using six-sided blocks to change the date), while Heaven got a series of Bleach pins, which she strategically arranged on the back of a hat she’d bought. Our last stop was the Taito Station, an arcade that took up two floors, but that was mostly UFO catchers and other games of chance. Through a brief streak of luck, I managed to win three things: a Monster Hunter towel for my friend Meg, an Arashi music box for Rosemarry, and a One Piece mirror for Mike (which he’d been working on, and which the nice Taito Station employee had been making easier to win). After that, of course, I couldn’t win a damn thing; I shoulda quit while I was ahead.
We eventually squelched our way through the steady rain and back to the hotel. Mike and I lay our clothes out to dry, and I used the tiny desk to check my mail. I eventually set my Nano to charge via the netbook, and the two of us took what amounted to a long nap, since we had to be up early again.