Off to Hokkaido!

Well, David got back late (or should I say early) as usual, so there wasn’t much time for goodbyes. I think he and I got along just fine and I’m grateful. He was off at 5:00 AM for his trip home, and though I had a hard time getting back to sleep due to the excitement, I managed another couple hours until it was my time to leave.

For some inexplicable reason (probably because of my pigeon-Japanese), I was told I had to travel to Osaka to catch the night train, so off I went at 9:30 AM to get there in plenty of time for the 12:03 departure. I had an extremely early lunch at Osaka station then boarded the really luxurious Twilight Express, where I had a B-class upper berth in a compartment of four. Of course, the train made its way via Kyoto where it stopped and I could have gotten on with less hassle. But as they say in Japan, shoganai…

I was slightly concerned about the prospects of 21 hours on a train, but turns out it was a nice time. In the compartment with me right from the start was a very nice gentleman, Shimazaki-san, who chatted with me quite a bit for most of the trip. I was proud of myself for understanding pretty much everything we talked about and though it’s frustrating not to be able to keep up my end of the conversation at a very high level, I did contribute enough so that he knew I wasn’t some idiot and understood what was going on. Later in the evening, we got our third cabin-mate, a very charming and genki gentleman of 73, Matsui-sensei, a retired University professor who spoke English and had traveled the US. It was almost more fun for me to listen to the two of them carry on their conversation later into the evening. Matsui-sensei was incredibly interesting and spry for a 73-year old and in some ways reminded me of a Japanese doppelganger of my late grandpa Kendrick. I ended up getting really sleepy (talking for hours in Japanese can be quite mentally taxing at my level of understanding), so turned in around 9:30 or so. I’d planned on writing in my Blog and working on other things on the trip, but didn’t—I’m actually writing this after getting to Hokkaido.

I popped in my earplugs and essentially slept a pretty good sleep for almost 10 hours…

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