Back to Nagano

Well, this is it—the final day of my week-long JR Rail Pass. I was thinking about taking a full-day trip back west to Nagoya and from there to visit the Sekigahara battlefield, but the schedules just didn’t seem to be working out. Instead, I opted for a return to one of the places I enjoyed two years ago, Nagano. After arriving, I decided that what I really wanted to do was visit the Kawanakajima Battlefield. It was yet another place I’d heard about both through my Military History reading and anime (Mirage of Blaze again).

It was a fairly quick bus ride there (after I broke down and ate lunch at the Nagano Staion’s McDonalds…) and there were some interesting shrines, displays and information. At times like these, it always make me realize just how primitive my level of Japanese really is. I felt like there was so much more that I could be learning.

It was HOT there and I was slightly disappointed that the actual museum site wasn’t particularly close to the river (where the critical crossing and flank attack came at Third Kawanakajima) so I asked one of the volunteer gentlemen there how I could get there. I was instructed to get back on the same bus and continue my journey to a specific station then walk from there. As I was waiting at the bus stop, another gentleman came up to me and said he would be glad to take me in his car to see the site of the old castle, the river and some other interesting places. Suemitsu-san was very kind and drove me to see some things that with the heat and limited weekend bus service would have been impossible. It’s that kind of thing that shows just how kind and helpful Japanese people are. It was fun conversing about various topics and I was very grateful. I only wish I’d had something with me to give as a present—because of my train schedule, I didn’t even have time to buy him something to drink. Arigatou gozaimashita!

The reason I had to get back in the evening was because I had arranged to meet my Conversation Partner Yasu-senpai from two years ago. He works for the JAL Credit Card business unit in Shanagawa and I was really happy to see him again. It was fun chatting about the good old days and what’s going on with us now. Afterwards, we fought through some heavy crowds near Asakusa because it turns out that in the evening was one of Japan’s largest fireworks displays anywhere. It was pretty crazy and we never really got to a particularly good viewing point but BOY could you ever hear the sound echoing through the concrete canyons of Tokyo! It was pretty impressive. Even more impressive, though, was that here I was after dark in the middle of literally 10,000 or so Japanese people out on the street packed together like sardines and I felt completely safe. The sad truth is that if I were anywhere but here, I’d be worried about getting pick pocketed, mugged, trampled, punched or otherwise annoyed. But Japan is just so safe. Another thing that makes me love it here…

I got back and turned in late after a full day. Sadly, there are now only three days until I’m flying home again…

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