Missed a post yesterday because we were off the grid.
Day three we travelled by train from Tokyo to Emi, a small town in Chiba Prefecture near Kamogawa City. It rained the whole way there, which we found out was because a typhoon was passing through nearby.
This is where we had our first fiasco.
We had to change trains to travel the last little distance to our destination and our group of nine had to split in half to take a couple elevators at the station because of the luggage we brought. As our first group got onto the train, Ai-chan started looking very nervous that the rest of our group hadn't caught up yet. We didn't know it, but the train was about to leave. Ai-chan got off the train and told us to get off at the "Emi" station and go to the hotel without us. "Wait, what? Aren't you just gonna get on the next train?" "Yes, but the next train isn't for another hour." With that, the train pulled out of the station.
At this point, none of us foreigners had any idea where we were even going so we were pretty nervous. We got the name of the hotel, though, got off at the right station and started looking around trying to figure out where to go. And then we got a taste of the Japanese magic that I've heard so much about.
Three seconds after we stepped off the train, someone from the station motioned us over. As we were heading towards him, Ai-chan's parents suddenly appeared. This was maybe 10 minutes after we'd been separated from AJ and Ai. Her parents got us through the gate and onto a bus from the hotel which was instantly there waiting for us.
After whisking us away to the hotel, we were brought into the lobby where a note was sitting on the table, in English, telling us that Ai-chan and the rest of the group would be joining as soon as the next train arrived. Then they served us green tea as we sat around marveling at what had happened.
The hotel itself was beautiful. It had a traditional feel. The floors were tatami mats (which feel really nice and smell great), our room had shoji panel doors and a view of the ocean, and there were outdoor hot tubs on the roof facing the ocean as well.
After Ai-chan's dad took AJ and I to a kendo gear shop, we got back in time to join everyone for dinner. We had our own dining room and we were served a real feast. Lots of seafood since we were right on the ocean: seaweed, mackerel, yellowtail (hamachi), mature yellowtail (buri), sea snail, abalone, whale (...), red snapper, and more. Oh, and local nihonshu ("sake") too. It was a truly awesome meal.
This is a bone from the red snapper. The Japanese word for this fish is "tai" and the bone looks like a fish so they call it "tai no tai" which means basically "fish in the fish".
When we got back to our room after dinner, we found that the table had been moved aside and futon had been brought out for us, transforming our dining room into a bedroom. This is really cool. Instead of using multiple rooms at different points in the day, they use the same room but just swap out the furniture.