So, I still haven't written about Hokkaido, I know. And now it seems like it was ages ago. A friend helped me turn off some parts of Windows 7, though, so that I can finally easily upload photos even with the old router that I must use in my home. So soon, I promise. Perhaps tomorrow.
In the meantime, last weekend was FABULOUS! I worked late on Friday, and immediately fell asleep upon getting home then had to get up and work again on Saturday morning. I worked until 3:30 and once again came home and fell promptly asleep (apparently I was very tired). Then, around 5:30, I headed to Nagoya with a friend, and we attended something called a 飲み会(nomikai). I unfortunately didn't bring my camera, but suffice it to say, it was interesting, and I had a GREAT time.
I spent the entire evening attempting to converse in Japanese and being yelled at by men with megaphones. Because I was the only non-Japanese person there (and I just so happen to be a tall, white girl), the men that were for some reason walking around with megaphones announcing things (yeah, I don't know what that was about) liked to come over and talk to me and about me to everyone there.
It was great Japanese practice, and it made me realize that I REALLY need to speak Japanese more often, because it's hard to get out the words that I want.
Next time, I will definitely be bringing a camera.
So then Sunday, I woke up early to meet up with some friends to head over to 足助(Asuke), in こらんけい(Korankei) for こうよう(kouyou) or もみじ(momiji), which is basically the viewing of the fall leaves. Asuke is about an hour away from here by bus, and it is well-known for its beautiful fall leaves.
We were going to take the bus at 10:47, but it turned out that bus had actually been at 10:10 (I'm convinced the times on the web site changed), and the next bus wasn't until 12:10. So we took that bus.
Upon arriving at the bus station, Alexis promptly managed to break a glass and then almost fall down the stairs. Then, even though we had been standing at the bus stop for far longer than most of the people, we realized we were waiting for the long bus and had to go to the end of a HUGE line. Which ended with us having to stand the entire way on the bus. Great start to the day, right?
When we were about 5 kilometers away, the traffic started. Standing for over an hour in a bus so crowded I could barely breathe, I was already feeling sick, and the stop and go added a whole other dimension to that sickness. So we got off the bus and walked the rest of the way.
The car fumes smelled like fresh air compared to the interior of the bus. And the view on the walk was AMAZING!
But it was nothing compared to the view when we actually arrived. The place was super crowded, which in no way took away for the magnificence of the yellow, red, orange, and green colored hill with a sparkling river flowing right in front of it.
We sat on the bank of the river for a picnic and then
I saw my new favorite car in the entire world.
In order to try to get away from the masses, decided to head over to the castle. There was a lovely bamboo field on the way up. I don't know what it is about bamboo, but it always seems so magical to me.
On the way up, there was as side path that led us to what was supposedly a well. Martin and I weren't convinced.
We were actually the only people at the castle, though I don't know why, as it was old school and super cool (though, I admit, not very castle like), and the view from the top was more than spectacular.
Afterward, we headed back down the mountain and over to the hill (I wish I could remember what the hill was called) to try to find some of the special もち(mochi), aka condensed glutinous rice, for which the region is known.
Instead we found the end of a taiko concert. It seemed to be quite good, and I'm sad that we didn't get to see more of it.
The hill was all lit up for night, and with the almost full moon in the background, it was almost even more beautiful than during the day.
Since we walked the last 5 kilometers, we didn't know where the bus stop was, but we managed to find it without even looking, and a bus just so happened to arrive the second we stood in line.
Unfortunately, we were standing up again, but another of the exact same bus pulled up right behind us, and the driver's stopped so that the people standing in our bus could go sit in the other bus. Nice! Gotta love Japan, right?