Sunday, January 1, 2012

Break Time: Winter Vacation 2011/2012 Entry #2

At least I had a white Christmas!
So, as you can note between the gap of time between my last post and now, I did not keep up my live blog.  The main reason for this is quite complicated and rather strange.  Suffice it to say, after I ate dinner, I went to the onsen for the first time (which was HEAVENLY), and I met a guy there.  He was a local and offered me to take me around.  I accepted, but at a huge cost to my wallet, which I will not go into.....  That night I got home at around midnight and then woke up at 8 for my breakfast, which I thought was going to be plain and simple.  The breakfasts, as well, turned out to be course meals, too!!!  I got a call from the guy I met, and we went to the famous Matsumoto-city Castle.  The castle was kind of funny because the majority of it was devoted to the various guns (which are illegal in Japan) they used to protect the castle (with 80% of them coming from overseas).  We then ate famous Shinshu (the region Nagano is in) soba, which was heavenly.  Usually soba doesn't have much flavor when you go to many places in Tokyo, but this was delicious.  But yeah, that night was equally strange.

The next day was Christmas and was probably my worst Christmas ever.  I had 8 hours to kill between checking out of my hotel and getting the bus back to Shinjuku.  But I had severely lacking funds from the other exploits of the weekend.  This depressed me a little, since, if I had more money, I would have celebrated much much more.  But instead, I wandered around Matsuomoto-city station in the freezing weather as it snowed.  I also passed dozens of couples out enjoying this "couple's holiday".  Not only did it remind me of my current lonely status, it also annoyed the shit out of me because they would sooner die together than release their hands to you can pass them on the sidewalks.  I tried to find places just to sit down and read.  I exhausted my first option of the only Starbucks within a 5km radius early.  I then dicked around the gift shop, literally taking an hour and some minutes just to pick out gifts for friends.  I then found a chain cafe/bakery and sat there for an hour or so.  Finally, fed up, I decided just to head to my station I had to go to.  On the train, I was so relaxed because it was nice and warmed.  I toyed with the idea of just riding the train to waste the three hours I had left, but because it came so infrequently, I didn't want to risk it.  I was relieved to see that Okaya Station had a nice, warm waiting room.  For two and a half hours, I sat in a chair and read, as many people gawked at me, partially because I was a big, goofy-looking foreigner, partially because I was laughing and gasping at the book I was reading, and mostly for the fact that I was just sitting there for such a long time.  I decided to go check out where the bus was scheduled to be about 45 minutes before I was set to leave.  Another bus from the same company arrived just then and I asked if I could get on earlier.  I was thinking rigid Japan would add another item to my list of a terrible Christmas, but, miraculously, I got on and had a comfy ride back to Shinjuku.

To sum up my time in Nagano: I'd say it was interesting, but not worth the money I spent (in more ways than one).  On one hand, I can now tell my grand-kids how I was massaged by a 70-something-year-old blind man in my room.  But on the other, my wallet is looking a bit under-fed until pay day.

Thankfully, the rest of my vacation has been pretty much amazing.  I'll post about that later, though :D

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