Japan Day 9th, July 11th

Today is where I start the bad habit of starting my day late. Despite waking up at the decent hour of 7am, I take my time to check my e-mail, facebook, charge my Zune and download new podcasts. All things I could and should have done the night before. Being too lazy to eat breakfast or take a shower before this, I don’t get out the door until eleven and don’t eat until eleven thirty. At least I’m finally off.

Plan for the day is to head to Himeji Castle, explore the grounds, take some photos, and then meet Marina at 5pm. The train line near my hostel goes straight to Himeji, but I take the most round about way to get there because I want to take the shinkansen. By shinkansen Himeji is only ten minutes away, but getting to and waiting for the shinkansen takes a little over and hour. I should have taken the Hanshin line.

You can see Himeji from the station, and it is both magnificient and massive. I want to live here. If you can see only one castle in Japan, see Himeji Castle. All others pale in comparison, thought I still love seeing them. I arrive at the castle around one thirty, and run into Barbara from last night. She and her tour group just finished and they invite me along to lunch. I need to see Himeji Castle now if I’m to keep on schedule, so I decline. Exploring and phoographing the castle and its ground takes me a little under two hours. There are lots of stairs, and some amazing views. Wandering the grounds is a man dressed as a ninja for photo opportunities, and a construction worker brought his pet turtle to play at the park in front of the castle. I get pictures of both.

A set of miscommunications leads Marina and I to meet at six instead of five. At this point we are both famished and sup on some curry from a restaurant in Yodobashi Camera. We chat nonstop, as if we were old friends, not new one, and go over many topics. Not the least of these topics are her sister’s job at a college in Osaka and the fact they are hiring. Through Marina I now have a possible job lead in Japan, and a good one at that (but I’d much rather be in the Bay Area.) I notice a ring on her finger, though neither a wedding ring nor engagement ring. Through other means the topic of significant others is broached, and she mentions she was recently married. Unexpected, but surprisingly not upsetting. So we delve into the discussion of relationships, her current one, her prior ones, my most recent prior one, and someone I am looking forward to seeing in San Francisco when I return (I don’t know that I can call that one a relationship, but it is going in that direction.) Everything moves on without missing a beat.

A call from her sister reminds us not to be late. Marina is meeting her sister and mother for a young adults fellowship meeting (her mother isn’t a young adult, but how often is she in Japan?) They invited me to join, and I accepted. How many opportunities do I get to go a church in Japan? Ironically, this church is in Kobe, near the same train station I took to get to Osaka. I should have made Marina meet me in Kobe. Oh well.

We get to the service a little late. It’s like any church service I’ve been to, with singing, a sermon and some prayers, except they’re all in Japanese and then translated to English by one of the members. As tomorrow is Marina’s sister’s birthday, there is cake afterwards. I meet some of the congregation, including Masaki who was born in raised in Virginia. We talk a while about how he came to live in Japan and American workplaces versus Japanese ones, and he invites me to come to a service next Sunday. Perhaps.

With that, we call it a night. I hoped to spend some time with Marina tomorrow, but s it is her sister’s birthday that’s a no go, understandably. She asks if I would like to meet up on Monday, but I plan to be back in Tokyo. We hug good bye and say keep in touch.

Que sera I suppose. Now I have a friend in Texas.

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