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「毎日楽しいの為に」 Flawless Passion

Farewell To Kyoto – June 8th & 9th, 2012

Happy Birthday to me! …That’s a lie. It always has been. It’s no exception even this year in Japan. Today is actually the last day of my Kyoto study abroad program, so of course I am going to be sad. I wrote a little bit about today as my birthday in a separate post, which you can read here. In this post, I am going to talk more about the farewell party it the evening on the 8th, and then my experiences of leaving Kyoto to go to Tokyo on the 9th.

Before talking about the goodbye party, I want to first show off this bag of homemade cookies two Japanese students from Seika gave to our class of foreign students a few days prior. What was really surprising was how one of the cookies had my name in hiragana scribed into it. My roommate showed me his cookies and he also had one with his name on it. In addition, we also received a greeting card at the same time as the cookies from the same two people. In the card was a group photo of our class, and handwritten messages, which were specific to the each of us. I am really touched by their efforts, and I wish that I could have spent more time with them.

For the farewell party, it was held at Seika University’s school cafeteria. Of course, the local Seika students were invited to chat and hang out with us one last time. In the photo above, you can see various groups of friends gathered around their own tables. My roommate was standing in the back along the wall not doing much. As for me, I was standing at another corner of the room taking photos, and join my roommate in standing around afterwards.

Literally, we did not do very much. Me and my roommate just stood in the corner, not wanting to intrude on the circles of friends that we were not a part of. Not sure about my friend, but I don’t like crowds and events like this. I prefer to hang out in smaller groups of intimate friends. That was also the reason why I didn’t tell anyone that it was my birthday. Instead, me and my roommate just reminisced about our time here and worried about what the future lies for us.

The adults stood around separately and talked among themselves as they oversee the students doing their thing. By the way, the food was not very good. You can see that the huge plates of food were barely touched. I don’t know where they got them, since these were not normally the food the cafeteria served. I only ate a little.

Once the party was over, my roommate gathered up his luggage and left for his flight back to the States. All of my stuff were packed up as well, so I spent the rest of the night alone in an empty room. Even for me, this was a new low as far as my birthdays have went.

The next morning, Saturday the 9th, was the day everyone has to leave. Some people returned to the States like my roommate did, others continued to stay abroad by visiting other parts of Japan. As for me, I will continue staying in Japan, using up as much of the 90 days granted by the tourist visa as I could. My plans were already set. My next destination was Tokyo, where I will stay for 2 weeks living with a Japanese family I was acquainted with. As I was leaving, I stood outside, looking one last time at the building that served as our dorm here in Kyoto for the past 2 and a half months.

In the photo on the right, that was my room there on the 2nd floor. This building wasn’t perfect. And the people I lived with in this building certainly were not all pleasant. Even then, I still thought of this place as home, one that beats any and all previous places I had lived in so far. By the way, the entrance is on the right side of the building, which is barely visible in the left photo and you might be able to make out the opened door.

Still standing in front of the dorm, looking to my left and this is the view. There were train tracks right outside our dorm and you will frequently hear the “ding-ding” signal that warns you not to cross the tracks because of an incoming train. Initially, it was quite distracting but I grew used to it after a while. If anything, it really reminded me that I am really in Japan and living here.

Turning around, which would be looking to the right while facing the dorm, this is how a typical sub-urban street in Japan looks like. There is no distinction between sidewalk and road, and is relatively narrower. This was also the direction I headed towards for the subway station.

I continued on, tugging my (heavy) luggage along and occasionally stopping for a photo. Here is a more busy street. You can barely see the corner of what looked like a rice field on the left on the photo. I always fear accidentally falling down into the field whenever I come by this path.

Here I have reached the entrances for going down into the subway station. It looked like today was going to rain but luckily there was only a bit of sprinkling. Just in case, I had covered my suitcases with a big plastic bag. I can’t possibly let my manga melt after all.

I took subway down to Kyoto station, where I also looked around one last time. Some episodes of Kamen Rider Fourze was filmed in Kyoto, and one scene in particular was here in front of Kyoto station. I wonder when that happened. It would be mind-blowing to see the actors in real life.

So my next step was to wait, wait for 9 and a half hours until I take the overnight bus to Tokyo which departs at 11 pm. The photo above was taken at 1:30 pm. While I would love to spend those 9 hours walking around nearby shopping malls, I simply could not do so with a large suitcase in each hand, a backpack on my back, a camera flapping around on my waist, and a stuffed tote bag wrapped around my neck. The only thing I could do was wait at the designated area for 9 and a half hours.

I was really hungry after staring into space for 4 hours. Come to think of it, I have not ate anything the entire day. Not being able to resist against the cold nor hunger, I tugged all of my stuff along and tried to find a restaurant in the station. This restaurant called Pastamore caught my eye. Delicious looking pasta in any size you want for ¥780!? Perfect. The people there were also kind enough to let me leave my luggage inside the restaurant so I ate in peace.

Here is how my meal looked like. If I remember correctly, I believe this set was a little over ¥1000? Anyways, I needed to pass time, so after looking at the menu and deciding what I want to order, I just sat there and waited until the waitress/waiter came to me instead. Then, I ate as slowly as I possibly can to pass as much time as possible. The sad thing about that though was that the food got cold. I ended up spending 2 hours in the restaurant. Not bad. Just 3.5 hours left. I went back to the same spot I had waited at before and continued to wait until the bus arrived as schedule and I got on.

This photo was taken at 11:30 pm. After almost 10 hours of waiting around doing nothing, I am finally on my way to Tokyo. I immediately tried to get to sleep since I will be arriving in Tokyo very early in the morning.

The bus arrived in somewhere in Tokyo at 5:30 am in the morning. I actually had no idea where I was or where I should be going. I just followed the other people that got off the same bus until I saw some signs that pointed towards the JR Maruno’uchi station. From there I knew how to get to where I needed to go.

The photo above was taken at 6:40 am at Kichijouji station overlooking the street below. The Sun sure is up early in the Land of the Rising Sun. The photo below was also taken at the same time and place, looking up at some construction cranes. For some reason I am kind of fond of the photo.

So here I am in Tokyo, with just 2 weeks of time left in Japan. I don’t have much of a desire to see this, go do that, or to hustle and bustle around. Of course, I will still go visit some places should the occasion arise, but I don’t feel the need to rush and I don’t have any plans in particular. Instead, I simply want to settle down and enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy my life here in Japan like a normal resident and not like a tourist. That is how I want to spend my time here in Japan.

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