Pre Golden Week Road Tripping

Given the title of this blog post, there’s probably a question that many of you are asking: What is Golden Week?  Golden Week refers to four national holidays that fall in a row.  Because many Japanese people don’t take vacation days during the rest of the year, it may be the one time when people can go on trips.  As a result, it’s the busiest travel season of the year.  Flight prices go up, hotel rates go up, and everything has to be booked well in advance.

Unfortunately, we got kind of cheated out of the ginormous stretch of vacation time this year because two of the four days fell on the weekend.  We still had an awesome four day weekend, so I really can’t complain.  But I’m already thinking about the seven days or so that we’ll probably have off next year.

On the Friday before Golden Week I had what’s called “daikyuu,” or substitute holiday because I had worked the previous Sunday for a school event.  Normally I use my daikyuu days to stay home and catch up on chores that need to be done.  I.e. the overflowing laundry basket and the sink I haven’t seen the bottom of in days.  However, I had done a lot of cleaning throughout the week, so I ended up being done early with chores.  It still took a bit of a mental push, but I managed to motivate myself for a walk.  I finally got out and explored my city a bit.  It only took me, what, nine months?

There’s a little path that runs alongside the river in my town.  I pass it everyday, but I’m always on my way to work when I see it.  Besides, it doesn’t seem like a really bike friendly path.  So I finally took the path and decided to see where it went.  From there, I decided to head to the beach and then on to the mall.  All in all, the walk took about 3 and a half hours.

While I was sitting at the beach, just relaxing and watching the ocean, an old man approached me.  The first thing out of his mouth was, “Where are you from?” And for a second I wondered how he knew.  I mean, I had sunglasses on.  Then I realized that when I’m not around other foreigners, everything about my screams “Foreigner.”  (When I’m around other foreigners, I tend to blend into the background because I’m not as foreigner looking as, say, my blond friends.)  He and I spoke for about ten minutes before he wandered off as well.  People so rarely want to start talking to me here that it’s always a nice change of pace when someone comes over to just have a nice conversation.  It was a little awkward (there were a few awkward silences) but it made me really happy that he was interested in learning about me.

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