Let me start off with the fact that not everyone in this group are early birds. The reason I say this is for the fact that we had a very early start to this day, aka be up and ready at about 7ish. A couple of us were already up and ready where we could just head out to the bus stop and head to the station before the others, and those people were Kieryn, Kenji, John, Kade, and le moi.
We started off to a good start where we were simply on the bus resting our eyes when we got an extremely important text from Fullmer Sensei..."Make sure you have your JR passes." Those seven words brought the world crashing within moments for one student and his name was...Kenji Wellman. His adventure started right in that moment when he texted in the group chat that he didn't have it and Dowdle Sensei told him to get off the bus and get on a taxi back to the house. The rest of us headed to the station with plenty of time to spare, so much time that we could even go to the restroom.
Finally everyone, except for Kenji, made it to the station and we headed to our platform while Fullmer sensei went to the 7 eleven kiosk to get us hungry children some breakfast. Once again we had delectable pan (bread for those who don't speak a language that has pan for the word bread) and some tuna mayonnaise onigiri for our hurried breakfast. Our group actually was standing at a part of the station a little farther back with our food when a conductor guy came over and asked where our destination is, I actually was the one who answered with Gifu and the guy told us to move further up. In all honesty, we didn't understand why and I was a little annoyed. We found out later though that the train did stretch that far back to where we were standing, so thanks conductor guy for doing your job. Oh yeah, Fullmer Sensei stayed behind to travel with Kenji.
Now, this train ride was pretty uneventful for the most part, except when Kenji and Fullmer Sensei got on the train a little bit later. It was a rough time for Kenji, but I gotta give him perks for the fact that he has had more experience with some of the public transportation compared to the rest of us. The rest of the ride was super duper bumpy especially when we got closer to Gifu, but I will say that the view was spectacular!
The country side has a beauty that makes you wonder how long this gorgeous place has been like this. It is so relaxing and was a very, very, very needed break from the city. Here is actually where part of the title makes more sense. The river we rode past was almost an emerald green and with the mountains and the white kinda rocks at some points it just reminded me of the first movie of Lord of the Rings. You know that part when Arwen saves Frodo, is being chased by the enemy, and then she summons the river gods? Yeah, that's what the view reminded me of.
After the beautiful, but SO LONG OF A RIDE (3 hours) we made it to Hida-osaka, Japan. The lady who organized the home stay for us actually picked us up at the station and took us to lunch. The place we had lunch at was this onsen and for lunch we had the traditional Japanese dish called Shabu Shabu. Placed in front of us is this plate of raw, but not wriggling (may someone understand my movie quote) pieces of pork, a fish soup to the right, a bowl of rice to the left, and the entree of vegetables in water while in a basket. A waitress came over to light up the candles underneath the stone container holding the basket and the water came to life with roaring white waves of water. Our dear guide told us the correct Shabu Shabu procedure and after patiently waiting, we finally were able to partake of our food.
The Shabu Shabu was delicious when paired with the rice and the ponzu sauce. After we finished lunch our guide pointed out a well that was right outside of the onsen and had us try it. The taste was as follows an egg that wasn't the best with a lot of pennies...best water in the world, right?! Almost everyone tried the water and after we tasted it we headed to this meeting house to meet our host families.
The moment we arrived you could see the fear in all of our American eyes and I had to use my sister's technique of telling myself, "I like to talk in front of strangers in Japan. I like speaking Japanese in Japan, etc." in order to help calm myself down. Thankfully, Fullmer sensei and Dowdle sensei were the first to talk and then the rest of us. When we finished our introductions, our host families actually introduced themselves in Japanese and English. After all of that it was time to leave with our families...never to see each other again...hahaha I'm kidding. We just didn't see each other for about one and a half days.
My host mom was super kind and actually spoke some English. She took me to her house with her daughter and we discussed what we should do tomorrow and tonight. She told me that the place that had some buildings in the movie Kimi No Na Wa (Your name is) was only 15 minutes away so we actually headed there. During all of this, the group chat was buzzing with us talking about how scared we were and all of that jazz. After visiting those places that were in Kimi No Na Wa, we had hand rolls (a type of sushi) and Chi-san's (my host mom) friend who teaches Japanese came over and that was so much fun!
Even in those few hours I actually used my Japanese more and learned more than I did within the previous two weeks. Anyhow, enjoy the pictures and I have finally finished my blog entry. :) Thanks for reading!