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Sometimes I Walk Alone at 10 AM when Everybody Else is Sleeping

JAPAN | Tuesday, 19 January 2016 | Views [439]

On Saturday, I woke up with the knowledge that I didn't need to do anything with the group until some time after 5 PM when we were meeting up to go bowling. After the two days before, it was beautiful knowledge. Since “alone time” joined “walking” and “exploring” as two things I’d barely done since leaving Paris, my plan for the morning and early afternoon were pretty clear. It was basically a repeat of what I’d done my first full day in Tokyo four years ago. With one major difference: Google maps actually works for me this time around.

I didn’t have anywhere specific I wanted to go, but I knew that, when I was done exploring and wanted to go back home, I would. So, while I was still at the apartment, I made sure that my address was properly stored in my phone so it could show me a pretty good grasp of how to get back. Then I zoomed out to the surrounding area to get some idea of where I should head. Ooh, river.

The streets around my apartment are a little more complicated than this, but essentially all I needed to do was head out of my apartment, down the street like I was heading to school, then take a left instead of the right I would take to go to school. And then walk for a while.

This led me to a walking path and a park. After following this for a little bit, I got to a bridge and crossed it. Then I took a right and started walking along the river. And I just kept walking.

It was quiet and peaceful and so so soooo beautiful.

No Seine

 

Mountains and river

At some point, another river (actually more of a stream, but whatever appeared to my left, so I was walking on the bank between two rivers. Google maps didn’t even show this as a real road, and I’m not even sure bicycles were allowed on it (I saw someone with a bicycle, but he looked a little sheepish.) And I kept going, staring at the mountains in the distance and the water in the foreground, and relaxing.

Then the two rivers merged, so I took a bridge across and started heading back in a totally different way. This route led me along multi-lane highways and streets with shops and restaurants and people. It was pretty exciting. But, in order to get back, I found myself walking on the “sidewalk” (it was separated from the main road, but wasn’t as nicely paved as I’d found myself getting used to in Paris) next to a street with lots of cars, some construction, and not much else.

However, as I was walking along it, I ran into Sara and Rachel on their way out to explore. They said they’d only recently set off, which was very inspiring news. We looked at a flower shop together, then they headed on and I continued heading back. The next stage brought me away from cars and through a dirt path surrounded on both sides by people practicing sports, including American football and hitting a golf ball at what looked like it could have been an archery target. I’m not sure I understand either of those things.

Then I was back in familiar territory, so I grabbed lunch and collapsed in my room for a couple of hours. Mayuka showed up briefly, asked if I was going to bowling, told me she wasn’t, but we’d be meeting at the Aikawa station at 5:40 and I should talk to Yuki, and then left for work. Yuki, also on her way to work, re-iterated that we were meeting at Aikawa station at 5:40, and that people would probably be leaving from here at 5;20? At 5:10, a Japanese student showed up, told us we were meeting in Aimee’s room right now to leave. So off we went. We met up with the male students living nearby (I still don’t know where exactly they are, but I know it’s within walking distance) and then to the train station, where we caught a train to Aikawa to meet the other students and program directors. And then back on the train, one more stop, get off, wait around, get on a bus, and we were ready to bowl.

I got one strike. In the practice round. Plus the fake kind of strike that is having your first ball be a gutter ball and your second be a spare. I also got a handful more spares, and a lot more gutterballs. I’m pretty sure I lost every round, even though I was playing with different people each of the three games. It was fun, I guess, though I kind of lost interest after the first game.

I’d not eaten dinner, so when a group of students invited me to get ramen with them, I cheerfully accepted. Ultimately, the group turned out to include two Japanese students, two students who had been here last semester who were in Japanese 513, and two students (myself included) here for their first semester in Japanese 313. Dan (the other 313 student) and I had no idea where this ramen place was, and were justifiably worried when we walked into the train station. But that turned out just to be the walking path to get there, and we exited without getting on a train or buying a ticket or anything.

Dinner was good, and in a small enough group that we could have a single conversation, though this conversation often included only four people at a time, and was sometimes translated from one language to another by the Japanese 513 students. On the walks there and back I talked a bit with Jin and Yuuto, the Japanese students, one-on-one, which went on a slow and explanatory enough level for me to actually feel like I had Japanese experience. (Kansaiben, the regional accent, is also slowly creeping in and making my life difficult without me even recognizing it.)

We separated after dinner with most of the guys going back to their mysteriously-located apartment and me and John going back to my apartment. John to pick up an umbrella he’d left, me to stay. This was a rather good solution, since John, despite having been here last semester and gone to the apartment a lot, did not know the way there. But he did know the way to the university, (from where we were, I did not) and I knew the way from the university to the apartment, so he could at least get his umbrella back. Whether he made it home after that was not my problem. (“See you next week” Aaron had joked to him as they were leaving.) On the way back, John used graph theory to explain how his conception of our neighborhood works (think of notable locations as vertices. Places that he knows his way between are edges. The graph is not complete.) which made me really, really happy. (Meanwhile, the friend I have who is actually taking a class in graph theory this month only gives me terrible puns.)

Tags: bowling, graph theory, ramen, rivers, walking

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