Here is the second installment of the story of Andrew’s trip to Japan. The first entry can be found here. This entry is light-hearted, recounting his trip north to the tsunami area.
Tuesday morning we went down to the Harris’ house for breakfast before taking off, and at my place was half of a grapefruit, among other things - including apple juice. I ate everything on my plate and then turned my attention to the grapefruit, my very first grapefruit. I watched as 6-year-old Josiah took a half-spoon-half-saw looking utensil and with surprising ease dug out slice after slice of grapefruit. I dug my saw into the grapefruit and all I got was grapefruit juice all over myself. I worked and worked on it and after a while I had eaten quite a bit of grapefruit, was wearing quite a bit of grapefruit, and still had quite a bit of grapefruit to be dug out. Since the table was being cleared I decided it was time to give up and proudly announced that I had finished my first ever grapefruit, but Brother Harris said it didn’t count because of how much grapefruit still remained in the skin...more to come on that. Josiah’s grapefruit was picked clean, by the way.
After breakfast we loaded up for the 10-hour car ride north. I am not usually a huge fan of riding for long periods of time, but if you have to do it this was definitely the group to do it with. It was an interesting, but safe mix of personalities and temperaments that promised one laugh after another all the way to Tohoku. Entertainment was plenteous with Jannah’s newly purchased iPad 2 with the Diner Dash app, Jessica’s laptop and movie supply, Rachel De Leon’s picture and video taking, and Juliana’s inability to stop laughing over the words “suzuki” and “orchid” no matter how many times you said them. In fact, next time you see Juliana you should try it—it’s so much fun.
We started the car ride in a typhoon. Typhoon was not the kind of car, but an actual weather phenomenon. I thought typhoons happened in remote rain forests and stuff, but apparently they happen around big cities too. The typhoon came close to canceling our plans all together, but we were a fairly optimistic group so we took off anyway. Was that smart? I can’t really say, but we are all still alive, and the trip was a success. It was worth it for me just to be able to write my Mom one of those short messages that end up in newspapers after the person goes missing in a typhoon: “We are about to take off for a few days up north to the tsunami area. We are driving through a typhoon. I will try to send a longer message when I can.” It was a special moment.
We traveled most of the day on Tuesday. Early on we stopped at an office supply store and bought rubber bands and ink, and visited the random pet store in the corner where we admired the rabbits and fish. Then we stamped. We stamped tracts for a long time. We stamped tracts in many different ways, and at many different speeds. Certain members of our party even had muscle fatigue from so much stamping, but it was a blast! You actually find yourself feeling more and more like a real missionary the longer you stamp tracts, and if you do it with the right people it doesn’t even feel like work.
We took a break from stamping to stop at a Lawson Convenience Store. In Japan there are no convenience stores at gas stations, and no gas stations at convenience stores, BUT the convenience stores have more stuff, so we stopped for lunch. I had more Yakisoba. I love Yakisoba. So does Jannah...if you care to know. On a side note, if you visit Japan beware of the convenience store music—it is very catchy, and your head may start bobbing despite your best efforts...ask me how I know.
We continued our trip north with the van’s curtains pulled watching Juliana’s favourite movie as she sat in the back seat and laughed. She started laughing when we picked up the box and she stopped laughing when we turned off the computer at the end. It was amazing. So then we just drove, and stopped at a hotel for the night.
I apologize if the details are too much for such a short trip, but I just feel as though the hotel deserves a paragraph of its own. Not that the hotel was amazing, but it was my first Japanese hotel, and this is my story. The room itself is very similar to an American hotel, although it was smaller. You have to stick the keychain of the key into a small hole when you enter for the lights to come on, and when they come on you see that you are standing next to a large plastic box. Past the plastic box is a fairly average room with two small beds, a desk, coffee, a refrigerator, etc.. The room was great and all, but I wanted to explore the plastic box.
The door to it was about a foot off the ground, and inside was a bathroom. Ingenious really, a bathroom in a box. Inside the box was a shower, sink, and a throne with more options and buttons than any I had ever seen. I have always loved buttons, but there is something intimidating about buttons with Japanese characters all around them, especially when you have no way of explaining to the front desk why your toilet is not working, or that it is indeed working just not exactly how you expected or intended it to work. So, despite the strange noises and looks that the toilet gave when you tried to use it, I avoided pushing any buttons and our stay was uneventful.
The next day we had an interesting continental breakfast with half-boiled eggs, cold Japanese omelette squares, and frosted flakes, and then we hit the road once again. A few more hours of driving brought us to an area that had been affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
The next installment will be about the tsunami area and the devastation the group found.