The Kimochi Warui Diary
Japanese breakfast is something to behold:
Steamed rice. Miso soup. Grilled fish. Japanese pickles. Maybe even some natto beans.
And that’s just a standard, six-dollar meal from a typical diner. In the states, it’s all fast food:
Burgers, burritos, and hash browns.
Sure, you could go to a diner and get a balanced meal of eggs, bacon, maybe a cup of fruit… for nearly $15. And while you’re there, why not get two pancakes slathered in butter and syrup?
Our Japanese breakfast left me feeling light and refreshed as we made our way to the train station. But a Japanese breakfast wasn’t the only reason I had a spring in my step.
As we sat in the train heading to Ibaraki, I reread the last message from Yuno:
“I am excite to see you ฅ^•ﻌ•^ฅ”
Last night, Yuno finally replied to my messages. She was already asking if I could meet her at Mito Station. That invitation gave me a whole new direction. For once, I knew exactly how I wanted this trip to plan out.
I took my newfound inspiration to the lobby, where I stayed up all night making a new plan for the trip:
1. Go to Mito Station in Ibaraki to visit Yuno. End the day at a hotel in Utsunomiya
2. Start the next day by visiting Tochigi, a quiet town said to contain many historical sights. After filling ourselves to the brim with culture, we’d spend the night in a Nagano hotel.
3. The next morning, we’d take a train to Kanazawa and visit what is said to be one of the most beautiful towns in Japan.
4. After spending the day in Kanazawa, we’ll take a bullet train to Osaka and stay there for two nights.
5. We’ll then head back to Tokyo, allow our rail passes to expire, and spend the second week exploring the city and hanging out with Noah.
Essentially, we’d be going in one big “loop” around central Japan, landing us back in Tokyo just before our rail passes expired.
As for the towns I chose to visit? Evaluating what I had read online, I judged that these towns offered value beyond the shallow trappings of tourist attractions. No gimmicks for us!
The ride to Mito was long and scenic: Miles of green grass, strips of concrete following the path of powerlines, and suburban houses in the distance. We weren’t in “the sticks” just yet, but we were far from the metropolitan Tokyo.
After exiting the train, we couldn’t start exploring just yet. I had to check in with Yuno. And that meant hunting for another free WiFI channel. Fortunately, one of the first things I saw in Mito Station was a yellow sign with English printed on them:
I let the sign lead me over to a small shop, stocked with maps, travel brochures, and other materials for tourists. Standing in the shop was a Japanese woman a few years older than me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was one of the most attractive women I would see on the entire trip. When I say this girl was my type, I mean she was completely my type. Even if I were to describe her here, I wouldn’t be able to recreate the feeling she gave me. There wasn’t anything particular about it. She was dressed in your standard, Japanese conservative fashion—no yoga pants or Uggs here. She was nothing more than average, but to me, something hit all the right triggers inside me.
She saw me staring, so she smiled back and said “Hello.”
I said “Hi” back.
Naturally, I didn’t say anything else. I just pointed at the WiFi sign to let her know why I was there. She seemed satisfied and left me alone.
After the WiFi connected, a new message from Yuno appeared:
She’d be here in a couple of hours, she just had to finish taking a make-up English exam.
In the meantime, Jotaro and I explored the station.
Given Ibaraki’s distance from Tokyo, it wasn’t surprising that Mito Station was something like the main entertainment and shopping hub for the locals. While it was nothing in comparison to Tokyo, it did have several big shops, restaurants, and a large department store.
We took a quick breather and went outside. There, an older Japanese man approached us.
“You two… Where you from?”
I suddenly remembered a lecture I had with my professor, where he told us that not everyone is thrilled to see Americans in Japan—something to do with us stringing up Japan’s emperor by his toes in the streets for all to see at the end of World War II.
“Canada!” I blurted out. Jotaro glanced at me but said nothing. “We’re travelling through Japan.”
Satisfied with our answer, he then asked if we had ever been to a theme park in Canada. He held out his hands straight out ahead of him.
“I ride Superman.”
“Of course, the Superman rollercoaster!” I said. “Great ride.”
He nodded in agreement. He then reached into one of his plastic grocery bags. Out of the bag he pulled out two packaged bread rolls.
Jotaro and I profusely refused, but the man insisted we take them. We thanked him and he went on his way.
“Canada…?” Jotaro asked.
“Yeah, well, I don’t know… Not everyone likes Americans, I was told.”
“Uh-huh…” Jotaro didn’t seem to care either way. “I’m gonna check out the other side of the station.”
“Okay, I’ll catch up.”
Enough time had passed. I needed to check if Yuno had replied.
As I approached the WiFi area, the WiFi girl greeted me like a customer. But then she realized who I was and gave me a warm smile of recognition.
I smiled back and pointed at the WiFi sign again. She replied by nodding her head.
I wished that I could have an actual, real conversation with her. But even if I did, what would there be to talk about? I’m just passing through.
Even so, I was having all sorts of fantasies in my head about WiFi girl becoming WiFi wife. Where would we live? Where would I work? How would this harmless encounter turn into a romantic comedy that ends with us together forever?
But even in these fantasies, I had no idea what kind of person she actually was—just her standing there and looking cute was enough to get me excited, apparently.
I pushed the thoughts from my mind and checked for messages from Yuno.
No new messages.
She was likely still at her exam. But even so, what if she just… stopped replying? We had already been waiting nearly two hours.
I went outside to meet Jotaro. He was sitting on a low concrete wall. I took a seat next to him, and we watched people walk to and from the station.
Off to our left was a high school duo: a girl and boy with an amplifier, microphone, and guitar. They were putting on an impromptu concert. A small, amorphous crowd formed around them as people would stop to listen for a few seconds before moving on.
But next the crowd was something unusual:
A group of three teenaged girls. And they were looking straight in our direction.
“The fuck is their problem?” Jotaro said.
Then, they started approaching us. As they did, I could see they were all pretty cute—and nervous?
They stopped just a few feet in front of us. The girl in the center took a few extra steps further. Then she held out her hands:
She was holding a camera.
“Can we… Get picture?”