On Monday, I was surprisingly short on ideas for where to go. I had some plans for later in the week, but I was waiting for a more positive weather forecast. I decided to reach for something a little more obscure, because obscure things are usually the best things. This was no exception.
On my way to this remote town, I had a pretty good view of the sky tree for the first time. A normal tourist might have said, "bingo," and just headed there, but I was in no mood for another tourist trap like Harajuku.
Where I was headed was way out in the boonies. You could tell a place was unpopular when there was no English translation around. Actually, I probably preferred these places because there was so little English.
Branching off from the Goi station, there was a little station that operated the Kominato line. The ticket machine was unlike any machine I had seen, and instead of ticket gates there was an attendant sitting at a folding table who checked it. When the train arrived roughly 10 minutes later, I was able to get aboard, where I had to wait a few more minutes before it left. Instead of the usual air conditioners, there were rotating fans on the ceiling.
The train was quite slow, much like the train I took to Toyosato. The tree-covered hills were so reminiscent of something from a Ghibli film that I started to wonder if there was some kind of place to visit nearby that was analogous to My Neighbor Totoro.
After about half an hour, I arrived at Kazusaushiku station, where I found what I was looking for. In Kazusaushiku station, there is a small waiting room that serves as the primary location for a scene from Yuru Yuri, where Akari misses the train and has to wait for the next one while all of her friends go to the pool. I told you I was going for obscure.
There were even mosquitoes! Just like the anime! I don't think I've ever been so amused to see large mosquitoes.
I sat in the room for a few minutes, hoping the people in the station would leave so that I could geek out without being stared at like the weirdo I am, but they didn't leave, and some older lady came and sat in the room with me, so I decided to go wander for a bit. The next train wasn't for another hour, anyway (which also happens to be pretty central to the plot of that scene).
Outside the small station in the small town, there was an arch, which was also featured in the anime at least twice, one of those being when Akari steps outside the station to buy a drink from the machine.
There really wasn't much to see in the town, but I just kept walking. I was determined to make something of the trip. Part of me thought that maybe there would be something else familiar from Yuru Yuri if I went deeper.
|That arch was shown in this episode, too.|
As I got closer to the mountains, my surroundings became more rural.
Before long, I happened upon this shrine up in the forested hills.
This was probably the closest I ever came to exploring the wilderness in Japan. I'm not the biggest outdoors person, but it was pretty refreshing to be so far from the city.
There was an excellent view of the scenery from this platform. There were also several interesting spiders on it. I decided not to stick around for too long.
|I think this is... a map?|
I had gotten so caught up in touring the city that I had actually missed the next train, so I crossed the tracks to explore the other side.
Right next to the tracks was a temple and a cemetery. I somehow managed to not notice it before just then.
There was also a convenience store just down the street, which was convenient, because I was hot and a cold drink sounded great. I wasn't planning on getting soda until I saw this can of soda with Puella Magi Madoka Magica branding on it. If you've read much of my blog, then you already know I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I grabbed a can with my favorite character on it.
There wasn't a whole lot to see on that side of the tracks, and the train was almost there, so I made my way back.
|A statue inside the station.|
|Say no to drugs.|
On my way back towards Tokyo, I got off the train in Chiba. This was actually the only time I coincidentally happened upon an anime pilgrimage. On the way to the remote Yuru Yuri town, I saw the iconic monorail from Oreimo. I knew it was the right one because I had heard that it was in Chiba before.
I thought about taking a ride on it, but it was a little expensive, and I didn't really have a destination in mind. I instead opted to walk a couple blocks of the city streets.
I saw the train pass by, and it actually had art from the show plastered all over it. This was unsurprising, as the second season was airing at the time. And I was missing it, because I had no way of watching it in Japan. T_T Oh, the irony.
Peanut seemed to be a recurring symbol in that part of town, for some reason.
I did have a plan, however, and I couldn't be wasting too much time in a place with no direction, and no real objects of interest. Before I end this blog post, check out this juicy Engrish I found in a bathroom inside the station before I left: