My First Roadtrip in Japan p1 – Arriving

It’s been a while since I last posted. Honestly, I’ve been dealing with some seasonal depression and isolation for COVID-19 reasons (not me getting sick, just deciding not to go out), which then led me to acknowledge the fact that maybe I’m actually homesick, and this, in turn, led to even more isolation, causing (potentially) some friction between my…friends. So now there’s isolation in the “I’m the odd one out” variety because, of course, that is exactly what I need right now. Oh, I love winter

I think one of the big reasons I’m really feeling this (because I don’t recall ever feeling this before) is that it’s winter but more importantly, we had a winter break at work and it’s been eons since the last time I had so much free time. Since…maybe high school, which, believe me, was EONS ago. And even then, I always had my family around to distract, annoy, and entertain me, which I don’t have at the moment. And with so much free time, my brain had ideas

But I’m starting to get out of that funk (slowly but surely) and I thought, I have such a backlog of pictures that I want to share!

And first up is my winter vacation. I had about two weeks off from work, spanning from Christmas weekend to the first week of January. I was initially not going to do anything because I can be really cheap (makes sense, I mean, I just moved here so my financial situation was a bit precarious) but after being pressured by my family and coworkers (not to mention being given some Christmas monies), I finally decided to just go and do something. I’m really glad I did, even though this post might make you think I didn’t!

The Drive There

I can officially now check off “have a road trip in Japan” off of my non-existent bucket list. Hm, maybe I should make one?! But what would I even put on it?! Drop me some suggestions, that would be lovely

Sadly, my first road trip also scarred me for life. The picture above is a picture of my road trip maybe right before I left. As you can see, it had recently snowed and it was the middle of the day. But I didn’t let this deter me. I only slightly regret this in the way that I hated the experience but also am glad that I got it out of the way early. Does that make sense? Like, if I had waited for the next day, I would have wasted part of the day driving to Hiroshima

Anyway, I was a bad planner and didn’t really properly check the weather before leaving and got caught in a blizzard that apparently only hit somewhere mid-way. Here is a picture of a rest area I stopped at to clean my wipers and to do my business. And maybe to catch my breath because it was getting intense. Maybe this can also be another item on my bucket list: survive driving through a blizzard. My family would have never let me drive through something like this back home and you bet they were like WHAT when I told them afterward

What was originally only supposed to be a quick drive, ended up being an all-day drive…how fun! That said, the landscape was amazingly beautiful. Unfortunately, my mind was creating various death scene scenarios

Aside: Interesting Things

Ok, I’m going to cut in to drop some things I found interesting on my drive

  1. In Japan, it’s mandatory to have winter tires installed during the winter. I had mine done as part of my contract, and Japan checks this. Or at least they did when I was on this roadtrip. There were maybe 2-3 stops that all the vehicles had to make and it was all to check our tires
  2. When you get lost on the toll roads, Japan helps you!! In the US, they will just make you pay all the tolls, too bad for you. But I had a few oopsies and the people just turned me around and told me how to get to where I was going. No wasted monies
  3. There are nice emergency stop areas EVERYWHERE. I mean, in the US there’s usually space for you to stop on the side of the road because our streets are wider, but in Japan, sometimes (for long stretches) the roads were only two lanes wide (to and from traffic). And lanes in Japan are TINY in comparison. Anyway, there are frequent emergency stop areas and some of them (maybe, I didn’t check how frequent) have payphones! So if your phone dies and you don’t have your charger on you, there’s a payphone close by
  4. I mentioned it was snowing, but when I arrrived in Hiroshima, there was hardly any snow. I was mindblown by the difference, especially since not just 30-60 minutes away, there was a blizzard. Someone told me it has to do with which side of the mountain you’re on (or something) but yeah, my brain is still trying (and failing) to process

Ok, let’s get back on track!

Arriving: The Hotel

Since it took me the whole day to drive out to Hiroshima, my first day in Hiroshima was wasted. I legit arrived right before midnight and all I wanted to do when I got to the hotel was knock out, which I did. Now, I want to mention that this road trip was VERY last minute. I’d been contemplating it for days but it wasn’t until the day I left that I actually looked for and booked a hotel room. I was looking for something inexpensive, so I ended up staying at the Hiroshima Peace Hotel, which is apparently a 2-star hotel on Maps, even though it has about 3.5 stars?

I had…problems here. Not problems that made me think this hotel deserves 2-stars, but just problems. So first was that it ended up being way more expensive than I thought. Still relatively cheap all things considered, but because I forgot (and currently misplaced) my vaccine card, I had to be charged more. During my whole stay, I had no other bunkmates so I think the reason it cost more is that I “booked” the whole room (for COVID reason), which was originally for four people (capsule). They did give me the option to show a picture of my card but it was nearing midnight, I just had an Experience, and I couldn’t remember when or if I took a picture.

I’ve since fixed this problem. I now have it saved in a special folder I can quickly access but it really cost me this night

Second, I had to make multiple payments for things that at one point made me feel like I was being ripped off. I had to pay for parking separately because they forgot to mention that parking wasn’t included, which, ok, not the worst thing that could happen (but damn, it was expensive). But then the next day I find out that I have to pay an AM charge and a PM charge. What…?

I don’t even want to look at their website because if I find out something contrary, I will cry. I only paid the AM charge once because I was not about to spend unnecessary money when I could just drop off my car somewhere cheaper or even free of charge

That said, I did like that the night staff (specifically, the person who checked me in) was friendly and open to speaking to me in English. I feel like sometimes I’ll go somewhere and they see I’m foreign so they ignore me. But this person was really nice and even came up to my room to show me how to turn on the heat. Also, there was another night staff member who I heard talk ONCE and I was sold. Damn bro, his voice was deep, I’m weak

Would I stay here again, though…that’s a tough question. Maybe if I didn’t drive there. It’s right across the street from the station and I was walking distance from many attractions.

Well, that pretty much covers the ARRIVAL portion. As you can see, it was quite the adventure. I’ve decided to split up this winter vacation into multiple posts because I really want each location I visited to have its own spotlight. And also because I have a lot of pictures and don’t want to write a 7k post that maybe people will be put off by

Here is the tentative plan:

  • Shopping in Hiroshima (or maybe Yummies/Food)
  • Visiting Mitaki Temple
  • A Day Trip to Osaka
  • Places I Wish I Had Time to Visit

I’ll try to get the next post out soon. It’s starting to feel like winter again so I should have more time to write out these posts (vs. going out on walks)

– G

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