Will's Tour Diary - updated daily!

Will's tour diary
- What? Why? When? Where? - Shows - Seminars

Thursday 5th October 2000
We woke in the loading area of the local agricultural cooperative. Looking sheepish we left, and found the Tomyo onsen - which we realised we had driven past several times in the night. Naturally it was not open until 10am. We planned to just sit in the Genkimobile and work but a guy from the onsen waved us inside to a tatami room where we relaxed as we waited for the staff to ready the bath.

We bathed with three priests who were doing a retreat. Though I have been naked many times, and talked to a fair number of priests in my time, this was the first time I have done both at the same time.

We took the mountain road towards Saitama via Gunma prefecture. Along the way we popped into a few schools. Most schools were very friendly, but one school didn't even want us to talk to the resident ALT. It was then with great satisfaction that we pulled into a nearby convenience store and found ourselves in that day's edition of the Nagano Yomiuri. Grinning widely we asked the woman behind the counter to take our photo as we held the article between us. This small measure of fame was just the medicine we needed to buoy our spirits. We showed the article to the last school we went to in Nagano. The principal greeted us warmly, it turned out he had spent 3 years in Mexico, and was eager to get involved with an international project like ours.

We headed out of Nagano. The Jikkokutoge Pass  was perilously steep and consisted entirely of hairpin bends. We crawled up, and reined in our speed on the descent. At the bottom of the pass I noticed that pressing down on the brakes had no effect on our speed. From this I deduced that the brakes had failed. Fortunately the road at that point flattened out, and making emergency use of the handbrake I brought us to a halt. The brake pads were red hot. Richard and I gave silent thanks that the problem had not occurred 500 metres earlier. Serendipitously there was a small restaurant tucked away next to the nearby river, so we took refuge there and waited for the brakes to cool.

The restaurant was a minshuku perched on the banks of the river. The resident obaasan explained that in the recent floods the water had come flooding through the room we were sitting in. As fish was the only dish on the menu we order the fish. Our lunch took a long time in coming and Richard quipped that the guy probably had to catch the fish. When the deliciously grilled trout finally appeared the waiter explained that he had in fact scooped them from the pond just outside the restaurant.

Brakes working again we forged ahead into Saitama prefecture - Tokyo's defacto suburban area. Our surroundings changed from peaceful rurality into the confusion of endless traffic. We had arranged to meet up with another ex-JET, Ed Edgar (of "3 Monkeys" fame), who was now working for the British Council. He had given us excellent directions over the phone, but Tokyo is far removed from the sleepy rural lanes I am accustomed to, so we needed a few map checking sessions at various convenience stores before we arrived at Ed's surprisingly spacious pad - he lives right on the border of Saitama and Tokyo. (NB The Genkimobile has been attracting a lot of attention when we stop at convenience stores, not least because very few people can read the characters for 'Ehime' on the number plate)

Ed was a chirpy fellow. When I asked him if anyone had ever told him he looked like Ben Elton he said "No". He lead us to a yakiniku restaurant where Ed was obviously well known - the waitress cheerfully asked him if he had a girlfriend yet (he moved to Saitama from Tochigi only 3 months ago).

Back at the flat Ed showed off the meta-search engine he had designed and he and Richard chatted about web design. I slipped into the inviting arms of slumber.


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Opinions expressed in this diary are personal views of Will Jasprizza. They do  not necessarily represent those of Genki English, especially where he is slagging people off or making jokes which sounded better at the time!!! Please be understanding!


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