This is part two of the adventure. Read the beginning here.
Today really is a wonderful day to be outside. It is hot with a little breeze; the sun is shining constantly. I will be burnt tomorrow, but the weather report predicted differently. It’s a small pain I am happy to endure for this. Spring really is here and it’s bringing summer with it. Today I saw the first bees and bumble bees – yes, they still exist.
Shizumine Furusato Park is called one of the one hundred top spots for cherry blossoms. I do now understand why. Although there is a lively festival going on and quite a few people are here, you’ll always find an area lesser traveled. Even empty at some places.
The trees form a marvelous roof of pink flowers, the grass is juicy green, there is a slight sweet smell in the air.
First I thought the park is quite small, but I misconceived that. I have been walking around it for about two hours now, taking a brief stop here and there, and I have not yet covered it all. According to the website there are about two thousand Sakura trees here. The Yaezakura, in English often called double cherry, blooms a little bit later, which makes it perfect for Hanami, because it is warmer. The flower has a double layer of petals. It does appear much bigger and fuller than other varieties. Some other bushes are in bloom, too, giving it a rounded experience. I am fairly certain these are Azalea, in Japanese つつじ (tsutsuji). All in all, it is refreshing and relaxing.
I stayed at the festival for quite some time, watching the flowers and the on stage performances. The show does not get more mixed than here. After some solo singers there was a rock band. Later there were traditional dance performances by some old ladies. At one point there was a pop band, and just before I left there were some children’s dance clubs. And I almost forgot about the Ibaraki hula dancers.
I had a few beers and enjoyed baked sweet potatoes, while waiting for the illuminations to be started. I should have anticipated that it will be dark by then and I started to worry if I would make it back to the train station on my own. After all it is in the Inaka.
It was much easier than I thought, I had a great day out and getting back posed no problem. As I am writing this, I’m sitting at Shizu station. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but I am not alone. That’s something I suppose.
Well now, here’s what you are waiting for: the pictures.
(I apologise for probably bad quality of the night pictures.)
I got on the train, I’m not sure I did everything how I should have. I’m on my way back, sitting here, no ticket and certainly not enough language skills to get me through that. That’s an adventure. One station in, the conductor came to me and asked where I got on and where I wanted to go. I will have to pay the fare right now and then I still have to figure out, how to unlock my Suica. I also still have to pay my fare; or it probably will be deducted when I exit. Who knows. Incredible excitement. I have come so far and this is certainly one of the stories I will not forget and I will tell everybody who dares to listen (or read).
In the end it was incredibly simple. Why worry at all? When getting off the train at a station that has no automatic card reader you will get a sheet of paper, where it says the date and the name of the station. (In Oarai you can pay the fare directly, in Shizu that was no option.) Until the Suica is unlocked, you cannot use it. When you are at a station where you can use the Suica, you can also unlock it. Usually.
After returning to Mito I had to leave through the manual exit, because I only had the receipt for my fare. There you can simply give the paper, the Suica, and the receipt to the officer. She or he will unlock the card. If it’s already paid, nothing further happens. If it is not, she or he will tell you where you got on, where you got off, how much it costs, and you will be asked if it is okay to take it from the Suica. You will get a new receipt and you are free to go. It’s that simple.
What have I learned from today’s adventure? Just go. Don’t think too much about what could happen, think more about what you might miss if you are scared. It was a good day for me and I hope I’ll have many of those still coming.
If you have been, thanks for reading. See you soon.