The flight came to an end, but that was only half the trip! What awaited us was a mad rush to catch two trains and be not too late to get a cab to our destination. The Quarantine, Immigration and Customs clearance were done quicker than what we expected. That gave us ample time to get the next Haruka Express to Kyoto, at around 10.15 pm on the 8th of April. Talking about trains in Japan, it’s a sight worth watching how sleek things are. The seats that rotate to suit the direction of travel, the designated luggage space, the movable rods that stick to the wall – there’s lot about Japan that may be impossible to remember and jot down. After an hour and a little more, we reached Kyoto and rushed to the Biwako line for our next coach to Minami Kusatsu. Before we knew it, in roughly about fifteen-twenty minutes, we were at Kusatsu. We were skeptical of getting a taxi at that hour of the day; it was already past 12.30 am, next day. As luck had it, three taxis came out of nowhere, as if they were waiting for us. The taxi driver – an old man – single handedly stacked up our luggages into the car and opened the door for us! It was dark and silent, but somehow the place was comforting. The nice old man safely got us to the BKC International House, despite our minimal communication. It was nice to receive a ‘taxi bill’!
We were nearing the end of our adventure. Despite our unannounced arrival, the warden-in-charge, a polite middle-aged man, welcomed us to the dormitory. We woke him up in the middle of the night, but not for once did he frown. To know what humility means, one must definitely visit Japan! He took us to our rooms and left us on our own for a peaceful sleep. Next morning was dull and sleepy. We slept most of the day, except for a quick reporting at the reception for some paperwork. After the first meal at Japan, a bowl of maggie, we slid back into sleep.
That’s around when the whole exhaustion and unfamiliarity settled in. To push things forward, Divya and Saikat suggested we go out. Reluctantly, I went along and that isn’t a walk I regret. We walked to a nearby store, the Friends Mart(?). While Divya and Saikat got some ready-to-eat dinner, I got some vegetables and bread. The shop reassured faith of survival for the vegetarian in me! On the way back, we met Chalwe aka Charlie, from Zambia. He took us back to the i-house through a shorter route. Given the chilling winter outside, I am thankful to that! The evening went by, as we settled in for a cosy sleep. The following day was long one. Meeting the professors, planning the research, new atmosphere – anxious day ahead! It’s cold outside, and I am shivering. Japan is good, but wasn’t home more happy?