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Day 6: October 27th 2008 Monday
Hakone, Tadami

Today's schedule. Leave from Hakone to Tokyo, and then continue to Tadami. Tadami being "smallish" town, there wasn't too many trains each day, so I had to make sure I got in train on time, or I'd be waiting for the next train for a long time. Unfortunately this meant we had to wake up somewhat early. After nice breakfast at the ryokan, we gathered our belongings and headed out to the train station

With the shinkansen, we were quite soon at the Tokyo main station. Miki stayed there, and I switched to another bullet train heading towards Niigata. After few transfers, and several hours, I finally reached Tadami. The last part of the train ride was quite interesting. As Tadami was quite well confined between mountains, long parts of the tracks run in tunnels through the hillsides. Also the sceneries were nice, colorful forest, mountains, mountain rivers. Huge contrast to Tokyo, especially why I came here in the first place.

Short walk from the station, I found the ryokan I had booked in advance. After settling in at my room, I took my camera and headed out for small walk. As there's river flowing past Tadami, I walked up the bridge, and continues downstream from there. The area was mostly deserted. There were houses here and there, and small patches of fields. But people were missing. I saw few cars, and also few people were out for a walk. But I mean, it was almost like I was walking there alone. Interesting note about the weather, it seemed to change even faster than in Seattle. One minute it was raining, then sun shine, clouds, rain... I guess the mountains caused the rapid weather changes.

Soon it was starting to get dark, I guess the mountains made the dusk come earlier. I saw bright lights ahead of me to the north, and I went to check it out. There was pachinko place, and I decided to try out. Betting $10 on slot, I soon got 7-7-7, which ended me with nice pile of chips. As I took them to the cashier, I was already wondering what type of chips and soda I would stock up this time. Instead, she gave me different chips, which I was able to cash in at other cashier. That was nice, and I ended with $60.

Walking back to ryokan, I stopped at a convenience store to get some snacks. At the ryokan, they soon started to serve dinner. Dinner was served at the main hall downstairs. Similar to the ryokan in Hakone, there was lot of different items available. Again for most part, I didn't really know what I was eating. The main dish was sukiyaki. Basically it's a hotpot, in where you boil various meat and vegetable in your table. On the side you have a raw egg broken into a bowl. After the food is done boiling, you dip them to the raw egg, and eat. I had some thoughts about using raw egg, but as everyone else was doing it, why not. And it was delicious.

Having the dinner eaten, I returned to my room. The lady of the ryokan came to make the futon. While in the room, so asked why I came to Tadami. I tried to expain in Japanese, that I wanted exact contrast of the big cities, so I had taken a map, and pointed to the most remote location far away from any big city, but still not too far from Tokyo, and there was Tadami. Not sure if she understood my Japanese, so she called in younger lady, who repeated the same questions, and I tried to answer the best I could. Eventually they fetched one more woman, who was quite good in English, so she acted as translator between us. We chatted for a while, and after that, she gave her contact on Facebook.