Chisai Progress in Nihongo

This will be a short entry because its almost bedtime here in the land of the rising sun. Actually today it was raining; a bummer after two beautiful days on the weekend. I've been planning my vacation when that comes after March 21. My girlfriend, Gilda, will come to Japan to join me for a trip to the west of Japan. First we'll go to Shikoku island to visit a friend of ours from Concordia Language Villages, Erinn. Then we're off to Hiroshima, where Gilda was a JET teacher for two years. Its also the hometown of this blog's #1 fan, Aki. After that, we'll go to the Kumamoto area of Kyushu island. We will do a farming exchange through WWOOF. We'll be there 5 days. Then make our way back to Nishinomiya.

People have always told me that Japan is an expensive place to live and travel. So far I've disagreed because my monthly expenses haven't been that high. But I haven't ventured too far outside of the Kansai region. When I checked out the prices for the Shinkansen bullet trains, I had to stop to find my lower jaw which had fallen to the floor. Yikes! Its pretty much the equivalent of an airplane ticket and takes just about the same amount of time. There is the Japan Rail Pass, but only tourist visa visitors are eligible for it. Being a savvy and budget minded traveller, I searched for an alternative. And found one. The Seishun juhachi no kippu (Youth 18).

This ticket allows you to travel anywhere in the country on local or rapid trains for 5 person-days during the major school holidays. In Japan there's 5 levels of speed on trains: local (slowest & most stops), rapid, express, limited express, and shinkansen. So in exchange for speed, you get price and flexibility. I suppose that this is not attactive for everyone who is used to travelling for the destination and thus getting there as fast as possible. Gilda and I like to travel more for the journey and take our time to enjoy the view along the way. My only concern is that my posterior may get a bit sore from six hours of sitting on a seat designed just for short trips. Stay tuned for a consumer report from the field on this exciting topic;)

Oh, so let me get to the title track of this blog post. I went to the Japan Rail station tonight to make a reservation for a special overnight train that many people with the Youth 18 ticket take: Moonlight Kyushu. Sounds romantic, eh? Gilda and I are taking it from Hakata near Fukuoka back to Osaka. This is a very popular train for people with this discount ticket because you save accommodation costs as well as time because its faster. So I planned out what I was going to say before entering the ticket office. I had all the necessary information. I said it to the ticket vendor. I clarified that I didn't want a shinkansen reservation. The Youth 18 ticket. On this day. At this time. 2 reservations. One-way. He understood! I thought this would be a big hassle, but it turned out to be rather straightforward. Fhew! I successfully accomplished a potentially complex language task. My Japanese language study has taped off a bit recently, but this experience has motivated me to pursue more study.

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