I had read that riding in a hydrofoil feels like being inside a washing machine, but it wasn’t like that at all. Not that I’ve ever been inside a washing machine, but it does evoke an image. The hydrofoil felt more like riding on a train.
The trip to Japan took three hours. Passport control was more stringent than in Korea, but not bad. Similar to New Zealand, really. The customs guy questioned me a bit about the purpose of my visit, but let me through when he found out that I had a rail pass. I guess “American riding around on the train” is an identifiable type.
I entered Japan at 5:30 PM with 83,000 won, 150 dollars, and zero yen. The only bank in the terminal had been closed for two hours and the only ATM wouldn’t accept my card. I had no hotel reservation, but I had identified several hotels around the train station, which was where I would want to be the next morning. There was a bus that went straight there from the ferry terminal. For 220 yen. Which I didn’t have. So I walked.
I didn’t take a very efficient route. What’s with these guide-book maps? Eventually I found the train station and got a room at Hotel Active! The exclamation point is part of the name, and appears as a monogram on the pajamas they put in the rooms. It’s a business hotel, which was supposed to make it cheaper, but it wasn’t. It included an all-you-can-eat breakfast, though.
The train station includes vastly more than mere train-oriented services. It’s an 11-story shopping mall with a department store and two stories of restaurants and who knows what else. The department store has a currency exchange desk, so I exchanged my dollars for yen. The rate wasn’t that great, so I decided to keep my won for now, in the foolish hope that I’ll get a good rate somewhere else.
I had dinner at an Okinawan restaurant. The waitress spoke pretty good English and was very excited to meet an American to talk to. She’d studied English at Queen’s University near Toronto. The food was really good too: chicken with roasted garlic and some kind of salsa.
Then I walked back to the hotel and went to bed. Next up: Nagasaki.