Last week Saturday, September 10th, I had made plans to meet up with my family who lives in Oyama and visit their house. There are actually two ways that I could have gotten there. I could take a regular train which would probably take around 50 minutes and maybe $15, or I could take the Shinkansen which would be about $20. For this trip since it was my first time going my cousin was nice enough to meet me at Omiya station to be able to take the shinkansen with me. To get to Omiya station though I had to travel from Fujimino station to Kawagoe station and then transfer from the Tobu-Tojo Line to the Kawagoe Line which would take me to Omiya. That was also my first time transferring from the TJ Line and my host family was worried I would get lost so my host dad even went with me to Kawagoe station to show me where to go.
Once I arrived at Omiya station I met up with my cousin and then we were both picked up by her mom. From the station we actually made a stop at a place that sells Japanese pears because my family wanted to send a gift to my host family in thanks for taking care of me. Since the pears are heavy they even arranged to have it shipped to my host family’s house. I guess my aunty knows the lady who owns that shop too because she even got some free pears as well so she was happy.
After the obligatory “this is Japanese culture” stop we then went to their house. I have never actually been to their house before because it’s new and was still in construction the last time I was able to see them in Japan a few years back. It’s a really nice house but as expected of Japan the roads and driveways are super narrow. I would probably go crazy if I had to always try and back into the driveway with literally no space to make a mistake.
At the house I was able to see my uncle again. It felt really weird because in reality I haven’t seen them for a few years but it didn’t really feel like that. I’m really happy I got to meet up with them within the first month of being in Japan though as I am sure my schedule will get more tight when all of my classes start and if I decide to join a club. When I arrived we all talked story for a bit but then it was time to go to the lunch place. They hadn’t told me where we were going so I was in for a surprise.
We were a bit early so we were waiting in the car when my uncle said something about the “butler” being weird. At that point I was even more confused and asked my cousin what kind of restaurant we were going to. I should have guessed it was a French restaurant considering that they had a “butler.” In actuality it was just a regular waiter but my uncle forgot what the word was I think. He said that he was strange and that he would get my opinion on that. I suppose he was kind of strange since he ran out of the restaurant to tell my Aunty to move her car over to the farthest right parking space when he wasn’t even fully dressed in his uniform. He then proceeded to water the plants outside.
Anyways, once we were seated the menus were brought to us and I had no idea what anything was. Everything was in french so even reading katakana was useless. My aunty just ordered for me.
This was probably the most fancy restaurant I feel like I ever went to. I think it was my first and only time that I would eat French food. I am a really picky eater and I tend to just like to eat a lot of the simple things that I like rather than various fancy dishes, but since my family was treating me to lunch I am still grateful for that.
I won’t post all of the dishes I had because there were so many including a really fancy looking maki sushi with the tiny baby nemo eggs and tomato chunks, a pumpkin? corn? soup that had dashi gelatin at the bottom, fish with different veggie chunks (that was actually pretty good), wagyu beef with potatoes and other veggies, and a peach thingy for dessert.
The beef was my favorite part. The meat was really soft so I didn’t have to worry about almost choking. I was already out of place in that fancy restaurant which had what seemed like 5 different utensils on each side of my plate. I learned that you eat from the outside in and that if you don’t order a part of the meal that goes with the designated utensil then the waiter will even take those utensils away.
Once lunch was over we went back home. They didn’t really have anything planned so we went to a nearby mall to go to Uniqlo to look at winter jackets since I do not own one. It was really hot and crowded so we just peeked into a few other stores, bought groceries, and then headed home. When I got back I talked story with my uncle for a bit and then my Aunty and cousin began to make dinner. Originally I wasn’t go to stay for dinner because my family was worried about me walking home from the train station at night, but my host family kindly offered to pick me up from the train station when I returned since I was going all the way to visit my family.
For dinner we had spicy curry that is supposedly from a famous curry place and gyoza from a restaurant that they like to eat from. They also gave me that salad pictured in the bottom right which I couldn’t eat because I had already used all my bravery at lunch time. Soon after finishing it was already time for my cousin and I to leave to go and catch the train back. I feel bad that my cousin also took the shinkansen with me to Omiya station but she insisted. I really am getting spoiled here!
At Omiya station I said bye to my cousin and then I headed back to Fujimino on my own. It was a really nice day since I got to visit relatives who I hadn’t seen for a while. I figured that while I am in Japan I should see them as often as possible, especially when we live as close as we do. Hopefully the next time I go I can make it there and back on my own so my cousin doesn’t have to come and retrieve me. The shinkansen is pretty expensive and it feels excessive to make her pay the fare multiple times just to escort me.
Overall, I am just really grateful to have seen my family again and that they really made me feel taken care of even though we weren’t that close since they live in Japan. Hope to see them again soon!
My next posts will either be about my second Ikebukuro adventure or my school’s international camp–although I’m hoping to wait a bit on that one to see if the International Exchange Office will share their pictures they took with us. Thanks for reading!