Friday, 5 June 2009

Day 17: Rest day

I woke at 5.45am and looked out the window. It was raining steadily. The rain continued to fall all day. I would later congratulate myself for having scheduled the second of my two rest days on what turned out to be the wettest day of the entire walk.

I went down for breakfast just after seven. The meal was a modern take on the traditional Japanese "morning" set and included half a slice of toast, a croissant, a hard boiled egg, salad, and coffee. Back in my room, I hand-washed a pair of trousers, two T-shirts, and one pair of sox. I then lay on my bed and watched Atonement.

Later in the morning I went to the tourist information centre in the station building to get a map of Shizuoka and to see if there were any interesting exhibitions on in town. There weren't, so I had a coffee and then went to a branch of the famous Ginza Sapporo Lion Beer Hall and had kaki-furai teishoku (deep-fried oyster set) for lunch. It was delicious, the oysters plump and juicy. I checked out a few bookshops and had another coffee before heading back to my hotel just before three.

A few days earlier I'd heard that my flight home had been changed. As a result of cancellations of Japanese school parties due to the swine flu scare, Air New Zealand had suspended some flights to New Zealand and rerouted others. So instead of flying home to Christchurch direct from Narita as originally planned, I would now have to fly via Kansai and Auckland. I'd been told I had to telephone JAL (through whom I'd made my reservations) in Japan to confirm these changes. So in the afternoon I tried ringing the toll-free number I'd been given, first from my mobile phone and then from the telephone in my hotel room, but I couldn’t get through. In the end I had to go down to reception and call from there. The receptionists were very helpful, and I arranged to have a copy of my new itinerary faxed to the hotel.

For dinner I went to a Royal Host family restaurant I'd passed earlier in the day. There wasn't a lot on the menu I could eat. I eventually ordered the pilaf with deep-fried shrimp and curry sauce. It was a very unsatisfying meal. Not only did the curry sauce have bits of meat in it, but the combination just didn’t work. It was as if whoever devised this dish simply took three items that were popular and threw them together with no thought as to whether they would complement each other. To make matters worse, the portion was quite small, especially in light of the 1260 yen price. On the way back to my hotel I popped into a convenience store and bought some cheesecake for dessert.

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