A few hours after Anisa left for work, I took the bicycle again and visited the local Family Mart (which was the only convenience store around, and Anisa told me it had only been there since a few months earlier).
And to my surprise… I found ice cream made of everyone’s favourite Belgian biscuits!
Lotus Speculoos (or Biscoff, as they called them in Japan) are one of the most popular biscuits in Belgium, and you’ll often get them with your coffee (in which they’re then often dipped). Though I already knew Lotus Speculoos were pretty popular in Japan, I was surprised to find ice cream with speculoos.
A year ago, when I visited my ‘family’ in Tokyo, my host mother said “Oh, I have new biscuits, they’re delicious. You should try these!” … They were Lotus Speculoos, and ‘Belgium’ was literally written on them. 😉
I couldn’t resist buying one of these, and since it was hot I had to eat it immediately. Unfortunately, the ice cream was like any other Japanese ice cream, of which I’m not a fan. Honestly, it doesn’t taste like real ice cream at all. The caramel cream inside and the little crunchy bits of speculoos made up for that though.
When I returned to Belgium though, I found these in our supermarket:
I swear, these were unbelievably delicious! First that amazing chocolate coat, with cruncy bits of speculoos in it. Then the caramel sauce layer right underneath. And lastly, the perfect ice cream with more bits of speculoos inside. Unbelievable! I remembered the Japanese version, and I was just so happy to be back in Belgium. Hahaha 😉
Anyway, back to Mimasaka!
Anisa messages me around 2 PM that she’d been allowed to go home early, and that didn’t happen often, so she wanted so celebrate by going to that hipster cafe she had told me about.
Look at that. Quite a nice little cafe, don’t you think? There was a bunch of Japanese and bilingual magazines, and we found the cafe itself in two or three of them so they must be pretty well known! We also found this antique American spelling book. The owner told us her grandfather used to use it in school, wow!
When we returned after a few relaxing hours at the cafe, Anisa started preparing fried rice. And look what she had! BELGIAN vegetables. WHAT?! Why would Japan sell Belgian vegetables? They were just normal veggies, like peas and corn and paprika, which are readily available in Japan as well. Another big surprise for my last day! :O
The next day, it was time to say goodbye. 😦 Anisa drove me to the station, and after a very emotional farewell (haha just kidding, we just took a selfie which I never saw up to now :P) I tried to buy my train ticket. A failure. I knew I couldn’t get a ticket all the way to Kyoto, so I had to get a ticket to one of the station at which I had to transfer, and buy another ticket there.
I’d looked up the whole route, but I did so twice. I had screenshots on my tablet, but the first time I bought my ticket, I looked at the wrong screenshot, so I bought a ticket to Sayo. I got directions to the platform, and when I got there, I checked the time again and realized I’d looked at the wrong route screenshot. *back to the ticket counter* “Ahum, I actually needed a ticket to Kamigori instead of Sayo…” No problem, but I still felt a bit awkward. I just had to pay up 380 yen and everything was okay. Phew! It was only 8:30, I guess it was too early to think clearly. 😉
8:52, the Chizu Express for Kamigori arrives. Lots of beautiful rural Japan scenery passes by and I’m the only foreigner on the train again. Also the only person younger than 50, it seemed. 40 minutes later, it’s time to transfer at Kamigori, a station that houses both the Chizu line and the usual JR lines so a little confusing. I followed the small crowd of people that got off my train and saw JR signs. The signs led to a sort of ticket window, but the only think I got was the little paper pictures below. I had only 8 minutes to transfer, so no time to ask questions… The chit of paper just stated that I got on at Kamigori station on the 14th of May. And then I have to pay the fare on the train. I changed trains in Aioi, where the train was waiting for us at the opposite side of the platform (JAPANESE TRAIN SCHEDULES ARE SO CONVENIENT!) and two minutes later, was on my way to Himeji. There I transferred to a train bound for a different station than I had on my screenshot, so I first asked someone (I was nervous for some reason). After 3 transfers and about 3 hours of travel (of which I spend 2 hours and 43 minutes on trains), I finally arrived in Kyoto for my WorkAway! SO EXCITED!
But then… I remembered this weird little paper I got, and I had no clue what to do with it. I just walked to the ticket gates, thinking that I would be able to pay it to the station attendant in the box next to the gates, but NO. There were two kawaii girls there, who didn’t speak a word of English, and they had no clue what to do with the paper. After some research, they sent me to this other ticket window, where I could pay the fare. This fare system in Japan is confusing! But anyway, I finally arrived in Kyoto! YAY!
I was on a pretty empty JR Sanyo bound for Aioi station, and decided to finally show the awesomeness that is Japanese train seats! I have been wanting to show you this since the very first time I went to Japan (which is now 3 years ago). You can change the train seats, so that you can choose which direction you face, and you can easily make a seat for four as well. Isn’t that awesome?! It was one of the coolest things I discovered the first time I went to Japan, and it still amazes me up until today. 😀
Uh-oh, this post got longer than expected! But all these Japan train adventures are just so memorable that I can remember every single detail of them! I think train adventures are among my best Japan memories. 😀