Belmont University

I'll never look at a bicycle the same way again

AaronToday a small group of us (Annalise, myself, Ryan, and James) went with Dr. Vilekova to Okayama and went cycling on a scenic route to the Kibiji district, which is a historic district in Okayama. We left Otsu at around 8 o’clock and took the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Okayama. First things first, everyone had to eat. We went to a small French café in the Shinkansen terminal and ate a light brunch and drank coffee, and from there we went to one of the most famous gardens in Japan. After leaving, we decided to walk to back to the JR station to get on our train to the bicycle shop.

Once we arrived at the bicycle shop, we persuaded the reluctant store clerk to take a picture of our group on our rented bicycles. Smiling for the camera, I only had a vague idea of just exactly what I was in for. We began riding down a street with a map (if you can really call it that) given to us by the man at the bicycle shop. We then proceeded to get a little lost.

Then we got a lot lost.

It was really beautiful and we were enjoying ourselves thoroughly, and eventually we found our way back to the path. However, after about two and a half hours of sitting on the bicycle seat, I really wasn’t having as much fun anymore. At this point, I was silently wishing we would get to JR station and go get something to eat. It really wasn’t so much that I wasn’t having fun, per se… It was more so that I admittedly am not accustomed to such endeavors, which translates into the fact that I rarely ride my bicycle. Sorry mom!

About 3-ish hours after I stopped having an amount of fun proportionate to when we began, (about 5 hours total of riding our small Japanese rental bikes) we arrived at the other bike shop near Kibitsu station where the man proceeded to yell at our exhausted group in a dialect of Japanese we didn’t understand at all—although none of us understood much Japanese to begin with—and kept yelling while we struggled desperately to try to ask him where there was a close place to eat. (Picture five foreign people gesturing wildly to a man yelling in Japanese.) Finally, when the train arrived for Okayama station, and we gave up and returned our bikes.

We found a place to eat dinner and managed to make the waitress understand that neither Annalise nor I eat meat. The food was delicious and very authentic, and midway through the meal I didn’t feel like I was going to die anymore.

The internet in my hotel room doesn’t work, though… which is sort of an issue, but as our trip winds down and the theme seems more and more to resemble that of the amazing race, (because we’re always lost and always in a hurry to see as much as possible!) we are definitely making memories and changing our perspectives of ourselves and the culture we are immersed in. This has been an amazing, life altering experience, and I’m sure the next three days that remain of our trip will be equally as exciting as all the other days we’ve spent together in Japan thus far.