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I’m in the most awesome “hotel” that I’ve ever been to I think. And its only $20.


After wasting most of last night writing, packing, going to the grocery store, cleaning my shirt, etc, I found myself ready for bed about 3 or 4 AM. I woke up about 9:30 I think. Not that much sleep, but it was enough for the made who was barging in just minutes later. I kicked her back out and went to work preparing for my departure. My shirt wasn’t dry yet, so I grabbed the hair dryer and turned on the heat.


In the end I decided to keep the laptop with me. I did save some weight though by shipping back one of the two external hard drives, and some other things. I take a lot of photos each day, and the ability to look through them and edit them at the end of each day is just something I didn’t want to give up. I figured I could spend the day with the laptop, and if my bag was still too heavy, I could mail it back tomorrow.


So the first stop was the post office, naturally. I forwarded the clothes I intend to wear when returning to the US, and mailed back anything else that wasn’t needed or I haven’t used, including 2 of my camera lenses. I was reluctant to mail back lenses lest they be damaged, and besides, I thought I’d like to have them all at my disposal. But I’ve identified lenses that are redundant in normal usage (but are truly amazing in certain circumstances.) A rather big surprise is that my 18-200 “mega zoom” sort of fell out of my favor. I’m just not overly happy with it. I’d rather change lenses more often, and have sharper photos.



Afterwards, I decided to walk a bit. I didn’t really feel like leaving for some reason, even thought I didn’t really know what there was to do in Kumamoto except for some castle that would only cost $5 to see it. So I began to walk. I blundered onto the river bank, and I’m really glad I found it. There were lots of yellow flowers, and the water level was low so I went out a bit on the exposed areas of the river bottom. I soon discovered that there was trash, including a mostly buried bicycle. Only the a small part of a wheel and the handle bars could be seen. I noticed a big pile of bikes near one of the banks. I’m guessing that people throw bikes into the river, though I’m not sure why. I’m sure back home, I could get all freaky in the garage and have some monstrosity of a bike to ride around on by using all of the frames and bike parts available in this river.


Eventually, I found the castle. The outside was actually quite stunning. The gardens were of course still barren, but the main tower was spectacular. It was white and black with really interesting lines. Really good. Inside, well, it was another museum. I really think it would be cool if a castle was set up to look exactly like if the Shogun was at home. Even better would be for some of these castles to work together so that some castles showed the castle at time of war, while others would show the castle at times of peace. Photos were not completely banned inside the tower, but most of the displays had no photography signs. I think in each display there were light meters. I waved my hand over one of these mysterious devices and could instantly see the readout change. I imagine that its not photography in general that the staff really wish to prevent, but flash photography.


I can see that it’s easiest to just say no photography rather than ban flashes, since so many people either don’t know how to turn off their flashes, or they don’t know when the flash shouldn’t be used. It annoys me to no end to see flashes on little point and shoots when their subject is more than 15 feet away. The flashes really don’t do anything at that distance except annoy me! Oh well, there wasn’t much to photograph inside anyway, as I said, I’ve already seen most of what these museums have to offer anyway. Up on top there was the expected look out area. I’m going to say that Kumamoto castle is a good deal at 500 yen, and in the summer I bet it would be even prettier.


Afterwards, I set off to find a camera store. The 18-200 had a couple of filters (glass elements that are used for various purposes, and are screwed onto the front of the lens) which I wanted to replace. Of course, the 18-200 had a special filter size. I also wanted to get a protector filter for one of my lenses. With protectors in place, you can just about leave the lens caps off full time without having to worry about scratches. The camera store I found didn’t have much of anything, so I took the tram back to the train station. I got onto a train and in about an hour I found myself in Kagoshima.


It was raining when I arrived, and I was unable to find a hotel with a quick walk. I went to the information desk and asked them for help. They were amazing. They gave me a list of hotels, maps, and even told me where a large camera store was. So I went to the camera store and found all of the filters I was searching for. I hope to start play, eh, using them, tomorrow. The guy was pretty helpful, and even gave me an umbrella.


So I walked around a for a while trying to find a cheap hotel. I found the one the info desk had told me about, but they had no space.


Well, I had spotted this internet cafe nearby, and I’d read somewhere that you could really spend the night at these places. I went inside but there was some communication difficulty. I asked them about sleeping here, and they told me that you had to be a member. And that was all they had to say about that. Actually, that was about all they could say. I said goodbye but hesitated a bit to see if they would tell me how to be a member. They just stood there.


So I went outside to consult my maps. I had had a couple of other choices, but this internet thing was really what I wanted. I knew they offered what I wanted, but we just weren’t able to communicate. So I went back inside and then after some difficulty, I managed to get them to fire up a computer and turn on Google translate.


Allow me to take a minute to thank Google They are probably on the way to controlling the internet, because they have a lot of free tools available, and nothing in life is free. But I don’t care. We would type and translate our messages, and finally we got it all sorted out. 2,000 yen (about $20 USD) gets me a small cubicle with a thick mat covering the whole floor. Sort of a mattress. There’s a computer, a light, power outlets, and slippers which were built for someone with feet far smaller than mine. No matter. It gets even better. Free coke, coffee and tea. A basket of small cookies, which are free, but I bet they’d balk if I just picked up the basket and moved it into my cubicle.


Now, the computer/internet situation was a bit of a problem. The keyboards in Japan are different. A few of the keys are in different places, but the worst thing is that the space bar is about ¼ the size of a US keyboard’s. Extra keys are stuffed into that space. These extra keys seem to control the typing mode of the keyboard, so I’m constantly switching from English to Japanese.


No wireless internet, but after a bit, I figured out how to connect the LAN cable to my laptop (and familiar keyboard) and get the internet to work. So now I’m typing up my days’ activities, editing photos, and uploading the three day’s worth of photos that I’ve not dealt with. In fact, this sort of tells me that I made the right choice by not sending my laptop back.



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