Sunday, April 1, 2012

travel: kochi city, part one

When I was younger and read too much manga, I questioned the existence of the workplace trip. Often in these manga the co-workers would go to a Japanese-style hotel in the country, wear yukata, drink beer and gossip. My American sensibilities made me wonder exactly why anyone would go and spend time with people they spent 40 hours a week with anyway.

Now I am older and wiser, and have experienced the Japanese Workplace Trip. This wasn't my first, actually: that was to Osaka, a year and a half ago, and was less stereotypical in that we did city things like see Yoshimoto comedians and the Wicked musical, and eat Korean food.

This year, we definitely did the "jaded city workers going to a less populated area" plan, and went to Kochi city on Shikoku island.

All seven of us piled in a van and drove the three hours, with various stops along the way. From all my experiences driving around with Japanese people they seem to take rest stops way more than Americans do. ^^;;

Our first stop was to get udon. That part of Shikoku is famous for udon, and we ate at two different restaurants for lunch. Note!: even though my tutor thought this double lunch was strange, don't go on one of these trips if you're on a diet.

Next, we went to the beach right outside Kochi.

It was gorgeous. You have to pay to get in, so the trash problem at other Japanese beaches (even semi-deserted beaches in Hokkaido) is nonexistent.

When we got to town, Kochi struck me as a city in transition. There were many old, faded and unrepaired buildings surrounding the main Kochi station. The station itself, however, was new and there was a museum and various food and stalls dedicated to Sakamoto Ryoma's era. I didn't know much about the guy other than from Project Me's posts and the Ryoma Domo-kun I bought because it was cute.

The museum was not about Ryoma per se but about the drama about Ryoma. You could walk around in the sets, which were beautiful and interesting even without knowledge of the drama.

You could also dress as Ryoma or his lady friend.

A kind worker who reminded me of my grandpa told me that he thought Sakamoto Ryoma would be quite happy with me dressed like that. Even with the purple leopard print flats?!

We stayed in a fancy expensive hotel, which I never do unless I'm on these kinds of trips. ^.^ Nice to feel rich for once....the course dinner was delicious and featured regional specialties like bonito:

And yes, we drank in yukata and gossiped.

Next: Kochi castle