A massive shift in plans has happened since last night.
First off, the whole reason for this trip is now kaput. This weekend, my family - what with its history inextricably tied to Nakamura - was to be honored by the city. They do this every year for one family, and this year is my family's turn. Or was.
Keeping up with the Japanese propensity to change things on you without letting you know (now I see where my mom gets it...), the event has been moved to next January, on the day of my great grandfather's birthday.
You know, that makes more sense and all, considering Hi-ojichan (as we called him) was the city's first mayor. Hell, there's even a big memorial down the street dedicated to him on the day he retired. The guy's like Jebediah Springfield, only without a big bronze statue of him in a coon-skin hat.
But it would've made much more freakin' sense if they'd just scheduled it that way to begin with!! You know, what with overseas luminaries like myself in attendance and all...
Anyway, that's that and there's nothing I can do about it. What it does is open up our schedule a little more, and since we've exhausted what there is to do around this area (unless I manage to finagle a surfboard and wetsuit really soon), it gives us an extra day to do whatever. My mom figured we can head out of here earlier and get a head start on our further exploration of Japan.
Speaking of which, I've definitely nixed Hokkaido from our itinerary. After hating life spending so much time in cars and trains over the last week, I decided I can't spend 11 hours in transit (one way), largely on non-bullet trains to go see the northern island for a couple of days. It'll be much better when I come back someday during full-on winter and check out the insane powder from the front-row view of my snowboard, than to go now when there's no snow and just a lot of cold. We're going to point ourselves to somewhere on the shinkansen high speed rail lines, so I never have to spend more than a couple of hours being shuttled around.
Luckily, we have Japan Rail passes that become active the day after tomorrow, with unlimited use for a week. Also luckily, hotel reservations don't really have to be honored around here, so canceling reservations for Hokkaido won't be a problem. Other than some western hotels and business hotels, lodgings are a cash-up-front affair around here. So it's not like they can charge your credit card for a night or whatever. Sweet.