I decided to hop on the bus after class and go visit my friend in Yamaguchi for a day as Golden Week started because I had no plans and because yay for impromptu trips! Besides, from Fukuoka, it only takes a ¥3100, three hour-ish bus ride to get there, so why not? Seeing more of Japan is always a win~
I later found out that apparently international students get a discount that I didn’t know about, so I could have only paid ¥2700. Sadface. That could have been lunch money.
Anyway, I already knew Yamaguchi was a quiet place, so when we went exploring during the day, I knew that I wouldn’t really be seeing many other people. But still, the emptiness surprised me. For a supposed important town, having the streets as empty as one of the outlying towns near Fukuoka felt a little surreal.
The only place where I really saw a considerable amount of people was when my friend took me to see a football game between Yamaguchi FC and a visiting team (my first live sports match!). It was actually so exciting. I was a little bored as the game started (what is sports what is teams what is ball) but then the first half ended with the visiting team on 1-3, so the second half got really aggressive with lots of action and running and shouting and injuries and switching of players, and then the home team won 4-3, so everyone was cheering and clapping, and the marching band went ballistic. And they hadn’t stopped playing tunes and doing chants during the entire two hours I was there.
And because the football game was the first thing I went to that day, when I arrived in the actual town centre and saw no one… This was the emptiest town I have ever seen so far in my twenty-one years of life. I’ve never felt so potential-zombie-apocalypse empty, ever.
Then my friend took me exploring Yamaguchi, and that was when I fully realised that Yamaguchi is really not a place you go to for any sort of commercial activity. You go to Yamaguchi to ramble down its little streets and paths, to walk along the rivers and streams, and to stumble upon little-known shrines, all meticulously well-kept and photogenic. Although there were practically no people, this made everything so serene and peaceful and pleasant and if I wanted to go somewhere to retire, I would move there in a heartbeat.
We also managed to find what we suspect is the dubiously rich people area of Yamaguchi, because their houses were beautiful. Oozing traditional Japanese charm, roof tiles gleaming, gardens on point, the weird trees with flat discs of branches and leaves, These were definitely not just any old Japanese house. These were legit. And definitely encapsulating aesthetics that I want in the future. #futurehousegoals
If you really wanted to go and meet people, or go and play at night, you would have to be nearer to the university and Yuda onsen, because when we were in that area looking for dinner, I saw more people walking around there than I did downtown.
My friends later told me that most of the commercial activity was an hour bus ride away from Yamaguchi where the airport and the main JR station were located. But I could get that in Fukuoka. But the vibe of Yamaguchi? Definitely worth feeling, just for a day.