Five o' clock wake-up call. The hotel room is comfortable and efficient, with no wasted space to be found anywhere. I park in the lobby just after 5:30, while Lauren goes bento-hunting and the nearest convenience store, eventually returning with some fried chicken and rice for me and noodles+broth for herself. (Oishii!)
Students trickle down to the lobby gradually, with every single one beating the hard 6am deadline. Then a short walk back to the train station, the city lights all muted now.
Hurley Sensei gives impromptu language lessons during our 15-minute wait on the platform. We gawk at trains that look like Disney monorails on steroids. Trains leave exactly on time. They're clean, silent, and fast, like the French TGV. In fact, with the countryside rushing so swiftly past my bleary eyes, and with my thick, blue winter coat trailing along the page as I write, it's easy to turn the Japanese suburbs and fields into French suburbs and fields. We're still very much in transit, I suppose, but I expect our upcoming day and night at Mt. Koya school and temple to firmly establish a sense of place.