Travelling through Japan is super easy thanks to the amazing railway system. It can be pricey, but if you plan your trip in advance, you can get really affordable rail passes for various zones. We decided to take a trip a bit further out, to visit Himeji.. because it has a castle.. and as we all know, Dom loves castles!
It was a sunny weekend during the Cherry Blossom festival, so were not the only ones there - when we arrived, there was a huge queue to visit the castle. It had us worried, but fortunately it didn't take as long as we would have thought. Unfortunately, the reason the line didn't take that long is because they rush everyone through the castle quite quickly, so we left it feeling somewhat unsatisfied.
On the plus side, there happened to be a really cool Cherry Blossom festival happening on the grounds, so we watched an assortment of entertainment, listened to traditional Japanese music and, most importantly, sampled some fresh local Sakes :)
While hanging out in the crowd, enjoying our sake, we were approached by a young Japanese couple who asked us if we like fish (or something like that). It felt like a rather bizarre encounter and a very random question, so we muddled through trying to figure out if we were actually understanding their question correctly. Eventually we kinda politely responded "well.. yeah, we eat fish".
They looked at each other with delight and giggled. The guy walked off toward the food booths while the girl stayed to chat with us. When he returned, he was holding a big round meat lollipop that he had purchased, and he promptly handed it over for us to try.. meanwhile they both stared and smiled at us curiously.
...the strangest things run through your head in these situations - we simply couldn't make sense of what was going on!
We looked at each other in confusion, but politely tried the fishy meat stick as they eagerly observed our reaction and asked, "Do you like it???".
"Yes... it's good", we replied. Again, they looked at each other and simultaneously laughed in delight.
Ok, the suspense was killing us. "...but.. why?", we asked them in confusion.
"Why?", they responded, almost equally confused.
"Yeah.. why did you want to buy this for us to try? Was it because you thought we would find it weird? or gross?".
Again they looked at each other and laughed, and their answer was simply, "Just because... these are a very traditional food in this area. We really like them... and we thought you might too!".
And that was that... and then they offered to buy us more sake!
Despite the lingering sense of confusion about how this had all come about, we ended up sharing a couple more rounds of sake with them while having a really great conversation about travelling, our visit to Japan, what life and work is like for them in Japan, and answering all their curious questions about what things are like in Canada. They were a really cute couple.
They were super excited when they discovered that we were from Canada because it's a place that they both really wanted to visit. We asked them where in Canada they wanted to go, and they shocked us by responding "Yellowknife!".
Yellowknife?? How do they even know about Yellowknife!? Out of all the Canadian cities that people usually visit, we never would have guessed that someone would respond with Yellowknife! .. eventually it all made sense when they explained that they heard about the Aurora Borealis there, and really wanted to see it one day!!
About an hour later, they told us they had to head home. We said goodbye and they were gone as quickly as they had appeared.
It was such an unusually unique and memorable encounter, that it left us recounting it to people long after. Travelling is so great for stuff like this!
After such a long fun day, few things beat a little nap in the park, under warm sun and cherry blossom trees :)