Above photo is a creeper shot I needed to take at the Aizuwakamatsu station. This father was hiding his phone under his leg, sneaking in Puzzles and Dragons moves while his son and wife were looking the other way.
I don’t like Aizuwakamatsu.
This dislike has nothing to do with the fact the only part of this entire city I liked was the train ride in. Not at all anything to do with how the snow piled high on the streets weren’t shoveled. It took fifteen minutes for a five minute walk because my suitcase kept getting stuck in the snow.
Nor how every restaurant was closed except chain izakayas (Japanese pubs) who didn’t want to seat one person. Nothing to do with how the servers at the izakayas refused me by saying: “Sorry, we are all booked with reservations” uhhhh what? The place has open frickin’ tables you assholes. I CAN SEE THEM FROM HERE. And how the one place that did seat me was silently judging I see you all whispering about me — so I ate and drank 6,000 yen apprx: 60 USD by myself. At a place equivalent to a TGIFriday’s. Mainly as a passive aggressive F-you I can ring up a tab for two. Stupid, but whatever. I’m a kid sometimes.
Nor how I woke up to a severe blizzard. Like, North Pole status. How Santa manages to load his sleigh and motivate the reindeer I have no idea. And of course it has zero to do with the six hour train delay, sitting in the station in the country, with only two convenience store kiosks, a souvenir shop, and a standing soba shop. (Most stations have at least a coffee shop or restaurant with seating and HEAT.)
I also get how the station is so small and connects to the open platform so the winds blow in from one end to the other. And sure, I understand how Aizuwakamatsu wouldn’t place heat as the staion is wiiiiiiiiide open.
Of course, the usual one hour train ride from Aizuwakamatsu to Koriyama (where the bullet train to Tokyo leaves) taking two and a half hours, making me miss my bullet train connection was inevitable - the weather was absolute shit. Like Ned Stark Winterfell from Game of Thrones shit - and how I’m still stuck in the middle of nowhere and overpaid for a hotel… has nothing to do with this “ugh” I feel towards Aizuwakamatsu.
I put all that behind me and just ate a delicious dinner; even made new friends.
Full, a bit drunk, and now happy, I disregarded today’s unfortunate events as: hey, it’s still January 2nd. Of course, things are shut down. And… it’s far up north in Japan, the weather Gods are just against me. I’ll re-visit when it’s warmer.
And I tried to get past the entire day. I did. But I just can’t get over this one thing about Aizuwakamatsu:
「携帯電話の充電はご遠慮ください 会津若松駅」= Please refrain from recharging your mobile. Aizuwakamatsu station.
This is just mean.
These past seven days, I have visited 18 train stations in different parts of Japan. Not a single one, was as stingy as Aizuwakamatsu!!!!! I refuse to let them win this outlet war (one-person war?) so I went to look for more outlets.
This was one in a high traffic area which probably explains the duct tape because you know, duct tape solves everything. Duct tape is global bitches!
And this one, tucked behind a pillar was sure enough, taped up too. At least the electric tape is a bit classier than duct tape. Plus it’s white. To match the snow.
With my phone down to 22% at noon, I had to improvise. There was 1. no way I was going to leave the station to look for an outlet — the train station people were updating the angry crowd once every 15 minutes on the status of the trains and 2. I didn’t want to resort to my extended battery yet. Just in case I had to spend the night at the station stranded, or sleep on a park bench because the hotels are sold out or something — gotta always be prepared for the worst case scenario because there is nothing more unsettling than a dead phone.
There was no way I was going to be without Internet. I was on a mission to find a fucking outlet. I was not going to let this station get the better of me. And I won.
Damnit, I won.
Almost every JR (Japan Railway) station has a Green Window 「緑の窓口」Midori no Madoguchi. The Green Window, has ticketing agents that have access to JR’s nationwide reserved ticketing system. Depending on the station, the Green Window has a travel agency attached. Aizuwakamatsu Station has a travel agency connected with the ticketing booth.
Because it is January 2nd and the majority of the country is on New Year holiday, the travel agency was closed. My outlet radar is sharper than most and I spotted the outlet right when I walked through the door and into the Green Window area.
Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaa. Operation charge-phone-I-am-1UPing-this-greedy-ass-station-that-ghetto-tapes-outlets = SUCCESS.
I crouched behind several metal racks of pamphlets, hid myself from plain view and happily charged my phone until the trains started running again.
Granted, I hid behind these for about five hours, like straight ninja shit, but whatever. At least my phone had connectivity.
I win, assholes.
Can’t wait to play round two ;)
In case you’re wondering, the father, from the photo above, killed about 45 minutes of the long wait. I sat across from them mesmerized but more so amused, by how slick the guy was. He didn’t get caught playing. Not once. Skills!