More Than Just a Tourist

Have you ever stayed at a hotel or inn, ate at a restaurant, shopped in a gift shop, and felt like you were at home or at a very close friend’s house? These were some of my most memorable experiences during my week-long visit to Rikuzentakata. (Among many others, of course.)  Everywhere you went, no matter how long you were at each establishment, the staff and/or owners would follow you out the door and wave good-bye to you as you left the parking lot.

The first night in the city was at Capital Hotel 1000. We came in on our tour bus and checked in. It was a beautiful hotel; the Japanese version of a Marriott. The rooms were western in design. After that first night, the majority of our stay was at Minshuku Numataya, a ryokan inn. The tatami matted rooms came with a sink with bathrooms and communal baths down the hall. I greatly appreciated the cultural immersion of the stay in this inn. At the end of our stay in the Minshuku Numataya, we even got hugs from the owner, which I have heard is a very rare occurrence. And, of course, they came out to the parking lot with us and waved good-bye. The last night in Rikuzentakata, we were back at the Capital Hotel 1000.  But the waves good-bye were not lost on the formality of the establishment.

Among other things we ate out many times and visited several gift shops, and at each place, you guessed it, we got waves good-bye. I think with all of those good-byes, I definitely need to come back and say, “Hello!” again!

-Sonya Fugate, Crescent City, CA

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