Chapter 12: R Country
Narita International Airport, Chiba, Japan
At noon, when Mo Shaoqing’s group got off the plane, they attracted the attention of most people in the airport. That 160-people group moved into four buses to go to the hotel. Fortunately, this time, Xing Zhipeng was sitting with him.
Along the way, Mo Shaoqing learned about the personalities of the people in his group. Wang Xuena was undoubtedly a girl with an attitude that Mo Shaoqing did not like, so in order to avoid trouble, he decided that he was going to distance himself from her.
Zhao Xiaru was quiet and introverted. Tian Xianyu was like a social butterfly. It could be said that he would definitely get along well with Wang Xuena. Zhao Duo was a very serious person.
It felt really nice to sit with someone familiar, plus Xing Zhipeng clearly investigated a lot of information. Along the road, Mo Shaoqing talked with him in a low voice.
After arriving at the hotel, although Mo Shaoqing was prepared for it, he was still shocked by the condition of the room. However, considering that the school sponsored almost a hundred of people to live here, then it was obvious that the hotel would not be a particularly high-class hotel.
Mo Shaoqing and Xing Zhipeng’s five-person group were both three men and two women. Through Xing Zhipeng, the two got to know each other. So when they were deciding the rooms, Xing Zhipeng exchanged with Tian Xinyu to room with Mo Shaoqing.
In the airplane, they already had their meal. So after they settled down, Mo Shaoqing and Xing Zhipeng immediately called their family members, they took a short rest. Then, they were called by the person-in-charge to the conference room for a meeting.
During the meeting, Mo Shaoqing was bored. The enthusiasm of going abroad for the first time was almost gone. Fortunately, the meeting was short, apart from telling them to be careful, they only told them about their itinerary.
Today was an exception, they won’t be staying at a hotel the whole time. Everyone would be staying in a local family’s house.
When the person in charge told them about their itinerary, and their free time in the afternoon, Mo Shaoqing immediately felt resurrected.
But soon, he discovered that things weren’t so simple. The person in charge asked them to move as a group when they were out of the hotel, so as to prevent people from being lost.
Therefore, Xing Zhipeng sticked to Mo Shaoqing like candy. Because of this, the two teams had to walk together. After all, if even a single person got lost, all of them would be scolded. Thus, a group of ten was born.
If they walked in the streets in their uniform, it would be too eye-catching, so they changed into regular clothes.
Chiba Prefecture was located in R Country’s Kanto region. The prefecture borders Ibaraki Prefecture to the north, Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture to the northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the southeast, and Tokyo Bay to the west.
Chiba Prefecture had Narita International Airport and large-scale international conference centers, such as the Makuhari Exhibition Hall, Tokyo Disneyland, Mitsui Outlet Parks and other large facilities.
The girls wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland, but it was located in Urayasu City, which was far from Narita, so they could only dismiss that thought.
In the end, they decided to go to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. In contrast to the red buildings of Huaxia temples, the roof and the main gate of the temple was made with wood, and the walls were painted white.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
As they passed through the gate, there were R Country lanterns made of stone. There were also trimmed flowers and trees. There was a small pond on the side. People could pray for blessings there. When you pass through that, you would see the Great Pagoda of Peace.
The Great Pagoda of Peace was Naritasan’s landmark. It was where the R Country’s people pray for peace. The pagoda was several stories high, with green glazed roof tiles and red doors. on the roof was gold which shined in the sun. There was a beautiful and exquisite garden with a fountain, and a stone path that leads to a mountain forest.
The Great Pagoda of Peace
Along the forest were beautiful ponds that had koi that was swimming freely, unaffected by the world. There was a stream that flowed down the mountain, making a small waterfall. The lake was very clear, reflecting the red maples around it. From afar, it looked like a painting. Everywhere was an aura of tranquility, allowing the people to feel the thousand years of civilization.
Everyone took a photo in front of the R Country-styled buildings, and went on their ways to visit the places they liked. When night fell, the group found a traditional R Country restaurant to eat in.
“Didn’t the school cover all of our expenses? Why aren’t we going back to the hotel to eat?”
“Didn’t you look at the schedule?” The boy who spoke was a junior from a school in N City.
Seeing everyone’s confusion, he continued to explain: “The school did cover for a portion of our expenses. However, the fees during our free time isn’t included. For example, our last day in R Country is a free day. So that day, not only do we have to pay for our own expenses, but they also want us to go find our own place!”
The trip meeting was awfully boring, so Mo Shaoqing was secretly sleeping the whole time. Obviously, there were a lot of people like him, so when they heard about this, they were all shocked.
The school originally organized free places for them to go, so that they could go there in their free time. Although they can go to other places, it would be a financial problem for them. Several male students who had a bad temper already cursed.
When they got inside the restaurant, the sushi chef was startled by them. Fortunately, they were all dressed like students, so an old woman immediately arranged seats for them.
The restaurant was pretty small. There was basically no room for other guests when they all got seated. Some of them were seated in the edge, watching the chefs make sushi. The experience was quite special.
The old woman brought a menu for them. Since they were foreigners, she took the initiative to introduce some of the meals through gestures. The school’s training for them started to be useful, everyone began to order their food.
Xing Zhipeng ordered chashu ramen and fried dumplings, while Mo Shaoqing ordered their signature tonkotsu ramen, matcha almond tofu pudding, and hot spring eggs.
At this moment, Mo Shaoqing felt that R Country was truly meticulous when making ramen. They asked how much scallions or sides do you want, or how thick the noodles would be. You could request a lot of things. Mo Shaoqing learned a lot.
After finishing their meal, Wang Xuena whispered in dissatisfaction, “They really charge expensively for foreigners. R Country is no exception. I only ordered eel rice and it’s already 1,300 yen. This is robbery ah!”
“You are right, ah. You are right!” Tian Xinyu agreed.
“Oh, that’s not right. R Country’s meals aren’t just a single dish. There is also a salad, and miso soup. The ramen broth is also very fresh, a new one is made everyday. It is also said that each ramen restaurant had their own history. They have their own unique formula……” The one who spoke was a girl from Xing Zhipeng’s group, An Keke. She looked like a decent girl, and the way she talked was very polite. Since she had been to R Country before, she explained what she knew along the way.
“Oh, don’t you know a lot.” Wang Xuena grumbled and said in a low voice.
Mo Shaoqing’s eyes were quickly attracted by the food. He did not care about what they said. His tonkotsu ramen was better than what he had imagined. Not only did it have scallions and bamboo shoots, it also had several pieces of nori.
Xing Zhipeng’s ramen looked better. There was a layer of sesame seeds on the pork belly, soft boiled eggs, and nori. When the pudding arrived, you could smell the thick fragrance of matcha. It was fresh and tasty. The fried puddings were tender and succulent. It was recently fried so it was especially crispy.
Matcha Almond Tofu Pudding
Everyone ate until they were full. They took the train to return to their accomodation for the night.
The next day, their group took a bus to go to the neighboring prefecture—Saitama. Along the way, the scenery was an eye-opener for them. The school arranged for Mo Shaoqing’s group to stay at a rural family who lived in Kasukabe, Saitama.
“What is this ah? We came here to study, not to experience life.” Wang Xuena slept the whole time, so she was naturally dissatisfied with the news. Hoewver, she also shut up.
The countryside in R Country was very different from China. The path between paddy field were made from asphalt, and there were no chickens and ducks running around. It felt very neat. Each house was a small villa, with a garden that was full of life. Since there were a lot of earthquakes in R Country, most of the buildings were made of wood.
The traditional R-style house where they were going to live was very clean. It was located on the hillside. The brook in front of the house was clear and transparent, fishes in groups could be seen going aginst the current, while various animals could be seen around. A cute scarecrow could be seen fluttering. The forest in the distance was very lush, and could be considered a paradise.
At the entrance stood a kind old couple who ran to greet them. They were wearing brown kimonos. Although their hair was turning white, they looked exceptionally spirited. As they walked towards the house, they kept on telling the group that they have suffered on their way, causing Mo Shaoqing to feel embarrassed.
The interior of the room was traditional in style. They had to change their shoes at the entrance.
Inside the house was a tatami table, and an old R-style painting on the wall. Mo Shaoqing and the other boys stayed on the first floor, while the girls’ room were on the second. The old man opened the door and showed the three beddings inside. They thanked him, then started to put away some personal items.
The old lady already prepared for today’s lunch. The dishes she prepared were shrimp tempura, pan-fried saury, and miso soup with tofu. Each dish was placed in a delicate small bowl. In front of them was a chicken katsu curry as the main dish. The old lady also made desserts for everyone. After thanking her for cooking, they had to say “itadakimasu” before dinner. (I humbly receive.)
Miso Soup with Tofu
After lunch, the group followed their leading teacher to a local high school. When they arrived, Mo Shaoqing found out that their 160-people group was divided into four different middle schools. The school they were in was actually a private middle school. Unlike public middle schools, private schools had their activities on campus.