After the worst hotel breakfast I've ever had (literally just coffee, rolls with butter or jam, and hardboiled eggs. Nothing else at all.) we headed off to the first destination of the day. We struggled to find something to see in the area, but decided on seeing a World Record holding bridge - The World's Longest Wooden Pedestrian Bridge, Hourai Bridge.
At the other end of the bridge was a small shrine.
Long life symbolized by a turtle
And a bell to ring 3 times for a good love life. If you ring it more than 3 times, it won't have any effect.
I spotted something out of the corner of my eye - an abandoned van! We had planned on doing some urban exploration on this trip, but not this soon! It looked somewhat new, I wonder why it was dumped here.
For those who don't know, urban exploration, or urbex for short, is the act of exploring and photographing abandoned buildings. In Japanese it's called Haikyo, and since I'm a massive weeaboo that's the word I'll use from now on. It's also something where it often REALLY helps to have a car, so it's something we couldn't have done otherwise, so it was a perfect activity for the roadtrip.
All fired up from the abandoned van, we checked for other abandoned stuff on the road, using a site called haikyo.crap.jp. Yeah, Crap. Whatever.
The first place we found was called the London Hotel, and was an abandoned Love Hotel (=hourly hotel for couples to have sex in).
Since I'd never do anything as questionably legal as trespassing, I waited outside and these photos were tooootallly not taken by me. Whomever did take them did wish for the first time he had a real camera instead of just an iPhone though.
The hotel grounds were surrounded by somewhat dense foliage, which was was right in front of a massive old people's home or something. We parked our car among like 100 white company logo cars... we must have stuck out like a sore thumb. As we were going back to the car to leave, a woman in professional clothes with a clipboard approached up and started talking. We pretended not to see or hear her (really hard when they're almost next to you), got in the car and drove the f away.
We stopped at a 7-11 on the road to pre-order tickets to the AKB48 senbatsu sousenkyo (election) museum. Each ticket comes with a free member poster, so a certain person in our group bought quite a few tickets. We'd later learn that you didn't need more than one ticket - you can just buy extra posters on the spot. At a third of the price of a ticket... D'oh!
Desperate to find something to see on the way, I took to Wikivoyage and found an old (restored) checkpoint gate from the 1600's. It was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu to control the flow of people and goods.
This room was used to check if women were actually women or men dressed up...
This area is famous for it's tasty eel (unagi), so we tried keeping an eye out for a restaurant to try it at, but they all looked closed. I guess it's not the high tourist season. This was literally the last one before the highway, so we stopped and went in. then we saw the price list and turned on our heels. No eel for us.
We ended up eating at a highway Service Area instead. I'll write a bit more about the highway system and the service/parking areas later on.
Today was also the start day of a Ichiban Kuji raffle sale held at FamilyMart convenience stores around the country. They had a shelf of 100 SKE48 goods. You paid 600 yen to pick a ticket which had the number for one of the goods on the box, and you got that item off the shelf. Once all the tickets are gone, all the goods are gone and the event is over.
Now this convenience store was only accessible on the toll highway out in nowhere, so they still had ALL the goods. We all got a ticket and then Pollinic and I tried applying peer pressure to Naruse to buy more. I think he got a second one. I won a bearbrick figurine for some member I didn't care about, and I later gifted it to Zabitan.
We'd later stop at every FamilyMart we passed in Nagoya and check what stuff they had left and try to pressure Naruse into buying more shit. Once we left Aichi-ken, it seemed like no FamilyMarts had it anymore, so maybe it was mainly done in Aichi-ken?
That night we spent in Nagoya, so of course dinner was to be eaten at the SKE48 Café. We got in literally a minute before last order. Girigiri!
We got the table with Matsui Jurina's signature!