We have been scheduled to meet students from Yamaguchi University on this eighth day. The university is located in the Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan's Chugoku region, with the city of Yamaguchi as its capital. This is perhaps the furthest place to the south-west that I would be in throughout this trip to Japan. Yamaguchi is already towards the southern tip of Honshu island. This part of Japan is well-known for fugu or pufferfish. I have been informed that one needs a license to remove the poison from this fish to ensure that the process is done properly.
We left Okayama by shinkansen heading from Okayama eki to Shin-Yamaguchi eki on board the Hikari Superexpress. There are only two stops between these two stations namely at Fukuyama and Hiroshima. The journey took exactly 1 hour 15 minutes covering a distance of 422 km.
When we arrived at Shin-Yamaguchi eki, we had to board a local train on the Ube line, alighting at an eki called Higashi-Shinkawa.
Throughout the local train journey, I got to see the rustic surroundings of rural Japan. The scenery was completely different from the busy metropolitans of Japan such as Tokyo and Osaka. Here, things look calm, serene and relaxing. Our destination, Higashi-Shinkawa eki, is located in - for lack of a better description - a small town. It is not quite a village, and not quite a big town.
We were met on arrival by the Malaysian students studying at Yamaguchi University. The students here have cars because public transportation is not as efficient or reliable as those found in big cities. After lunch, they took us around the towns located around the area. Initially we planned to return to Okayama earlier. But the students were very friendly and offered great hospitality that we decided to stay on for a little longer.
We took the local train to Shin Yamaguchi eki from another small eki, Maruo, before boarding the 18:21 shinkansen heading for Tokuyama eki on the Kodama Express. At this station, we changed to another shinkansen, this time the 18:51 Hikari Superexpress heading for Okayama eki. Again, the shinkansen made two brief stops at Hiroshima and Fukuyama. We arrived at Okayama at three minutes to eight in the evening.
On a personal note, I think that the Yamaguchi Prefecture is one of the most beautiful sites I have seen in Japan. Its rustic environment makes it all the more special. The place has its own charm. If there is one place that I would like to return to in Japan, it would be Yamaguchi.