Wednesday, and time to leave Chiba. The homestay families brought our students to the hotel where we assembled for a group photo in the park across the street. Today was also high school graduation day. (The school year in Japan ends in March.) Around us were girls in fancy costumes. The looked more like Korean dolbok than kimono and I never did find out exactly what the costumes were called. The CYO moms did indicate they were expensive and were for graduation. (Sort of an equivalent to an American prom dress.) It appeared that families book rooms at the hotel so everyone can assemble and get ready for the ceremony. The girls and their families quickly disappeared into taxis. The festive scene also was evidence that downtown hotels in Japan like the Sungarden are more than places for tourists or business travelers to stay.
Farewell Photo in Chuo Park
The Sungarden also had a wedding chapel on the first floor. It was set up like a Western-style chruch, with an organ, pews, and stained glass. The mezzanine shops at the hotel, as well as selling the graduation attire, also offered Western style wedding dresses and formal wear. It appeared that a couple could book their wedding and reception at the hotel, and have the familes and guests stay there.
Reluctantly, MYO pressed on to Chiba station and caught a train for Tokyo. There, we were to board the Shinkansen for Kyoto. Train travel enthusiast that I am, I was very excited at the prospect of riding the famous Shinkansen at last.
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