All aboard! Hakumei to Mikochi are on a train trip to Lake Kanokan this week!

Yes that’s right. Hakumei has set her mind on fishing, so she’s taking Mikochi with her to one of her favourite fishing spots. Their day starts early, what with their train leaving around 4am. Together the ladies shiver on a bench until it’s time to board their train.

After they enter the train, Hakumei and Mikochi meet a nice conductor who adjusts their seats so they can sit together. Later they meet another young conductor named Mii-chan, a nice guy who is very enthusiastic about trains. He’s super adorable, I promise.

Once Hakumei and Mikochi have gotten settled in their seats and the train has left their station, then their exciting journey begins. The girls change trains to use the bathroom and get something to eat, and then get to enjoy their meal while watching the scenery. They even meet an old hedgehog who orders some fried yams from the food stall, and decide to try some as well because of him.

I love to travel by train and bus, so the first half of this episode had me smiling left and right because I could relate to pretty much everything the girls were experiencing. Trying new foods and walking around while the train car sways and shakes, opening a window to see the scenery or feel the cool wind in my hair… [ happy sigh ]  I’m not normally a tea person but the orb tea that Hakumei bought for herself and Mikochi looked really good, and I’d definitely give it a try!

I think my favourite part about traveling by train/bus is that I don’t have to worry about driving. Someone else is taking me to my destination, leaving me to relax. So I can curl up in my seat with a book, have something yummy to eat, or even have a nap like Mikochi does. [ nod ]

Anyways, by morning Hakumei, Mikochi and the remaining travelers finally reach Lake Kanokan. However it’s raining, so they can’t go fishing now right? Wrong! They don some non-waterproof raingear (Hakumei rips the usual oil-paper style so they are stuck with permeable gear made of cotton) and head down to the edge of the lake to fish. Mikochi is…. clearly not very enthusiastic, to put it lightly, but she’s doing her best to not show Hakumei how bored she is.

After 3 hours of fishing, they’ve had no bites and they’re both soaking wet. I thought it was a little odd that neither girl was using any kind of bait on their hook, but I guess that’s the norm in their world? Hakumei does say that Lake Kanokan is renowned for being a tricky fishing spot, so she resolves to think of another method they can try while they dry off in a little open cabin.

It’s next to the fire where Hakumei and Mikochi bump into the old yam-loving hedgehog they first met back on the train. He tells the girls that he already caught three tiny fish, but no big ones yet. Hakumei asks how he caught them and he says he was tenkara fishing (using a fly lure). Hakumei runs off to see if she can rent some tenkara lures, and when she returns with some, the two girls go back out into the rain to try some fly fishing.

But as they leave, the hedgehog catches Mikochi’s attention and tells her that she shouldn’t force herself to be out in the rain if she really doesn’t like to fish. Mikochi rushes to assure him that she’s not…. well not much anyways.

At the new fishing spot the hedgehog told Hakumei and Mikochi about, Hakumei tries to teach Mikochi how to properly throw her tenkara line; Mikochi’s first attempt results in her line and hook getting caught in a camellia blossom overhead. Afterward the girls get Mikochi’s line untangled, Hakumei continues to fly fish while Mikochi uses a bobber on her line instead.

Finally, Mikochi reveals to Hakumei that she finds fishing boring. But it turns out Hakumei knew already all along. Mikochi feels very guilty about her feelings, since Hakumei took the time to show her so many things related to fishing, but she just can’t get into the sport.

As Mikochi leaves to return to the cabin, her lines is jerked taut by a massive fish! It gets away and Mikochi almost falls into the lake. …Nope, she still doesn’t like fishing.

As the girls return to the cabin together they meet the old hedgehog once more. He has just caught a massive fish not far from where the girls were! Hmmm…

This lights a spark of interest in Mikochi. If the old hedgehog can caught “her fish”, then surely she can learn to catch something too no? Mikochi asks Hakumei to teach her more about fishing, but asks that next time they go to a spot closer to home. Hakumei agrees. Sounds like a good compromise ne?

I’m not a fisher myself, but my dad is and so I grew up with fishing in my life. There were many family trips down at the local lakes where my dad would inflate his little rubber dinghy and take my brother or myself out on the lake for a few hours to fish. There’d be some drinks and snacks on board, and it was a quiet time to bond with my dad. As I got older I think I probably brought a book out on the boat with me. I didn’t catch anything myself, but I’m sure I saw my dad catch a few fish over the years.  (But I have the memory of a dead gnat so I don’t remember them.  T_T   )

Overall this was a really heartening, nostalgic episode for me. The train trip half of the episode in particular reminded me of some of my travels through Japan with my mom in 2003 and then again in 2009. I can remember watching the beautiful countryside pass by as we traveled to Kyoto for a day of sightseeing, and I remember taking local trains through parts of Tokyo to meet friends or do some shopping. Ohhh I want to go back to Japan so bad…  ;~;