In general, Japanese people don't like Mexican food. There are several proposed theories as to why this should be.
1. Mexican food is too spicy.
2. Mexican rice has "stuff" in it.
3. Beans are supposed to be sweet.
Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, Mexican food simply isn't popular. I occasionally run into an individual Japanese person who likes it, but considering that I am working almost exclusively with English teachers who chose their profession due to an interest in foreign culture, I think it's safe to say that the people I meet are a skewed sample. When we walked through the restaurant floor of the mall, every single place was packed, with lines starting to form outside the doors. Then we got to the Mexican restaurant...which was virtually empty.
We carefully chose items from the menu (which was a little tricky, because wednesday_10_00 and I had discovered on a previous visit that they use meat to flavor their beans) and had an enjoyable meal. By the time we finished, the place had started to fill up. There were even a couple people waiting for tables to open up. As soon as we left, we could easily see why--every other restaurant in the vicinity had lines stretching far out the door and, in some cases, all the way around the corner. People were escaping to the Mexican restaurant simply because it had the shortest wait time, not necessarily because they actually wanted to eat there.
Anyway, we picked up our luggage from the hotel lobby and caught a shinkansen back to Moriyama.
August 16th was megory's last full day in Japan. She spent the morning packing as much as possible. We had plans to meet up with some friends (gnine and her sister) that evening for a festival event in Kyoto. We set off in the early afternoon, did a bit of quick shopping, and then met our friends. They took us to a gathering at a building where we could climb to the top of the roof to watch the proceedings.
For this event, huge fires are lit on the sides of several mountains that surround the city. The fires are in the forms of various characters and simple shapes, such as a boat. The fires are lit at specified times, one by one. The picture at the right shows the character that we were able to see the best from our vantage point. It was the first one to be lit. As the evening went on, we could see a couple more being lit off in the distance. It was really spectacular.
The next morning we got up bright and early to take megory to the airport. This was only a couple days after the liquid explosive terrorist scare, which was highly inconvenient because she had planned to take a load of souvenirs containing liquid in her carryon due to weight considerations. So much for THAT plan. It forced her to do a bit of strategic packing.
The line at the airline counter for checking luggage was long, and though we arrived three hours early (as recommended), at least an hour and a half was spent just at that counter. That's before even reaching the security check area. Fortunately, they let megory check her carryon for free to cut down on the wait at the security line. We said our goodbyes, and then wednesday_10_00 and I took our leave.
On our way back from the airport, we met up with gnine again in Kyoto for some manga-shopping.
At long last, our grand travel adventure had drawn to an end.