Anyways- that's not the real story. Since I was coming home around 2:40, the train platform was nearly empty. I managed to make an excellent train connection (only a minute wait!) and was silently glowing with glee at my amazing luck when...
I stepped into a train car full of elementary school students. Literally, the whole train car was packed roof to floor with kids- no adults in sight- who saw me and immediately SWARMED. My hands were shaken, my backpack tugged on, and it was only a combination of dimly-remembered skill and catlike reflexes that saved me from an armada of incoming Kancho attackers.
I spent two stops playing with the kids- essentially being subjected to a battery of personal questions, a lightning-fast test of my Japanese, and constantly hovering one step away from an abyss of Kancho pain. They were from the next town over, going on an after-school trip to some temple in Kyoto, and as such had never met me- it was like the first day I got here, all over again. Every new group reacts essentially the same way, but you see it from a swarm of grinning kids and you can't help but laugh. When I got off the train, the entire car gave me a "BYE-BYE" that resonated throughout the station like the ring of a temple bell, and I believe continues to susurrate in the hallway at this very moment. It was a good way to end a workday- now, I must continue my battle with the ants. As an apology for a curtailed entry, have some more Kyushu pictures!
One Ugly, Angry Dude; Shimabara Castle, Shimabara Peninsula, Kyushu. This peninsula was the last stand of Japan's early Christians- though it creates an interesting mental picture, many lords and samurai converted to Christianity, and when the edict came down that no "foreign" religion was to be tolerated, they holed up on the peninsula here and fought to the death. Many were killed in the fighting, and those captured were boiled to death in natural volcanic vents called "Jigoku"- Hells- that now provide water for hot-spring resorts.
The front-door arch of the Murakami Cathedral at Nagasaki, relocated to the epicenter site. The cathedral was largely ruined- the statues melted and bleached, the great hall fell- but this arch stood after the blast, and has been preserved in the state it was found.