My friend Kyoko is fortunate enough to have a car. So Kyoko, Johanna and I decided to go to the Costco in Kobe. Normally, Kobe isn’t that far; maybe an hour. So we got in the car at about 5:30 PM, happy to be going somewhere together, looking forward to the brief roadtrip. Johanna was dreaming of maple syrup and bagels, I was looking forward to pizza or a hotdog at the eatery (of course) and buying real cheese. What I didn’t know, however, is that Kyoko had only been to the Costco once, and as a passenger. On top of that, the only map she had in the car was so old that the streets were no longer the same names. But at the beginning of the trip, all was well. We were listening to Norah Jones and enjoying the company.

After about 45 minutes, Johanna asked Kyoko, “Do you know where you’re going?” I thought it was an odd question. Surely Kyoko knew where we were going because she had been there before. It was when Johanna suggested she call her friend who drove last time that it hit me that Kyoko was, in fact, lost. Kyoko finally pulled over and looked at the ancient map. Johanna asked, “How old is this map?” and another little alarm bell went off in my head. Johanna and I tried our best to help Kyoko figure out which exit to take, which way to turn. Johanna was much more help than I was, since she could read some Japanese. By the time I figured out what the first 2 letters on a sign were, we had long passed it.

Rest assured that after 2 more pullovers, a lot of laughing, and another hour of driving, we finally saw it. There it was, like a beacon in the night. COSTCO. We eagerly jumped out of the car and headed for the entrance, where the hours were posted. It was Monday, so the store wouldn’t close until 8 PM. Unfortunately, it was now 7:30. How do you cover all the ground in Costco in only half an hour? Very quickly, that’s how. Johanna didn’t get her maple syrup or bagels, and I didn’t get my pizza or hotdog at the eatery. But we got lots of good stuff in the short time we had, including my real (cheddar) cheese. There was an employee that was actually following us and covering displays behind us 🙂

So when we left, we were extremely hungry. None of us had eaten dinner, since we expected to eat at Costco. But first, we had to find the right street to get home before we could relax and eat. Johanna asked me, “Do you have to be back at any particular time?” I jokingly said, “No, as long as I get home around 11.”

After we drove around for a while, and Kyoko figured out where we needed to go, we started looking for a place to eat. Did you know they have Denny’s in Japan? Neither did I! But don’t kid yourself, it’s nothing like Denny’s in Bolingbrook. It’s much nicer, for one thing. It was more like an upscale Baker’s Square. And the menu had all Japanese food. Except for the American Sandwich, which is what I ordered. It was just a club sandwich with fries, but it was pretty good.

So after we were fed and had gone to the bathroom, we set out for the long car ride home. And do you know what time we got back? You guessed it. 11 PM on the dot.