In the meantime, Aubrey had felt called to go to Kagoshima (just where I was heading) on Friday evening to hang out w/ our friends Erica, Masumi and Rika there, and it worked out well b/c I got there while she was still there. We enjoyed our morning alone together and then our afternoon w/ the three girls. That night, we decided to stay in a hotel near the airport (since Aub's flight back to Kikai was early the next morning and we didn't want to get up way early to catch the airport bus). We found a few hotels near the airport, called one, and made a reservation. That evening, we took the bus to the airport and then a taxi to the hotel. When we said the name of the hotel, the driver looked at us kind of funny, but took us there. We started to get a funny feeling once we drove thru a considerable grove of tall trees before we got to the hotel. The driver left us and we looked for the office for a bit, but let me tell you, the place had SHADY written all over it. Aub was like, "Alan, can we, um, not stay here?" By the time 30 seconds had passed, I was in full agreement, so we just turned around and started walking back towards the airport on an unlit street.
--Weird evening continues--
So by this time I was remembering that we had seen quite a few hotels on the Internet map, so we set off to look for one. The airport was only a mile or so from there, so it's not like we were in the middle of nowhere, but we sure felt like it! We stopped at another hotel called "Hotel J0u1r" (replace the 0 and 1 w/ "o" and "i") and I decided to take a look inside, noting only in passing that "j0u1r" in French has a highly sexual connotation. The office had a frosty window in front of the Reception and I could barely see under it by craning my head way down. The receptionist informed me that I should come back after 10 pm (it was 8 pm at this point). I argued for a moment and then turned around to rejoin Aub outside, who had already put 2 and 2 together - we were right in the middle of a "love shack" hotel district. Oops. Looking around, the way the hotels kind of hid themselves and had funky colors all over them made sense all of a sudden.
Back we went towards the airport, ducking the cars barrelling down the street, hoping they'd see us as we pulled our luggage down the unpaved shoulder of the street. Asked a restauranteur where we could get a regular hotel and she pointed us to the Airport Hotel. They wanted to charge us US$150 for a room w/ two twin beds. Thanks, buddy. Depressed, we called the only other hotel down the road, the equivalent of a Super 8 Motel, and we got a tiny smoking room w/ a double bed, a strong heating unit, and quite the tobacco scent. I was pretty ticked but couldn't figure out how to communicate in Japanese the fact that the guy had promised us a non-smoking room. Paid US$90. Life lesson was included.