Firstly, we went to the castle at night finally:
The last day, the day of the closing ceremony, was sad and fun all at once, because it meant it was all over and we had to leave, but some of our Japanese friends surprised us and showed up at the reception afterwards and gave everyone flowers. I ended up staying at a hotel with my significant other that night in Nagoya, since my flight was Saturday and his on Sunday, but we left late and it took longer than I thought to get there. The train ride was a good 2 hours and I was a bit sore from hauling even my carry on and extra item (backpack), which were both really heavy. My checked luggage I had shipped ahead of me to the airport. Nagoya airport is really easy to navigate, but it was a bit worriesome trying to figure the trains out, though not that difficult. Basically, for about $23, we took a train from Maibara station (and a $20 taxi ride to the station, which we split) and had to transfer twice, though I forget the name of the first transfer, but the second was in Kanayama, which is actually just past Nagoya, but that train takes you directly to the airport, which is why we chose to do that. I think there was an easier way to go about it, so I'd look into that if you're flying out of Nagoya. Well, hotels in Japan charge per person, not by room, though this one was sort of by room, so the first night was about $70 and the second night $60, since it was one person. Hotel rooms in Japan also happen to be rather small, but comfortable still. The hotel we were at (Toyoko Inn) was fairly big with 14 floors and we were on the 6th, and is right on the ocean and directly across from the airport, almost connected to it, which was very convenient.
And as the plane came down into Detroit after 12 hours or so, I searched desperately, hopelessly out the window for a glimpse of mountains, of the landscape I had grown accustomed to and fallen in love with, but there was only flat brown land and barren trees. No pretty little houses lined neatly next to one another. And everything in English again. So ended my amazing 8 months in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.