Friday, July 27, 2007

Kyoto Internet

To anyone checking in, we are all alive and well in Kyoto. Unfortunately the only internet connection involves sitting in the lobby on the Ryokan provided laptops, making detailed blogging difficult.

I have been writing on my own laptop however, and will post full blogs when I can again.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

After the Crash

Shopping is not something I ever do anywhere, except in Tokyo. Thus, it makes sense that my poor body should be overwhelmed by the experience. Or perhaps that was the jet lag and being unable to sleep past 5am. One of the two.

The day started out with another public bath with my mother and this time the Meggish also joined. We did girl talk while lounging around like dryads on the large wooden tub.

Once dressed we split up again into groups. I went off with my parents to Harajuku, where the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art. The museum was small, but there was an interesting representation of how the woodblock paintings developed and grew in complexity from paintings, to black and white prints, to 10-color prints.

Afterwards we walked across the street and went to a sweet little French bakery. My parents were also sweet.

Then we voyaged out into the street. Harajuku, like most areas of Tokyo, is a mob scene on the weekend. My father decided to go back and rest so my mother and I braved the crowds to check out a Muji and UT.

By then, even with the prospect of Tech Support coming to hang out, I was crashing fast. He joined us and we picked out a few T-shirts and then headed towards the station.

There I saw the edge of some of the madness that was only the beginning of Yoyogi park. People were performing and dressing up and waiting for free hugs and all the people made me want to kill. I was tired, really really tired. I gave up on the idea of hanging with my boy and instead went back to the hotel to rest.

A few hours later J-Po and the gang that went off to Ghibli came back and I had a nice time chatting with them. Then the boy returned and gave me some Japanese craft books he'd found. After looking through each of them a few times I passed out, thankfully, until 6am this morning.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

An Oasis

There are places in Japan where the history sinks into your skin, where the calmness of the earth can center you spiritually, and for any number of reasons, you can feel at peace.

But not in Tokyo. Tokyo is for shopping.

To prepare myself for this rigorous day I started out with a nice bath with my mother. The first time I came to Japan I refused to do the public bath with Eriko and her mother. I still dislike the idea of nudity around complete strangers, but the large room and wooden bathtub are too seductive to be ignored. There wasn't anyone with us anyway, and I had a lovely talk.

Already leery of traveling in a clump we split into two groups, and then three. My father, uninterested with the prospect of either electronics shopping or clothing and fabric shopping, went off by himself to Ueno. My mother, Meggish and I set out to the nearby UNI QLO.

But not before saying hello to an old friend, the giant gold turd.

UNI QLO would prove to be a disappointment both times today, so we moved quickly on to our next stop, a fabric store I'd read about only the night before we left.

Yes, that's what it's called. Five floors of more fabric than you can ever need. I don't even sew that much (though I guess I will now). I picked up a few pieces I'd seen on Superbuzzy and a few other odds and ends that will someday find great purpose.

We moved onto Ueno where without much difficulty we reunited with my father and had one of those lunches that involved a lot of 'what's that?' from the others followed by a shrug from me. Despite this, we enjoyed our food. The train going overhead and vibrating the entire restaurant added some extra atmosphere.

After that Meggish and I deserted my parents and joined up with the others in Akihabara. I'd never been to Tokyo during the weekend, and was unsurprised but still overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. The fabric store, while busy, had nothing on the electronics area. I hit a few old favorites with Tech Support and his gang before we split again, losing Meggish's fiance and his brother and gaining Lil Bro and Tech Support.

Ginza has been described as the Rodeo Drive of Japan. I've never been around Rodeo Drive enough to confirm if this is true, but it seems a little off. Ginza is too wide and varied and big to me. We'd walked about a quarter of the way down one street before we noticed something interesting.

The streets were closed off so we could walk freely on the asphalt. This had the odd effect of making the whole place eerily quiet despite the high number of people tromping around. We made another, unsuccessful, stab at finding good clothes in UNI QLO before hitting the jackpot at Muji. Three cute skirts for me and pants for Meggish.

Now exhausted, almost 7pm, we went back to the hotel, running into my exhausted and confused parents on the way. We were little help to them before Tech Support, Lil Bro and I wandered to a conveyor belt sushi place. I surmised, correctly, that the long line meant good food.

Back at the hotel I gloated over my loot.

Closer up on loot.

Now, exhausted, I think it's time to recover enough to survive the next day.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Again! Again!

Most of those who read this blog already know, and those who don't might not be shocked to find that I am In Japan Again. I know! I have to go to a new country sometime, but what can I say, they do a good raw fish.

It's 4am and I can't sleep. Last night at about 9:30pm local time I could no longer be awake. Travel will do that to you.

Yesterday started early, around 6am. Tech Support and I had managed to put off a large amount of packing and were determined to keep things exciting. He went for a final attempt at a good haircut and I cleaned around the house doing things I should have done at least a day ago. The cab was scheduled to come at 10am, and at 9:55am I was frantically vacuuming while Tech Support threw things together. The cats got a sadly hurried good-bye as we ran out the door.

There are definite good and bad things about traveling in a large group (there are eight of us, nine in Japan). But it is undeniably fun to see your parents and brother in the security line already ahead of you, and to sit and chat about the trip in the waiting area. On the plane we didn't talk too much, but it was nice to be able to chat through the chairs with Meggish and Her Fiance every few hours.

Unfortunately our plane did not have the super groovy little TV sets in the back of the seat in front of you, so we were forced to watch whatever they put on. I enjoyed "Blades of Glory", ignored "The 300" and put up with "Disturbia". I knit the ankle and heel of a sock and read a good deal of my new Laura Lippman novel.

And then, all the sudden (on hindsight anyway), JAPAN. The trip to Tokyo is always a little anticlimactic because Narita Airport is a good 1:15 away from Tokyo itself, and you have to take a train in. We descended on our hotel like some great horde, ("Are you the party of 8?" The receptionist asked as she watched us come in). We had to take the tiny elevator in shifts. Then we wandered around the neighborhood, waiting to meet with the long unseen J-Po.

Like a horde (we've GOT to split up more in this trip) we went to a little sushi style place with excellent food. By the end of the meal I wanted to head dive into my negitorodon I was so tired. At the hotel I was impressed by Meggish's Fiance's Younger Brother's desire to public bath, Tech Support went with him, but despite feeling disgusting was too afraid of falling asleep and drowning in the bathtub to do it myself. I made it about four pages into my book before falling asleep with all the lights on.

And now, here I am at 4:30am. I'm going to make another stab at sleeping shortly. This post was sadly lacking in pictures, I may add some later, but the next post will definitely have them.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Daytime Doll at Night

While the fourth of July saw my coastal area sitting comfortably in a cloud, the day before was beautiful. I'd finally managed to get some good writing done, as well as housework, and hungrily waited for the boy. I was pondering deserting for the nearby Mexican place when he called.

"It's beautiful. Do you want to go out and eat?"

"Sure, where?"

He named a cute little Caribbean place about one block up from the beach which I approved. He took a while getting home and we took a while finding parking and they took a while getting us the food. I'd had the idea of getting our food to-go and then eating on the beach, but with all the taking a while by the time we got out the sun was gone.

Not that that was a problem.

Pictures can't do the experience justice. The air was filled with the smell of salt and fish and sea and the sound of waves and water. We sat in the sand and talked about things both deep and trivial.

Afterwards we wandered over to the pier. I made noises at the boy and he got tickets for us to go on the ferris wheel. A girl, probably on summer break from the high school I went to, giggled with a night-time work-high as she explained the rules.

The best part is where you get stuck at the top while they unload the other riders. The perfect place to kiss.

Afterwards we walked to the end of the pier. By now it was very dark and the sea was impenetrable. Still, I imagined Japan on the other side while the boy told me about this Dr. Who episode he'd seen.

We walked back, leaving the pier and then the beach for the cat-filled comfort of our apartment. I look forward to many more warm evening nights.