Monday, August 06, 2007

Carp vs. Swallows

Originally Tuesday, July 24th

When I woke up Tuesday I was in a completely different world than when I'd gone to sleep. Any trace of the fog was gone. Outside Mt. Nantai was tall and impressive and it was hard to imagine we'd been totally unable to see it until that point.

Since it was 5am I had to try and sleep a bit more, but as soon as it hit 6am I got dressed and ran out. The others were asleep and I wasn't going to wait around. I walked down the street to the parking lot with the freaky vending machine. In the daylight the place was pretty benign so I continued along an asphalt path.

The area was beautiful. My mind wandered freely along with my feet and I regretted not exploring my own area of the world more this way. I only had about an hour and a half and no watch, so I walked as far as an old Italian Embassy.

I climbed along an empty riverbed with stairs that lead nowhere until I was back on the asphalt road again. The air was cold but I'd managed to myself up with all the walking. Thankfully my foot wasn't hurting much.

I got back and found that the other room, which held Meggish's crew and Lil Bro, was still asleep. Tech Support had gone off to shower and my parents were laying on their futons. They were all impressed with the change a day had made on the scenery.

We ate our breakfast, another fantastic meal prepared by the lovely people at Miharashi, and got our stuff together so take we could get going. My parents left first since they had to go all the way to Kyoto, and the rest of us ambled after. We waved at them as we went by, on our way to Kegon Falls.

The mob scene started there. Dozens of children from several different countries were running around. Still, we enjoyed our view of the huge waterfall, and paid the extra money to take an elevator down to the base and get splashed by the mist. As we got onto the elevator I realized I'd left my cell phone charger behind. My cell phone is my favorite camera.

Tech Support and I left a little ahead of the others, with him jogging ahead, to run back and get the charger. Despite our best efforts we had no chance of getting onto the next bus. Unbeknownst to us, the rest of our party hopped onto the wrong bus while we ran around. They would spend the next hour and half traveling to the top of a mountain and back down again, arriving disappointed and upset to have missed all chance of seeing anything more in Nikko.

Totally oblivious to this, Tech Support and I caught the correct bus and went down to the shrines.

We saw the famous "hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil" monkeys, and heard a monk clang together two pieces of wood that made metal in the walls and ceiling reverberate. We looked at pictures of the sleeping cat and grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu rather than paying the extra 520 yen to see them in person.

The sun may have made the lake beautiful but it made walking around the shrines miserably hot. Add to that the crowds and I was already wishing it was like the day before again. I had a good time hanging with just my boy, but my pleasure was subdued by the conditions.

The sacred horse from New Zealand was a little strange. No really, that's what it is. No, I don't understand.

We managed to visit everywhere but one Shrine, but as time was running out we decided to meet up with the others. This is when we finally discovered what had happened. As we boarded the train back to our hotel in Tokyo everyone was a little quiet, because everyone was a little miserable.

The day was destined to be long however, so we went back to our hotel and rechecked in. Shigetsu Ryokan in Asakusa is lovely and they had our rooms all ready for us. After about an hour everyones feelings were mostly repaired and we headed out for a baseball game, we were going to see the Carp versus the Swallows.

Forget the game itself, American baseball fans have nothing on their Japanese counterparts. The sheer effort involved with supporting their team was noteworthy. They chanted, banged things together, let off balloons in unison and waved very large flags around.

There were also half a dozen girls wandering around with large beer dispensers strapped to their backs, which a few of us took advantage of.

The day was not quite over however, because we enjoyed an abortive effort to get dinner and a little shopping done in Shinjuku. It was too late and the shops were closed and we had to get back to our hotel, so mostly we wandered around Shinjuku at night. By then I was exhausted and mostly just wandering around, following them.

We got to our hotels just shy of 11PM and feasted on donuts for dinner before passing out. Tech Support and I set our alarms, eager to try and get to the Tokyo fishmarket for once.

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