stories from Japan

under construction: I'll add more here later

My friend wanted to take me to a night club. I had never been, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it. I asked what clothes I needed. He said I needed a nice shirt. He offered the one he was wearing, but I wasn't sure it would fit. So I went to buy a shirt at Tokyo Midtown, which is where I happened to be. I went into a shop and inquired about a shirt. $150. Plus, an undershirt, because the shirt isn't meant to button up all the way. $100. Plus, a "scarf", because they said those were popular at clubs. $150. When the time came to go to the club, I couldn't wear the "scarf" — too fancy.

Before going to the club, we went to a dumpling place, and got what turned out to be a gigantic bear (neither of us finished this). Then we went to "R2". It was packed, and not all that big. I saw no place for dancing. I asked my friend about it, and he said "no, this is a bar, the club doesn't open until after midnight". I had what my friends were having — a gin and tonic, followed by a shot of Jack Daniels. Then we went to "ColoR", a "night cafe". Cafe, not club, because apparently it was illegal to dance after midnight except at restaurants. We stood in line, and we were handed a thing telling us what we couldn't do there, which included "dancing". Apparently Japan was cracking down on dancing at clubs (or possibly cracking down on drugs at clubs, using antiquated dancing laws as an excuse to raid them). Anyway, we weren't supposed to dance. The first thing we did was get a Vodka Red Bull. I had never had Red Bull before. There was opportunity to drink more, but I stopped there. The night consisted of wedging my way through people trying to follow my friends, then stopping for a bit so we could shout in each other's ears and still not understand anything, and then go somewhere else, until we finally all lost track of each other. The music was mostly songs I liked, except modified to all sound like one continuous song with one monotonus beat. Maybe not that bad. I probably would have liked it more if there was dancing. People did kindof dance a little, but a club had been shut down the previous weekend, and I think people were legitimately making an effort to not dance. A friend attempted to get some girls to talk to me. He would shout something in their ear, and then they'd look at me and shake my hand.. I'm not sure what I was meant to do after that. Whatever it was, I don't think I did it. I left at 4:15am.

My friend and I were going to meet someone at Hikarie at 11am. I had difficulty getting there, and didn't arrive until 11:20am. Now Hikarie has about 11 floors with restaurants, and I didn't know which one, so I called my friend using Skype. He was also running late, and told me to call him back in 5 minutes. Then, my Skype app crashed, and wanted my password to login. I didn't know my password — I keep it in a password manager on my computer. I couldn't make regular phone calls from my phone, so I looked around to borrow someone else's. I saw a guy talking in English on his phone, and I was standing near him waiting to ask if I could use it when he said "are you Greg?" Apparently this was the guy we were going to meet, and my friend was calling him to say we were running late. Phew.

We ate at a place that sold "French Toast". My "French Toast" had salmon on it. It turned out to be amazing — one of the best meals I had in Japan.

After meeting, we decided to go to Kyoto. I wanted to ride the bullet train. My friend planned to stay there over night, but I planned to come back the same day, since my flight left the next day. The bullet train was nice. It had a power outlet. I got a speedometer app for my phone, and it said we were going 168 mph. We also had a great view of Mt. Fuji:

We walked along the river to a place with restaurants. It felt to me a bit like the river walk in San Antonio. There were some great smelling flowers. My friend wanted to show me some sort of barbecue place. We went to one, but it had a long wait, and I would need to leave soon for my train. A woman there spoke some English, and offered to help us find a place. We ended up at a place with absolutely no other people at all, just a chef, and an assistant to the chef. The meat was good, but I worried a bit about getting food poisoning, since maybe nobody else in town trusted this chef, and that's why nobody was there. It was also like $40, so maybe that's why other people weren't there. Anyway, I didn't get food poisoning.

At one point, my friend asked for some water. The chef didn't understand, and I got an opportunity to use a kanji character that I learned. I drew 水 on my chopstick's wrapper, and showed it to him, and he brought us some water.

With 3 hours before my flight, I went to my hotel to retrive my stuff. I asked Google how to get to the airport. It said, slowly. It didn't seem like I could get there in under 2 hours using public transportation — something about the timing of trains. So, I ended up in a taxi, paying about 10x what I would have paid, but I made my flight.

I was in the window seat. There was a couple next to me. When the women fell asleep, she would occasionally rest her head on my shoulder. It didn't seem appropriate to push it off, but I felt a bit guilty, because it felt good to have a women resting her head on my shoulder.

Of course, my flight had three legs. The first leg landed in Hawaii. I had a two hour wait before going to LA. But the plane had a problem. They kept pushing it back one hour at a time, and after three or four hours, they moved us to a different gate.

On the walk to the new gate, some people were talking to a guy who seemed to be the pilot. He was having difficulty doing something on his phone. I offered to help. While I was working on it, he brought us to a restaurant. The delayed passengers had been given food vouchers to eat dinner. The flight crew was apparently not given vouchers, and I offered to pay for his meal. He asked why. I said, "well, I paid about $200 for a taxi getting to the airport because I miscalculated how long it would take to get there on public transportation, and that's not a great story. But, paying for a pilot's dinner and having a conversation, for under $10, is a great story." It was a good conversation, but a bit awkward since this was not the pilot.

After more time, I asked if there was a direct flight to San Francisco. They put me on a red-eye that would leave in 5 hours, and I'd still get home sooner than my delayed LA flight, since I'd have to wait in LA for an early morning flight to San Francisco.

I got some Cold Stone ice cream, found a power outlet in the airport, and watched the new Arrested Development on my MacBook Air using my phone's unlimited 4G date connection. I had both devices plugged into a small power brick that I had purchased in Akihabara for just such an occasion.

Before boarding the San Francisco flight, they called me to the desk. "Are you travelling alone?" "Yes." "Would you mind giving up your seat, we're trying to get a family together." "Sure.. do you have a window seat in an exit row?" "Yes." "Fantastic."

Of course, this exit row seat did not appear to have a screen to watch TV on. So I got busy downloading music on Spotify on my fully charged phone while people boarded the plane — though the plane had a power outlet under my seat, so I suppose it didn't matter that my phone was charged. Midway through the flight, the person sitting next to me found out that we did have a TV thing — it came up on a weird arm under our seats. I finished the episode of 30 Rock that I started on the previous flight.

No comments:

Post a Comment