We survived the 10 hour flight from Tokyo to LA, then a few more hours to Denver, avoiding the tornado at the airport. Culture shock has hit, something I was not prepared for, which highlights some things I already miss about Japan. My initiation was boarding the plane in Tokyo, when I found my seat next to an obese American who lifted the arm rest between us to allow his hairy arm to spraw into my lap. Half of the area in front of my legs was occupied by his leg. And somehow, he didn’t get up for ten hours, even after three drinks and two meals. During the turbulence, he commented on the pilot’s poor use of air speed and altitude.
Its Saturday at 10 am here, Friday at 7 pm in Denver. Its time for the 50’s and rain to end in Denver, a strange streak of weather at home we’re happy to have missed. We have one bag full of the funk, visible odors emanating from that dirty clothes suitcase. We have been staying in the hotel part of the National Children’s Castle, which has several floors of kids activities. So far, we’ve only made use of the pool once, so the kids have a few hours this morning to run around.
Having seen most of what we want to see in Tokyo, we thought the girls deserved a little surprise, even if its not the “happiest place on earth” for me. We got an early start, leaving at 8:00 am, taking the train to Tokyo Disneyland. There’s also a Tokyo Disney Sea, but for a one day pass, you can only go to one of the parks. We didn’t tell the kids where we were going, letting them see in the signs when we arrived. They were definitely excited, but I’m glad they weren’t ecstatic, which would have told me they really were bored out of their minds the rest of the trip. Of course, we want this to be a fun day for them, but hopefully Toontown won’t be there best memory of Japan!
We appreciated the row of seats in the Buzz Light Year show that included headphones that play in English and Chinese. Standing in line for it, I had to wonder about this guy and his Confederate flag. I can only guess he doesn’t realize what it represents.
It was a late one last night, and no one moved until after 9:30 am. We found a bus to Roppingi, a neighborhood of Cherry Creek meets Flat Irons. We wandered the shopping mall for a bit, and eventually made it into the Mori Art Museum, the last item on my list to see in Tokyo.
What a day, our trip to Odaiba. We left the room at 8:30 am, returned at 10:59 pm, one minute before the doors to the building were to be locked! We saved some money by going with a hotel with a curfew, never thinking we’d ever be out that late. I can’t even think about what we would have done if we had been locked out, looking for another room at 11 pm.
Age is measured in many ways. Hanging with your kids on all the rides at the amusement park is one of them. For me, it was one of the virtual reality games at Joypolis that did me in, sent my stomach churning and almost re-visiting breakfast. I did recover to play more games, after a break. I wonder if any of their other prior guests had this problem: Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Burnout Running was fun, racing against others on a treadmill while watching your progress on the screen in the sprint, hurdles, and long jump. Of course, their largest shoes were too small for my size 11’s. The other fun ride was the Halfpipe Canyon, skateboarding without any falls. We need a place like this in Denver, though with a cheaper unlimited pass ($35).
Who we are alive must now determine how to use the wisdom and technology stored in the sea of fertility. We must decide what sort of future society we will build. It’s time for you too to plunge into the great deep full of this duman wisdom and exercise your creativity to help build the future!
Finally, I had to check out an onsen, where all is bared for hot water to soak in. I wasn’t able to get to a more authentic one, so went to Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari. It is setup more like a touristy destination, with a food court to eat before and afterwards. With a guide, I might be daring enough to try a more authentic onsen, but going solo is easier in some ways, too. I wasn’t able to convince anyone else in the family to go, even though it is separated by gender. The girls already insist on locking the door from us even when they change clothese, so they had no interest in this.
Lonely Planet is right, the Edo-Tokyo Museum is a great museum of the city, one of the best they say. It traces the history from the days of samurai in Edo, to the modern (renamed) city of Tokyo. The city fought fires repeatedly, and was levelled once by the Great Taito Earthquake in the 1920’s, and again in WWII. But it didn’t take long for Tokyo to host the Olympics (1964), and soon thereafter surpassed many Western countries in wealth, technology, and more.
Today has been planned since January, since tickets to both are in such high demand. The Ghibli Museum, the Hayao Miyazaki’s studio, is the Disney of Japan. All of his anime is here on display, from replicas of the characters to the scripts. It really shows the intense process for making these films. I only wish that photos were allowed inside.
- Beer served by women (I saw no male vendors) with mini keg backpacks. Very cool! Imagine all the waste reduced by refilling the same cup for each beer.
- The stadium is not exclusive to one beer, so each beer was available: Sapporo, Kirin, Suntory, Yebisu, and Asahi. At 800 yen, its definitely cheaper in the US, though.
- They sell ice cream, fully contained inside the “cone.”
- Lots of mascots. And cheerleaders.
- The fans are into it, much like a college football game. Their chanting and banging bats together makes it really loud in the dome.
- Lots of bunts (sacrifice) and home runs (small stadium). We saw five home runs in seven innings, including one by their star Alex Ramirez, who played for the Indians and Pirates in the US before moving to Japan in 2001. Giants won, 8-3.
- Standing only tickets are popular, but difficult to see if you don’t get their earlier. Many took to the floor to watch it on TV inside the stadium. I saw someone else watching the game on TV outside the stadium, on her cell phone! I knew they had better technology than the US, but this is way beyond even our iPhones.
- A Greatest Hits CD from Glay is coming out next week, a popular rock/pop band.
- The Rookies just hit the movie theaters, and ads are everywhere.
- Haruki Murakami’s new book 1Q84 is out, but only in Japanese. I’ll be waiting for the English translation. Apparently, the number nine in Japanese is pronounced like the English letter Q, making this George Orwell inspired.