We’ve been back in Tokyo for two and a half weeks and I’m feeling rather accomplished, I must admit. We were back but only a week when we welcomed our first out-of-town guest. Technically, Jennifer was our first guest back in June or July, but she stayed with us while on a business trip and not for pleasure.
Our first official “tourist” guest was our friend, Ben, who surprisingly flew all the way from the US, arriving on Thursday night, and then left on Sunday mid-day. Yep, 10 time zones and he only had two full days to enjoy here during a short long weekend. We definitely made the most of it, though.
After his arrival, we went out for dinner in Ginza, since that’s such a great representation of what Tokyo is: expensive shopping, tons of people, and bright lights. That night, I was awakened by another earthquake. I think was the third one I’ve felt, but I think I’m losing count. It was about 2:22am and what woke me up was the sound of the television shaking on the TV stand. Then I noticed that the mattress felt like it was shimmying side to side. I woke Randy up…he acknowledged it, then got up to pee, came back to bed, and fell right to sleep. The next day he remembered me waking him…but had no recollection of the earthquake. Our friend, Ben, in the next room slept right through it and was surprised to hear me talk about it the next morning. I thinks it’s also worth mentioning that they both enjoyed lots of wine the night before. I’m just saying.
Also during Ben’s visit we brought him to the new Tokyo Sky Tree (insanely crowded and not really all that exciting for the second tallest building in the world). We didn’t bother going up (the lines were ridiculous), but we did discover a really nice supermarket in the base of the building…not that we could ever find the market again since the complex was very confusing. At night, we brought him to the Mori Tower and the Mori Art Museum (both located 52+ floors above the city. Randy and I both love the views from the outdoor roof deck and could easily spend hours up there, especially at sunset.
On Sunday, Ben had to leave right after lunch, but just as he left, Randy and I stumbled upon yet another one of Tokyo’s many festivals. In this one, all of the local shrines parade around the neighborhoods with these mini-temples that a group of people will carry on their shoulders. We must have seen 9 or 10 of them, complete with a judging stand making announcements (in Japanese, unfortunately). It was quite a sight.
During the week, I managed to complete the final annual report for my research program at work and also helped a new friend hunt for a new apartment. At night, we had sessions with our Japanese tutor and started learning numbers and the alphabet. We can comprehend as well as a 2 year old, but are still so proud of our accomplishments even though the only letters we’ve learned are A, E, I, O, U, KA, KI, KO, KE, KU, GA, GE, GI, GO, and GU. I think there are about 100 more letters to learn. Ugh – what have we gotten ourselves into?
In two more days, our friend, Peter, arrives for 10 days. Toward the end of the week we’re taking a few vacation days ourselves so that we can all head down to Hiroshima, Osaka, and Nagoya (Meiji Mura). This will be our first big “road trip” (despite being by train, not road) since we’ve been here, unless you count Yokohama less than 18 miles away.
Busy, busy, busy…but all good.
Well, everything is good except that the local pool outside our apartment is being changed over from an Olympic sized swimming pool to soccer fields. They’re about half way through the transition in less than a week. It’s kind of depressing as it means summer is officially over. On the plus side, the heat and humidity should be ending soon, too. Tit for tat.
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