Rain and Choices

I was supposed to head off for more Tokyo exploration today with a roommate, however he decided that he would go back to Kyoto one last time before his JapanRail pass ran out. So, I was deciding to actually catch up on some internets (yesterday though low key was mostly working on the updates and just hanging out in Asakusa) and it started pouring down rain. I’ll have a few pictures of that later.

Still trying to decided where to go, as I imagine we’ll still hit the locations tomorrow, so I don’t want to really do that twice in a row. I was looking into the Tokyo Tower, which is like the Eiffel Tower, but 8 meters taller, more modern (1958), red, and probably about as expensive to go up. From what I can tell, going up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center North tower was a much better choice, it’s free, goes much higher, and supposedly has a better view, not that I had a great view due to weather, but ehhh, no real complaints on my part.

I still wouldn’t mind going near the tower in Minato (I guess it means port, which makes sense as it’s the port area), but in this rain I’m not sure I really want to be aiming the camera up if I can avoid it, I’m already wiping the lens (or at least the UV filter) enough.

Ginza is another place that sounds interesting at least socially, it may not be on the cutting edge of fashion, but it’s the place to be for expensive native and imported fashion. I’d likely be horribly under dressed in the suit I brought. Even had I my three-piece, it would likely be a bit of a fashion faux-pas.

Tokyo is so vast and every city and even many districts are so different from one another. It’s difficult to just pick a place, especially as I look at a map and see three others within walking distance that are interesting, but in different directions. Information and choice overload, and that’s ignoring the rest of the entire country.

I’ve still yet to visit the National Astronomical Observatory. Though it’s getting a bit late considering the walk I would have to take from the subway. Perhaps Wednesday.

Too much to see and experience. I think I won’t see Ginza today, already dressed in something not really fancy. Not really wanting to do this over again. I just need to pick a location and get on the appropriate subway.

Choices. Why aren’t you easier?

Minato it is.

Shibuya, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, and Shinjuku

Yesterday I finally took the subway. I actually met up with someone I had been emailing with, Aiko, to which I owe a debt of gratitude for putting up with me. Seems I picked a rather boring place to go at least in regards to having a guide.

We met up at the Hachikō exit, which is pretty famous. I wasn’t familiar with it, and you may not be either. For those too lazy to click the link, Futurama’s Jurassic Bark (Fry’s dog) is pretty much the same story.


Cue the welling of tears.

Shibuya is the first of my experiences in New Tokyo (Taito being a part of “Old Tokyo”) here is where crowds really begin to be what you imagine. Just solid people as far as you can see. It’s a shopping and fashion district, which is near Harajuku, where people tend to cosplay on Sundays.

The first thing I noticed exiting the Shibuya station was a stage, apparently famous habuki actors were to make an appearance. Immediately after that was that someone was screaming into a megaphone. And wasn’t stopping. After meeting up with Aiko, I asked, and it seems he was shouting about the earthquake and Fuchikoma, blaming the reactor leak (and maybe the earthquake?) on the government. It was pretty clear from context he was likely spinning conspiracies into it, not too different from home.

I of course took pictures of the intersection everyone takes pictures of.


I am nothing if not cliché.

We went to a tea shop, and I ended up picking up a set of Tokyo Green Tea which is green tea with bits of dried apple in it, having never seen such a blend before, I figured why not?


Also found a Lego Chef

Thanks to Aiko, I discovered that pre-paid cellphones were about the only way I could get just a month (no shock), it seemed there wouldn’t be data available, and it was $1.25 per minute of talking. Pretty much screwed no matter how I use a phone here. On the topic of phones, I’m not sure I’ve taken pictures of them, but phone booths are actually pretty common here, kind of weird considering how abundant cellphones are. Go figure. Also, the phones in the booths are bright green.

There was a new shopping center Aiko had been wanting to see, and it was popular enough they had stanchions and rope out for when the queue was too long. The first four floors were all stores, go figure, the 5th floor had a fairly large Starbucks and an outdoor “forest”. The sixth floor was given all to one restaurant called Bells which is an Australian chain. It was so popular that at noon, lunch was already cut off… and that didn’t end until 5PM, so we didn’t eat there.


Starbucks has menus!

We walked down to Harajuku, and Aiko warned me that it was actually pretty small. She wasn’t kidding. To the extent that Harajuku is a social thing, it’s really just one street. There are two other parts, but only one major section, and as crowded as the streets were in Shibuya, anyone could crowd surf the entire 3 or 4 blocks where it really is a big thing. Walking through takes quite some time, even if you never stop. I actually enjoyed the other parts of the street better as you could breathe, and easily take pictures.


Not that I didn’t get any pictures.

We walked back around the other side, and parted ways at the Harajuku Subway entrance, she was off to visit friends, not having an entire day to waste on dragging around someone who doesn’t even know where guidance would be good to have. …Or because she has a life and isn’t a tour guide.

One thing that I had been wondering for awhile was answered by Aiko, I’m sure they appear in some pictures, but the yellow lines in the sidewalk with raised sections are for the blind, so that they have a reliable target for their walking canes. All we do for them is give them the chirp/boop things on the crosswalks, and I guess guide dogs are bit more common in the USA.

I decided to walk back around and at this point indulged in what would be my only meal of the day, a crape with kiwi, whipped cream, and strawberry icecream which was quite nice as I was dumb and wore the whole western outfit. On the note of dressing up, it actually seemed for the majority of the time I was there, the ratio of people in something clearly a costume was higher among foreign visitors than locals, at least until later in the day. Around 14:00 it seemed like many more locals in costume were appearing on the streets headed towards Harajuku.


They play remixes of American pop music.

After that I headed over to the other side of Harajuku street where there was space to breathe, and still a bit of weirdness. It was darker, and filled mostly with clothing shops, which, makes sense. By the time I reached the end of the street, I needed to rest a bit, as I was rather warm, and my shoulders and back still hate me for taking the camera bag everywhere.

I grabbed a few pictures here, and at one point there seemed to be some sort of group in the street planning something, and then breaking. Sadly I had my Kindle in hand and camera was kind of packed, so I missed the moment. I should have followed them out of curiosity, but I was not quite ready to move yet.

I walked back to the entrance of the crazy part, but didn’t re-enter. I instead walked back to the subway station, thinking about heading elsewhere. I checked the Kindle again, and noticed that there was a shrine nearby like a sign had said, and it looked huge. It was the Shrine to Emperor Meiji. He was kind of a big deal, ushering in modernization and at least publicly constantly wishing for peace, regretting the apparent need for the war with the Russians. It’s especially a big deal right now as it’s the 100 year anniversary of his death.


Emperor Meiji moving the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo

It isn’t just a shrine on the other side of the JR (Japan Rail) Tracks, it’s a forest, from within which you can hardly tell it is just a few meters away from trains, were it not for the sounds. I also learned there are things here unmarked, that you just don’t take pictures of. Wish that was in the brochure. It’s okay, those pictures didn’t turn out well anyway. They really didn’t. Thankfully for the most part, it didn’t matter, and I was only asked to not take pictures, for which I apologized. No arrests yet.

Once I started heading that way I decided I was going to explore a bit of Shinjuku myself, as it seemed there was a large government building you could go to the top of, 230 some meters up, for free. I like free. As I headed towards the Northern exit of the forest I saw there was another area which kept many things of the Emperor and his consort, which are now national treasures. Sadly I got there just too late to actually go in, but I wouldn’t have seen the fields and lake had the times been posted on the sign pointing the way, so no big loss.

I then wondered my way from the Northern parts of Shibuya city (not to be confused with the district of the city with same name) on my way to Shinjuku. Thankfully the 230 meter giants, ShinJuku Park Towers and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center (aka Town Hall) made it pretty easy to find my way there though a transplant helped me find a shortcut through some residential streets, which were also prime for pictures.


An obviously aging house, but it actually looks like a house.

Eventually I made it to the giant Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center, took lots of pictures around it, and made the ascent to the 43rd floor. Here I did lots of trading between lenses getting both telephoto and wide shots of the skyline, and also of things below. The ability to get pretty close on a food garden was neat.

Here you could get all kinds of gifts and memorabilia related to Tokyo, or even just toys. Two of my favorites were a paper holder with Stitch (and I guess some other experiments) flying small aircraft around the Sky Tree (if it seems like I keep talking about that, it’s because it has kind of dominated my view here, being a reliable landmark you can see from almost anywhere) and one of the coolest puzzles I’ve ever seen. It’s a 4D puzzle map of major parts of Tokyo with two layers (1958 and modern) and date color coded buildings. It was ~7100 yen. The biggest disappointment was that it didn’t go far enough to have the Sky Tree on it.  Still, probably worth it.


Maybe next time Japan. Maybe next time.

After that it was getting dark, and I was exhausted. I took the subway back to a city nearby Asakusa and walked the 1km back home. However before departing I picked up a Pasmo (similar to Suica) card so I don’t have to fiddle with change for a few days when riding that. Hooray!

I arrived back and it appeared that the hostel was hosting some sort of live music crowd interaction thing open to the public. The drums were loud, it looked kind of interesting, but not really my thing, and I really just wanted to lie down and let the neproxin sodium kick in. I fell asleep earlier than I had intended, having only gone through some of the pictures, failing to get the gallery up from the day before, and not getting dinner. When you walk around for 9.5 hours with only a high calorie snack to eat, you get tired. Go figure.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it here or not, but I extended my stay in Tokyo to the Saturday the 5th, so I’ll be checking out at 7PM Pacific time Friday evening.

Not quite sure what I’m doing today, but now I have vague idea of how the subways work here, a card with about 1200 yen on it (long the longest trips cost about 320 yen, most are 200-260, anything less and you might as well walk). I already had breakfast today, so I’m doing better than yesterday so far, other than the fact I’m still at the hostel and it’s 13:30.

Picture dump in the post below, because it seems I don’t know how this all works. When you upload a bunch of pictures they don’t just become a group, they attach to that post as a group. Yeah. I need to do this better.

Dropbox Gallery Here

Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park

[Trying out the whole inserting pictures thing. May even try the gallery options wordpress now has later.]

Today was warm and sunny. I walked over to the other major part of Taito today, Ueno which used to be the capital until Tokyo got much bigger. I ventured over to take a look at the museums and ended up spending all my time at just the Tokyo National Museum. Even with only 3 of the five buildings open, it still took about 5.5 hours to go through the two I did.

100 Meters to Awesome

First off, I’m sorry. Many of the exhibits I could have photographed, but I just didn’t really want to deal with accidentally making an international incident so I kept the camera away near exhibits.

The Main BuildingAh, but before I get too far ahead… There were soft serve ice cream trucks outside the museum. By the time I got there, I was pretty warm, and you know, they had interesting flavors. Vanilla, green tea, red bean (also called azuki, it’s actually really good they sweeten the beans quite a bit), kiwi (I think), mango, coffee and cream and a seasonal special… cherry blossom (sakura).

Go figure I didn’t even notice the cherry blossom flavor that was plastered all over the sides until I had decided to buy some, minutes after taking the picture. It seemed like a no-brainer to me and… it was really, really, good. There is a bit of the normal cherry flavor there but it is much lighter. If I can’t find more state side I’m going to be sad.

 Cherry Blossoms are TastyTry to imagine my other hand giving a thumbs up.

So, I missed PAX East over in Boston, even though I could have made it this year. Then I came to Japan, and looked at the Boston Metropolitan Art Museum’s collection of Japanese Masterpieces. That makes perfect sense.

The collection goes through about 1100 years worth of artwork, from the 700s to 1800s. For people who are artists or have studied art, this is amazing to follow in a nearly chronological process. The Buddhist work is the oldest the collection has, and almost always has the focus at the center with other objects or people placed around the buddhavista. This can be interesting as while a few didn’t bother, it seemed many early works attempted to accurately depict point prospective and nearly got it right.

Sadly, many of the exhibits would have probably been more interesting to see in Boston as they would likely have much more complete translations, here they presume people can read the scrolls. I can’t. The ones supposed to be humorous still were a bit, but I couldn’t help but think I was missing out.

As time went forward ink paintings, and specifically screen paintings became the most common work in the display. The style is interesting, at times the landscape is fairly basic, large vague but defining strokes, with people being better defined, and then out of nowhere, a specific part of their clothing will have the most intricate delicate details. At the height of decadence the screens were not just flourished with gold highlights, but primed with gold paint.

The art styles were beautiful, but pretty rigid within schools and time periods, however this wasn’t because the artists couldn’t do anything else, it was simply tradition. The best example of the varied skill is shown in a screen painting depicting a European king and his court, which at least to my untrained eye and short exposure to the work, perfectly emulated western painting style.

An important note, if you clicked the link and went through the list, the textiles and swords were actually the 5th part, not the 6th.

The gallery ended with a final set, all from a single artist. The introduction seemed like a fluff piece congratulating the collectors and I readied myself to not be all that impressed.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Soga Shohaku’s work is amazing. The site describes him as an eccentric genius, though I can’t say his personal behavior, his artwork absolutely bucked the rigid trends seen in others’ work. While clearly the basics of his style were derived from tradition, his subjects may not have strayed too far from tradition, but the way they were depicted did.

Everything was stylized. Normally only landscapes would receive fast thick brushstrokes but Shohaku boldly applied the same to nature, the grass and trees normally so finely detailed were now shaped daubs of ink that almost reminded me of Bob Ross, if it weren’t so large and obviously symbolic rather than just allowing the brush to define the plant.

Humans were a bit more firmly defined, more patterns, the lines weren’t as soft and passionate, but their forms were deformed as well, fingers with exaggeratedly thin joints. Faces too were typically wider and mouths almost always depicted as open, with semi-ovular lines defining curves inside the mouth.

Oddly though, his birds were very similar to all the other work, very well defined, very detailed, immaculate pattern work on the feathers. They stands in contrast with the rest of his work, and even within their own paintings as everything else appears in one of his styles.

The last work, the crown of it is Dragon and the Clouds. This was a large screen painting comprised of three screens, however the middle (the entire body) is missing. Before it had been saved by the Boston collectors, it had already been removed from screens. Sadly its fate was to remain packed in a basement until a few years ago where restoration work started. It has been remounted, though not on folding screens, which means it is less likely to suffer further damage. The exhibition in Tokyo is actually the first time it has been viewable to the public in well over 100 years.

The work is immense, I swear it had to be 30 feet long and that’s while it was missing a section. Walking into that last room, it dominates the view, it is in such contrast to everything that had come before. Nothing else I had seen used so much black. Most screens leave the negative space as white, or even untouched. Nearly everything that wasn’t the dragon was a black cloud.

I want to see it again, though I can’t really justify spending the time and money again during this trip. I can’t wait for it to go to Boston, though it won’t be until late 2013 at the earliest.

Were I ever to have the room and money for it, I would love a full scale print if it were ever made available.

Seriously. I probably spent 20 minutes looking at that one. I kept wanting to go back.

In other news the hostel’s internet has been flaky (needs more IPs to be made available), and didn’t get better until people started going to sleep, it’s the start of Golden Week, so this is going to be exciting. Hopefully I can continue getting onto the internets without too much difficulty.

Picture dump in the morning… well, later morning. When I get up. How about that?

The Tax On America

EDIT: Hahahahaha. Okay, so I later discovered that while common practice, prices don’t actually have to include taxes, and pretty much the only time they aren’t listed is on lists/menus written in Japanese… but even then not always. Hilarious misunderstanding.

 

Or, the tax on not being Japanese.

For starters let’s go to a different topic though.

Okay, let’s say you know you need cash for something you’re doing, yet opening your wallet only produces a few dollars and a cartoon fly or three.

Cartoon fly?

Bare with me. So what do you do? Go to your credit union and get 50 $2 bills, right?

Okay, maybe that’s just what I’ve always wanted to do. Alright, you go to an ATM that is friendly and doesn’t charge extra. Put in your card, punch in the PIN, toss in the amount and… wait. What? Did that say minimum increment is $100? Wait, the smallest bill is a $100?!

That was the ATM I visited last night. I almost drew out 70,000 yen before I blinked and was thinking that was one zero too many. On the bright side, anyone will break 10,000 bills.

Now about that tax. Last night I was a little less adventurous and decided to get sushi. Conveniently they had an English menu, though kind it seemed kind of silly, as even the Japanese was all pictures and prices (pretty common as most have images or models of their dishes with the prices listed out front).

Turns out the big difference (other than that I could read the hand/cut roll section), was the price of items. For nearly everything (except the hand/cut rolls) there was a 4% increase in price. So yes, won’t be returning there.

Don’t get me wrong, the food was quite tasty (the eel was so creamy and the tea was either matcha or half way there), but I’d rather a place that doesn’t change their prices based on the customer, no matter how good the food is or how polite the staff is.

Changing Plans

I always said I was winging this thing, and the more I look at it, the more it seems Taiwan will take the place of Vietnam in this leg of the adventure. For starters, its actually between South Korea and Vietnam, so that’s kind of important.

I can take the jet ferry (seriously) to South Korea, but I’d have to go China to continue with the ferry all the way to Taiwan. As such it looks like I’ll be flying more. I guess Vietnam can wait until after PAX when I can actually take the time to get all of that trip planned to reduce tension with the government. So very paranoid.

Come on people, I’m just trying to travel around the world without any real plans, time frames, or political agenda… well beyond the idea that I think for the most part people want to be helpful, even if communication is difficult. I’m not sure that’s dangerous ideology. But then again… who knows?

Now to go find an ATM that takes foreign cards, maybe grab a Suica pass, see if I can’t schedule a visit to the Ghibli Museum, and wonder around in the other direction, seeing more of Taito-ku, you know, the city I’m actually staying in.

Japan: First Night and Day in Photos

I hope this isn’t heart breaking, but I’m not going to be taking the extreme care I have with previous shoots, there are nearly 600 pictures to go through, and I do kind of want to do things today other than sort pictures.

If I find the time later, I’ll correct for photon artifacts (random bright red/green/blue/white pixels) and make it so some aren’t crooked. For the moment, I just want to get them up. Many will be good as is, some will be just okay but work for framing the scene or give an idea of the local while being boring or flat.

First Night in Japan (Asakusa)

Near and in the Sensoji Temple

Taito-Asakusa’s Waterfront (Heading towards Sumida)

Sumida (and one dog in Taito as I was almost back)

Lost in Sumida

That was the goal today. Which I can say, was at a moment, a little too successful. I have since learned that ereadermap is nice, but it seems to be missing the implementation of places, which is you know, kind of important. On the bright side, Google Maps is much faster on the Kindle compared to the last time I used it, and it was quite helpful in getting me to regain my barrings.

Today I explored the next door temple in the daylight, and then headed over to the Tokyo Sky Tree. Sadly, it doesn’t actually open until the 22nd of May, so maybe I’ll catch it on my out.

After that, I really just wandered around, thinking I was roughly aware of where I was not getting too lost.

So it turns out that when most every street curves or angles a bit… you lose track pretty quickly.

I’ve mapped approximately where and how I walked around today. I’m sure if I could use my phone as more than a smaller computer, I could have probably picked up some sort of pedometer app or even a GPS path mapping dealie. Alas, you must suffer with my not 100% accurate map.

Between getting more lost than intended, QR codes, and having it for emergencies, I was starting to wonder just how much international data and the like costs for my phone, in case I didn’t want to bother jumping through the hoops to get a local phone and maybe data plan, swap in the SIM, etc. $15 per MB. Seriously. I figured it would be expensive, but that’s insane.

Is he going to actually tell us anything about his adventure or just show us a map and complain about how living in the future is expensive?

Being that I am lazy, and linguistically (oh good, I spelled that correctly) challenged, I do appreciate the about of Romanji used… though it seems Sumida uses it much more on their maps than Taito does. Once I crossed the bridge, local maps were a bit more challenging to ensure I was still on the right path. Also, Sumida has scales on theirs. I really liked that. Oh well. This is the easy part. Well, I guess Vietnamese only uses a modern roman alphabet, so… but still, Japan is… probably easier.

It’s really crazy. The scale, the density, the very old right next to the very new, the fact that I’m on many pedestrian signs and crosswalk lights. Seriously I’ve spent a good time walking around downtown Seattle, using some alleyways and the like. Here, most streets are well designed alleyways, arterial streets are about the only things that aren’t, and also tend to be the most grid like. QR Codes are on nearly everything. Power lines are everywhere in the alleys crisscrossing between buildings. Visually it is so very busy, why anyone would set anything not live action in Tokyo, I don’t know. It seems like the people making the backgrounds or modeling the levels would probably die from exhaustion.

Try to imagine taking everything in Seattle (including Fremont, Ballard, etc) except for the industrial stuff, and cramming it all into Downtown. I think that might be comparable.

Behavioral differences are interesting, if there is any directional tendency, people kind of walk to their left, but that’s not very firm, since they drive on the left. Cars wait for you when they’re turning, I mean, pretty much always even when it is inconvenient for them. Bikes are everywhere, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one bike lock today. There are bike lanes all over the place, mostly as part of the sidewalk. However many people on bikes seem to ignore the sidewalk’s bike lanes, and just go anywhere on the sidewalk, also some will just ride as though they have the right way at all times. …So I guess that part is the same.

Wait, did he say something about being in the crosswalk lights?

The crosswalk thing, so I have pictures that I’ll add, but for now, take my word for it. The older crosswalk pictograms were the clearest so I didn’t notice until I was in an out of the way bit of Sumida, but the graphic on the crosswalk sign is clearly a man in a suit, wearing a short brimmed hat. Like me. There are some others, like the no-crossing signs used for long stretches of road where you… cannot cross, shocking, I know.

My feet haven’t felt like this since my last PAX. I quickly realized I forgot my insoles, which I think are in my Chucks, somewhere in storage. Oops. I’m sure US Size 11-12 insoles are really easy to find here.

I did actually find a shoe store fairly close to my hostel, though I fear for a sizing issue. Worst case, I hike in old sneakers and really trash them.

It’s been totally overcast since I left Federal Way, which at the time, wasn’t. I actually haven’t seen the sky since Tuesday morning on the way to the airport. I mean, I guess kind of while flying, but even then, lots of clouds. Nonetheless it has remained around 15-20 (about 60-68F) with a humidity of about 70%. It did rain for a little bit, but never enough to keep me comfortable. I need to figure out a better outfit for long walk days. Maybe one that doesn’t have a suit jacket but still looks okay? Probably not.

So I left the hostel at about 08:00, and by 11:30 my water bottle was empty. After the first 10km, (around 15:30) I had enough. I broke down and made my first purchase. I went into a grocery store to get a first look at a data point for cost of foodbits, and I grabbed a 2L bottle of green tea, which I have now consumed about 1.25L of, the rest is in my water bottle. This was 4 times more than anything in a vending machine (500mL vs 2000), and only 100 yen more than the cheapest I saw, so yeah.

Apples are expensive, they’re about 150 yen each. For those that don’t know, the easiest way to convert to USD, is just add a decimal after the first two digits, so $1.50 for a ballpark estimate. It’s actually $1.85, but if you pad the initial estimate by about 20%, you have a really easy close approximation. If you want to be exact, right now it’s 81 yen to the dollar, or $1.23 USD to 100 yen.

Speaking of vending machines, they are everywhere prices per block are pretty consistent, but once you go a block or two they might be 50-100 yen different, with the average being 150 yen for most drinks. Seriously, every block. Oh, and Starbucks? There’s one at the Sky Tree. Can’t escape them.

Okay, food and pictures. I should probably have more than tea and water today. Just a thought. However, on the topic of pictures, between the few I took on the flight, my night shoot, and about half of today, I took about 570 pictures and chewed through the 80% of the battery that was left. Good thing I have a spare. Turns out, the vibration reduction and active focus in my new lens uses a bit more power than the kit lens. Who would have guessed?

Food.

Right, first before I forget. I missed a step in the directions I had to find the hostel last night, and then just continued walking about what seemed right on one of the arterial roads. Eventually I gave up, crossed the street, and jumped into a taxi. The driver wasn’t familiar with the hostel (or much English, but hey, “lost” and numbers seemed to work), he tried reading the map a bit, but it didn’t have all the streets off their path named. He gave up and used the address in the GPS. It turns out the GPS would have him make a U-turn, and drop me off to walk the rest of the way, as prior to crossing the street to get the cab, was literally as close as a car would get me. We both laughed, I thanked him, and walked the last two blocks.

Then the doors were locked. They were sliding glass doors that said “Push.” I was confused. I tried sliding them with the handle. No go. I knocked on the glass. Eventually someone noticed I was too tired to figure it out and came to open the doors. Turns out the handle I thought was for sliding, is actually a very tall button that you lightly push to trigger the door which is just emulating the visual appearance of a more traditional sliding door.

Weren’t you getting food?

Silence!

23:20 UTC+9

Got food. Not sure what it was called, the place nor the food. Not in Romanji. I’m also pretty sure they were getting ready to close but didn’t tell me to leave (nor did they have times listed)… so that was nice of them. It was a second floor restaurant with sunken tables that each had a hibachi griddle. As I have no idea what is going on, they were kind and helped me cook the dish the way it was supposed to be cooked.

The dish was some sort of lettuce, green onions, bean curd, maybe soy nuts in some sort of milk or milk like substance with something else in it, but I don’t know what. To cook it you oil down the surface and dish the solids out of the bowl. Then you jab them with the two large metal spatula type things until they start to brown, then mix it up a bit, and let the unbrowned parts cook a bit. Once that’s good you spread the contents into a circle and you pour the liquid into the center slowly stirring the fluids. Once a thin sheet of burned fluid forms it should be time to mix it all up. Start by eating the tasty sheet of burned whatever, which is exposed as you dish up the rest of the food, and then carefully enjoy, because it’s still really hot.

It appears I may be returning there with a roommate on Saturday. He seemed pretty curious, and thankfully also can read a little.

Anyway, I was going to charge the laptop bit, however it appears I’m going to fall asleep in a moment

 

So see you all in a few hours!

07:30 UTC+9

Cleaned up some of the text above and am now working on pictures.

Arrival/Good Morning Seattle

Well, I’ve arrived, commented a few times using a book instead of a computer, and it looks like the wifi may just be giving me a tiny break.

The people at the front were nice and understing

Got things semi-organized and stowable, made the bed, found the kitchen, etc.

It’s now midnight in Japan and with the weird almost sleep I had on the monsterous A380 my body isn’t really sure what time it is but could sleep right now given the chance.

So the A380? From the inside it looks like each wing is actually 3 wings welded together with two engines the size of small Cessnas (though far more massive) as the bridging point mostly due to sitting up and there being a child screaming the majority of the flight. Yay.

Well, I either need to wander a little looking at things and not being lost, or sleep.

01:32: Just got back from doing some night photography, which is interesting as my big lens has vibration reduction which is amazing, but it also starts much more zoomed, so I have be further back to capture it… which decreases available light.

Got a few I liked and learned a bit. Getting better at swapping lenses, though I do wish I purchased a second UV filter so I wouldn’t have to swap that over.

07:33 UTC+9: Woke up about 30 minutes ago. Realized about 10 minutes ago that I wasn’t just temporarily awake. The wireless appears quite stable now which is good. Oddly my phone will not get new email. It can open old email, but I have to actually go to gmail.com to get anything (had to confirm that it is me, oh, security). Doesn’t even check the sean [at dealiemajig] elucidovia.com address.

Working from the laptop right now, which was to make sure it could connect. Frustratingly, I’ve not yet found a grounded outlet I can use, which may be an issue if I want to keep my laptop running. Still have about 4.5 hours of run time, but…

Thunderbird gets email just fine. Whatever. Google now autoswitches to .co.jp. Hmm. Probably would work if I stayed signed into a google account. Of course the entire interface is in Japanese, so that makes changing settings easy. Found it.

Time to get ready I suppose. Yay daylight pictures! I can set the shutter to something faster than 5-40!