March 19th, 2007


五日: "There Are No Pandas In Colorado"

Things of note today:

Upon returning to the same hotel, but changing rooms, I have discovered that the shower here is... Shorter. It seems to have almost exactly six feet of headroom (which does actually seem slightly odd in a metric country), which is particularly noticable if you are, say, two inches taller than that.

I should probably note that in fact, yes, I did wear green yesterday. Completely by accident -- I only realized it today, a day after the fact. Yes, the whopping 5/64ths of my ancestry that is Irish would be so proud.

I'm not sure I'm ever going to get used to Japanese toilets. I mean, sometimes I'm completely at a loss to know what the heck I'm supposed to do when I see them, sometimes because they're those, er, whatever that kind of toilet is that some of the world uses that's completely alien to me as an American, and sometimes because, well, they clearly need an operating manual (preferably in English). Haven't seen one with a remote yet -- but I wouldn't be surprised if such a thing existed. Possibly with a built-in widescreen HDTV.

So... Today was the Nippon2007 meeting. Met my Japanese friend on the way in Akihabara, and we took the metro line out most of the way to Ibaraki where the meeting was. We ate at McDonalds, because I wanted to try it once (and, eh... Once is enough), and also because we didn't really have that much time before the meeting.

The meeting itself was, well, a meeting. I tried to read the meeting agenda and such while they babbled on about whatever stuff needed to be babbled about -- wasn't terribly successful, though -- and occasionally traded comments with a nice English fellow who happens to live here and just joined the committee. Sometimes I tried to understand what they were talking about, and sometimes I could almost understand them when they were talking slowly enough and used enough words that I knew -- enough to more or less get the gist of the direction of the conversation, if not the details -- but, well, still haven't quite crossed the wall to true conversational competence in Japanese yet.

While I was there, I gave all of the members attending the meeting a postcard and a Colorado quarter. I'm sure they were being polite, as Japanese always are, but they also seemed to appreciate them, and besides sharing a number of business cards and such, one of them asked for my address so he could send me a postcard in return. I hope a fair number of them will manage to make it to the WorldCon in Denver next year -- I think I've done my part to sell Colorado. :)

I had expected to be pretty bored during the meeting, but with all of the above, I really wasn't too much.

Anyway, after the meeting, a few of us went to some sort of Japanese family-style restaurant. I'm sure there's a word for it, but I don't know what it is. Surprisingly, this was the first time on my entire trip I took off my shoes to enter an establishment of any kind -- I'd expected to be doing that a lot more than I have. Had various interesting Japanese food, drank a lot of beer. For the record, raw horse meat isn't as bad as I would have expected, but it's not exactly good, and once was certainly enough. :-P

So, tomorrow... No idea. I'm on my own until Dusty arrives (my Japanese friend in Tokyo has to work today), and I have no idea what I want to do. Maybe I'll just get on the train and wander randomly around Tokyo or someplace. Oh, if it's clear, I should go someplace with a view of Fuji-san, too -- it was sunny today, but with the buildings and such, I couldn't see it. Maybe Ueno? I've been meaning to scout out that direction since I haven't gotten on the subway at 入谷 yet, and that's the most logical station for going to a few places.
head shot


Just a quick note:

If you comment on anything anonymously here (i.e., not logged into LiveJournal), I'd appreciate it if you could sign your name. I generally have had a policy where I didn't unscreen comments that weren't signed, but lately I haven't been enforcing that at all, partly because I know a lot of people I know who don't have LJ accounts are reading this, as I've given out the URL to, well, everyone, it seems like (I suspect there are some people I don't know reading this too, which is fine, of course -- sometimes even when people sign things, I'm not sure if I know them or not, or which person with a given name they might be).

I do encourage anyone reading this who plans to comment to get an LJ account, though. It's easy enough to do, and you certainly wouldn't be the first person to get an account just to read and comment on someone else's blog. It has several advantages, like email notifications when you get a reply to your comment, and if you read more than one journal, it's also convenient for reading them together (on the friends page). Also, it makes things ever so slightly easier for me, since I don't have to unscreen your comments (which also means you can see what you posted immediately -- I might not read the comment a day or two, after all).

Anyway, I thought now was a good time to mention that. So, whether or not you have an LJ account, whether or not you plan to get one, whether or not I know you, welcome to my journal. よろしく。
bad egg

六日: "There Are No Whales In Colorado, Either" (Part 1?)

Today (or most of today, since it's about five now, and I'm waiting for Dusty to arrive in a couple of hours, assuming he hasn't been delayed):

Got up, and set out in search of anpan. Succeeded. Found the gas station I was looking for, too, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. Even the cats stare at gaijin here -- should have gotten a picture of one that stopped to stare at me this morning on my anpan expedition (I love how they also have signs that say "don't feed the cats" in the parks).

After that, set out to find Iriya station, succeeded, and hopped the subway to Ueno, where I walked around a bit (looks like the sakura might be sometime soon, we'll have to see how soon), took a couple pictures, might have seen Fuji-san (it was a bit hazy, and at best I barely saw the outline), and decided that the one thing I don't like about Japan is the toilets. Beyond being confusing, the public toilets are remarkably... Public.

At this point, I was kinda bored, so I hopped on the subway out to Shibuya, had no problem finding Hachiko (who had on a nice knitted afghan today), wandered on the trains and the subway back and forth to Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ginza, and back, periodically stopping to find a konbini, grab some パン of some sort, and get some of that royal milk tea stuff to wash it down (Dusty's right, it is da bomb). Did some people watching on the trains, and I think I've pretty much figured out Tokyo subway etiquitte -- it's actually quite organized and efficient, which I guess makes sense, since these may well be the most crowded subways in the the world.

Another thing I noticed -- on my search for konbinis, I figured out that the best way to find one was just to wander off the main streets to any side street, and you'd inevitably run into one almost immediately. What's more surprising to me is how hard it actually is to get lost in Tokyo. Or maybe I just totally suck at getting lost. Mind you, the compass was a really great idea, but never really had any trouble figuring out where I was, no matter how far I wandered off the main streets in search of that konbini (well, never more than a few blocks, really, although sometimes I zigged a bit to see how I'd do), even in the places were I never looked at the maps ahead of time to get oriented.

Oh, and since I get the inevitable questions about Japanese girls, I will say one thing -- a lot of them have amazingly great calves. But then, I also never quite understood why 大根足 were really a bad thing. Legs aren't meant to be toothpicks, if you ask me.

They must have elected somebody -- haven't heard any vans today. Or maybe it's a holiday or something.

So, waiting for Dusty, but no idea what we'll do tomorrow, just that it'll be fun.

[see photos on flickr]