Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 20: Tokomachi to Tokyo

April 20: Tokomachi to Tokyo

Night; and once again,
the while I wait for you, cold wind
turns into air

Pics are from the various Tokomachi art triennial installations, one of the guy that opened up the Last Classroom installation (pretty spooky), one of our driver and THB enjoying Suntory Time, and THB reclining again. These are repeats, THB was a bit groggy when he posted earlier (or was it later) yesterday (or was it this morning)

The answer to the question, did we sleep with the roof open: No and Yes.

We decide to close the roof, it seems pretty cool, though our comforter covers are great, as we near bed time. Then at some point in the middle of the night, I have a very vivid dream: A large truck is backing up, I can hear the beep…beep…beep…beep, and it is very dark out. It is backing up, backing up, I can’t move, I am stuck in my sleeping bag. BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!

DB has gotten up (she said later around 1am) and decided to open the roof so we can get the full effect when the lights start up around 3:40am, prior to sunrise. The roof beeps when it is in motion, something she forgot. Back to sleep.

At around 3:45 I awake (sort of) to the sound of something whirring and the led lights have come on. DB is taking a picture of the sky scape. Very dark out, we are about to get the reverse of the sunset effect, moving from dark to light blue. Very pretty, especially at the end with the turquoise blue against the ecru ceiling. Then back to sleep.

I get up, look over at the clock and see it is near 7am; good, I have slept in and maybe got my normal sleep. Go downstairs, do that sitting shower thing, and climb in the hot bath. Ahhhhhhhh….then shave, head back upstairs. DB wants to know what I am doing up and dressed before 6am. Ooops, bad eyes have got me again. She gets up at 6:30.

Take a short walk and find one of those fancy vending machines that serves hot and cold drinks. It is out of order, which is almost as shocking as seeing graffiti or trash on the streets.

Breakfast delivered, another many course cold meal. We opt for our strawberries, orange, and chocolate bread. We cannot figure out how to make tea or coffee (even if supplies are here). Babes in the frozen north, we are…we walk around the area and find a few other art installations from various triennial art events in and around Tokamachi.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon we are touring more installations with a private driver based on an itinerary worked out by our travel agency ahead of time. This takes us hither and yon, including having one installation opened up just for us (very worthwhile, $30 for the visit) and lunch in a converted Noh Theater (or something like that, hard to tell, it seemed 100% art stuff to us).

Lunch is also at the theater, all veggie, and very good, $24. We have covered quite a distance, probably close to 150 kilometers (driving at Japanese speeds, through longgggggg tunnels through the mountains).

We train into Tokyo, just making our connection at the transfer spot because the first train ran a few minutes late (shocka!!). Ohhhhhhh, Toto, we aren’t in Kansas any more (a bit of a pun, all the toilets and urinals are made by Toto). When we get off the train, we struggle to find the right exit to catch a cab. It isn’t often we can’t find our way out! There are thousands of people pouring through this station. It is making Mumbai look tame.

We check into our hotel and proceed to the first order of business: buying tickets to a Tokyo Giants game for Friday night. No problema: go one stop on the subway, exit, look for a building across the street and then go to the Ticket Bureau. We can’t find the subway entrance, even though our building exits into the underground mall that subway branches out of! After winning that battle, we now have to find the right platform. An Asian guy offers to help, speaks English, has just been to a conference in Long Beach, ate at the Stinking Rose in SF, and gets us to the right platform. All in about 2 minutes. The subway is making the train station look like a Bart station at around 3pm. There are 10s of thousands of people coursing through this station (maybe a major hub, we sure don’t know).

We finally find the right exit out and then the Ticket Bureau is right across the street. Buy tickets and then try and find an ATM. That is through the station, through the building across the street, then in Tokia Building, basement level 1 in the 7/11, Ah, success.

Now feeling low blood sugar, and walk into sushi place on B1 across from the 7/11 ATM. Awesome! And sushi chefs (it isn’t too busy) look up English names for the fish. Eat about same as we would in US, two beers, $50, so this is cheap and better than we get at home.

Reverse steps and actually find our hotel entrance off Shimbasi station. Back to hotel for a celebratory nightcap, we can see why they say not to try and navigate Tokyo while suffering from jet lag!

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