Tuesday, 6:30 pm
It has been a relaxing few days after the craziness of Korea.
We had an interesting flight. We were bumped to
business class for some inexplicable reason. Maybe the Korean woman at the desk likes Americans? I was sad that the flight was only two hours. It was pretty damn nice flying like a rich person. Although the cloth cover laid out on my tray for lunch was a bit silly.
At the Seoul airport, there were two different instances of old Korean folks right on top of me or Youthlarge while waiting in line. We'd move up an inch to get some breathing room, they'd move up two. What the fuck? Once in Tokyo, the same thing happened with two Korean teenage girls. Is this a cultural thing? A strange and backward thing? Either way, it was pretty annoying.
We also saw a Rod Stewart lookalike in both airports and our flight. It was bizarre. He had the nose and the hair. But he was about 15 years younger and even uglier. I was convinced it was him for awhile but then I realized that there were no super models in his entourage so it couldn't have been him.
Upon arriving in Tokyo, we immediately got on a train to head to Osaka. Damn, those bullet trains go fast. I think that Japan might have even more driving ranges than Korea does. We also passed an amazing amount of baseball fields - almost all of which had Little League or high school games in action as we passed. I love Japan.
Saturday night, we ventured into the famous Dotonbori neighborhood. Completely nuts. Shopping, great food, amazing signs, and a Hanshin Tigers photobooth. There were also a lot of decked out Japanese youth. As Youthlarge commented, they all looked like they were heading to a Whitesnake concert in 1988. What is going on in Osaka?
Watched some incredible high school baseball on TV. We did some shopping and then ended up at the Instant Ramen museum. Yup. Sunday night, it was Hanshin Tigers time. What a crazy experience. Sold out, non-stop chanting for close to 5 hours! Well, chanting whenever the Tigers were up. Did you know that Japanese baseball games can end in a tie? Only three extra innings can be played and after that, the game ends. As the bottom of the 12th neared completion, I wish that either Youthlarge or I had known this fact because the argument of whether or not we were going to stay for the 13th inning could have been avoided.
We went to Kyoto for a traditional Japanese guesthouse experience. I'll let Youthlarge explain all about it in her food blog. Basically, it was glorifed room service where we were served dinner and breakfast in our rooms. It was pretty great but I'm mad at myself for being too scared to eat a snail. We both were too chicken to partake in the bathhouse aspect as well.
Kyoto is full of shrines and the like. We walked around a little during the day and then relaxed in the room the rest of the day. I watched some more high school baseball on TV. It really is some of the most passionate ballplaying I've ever seen played - complete with lots and lots of tears both from the winning and losing (but mostly the losing team) squads.
We are in Tokyo now. Our hotel is pretty swanky. We have an amazing view of the city from our 25th floor room. Somehow, Youthlarge was able to get the room at a really discounted price. God bless the Internet. We hope to see Yu tonight.
A few other assorted thoughts:
- Japan feels more foreign to me than Korea. Perhaps Korea has tried harder to be more "Western" where Japan is content to do their own thing? Or maybe it was easier in Korea since Youthlarge speaks Korean? Maybe it is just the architecture in the Japanese neighborhoods complete with narrow streets and mazes of power lines makes things seem more foreign to me?
- I love that the cab drivers wear a suit or a tux with white gloves. I also like that they can open the back doors from a button in the front seat.
- The latest Camera Obscura record is my soundtrack for this trip. The best record of the year?
- Why do so many Asians give the peace sign when posing for a photo?
- I can't believe how many strange looks I've been getting - especially in Osaka. People were staring at me on the subway. Kids gawked at me all day. I freaked out the kid sitting in front of us at the Tigers game. Very odd. Yesterday at our guesthouse, a Japanese family got on the elevator at the same time as me. The boy asked his mom if I was a gaijin. She replied in the affirmative, "Hai gaijin."
- I tried to convince Youthlarge to buy a Hanshin Tigers hat because the interlocking TH so clearly stands for "The Hong."
- I'm watching Bobby V's team on TV right now!
- Japanese men look awesome with gray hair. Why are there so few Korean men with gray hair? Do they all dye it?
- More Youthlarge food writing.
- There are a lot of Japanese men and teenagers with super high-pitched voices. What's up with that?
- Youthlarge already went a little nuts shopping for cute stuff in Osaka. I'm afraid that Tokyo might blow her mind. And our bank account.
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