I recently took advantage of a three day weekend to head out to Tokyo to spend some time with Kanako. After my last day of teaching at Kokubunji, I hopped an overnight bus and arrived about 11 hours later. It was a long haul, but after several nights of lacking sleep, I managed to pass out nearly the entire time. Arriving at Tokyo Disney Land, I jumped on a train towards Kaihinmaukuhari Station. Along the way, I was blasted by nostalgia, since this was the same station I went to every morning when I studied abroad. By coincidence, Kanako’s sister Kyoko had enrolled at the same university I studied at and had her apartment (where I would be staying) located close by. It was nice to see this familiar place again, though the streets and walkways had been dominated by the March 11 earthquake. Everything was uneven, and entire chunks of pavement and tiles had to be removed. Everything went well for the transport, though after a botched station rendezvous, the long awaited embrace took place at McDonald’s instead.
When we arrived, I greeted Kyoko and eventually her boyfriend Fumi. I had Skyped with the pair before, but this was the first time to meet face to face. Both seemed pretty fun, though since they had their classes to attend to, we wouldn’t see too much of them this weekend. The rest of the afternoon was just spent hanging around until it was time for dinner.
When I was a student there, I had found a place to teach some English with a woman named Midori. It was a wonderful opportunity and gave me a lot of valuable exposure that couldn’t have hurt my chances in being selected for my current employment. Coming back to the area, I thought it might be good to see if she needed any help or if she might want to meet up. She offered up dinner with her husband, which sounded great to the two of us. So, off we went to a little French place we knew nothing about. A glance at the atmosphere and the prices had me really glad I wore something decent. We picked the different courses for our meal, which all looked and tasted amazing. Her husband was also some sort of wine aficionado, and selected a couple bottles for us throughout the course of dinner. I myself know only enough about wine to know if it’s good or not; I can confidently say he picked some really nice bottles. We talked about many things, like work and travel and such, but after a couple hours, they invited us back to their home. When it was time to pay the bill, they insisted on footing for both me and Kanako. Coming in at about 130 dollars for the two of us, it was quite a treat.
The four of us, enjoying some Creme Brule
Once back at their place, it was even clearer to me that they did very well. They had a penthouse on the corner of an upper floor apartment, giving a full panoramic view of the Tokyo Bay and the entire skyline. It was a truly beautiful sight, enhanced only by the company and the mood. Another fine selection was made from the cellar, and his immense collection of Jazz records was put to use. Kanako really enjoys Jazz, so the atmosphere particularly resonated with her. At the end of the night, they brought us back to the apartment to turn in after a great evening.
Just a portion of the view, with long exposure aura bonus.
Once we woke up, we took our time in getting to Disney Sea. Disney Sea is a park separate from Tokyo Disney Land, and is geared a little bit more at adults. Adult version Disney doesn’t mean too much else, but beer was available to the patrons. Disney Sea itself is actually the only Disney park not owned by Disney, and the rights to the characters are leased every year, making it a bit unique. We spent the next 9 hours or so walking around the various regions, riding a few of the rides, and mostly just enjoying ourselves. Looking back through my snapshots, we also managed to take an excessive amount of self-shot portraits. This was my first Disney experience where I realized that the value of going was in the experience, not so much the rides themselves. Disney’s rides have a very complete touch to them, but are generally not all that exciting. However, just walking around was all it took to enjoy ourselves; we were happy to bask in the fabricated oasis of happiness and ask the inevitable questions of Disney favorites. One of my favorites, (also representing a shift in my theme park expectations) was one of the shows in NYC that featured a big band performance and dancing. The night ended with a nice gondola ride in Venice, before we made our way back to home base, definitely another great day.
Like a boss. You can bet that I coordinated Genie and my shirt.
Monday was to be the last day, and we were going to relax before heading into Tokyo to catch the bus as well as catch some food. At my request, we went to a pizza place called Shakey’s which has locations globally and offers a true buffet. It only costs about 15 (great by Japanese standards) and offers me something I never eat otherwise. This served as a nice time to get stuffed and recount the weekend’s fun over slices of pineapple kiwi marshmallow pizza, with rainbow sprinkles. After about 2 hours of gluttony, we made our way into the city. Thanks to a little confusion with my bus tickets though, I had to come home the next day, meaning we had the night to enjoy the unexpected night together. We didn’t do much beyond grabbing a simple dinner and frequenting the quintessential Japanese photo booth before heading back to her sister’s place.
The next day was pure lazy. Aside from eating the wonderful breakfast Kanako made, we did nothing of significance. After several hours of napping, chatting, and cleaning, we set out again to get me home. This time a typhoon had cancelled my bus. Needing to work the next morning, my options were limited. I took the bullet train as close as possible, where I then had to do an all nighter in the station. I had my laptop, which let me write this, play Roller Coaster Tycoon, and watch a movie till the trains started in the morning. The unfortunate ending did nothing to mar my fantastic, long weekend.