With Seth's new job on the FX help desk, he needed to learn more about investment
banking by taking the Business Basics class - which Tara teaches! We
thought it was a conflict of interest for Seth to take a class which I'd
be teaching.... So, we checked the class schedule at exactly the right time
and the only upcoming class which Tara wasn't schedule to teach was in
Tokyo!!! We both spoke with our managers about the conflict of interest
and next thing you know, Seth is going to Japan for class and Tara is coming
along for a vacation. What a switch!
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The plane ride was very nice. Economy was empty, so we stretched out across the four middle seats and tried to sleep. The amazing thing about the flight was that the seat belt sign was never turned on. Pretty amazing for a twelve hour flight. Maybe it had to do with the fact that we were on the Siberian Route and travelling through cold air. Whatever the cause, it was nice. Especially since Seth's ticket was paid for by the company and Tara's ticket was an AirMiles award.
After landing at Narita, we went straight to Disneyland and, surprisingly, didn't leave until it closed. It was pouring rain for most of the day, but even that didn't stop us from some outdoor rollercoaster rides. At a few points throughout the day, we were soaked. To dry off, we just had to visit many videogame arcades.
After our big day at Disney, we were tired and slept in late. Sunday afternoon, we went to the Ginza. Seth needed a belt for class and Tara took him to her favorite store, Mitsukoshi. The Ginza on Sunday was very nice since the mail street was closed to traffic and tables and chairs had been setup. It was good to be back in the Tokyo crowds for Tara - everyone is short like her! The funniest memory of the whole day was when Tara spent 15 minutes trying to the find the hotel in the Japanese phone book. She was successful and we setup a dinner with Hank and Hugo for dinner. Seth couldn't come to Tokyo without going into the Sony store. It was fun playing the video games and looking at the Global Positioning Devices all in Japanese. However, the gadget that we both liked the best was the new Sony digital camera. The only reason was left is because the store closed. Dinner was at NanBanTei, a favorite of Hank and Tara's from previous trips.
Monday meant class for Seth and a day-trip for Tara. She was determined to get the most out of her First Class Japanese Rail Pass. Day 1 was Yokohama. When she taught NeXT class in Shin-Kawaski, the classroom was on the 16th floor . On clear days, both the buildings of Yokohama and sometimes even Mount Fuji could be seen in the distance. Therefore, she decided to try to see both close-up this trip. In Yokohama, she had a very relaxing day. After walking all over town, she took a boat cruise and then walked to the European area of town on the top of the hill. After a long day of walking, there was some incentive to figure out the bus-route. It was a minor accomplishment after the phone book and she did get on the correct bus for the journey home. Seth, meanwhile, had had a full day of class. Dinner was again with Hank, this time in Shinjuku
Dinner was fun. We found a set of very tiny streets where your typical Japanese Salary-Man would come to eat dinner and drink heavily. Images from the place we chose included the cook in high rubber boots and his assistant washing the dishes over the floor! Seth and Hank weren't too sure of Tara's Japanese ordering abilities when their food didn't come very quickly. But, in the end, they received the Kontatsu she had ordered for them and enjoyed it. Then, we walked into the heart of Shinjuku - videogames and neon lights. By now, Tara had discovered the sticker photo machine and amused herself that way. The boys played videogames.
Videogames in Japan are of course - all in Japanese! But there
are some noticeable differences too. One major difference is that every arcade
has a "see the woman strip" game. Yes, towards the back, you can
find these! For more wholesome fun, in the front there is a photo machine
which creates cute stickers of you and your favorite animated character.
There's also a great business card maker, also with cute animated characters.
Tara made Pingu business cards to commemorate our trip to Japan!
Two of the best games we played were rhino running and land of the dead. Seth actually had crowds watching him play land of the dead. He got a big round of applause once when he finally died!
Tuesday saw Tara again touring while Seth spent the day in class. This time Tara went to a Buddist Temple she hadn't been to in the North of Tokyo. It was a good trip, but whenever she tried her fortune along with all the other Japanese school children, it came out bad. Not a good thing when she was struggling with whether or not to leave the Education Department. The fortunes implied that whatever choice was made was to be bad. But, not being too superstitious, it made for a good day. Cruising through Tokyo on the journey back toward the hotel was also a new way to see the city.
Hakone National Park was saved for the last day. Even though the day was not clear enough to see Fuji, it was a nice adventure into the Japanese countryside.
There was still more ok Tokyo for Seth to see, so we decided to stay an extra night.
Even though it was hard leaving Tokyo, the trip to Nara was well worth it. We hand-fed deer who bowed their heads after receiving a cookie as is saying "thank you, thank you" or "arigato, arigato" in Japanese. We kept buying more and more deer cookies since Tara wanted to feed more and more deer. One of Seth's favorite memories is sitting in a quiet part of the park on the top of a hill near a stream watching the deer roaming around. Tara was, of course, off buying more deer cookies. However, there always came a time when she ran out of cookies and tried to ration them. One deer could not be fooled. Tara had hidden the cookies under her shirt and the deer bit the cookies right through the shirt! Since that deer was so smart, she got the rest of the cookies. The school children coming to see the big Buddha in Nara were also fun. They'd say "hello" and "hi" to us all the time.
We stayed in Nara until the last possible train. Tara made hotel reservations so late, that the Train Station hotel was full. Instead, we ended up staying in the Yaesu (Bus) Terminal Hotel. Since we're not used to staying in a hotel where you have to put money in the TV, it was a novel experience for the room rate of over USD 100!!