The last week has been a whirlwind. It is not until now, sitting in business class on ANA flying to Japan that I am finally starting to relax. I have even chosen to read a book instead of watching a movie.
I want to thank everyone for an awesome wedding and coming to Colorado to celebrate it with us. Monday and Tuesday morning we packed up the rest of our stuff and left our condo ready to be AirBnB’d while traveling. It had been so long since I packed my house that I forget that the last 5% takes as long as the first 25%.
Katy and I took the bus to the airport hotel Tuesday afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised when we were upgraded to an executive suite on the top corner of the W at the Westin. My only other suite upgrade happened in Vienna with Chris when we were cyclotouring, and we ended up with a balcony, but only one bed….
We then grabbed the train from the airport to the Rockies stadium and watched the game with Allyson and AJ. Honestly, we mainly talked and then watched the fireworks after the game. The display was pretty impressive. We then took the airport train back to the airport. I think taking two airport trains and one airport bus in a day without flying is a record for me.
We were able to get five hours of sleep before we needed to get up to begin our journey. We flew United to LAX and had a 3.5 hour layover scheduled since we were on separate tickets and wanted to allow time for “issues”. After a pleasant wait on the lounge terrace, which I used to wrap up some loose ends, we got on our ANA flight to Tokyo. The flight was pleasant, and the Hibiki whiskey was very good.
When we arrived in Japan we cleared customs/immigration pretty quickly, a benefit of being the first people off the plane. Katy and I then took the more local, less advertised (1/3 the price) bus to Ginza, the district we were staying in. The first thing we noticed when we stepped off the plane was that is was over 100F outside and really humid. Luckily my hair has learned to love humidity and locked in a little extra curl and shine (no comment on Katy’s hair).
After checking into the hotel (no suite upgrade this time) we decided it was time for conveyer belt sushi so off we trekked. We ended up getting some good pieces, but I noticed that they didn’t send the “expensive” sushi, like the fatty tuna, on the belt, and you had to ask the sushi masters to make it special. After establishing eye contact with one I was able to stumble out a few Japanese words and five minutes later we had some of the special sushi, win. Fifty dollars later, when our bellies were stuffed, we wandered back home and went to bed after 10pm.
The next morning we were up before 6am and grabbed our free breakfast. Unfortunately the forecast proved correct, and it was raining. I seem to attract the rain lately when we travel (Italy, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, snow in Morocco, Barcelona), but at least with the subway system it is easy to manage.
We went to the National Museum in the morning and then headed to a special fancy sushi lunch prepared by a delightful 75 year old man and a women who took the fish encyclopedia out to tell us what we were eating (featuring among other things, blood clams and “kissing fish”). I can tell you for sure that the fish was of better quality and better prepared than the night before. We then went to a neighboring temple which is known for their fortunes. You pay 100y ($0.90), shake a box, extract a rod that has a symbol (read number in Japanese), match the symbol with the corresponding drawer (more difficult if you don’t know Japanese), and then pull out your fortune. I ended up with a good one, Katy not so much (“It is a bad time for marriage and moving house”). She had to tie her fortune on a rod that then did something to negate the bad fortune,since you only do this with the bad ones.
We then had a nap and headed to the Ramen Museum. The issue with this plan is that it is not actually in Tokyo, it is in Yokohama and takes over an hour to get there. Eating sushi and going to the ramen museum were the two things Katy wanted to do in Tokyo, so we decided to make the trek. You pay admission into the “museum”, and two levels underground had been transformed into a 1950s setting with nine ramen shops from different regions of Japan. You purchased a ticket from a vending machine outside each shop and then went in (or waited until there were seats). Each person had to order a bowl of ramen in order to be seated, but you could order a half portion which was still huge. We visited three shops and split 6 different bowls of ramen which were wildly different. The stocks were either soy, miso, or fish based and the noodles were either crinkled, straight, thick, thin, chewy, or soft. We quickly discovered we liked the spicy versions the best. When we were full of ramen we headed out and discovered it was down pouring (again), and we hadn’t taken our umbrella or rain jackets with us. We ran 100 yards to a convenience store and bought one for $5 (alas, there was no room in our luggage, so it had to remain in Tokyo). We then trained back to Ginza and capped off a great day in Japan. The next stop on our trip is a quick one in Beijing.