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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Part Two

The Travel Diaries of a Fat Man (Part Two of a supposed one part series)

Eastside Massive.
Day Four (continued)
Left the relative comfort of the internet cafe to be greeted by rain of biblical proportions. People were swept away, fish swam up and down the main street, old men built boats that could house two of each animal.
Dinner: Teppanyaki.
What is it? There`s a hotplate in front of you and a personal chef. In several other countries that have it, you pay this guy to throw eggs at you... recreating an `Open mic. night at an amature comedy venue` feel. This practice is apparently (let me get this right) an invention of the Chinese living in N.Y.C. doing a Japanese meal.
Prerequsites: Dispose of belt.

Day Five.
Waseda University. My granddad does an impromptu speech (he used to be a university professor and writer) that earns him equivelant of a $100 and free lunch for the family*.

Day Six.
From Waseda to Tokyo and I am a country bumpkin. How cool is this train? Most of the twenty seven minute trip is spent gaping, slack-jawed, at not one, but two, television screens on either doors of this carriage. One displays current location of the train, approximate arrival time for the next station, map of the next station to see where the nearest exits are, temperature of the outside world. The other shows commercials on a constant loop.
With all these futuristic wonders ( AUTOMATIC doors?) Tokyo is a neon Never Never Land and the population is made up of the lost boys and lost girls of Asia. Many people live 16-hour work days and have to commute 2 hours each way. They are like sleepwalkers (somnambulists, Wal?) or at least show heavy narcoleptic tendencies. People have a nap sitting down, some have a catnap standing up, but this one young guy walked into the carriage and, finding no available seats, promptly crouched down in the middle of the floor and fell asleep.

Day Seven.
Shinkansen to Kyoto. Shinkansen means `bullet train`. This is not the same as the subway of South Central L.A. which is a `bullet-riddled train` but infact a train that goes really, really fast.

Kyoto. Visit a ninja mansion. They no longer call this one a ninja mansion and so everytime I asked directions, people would narrow their eyes, more than usual, and say `There is.....no such place as a ninja mansion`. These dudes are really sneaky. When, after some difficulty, I found the place there was a tour full of high school kids and old people. After banging in to the sign that said `Please watch your step` the guide showed us around. Lots of hidden staircases and escape routes.

Stayed in a Ryokan, or Japanese-style Inn.

Day Eight.
Woke up in said Ryokan. After a traditional Japanese breakfast (ie, toast) made my way back to Kyoto Station and on to a Shinkansen, back to Tokyo.

Day Nine.
Another day, another bullet train. This time to Sendai to meet some of mum`s fishing mates. I`ve got to enter a drinking contest with these fishermen- notorious drunkards in any country- and then go to the fish markets early in the morning, like four o`clock.

Thank Yamada for the rabbits,

* Forgot about this asterisk till just then. Granddad wrote a book about his father, therefore my great-grandfather, Nakano Seigo. Nakano Seigo was one-legged, an excellent horseman, journalist and a statesman. He had met the likes of Mussolini and Hitler through his job and strongly objected to Tojo bringing Japan into WW2. This peeved off the Emperor who tried to sentence Seigo to death but was thwarted when he took his own life instead. This year is the sixtieth anniversary of his death.


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