Sunday, January 27, 2013

Konichiwa Tokyo!

Sunday, January 27, we woke up to calm seas, and it was the mostwelcome break I’ve had in quite some time.  Our muscles were buzzing after battling the rough seas, andno one had more than two hours of restful slumber.

Regardless, this was the big day!  It was our huge event in Tokyo, and everyone needed to be atthe top of their game to impress the media outlets and local entrepreneurs andstudents who would be attending.

We had breakfast on the sixth deck and watched the ship takeport in Yokohama.  It was sobeautiful to see land after eight days at sea.  I was definitely struggling with cabin fever, but I was notalone.  The sight of Mount Fuji wasstunning!  The snow coveredmountain was an interesting dichotomy behind the industrial madness of theport.

We got off the ship with all of our film gear and followedthree local tour guides to get to the Digital Garage in Tokyo.  We rode the train there and it was afun behind-the-scenes tour of the apartment buildings.

We arrived to the Digital Garage, dumped our gear and headedto find some lunch.  Armed with6000 Yen, “please”, “yes” and “thank you” in Japanese, and empty bellies, wewalked the streets of Tokyo in search of ramen noodles.  We found a quaint restaurant where abunch of us fit and were glad for an English side of the menu.

Cesar, the entrepreneur from Protei, whose family isJapanese, sat with us and taught us how to appropriately slurp ournoodles.  It’s apparently rude toquietly enjoy your lunch, so the loud sucking-of-ramen via chopsticks wasproudly adopted by our team.

We had also ordered some dumplings to split, and Evanproceeded to get us some soy sauce. He poured it into a dish on the table, and Cesar jumped in to stophim.  “That’s for smoking,” hesaid.  Smoking?  Oh…it was an ash tray.  Silly Americans.

The ticket was in Japanese, so we just handed it to thatlady and showed us all her cash and let her pick out what she felt wasappropriate pay.  “Hai!” she said.

The event was packed, and people were so excited to hear theentrepreneur’s pitches.  WiredMagazine (of Japan) took a photo of each team, and they were interviewed byJapan’s two major newspapers.  Itwas the best Unreasonable event I’ve attended so far.

We enjoyed an amazing meal during the ending VIP party wherepeople were able to mingle and exchange business cards with local entrepreneursand business owners.  In Japaneseculture, business cards are a huge deal. You are supposed to hand it with two hands, bow, and then when the otherperson gives you their card, analyze it, love it, point at it, bow and thankthem, then tuck it safely into your wallet.  I got three.

We ventured back out into Tokyo to find our way to the AirBNBapartment that we rented from the ship. It said that it slept seven, but when we (finally) arrived, we found aroom big enough for two twin beds, and a kitchen living room combo with abathroom off of it.  Luckily, ithad the two twin beds and four floor mats.  We basically made the apartment floor one giant bed for allof us to crash.  It was more funthan it might appear.

Matt was there waiting for us because he had gone with aSemester at Sea field lab to video the students discovering Tokyo’sculture.  His funny story of theday was that they had gone to a karaoke bar to get dinner, and it was a five-coursemeal of an omelet, fish and chips, salad, mussels and then chicken wings.  During the omelet course, the waitresscame around with catsup and asked if he wanted any.  He said, I’d like catsup on half.  She spoke to him in Japanese, so he pointed to half of theomelet and said, “only here.  Justhalf.”  She responded with, “youwant cat or bear?”  Mattresponded…”cat?”  She whippedaround the omelet and drew a little catsup cat with little catsup paw prints.  Best. Dinner. Ever.