Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sayonara Japan!

I'm sad that it was our last day in Japan yesterday, January 31st.

We made our way back from Kyoto after the Unreasonable workshop event at the University the night before and spent the night on the ship.  It was a weird feeling to be back on the ship.  It did feel like coming back to a home-like place, but there was definitely a part of me that didn't want to be back on the ship.

We woke up early and grabbed breakfast on the ship, then headed off to visit Kobe, the port we were stopped in.  It was a much warmer day than the other days we had in Tokyo, and after a quick train ride, we made it to the middle of the city.

First things first, a bathroom break led me to a bathroom stall where someone had forgotten their Pungency.  I couldn't help but take a photo.  When I first saw it, it looked like this drink was called "The Pregnancy," but The Pungency is higher on the what's-funny-left-in-a-bathroom-stall-o-meter, so I'll take it as my morning comic relief.

There were huge buildings, and all of the businesses are stacked on top of one another.  We wandered around a bit until we found a temple, and went in to check it out.  It had a lovely area with large trees and little paths leading to mini temples that looked just like the big one...only little.  It was a peaceful moment with the tiny stream and pigeons wandering around the leaves.  Made for a nice break.

We also found a Japanese arcade which was five levels of sensory overload.  Each level had a different theme: fighting games, space games, music games, fluffy girly games and then gambling.  A full room of chairs with virtual horse-racing.  You could climb inside one of the space games and be completely surrounded by screens as if you were looking out of a robot that you were controlling.  There were drumming games with a full electric drum kit and another one with big, rubber Taiko drums.  We didn't play anything, but we saw some locals in action.  One kid's fingers were flying across a grid of twelve square buttons as he clicked along to a techno song.  An impressive, yet relatively useless skill.

A small piece of the giant food-ery.
We left there because I was in search of a sake set for myself, and we found a little kitchen accessory store with a serious inventory problem.  You couldn't even turn around in the store, and no more than four people could be perusing at one time.  We did find a lovely set that looked perfect for a certain sister of mine, so we chose it and purchased it from the little man running the place.

We decided to have a progressive lunch back to the train station where we needed to meet up with the rest of the team so Matt could shoot the entrepreneurs testing out their solar stove in the middle of a walking area.  We found a couple fun bakeries and pastry places with interesting food, so we bought random things that looked interesting.  While standing in line, I proceeded to drop the little plastic bag holding the sake set, and smashed it on the concrete.  I was really disappointed at such a stupid move, but Matt was willing to walk back to the store with me to pick out another one.

I walked back in the little shop, and the man looked confused at my presence.  I tried to explain, in English, what I had done with my last set, but he just stared.  I motioned as if I were dropping something, pointed to the ground and made a "KSSH" sound, as if glass were breaking.  "Ooooooh," he said, and let me through to pick up another.  Just a reminder that most sound effects translate if you're ever in a bind.

Tiny little fishies surprised us atop our noodles.
Matt met up with the team and filmed One Earth Designs with their solar stove, and I headed to a large department store called Sogo that would be a ten-story equivalent to Macy's.  At the very bottom of the building was a ridiculously awesome area of food vendors with awesome food.  Sweet, savory, fried, fresh, raw and colorful.  It was a magical, sense-ical experience.  We found some treats that we had liked before, and spent our final Yen.

It was time to go back to the ship, so we took a final stop at a coffee shop and bought some spicy hot chocolate.  It had chili powder in it, Mexican-style, and it hit the spot for a cold walk back to the ship.  The sun was setting, and the line was long as we all went back through security with our goodies and boarded the ship.

Everyone was exhausted, and we hunkered down to listen to each other's stories.  We had all split up at certain points during our Japan visit, so we made it a point to hear one another's adventures.  A wonderful, wonderful visit, and an amazing country that I would highly recommend visiting.

Sayonara, Japan!