Friday, September 19, 2008

Tuesday in Tokyo

I should be sleeping...and will be shortly after I'm done typing and I'm done with the beer I'm drinking...okay, nursing. It's pouring rain outside and thunder is pounding and lightening is flashing. I'm glad I typed this earlier and just have to tweek it a bit now! When this is done the laptop is getting turned off.

It has been one heck of a week. Busy, aggravating, frustrating, annoying...and just about any other adjective you can think of. It was just a bad week. But it's Friday night, the week is over, and now we're sitting in the middle of a tropical storm. I'm actually happy that it's raining outside and the girls are enjoying it too. We'll be stuck inside all day tomorrow, but it's supposed to clear up by Sunday. I'm not going to go into detail about our terrible week because I'll get all worked up and my blood pressure will probably go up!

Tuesday the girls and I needed to go up to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to renew Keanna's passport. I had all the proper documentation and thankfully had no problem with that. There's a lot of things a person needs when one parent isn't there, but we took care of it before Bob left so all was well. Aaaanyway, I've never taken the train alone except to go one stop down from our housing area. Anytime we've gone anywhere on the train I've had a navigator, and venturing into Tokyo alone scared the absolute crap out of me. Julie was sympathetic and offered to go most of the way up with us. Aren't friends great?! We went as far as Shimbashi with her, then from there had to get on a different line and go two stops down. Not bad, pretty simple. But the way back didn't go as smoothly. I'll get to that shortly. After walking out of the station and only a couple of blocks from the Embassy I spotted a 7-11. Now Julie is a nice person and I know she came to help me, but she had ulterior motives...Kit Kats! After we went our separate ways we both ended up finding a new flavor, Caramel Purin. I'm calling it Caramel Flan since that's what the picture is, but Julie can read the packaging. We also found a couple of new Pringles flavors, Sour Cream and Bacon and Onion and Cheese Gratin.

We walked around the Shimbashi area with Julie and Noah, and were so happy to see the Shinkansen, a.k.a. the Bullet Train. I saw The Rose and Crown which was featured in Pride and Prejudice. Not this particular restaurant/pub obviously, but the name. I saw an escalator like I've never seen before. The rail was one big advertisement! And Julie took us to a huge cuckoo clock, but we weren't there at the right time to see it go off. I forgot to mention this last week, but when we were shopping Julie saw a book she recognized. She paraphrased it for me, but the quick version is this...a girl meets a boy and they fall in love, only she has a farting problem. She farts all the time and is nervous to meet his parents because of it. On one page there's a picture of her farting and it was so powerful the boyfriend's father is knocked off a ladder! I forget the details and hopefully Julie will comment to fill in the rest.

So we do our thing at the Embassy and about 40 minutes pass from when we walk in to security to when we walk out. We get back into the train station and I know I have to go two stops down and switch lines. Had no problem with that, only I couldn't find the line I needed! Two women were chatting so I asked them to help me. I said, "Sumimasen, Keikyu?" One took Keanna by the hand and the other motioned to me to follow. We walked about 10 minutes, down an elevator and to a wicket. They pointed to where I needed to go and were so sweet. Sydney was sleeping in the stroller, so they patted Keanna on the head, we bowed to each other, then Keanna bowed too. She didn't do the traditional Japanese bow though, this was more like a stage bow. She put her arms out (instead of at her side) and bowed. They thought it was adorable, she meant well, and I was happy that she knew what to do. I went through the wicket, down an escalator and to the Keikyu line. But looking at the signs they said "Haneda" and that's the airport...the one place Julie said not to go to. I mean, I knew not to head to the airport, but I was so nervous at the moment that I couldn't remember exactly what she said.

Okay, getting back to the point, we were on the right train, and I double checked on my map once we made the first stop. Okay, heading south, that's a good thing. A girl sitting two seats down from me wasn't Japanese, so I triple checked with her. She wasn't American like I thought, she was from Romania. So we chatted, her English was excellent and she put me at ease. Standing in front of her was a Japanese woman who spoke really good English. She was talking to the girl standing in front of me, and the two of them were talking, looking at me and then looking at the girls. Made me a little nervous, but then she said, "You need to get off at Kanazawa Bunco and get on the train that says "Shin Zushi" on the front." Phew! I took a deep breath, felt reassured that we weren't going to get lost, and a little while later the Japanese woman that spoke English got off the train. About 15 minutes after that the girl standing in front of me that was speaking to the one that spoke English sat down next to me. When our stop came, she got off with Keanna, Sydney and me, then pointed to the sign, pointed to the ground, showed me two fingers and said, "Ni." I took that to mean (and thankfully was correct), that we needed to stay put and get on the second train that comes by. We bowed to each other, Keanna did the stage bow thing again, and the girl got back on the train. I didn’t realize until then that she got off just to tell me what I needed to do.

Yet again, the Japanese people have gone out of their way to be helpful and kind to me, and for that I am truly grateful. I absolutely love living here, and only wish Bob could be here to share in the fun and adventure!


Anonymous said...

According to their web site, the Kit Kats are Caramel Pudding. I hope the storm settles a little so we can go into Zushi and find the new ones!!!

Oh, the Pringles are "Bacon and Sour Cream" and "Onion Cheese Gratin".

Chas said...

Sorry about the rough week Katie! I absolutely love that the people there are so very kind! We'll be waiting to hear about the next adventure!

The Dudleys said...

I love the Japanese people! If we could only encourage all of us Americans to be as polite and gracious as they are. I know I'm not always the best representation of a good ambassador, but I try! ;)