Tokyo! Tokyo! Come in, Tokyo!


So I ducked under the blizzard. My flight was cancelled the night before but in the morning I was able to snag the last seat on a later Madison-Chicago flight and make the connection with the nonstop 13 hour ride to Tokyo. In coach. Ouch.

After clearing customs I converted my train voucher (a tourist train pass available for purchase only OUTSIDE Japan) for the actual pass. Dragging two 50 lb. suitcases, a duffel bag, winter coat and a laptop, I somehow negotiated the escalator. On the platform I determined how Shinjuku, my destination, was written in Japanese by comparing my ticket to other Shinjuku signs that were in both Japanese and English. Like a Rosetta stone. Shinjuku is two symbols. The first is a little stick woman with a hula hoop and a French beanie who has lost her balance and is falling against the arse of a horse with a long tail. The other is a man with his head caught in a covered garbage can with two dresser drawers in it. Well, that’s what I see anyway. And I could pick those two characters out of a line up now.

I asked on the platform if I was getting on the right train because NOTHING indicated it was the same one on the ticket. I dragged my collection of luggage on and found my seat. Spent about an hour getting nodding-off whiplash before I started getting nervous. I nudged the woman next to me and asked Shinjuku? She spoke no English. She looked at the ticket and then made an X with her forearms in front of her chest. It was like Family Feud without the nasty buzzing sound. Two more and the other team would have a chance to steal.

She asked the guy behind us to be sure. He asked someone else setting off a chain reaction of Shinjuku interrogatives and perhaps a few cross-armed X’s. Finally a sort of attendant with a vending cart came by and assured me I was in the right place. Yuko, the woman next to me, decided she would give me her phone number. I tried to imagine two people waving their arms silently on opposite ends of the phone connection. Seemed odd, but a nice gesture. I tried to sell her the English school I represent.

I had a map and just pointed and made weird noises for the taxi driver. We exchanged a lot of bows and nodding along with some more noises. It was only a few blocks away.

My room is just large enough for my luggage and the little bed. I may put the two suitcases inside and sleep in the hall. The toilet has what looks like a large remote control console on it with lots of buttons. I am afraid to push any of them. I feel a bit vulnerable, if you know what I mean.

The pillow on the bed is stuffed with the “beans” of a bean bag, but I was relieved to find the other side had something puffier and synthetic. Reversible pillows. Fancy.

Dog tired. Tomorrow I brave the subway and my maps that have nothing but Japanese figures on them.

One thought on “Tokyo! Tokyo! Come in, Tokyo!

  • February 26, 2007 at 1:42 am
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    Have you seen that guy who can eat 54 hot dogs in 12 minutes yet? That would be so cool.

    Reply

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