I ran away.
I escaped to my friend Adrian’s house and hid out for a couple days. While Adrian was at work teaching unsuspecting innocent Japanese children dirty English words... I mean expertly and carefully forming the next generation of world leaders, I banged away furiously at my laptop trying to catch up on my personal and work backload that piled up thanks to spotty wifi for weeks at a time.
I came back to Naha and promptly R-U-N-N-O-F-T on an airplane to head to Tokyo to meet my Dad after his arduous journey from Wisconsin.
In a five-star hotel.
The Keio Plaza Hotel is right smack downtown Shinjuku, in the middle of central Tokyo. It was also dead easy to get to, since they have buses directly from the airport to Shinjuku-area hotels. And the wi-fi is as strong as a girl could wish. Happy Sam.
Terrific (And Terrifying) Tokyo (東京) Trains
Meanwhile I’m doing the “I want my dad to be proud of me and impressed by me,” so I’m trying to show off my Japanese skills while thoroughly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of foot traffic and noise. I’m asking for help every 3 to 5 minutes to make sense of this train station that is bigger than many airports and how to get where we want to go while reading everything in Kanji. Correction: while scanning the Kanji and looking for 1 or 2 symbols that I recognize that allow me to direct us.
Every time we got off the trains and managed to escape our destination station I had to ask dad to stop for a couple minutes so I could stop moving and just breathe.
Akihabara (秋葉原) Neighborhood
Ueno Park (上野公園) And Tokyo National Museum
Now Arriving: Kyoto Station (京都駅)
That’s when Dad’s suitcase broke.
We eventually made it to the ryokan hot and sweaty and vaguely irritated, ready to call it a day at about 3pm. But I wanted to play in Kyoto, so we rested a couple hours in the blissful air conditioning and then took off again.
What is a ryokan, you may ask? It’s a traditional Japanese accommodation. You sleep on Japanese-style floor futons in a room with tatami mats, hanging scrolls, and yukata. They have floor chairs and a low table with a tea setup. It was not new to me, but I wanted to try it, and especially wanted to give my dad a taste of traditional Japanese sleeping and living arrangements, since that’s how my apartment is set up in Okinawa.
Wait, Is That A Geisha In Our Ryokan?!?
However, she turned around and said “uhh, I don’t speak Japanese. I’m Australian.” From the front she didn’t look at all Japanese, either. However, I rallied quickly (in English this time) with “Can I please take some pictures of you anyway? You in the kimono playing the piano looks really neat.” She didn’t mind, and asked me to get some photos with her camera as well, and I gladly obliged.
After that we talked my dad into playing a few songs as well, which made us all happy!
Gion: Where The Geisha Are
My most noble motive for going there was “I want to see the geisha.” Well, it turns out that in Kyoto they call themselves “geiko,” which is slightly more specific than geisha, but with a similar meaning.
We didn’t see any geisha, but we did see hundreds (thousands?) of tourists in kimonos and traditional hair and makeup, just like Rebecca was. For $30 a variety of shops will do your makeup, hair and dress you in a kimono for the day, like they did for Rebecca from our Ryokan. They even gave out those wooden sandals so you can mince around and try not to fall down. Pretty cool.
What The Hell Is That? Or: Japanese Food
Super Duper Tourist
I hate being a tourist, but today I embraced it, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t have a lot of things to say about these places, other than that they were beautiful, I am glad we went, and I really enjoyed them, but I got some fantastic pictures, and the experiences were phenomenal. So here are the pictures, in order of our daylong journey.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (嵐山竹森)
Golden Pavilion Temple (金閣寺)
Silver Pavilion Temple (銀閣寺) And Japanese Garden
Walden University's Newest Faculty Member
For this job, I was offered the interview while in Singapore, interviewed via Skype while in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was offered the job while in Kyoto. And I’ll be in Portugal when I start. Woo hoo!
I can do this job anywhere in the world as long as I have my laptop and a connection to the “Internetz.” I have always talked about going into teaching after 5-10 years of working, and now here I am!