The fact that we wrapped work up a day early turned out to be very good for me as I spent most of Friday preparing for my Tokyo trip. Yes, there were the last-minute errands, the organizing, the packing – but almost half the day was dedicated to uploading Tokyo maps to my new portable GPS, while the other half was spent going through my sock drawer in a search of a pristine pair without holes. Among the many things first-time visitors to Japan may be surprised to discover: 1) You must carry your VISA around with you at all times in the event you are stopped and questioned by the police (a not uncommon occurrence), and 2) While there, you may be called upon to remove your shoes at any time. The latter is, I’m sure, a source of much anxiety for those who are extremely self-conscious about their feet, those who find the custom uncomfortably alien to them, and those who own three pugs and a French bulldog extremely fond of chewing on any discarded socks lying around the bedroom. I ended up packing eight pairs, tossing six, and leaving a couple behind for the dogs to remember me by while I’m away.
I’d set my alarm for 8:00 a.m. this morning but Jelly, my eldest pug, no doubt concerned I might need the extra time, woke me up a half hour early by walking across my face. I got up, showered, shaved, fed the dogs, finished packing, uploaded my last blog entry, had to take a pair of scissors to a carry-on bag that had mysteriously locked on me and simply refused to permit me access to its contents (“Of course I’d love to show you what’s in my bag, Mr. Security Officer, sir, but the zipper seems to be jammed or locked so I guess we’re both out of luck. Heh heh.”), transferred the contents of shredded bag to my new carry-on bag – and then it was off to the airport!
The flight was uneventful. Over the course of the ten hours, I started a novel (Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow End), napped, practiced my Japanese, reviewed my Tokyo maps, and finished a novel (Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End). When I arrived in Tokyo, it was a little before 4:00 p.m. and it was still daylight. By the time I caught the airport shuttle to my hotel, it was almost 6:00 p.m. and getting dark. I checked in, then took a stroll through Ginza. Along the way, I stopped to eat at one of those sushi restaurants where the selections roll by on a conveyer belt, then hit the basement of the Mitsukoshi department store where I picked up some chocolates for the concierge (who was nice enough to arrange my dinner reservations), and a few assorted goodies for myself (pictured above).
Once I returned to my hotel room, I conducted a macaron-off: Dalloyau vs. Pierre Hermes, 6 on 6. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even close. The Pierre Hermes macarons were softer, less cloying, and slightly larger than the Dalloyau.
Well, that’s it for today. I was going to post a video of the fancy toilet here, but I’m afraid that’ll have to wait until tomorrow. It’s 9:45 p.m. local time (4:45 a.m. back home) and I’m ready for bed.