One of the great things about traveling east is that the time shift doesn’t play havoc with your sleeping patterns. Not really. The first few days after you’re arrival, you’re in bed by 10:00 p.m. and up at a refreshing 6:00 to 7:00 a.m.-ish, ready for a full day of activities and, first and foremost, breakfast sushi at Tsukiji. The first night can be a bit of a killer though.


Ivon and I flew out at 2:00 p.m. PST and arrived a little after midnight that same day – which, it turns out, is a little after 5:00 p.m. the following day. The flight was fairly non-eventful although a mild sense of panic did set it at one point when, following a touch of turbulence, the pilot informed the cabin: “Ladies and gentlemen, it seems we’re experiecing a little trouble…” OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD! “…the inflight entertainment system.” OH. Oh. Never mind then. Apparently, one of the servers was experiencing a problem, freezing up under the demand of so many passengers trying to view The Expendables and Dinner for Shmucks. Fortunately, my program choices were significantly less popular, so I had no trouble getting through My Dog Tulip an animated feature based on the book by J.R. Ackerly. “Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs.” is the quote that opens this wry, sweet, and ultimately very touching tale of an man and his devoted but troublesome Alsatian. Just what I needed. I also watched Catfish, a surprisingly good documentary that tracks a New York photographer’s burgeoning online relationship with a mystery gal from Michigan, and the bizarre developments that come when the veil of online anonymity is pulled away.


The in-flight meal was unremarkable.  The fish was bland, the chicken microwaved to a scorching hot, while the chocolate molten lava cake was decidedly dormant.  We finally arrived at Narita airport and, as we disembarked and headed for the baggage claim, I noticed someone standing off to the side with an “Ivon Bartok” sign.  “The lucky bastard,”I thought, assuming the hotel had sent a limo to pick him up.  I was wondering why the hell he was receiving preferential treatment when the sign-holder informed us that Ivon’s luggage hadn’t made the flight and would, instead, be joining him at a later date.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe the day after.  How the hell Air Canada screwed up is beyond me.  Considering they already knew he wasn’t getting his luggage before we even hit the baggage claim, my guess is they loaded up the cargo hold in Vancouver, waved goodbye as the plane flew off, then turned around to head back inside and noticed the lone suitcase with the “Property of Ivon Bartok” tag lying on the tarmac behind them.  Oopsy.  Better get on the phone to Narita.

Is anyone that surprised?  Ivon’s bad vacation mojo strikes again!


After the long shuttle ride from the airport to The Imperial Hotel, we checked in, then had steak and sake at the hotel’s teppanyaki restaurant, Kamon.

Afterwhich we went out for a stroll, promptly got lost, and spent the next half hour wandering around Ginza trying to find our way back.

Tomorrow: sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Market, dinner at Birdland, and Ivon goes shopping for a new wardrobe.

42 thoughts on “December 7, 2010: Tokyo, here we come! (minus Ivon’s belongings)

  1. Glad you arrived safely even though Ivon’s luggage took another flight. What is the weather like over there now? I can’t remember whether the seasons are the same as the last time I was there was 1981. If I may inquire, what is the purpose of the trip? Stargate Universe related?
    Warm thoughts for Jelly

  2. I am sooo familiar with the ‘inflight entertainment’ announcement! You always hear the collective intake of breath after “problem” or “trouble” and the collective sigh of relief after “entertainment”. Is it so hard to say: “The inflight entertainment system appears to be malfunctioning” or something?

    Have a good rest of your trip, and I hope Ivan gets his luggage soon!

  3. The good news is that Air Canada found the luggage and put it on its way. It’s not fun when luggage stays AWOL…

  4. How cool, glad that you got in fairly smoothly, yay! Who needs clothes, anyway? It can be very liberating to give up your possessions; I spent a weekend wearing my mother’s clothes due to lost luggage one xmas. I recall running through the airport in a flowered house dress and pink culottes to my rescued luggage and hugging it like a long lost lover.

    If you go to Gap in Tokya take pictures! J Crew has tons of I am Love inspired Italian wool this season so I hope Ivon can find one, they have great colors this season.

  5. Look on the bright side, Joey…you got Ivon’s vacation mojo out of the way on Day 1! It should all be smooooooth sailing from here on out! 😀


  6. Ivon’s a jinx 😀
    Glad to hear you’ve arrived safely and that you had something decent to eat to get rid of the horrid airplane “food”.

  7. travelling with Ivon is genius! By having him to draw all the bad mojo, you will be able to galavant along with only good Karma. Unless he tries to borrow some of your clothes…I’m also impressed the airline was waiting to inform him so promptly. no watching the carasel for an hour, finally realizing no more luggage is coming out, then another hour of trying to file a missing luggage report. Now to adjust to the time shift with you, so that we can catch your postings promptly.

  8. oh my how fun. oh, one more thing. I have the recipe for the competition. When should I get it to you, I know since you are in Japan there is little you can do to prepare the food…

  9. You know, somehow, I am not surprised Ivon’s luggage didn’t make it. 🙂 You should have sent a note to the newspaper warning them you were coming. 😉

    Hope you have a great time!!

  10. I was brainstorming what would be a good prize for the recipe contest. Don’t worry, I’m not that obnoxious. I’m just having fun.

    -Jelly tries out the online game of the winner’s choice and tweets a review to John Scalzi’s cat.

    -An author of the winner’s choice does a Q&A. (I’m leaning toward Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, or Frank Herbert.)

    -Akemi invents a confection and names it after the winner.

    -Velvet painting of the Destiny bridge.

    -A mini Labrador puppy (is there such a thing?) with health insurance.

    -Script coverage by Carl Binder.

    -Recipe coverage by a 2-star chef.

    Oh, I see you just read SiaSL and Dune.

    I think Stranger in a Strange Land would have been twice as awesome if it ended right smack in the middle. It was a satisfying, complete, mind-blowing story up to that point, then it took a turn for the weird and preachy.

    Did you get the feeling Robert Heinlein was using his characters to sound off on his feelings of misogyny, homophobia, and blaming rape victims, or was that just me?

    Have you tried to figure out any of your peers’ real motives using Bene Gesserit methods since reading Dune?

    Do you plan to read the 2nd through 6th Dune books? I thought the whole thing was awesomeness.

    I listened to a tape of a book by Frank Herbert’s son, written in the Duniverse, and it was disturbingly violent without all the genius of his father’s disturbing violence.

    How was Stephen King’s Under the Dome?

  11. Hi Mr. Mallozzi,

    I have a technical question for you: If the Destiny managed to dial the address of the earth through the sun (while recharging), will the flares of that sun will cause a time travel trip?

    By the way, thank you for answering our questions !

  12. LOL Ivon’s travel karma is intact.

    In case you were wondering I found out what happened to Ivon’s luggage. I think they were after the hair gel.

    I’m hoping for a “Pretty Woman” type shopping spree vid…you could loan him your credit card.

    Pilot humour is soooo funny when you’re not in the plane.

    Thx for the yummy pix

    Cheers, Chev

  13. The most remarkable thing about that whole experience is that Air Canada was proactive enough to have someone there at the baggage claim! That never happens to me. Hopefully he did get it eventually.

    Hope you have a fun time there!

  14. Flight food almost never is good, It’s not really paying the extra for first class or higher tickets in the hope of getting something worth eating. That being said best thing obviously to do is to eat shortly before taking a flight lol

    You’re so lucky to be in Japan Joe.
    Did you have any problems with being stopped randomly by Japanese Police? Never had any issues myself but heard no end of storys from people traveling to the area when they get randomly stopped for being foreign and asked for Gaijin Card/Passport. Mostly Japans way of trying to cut down on people overstaying. Never thought it was a bad policy myself.

    Well anyway have fun!

  15. MightyStarGazer (Mia): so sorry for your loss.

    Mr. M.: have a great trip! Ditto on what Das said about Ivon’s upcoming good luck.

  16. I was thinking the same thing as das! You got the bad stuff out of the way with Ivon’s luggage (and the in-flight entertainment snafu) and now you can enjoy the rest of the trip!

  17. Wow, for a minute, you might have been starring in the remake of the “Lost” series.

    Lost luggage is always funnier when it happens to the other person. I hope this is it for the negative Ivon-vacation mojo.

    That really was nice of the airlines. I’ve NEVER heard of an American airline doing something like that. Not even when they’ve misplaced your dog.

    I’m sure you’ve called Christine already. How are the pups? Whew. I guess tomorrow is Jelly’s big day (being Wednesday tomorrow over here). Positive vibes.

  18. Oh, been through NRT many times. They can be most helpful in the terminal, or not. I really enjoy the flights over the Rockies, Alaska and sometimes over Russia. If not too cloudy the geography is most beautiful even at 35k feet. Yet, a normal flt path from YVR will not take you too far north of Kodiak. Strange the ACA does not have a Positive bag match for International flights. It is not the same to the people below the 49th. Would like to get read the list of Restaurants you entertain, in the event I get bumped there. As far as the entertainment goes while I get to catch up on my movie watching, I still bring my laptop loaded with personal choices such as SG episodes of an earlier time.

  19. I agree with Shiny. Ivon does not need clothes. 😛

    Please include Ivon in lots of pictures and don’t forget to give the camera to him so we can see lots of you too.

    @ MightyStarGazer(Mia) – so very sorry about your baby Mulle. Putting you and your family in my prayers now.

  20. Let’s hope that’s the end of Ivon’s bad travel mojo! I agree with Das, best to get it out of the way early so you can enjoy the rest of the trip.

  21. Hello Joe.

    Let us know how things go w/ Jelly. I will be praying for her tonight that everything goes well.

    As for you and Ivon… Enjoy your trip!!!
    Best Wishes,


  22. Glad, you and Ivon both made it safely to Japan. 🙂 So, I must ask you. Did you op for the body scans (which is basically getting X-Rayed and they can see your nekkid bod), or the pat down (in which they feel you up in the most intimate places)? 😉

    Lost luggage…bad airplane food. Jeez…looks like airlines never change. 😉

  23. Qantas once lost my luggage going from Melbourne to Sydney and it turned up the next day. To compensate me they put me in First Class for the trip home. I’ve never been in First Class….was an awesome experience. Although picture me in my jeans and t-shirt amongst all of the suits….LOL

    So Ivon…pressure them to put y’all in First Class on the trip home!!

    Cheers, Chev

  24. Did you buy a new camera? The quality of the steak and saki pic is incredible..

    If you did, what’s the model?

  25. Oh my gosh, the baggage card, so its been played, did Ivon really pack stuff, or did he just want a new wardrobe, yeah I know he packed, just kidding. Poor baby, better luck tomorrow, well it probably already is tomorrow, so good luck for the remainder of the journey.

  26. @ @ MightyStarGazer – {{{hugs}}} So very sorry about your loss. 🙁

    @ Sparrow & Tammy Dixon – ‘Smooth sailing’ doesn’t always end up meaning the same thing for Joey that it means for the rest of us. Might want to do a little blog search using such terms as ‘smoooooth sailing’, ‘script’, and ‘Act I’. 😉


  27. I’m glad your trip was safe. I didn’t think the flight meal would deserve a photo.
    Please provide photos of good luck cats and odd vending machines. Most importantly , have a good time. Thanks for the post. I know you are very busy, but it is nice to know you are safe. Call or e-mail mom.

    Take care and God bless,

  28. Hey Joe,

    Happy to hear you, YOUR luggage..and Ivon made it to Japan safely. Always good to hear there is shopping to do…somehow…I think Ivon will be grumbling. Do they make clothes to fit Americans there? Just asking…hehehe

    Love the pictures…you always make me smile. Ivon is always a good subject…well…and the food.

    Sounds like fun already…AND yummy.

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  29. Oh…and as a side note…

    Your snow is beginning to make me feel like I have “free floaters” in my eyes. *giggles* I keep thinking I need to blink more.

  30. “I recall running through the airport in a flowered house dress and pink culottes to my rescued luggage and hugging it like a long lost lover.”

    Thank goodness you’re a girl.

  31. Almost forgot…I found out that Kindle makes an iPhone app…so I just received my download of “The Iron Hunt”.

    Well…what can I say…it will be interesting to see how this works out. At least the small tykes can’t rip out pages. Have you ever done the iPhone Kindle? Do you like your regular Kindle? I guess it would be better to travel with a Kindle…packing a bunch of books wouldn’t be so great.

    Just thinking out loud. hmmmm

  32. When I’m not so sleepy, I will regal you with the tale of our transfer from Japan where I had resided for nine years, with three cats and a dog, the plane where we sat for hours, then disembarked backwards through customs who couldn’t understand why my tourist card wasn’t on file after so many years, taken to a hotel after arguing with the shuttle driver than we WOULD be taking our animals on his bus, being forced to leave them in the baggage room, stealing poached salmon to fed the poor things, letting the cats poop in the sand-filled ashtrays, then be rerouted through Detroit instead of LA so dad couldn’t come pick up the cats, then finding out in Detroit that only the animals had arrived, in the rain, and later, that our luggage had taken KLM to Amsterdam and as returned one piece at a time, with our nifty new luggage locks all cut by customs. Oh, and we left our tickets at the security check and Larry had to run full tilt back to get them.

    I was forced to buy clothes at Walmart. WALMART!!! And we had to drive cross-country with three very unhappy cats. Keeper howled through Iowa and Nebraska, forcing us to hit the road because we couldn’t sleep. The room smelled like wet corn anyway. Jake vanished in the hotel room in Vegas, we found him curled up in the drawer of the bedside table. ??? Hubby’s mom never sent us the dog, but she complained about her every chance she got.

    And that’s the short version. Maybe I am not so sleepy after all.

    I stole the elegant porcelain ashtray and the Buddhist book from the bedside table. I don’t even smoke. I drew the line at the teacups, but I should have gone for them, they were quite nice. Make MY animals sleep in the luggage room, will you? Enjoy your crap filled ashtrays.

  33. I used to have a co-worker that frequently had flight or baggage issues. We traveled together a lot & though most of the times when WE traveled together there weren’t problems, I started to always pack 1 days outfit in my backpack just to be safe. I figured that if I was traveling with him it was very possible I was going to have the same issues. Fortunately not.
    I hope Ivon got some great clothing pieces that are now part of his souvenirs!

    I hope all goes smoothly for Jelly & that she has a quick recovery!

  34. Dear Joe,
    Once again, I interrupt what I’m sure are very thoughtful posts to ask a rather random question.

    So, I’ve been rewatching SG1 lately and really enjoying the team interaction. As a S/J shipper, I find myself imagining happy little scenarios for the two of them. They make my little shippy heart go pitterpatter. ANYWAY! Just wondering if you ever wonder what the two of them (as a couple) would be up to these days. Any thoughts?

    (I TOLD you it was random! And Stellabystargate MADE me ask, it’s ALL HER FAULT!!!)

    Hope you’re enjoying your trip!


  35. Glad you made it there safely. Poor Ivon. You didn’t tell them to forget his luggage, did you? :p

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