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Saturday, March 27, 2004

 
Finally Friday
The above title is not a reference to today, but rather a reference to the fact that, just 2 weeks after I got back from Japan, I am going to finish writing about it. I guess in some ways it's fitting, because I heard somewhere a long time ago that it takes you dreaming mind about 2 weeks to catch up with your body's physical location, so you keep dreaming about where you were. Two nights ago, I dreamed I had to go back to Japan again, which was convenient, because I needed to buy a tea canister. I blame it on having looked at my pile of leftover yen just before going to sleep. I have about $10 in coins.

Friday was a fun day, but it did seem to go in circles. At 11:15, Chris arrived on the shinkansen from Tochigi. This was his first trip on the shinkansen. I think it is entirely fitting that Chris and I absolutely had to get together while I was in Japan, because I know him from when he was the only other person in my Japanese class at Grinnell, back before they hired a professor, when it was just self-study with a native speaker tutor. Chris is on the JET program this year, so he got to Japan just after I left. He actually did his semester abroad in Tokyo, and has been far more diligent than I with the whole self-study thing, so his Japanese is far, far better than mine, and he's slated to take the Level 1 (highest level) Japanese proficiency exam.

First, we got lunch at Freshness Burger, which also involved a lot of reminiscing about Grinnell and JET teaching. Then we wandered down Clis Road a little ways before Chris spotted the Book Off, and wanted to go check to see if he could find an apparently very elusive volume of manga from a series he likes. No luck, as it turns out, but then we were in the right area to go into Loft, so he could see the evil bear and all the vending machines. I'm not sure he was as excited as I was by all the weird little toys, so we didn't stay long. He wasn't satisfied with his lack of Book Off success, so we went over to AER so he could look at the bookstore there, which is where all the English books are, as well. No luck again with the comics, but he did look longingly at a set of the entire untranslated Tale of Genji, which is about 8 books. (He wants to go to grad school for Japanese now.) We made our way upstairs to Starbucks from there to meet Richard at 1:30, because he had gotten off work early, since he has nothing to do there right now in between semesters.

Richard was hungry, and Chris wanted to see Jupiter, to check for any foreign food he'd been craving. (Tochigi doesn't have a foreign food store.) Thus, we headed back to Sendai Station, so Richard could eat at the other Freshness Burger, and Chris could wander Jupiter to his heart's content. He didn't find anything he had to have, but as we later sat with Richard while he finished eating, he told us of his quest to find an alarm clock with actually glowing numbers that he could see in the dark. This meant it was time for a trip to Yodobashi Camera! (Alas, I would say Laox, but my dear, beloved Laox is now totally closed. *sniff, sniff*) Lo and behold, they had a proper clock. Chris declared his trip to Sendai a complete success.

I can't remember the order of everything else we did, and no one probably cares, but I have the impression in my mind that there were a lot of circles. We walked back across the station, but went up through the weird bar/arcade/retro music theme restaurant, and stopped to watch people betting on a tiny, mechanical horse race, on a felt green track, with a paddock, tiny jockeys, and little metal horses with legs that moved. Then Richard had to see the evil bear back in Loft, and then I had to go upstairs to get chopsticks and a loose tea teapot from Muji. We walked down Clis Road again, and Chris tried to get a toy from one of those catcher claw machines in an arcade. Richard had to go meet a friend at a batting cage at around 4, and his bike was parked in front of AER, so after I said good-bye to him, Chris went back into the bookstore, and I went upstairs to check my email. Then it was back to Sendai Station again, so Chris could get his return train ticket and some dinner, and I could meet Sharon and Danola at, yes, another Starbucks.

After Chris got to briefly meet Sharon and Danola, he had to be off for the last train that would stop at the closest station for him. Sharon, Danola, and I sat for a little while longer, talking about Danola's trip to Australia, followed by their joint trip to China, and all the places in the world we'd like to meet in the future. Eventually, though, it was time for Sharon to go meet another friend, and for me and Danola to meet Kristel for dinner at India Gold. It wouldn't be a trip to Sendai without a trip to India Gold. After dinner, there was a brief pass through Loft to show Danola the evil bear, (can you tell he was the highlight of my trip?) and then onto the train for my last night in Japan. I said good-bye to Kristel as she got off at Tagajo.

Danola and I had one last night of laughing at her borrowed DVDs of "Sex & the City" and talking, and then it was sleep and get up and get on an early train to catch an early shinkansen to catch another train to the airport, to catch the plane back to Detroit, on which there was this very interesting semi-transvestite guy, who had tri-colored highlights and got out a mirror to do his eyebrows before the plane landed. I was behind him in line at customs, so I got to experience the full glory of his giant Louis Vuitton rolling suitcase and his passport case dangling multi-colored Mardis Gras beads. I was the one who got flagged for a random luggage check, but it ended up getting me through the line faster than everyone else, and Mark picked me up to take me home, where I promptly fell asleep and screwed up my sleep cycle for the next week.

The end.

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