Sunday, June 17
Sunday was the follow-up to last month’s successful get-together with the girls. The destination this time: Yokohama (横浜). We visited the Raumen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館). Don’t let the name fool you, there is very little about the history of ramen. We paid to get in and paid again to have a bowl of ramen. We looked around for 10 minutes, visited the gift store and decided we had seen it all. I was a little disappointed because I thought we were visiting the Cup Noodle Museum which has a way better presentation. Oh well, maybe next month.
After our short trip at the museum we moved to central Yokohama. There we had coffee and lunch. We walked a healthy 15 kilometers and enjoyed the warm sun. We talked about careers, relationships and daily life. I felt like one of the girls!
In all seriousness it was really good to see my girls again. It’s amazing how much we’ve all grown up since first meeting. We don’t so much look older, though we all look skinnier. But it’s the way we speak. It’s how we think before we speak. I certainly feel different from two years ago. I’m sure Lauren & Elisha do too. It’s good to have people to go through this with.
Tuesday, June 19
The typhoon season had a head start this year. A four-month head start. During the afternoon and evening strong winds and heavy rain moved through the Tokyo area. A typhoon had come north and brought a tropical storm with it.
I left the office at the regular time and went to the station. The time-table was behind, meaning the trains were too. I boarded a train. An announcement came over the speakers. I didn’t understand it. But the Japanese people around me did. A few stood up and got off the train. This was enough of a clue for me. It meant the train wouldn’t be leaving soon.
I contacted my coworker, Amina, who lives at the same station as me. We met up. The trains were suspended due to strong wind. They didn’t know when, or if at all, the trains would resume. Tired from work we wanted to go home. We moved to the taxi stands and got in line. The line moved slowly albeit steadily.
During this time I had two thoughts to myself. I watched a man start at the beginning of the line and ask people what station they were going to. Eventually he found someone with whom he shared a station and stood with them. He had wisely cut his wait time down and saved money by splitting cab fare. I needed to improve my Japanese more. My second thought; if I could sell beer to this crowd I’d make a killing. I imagined walking up and down the long line of tired salary. Pulling a big ice chest full of cold ones, I could sell a pint at ¥500 a piece. The police box next to the line though deterred me. Still though, very tempting.
Eventually our cab came and took us one station away. I split the fare with Amina and said good night. I ventured outside into the rain and sprinted home. I was only exposed for 60 seconds to the rain but I was totally soaked once I got inside. Perfect conditions for a bowl of hot soup. I went to sleep that night listening to the wind howl outside. I felt like I was back in Nebraska.
Wednesday, June 20
I woke to a beautiful and sunny morning. The storm had passed and it was the calm after.
Sunday, June 24
Sunday was a farewell party for one of my former students, Shoko. Shoko is moving to Vancouver for a year to study English. It’s rewarding to think about a student going off to the English world to (hopefully) use what I taught them. Good luck Shoko!
-Smart Phone Craze-
One of my biggest disappointments when I came to Japan was the cellphones. In the United States there is a misconception that Japan has amazing technology and their cellphones are light years ahead of our own. Wrong. The majority of cellphones in Japan, in November 2010, were flip-phones. Instead of light years ahead, it felt like light years behind.
Since that time the Japanese have finally gotten with the program. Smartphone ownership has exploded in less than two years. It seems to me that smartphones now have a 40% share of the market in Tokyo. I’m amazed at how fast it all happened. It’s like everyone’s two year contract expired at the same time and they all decided, “I want an iphone.”
I guess my disappointment in the cell phone misconception is just that. A “mis,” and wrong.