So Rebecca arrived on Friday. She made a good choice based on advice from the bus counter and took a bus to a nearby hotel, then a taxi over. It saved her at least an hour, if not a little more. Olivia and I picked her up at the hotel lobby, then walked to the apartment. We had a quake, as previously mentioned, then ate a little dinner from the konbini. I went out with the normal crowd later in the night.
Saturday was a bit quiet – we went to the farmers market, ate from the patisserie, and took naps. In the evening the plan had been a summer festival in Ueno, but Olivia felt a bit ill, so we cancelled that. Probably for the best, too, as Rebecca needed the extra rest to get some time adjustment. I went to Juan and Rie’s for dinner and we ate like pigs – it had been cooked for two additional people! (Susan and Olivia) It was fantastic as usual. I took the walk home around 2am, which is always fun because it allows me to practice the disenchanted stare/walk as I’m asked repeatedly if I’d like “massage-y” (Yes, massage-y)
Sunday we went for sushi lunch near the office. That was Rebecca’s first experience eating out, so hopefully she picked up some of the rhythm of that process. We went home afterwards, with Olivia and Susan stopping off at a playground, then took naps. After naps we headed to Ueno for the summer festival. We got some grilled corn, takoyaki and – Susan’s favorite – a kakigori. Unfortunately because we got a little confused by the ritual prayer part, we missed the lantern lighting that was the key part of our going when we did. We did, however, get to meet up with Juan and Rie. Oh – and Olivia got her standard star treatment… as I was taking a photo of her near the pond, a Japanese family asked if they could pose with her! She was a bit shy, but warmed up long enough to let them get the shot. Our child will be in dozens of random Japanese photo albums by the time we leave!
Oh, and Susan has discussed the idea of signing her up with a modelling agency…
Home Sunday night, packing for Rebecca, then sleep for us all. Monday morning – holiday – and we’re up for a bit of breakfast and Rebecca’s final prep. Olivia requests to watch Star Wars, so I get her started, let her know she can pause it to travel with Rebecca and I to the train station, but she turns us down. Turns out, however, 45 minutes later she was in hysterics because we were gone and she wanted to go. Oops. Probably for the best, though, because it was a long haul with lots of people crowding around.
I learned a little more about the trek from Tokyo station to here – for one thing, I don’t really care for the direct route because the sheer distance of the walk in the station. Instead, on the return trip, I swapped to a different train and it cut the walking to a quarter.
I also learned that Tokyo station is a pretty massive beast of a station, so if I send anyone through there, it probably shouldn’t be alone or it should be done with lots of time to spare. We left the house almost 1.5 hours ahead of her train time and we arrived with 25 minutes to spare. I would have expected 45 minutes or more to spare! Again, it could be somewhat because of the sheer amount of distance we walked. Of course we could have taken a taxi for a more direct route, but the 160Y fare is pretty attractive.
In Tokyo station I found a clothing store that Susan had mentioned a few times, so I got two short-sleeve dress shirts and a few pair of short black socks. I also stopped and picked up an awesome bento box. Because I just kept telling the girl behind the counter ‘yes’ to all her questions, she packed it up tight for a long trip… I thought she was asking if I needed chopsticks. Oh well, it was probably nicer to eat it at home than in the train station, so I just carried it with my clothes. It does offer me the knowledge that if I’m going on a shinkansen, I should drop in and grab a bento on the way!
I also learned (really confirmed because I’ve done it once before) that if you enter a station and then try to exit at the same station, the turnstile will reject you. You have to visit a member of staff for them to read the card and do something to let you out. I suppose maybe they clear your attempt to enter the station. They didn’t care, it was just an extra step to remember in the future.
Going back in time from the weekend, as previously mentioned, we did Tokyo Disney Land on Thursday. That was a great time and Olivia behaved very well for the vast majority of the time. Susan and Olivia went close to opening and I came later. It was an unusual experience, walking into that park. You still get the rush of seeing the castle for the very first time, and in just as controlled a manner as the other MK parks. Amusingly, though, the castle is TINY once you’re right at it. The hub area in front of the castle is massive – lots of green space and room for people to gather for shows – but the castle itself just was the wrong scale entirely… I’m not sure if it’s because of reduced height restrictions or what, but it was funny looking.
When I arrive Olivia was still napping, and apparently for most of her nap, she became a photo op – Susan said multiple families approached, posed, and snapped photos with her. She woke up a little after I got there, so we started touring again. If I recall correctly, we may have gone straight for Big Thunder Mountain, but I’m not positive. We did a lot of the ‘doppelganger’ rides – Big Thunder, Pirates (similar to California), Tiki Room (with Stitch!), Haunted Mansion, Small World, and Star Tours. Star Tours was a massive hit with Olivia – she’s very into Star Wars these days, regularly requesting that we watch it. Of course all the rides are in Japanese, so it’s sort of a twist of the mind.
I only got one of the unique rides – Pinocchio (basically Mr Toad’s, without going to hell) – but the girls also got Winnie the Pooh which is apparently completely different! Space Mountain, unfortunately, was closed all day. We missed going on the Monster’s Inc ride because of a long queue time and a melting child.
We ate dinner in the doppelganger for the Tomorrowland Noodle Terrace, which was really funny since we’ve never encountered the Terrace to be open. They had lunch in the Queen of Heart’s banquet hall, which was apparently a very nicely decorated place.
All in all it was a great time – there was a steady breeze blowing so the heat wasn’t too miserable and shade wasn’t too hard to come by. The crowds were quite manageable throughout the day with reasonable queue times almost all the time. As I mentioned, Olivia was very well behaved for the vast majority of the day, so that was especially helpful inasmuch as she was there for nearly 12 hours!
We saw a couple of parades, which is unusual for us, but in both cases we weren’t quite sure how to get around them, so we just stuck them out. The first was a daytime parade that we saw in the hub – it was the “Jubilation Parade” and was pretty cool. Olivia enjoyed the floats, dancers, etc. We even got a lot of it on video. As Susan had mentioned earlier in the day, this is the park where they’ve hidden all the characters – notice you even see the Incredibles! Apparently there are tons of random, usually unseen characters doing meet-and-greats around the park… I didn’t see any, but I came late.
The other parade was the electric light parade, which we’ve seen a part of in Florida. I was stunned at the quality, especially the genie float. Video here.
After the parade we knew lots of people would be leaving, so we gave Olivia the choice of one last ride in the park – anything she wanted. What was the choice? The Haunted Mansion for a second time. She was quite full of self-confidence in that she would not be scared like little kids are on that ride, and she wasn’t. She was very brave on the rides all day, especially Big Thunder. We’re certain that she’d do great on every coaster she encounters for a while after that experience.
Prior to Disney… it was a pretty quiet week. There wasn’t a mother’s group meeting for the girls because many mothers have left for cooler climes. I remember that I went out for dinner on my own Wednesday night because Olivia wasn’t in the mood to be good in a restaurant. I’m still getting used to the idea that she’s just not behaving as well in the evening, post-nap, as she is in the mornings.
Oh, on Thursday I rode Susan’s bike to work. I loved the speed at which I traveled, but I had a tough time with the very touchy steering. It will take some getting used to, and I haven’t decided what type of bike I’ll end up buying.
Oh yeah – I’m also supposed to climb Mount Fuji this weekend… but I don’t really know any of the details, so it may not happen… we’ll see. If I go, there will be plenty of photos.
Let us know when you’re coming – we’ll be sure to blow up the bed, prepare the train schedule and show you a good time. Christine arrives in 70 some-odd days… when are you coming?