Japan (Part 6)

Things I’ve noticed:

  1. At my hotel in Shin-yokohama (新横浜), I was told to give them my room key every time I left the hotel, and pick it up at the front desk upon my return.  So, every time I got back to the hotel, I’d tell them my room number and they’d give me my key.  This struck me as a huge security flaw, but then it occurred to me that they copied the photo page out of my passport, so maybe the check that the face matches their records before they hand out keys.

Update:

When I got back to the hotel Sunday night, the man at the front desk told me that there was a possibility of a scheduled power outage starting at 9:30 the next day.  The trains in Tokyo were affected by the rolling blackouts, so I decided to head to Shin-Fuji to see my dad’s friend Sakiyama-san instead.  His daughter Yuri-san picked me up at the train station.  I spent the afternoon and the next day with his family, chatting in Japanese and learning about the city.

I checked out the Musical Instrument museum in Hamamatsu, the morning after I arrived.  It was interesting, but I think I would have understood more if I read more Japanese.  They had a pretty sizable collection of musical instruments from different countries and time periods.  They had a “performance room” too, for people to try out different instruments.  That room was pretty small, unfortunately, and the instruments were poorly kept.  The displays were cool, though. Sakiyama-san took me to a sushi restaurant the night before I left.  At least, I think it was a sushi restaurant.  Everything at the restaurant was either raw or deep fried.  The dishes (and sake) were excellent.  Pictures to follow in a subsequent post.

After dinner, we were sitting around the table at Sakiyama-san’s home talking about how I should get to the airport the next day when a 6.x aftershock hit Shin-fuji (新富士).  The whole house shook, but nothing was damaged.  Only an orange and a small cup fell off the shelf.  After that, smaller tremors continued to hit, but nothing major.

The next day, I left Shin-fuji (新富士) at 9:30 and took the Shinkansen (新幹線) train into Tokyo.  While at the train station, I met an elderly Japanese lady that I chatted with until her stop just south of Tokyo.  She was headed to the dentist.  She asked me where I was from and told me about different places she had traveled to with her husband.  We had a good conversation.

The trains running between the Tokyo station and the airport were down, so I took a limousine bus (that had free wifi, oh joy of joys.  First free wifi spot I found in Japan).  While on the bus, another small tremor hit.  Every time a tremor hits, every Japanese cell phone in the area beeps with an alert.  It’s kind of eery when everyone’s phone but yours rings with with an earthquake alert.

I arrived at the airport plenty early, but the crowds were crazy.  The line to check into United Airlines stretched all the way down the length of the terminal and wrapped around a corner.  The security line was even longer.  Things moved along fairly quickly, though.

Finally boarded the plane as scheduled and was able to sleep for most of the flight.  When I arrived in Seattle, there was a guy with a radiation detector scanning each person as they stepped off the plane.  They didn’t place me in quarantine, so I must not be glowing.  Baggage claim took forever.  Rosanna picked me up from the airport; it’s good to be home.

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