Tokyo Journal 2003, Day 1 Part 2

January 25th, 2003

A friend has just sent me this haiku he wrote for me:
You are my hero,
Now an anime icon
Gently gone insane

I like it. :-)

Once we were settled into our hotel room, I went out for a protracted walk – mostly to identify the local combi, that is, 7-11 type store. There was an AM/PM right across the street about a block away. (Later, it turned out that there was an *actual*7-11 around the corner in the opposite direction. We alternated.) I picked up drinks and a raisin bread from the bakery in the hotel lobby and we had a snack.

My travel karma had extended to having taken the wrong notebook when we left the house, so I didn’t have Emi’s phone number. Duh.

Let me just say here that I worship this woman – she is totally cool Not only would we have been horribly lost the first few days without her – I’d probably still be wandering the halls of Odaiba Aqua City in a state of shock – but she’s also a whole lot of fun to be with, as you will soon see. She’s a Tokyo native, but about half the time when we asked, “what are we doing?” or “where are we?” she�d say, “I don”t know” and just keep going.

Anyway, if I had had her number, I would have gotten a phone card and called her from the airport, duh. But no…no number, no address. Thankfully, Emi had more sense than I did, and had taken the number of our hotel, so she called us there. When I managed to get a phone card, she was already on her way.

Phone cards for NTT do not work in non-NTT phones. Just in case you were wondering.

Pattie and I split up so we could cover both hotel entrances, which were, of course, not visible from each other. Pattie found Emi first. She apologized because she *had* been at the wrong terminal, but hey, we all made it, so we were okay. We gave her our Xmas present for her and decided to go out to dinner.

The area we were in had dozens of small restaurants and they all overwhelmed me. Emi passed by a Tapas place (now *there’s* something you never expect to see on your first night in Tokyo!) which Emi dismissed as being for salarymen. She bundled us into an elevator and stopped at every floor where she either decided the place was too crowded or didn�t look right. We rode up and down that elevator like 4 times, until Pattie and I were hysterical, to the consternation of the couple in the elevator with us. And then the 4 guys who replaced them and kind of watched us out of the corners of their eyes while we roared in hysteria as we stopped at the 5th floor for the third time.

Eventually, we ended up back at street level (naturally) and found a place that was loud and good. When we ordered our waitress would shout out our order, “3 Calpis!” and three or four other severs would shout it back, followed by the chef who would also repeat it. This made a lot of sense – making sure the chef heard the order…except that he was standing right in front of us. We were seated directly in front of him at the counter, watching him grill squid.

We ordered pretty much randomly by pointing at stuff, and Emi told the waitress what it was we wanted. At one point we asked Emi what the heck we had just ordered and we got to teach her the phrase “house special.” So we still don’t know what it was – but it was pretty good. To thank Emi for dragging her butt around town and helping us over the next three days, we picked up the tab.

The three us us sat and talked for a long time, and went over the Comiket catalog. The Comiket catalog is something that needs to be seen and experienced to be understood. It is a 1400-page extravaganza full of teeny-weeny little boxes, each showcasing the art of a particular “circle.” Circles are what the Japanese call groups of people who band together to do a project. (Gainax started as a circle, so did alot of well-known artists groups, bands and other endeavors.) This monstrosity weighs about 4 pounds. In comparison, the Stratford Illustrated Shakepeare (Chancellor Press edition) weighs in at about a pound. This is one big, heavy em-eff-ing book.

We had a quick tutorial on how to understand this thing…you page through (this could easily take a few hours) noting the circles that look interesting, then you identify where that circle is located. Each day of Comiket features different things, and there’s pullout maps you can mark up to identify who�s where. But I get ahead of myself.

At last we parted for the night, with a promise to meet the next day at 11 o�clock in the lobby. Pattie and I went back to the hotel and, to quote Samuel Pepys, “so to bed.”

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