(x-posted from lj)
!!!JAPAN!!! -- that's what it's like here. lots of exclamation points, neon ones, surrounded by others, and katakana that it takes forever to decode and turns out to mean 'karaoke.' Karaoke is the one word I can definitely recognize at this point. we have not tried it yet BUT we have gotten some amazing things done:
1) talked to other foreigners. everywhere, all the time. we have no compunctions about striking up conversations with strangers.
2) the fish market! imagine Reading Terminal Market except three times as big and ten times as confusing, filled with fish carcasses and men with swords and other men smoking cigarettes while racing around on motorized carts and everywhere buckets of smaller fish that aren't quite dead yet and are thrashing about in a pathetic way. our first morning here we woke up at 5:30 and decided to make the most of it, so we got to see the market in all its wet, bloody glory.
3) fresh sushi for breakfast, post-fish market. this was one of those unforgettable experiences that we just stumbled on, having left the fish market. we saw a line and we queued up, figuring why not? and indeed, we were not disappointed. a chef served us sushi like we'd never had before, sushi that was only Mostly Dead, sushi from his hands to our mouths, sushi that it turned out cost $70 (7000 yen total) which was a problem when it came time to pay because we only had $28, or 3000 yen.
so what did we do? naturally i surrended myself and became a hostage, sitting on a stool in the corner of this tiny sushi bar, trying to be inconspicuous, as poor mr. ben raced around for an hour and twenty minutes trying to find an ATM that took international credit cards. not in japan 24 hours and we already created our own video game!
eventually i was redeemed. it was great.
4) walked. walked walked walked and walked some more. my legs are tired all the way up to my hips. the day before yesterday when mr. ben and i both reached that stage we took a break and got cheap tickets to watch one act of traditional kabuki. because this is how we relax.
5) bought tickets to a japanese baseball game! for someone who is utterly uninterested in sports, i am totomo excited for this-des. that means, I cannot wait.
6) shrines, temples, park with huge lake covered in lotus taller than i am.
7) noticed that japanese women do not wear bright colors. really! no red.
mr. ben and i have now landed in sapporo in the blessedly quieter northern region of the country where, we can only hope, the food will not be quite as salty.
The Big Idea: Bill McKibben
2 hours ago