Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
Live At Budokan
Okay, that’s a total lie. I’m nowhere near Budokan.
Kansai International Airport is a mammoth, ultra-modern facility located on a man-made island some kilometers south of Osaka. On the drive in, the next thing you notice is the rather astonishing road system in Osaka. The highway overpasses, bridges and whatnot form an epic, serpentine circulatory system through the city that quite frankly looks like a work of art, even if you’re not into highways in general. The opportunity to marvel at Osaka up close would have to wait for another time, however, as it was not our destination on this day. We zipped along in our tour bus through and out of town, headed to the city of Nara, a little ways away.
Nara is famous for being home to Nara Park, which itself is home to hundreds of awesomely tame deer. We went up to the top of one of the mountain/hills surrounding the city to a) freeze our asses off (it was muy windy), b) frolic with the deer a bit and c) get a spectacular view of it all. Check, check and check. It was at this point as we headed back into the city that the weather, and the day in general, started to turn south. Though not in the forecast (you lie, Weather Channel!), we got hit by a large, very persistent thunderstorm and the tour guide still thought it would be a good idea to wander around on foot through one of the city’s neighborhoods. Granted, it was kind of a neat area with incredibly narrow streets and low, densely packed buildings whose roofs looked tailor made for ninja sprints, but it was also freezing cold and wet so the novelty of it all was rather being washed away.
After we finally got back on the bus and pneumonia was settling in nicely, it was a long traipse to the hotel, which was of a traditional Japanese style. This meant no beds, no three-prong plugs and no internet. Nothing traditional about the internet. It also meant we had to put on kimonos and traditional garb to go to dinner, which was beautifully presented and consisted of stuff that you don’t get in Bento box #3 at Sushi On Bloor. Some of it was tasty, some not so much, but it was certainly different.
Jet lag continues to plague me on this trip. I think the only thing worse than traveling halfway around the world in the first place is to keep getting up at odd hours to catch more flights to more different time zones. I was unconscious before 9PM local time and up before 4AM, and see no end to this trend in sight.
Oddly, though last night was spent in a hotel in the city, there was no internet. Now that I’m in this remote little hotel on a mountainside, there is internet. Go figure. However, there is no 3-prong plug so my laptop battery continues to die. Perhaps I will try to ask for an extension cord in sign language at the front desk.