Hey everyone! Thought I`d drop a quick note letting everyone know I`m here in the land of vending machines, salarymen asleep on the subway, and everyone in surgical masks.
ES and I landed yesterday afternoon after what seemed like the longest flight in all eternity. But it really wasn`t that bad. The plane was half-empty so that ES and I each had our own rows and could stretch out. The highlight though was the view of the snow-covered Cherskogo Mountains in Siberia. Mind-blowing. I have pix which I`ll be sure to post when I get home.
It`s winter here but yesterday was about 70 degrees. Unusual they say. Now it`s chillier and rainy, but the hotel has umbrellas we can borrow so that rocks.
It took us forever and a half to get to the ryokan, which wouldn`t have been so bad except we hopped on the far less cushy train. For a few dollars more we could have taken the Skyline, which apprently has plush seats like a real train. Instead we jumped on the first one that came along, which was basically like a subway. A very crowded subway on which we had to stand for an hour. Oh well! Better than sitting in an office, that`s for sure.
Last night we had dinner with our friend Motoko from high school. She took us to an awesome traditional Japanese place in Akasaka, an area in Tokyo, where we had to remove our shoes at the door and sit on the floor to eat. (There was a pit under the table where we could dangle our feet so that made it far more comfortable.)
We had sashimi (to DIE for), tempura, fried fish, and grilled eggplant in a delish sauce.
This is the eggplant.
We also had an excellent buckwheat tea. It was nutty and rich, almost like coffee. For some reason the proprietor was tickled to learn that ES and I were Americans, and gave each of us a free six-pack of canned buckwheat tea.
The hotel has free internet access in the lobby – score! – and I`ll try to post while I`m here, but I`m sure the combination of jet lag and my laziness will get the better of me. Expect excruciatingly detailed posts of the whole trip upon my return.