Sorry for the lack of posts over the past week. My friend from Purdue, Sam, dropped by over Thanksgiving holiday. We had a good time here. She's not very much the tourist, so it was a bit challenging for me not to just drag her to the usual touristy places.
I met her up in Tokyo on the 18th, right after a preliminary visit to the eye clinic to determine my odds for successful lasik eye surgury. That was quite an interesting experience. After the standard eye check, they took me into a darkened room with rows of machines, each with a young lady, decked out in identical nurse outfits, behind it. So this is where they keep all the cute, just-out-of-university girls! It looked like something out of the next Austin Powers flick. One machine would light up a bright orange spinning spiral when you looked at it, like one of those old hypnotizing machines, then the candystriper would tell you to move on to the next machine. At the end, the matron of the flock of birds gave me some funny eyedrops and had me exit to a waiting room. After a while, my eyes were sufficiently dilated, and they had me lie down and put some anasthetic drops in, then used a funny little machine to tap on my eyeball, I presume to test the pressure or thickness of the cornea. It was really bizarre because the lack of sensory feedback from your eyeball means you notice your eyelid blinking over your eye. In addition, every time the machine would tap, you'd see a ripple go out from the point of contact. Really strange. I wonder what the surgury's gonna look like.
Anyways, after a while I spoke with a doctor, in English luckily, who informed me I have very healthy eyes (besides the obvious) and a thick cornea, which makes me a good candidate for lasik. I'm scheduled for December 16th. Wish me luck.
So after that, I ended up walking to meet Sam at the hotel she got for us. I have to say, I'm quite impressed. When Aaron and Molly came, I found a decently located place, but the rooms were pretty boring and bland. Sam got a really nice European style pension. It wasn't huge, and while it was in the middle of Ginza, the ritzy shopping district, it wasn't terribly convenient like my first pick. But I have to say I was impressed, I'll definitely head back there if I need to stay in Tokyo anytime soon. Sorry Aaron and Molly, maybe next time.
I took last Monday off and Thursday was a holiday, so I had some time to spend with Sam, showing her around. She took off on some long walks around Hiratsuka while I worked the other days, and on Friday she hit Yokohama's Chinatown with a girl who lives surprisingly close to me (as in the next building over in the same complex) who we'd met in a bar earlier that week. I can't see the appeal to wandering around Hiratsuka all day, but her curiosity really reminded me of how I felt when I first arrived, how everything was strange and new and goofy. That's worn off in the 2 1/2 years since, but having it rekindled now and then reopens your eyes. On Saturday we went to Hakone, a mountainous area west of Hiratsuka, and did the typical tourist loop around the area. It was a beautiful day and gave Sam her first look at Fuji. We topped it off at an onsen, for which Sam needed a couple stiff drinks before working up the courage to go parading around in front of a bunch of Japanese women in the buff. But she pulled through, and actually stayed so long I was contemplating having her paged so I didn't get too bored.
Sunday I did a 5k run at Tanzawa Lake, in the Tanzawa mountains NW of my town. It's a real pain to get to. The way there was about 1.5 hours, and the return trip was over 2 hours due to an hour wait at a tiny train station in the middle of nowhere. Boring. But the run was fun. I finished in under 26 minutes, which shocked me because I usually just set the treadmill at the gym to do it in about 35 minutes and go, plus the fact that I hadn't been to the gym in over a week since Sam was around.
Sam was smart enough not to come with us, and after sleeping in she hit Kamakura, the ancient capital. She left today, so I'm sad she's gone, since we get along so well, but I'm sure we'll hang out next year when I head back for a visit, probably in March. Now, the question is, who's next to come for a visit?