Thursday, October 04, 2007

DisneySea trip

Sayaka convinced me to go to Tokyo DisneySea last weekend, so we trekked out to Chiba (the prefecture on the other side of Tokyo from where I live) early Saturday morning. My idea of a weekend isn't necessarily getting up at 6am to get on a train for an hour and a half, especially when it's drizzling. See, the thing about Japan is that the people get so little time off that they'll be damned if a little rain or even a typhoon is going to stop them from going to Disneyland. Or DisneySea, as the case may be.

DisneySea is meant to be a little more adult than Disneyland. There aren't characters with big heads running about, and you can get booze there (although I found out they don't like you walking around the park with a bottle of beer - gotta keep it in the restaurant). The moment we got inside, Sayaka was running around to collect our FastPass tickets. You can go to a special ticket booth and get a ticket that lets you bypass much of the line for a ride, cutting down the waiting time from a couple hours to twenty minutes or so. Everyone gets this option, but once you get one ticket, you can't get another for 90 min or 2 hours, and you can't get one for the same ride until you use the one you currently have. The ticket you get has a time range on it, so you can't go right then. Talk about introducing an element of strategy to a theme park. Sayaka had her map out, figuring out how to maximize our time in the park, cutting down the time needed to get to each area. I think she missed her calling, although the makeup counter may require some organization, she should be doing consulting or something.

We managed to hit quite a few rides, the somewhat new Tower of Terror, a twisty roller coaster with a loop (and I didn't get any debilitating headaches - yay!), as well as a couple of funny cart rides, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and some Indiana Jones ride (or Indy-Jone-zu, as he's known here). In addition, we saw a couple music shows, which were surprisingly good. The first was a jungle-themed show called "Rhythm of the Jungle" or something like that, with people dressed as various animals dancing around on stage. It was really funny to see the few foreign dancers, as they really stood out. There were a couple guys onstage who were taller and more muscular than anyone else. Guess that's why they got the jungle voodoo doctor roles and not the flying water fairy part.

The one that impressed Sayaka and myself the most was called "Big Band Beats." It featured a 'big band' that was really just about 10 guys, but big enough, who played the swing music that was popular from the 20s to the 40s. There were quite a lot of foreigners in this one, and all of the talking as well as the music was done in English, which made me wonder what the Japanese thought of it. Sayaka didn't seem to care what they said, she just enjoyed the music. Unfortunately, the downside to this show was them having Disney characters come out and sing and dance, which really put a damper on things. Oh well.

A cool little aspect that I appreciated at the park was that most of the signs and billboards in the 'American Waterfront'-themed area were in English, and they were done with quite a bit of humor and wit. I also stuffed myself with food, the reuben sandwich I had was particularly good. It took a while to explain to Sayaka the difference between corned beef in the US and in Japan. The stuff in DisneySea was somewhere in between. It's nothing like what Mom makes.

So after our Saturday giving money to the Mouse, we went back to Tokyo and ended up staying in a love hotel in the Shibuya district. We'd had trouble getting a hotel in Tokyo - the one I wanted to go to that my friend Sam stayed at was booked for a weddding - and the closest one we could find was in Chiba city. So we paid the same price and stayed in a nice love hotel in downtown Tokyo. Sunday was rainy, which killed a lot of our interest in doing things, but we found a notice for an India-Japan friendship festival in Yoyogi park, so, rain or no, we headed out there for some Indian grub. And it was tasty. There were a bunch of booths set up, so I got some spices to make curry and pilafs, as well as a can of hemp beer I'm curious to try out. Strangely enough, there were some environmental booths set up. One was some type of composter that would take kitchen scraps and used bacteria to biodegrade them to basically nothing. I used some churning arms to aerate the soil and break up big pieces. They say it costs only about $2/month in electricity to run. Another small booth held a prototype for breaking down plastics into a type of kerosene for heaters and such (but not vehicles) at only a 20% cost. It's cool to see things like that around, but rather strange at an Indian festival.

After a long, exhausting weekend, I expected to go home and sleep, but Monday was Tracey's birthday, so I headed out for yakiniku with some people. So all this week I've been playing catch-up trying to get enough sleep not to fall over in class. Fortunately, I get today (Friday) off, although tomorrow is sports day at one of the elementary schools, so I'll be headed there to cheer the kids on. I heard them practicing a marching band routine, and those little kids can play rather well - for 10 year olds.

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