Maya wanted to go to Chinatown and that seemed like a good idea, so we headed there in time for lunch.
The thing with Chinatown is there are about a gazillion restaurants to choose from. We knew enough to stay away from the fancy ones on the main drag (Bah! Those for the tourists!) but that just left a half gazillion smaller ones on side streets. I figured it was best to just dive in, so chose one because the woman standing outside trying to coax us in had a Chinese accent–usually a good sign.
We got lucky. We ordered and then indulged ourselves in a feeding frenzy worthy of several schools of piranha who had been locked in a closet for a few weeks. Chopsticks flashing faster than a Benihana chef’s knives, we devoured everything except the furniture. Yum! ‘Nuf said.
So we hauled our bloated bellies toward Yamashita park and the port area where we saw a stingray. That doesn’t often happen. I morphed myself into E.T. to take the picture. (See shadow.)
We next visited the doll museum which is rather boring but at least everyone else thinks so, too, so nobody was there. We enjoyed the peace and air conditioning.
Then there was this: Marine Tower.
I have always avoided Tokyo Tower and have no interest in Skytree but we’d been looking for new experiences.
I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.
It’s only 94 meters tall. That’s about 30 stories. I’ve been up buildings taller than that. No bid deal, I thought. So we got into the elevator to go up. And the little glass box started to rise…and rise…and rise.
“Oh, cool. It’s a see through elevator. Love those. Look at the steel girders sliding by. Oops. What was that? My stomach just hit the floor. Uh-oh. Can’t breathe. Was that Willie Wonka and Charlie I just saw flying by? There goes the wicked witch on her broomstick. And wasn’t that Harry Potter chasing a Golden Snitch? This can’t be happening. Help. HELP! GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!”
And then the doors opened. We crept out, hugging the internal wall. I could barely move and could feel myself shaking.
“Oh, no. That’s not you,” said the affable woman wiping fingerprints off the glass. “It’s quite windy today so this thing wobbles all around. I have to keep the glass very clean or people get dizzy trying to focus on the distance.”
Oh, my. Do.Not.Retch.
And to add terror to an already frightening experience, there was this:
Maya is not clowning. You step onto that sheet of plexiglass and your heart plummets to the depths of hell. You can feel your soul being sucked out through the soles of your feet. Not for the faint of heart, my friends.
After a while, I did manage it, but what you can’t see is that I am staring resolutely into the distance, my white knuckled fingers making indentations in the wooden handrail.
Closed eyes, deep breathing and a meditation mantra are the only things that got me back into the elevator and down to street level.
Been there. Done that. Don’t ever have to do it again. Amen.
By comparison, the ride home on the nearly empty train felt like pure bliss. We were only going forward, not up, and the gentle side-to-side rocking was a comfort, not the erratic shudders of a spindly tower with the structural integrity of a Slinky.
Maya has made an impressive effort to learn reading and writing. As we pulled into our station she turned to me looking perplexed and asked, “Garbage is dangerous?”
Well, yes, that’s pretty much what the sign says. One of the things that makes Japanese so difficult is that even when you can read something, that doesn’t mean it will make any sense. While the illustration shows a relaxed looking hand calmly dropping a piece of paper, which didn’t strike either of us as particularly dangerous, what the text implies is that it is dangerous to toss garbage over the wall and into the street. The thinking is that if they use an illustration of, say, a tattooed thug tossing a beer bottle over the wall, then that’s what will happen. Or something like that.
(Gallic shrug.) It is what it is.
We ate, we laughed, we had a lot of fun. Once again, it was worth the effort and I’m glad we went.
P.S. Diana, this is for you. It’s the hotel where Napolitan spaghetti was invented. You’re welcome.