Monday, January 07, 2008


The Ginza, Tokyo, 1980.

Several weeks ago, Elder Daughter snagged a couple of round-trip tickets - Washington, D.C. to Tokyo - at a bargain-basement price.

Good for her, I thought when I first heard the news. Elder Daughter has been to places I have not, and she has also lived overseas - something the Missus and I have never done. But Asia is a Travel Scalp that does not yet hang from her belt. She will, no doubt, take a friend to accompany her.

And that may or may not have been her original plan...but a few days ago, she announced that she wanted me to join her on the trip. The Old Man. Elisson, Paterfamilias.

This made SWMBO ecstatic. For She Who Must Be Obeyed was unabashedly nervous about her daughter being so far away from home, and my being there with E.D. will help put her at ease. Plus, SWMBO does not enjoy long-distance international travel. An airplane flight to Tokyo might send her right around the bend. But for me, a 13-hour airplane flight is a walk in the park.

It will be a revisiting of old times, old experiences - my last trip to the Land of the Rising Sun was seventeen years ago, and, despite it being overburdened with Business Matters, it was, nevertheless, full of the fascination of experiencing a largely alien culture in all its daily minutiae. Where else can you go to see vending machines - unprotected! - sitting on city streets, selling soft drinks with unfortunate names like “Calpis”? To see cabdrivers using feather dusters to detail their vehicles before setting out to pick up a fare? To see people who will refuse tips on the grounds that they are insulting and unnecessary?

I long to sit with my daughter - now a full-fledged Young Woman - at a sushi bar, eating the Real Thing, washing down delicate fillets of o-toro and jewel-like pearls of ikura with cool glasses of Japanese lager and blood-warm sake. (Sure, we’ve done that here, but it’s just not the same.) Or enjoying the atmosphere at a neighborhood robata-yaki place...soaking ourselves in the incomprehensible High Culture of kabuki theatre...exploring the ancient temples of Kyoto. And sleeping on the floor of the subway station’s Men’s Room, for decent accommodations are ferociously expensive in urban Japan.

I can’t wait.

Just gotta brush off my small, and mostly useless, collection of Japanese phraseology. “Te-arai-wa, doko ni arimasu ka?”

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