Saturday, August 16, 2014

Japanese Hospitality

Japanese hospitality abounds. Yesterday Hata-san–a retired Japanese profesor who Andrew met during his study in Cambridge–wanted to show us Tokyo.  He met us at our closest train station already carrying train tickets for us.  Throughout the day he treated us to street food, two lunches, two dinners, a ferry ride, and an itinerary worthy of any great date.  He paid for all the trains, all the taxies, all the entertainment.  One surprise after another from this very genki seventy-two-year-old man.

we began by going to the Sky Tree
at 10:30am, the earliest reservation we could get was 3:30

so we went to Asakusa and looked at the vendors and shrine

Tokyo Sky Tree from Asakusa

a fried red bean paste treat, street food in Asakusa
the first of many treats from Hata-san 

Andrew and Hata-san and many plastic dinner 
the wind was so strong it was unsafe to go up the Sky Tree that day
instead we went to a nearby building to see Tokyo from above

so many people live here

Hata-san took us to a restauran on the 31st floor and treated us to smoothies and a pizza

view from the restauran
we then returned to Asakusa and caught a ferry

and travelled down the Sumida River through Tokyo during sunset

our boat arrived at Odaiba where we had an Italian dinner
(with a night view of the Rainbow Bridge)

after filling ourselves with Italian food, Hata-san wanted to take us to one more restaurant in Ginza
this picture is from the taxi driving through Ginza's upscale shopping district

there was a private room waiting for us and somehow we found more room in our stomaches
for an entourage of Japanese dishes

the restaurant outside our private room

finally, we caught the train from Ginza to return to our apartment
Today Andrew and I arrived in Yamagata where I will participate in the Affinis Music Festival.  Of course there was an opening reception and as I don't drink, one of the executives took it upon himself to stock me with the amazingly delicious juices there.  Yamagata is known for its delicious fruits and  the pear juice I had at the table was certainly remarkable, but I had no expectation to walk out with any for later.  He left me, got a bag, and filled it.

my acquired juice
 There was also a performance by four maico (geisha in training).  They danced and then afterwards entertained the room, filling glasses with sake and beer, handing out and receiving business cards, taking pictures with people, and having light conversation.  I received cards from two of them as well as a name card which is supposed to bring me money if I put it in my wallet.

cards of two Yamagata maico

Throughout the evening, several brave Japanese people came over and spoke to me, allowing their conversations to slow to halt as I worked through vocabulary and grammar to express elementary ideas.  From expense, to gifts, to time, I'm feeling very welcomed by the show of generosity these few days.

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