Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We're not in Uji anymore...

Tokyo is instantly another world.  You can feel it as soon as you get off the train.  Tokyo Station at rush hour is mad, people swarming, moving in every direction, fast, focused.  I'm lost almost immediately.

Somehow, after three trains and a long walk, I find my hotel - Claska.  Night has fallen so it is difficult to make out the neighborhood, but it seems to be in the middle of nowhere.  I'll see what impression daylight brings.  It is cool without trying too hard.  It is perhaps slightly past its prime, which for me, makes it better, like an old leather jacket or comfy sweater.  Hip hotels tend to age quickly and badly.  This is lived in without being shabby.  I suppose this is that mysterious Japanese characteristic with which I am obsessed: wabi-sabi.

The shinkansen from Kyoto was pleasant until the woman next to me decided to paint her nails.  Who does that?!  When she opens the bottle to begin a second coat I very politely say, "Onegai shimasu."  She either doesn't hear or is ignoring me.  I tap her gently on the shoulder and say it again.  She turns and stares at me blankly for a second.

I decide she cannot possibly be Japanese because: 1) She is a fat cow;  2) I cannot imagine a Japanese person even entertaining the idea of painting their nails in an enclosed public space; 3) There was no "sumimasen" or "gomennasai" when I asked her to stop, standard responses from any Japanese person when they feel they may have offended someone; 4) She was coughing like crazy the whole way to Tokyo, obviously ill.  A Japanese person would definitely have been wearing a germ mask.

Funny how you can recognize a nationality just by habits.

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