january 10 2001

Subject: Parental World Tour, aftermath (or vacation #1)

Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 4:06 AM

My mom came up and sat down at the plastic table. She plopped a steaming mass of fried potato chunks all wrapped up in a nice crispy plastic shell and sat down. She deftly went to work with her chopsticks. I sat there with a distressed look on my face as I kneaded my hand.

She looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong with your hand?”

“Um, it hurts because I shot it.”

“How did you shoot your hand?”

“Well, over at that game booth, I won this plastic gun that shoots these really hard plastic pellets. And I wanted to see if it hurt, so I shot my hand.”

“And did it hurt?”

“Oh yeah, no doubt about it. See, I have this cool welt.”

“Nice to know even thou you are living on your own in Japan, you still manage to, ahem, amuse yourself.”

My Dad joined us and sat down. He had a plastic container of bean filled pastry. They were warm and that helped ward off the chill that night. He saw the pellet gun, and in true Dad fashion, managed to cock it and shoot the circus tent. Go Dad!

We were at the Itoman Illumination, which when translated from Japanese English into Chris English, reads as big assed light festival in small town. I knew that it was occurring in Itoman, I just didn’t know where…Luckily for us, it was dark, and they had all the lights on. So I just drove around till we found it. Well, Dad, the King of Parking Spaces, did have a hand in it. He found us a parking space. The man is pure magic!

Mom was eating potato, and I was laughing about the slide. We had stood in an unknown line for 15 minutes, and at the front of the line was this 150 yard roller slide, similar to the roller devices seen at warehouses.

“Mom, the next time we go on the slide…”

“I’m not going on the slide AGAIN.”

“Okay, just suppose, next time we go, could you go faster so I don’t run into you again?”

“I thought that you were just angry because I’ve been displacing you from your warm futon for eight nights. And you’ve been sleeping on a cardboard box.”

My Dad chimed in, “yes, what happened to the ‘filial piety’.”

“Hey, I let you guys come and visit me, that’s enough “filial piety” for a life time.”

Dad looked at the pile of prizes I “won”. You gave the girl Y 300 and picked a piece of paper, and depending on what number you got, you got a prize. I got a painful plastic projectile pistol, one of those lighted smart yo-yos, one of those metal rings with the smaller rings on it that you spin (Jitter ring?? Summer fun came in handy, again), a dancing bag of Japanese potato chips (don’t ask, my dad took them home with him), an expandable plastic sphere (wow, look at all the cool shapes), a blowup dogs’ head, and a set of pens. I was hoping for the Play Station 2 or the H&K MP-5A2 submachine guns or the Styer AUG assault rifle pellet guns. No such luck, which is probably a good thing.

My parents have come and gone, and it was a lot of fun. And I’m not saying that because they brought bike parts, and bagels and Internet ordered clothes or Christmas presents.

They got to see and partake in my life, what with the house warming party (wow, this is the best pig intestine soup I’ve ever eaten!), being introduced to all my 40 office coworkers (everybody stood and politely clapped), to eating at my favorite English teachers house and watching the video tape of the nekkid fireman wedding dance (best part of the video was that you could see me laughing and shaking my head). Had a delicious lunch at my bosses house, and in general we toured around. Visited several of the war museums and the Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters, and experienced a lot of Okinawan kindness (the fisherman that bought ‘papa-san’ a beer) that is so common here.

My Dad, being the legendary Dad that he is, didn’t mind when I spent the first day introducing him as “Chin-Chin” (penis) instead of “Chi-Chi”. Mother in Japanese is “Ha-Ha”. 🙂 He and I had probably one of the best “Chin-Chin” to “Chin-Chin” jr talks one night, hanging out in my stair well.

I drove the rental car for five days, and it was nice to drive again, after being car free for five months.  Didn’t crash/drive on the wrong side or run anyone over. Made sure as heck I avoided any and all posts and automatic gates, previous thorns in my rental car experiences.

What else did we do? The Y 100 shops proved to be a wondrous source of amusement and resulted in my poor apartment being covered in shopping bags. I was sleeping in the bike/library/dining room, in a sleeping bag on a flattened cardboard box (cardboard is damn warm and soft to boot!), and the parents were on/in the two futon sets I have. My small apartment got rather crowded, to say the least. I got to be very adept at jumping over the sleeping bodies to get to my closet to get dressed for work.

My apartment is now ready for company, as with the parents here, it was civilized very quickly. No longer does the washing machine drain all over the bathroom floor, rather there is a long hose that is shoved into the previously not used shower drain. What else? I have a bitchin’ mini refrigerator, as the old one finally crapped out, and is now residing out on my lanai. Good place to put the close basket when I’m hanging out clothes. Besides, I have no yard to have a cinderblock lifted car in…I have a nice and warm futon that I am forbidden to use, as it is for usage only by my Mother and that long haired beauty of a girlfriend from Chiba.

I tried to get my Mom to write a tale for everyone about the trip, but by the time we got home from adventuring, the futon was her friend, plus she had a nasty cold for a while.

Those of you in Hawaii, please bug my Mom for pictures. She even has one of me in, gasp, my suit! Thanks for all the omiyage that was sent my way, and yes, I think that nekkid mechanic will resurface as “trench coat” man very soon. It’s getting cold here.


Subject: Chris’ World Tour (or vacation #2)

Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 4:09 AM

It was time to go, my flight back to Okinawa was leaving soon, and I was making headway for the security check point. This time I was smart, as I removed my Leatherman Micra from my keys so I wouldn’t get hassled by security. On the flight in to Tokyo (Haneda), they wouldn’t let me take this scissor tool on board the flight. Please keep in mind the whole thing is smaller then a house key. The Japanese seem very paranoid that someone is going to try and hijack a plan with a pair of scissors or a pen knife, or horrors of horrors, a pair of tweezers! So, those of you heading for some snow boarding action, leave the Swiss Army Multi tools and any other tools in the luggage. Honto!

I felt a gentle tug on my trailing arm as the arm it was attached to twisted and turned, causing me to stop and turn.

Yumiko just grinned at me. “You ARE coming back soon, aren’t you?” All the while twisting my arm into an unnatural shape.

“Of course, I have that work conference the end of this month, and I’m taking the weekend off, so you and your parents will see me again very soon. Do you think you could get it a little warmer here please?”

She smiled and stopped twisting my arm.

Anyone want to guess what the first thing I did after I dropped my parents off at the airport? Well, I went to work, but after work, I walked home, showered, got the Jandd duffel and made it to the airport in time for my flight to Tokyo. Where I spent the next three nights, hanging out in Chiba. Get rid of the parents and play hooky from Okinawa. Didn’t tell anyone I was going, as that cuts way back on the omiyage thing. Hehehe. No dummy be I.

The have trees in Chiba. Not just one, or two, but when you drive along the road, they have a lot! I was amazed, living in the concrete jungle that is Naha, I see few trees and they aren’t “real”. Sounds dumb, what I mean, is that it’s too landscaped, not natural. Chiba had trees in abundance. Also the coolest playground/obsticle/break your neck playground I’ve ever seen. Of course I tried everything and I managed to scrape my shin up pretty good. What’s a day without blood?

What else did I do besides gape at the trees? Hum, went into one of the coolest bike stores I’ve ever been in (Rage in Tempe, AZ still holds that distinction). They had so many cool things I didn’t even buy anything. I was just too overwhelmed. It was all bloody expensive, but hey! Saw lots of stuff I’ve never seen before, and they had a Syncros bargain box! I drooled over the carbon fiber seatpost for two minutes. Oddest thing was that it was in a shopping center. I’m going back and drool more later this month.

Second night I was there, Yumiko dragged me to the upscale, yuppie type shopping center that abuts Tokyo Disney land. She smiled as she lead me around, like she had a destination in mind. Lo and behold! Kua Aina! YEAH BABY! RED MEAT! Best hamburger I’ve had since Kua Aina in Hawaii. Tasted the same. French Fries were good, and the paper cups were the same (had a made in New Jersey label on them!). It was so good we went back on the way to the airport.

Yumiko did make a really good observation, that things were losing their specialness, as places she had only eaten at in Hawaii (like Cin-a-Bon) and Kua Aina and Alan Wongs were now available in Japan. True. Saw Dennys, Subway, shopped in GAP, a Local Motion store, saw an HIC on the beach…I agreed, but I was too overwhelmed by the hamburgers to care.

I did mention that she and I have now had meals in two of the United States (Hawaii and NYC), and three different Japanese Prefectures (Chiba, Naha, and Tokyo). She laughed at that one. We also figured we were boyfriend and girlfriend (there are probably a bunch of you reading this right now going ‘Chris, I’ve been telling you that for years! But no, wouldn’t listen’, right Vince and Dave and Taro and J and everyone else???)

Rode the worlds tallest Ferris wheel. Had to wait in line for thirty minutes, which isn’t bad till you realize that the line is outside, and it’s probably right around 33 degrees and the wind is blowing off Yokohama Bay. Burr. Leather and polar fleece is good, more polar fleece is better. Shopped. Ate. Froze. Really enjoyed the hot baths. Broke in some new winter clothes and the LL Bean travel bag from Eileen, master present buyer. That’s the best one yet cousin!

Laughed my butt off at the people surfing. The surf was about three inches big, and the air temperature was in the mid 30’s. Bet the water was cold. All the surfers had on wetsuits, and they were taking cold showers in the back of the trucks with these neat shower things. Might be cool for riding…Amusing.

It was totally different then Okinawa. The people weren’t as friendly (didn’t even notice me, seemed rather indifferent), and it was more expensive. Road tolls everywhere. Traffic. People looked different. Not like Hawaii people, but rather Japanese. There was this vibe that Okinawa doesn’t have, Hawaii has it, to a degree. It’s sort of a big cosmopolitan city thing. I’m really looking forward to going back this month, “I’m going to Disney Land!”, and what every else the tour guide figures out. I’m sure it will include Kua Aina and Cin-a-bon.


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