Dad In Japan Page
Here's the day by day summary of the Jim Sims trip to Japan:
Day 1 - Thursday, March 28, 1996
Texas Time (Japan Time)
6:00am Thu. (Thu. 9:00pm) Clock radio wakes me up
10:50am Thu. (Fri. 1:50am) Left DFW Airport (40 minutes late)
2:40pm Thu. (Fri. 5:00am) Arr. Portland (30 minutes late)
3:00pm Thu. (Fri. 6:00am) Left Portland (on time)
1:00am Fri. (Fri. 4:00pm) Arr. Nagoya Airport (45 minutes early)
1:20am Fri. (Fri. 4:20pm) Cleared Customs & Immigration
1:30am Fri (Fri 4:30pm) Spotted Dan driving into parking area,
What a relief!
2:15am Fri. (Fri. 5:15pm) Arrived at Dan's Apt. after stopping
at Circle K for groceries
6:00am Fri. (Fri. 9:00pm) Went to bed - after being up for
Comments on Day 1
- Both Delta flights jammed full.
- Watched one of the three movies on Portland-Nagoya flight,
"The Great Train Robbery" with Sean Connery and Donald
- Read entire PC Magazine
- Chatted for 45 minutes with young American guy and his Japanese
wife from Plano (with 9 mo. old baby), returning to Nagoya for
visit with her family.
- Customs examined one bag thoroughly. This bag contained all
the food items (including homemade cookies), magazines, and computer
hardware and software I was taking to Dan. I had a rough time
getting the inspector to understand that I was visiting my son,
not on a business trip.
- Japan warm, but hazy.
- Showed Dan about 45 minutes of Dani videos.
- Didn't fire up Dan's computer until at least 8pm.
- Dan has computer set up so I can easily check my firstname.lastname@example.org
mailbox. (But note that my wife, Mary, is using that mailbox while I'm gone to get email from us in Japan, so she may remove other email from that mailbox before I see it. Therefore, it's best to use Dan's email address (email@example.com) to send mail to me while I'm in Japan.)
Day 2 - Saturday, March 30
- Talked via Internet Phone to Melia, then to Mary.
- Dan and I took Subway to Sakae to find Internet Phone acquaintance, Kumiko, at her Mariya Men's Clothing Store. Found the store. She was gone for the day. Talked (considering the language barrier) with one of three male clerks in the store, who happened to be Kumiko's cousin. Left note for Kumiko that I would try again on another day.
- Went to Osu shopping area for lunch and shopping. Had lunch, a pork cutlet with curry rice, at small Japanese restaurant (staff of 3, 24 seats.) Photo below shows me outside, between window displaying their menu and entrance door, where you duck under the curtain to enter.
- Back to apartment where I had a short nap.
- Ordered out from Pizza Hut for the evening meal.
- Light rain most of the day.
Day 3 - Sunday, March 31
- Talked via Internet Phone to Melia and Mary, who was at Melia's.
- Installed various software on PC, including Microsoft Office.
- Teriyaki burgers for lunch at MacDonald's, while out driving. This MacDonald's sported the same type of kiddie play area, with the large, colorful, tubular slides, etc., as seen in the U.S. Dan is showing me all the fine Japanese cuisine.
- Visited the Toyota Automobile Museum. Lots of older automobiles made in USA, Europe, as well as Japan. The big Packard limo used by President Franklin Roosevelt was there.
- Took a hike (longer than planned) through a cemetary park, near Dan's Apartment.
- Nice and warm day, partially sunny.
- No new pictures ready for publication today.
Day 4 - Monday, April 1
- Took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo by myself. Covered the 160 miles in less than two hours, an average of about 85 mph station to station, smooth and quiet, with peak speed probably over 125 mph.
- Took local train from Tokyo Station to Akihabara, the fabulous electronic shopping district in Tokyo, and escaped without buying anything. Prices still higher than the First Saturday Sidewalk Sale in Dallas, despite much bigger selection of new stuff. Also, incompatibility between the Japanese DOS version for PC's and frequencies for FM radio and TV deter purchases.
- Took another local train to the Ryugoku Kokogikan, the Sumo hall in Tokyo. Visited the small Sumo museum and saw a "DOHYO-IRI" ceremony!. (See photo below.)
- Weather started out nice and sunny in Nagoya, but was dark, cold, windy, and sprinkled a little while I was shooting pictures of a couple dozen Sumo wrestlers outside the Kokogikan in Tokyo. Eight of the young Sumo "rikishi" got into the same train car as I did from Ryugoku, and I had to push my way between them to get off the car. I feared that I might step on their wooden or flat sandaled feet and really be in trouble.
- Got back home about 5:30pm, in time for Dan to stir up a super home-made pizza, his invention which he calls "Worchestershire Chicken Pizza." Great!!
Day 5 - Tuesday, April 2
- Slow day. Still recovering some from jet lag, excessive
walking, and a common cold. Beautiful sunny day, although
a little cool and breezy.
- My sole trip was to Sakae Shopping Area again. Saved all kinds
of money - bought nothing.
- Oh, yes, yesterday was April 1, April Fools Day. Did you notice
the face of the guy in upper middle of the photo from yesterday?
Does the face look a little familiar. April Fool. This photo,
touched up a little, was actually a photo that Dan took at a recent
Sumo tournament in Nagoya. I really did go to the Kokogikan and the Sumo
Day 6 - Wednesday, April 3
- Another beautiful, but cool day in Japan.
- Chatted with Mary for over a half hour on IPHONE this morning.
She is getting really skilled at using IPHONE, and Netscape.
- I took the "milk run" Shinkansen bullet train toward Tokyo, with
no definite destination. This train makes stops about every 15-20
minutes, giving the tourist lots of options. The sky was so clear,
I decided to go far enough that I might see Mount Fuji. But, when
I got within range, the sky was very cloudy in that direction. So,
I got off at Shin-Fuji, picked up a "sandwich" for lunch, and headed
back towards Nagoya. The "sandwich" was what looked like a non-
sliced hamburger bun. However, it was filled with a chocolate-looking
paste made from beans. I ate the whole thing, and was glad to get
through the paste to just bun again.
- I had spotted a castle in the town of Kakegawa, about 1/3 of the
way from Nagoya to Tokyo, that looked quite
walkable from the station. So, I got off and spent about an hour
and a half there. Nice castle tour, with lots of climbing.
Bought some souvenirs.
- This evening, Dan and I went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant
with my IPHONE acquaintance, and now a real person, Kumiko Nakatomi,
her husband, Soushichi, and three of their friends. We had a large variety of dishes. The meal was good, the companionship was much better. And, I was surprised that I could still stand up after sitting on the floor for so long. Click HERE for the photos.
Day 7 - Thursday, April 4
- Yet another BEAUTIFUL but cool (in the 50's) day in Japan.
- Subwayed to the Sakae area again. Found Dan's favorite bookstore in Japan, Maruzen, and picked up a vital issue of Car and Driver for him. Priced last month's PC Magazine - it was about $18.00. I had purchased this month'issue in the U.S. for $3.95.
- Subwayed south from Sakae to the Port of Nagoya. Lots of growth there in the tourist business: a large new aquarium and a shopping/eating "mall" built into a renovated warehouse. Similar, but much smaller than Dallas' West End, although the West End doesn't host a McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Red Lobster, the first one of these I've seen here.
- Back to the apartment to rest up and do my second load of wash for us bachelors, before heading out for the evening's adventure.
- Got email from nieces Cyndy Parr in Michigan and Jody Sims in San Diego, who gave rave(?) comments about our web page work, particularly her uncle the sumo wrestler. Jody pointed us to her web page, a commercial effort at http://www.safelinks.com, a web search tool that is safe for families with kids.
- In the late afternoon, I took a three-subway-line trip to meet up with Dan at the home of his American engineering manager, Toby Bensinger and wife, Irene. I had exchanged a few emails with Irene, but had not met them previously. After a tour of their very interesting, modern Japanese-style home, and some time around their Mac computer looking at and for internet stuff, we went out for a real Japanese meal. Another night of a great food experience and excellent company. Thanks again to the Bensingers. Click HERE for the photos.
Day 8 - Friday, April 5
- Today's weather depended on the time of day, and where we were. However, it was generally cool, and sometimes cold! And, Dan seems to have caught a cold from somewhere.
- Dan scheduled the day off from work and drove us clear across the country, and back. Japan is quite narrow in the center of the country, so the drive was just over 200 miles, including side trips.
- We first went to Hikone, north of Kyoto. Hikone is on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, some 260 square miles. It also has Hikone Castle, completed in 1622. The castle itself was undergoing major renovation, and was completely shrouded in fabric, the way they do for almost every building construction project! Hikone Castle grounds are larger than the grounds of many other castles we have visited, with numerous other buildings and large traditional Japanese gardens, with ponds with carp and swans, bridges, rock formations, and artistically groomed trees and shrubs. We were too early in the season for much of the floral beauty, but it was still a very interesting visit. Click HERE for a photo of Hikone Castle.
- From Hikone Castle, we drove north along the shoreline of Lake Biwa. This was an uncrowded scenic drive, but we imagined the shoreline jammed with people during the summer season.
- Continuing on north, we literally stumbled across the castle at Nagahama. This smaller, but attractive, castle contained a nice museum on several of its floors. From the top floor, we had a great view of Lake Biwa and the mountains surrounding the area, many of which were snow covered! Click HERE for photos of Nagahama Castle.
- Leaving Lake Biwa, we headed for the northwest coast of Central Japan, to the city of Tsuraga. This city is at the southern tip of a bay which opens into the Sea of Japan, the body of water between Japan and Korea. We drove along the eastern length of that bay till we got to Sea of Japan itself. The drive seems very similar in many ways to driving along the coast of the U.S. (One big difference was that I was the passenger in the LEFT front seat of the car, on the LEFT-hand side of the highway, the best place to be when driving north along the west coast.) Most of the drive was winding along the coastline on the side of steep mountains, with numerous tunnels straightening out the road in some spots. When the road turned inland, we turned around and retraced the road back to Tsuraga.
- From Tsuraga, we got on the expressway (toll road) and headed back to Nagoya, about 75 miles, which took about 1 hour 40 minutes. The fare for that stretch was a "mere" $32 or so. Altogether, expressway fares for the day ran to about $65! The drive back had little traffic problems, but we were slowed even on the expressway somewhat in the morning. The expressways are nice, but highpriced, and often very crowded and slow. This morning, there seemed to be more trucks than cars, and the air seemed very heavy with diesel exhaust. I hear it can really be unbearable on hot, crowded summer weekends.
Day 9 - Saturday, April 6
- Weather great, still light jacket weather, but little wind.
- Dan caught a cold somehow, and begged off the planned trip, but insisted that I go alone if I wanted, since my Japan Rail pass made the travel effectively free. I yielded to the sage's advice.
- Took the Shinkansen to Kobe, a 90 minute ride, to see what I could of the remnants of the drastic earthquake there just over a year ago, and to hit a few other tourist sites.
- Lots of construction and/or reconstruction visible throughout the area, including buildings, highways and the harbor. But, I saw no "ruins," as this had apparently all been removed by this time.
- I hit the two long "shopping streets" described in the tourist literature, and bought a couple little things.
- Then found my way down to the harbor. Major construction underway there even on this Saturday. But, there is much activity there, including large ships, tourist boats, and an area on a pier where there are scores of stores, eateries (including a Sizzler Restaurant,) live entertainment, and an amusement ride area, all packed with people. Reminded me a lot of the waterfront in San Francisco. Lots of things to do, to eat, and places to sit and relax, overlooking the harbor activity. Click HERE for a photo from a postcard, showing the nighttime view of what I looked at from that area today.
- Dan seemed a little better this evening, after staying in all day. Maybe we can get out tomorrow, but rain is predicted overnight.
Day 10 - Sunday, April 7
- We had rain overnight, but none at all today. Warmer, little wind, and a little sunshine.
- Dan decided after staying home a day, he could venture out today. So, we boarded the Shinkansen back to the Kobe/Osake area, covering some of the sites I saw the day before, but with the plan of possibly adding Himeji Castle, a major one west of Kobe, and/or Osaka Castle.
- In Kobe, we spent much longer in the shopping areas than expected. Dan made one significant purchase (a surprise for someone.) Then to the port area for the busy excitement there for a while.
- Although both fairly tired by now, we decided to get off the local train in Osaka to check out that castle briefly. Several minor problems: the castle and grounds are huge; the area was mobbed with families and groups enjoying the warm day and the early stages of bloom of the cherry blossoms; and, as seems to be our luck, the huge castle itself is, yes, undergoing major renovation. About all you could see was one huge array of scaffolding. But, we are glad we made the stop, because we did see the huge grounds, walls, moats, etc., plus all the people activity of a warm spring Sunday afternoon. To see a picture of the castle as it used to appear, click HERE.
- Back to Dan's apartment in Nagoya by 7:30pm, after two Shikansen legs, three subway segments, four surface train segments, and 100 miles (it seems) of walking.
- Since I head back home tomorrow afternoon, there probably will not be another update to this page for a few days. When I get home, I hope to get this page transferred to my own web page area, so Dan can clear this junk out of his when he wishes to. I plan to add the final entry to the log after I get home, in case you want to check that out. Dan and I have enjoyed putting this information together on a daily basis, and have learned more than a little while doing it. Click HERE for pictures of Dan and me on our way to the subway station this morning.
Day 11 - Monday, April 8
Yes, I know that I'm not supposed to be posting an update today, but I don't leave Nagoya till 5:30pm. So, Dan and I goofed around with "clickable map images," which, if you are using the new Netscape 2.0, allow the user to click on selected portions of an image on the screen to go to the relevant image or page.
So, if you have Netscape 2.0 or compatible, click on the city names on the map below to see the castle for that city. These are the castles I have seen on this trip.
Day 11+ - Monday, April 8 THE TRIP HOME
Texas Time (Japan Time)
5:00pm Sun. (Mon. 7:00am) Wake up time in Nagoya
3:25am Mon. (Mon. 5:25pm) Left Nagoya Airport (on time)
12:10pm Mon. (Tue. 2:10am) Arr. Portland (early)
2:55pm Mon. (Tue. 4:55am) Left Portland (on time)
6:20am Mon. (Tue. 8:20am) Arr. DFW Airport (on time) Mary waiting.
7:00pm Mon. (Tue. 9:00am) Arrived home
9:00pm Mon. (Tue. 11:00am) Went to bed - after being up for
Comments on Trip Home:
- The usual taxi ride to the airport in Nagoya was again like riding with a taxi driver who speaks no English, from northeast Plano to southwest Fort Worth, via downtown Dallas, at rush hour, with the restrictions that you can not use any freeways and you can't go in any one direction for more than one mile before turning. When all the Japanese currency you have in your pocket is a 5000 yen bill, you begin to wonder if the meter is going to pass 5000 before you get to the airport. It worked again - "only" 4400 yen, about $44, in the range that Dan says is normal. The first time I made this taxi trip, I thought the taxi driver was "taking us for a ride." But Dan insisted that this is a "normal" route, although it seems to change a little every time.
- Got great view of Mt. Fuji out left window of plane.
- Both legs of flight stuffed full.
- Main movie was "Sabrina." Pretty good.
- Classic movie was "Brigadoon." Classic movies are typically something I could sleep through, but since I had had the singing lead in our college production of "Brigadoon," I HAD to stay awake to watch this one. Gene Kelly still does my part well.
- No sleep on overseas leg of flight; dozed a little on Portland-DFW leg.
- Great to be home. Pretty tired.