Day One in Tokyo, part 2...
Jen gave me some invaluable tips before I left, like buy a map of Tokyo before I go (because, guess what - none of them over here are in English - thank you Jen!) and buy a compass so you can figure out the map. I picked up Tokyo's 25 best and found out about Roppongi Hills from there.
So it's a neat area - "a stunning new precinct with an urban art gallery, a dramatic observation deck, shops, public art, tranquil open spaces & busy plazas". Sounded great & it was on the same side of the city as the Harajuku district, so that was my next destination.
It was very tranquil walking through, until I came upon the "public art" - which is a gi-normous metal spider.
Once I got over my initial reaction (I thought we needed another sculpture with an even bigger shoe hovering over it) I decided I really liked it. The scale is fantastic.
"Dramatic observation deck". Understatement. I knew I had to head to the top as soon as I saw the building.
That's 54 stories, baby. Sweet. No glass elevator, but it was awfully speedy. And before I realized it I was at the top. Now the first thing I did was cheat - the gallery was at the top too & I checked out the gift shop & saw what kind of stuff was in the exhibit (not that great) & made the judgement call to spend all my time there soaking in the city on the observation deck & just skip the gallery. As far as the eye could see in every direction - city. It left me speechless.
Wow. Seriously. Just wow.
After the last subway drama, I took a cab back to my hotel. I ran into Bill Downey in the Family Mart (he kind of stands out here) and said hi as I was grabbing a bottle of water and a coke zero (at least I thought it was water - I guess I was so busy chatting I didn't read the bottle which said "bottled sweat" (I don't think that translated well) - turns out it tastes like a Lemon DaSani.
We all met in the hotel lobby & headed over through the mall to the attached convention center (this complex is huge - it houses a hotel, the convention center, a mall, an indoor theme park, an aquarium, a theater, a planetarium, an observatory & a museum). There was a large contingency from Sun-K (the Japanese distributor hosting the event), our translators and the other teachers. Let's see if I can remember all the other Americans who came over to teach: Lisa Bearnson (CK), Lance Anderson (Rusty Pickle), Becky Fleck (Basic Grey), Donna Downey (Simple), Brian Tippets (CK), Kamei Smith (FontWerks) and Britney Mellen (CK). There will be over 200 attendees from all over Japan, Asia & even Hawaii. We'll all be teaching 3 two hour classes a day for the next 3 days. I *love* my adorable translator Aya (pronounced eye-uh). I'm looking forward to a fun time with her. I got side tracked...our hosts took all of us out for dinner..and we ended up eating Mexican food. Now, it was good - but let me tell you, Mexican food in Tokyo is very different from Mexican food in Texas! The folks from Sakura and Tsukineko were there and it was very nice to meet them as well. I also met Dee from Scrap the Planet - who I will be teaching for on Monday.
All in all, it was a pretty awesome day. I'm going to turn in now, since I have a busy day ahead of me. I'll do my best to remember to take pictures tomorrow (I didn't at the dinner tonight, but Aya will be sharing her photos with me). Arigato for reading and I'll keep you posted...