As I mentioned earlier, I sleep on planes. As soon as I get on and take my seat, always a window, I fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly, sometimes for the entire duration of the flight. Slept the whole Tokyo - JFK route once, 13 hours straight, and the stewardess woke me up only when I was the last person left on the plane, still snoring. Some people call it a gift, and I have to admit, it does help greatly with all the traveling I do, as it means I usually never suffer from jet lag. And that's how it went this trip as well, I got about 10 hours of sleep between both flights. So I woke up early yesterday morning fresh as a daisy and began my lazy Japanese Sunday.
I have a daily morning routine I follow when I'm here. Shortly after waking up, I leave the house and walk to Popura, our corner convenience store, where I buy a warm can of Cafe Au Lait. I crack it open and drink as I continue on to the train station, about four blocks away, where they carry English language newspapers. I buy the Japan Times and the Daily Yomiuri. I then proceed to my favorite bakery where I've been going for years and where they make the best "pastries" I know. I put the word in quotation marks there as the shop doesn't really make pastry as you know it, not sweet stuff anyway, but rather uses ingredients like bacon, ham, corn, sausage, potatoes, curry and cheese in these amazing rolls and breads. They're not really sandwiches either. I'll post pics to show you. After that, I head home and have another cup of coffee while I read the papers and eat my bakery breakfast. I began this ritual again yesterday and it felt immediately comfortable.
Even after two years, our neighborhood is exactly the same as it was when we were last here, with only a couple new additions: a new cake shop and a new seafood joint, part of some national chain which my mother-in-law says sucks.
I love the newspapers here because they give me an interesting perspective on the world I don't usually get in the States, even from an "international" news source like CNN. The reporters that work for the English language papers here, as well as the people who read them, are from all around the globe and cover world news from every country and every possible angle you can imagine. While the front page headline is usually about Japan, the papers are then divided by region, so I get news and op/ed from Europe, Asian, Australia, and plenty of other places, along with the usual big updates and human interest pieces from the States. Soccer, F-1 and rugby results usually take precedence over baseball and basketball scores in the sports section. Plus, the comics and editorial cartoons have a broad international diversity to them as well. We still get Dilbert though.
Anyway, rather than just sit around the house all day yesterday, we decided to venture out for a walk and headed down to this new mall they built to buy a new vacuum cleaner. (See how exciting life is here?!) The mall was surprisingly big by Japanese standards, with an enormous Yamada Denki (think Best Buy), a Sports Authority, Uni Qlo, Kansai Supermarket, McDonalds, ABC Store, Babies R' Us, and what surprised me the most, a new 10 screen movie theater! Most of the U.S. movies playing were a little dated, like Blindness and Tropic Thunder, and I was pretty surprised to see the John Cusack/Sam Jackson thriller 1408 had just opened! Quantum of Solace and The Day The Earth Stood Still are on the way. However, what shocked me most was the price of movies here these days... $25.00 a ticket!! I thought it was expensive the last time I went to a see film here, which was Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, for $15.00, but today's prices are just ridiculous! Good thing you're allowed to bring your own food and drinks into the theater with you. (But truth be told, that gets pretty annoying as well with people unwrapping food and crunching McDonalds bags and making all kinds of noise as most of the audience is reading the subtitles and don't give two shits about the people who actually want to hear the movie in English!)
We didn't get the vacuum as my mother-in-law couldn't find the one she saw on TV that she wanted. I didn't go home empty-handed though as I picked up were a few Japanese design mags at the bookstore. Oh, and we got groceries for dinner at the supermarket, which I'll post pictures of right after this. We also hit the drug store, where I picked up a bottle of my favorite shaving cream and tube of the only toothpaste I ever use. Regular blog readers here may recall my affinity for Japanese hygiene products, and that I've only used Gatsby Shaving Cream and Clean Clear Citrus toothpaste for the past 10 years or so. Yeah, I'm a creature of habit, even when those habits mean coming halfway around the world to find the toiletries I like. I also discovered a new shampoo I like, Asience, and these new hard Q-tips that work wonderfully.
Sunday night TV in Japan sucks. There was nothing on. So I caught part of the Gamba Osaka vs. Adelaide soccer game until Mutsumi and her mom wanted to watch some historical samurai drama. So I fired up this new laptop and dove further into the second season of Battlestar Galactica. I know I'm late to the BSG party, but man, the show just keeps getting better! Those Battlestar Pegasus episodes were amazing!! Loved Admiral Cain. It does not let up and you never know which way the story's gonna twist and turn. Simply awesome writing and acting!!
And that was day two... bored yet?