Sunday, January 8, 2017

Accidental Tourist Report, First Day, Jan 2017

I am back in Japan to do follow up interviews to catch folks I missed last time (this trip's specialty will be former Defense Ministers*) and to present some of my preliminary findings (one talk is a bit different--implications of Trump's Presidency).

Which means I am adjusting to jetlag today.  So, I chose to start walking in a neighborhood that I had not visited last time.  It had some amazing views and funky signs and architecture.  But not many restaurants, and thus my accidental tourism began.  My search for lunch ended in some great ramen, but also put me near a major Kabuki threater.  The price was so cheap that I just had to buy a one act ticket (the plays are all day long affairs with multiple acts).  But the show was not for two hours, so I had to find places to hang out amidst the rain.  Which led to more accidental tourism.

Specifically, I ended up ducking into a building that had Nissan concept cars on the first couple of levels and then Sony products on the upper floors. 

After that, I went into a department store, and was surprised to find the top floor populated by women wearing traditional garb, lots of traditional stuff being sold, and even a demo for those who don't know how to put it on. 

And then I went to the Kabuki show.   What did I learn from my one experience (other plays may be different)?
  • I should have invested in the translator device--it provides subtitles.  I didn't think one was necessary because I thought there would be more action and less monologues.
  • Jeez, there were a lot of monologues.  
  • The set construction was amazing with multiple changes even though the initial one seemed permanent to me until it was not.
  • Kabuki is the opposite of baseball--no crying in baseball, heaps of crying in this show, including an extended crying scene involving a guy who might have been dying.
  • Very narrow seats at the top--I was less comfortable in this seat than in the ordinary economy seat on a plane.
  • Not very funny--only two or three times where the audience laughed in 1.5 hours of show, and the first laugh was about an hour in.  
  • Oh, did I say little action, I meant no action unless a bunch of identically clad women carrying stuff in and out counts.
  • Yes, the language barrier probably inhibited my enjoyment, but I doubt that I would have liked it a lot even if I understood what was being said.  Still, worth the experience to see what this term I have been throwing around really means.  
Oh, and a repeated realization--Japan is a great place for a single person to go out to eat since so many restaurants have places for singles to sit without any ostracism.   Another one: the food is damn good.

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