Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 8 (Thursday, June 5)

Thursday was the longest leg of our journey back to Osaka. Our destination that evening was Tokyo. We would catch an express train to Hachinohe, going back through the underwater tunnel, and then catch a bullet train to Tokyo.

First, however, a little sightseeing in Hakodate. This city, on the southern edge of the island of Hokkaido, has a famous morning market, stocking all kinds of seafood and stretching out several blocks. We split up, with Mo and her Mom looking around by themselves and the boys and I looking for what trouble we could find.

Christopher and Andrew went from store to store, particularly fascinated by the seafood that was still alive. (They were most into other food, though. Christopher ate ice cream, while Andrew chowed down on fresh corn on the cob.)

One store had a pool filled with squid. Christopher got close to watch the storekeeper pull out one for sale and nearly got squirted on. Other stores had live king crabs and octopi. The boys got us close as they could, wanting to study and asking questions about where everything came from (crabs-Russia, octopi –around Japan, squid – across the street in the bay). We could have stayed longer, but had a train to board.

We stopped at a convenience store and I bought the boys some box lunches, then we met Mo and her Mom at the station to catch the train. The trip was long, but we done the most important thing the night before, re-charged the DS and the Gameboy at the hotel.

We arrived in Tokyo just after 5:00 and said goodbye to Mo’s Mom, who was continuing on to Osaka while we spent the night with friends of mine: Yoshi, his wife Naomi, and Dave. Yoshi, Dave, and I were in the same grad school class at Wake Forest in the late 80s. Yoshi and Naomi were already married at that time. When we graduated, Yoshi and Naomi returned to Japan, while Dave and I moved to Japan to take jobs. I returned to the U.S. after four years. Dave eventually started his own business, which he still runs.

The plan was to meet Yoshi at Tokyo Station and go with him to his place, meeting Dave along the way. We set the meeting place as the Maronouchi Exit, but realized there were three when we got there. While calling Yoshi’s cell to work things out, the unexpected happened: our cell phone went dead. I began looking for a pay phone, while my wife made snarky comments about what happens when you let men plan things. Things were made difficult by our inability to find a pay phone. However, like in the U.S., pay phones are disappearing due to cell phones. Eventually, however, we located one and arranged a new meeting place.

We met Dave and headed out to Yoshi’s place where Naomi was cooking dinner. We ate, played with Yoshi and Naomi’s dog, Boon, and talked until late. We also made plans for the following day. Below is a picture of my boys playing with Dave.

Naomi also has a blog, called Boon’s blog, after their dog. What she wrote about our visit can be found by clicking here. It is in Japanese. Any picture of Yoshi and Naomi has a dog's face superimposed. The blog also includes a picture from my wedding (where Yoshi was a groomsman), a picture when Andrew was 18 months, and our most recent trip. My boys still talk about the dog.

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