Sunday, October 16, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016

Yours truly after walking the streets of Narimasu,
Akatsuka, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo
At this writing (Saturday morning at 7:30am), I still haven’t connected with the internet.  I was so exhausted yesterday (even after two naps), that I didn’t go any farther than Seiyu in my explorations.  There are plenty of WiFi places advertised in all the tourist pamphlets, magazines (even the limo bus had its own tourist mag!), and maps, so exploring and walking today I will hopefully connect to WiFi.

My next challenge is figuring out how to fly to Okinawa.  By plane, of course, but how to get that ticket?!  In order to get the ticket I have to get on the internet to find out the flight schedules.  But no WiFi yet.... Fortunately, my mother-in-law (Mama-san is what I have called her since 1972) has a good friend, Mariko Tanishima, who has corresponded with me via email since the tsunami disaster when I had urgent questions or concerns about my mother-in-law (the phone lines were down and Mama-san doesn’t do email).  She was Mama-san’s former landlord at her old apartment and speaks very good English, plus she and her husband travel all over the world, even skiing in Aspen each winter.  So, Mariko-san is going to help me with internet access at her apartment (maybe 20 minutes walking distance from here) and figuring out the Skymark Airlines schedule.
Shopping "street" in Narimasu neighborhood

I was completely amazed at how much information, in English, there is on Japan and traveling here.  Any time I searched for anything it came up in fluent English (used to be that the translation was always rather odd, but not now), with pictures.  For instance, our American 7-Eleven convenience store is the most popular and largest one in the country here and even has its own Seven Bank.  There are now ATMs at all of them so I’m hoping that that’s how I’m going to get my money from my home checking account.  (I did order $300 in yen from my local home bank so I came with yen in my wallet.)  I looked into getting a Japan Rail Pass (must be purchased BEFORE you get to Japan) and on the website is also the opportunity to get a Pocket WiFi device that works all over the country, even on trains.  I decided not to get the WiFi device because I thought it would keep me inside and not exploring (but it is $148 for 28 days).  You pick up the device at any airport.

A fire truck is zooming by with sirens blaring and an amplified voice warning people to get out of the way, please.
Another side "street" with restaurants

At 93, Mama-san has problems walking outside her apartment and is unsteady on her feet so rarely goes outside.  Today she wanted to go to her bank (Mizuho Ginko) which is a 15-minute walk.  It’s Saturday and she didn’t realize it is closed on Saturday with only ATMs available.  That was the first time she had seen the ATMs and didn’t want to try using them--- we’ll go back on Monday morning.  We decided to continue on to Seiyu (remember the department store with all the food).  So, on our way back home, we go through Seiyu’s grocery store and buy sushi for lunch (salmon, tuna, squid, octopus, egg, nori-wrapped cucumber and tuna) which is plenty for both of us. 

It’s 12:30pm on Saturday and I still cannot connect to the internet....  

I decided I’d better get up and move and stop sitting.  Venturing out seems too much but I also know I want to explore and walk and not sit still.  

By the way, there’s also Mos Burger (pronounced Moss-Baga) restaurant, the Japanese answer to McDonalds, where the hamburgers are cooked to your specifications and on which some have wasabi.  It’s considered a fast food place but even the placemats are prints of calligraphy with watercolor paintings.  The one in Narimasu is the first one that opened in the country.  I’m now at Mosburger inside Seiyu Departo where evidently they have WiFi but, in order to sign on, I’d have to have a keitai denwa (cell phone) which I don’t have here.  (I had considered getting a temporary phone while here.  I saw a kiosk at Narita Airport where they could be rented…but I was too tired to seriously consider it.  Of course I should have gotten it then.)  The young man working at Mosburger is willing to loan me his cell phone WiFi for a short period, but now they’ve become very busy and he’s back at work.  The narrow restaurant is filling up so I’m leaving.  Arigatoo to him!

Notice the Big M.  It right across the street from

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