Japan Day 10
March 3rd, 2001
@ Kyoto & Tokyo, Japan

All Photos © 2001 Ting and Randy Vogel

 Bed-table books

As we were packing, Ting noticed that the bed-side table had an addition to the Japanese edition of the Gideon's Bible -- the Teachings of Buddha. The two books reflected somewhat some of the duality found in modern-day Japan. We went down to the restaurant in the first floor lobby for our last breakfast in Kyoto. They did not have any lychees out today, but Ting made a special request and the waiter brought her a bowlful.  If they had put out the lychees, we probably wouldn't have had anything else! We checked out of the hotel and crossed over to the train station, making a quick stop at the post office to mail out another pile of post cards.

With a little bit of time to kill before boarding the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, we found a few more sights within the station. The music station appeared to be some sort of life-sized animatronic creation; unfortunately it was silent, so we can't tell you whether the tunes it played were good or not. It was drizzling again, so we didn't spend too much time outside; the view of Kyoto Tower is from a point near the Music Station.

The trip back to Tokyo was unremarkable. Once we arrived in the main station, we hauled ourselves on down into the subway, squeezed onboard a train and the checked back into the Akasaka Prince Hotel. After a quick break, we set out across town to pick up Randy's DAT deck from the Sony Service Center. Happily, they had completed the work in a hurry and charged less than the original estimate!

Right next door to the Service Center entrance was a small lunch shop where we bought two Unagi bento boxes for our lunch/dinner. Walking back to the subway, we stopped at a convenience store to buy drinks and unique pastries featuring mochi wrapped with a cherry leaf and stuffed with purple cherry paste. We rode the subway across town, disembarking at Yurakucho station near the Tokyo International Forum Complex (our destination for tonight's Bob Dylan concert), and then walking on to the fountain park in the Imperial gardens nearby.

The teahouse at the park was closed -- rented out for a wedding reception, as it turns out -- but we were able to sit in a spot on the patio outside and have a peacful meal, watching and listening to the fountains playing across the plaza. While we ate, the wedding principals arranged and rearranged themselves in front of various fountains for all the formal and informal pictures that accompany a wedding celebration. We were a little surprised to see that everyone wore formal western outfits, but maybe that's the custom of citizens here in the cosmopolitan capital. At one point the brides father even came by to offer us cigars!

Following our supper, we descended back into the subway tunnels and took the one that led off to the International Forum Complex. Surprisingly, there weren't all that many people about, even through it was nearly five o'clock -- showtime!! And look as we might, we couldn't find a marque billing the show to photograph. After circling about half-way around the building, we entered just to the right of the exterior stairwell with the sign/map shown at left.

Inside, it was much more crowded, and the people-density increased as we headed towards the entrance turnstiles. We paused a moment to stash away our contraband recording devices and found ourselves accosted by a number of miracle-seekers. What with the high cost of tickets, we could understand why people might want a freebie, but it seems a little unrealistic to expect a hundred-dollar handout. We passed through the ticket-tearers and white-gloved bag-searchers without incident and made our way upstairs to our seats within the large hall.

Hall A, where the concert took place, seats a little over 5000 people. We were surprised to be able to buy pretty good seats only a few days before the show -- we ended up in row 32, a little bit off to Stage Right, but within the proscenium. The hall was relatively full when we entered, but there appeared to be plenty of empty seats towards the back.

What can we say about the show? Bob Dylan is GREAT! He's really sharpened up his act in the past few years -- certainly the never-ending tour has a lot to do with that -- and he also seems to be enjoying himself as he sings the same old songs night after night. What did he play, you ask? Here's the setlist:

1.  Duncan and Brady *
2.  The Times, They are A-Changin' *
3.  Desolation Row *
4.  Don't Think Twice, It's Alright *
5.  Down in the Flood
6.  Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You **
7.  Tombstone Blues
8.  Make You Feel My Love
9.  Masters of War *
10.  Love Minus Zero/No Limit * **
11.  the Wicked Messenger +
12.  Everything is Broken
–Encore –
13.  Love Sick
14.  Like a Rolling Stone
15.  If Dogs Run Free ++
16.  All Along the Watchtower ***
17.  It Ain't Me, Babe * +
18.  Highway 61
19.  Blowin' in the Wind *

* all acoustic 
** Larry on pedal steel
+ Bob on harp
++ Bob on acoustic guitar
*** Larry on lap steel

The show lasted a little under two hours, and so even with a stop to survey the vending scene we were out on the street once again before 7 PM. We decided to head over to Akihabara in hopes that some international-version Palm Vx's had come in while we were in Kyoto, so with high hopes, we hoppped onto the next outbound train.

Our Palm-hunt met with success at the first shop we tried, the big LAOX just down the street from the 'Electric City' train station! Excitedly, we asked for two, along with a new blue hard case, since Randy had broken his earlier in the week. After what seemed like an hour, the clerk came back with all the export papers (so we wouldn't have to pay the VAT) and our credit slip. It was then that we noticed the big mistake -- LAOX was charging us about $480 for each unit, despite the fact that the Japanese version was being sold downstairs for only $310. Yikes! We declined to sign the credit slip and hustled off to find better prices.

After a few misses, we finally located our quarry in a T-Zone store. For some reason, T-Zone wasn't set up to process the sale without the VAT, but they assured us that we could show our receipt and get a refund at the Narita Airport customs station on our way out of the country. So we made a deal for two Vx's (at $330 each), and while that was being set up, Randy got all distracted over in the digital camera section, where he ended up picking up an Olympus C-990Z (the US equivalent is the D-490Z) for about $350. By this time we were hungry again, and as things were closing up fast in the Akihabara, we hopped on the subway to head back to the Akasaka district for some sushi.

We picked out another sushiya by chance, and ended up making a fine choice, as this place had quite the selection of fish -- lots of things we hadn't seen before, like strange varieties of tuna (the Katsuo nigiri depicted at left, forexample), and local specialties, like smelt from Tokyo bay and freshwater fish from the nearby mountains.  The chef's English was pretty good. When Ting took his picture, he said "that will be $10" - what a joker!

While walking about in Akihabara Randy had become preoccupied with capturing a photo of the big shoes popular with the chic young women, thus you'll see two photos from the hunt at left. As you can tell by the caption, the first notes the lack of big shoes. Big shoes are skittish by nature, and seem to shy away at the sight of the camera, so the hunter must be stealthy and quick in order to capture a good shot. The latter photo, while a bit grainy due to the lack of ambient light gives a good idea how tall some of these creatures are -- note that heel extending upwards nearly as high as the foot is long! 

Flushed with excitement at our success, we ducked into a convenience store and purchased ice cream to take back to the Akasaka Prince for dessert. You can see that the flavor selection is a little different from the standard American fare, but the big brands have successfully penetrated the Japanese market. After dessert we spent an hour or so packing and repacking so as to fit everything back into our bags for tomorrow's trip home, and then it was time for another night's sleep.

 Randy at the Post Office
 'Music Station' in Kyoto Eki
 Another View of Kyoto Tower
 Squished inside Tokyo Subway
 Cherry Blossom Pastry
 Wedding Party pictures
 Another fountain view
One entrance to the Tokyo International Forum 
 Randy at the Entrance
 Neighborhood Map
 The Wing-shaped Glass Building
 Another view of the Hall
 Another Entrance
 the Official Sign/Map
 An ad for the show
 Here's a handbill that was being passed out
 A ticket to the show
 The tour poster
 Another tour handbill
International Forum Layout
 View out from the Stage
Hall A Seating Chart
Like ants up there!
In the Acoustic Configuration
 The Boy's Gone Electric Now!
 With Neon Filtering
 Ooooh! Green
 Moody and Dark
 Bob Wails on Harp during the Wicked Messenger
Like a Rolling Stone 
 Big Shadows!
 Rockin' Through Watchtower
 Nice blue!
 Everybody Must Get Stoned...
 At the vending tables
 Price list
 Across from the Main Entrance
 The Big Shoes that got away!
 Our Chef!
 Ting & Randy at the Sushi Bar
 the Sushiya sign
 Big Shoes!
 Yummy Desert!