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
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
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.