“There’s got to be a morning after”

“The Morning After
Maureen McGovern
The Poseidon Adventure Soundtrack

Day 8: Some place you have been, Part 5

The day after the earthquake, we were somewhat uneasy and unsure of what to do. Jason had to go to the theatre to assess the damage to the set, and although it seemed like it would be safer to just stay in our hotel room and wait for him, we didn’t for two reasons. First, despite the rumblings and grumblings of the earth’s core, we were a million miles away from home in a foreign country. The chances that we would ever have the opportunity again to travel to this magnitude was relatively slim, and I didn’t want to miss out because of fear. Secondly, and truthfully more compelling, sitting in the hotel room during aftershocks was somewhat unnerving.

Given the state of their tectonic plates, Japanese engineers are freaking geniuses. They have figured out a way to make buildings float and move so that they can have these enormous skyscrapers without major risk of a building coming down during a massive earthquake. The buildings, essentially, are built to move and sway. That’s what helps them keep their structural integrity. I totally get that. That being said, being on the 23rd floor of a building and feeling the entire thing rock when the aftershocks come is still kinda scary. We had to keep repeating the mantra: “It’s supposed to do that. We are safe because it’s supposed to do that.” Despite that knowledge, the chance to be out of the hotel room while the earth was still moving was a blessing.

We decided to stay close to home. The trains and subways were still down in the morning, so really unless it was within walking distance, we weren’t going anywhere anyway. We hoofed it over to the International Forum and then Andrea and I went for a walk to the Imperial Palace while we waited.

On the way to the palace, we passed by a hotel where a bride and groom were getting their pictures taken prior to their big ceremony. For some reason, it comforted me. It was, to me anyway, a sign that despite all the trauma and tragedy, life continued to go on.

Despite everything, hope springs eternal and love carries on.

Posing in front of the gates

Visiting the Imperial Palace is pretty much like visiting the White House. What you do get to see, you get to see from a fence with armed guards watching you. It was still pretty, and the architecture was amazing, but it was kind anti-climactic. After wandering there for a while we ventured over a couple of blocks and found this incredible park with fountains. We spent a great deal of time there, just letting the calm of the water and the peace and quiet of the morning soothe some of our frazzled nerves. Although it was late morning on a Saturday, many folks were still staying home. There was very little traffic, and the park didn’t have very many visitors either.

The fountains at the park

We weren’t there for very long. After about an hour, Jason called to let us know that the remainder of the run of the show was cancelled. Although there was only minimal damage to the set itself, the building had sustained some damage that made it unsafe for both performers and audience members. It would be challenging enough to just load the set back out. Rather than risk injury to anyone, they called the whole thing off. So now Jason had more time to spend with us. So first on the agenda? Going with his crew to try some sushi!

Brave souls ready for a new experience.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of sushi. It’s not the fish that gets me so much as the seaweed. Meh. This was really good, though. Andrea gave it a try, which was pretty impressive. She’s always had some major sensory issues that limited her palate, but in the past year or so she’s been open to trying new things. Granted, she didn’t like it. But the fact that she even took a taste was amazing.

After we finished sushi, and since Jason had the rest of the day off, we decided to take in some sights. Within walking distance from the sushi place was Tokyo’s version of the Walk of Fame. It had stars featuring Japanese cinema’s biggest names. And what would a walk of fame be without Japan’s biggest movie star: Godzilla!

I thought he'd be bigger...

Since the subways were now running on a limited basis, we decided to head up to Akihabara, which was one of our intended destinations the day before. Akihabara is known as otaku central, with lots of electronics, maid cafes, the Anime center, and cosplay and manga stores. When we got off the subway stop, we wandered a bit and stumbled upon an amazing little shrine.

Remember that picture from Epcot? This was way cooler.

It was very quiet and reverent. The only other people there were a couple of photographers. And some cats. Andrea was enamored with the cats, who appeared to like her as well.

Andrea getting some love from the nekos.

After we returned, I tried to find information about what it was a shrine for and any history behind it. It took some doing, but I found out that it is the Yanagimori Jinja Shrine and is associated with wealth and luck. What amused me was that the numerous animal sculptures around the shrine are what are known as tanuki and are recognized by their enormous scrotums.

Yup. Those are his balls. His ginormous, wealth and luck bringing balls.

Akihabara is where I worked to fulfill one of my missions. One of my favorite bloggers is Jen, the Cake Wrecks lady. Very shortly before our departure, she discussed in her personal blog her love for capsule machines. She was trying to collect a very specific set of Disney characters and bemoaned the fact that we don’t have them here. I sent her an email offering to bring some back from Tokyo, and she accepted. And the race was on. Little did I know how great the sheer number of machines would be.

This was just one of many banks of these machines. Whee!

While I didn’t find the exact line she was looking for, I did grab her some cool toys and received a shout out from her on her blog. And she sent a personalized thank you note, which was sweet and cool and unexpected. And in some ways kind of ironic, because the reason I wanted to pick stuff up for her in the first place was as a thank you to her for all the joy and laughs she’s given me by writing her blog.

One of the cooler things we noticed while we were in Tokyo was the lack of security for personal items. While I’m sure there is crime just as anywhere else, there were some things that made it feel like the safest place in the world. Here in our little corner of suburbia, I wouldn’t consider leaving my bike anywhere without locking it up. In Akihabara, we saw rows and rows of bikes in racks without a single lock to be found.

This person not only left their bike unlocked, they left their dog in the basket.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted from all of the emotions the past 24 hours had brought on. But we were happy for the distractions, glad to be able to still explore and enjoy and expand our horizons. And thankful for the reminder that, however bad things may seem, there’s always another tomorrow to bring us a new day.

Think of a time when you were overwhelmed by circumstances beyond your control. What reminded you that life would move forward, despite tragedies and setbacks? How can you tap into that power and memory in your daily round  and when life seems too difficult to handle?