Monday, December 7

Although this day has the fewest pictures of any full day, that is actually indicative of how busy it was--certainly the most action-packed of the trip. Also the weather was completely miserable--very heavy rain for most of the day, which gradually tapered off and went away by night. Although I was unhappy to have to walk through rain at all, if I had to pick two days for it to rain during the trip Saturday and Monday were about the best two. It's much worse when it rains when you are shopping.

Ginza, Tokyo

Saturday morning I went to Akihabara and Jimbouchou briefly, just to look around, but waited to buy anything since the weather was so bad. I didn't have much time in any case as I was to meet Maki-san and her friend Kanematsu Noriko for lunch in Ginza, where Noriko-san works. She usually comes to the party at Neil and Naoko's, but this year couldn't made it due to a company trip to Hokkaido over the weekend. For the past couple years we've gotten together for lunch in Ginza as well, and luckily we were able to meet this year as well. Maki-san and Noriko-san wanted to take me to a Chinese place (for some reason several people seemed to think I wanted non-Japanese food) but I insisted on Japanese, and we ended up at a restaurant named New Tokyo in the basement of the Hankyuu department store. I had some kind of teishoku which featured a chicken and egg mixture that I can't describe well but that was delicious.

After eating I tried to take some pictures but had great trouble with lighting in the basement of the department store. This picture is a bit blurry, but here's Maki-san (who'd carried Shun-chan from home) and Noriko-san.

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Bunkyou-ku, Tokyo

On Saturday Maki-san had asked me if I could visit her house after lunch on Monday. In Japan they are starting to teach English beginning in elementary school rather than junior high, so she invited a couple friends and their kids over supposedly to speak some English with me. However as they are only in first grade they only know a few phrases, so instead it was decided that they'd ask me questions in Japanese about the US. This was a little scary for me as their Japanese is a lot better than mine, but I was able to answer their questions. Each time I answered, though, the questioner would immediately lose interest. Still it was a lot of fun being the center of attention.

Here's a picture taken by Maki-san of everyone at the end.

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Tsunashima, Yokohama

I next took the train down to Yokohama station, where my former boss at Matsushita, Oda-san, met me and said they'd changed our meeting place to Tsunashima, which was a few stations back. This is where Matsushita is, and also where I used to live. We met Yano-san, my former boss a couple levels up (he's a buchou, or department head), Mashiyama-san, who essentially took over my work when I left, and Suyama-kun, who is the only person I have yet managed--he worked under me for about a month while a student, and now is an employee there.

We went to an izakaya (drinking place) and had a relaxed and enjoyable time with some excellent food and beer. I also got to talk on Oda-san's cellular phone to Horibata-san, a woman who had been in our group who left the company the same time I did, but for a different reason--to marry another coworker. I haven't seen her since our joint farewell party.

Here's a picture of all of us taken by one of the employees. From left to right: Suyama-kun, myself, Yano-san, Mashiyama-san, and Oda-san.

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