Regular readers of this blog (hi mom!) may remember that it originally started as a TRAVEL blog, that we updated every couple of years when we went somewhere interesting. When we started documenting our international cooking project, it seemed more logical to add it here rather than starting a whole ‘nother WordPress instance. (Also less work. WordPress is useful, but irritating.)
But given that we’ve now cooked upwards of seventy meals, and it’s been nearly half a decade since our last international trip, it’s great to be able to finally talk about travel again. And this one’s gonna be a doozy.
Leigh had a paper accepted to the biannual (not that biannual, the other one) International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Tokyo, so we decided to make a vacation of it.
I have attempted to travel trans-Pacific twice. When I was in high school, I was a member of the Maryland Youth Orchestra, which planned a concert tour of China. In the summer. In 1989.
So yeah, that didn’t happen.
Thirty years later, Leigh and I decided that we wanted to officiate the largest roller derby tournament in Australia. We booked tickets. We made hotel reservations. We got halfway through our goddamn SCUBA DIVING certification. In 2020.
So yeah, that didn’t happen either.
But given that I am typing this entry while going 200 km/hr on a Shinkansen, it looks like this one finally worked out.
We spent a solid three months or more planning. After two solid years of DuoLingo Chinese, we stomped on the brakes and switched to Japanese. We watched an ABSURD number of YouTube videos, and developed a creepy parasocial relationship with Chris Broad. (Chris, if you’re reading this, we love your stuff. Call us!) We canvassed all our friends for suggestions.
On the one hand, did this take some of the mystery out of the process? Yes, it did. On the other hand, I’m perfectly happy NOT to be confronted with the ineffable variability of life’s rich pageant while attempting to work out where to shove my Japan Rail pass into a ticket gate.
Plus, there were some things we HAD to do in advance, and not just the obvious stuff like hotel reservations. The aforementioned Japan Rail pass, for example, must be purchased before entering the country, and you have to receive a physical voucher that you bring to Japan with you and exchange for the pass at the airport. Studio Ghibli museum tickets go on sale one day a month. (And when we logged onto the website at the hour of truth, there were 2,500 people ahead of us in line. We did manage to snag tickets, so stay tuned for details!)
That doesn’t mean we wanted to work out a minute-by-minute itinerary, but we didn’t want to waste time sitting in our hotel room trying to work out possibilities once we were there.
And Tokyo’s the most populous city in the world. We wanted to be ready. Were we? We’ll find out…