Saturday was a fun day. We woke up bright and early to start wandering around.

My main focus was trying to see the Imperial place but I didn't get there until Sunday.

We took the train down to the general area of the palace and wandered around for about half an hour or so before we decided to head back to the hotel and regroup. Lee's GPS was sort of failing us in finding the palace - one of the few times that it REALLY didnt' want to co-operate.

We walked mainly through Roppongi :

We got to see so many quiet streets. It was so early in the morning that not many people were around and not many shops were open. Mind you, it was 9 AM when we got off the train in Roppongi.

We thought heading back to Shibuya and visiting Tokyo hands for more luggage would probably be a good idea. We got to Tokyu hands and picked out a carry on for Lee but, when we got to the counter to pay, our credit card wouldn't work. I totally couldn't understand why! We pay for the luggage in cash and head back to the hotel where we have Skpe set up on my laptop to call teh credit card company.

This was the only spot of drama for the entire trip....

I was planning on using my corporate card for all my purchases since we had cash for our personal expenses and when I paid for my hat purchases the night before with my own card - it put a hold on our account. I used my debit card BUT I hadn't called the bank to let them know I was traveling. Lee had called the bank to let them know that HE would be traveling but I had not, so the flagged our account for misuse when the charge came through for my hats :( .

You at least need to see the cool hat. Here's a shot of me in Tokyu hands prior to the luggage purchase being silly in their Halloween section:

Here's some more daytime shots of Shibuya - right outside of Tokyu Hands.

This was the COOLEST parking I have ever seen. You drive in and the building puts your car in s parking spot for you. When you retrieve your car, it gets backed out and then turned around for you so you can drive straight out again. Lovely!!

These pretty girls were a small portion of the fashion plates running around Shibuya in Saturday morning. they all looked like they were ready to go to their Senior prom in high school. So pretty and over dressed for a Saturday morning.

More of Saturday to come later.... It was a really long day!

sorry to leave you hanging....

reall life got int he way of me posting for awhile, but now I'm back on the job. :)



So Friday was more training at the office and then we spent some time in Shibuya afterwards. Dave and Lindsey hung with us for a little bit but broke off to go eat by themselves.

We got rained on, the only part that wasn't a blast!

Husband's back and a rainy Shibuya:

For some reason - I have tons of photos of the back of his head - mostly I think because he kept walking whenever I stopped to take a photo.

Tokyu Hands is the BEST STORE EVER!! They literally have everything from bikes, to craft supplies, to wood, fabric, toy models, suitcases and a couple of restaurants. It's 8 stories and packed with people, but we visited several times and bought lots of stuff. I wish they had one in LA. Husband and I were drooling over all the hardware and craft supplies . I would kill for this store in LA. Sorry for the blurry shot, but I was so excited to be at Tokyo Hands and all the cool stuff they had, I didn't want to stop.

We went to the Cospa shop right across the way and spent a wad of cash on t-Shirts and sundry anime goodies.

Below is a shot of Mandarake:
They have a really neat entry way but the store is in the basement. They are basically the half price books of comics in Japan. You can buy and sell old anime books and toys. They are really neat.

Dinner on Friday night was a place that did tempanyaki - you make it your self at the table. They had all sorts of make it yourself dishes, Japanese style omelets to just meat brought to you at your table.
Husband - looking very displeased that I wanted to take his picture:

The place was kinda grungy but it was so much fun. It was cheap and they had an English menu - can't argue. I gotta say, even the scrungiest places we ate never upset my belly and the food was always pristine when it was brought to the table.

We had chicken, prawns with vegetables and the boy got potato, cheese and bacon as well.

I bought several hats that friday night. They came in handy as I was tired of my hair being wet from all the rain. I may show you the hats later in a catalog of our purchases.

Next up...Free for All Saturday....

Dinner the 1st full day in tokyo

I didn't realize the restaurant the Japan team was taking us to was so nice - so like a schmuck I wore a t-shirt and jeans. Everyone from the Japanese team wore what they wore to the office so I didn't feel too bad, but wish I had dressed up more. We went to a very nice restaurant in Ebisu, called Man Yo Tei. I've tried to find reviews on line, but have not been very successful. At this point, I will be stealing photos from Dave's flickr - because I didn't bring my camera (dumb dumb dumb).

This was the main decorative feature of the restaurant - a fountain with umbrellas and seasonal foliage. I just wanted to take my shoes off and run through it!!

Man Yo Tei is a traditional home style Japanese restaurant. So after we took our shoes off, I got all prepared to sit cross legged and our hosts fussed and said to put our legs under the table. My feet fell down.... Anyone who as a visited a "traditional" style Japanese restaurant in the US is about to feel REALLY ripped off and pissed!! The low tables that sit a foot off the floor - in Japan THEY HAVE A PIT IN THE FLOOR FOR YOUR LEGS!! Seriously! I was completely shocked! I actually ate comfortably and didn't have to keep excusing myself to stand up and stretch my 34" long legs! YEAH!! (we went to several restaurants of the next few days with the same feature)

All the food was excellent!! Except - I have to admit - the appetizer had a partially cooked snail with it, which I couldn't handle. It was the only part of the meal I couldn't eat all of. Lovely spiral shelled snail - unfortunately I'm really good at getting the whole snail out of the shell. The top part was throughly cooked - not so much the bottom. It was slimy. It took all the manners I could muster, not to gag. I just didn't touch the 2nd one. Husband managed to eat both of his but had the same reaction I did. I can eat anything but slimy food, I don't like gritty food, but I can eat it. Slimy makes me want to gag.

It was so much fun to try home style, yet traditional Japanese food. It's so different than what they serve here in the states. Here it's all sushi and teriyaki. but we had all sorts of fun stuff. There was this seared chicken (literally only the out side was cooked) that was a snack kind of dish. It came with several things to spice it. You took a piece of chicken, placed the additives on top, rolled it with your chopsticks and ate it. Yummy - I didn't think I would like barely cooked chicken, but it was good. We sampled all sorts of food, most was a blur. We had some sashimi and some different types of pickled foods, rice, some fried potato and meat things, all of it yummy.

Dinner was winding down and several of the Japan team were very, very drunk so started playing with the fresh wasabi that came with the sashimi. They ground a bunch into a small bowl and mixed in a litte bit of soy to make it soupy and drinkable. The bowl started to go around the table. This is me after my first try with the bowl:

It actually wasn't bad!! It was hot, but fresh wasabi tastes soooooo much better than the crappy paste you get with your sushi here in the US. Husband knew better than to try it...

Here is Dave after his first try:

Ha Ha!!

Dessert was a sampling of different ice creams served on an tray of ice. So guess what we did? We made snow men out of our ice!! I made one that becky got a picture of, but this one belongs to some one else:
We had such a nice evening!! Here's the whole table of us and the JP peeps:

(clockwise from the photographer) Dave, Lindsey, Husband, Me, Becky, Uta, Mike, Fumi, can't remember (sorry) , Nobu, Justin, Eriko, Makoto, and Osamu


Office - Day one

I can't tell you anything specific about what I did training wise with the Tokyo team, but I can tell you they were very nice and learned quickly. To appease curiosity - take a gander at the photos of the building...

Escalators going up to the lobby:

Main Lobby:

Main hall way of the floor we worked on:

The Conference Room were we spent the majority of our time in the office:

Break Room!! Soo much nicer than the kitchens at my location:

I'll post external pictures of the building later...

Next up: Dinner with the Japanese team....

First Dinner in Tokyo

Everyone was tired - travel is hard on you.

We were all in a slightly weird mood and wandering around the area at 9 PM didn't seem like fun but we did wander a little. We came across the Sapporo Beer station and decide it would be fun and funny to see the Japanese take on a Beir Garten.

It was fun! Since we were there in October - guess what?!?!? They were doing October Fest!!

We picked some things from the menu - of course our server didn't speak English but they did have a menu we could read. Yeah!! I felt like a blind person asking for a braille menu. The food was odd but good - German with a Japanese twist.

I ordered potatoes with Chicken:

And The Boy got Schnitzel, although he said it wasn't really schnitzel, but really yummy with the sauces and Japanese kraut.

Becks paid the check and we headed back to the hotel to sleep REALLY hard and be up for the first training session in the morning.

The Hotel

This is the sign for our hotel - not too exciting. We're in Ebisu, named for the god of Fisherman and Fortune.

The hotel is nice - the concierge is friendly. We get checked in quickly and up to our rooms.

The view from my room is stunning. I'd already fallen in love with Japan; even though I'd only been there for a few hours with only Narita airport and the ride to the hotel to give me an impression. Reflected in the picture is me, tired and hungry.

Ebisu is nice but we learn later is kinda snooty and yuppie.

Next post - First Dinner...


The camera was in my carry on and I didn't think to get it out before we started our descent into Narita - so no pictures of the country side as our plane was landing. Sorry folks.

This is the plane I was stuck on for 12 hours next to a very nice little Japanese lady, returning home.

Narita airport is very nice and looks new.

We were welcomed by a sign on the way to customs...

We get down to baggage claim and grabbed a photo with the old couple we talked to while waiting for the flight. She's a talker and I over heard the flight attendants talking about her and how chatty she was.

We rented mobile phones so no one would be stuck on their own and we could talk to the partners and co-workers as needed. We bought Tokyo metro passes to get around town without having to get taxis. We got tickets for the Limousine Bus for easy travel to the hotel, although we had several offers for town car service - they all exceeded what we could reasonably expense to get to the hotel.

We wait around for an hour for our reservations on the bus. I grabbed a drink - and yes - I'm nerdy enough to take a picture of it.

The husband:

The co-worker and his girlie:

The other co-worker from the international team:

The Limousine Bus was rather posh and comfy - even had a bathroom. The bathroom was a good thing because we all we tired and cranky and had to go despite just having gone before we got on the bus.Next post - the hotel....


I didn't take photos at LAX, because well, you can find photos of LAX anywhere and I didn't want to get in trouble before the flight with TSA.

The super shuttle picked us up at 8:15 on Tuesday morning. That was the fastest I've ever arrived in the LAX area since I've lived here. We were the last pick up and it only took about 30 minutes to get to the airport using back streets. I'll remember the route for the next time I need to get to LAX quickly.

We get to the terminal and check our bags in at United for the trip and head on to the security check point to wait for the plane - almost 3 hours early for the flight.

I hate airport security. They are idiots.

They make you wait for your bags to go through the X-Ray machine before you can step through the metal detector. So of course, I have my laptop in my carry on so if I feel like it, I can work on the plane. There are no signs posted about what can and can't go through the metal detector inside a bag. The X-Ray machine starts rolling backwards and they ask me if I have a laptop in my bag. The TSA screeners ask me to pull it out and stick it in it's own little tray to go through the machine. As I'm pulling the computer out of my carry on, I mutter under my breathe "you got to be f*cking kidding me..." which OF COURSE the security moron over hears and feels the need to very seriously inform me that they have found bombs in laptops before, so it's necessary. UGH! Hello - I'm soooooo NOT a bomber girlie!!! I'm traveling on BUSINESS!

And I have to take off my shoes?!?!?! are you kidding me?!?!?!

Back to the metal detector.

I wait again for them to let me through and the metal detector security moron gives me grief about the plastic bag my passport is in.

"what's this?"
"a plastic bag."
"uh, ok," she says with a very grumpy "you're a weirdo" look on her face.

It's a semi-metallic anti-static bag for storing and shipping computer parts. I have my passport in it because the US government thinks it a GREAT idea for my passport to broadcast, to any device reading it, all my personal information. Good thinking on the privacy front, NOT. The anti-static bag keeps the RFID from being read off of my passport. And no - I didn't have time to make or buy a passport holder with the RFID blocking stuff built in.

I know that last bit makes me sound like a paranoid kook - but I can't help it. It's bad enough they search you high and low - but seriously - ANYONE with the proper equipment can read my passport for goodness sake.

We grab a snack and head to the terminal.

Here's the funny part with all that security... I get to the terminal, stick my hand in my pocket and realize that the lighter my husband gave me to put in my checked bag is still in my pocket... I dump it in the trash - because I don't want to get in trouble with customs at Narita.

Sitting in the terminal we start talking to the old couple next to us. He's an electrical engineer - or at least was when he was younger and she's a hair dresser, of Persian and Russian descent. They were so funny and nice to talk to. She's really emotional and open with her life and tells us about her ex-husband and how horrible he was and how she's so happy with the man she's married to now. And some other more personal stuff I'll keep off the web.

One of my co-workers arrives an hour later, and we sit and wait some more.

The last co-worker arrives a little later, Becky from the International team, and we wait some more.

When we finally get on the plane - we all get situated and my husband and I are the only ones sitting together. The lead technical producer and his girlfriend didn't end up getting seats together and Becky has chosen Business class since she's flying without her husband.

We strap in for the long flight and the prospect of watching a movie we've already seen and a couple neither of us care about, and eating crappy coach food. We ended up sleeping through one of the movies that both the husband and I wanted to see.

I like flying, but I hate taking off and landing. No idea why, other than I've seen news footage of too many planes that crashed on landing and take off, or that it's the feeling of gravity pushing against me on the way up. My ears also don't regulate to the new air pressure very well and it's kinda painful with out special ear plugs, so maybe that's it.

I sleep, I eat, I read, pace the isles, stand up in the back of the plane for a bit, talk with the husband when he's not sleeping, get yelled at by fellow passengers for opening the window shade while they are asleep, and generally wasting time. 12 hours of time.

Next up Narita Airport arrival....


I've been back for a little over a week now and I'm just getting around to posting new stuff. I'll be slowly going through the trip and will probably make a few posts today.

I loved the trip - I loved Tokyo.

We're going back and we're taking our bikes next time. More on that to come later...

Next post - Our trip through LAX, the arrival at Narita airport, and the first evening/night.



Blogger is in Japanese!!!!!! sending this post via email....

I can't figure out how to switch Blogger to English.

1st frustration of the trip.

I'm assuming that it detected a Japan IP address so that's why Blogger is displaying in Kanji. I can't read!!! I have even more sympathy for the tourists in my neighborhood now.... Hoping that some of my karma for helping them in Hollywood will work for me here.

I guess I'll be doing the rest of the blog when I get back.


waiting on the shuttle

We're waiting on the shuttle to take us to LAX now. God I'm so excited - it's killing me. I know I have to ride in a plane for 12 hours and it will be tomorrow when I finally get to my hotel and check in, but damn I can't wait!!

I had to borrow a suit case from another friend of mine, because I don't have one big enough for a 10 day trip - but I managed to squeeze everything into this one suit case.

And yes - this is the lobby of my apartment building - isn't it very Tropicana?

And yes - that poster is a picture of the Rat Pack. Don't ask me why we have a picture of them in the lobby, but the whole place is very deco green and salmon pink.


We're leaving!!

Here's the back story on why I'm writing this blog....

I work on the US version of a very large international company's web site. Earlier this year we launched a major redesign. I was the lead producer on the project and now the new design is getting localized for all the different regions, starting with Japan.

As the lead producer, the only people who know more about the site and how it was put together are the lead engineer and the lead technical producer. So guess who the Japan team asked to come train them on the new site and how it works? Me and the lead technical producer!!!

And the pre-trip nonsense...

YEAH!!! It's always been a dream of mine to visit Tokyo. I'm soooo excited. I can't wait.

The company wouldn't pay for my husband to go on the trip so we borrowed money from friends to get his ticket and scrimped and saved to have spending money for him while we are there. My company is covering all of my expenses. They better!!! I saved them 4 grand in airfare going coach with the husband instead of taking business class, which is allowed at my level for long international flights.

The husband set up a blog to document his preparations about getting around in Tokyo and all the techno stuff he whipped together to make the trip easy on us. We're both anime nerds - otaku, in Japanese (although it has fairly negative connotations, nerds aren't appreciated in the US either). He got maps together of all the places and anime shops we might want to visit. He'll be exploring during the day while I'm at work and showing me the coolest stuff at night after I'm done at the office. I'll be putting a link to his site (Digital Gaijin) in the nav bar on the right, at some point later. (don't bother googling it - he hasn't set up the meta data needed to make it search-able).

Everything you read in this blog will be about the trip and what we saw and did in our free time while in Tokyo - granted there isn't much free time. But we do get to take a weekend to do touristy stuff and can roam around every night after the training sessions.

We leave tomorrow. I'm spending some of my time tonight making this post, but for the most part - I'll be cleaning, getting ready for the dog sitters, and doing a final suitcase check. I plan to stay up as long as I can and sleep on the bean bag in the living room so I'll wake up easier in the morning.

I'm going to miss the dog, but we bought a web cam as part of our trip preparations so that we can check in on him. The dog walkers already know about the web cam and we have showed them what it looks like when someone is looking in. One of my friends will be staying the night with him just so he won't be lonely. She can't walk him though - he's almost a big as she is - so the dog walkers will take care of the poo patrol.

I've know I was going on this trip for 6 weeks. It's been hard to let my projects go to the other producers on my team - but I have to - the projects can't simmer for 10 days while I'm out of the country. Some of them go live while I'm out. But I've given the team alot more responsibility and they are handling it well. I hired some good people :) Part of being a good boss is being good to your peeps - I try - but I don't know if I actually am....


Sorry - maybe I should erase that last bit? oh well.

I'm getting loopy and I still have lots to do before I sleep.

more to come....