Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Sort of Homecoming...

WOW! What an amazing experience! I took the above shot on the second night of U2's three Tokyo shows. What a view!

When I arrived in Tokyo, I was having a hard time getting in touch with Naoji, my friend who had purchased my tickets to the concerts for me. His voicemail had some mysterious computer woman's voice on it so I wasn't sure I had the right number and he was stuck in meetings so he couldn't call back right away. "What if I've come all this way and have to buy crappy seats from a dafuya (scalper)?"

Not to worry -- Naoji came through several hours before show time. He said he had a surprise for me. Turns out the surprise was in the form of VIP seats for that night's show and a close-up GA ticket for the 2nd show. Great seats and a nice diversity of views. The VIP tkts got us dinner and a little leather bound notebook with "U2 Vertigo Tour" engraved on the front. Fun.

In the next few days I'll try to post some other photos from the trip. Suffice to say I had a great time. I had a reminder of what it was like to come to Japan for the first time when I ran into some new missionaries at the airport. They were in Japan for the first time and I got to help them figure out where to go. I was in their shoes 16 years ago and probably looked just as shocked.

The locals were probably a little unsure about the gaijin with the big smile on his face walking around Shinjuku that night. It felt so great to be back. Like a sort of homecoming. I loved how natural it all felt. Same goes for walking through Shimokitazawa on my way to the Terajima's. Much has changed. Much more hasn't.

Naoji, Haruko and I had a funny experience at Gonpachi, the restaurant that served as a fight scene location in one of the Kill Bill movies. The waiter lost my credit card. For this, they agreed to waive the check. Of course. Just as we were preparing to leave (2:00 am, after an hour of their looking for it) they found the card. I still didn't have to pay. Good food, but a bit pricy. Unless they lose your card and can't find it for an hour. Try it.

I was very happy to get business class on the plane ride home. The difference between coach and business class is amazing, in case you were wondering. Worth every penny as long as someone else is paying. I had a four hour layover in Atlanta on the way back and was glad to have my video iPod fully charged so I could watch "National Treasure." It was fun to see the Philly scenes.

I sat next to a Marine Corps sergeant on the segment from ATL to AUS. He was escorting the remains of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. The fallen soldier's name was Michael Craig Ledsome. Needless to say, my sentiment changed instantly upon learning this. Here I was coming back from a couple of rock shows, basking in my business class-induced relaxation. I was very humbled by the sacrifice of this 24 year old young man. His funeral was yesterday and they did a profile of him on KUT this morning. Seems he was a trustworthy, fun-loving individual. May we all be such. May we make the most of what is given to us and may we enjoy the time we are allotted. Such were my thoughts on returning to Austin.

Many thanks go out to all my family and friends who made this trip possible, especially my wife. Also instrumental were
- Naoji Otani (for tickets to the shows, for getting me into the Fendi party even though I was woefully underdressed, and for introducing me to Gonpachi - credit card mishap notwithstanding!)
- Junko Terajima (for a place to sleep, great food, and wonderful conversation)
- Gabe Knapp (thanks for the time off Gabe!)

U2 is playing in Hawaii this Saturday. Airfare from Austin is currently priced at $1,116. That's about what my entire five day trip to Tokyo cost.
Want to go to Hawaii Janean?


Anonymous Nori -san said...

My BFF ;] is going to U2 un Hawaii...of course if she REALLY were my BFF she'd have taken me. =)

I lost it when I read about the soldier you met. I dont think Ive let myself think about the very real bullet we have dodged.

I'm glad my boy is back, no matter what the circumstance!

I'm bitterly jealous you know! Hey find out if you amd Nean can go the the NCTA convention in May. (Vegas: Mandalay Bay) We can all go to House of Blues!

Friday, December 08, 2006 3:55:00 PM  

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