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Sunday, February 10

A Blue and White Weekend

Thanks to a class I had taken in the recent past, I my curiosity for seeing a performance by Blue Man Group was at a peak. Not long after the class came to a close, did I run across an announcement for the group to start performing in a new arena specially built for them in Tokyo. We chose a weekend show where were could simultaneously plan some birthday fun in Tokyo with the friends who were joining us.

Pregaming events began in our friend’s hotel room complete with many of those tiny airline-size bottles of alcohol, purchased from the conbini (convenience store) at the hotel. By the time the taxi dropped the four of us off in front of the theater, we were adequately wound up on both the excitement and the fluids. The new theater is this giant blue box hidden behind some of the more modern buildings in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. As you pass the first buildings, the sheer color and size of the building are the first thing to confront the senses. Inside, flat screens blare colorific scenes and sounds at every turn of the eye. A few more Moscow mules (an immensely popular drink here in Japan found on every drink menu… and one I had never heard of prior to living here), of which we were not allowed to bring in to the theater as we had originally thought (read: we were kicked out because of the concoctions in our hands), and we settled in for one of the best shows I have ever seen.

To me, Blue Man Group is art. To Kimono Hubby, they are comedy. To everyone, they are music. It is with a perfect blend that all three of these things are true. The only person in our foursome that had seen them before stateside was KH. His take is that they are still just as entertaining when seeing them in a foreign language. While I haven’t seen them before, I do not think the message of the art was lost in the Japanese that we didn’t understand. But I do think that perhaps my in depth study of the group gave me a lot of insight that perpetrated my complete understanding. My wish is to see them again sometime in English to know for sure.

After the show, the blue men were hanging out in the lobby to greet the patrons. While heading to the bathroom, we passed one in which our friend spoke to him in English to tell him how good the show was. The way the Blue Man whipped around… we’re pretty sure that he was shocked and happy to hear something he understood. Of course, they don’t talk so we will never know for sure, will we?

As this was a birthday weekend, the fun was not over there. Wandering not too far through Roppongi, we had dinner at a fabulous Indian restaurant, topped with a homemade cake by some other friends that joined us after the show. She had hauled that cake for an hour and a half on the train. That’s one darn good friend! After dinner, the plans were to find a good bar to go to. I realize that in Tokyo, and particularly in the Roppongi area, there are thousands of choices that emulate traditions from all over the globe. Is it okay to admit that I was glad we opted for the Irish pub and then an English pub as the first was just too crowded? Of course, sitting at our table in the English pub, you realize that these global ‘labels’ mean little. We are in a tightly-packed swarm of Japanese people and on either side, our group came to quickly understand the term chain-smoker. For real… at the table crammed against ours to the left, the girls chain smoked their way through a pack in less than an hour. As soon as one was out, they directly lit another. I have never seen anything like it! On the right side, that group wasn’t much better. Our group, having nary a smoker in the midst, to say that we were dying as the smoke rings formed a cloud in the middle of the table that was hard to see through to our friends on the other side was not an exaggeration. It wasn’t long before we called it a night… at least out… and headed back to the hotel bar, where the drinks are cheaper and there was not a single smoker to be found. Of course, we all smelled like two-packers a day by then, so nothing changed much for our breathing until we called it a night to head to a shower.

The next day, we awoke to an oddity in Tokyo… SNOW! And not just a little flurrying! This stuff was coming down and the streets were becoming quite covered. It does snow on occasion in Tokyo and the area we live about an hour south, but it doesn’t happen all that often. If it does, it’s more of the tiny flurries that never actually do anything to the ground except melt on it. We went down to check out of our rooms before we had brunch and then headed home, only to find out as we were checking out that the highways had been closed down. Now, first… we never drive to this hotel or to the city at all for that matter. But my last minute decision the day before had us with a car in Tokyo because I really wanted to see what it looked like in that area of the city… something which is impossible with the underground train network (of which was also closed or slowed in spots because of the snow). Here were are in the city, with no way to get home, but local roads, of which we certainly do not have the vaguest idea how to take and it was apparent that the highways might be shut down for days (they actually were crazily enough… if only people had kept driving on them, they would never have gotten bad. But since there are apparently no plows and people are likely to just stop their car in the middle of the highway and leave it to walk the rest of the way home, the highway commission shut those roads down quickly). The Japanese were quite uncertain what to do because snow is such a novelty to them. You simply hide out at home when it happens. Coming from northeast stateside, this was ridiculous. We actually overheard the desk ladies tell another newly arrived group of tourists, who were asking for directions to see a nice nearby shrine, that is was a horrible day to go see a shrine. Because of the snow! Doesn’t that make it more beautiful?? The recommended the group to stay in and do nothing. Only after the group’s looks turned absolutely bamboozled did the ladies relent and point them in a direction. When we approached them for directions to take the secondary roads to get home, they seemed quite flustered that we were willing to try it. They again relented and gave us directions that got us about five blocks away before we were left on our own for the rest of the ride. We made it. But it was an increasingly hilarious trip home.

As we maneuvered our way south, we passed cars, vans and even buses with chains on their tires. Did I mention that there was no snow on the streets? The sides were no one drove were quite slushy, but as for snow on the roads… we only came across one patch in the entire drive home. Those chains? They actually do the car and the street more damage than they actually helped those that used them. Shovels are also apparently nonexistent in this area. People were scraping the sidewalks with pieces of wood or digging shovels. One lady used a tiny broom no wider than her own hand to sweep the wet snow away. At a gas station, a man used another tiny broom to clean the slush out of the gutters and into the street. Did you get that? From the gutters… into the street. WHY??? The brave souls who had made their way out of their houses refused to walk on the snowy sidewalks. Their presence in the streets, made it like driving through a landmine where you swerve every few feet. Driving like this certainly doubled not only the time, but also the mileage home. Often as we passed, the slush would splash up and soak one of the street walkers. The look of disgust on their faces was priceless! We weren’t aiming to do that, but it sure was funny each and every time it happened. We finally made it home, dropping our friends off along the way. At least one or two families had taken advantage of the freak snow. My favorite being the people who made a prominently boobed snowman up against the wall of their house.

The snow took several days to fade, another shocking thing. Highways were closed until the next mid-morning. And since then, we have had one more weather report that called for snow… of course… it never came. And it hope for the sake of the Japanese, it just doesn’t… at least not until a few buy proper shovels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That actually made me laugh out loud! BTW, it was 10 degrees this morning!