Posted on Sep 14, 2006
So Hiromi and I are all married up now. Exciting. It was a weird and bureaucracy filled trip these last couple months and it all culminated with an excellent trip to Tokyo with my dad and Hiromi and us getting hitched.
So, apparently, attempting to get a visa to the U.S. is a bunch of work. It really demonstrates how much bureaucracy is involved in government work. When we were all done with our forms and what not, I bet I had one full ream of paper all filled out. Insane. And the web sites that claim to be helpful are not helpful. They themselves are often victims of the very bureaucracy they are attempting to destroy. They will update the web sites with new regulations and whatnot, but then leave the old PDF forms up. wtf. insane. it made it very hard to get everything right. But it worked. so I am not so sad. I think I will be much happier when it is all over and Hiromi is in the U.S. Then I will know all the hard work paid off.
So Tokyo visit:
I left for Tokyo on the 24th of august. A Thursday and landed midday on the 25th. I was profiled as a drug user and had my luggage searched. Why I say drug user is that they just felt around the lining of my luggage and didn’t look through my stuff at all. weird. anyway. I found Hiromi and we went to get my dad. However he apparently had landed a bit earlier than me and was also looking at me. So we all ran around Narita looking for each other. Hiormi and I gave up and I went to plan B - which was to meet at my fathers hotel in Ueno. So Hiromi and I rushed over to Ueno (and by rushed I mean casually hung out on the train for an hour. heh). My father stayed at the Sofitel Tokyo in Ueno which looks insane. We found my dad and stumbled outside to get some foods. We went to a decent place in Ueno to get food and it was awesome. I had some really good seafood and my dad and I shared some raw horse meat. w00t. Then we all crashed. So Hiromi and I made our way back to Higashi-jujo to her apartment and my father made his way back to his hotel.
Then on Saturday Hiromi had to work. So I made my way to my father’s hotel. The walk from the JR Ueno station to the sofitel was awesome. It was through this really dope park. There were all sorts of crazy lily flowers, mini temples, koi and people doing calisthenics. So I met my dad at the hotel and off we went on our adventure. I had never navigated tokyo by myself and I was a bit apprehensive. But after finding the nearest postal station and making it to the train and Akihabara I was no longer worried. We helled about Akihabara and even participated in some crazy street product giveaway which awarded my father and I some horrible energy drink. It was pretty funny. We then had lunch at a quite interesting Irish pub and decided it best to head on to the parasite museum to view some scary buddies.
We headed over to the Meguro area and made our way to the museum. For those who haven’t had the awesome opportunity to witness this museum - it is simply amazing. Quite interesting and very peculiar. The best is the tapeworm. So gross. This is a picture of my dad next to the tapeworm, holding a quarter up for size comparison. I really like the meguro area. It is very pretty and feels much calmer than many areas of Tokyo. At some point we got umbrellas and pointed at stuff. We also managed to find a bar at quite early in the day and had a couple beers. It was really funny because the bar owner was obviously not ready for people. She had to turn on all sorts of giant electronic devices - including the biggest stereo I have ever seen. It was such a small place and the stereo was SO big. After that we met Hiromi back at the hotel and got dinner. Once again the walk back to the hotel was amazing, we went a different route this time, and ran into a bunch of randomness. First we watched a baseball game. It was pretty cool. Obviously some amateur league. Then we ran into a bunch of statues and such. We also got a chance to see the wild cats in a more sleepy state.
After Saturday’s successful navigation of the mystery streets of tokyo - I was even more confident that I could get around. So after parting ways with Hiromi, I grabbed my dad and decided to take him to Asakusa by way of boat. The plan was to go to Shinagawa and grab the boat by the aquarium and then have that boat take us to Hamatsucho and then grab a boat from there to Asakusa. However all of our plans were dashed when we were horribly and seemingly forever lost. We stumbled around Shinagawa trying to find this mythical aquarium until we gave up and hailed a cab. The cab then, much to our chagrin, brought us right back to where we had started. Annoying. However - we were able to walk around and see all sorts of neat architecture and landmarks that we would have never been able to see. Including this cute kid playing in a playground. we finally gave up and grabbed some food. Our waiter was able to help us and guided us to Hamatsucho and even wrote down the Japanese that we needed to look for to find the harbor. So my father and I, armed with our short map and our “crazy language pictures,” hap-hazardly made our way to the boats. The boat was really awesome. We took a cruise that took us to Asakusa and showed us a lot of neat buildings. I had taken a similar cruise with Hiromi on my previous trip and had seen most of the buildings - but my cruise was in a future boat and the cruise my father and I rode in was in a open air boat. So we were able to see some really cool buildings. We then helled about in Asakusa. We stayed a moment at the temple and found a vendor selling a yo-yo. I impressed him with my yo-yo skills. I don’t think he really knew what to expect. At some point we found a vendor that was able to speak the language that my father was able to understand - humor. And my dad bought a lot of stuff for all his workers and friends. It was pretty funny. We then headed back to his hotel and dropped off all of his stuff. I then took my dad to Shibuya to see the crazy crowd. He was impressed. We also were able to find a store that had American sizes. haha. It was a hip hop store. I bought a shirt and we made it back to Higashi-jujo to meet Hiromi.
We were supposed to meet Hiromi in her neighborhood at some point - but she called and said she was going to be much later than she expected and suggested a bar near her house where we could meet up. So my father and I went to said bar and imbibed in a couple beers before Hiromi arrived. This bar was really funny. We strolled in and sat down and ordered beer. We of course didn’t fit in and these three ladies kept talking to us and gesturing - but they seemed to know about as much English as we knew of Japanese - so their communications attempts were met with nods and more alcohol. But by the time Hiromi arrived we were all good buddies. Hiromi ordered us some food and we all enjoyed it quite a bit. After awhile we were able to get them to take some great pictures of us, and Hiromi took one of my dad and I with our new friends. We then went to Hiromi’s apartment to show my dad the sheer volume that it occupies and then took my father back to Ueno. A rather good day. It was fun because it was so chaotic and had no plan or focus. We got lost and was led on an excellent adventure.
On Monday we had to go to the embassy to get some papers notarized. It was stressful and our first experience with the embassy. It was always the most heavily armed place I saw in tokyo. weird. After the embassy Hiromi took us to a nice organic restaurant that had amazing food. It was in a financial district and we saw a statue of Godzilla. We helled about again and eventually made it to the emperors palace - which was closed - but we got to see the guard checking out some things in his binoculars. heh. My dad was a bit sleepy - so we dropped him off at his hotel and then Hiromi and I went and did some errands. We met back up and then went to meet Hiromi’s friends at the ninja restaurant.
The ninja restaurant is insane. I can’t really describe it any better. Absolutely insane. It was like going into casa bonita but instead of some misinterpretation of Mexican culture - it was some crazy interpretation of ninja culture. Like if my brother and I designed a ninja den and then ran a restaurant out of it. There was a drawbridge, a bunch of dark and low passageways and a bundle of people yelling. It seemed to be tailored to be westerner friendly (i.e. they had English menus). The whole place was awesome. At first i was quite worried that the casa bonita comparison was not just in weirdness - but also in its horrible food. But luckily the food was amazing. It was very good.
It was also really awesome to hang out with Hiromi’s friends. They are all so nice. They all work for a music magazine - so the night turned into a music discussion. It was awesome. We also ended up going to a really nice bar near the restaurant and having a bundle of drinks. So nice.
The next day was a big day for us. We all met early and headed off to Yamanashi to meet Hiromi’s parents and get married. We took the train this time - instead of the bus - and got to Yamanashi in around one and a half hours. We met up with hiromi’s parents and went to the local county office to do the marriage thing. In japan, unlike here in the US, getting officially married is quite easy. All you have to do is just submit the proper form to the “court house” and then you are married. I think i only had to pay around 400 yen too. It was awesome.
After we got married we headed out to lunch with Hiromi’s parents. They took us to this pretty excellent restaurant. It was nice. We then headed out to see Hiromi’s parents farm. It was pretty neat to see their rice paddy. Hiromi showed us where shitake mushrooms come from and her dad showed us his kiwi crop. Her hometown is very pretty. I really like visiting there. I hope to again. Here are some pictures of hiromi, her parents and myself; Hiromi’s parents, my dad and me and hiromi and me.
After we that we left Hiromi’s home town and went to her favorite cafe. It was nice. We just hung out and rested. Very stress relieving. We then met up with one of Hiromi’s friends and went to an awesome noodle shop - that specializes in noodles that are from Yamanashi. So good. After dinner we went to the train. Fell asleep and somehow made it to tokyo and then home.
Wednesday was our day for visa stuff. We met my dad and had a nice lunch with him and then took him to the train back to Narita. We then made our way to the Embassy and waited in line. The longest line ever - except that line luckily wasn’t for us. We did our visa thang and eventually made it back out. We had a light lunch and passed out for the afternoon. We kept things pretty calm and easy for the night.
On Thursday we slept in and chilled out. We eventually made it to see Hustle and Flow. It was pretty surreal seeing a hip hop movie in tokyo - with a lot of older people in the theatre. Weird. hah. The movie is great though. I quite enjoyed it.
On Friday checked of some stores in Omotesando. I was able to see the bape store and look at their insane clothing. The most impressive thing in their store was the actual store. It was retarded. I felt that i would fall down quite often. It was pretty intense. We then made our way down to harajuku and checked out the BBC/Ice cream store and some other streetwear stores. The best part about friday however was eating dinner at one of my favorite places in tokyo. The Via Nuova Rondo. So good. It is Italian food with a great Japanese twist. I miss it so. I love going there with hiromi’s and having a nice dinner.
On Saturday, which was my last day in Tokyo, we ran some errands picking up some gifts for my coworkers in tokyo station. Then we chilled out and made it to my other favorite restaurant in tokyo - a sashimi place in Azabujuban. It is so good. I love it. I had some incredible sashimi and hiromi’s and i shared some great fried dishes - which i had to wash down with more sashimi. hah. and of course a healthy helping of pickles. I apparently love Japanese pickles more than i love my brother. So quite a bit. hah.
On Sunday i sadly had to leave. I was bummed. But i will see hiromi soon enough, but this time she will be living here. whee. One cool thing about flying back to Chicago this time - is that my frequent flyer miles finally paid off. I was able to upgrade for free to business class. That is a much nicer way to travel than economy. I slept like a baby the whole way home. a rather drunk baby.
I am really happy. It is really exciting that hiromi and i got married. I can’t wait for all the visa stuff to be finished and for us to live together. Hiromi is tentatively planning on coming back to chicago at the end of the year. Of course, it all depends on the visa stuff - but so far so good.
I did end up surprising her with a ring. I had not completely planned for it - but i found one that i really liked and i knew Hiromi’s would really like - so i got it for her. She was quite happy.
We also have a bash quote that has it roots in our marriage. When i was telling my friend from highschool about our marriage he proclaimed:
I bet in 1997 you would not have guessed you would be getting married before duke nukem forever came out
and i submitted it to bash because i thought it was hilarious and lo and behold, it was picked up. whee. fun.
Well. i am done with this entry. It has been a work in progress for quite awhile and i am happy to get it out. The trip and experience was amazing. I love visiting tokyo and meeting up with all of Hiromi’s friends. They are all so nice. I hope to see them soon. I can’t quite vocalize how happy and excited i am for the future with hiromi and myself. I am very happy.
To the Future!