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A New Adventure We do but turn another page - Act Three!

Tokyo Trip Part Two

CHINA | Saturday, 21 November 2015 | Views [334]

We met the next morning and headed to a French bistro for their breakfast set – amazing assortment of breads, pastries and jams with good, strong coffee to start the day. On the way there, we passed a street performance in front of a department store – tap dancers and jazz saxophone. Nice entertainment while we waited for our table. After our brunch, we headed to the theatre to wait for Narumi who was arriving by bullet train from Nagoya just in time for the 12:30 curtain. The theatre was packed with locals – only a few gaijin like me. The show – Prince of Broadway - was a retrospective of the career of Harold Prince with songs and dances from the shows he had produced and/or directed. Of course this included some of my all-time favorites – shows that had inspired me starting when I was a teenager to be interested in musical theatre: Company, A Little Night Music, Cabaret, Follies, Merrily We Roll Along. Some personal favorite songs: “You’ve Got Possibilities” from “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman” – a very underrated show! and “So What” from “Cabaret” which was cut from the movie, ‘‘Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story” and “Now You Know” from “Merrily we Roll Along.” The performance of Ramin Karimloo (last year’s Tony nominee for Le Miz) was tremendous – his “Being Alive” brought tears to my eyes and his Phantom was the best I’ve heard. Tony Yazbeck did a five-minute solo tap dance to “The Right Girl” which was mind blowing. One interesting nod to the local audiences was the inclusion of Reon Yuzuki in the cast. She is a Japanese performer with the Takarazuka Musical Troupe which performs extravagant all-female productions of famous romantic tales with an over-the-top Las Vegas style finale. Apparently, Reon is a star at playing the male roles in the troupe. Her performance was interesting – and it is something that Ryo picked up as well – because as the only “non-Broadway” cast member, she seemed to be trying too hard, at least as compared to the others who did everything effortlessly. There was just that certain amount of tension in her performance that said “Am I okay?  Do you like me?”  One other interesting thing is that the audience applauded every time someone came on stage and did a lot of rhythm clapping whenever the song seemed to call for it. It was thrilling to see the show and experience a world premiere.

After the show, we headed to My Italian restaurant – part of a new phenomenon of restaurants in Japan with top chefs producing small delectable dishes for not a lot of money in bar atmospheres with most people standing and eating and drinking and a few tables with time limits. The place we went to also had live jazz music. We enjoyed sea urchin, steamed mussels and clams, olives, carpaccio of fish, squid ink pasta and a beef and foie gras special – all delicious with great wine poured by a sommelier that I developed a man crush on as the evening progressed. When our table time was up, we headed back to the area of my hotel to a wine bar where we enjoyed more wine, more steamed mussels in a cozy atmosphere. A beautiful end to an exciting day – making plans for the next day and for our vacation time together in February.

Sunday morning we had our goals – find a cheese grater (in the Kappa-bashi area where the food replicas are also created), find chocolate covered rice cracker snacks, head up to the Skytree (as the rain clouds cleared) and have an unagi (eel) lunch. So we headed toward Ginza and a main shrine there followed by a successful cheese grater hunt in Kappa-bashi, chocolate snacks found! and a visit to the Sky tree. When we arrived we saw that the wait to go up was over an hour! – not possible with our limited time – but then we noticed the special fast pass for international visitors and their Japanese hosts – we were able to get up to the viewing platform in 15 minutes! It was exciting to see Tokyo from this height and spot all the places we had visited – unfortunately, Mt. Fuji was still shrouded in clouds.

Headed back to Shinagawa station for our farewell meal of unagi! Then grabbed suitcase and headed to Haneda airport. Go there an hour and a half before flight but found a huge backlog for the one China Eastern flight of the day to Shanghai - people with huge boxes of stuff to put on board - rice cookers galore.  Got to the gate just as boarding started (with time to down a draft Asahi beer)! At Shanghai, I assumed I needed to pick up my bag and go through customs before transferring to my Nanjing flight - waited for 45 minutes at baggage claim - no bag! - went to the the baggage office and the guy said my bag was checked through to Nanjing....interesting!  Had to hoof it to the domestic terminal and boarding gate _ of course the farthest one from security - made it just in time! When I got to Nanjing, my bag was there!  It was midnight so I needed a taxi since the metro was closed. Managed to explain to the taxi driver where to go with the help of a text message from my colleague. When he stopped I didn't recognize where we were - pouring rain, no lights on - until the driver rolled down the window. Amazingly, I was home!

Great trip - again thanks to wonderful friends that feel so much like family. I look forward to more amazing experiences! Of course, on my return, the world news and the events in Paris were grim especially after being in Japan where there is such a feeling of order and safety and yes - maybe innocence and naivete - where religion is so much a foreign concept.

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