My Trip to Japan, Touring Chiba

By comparison with yesterday’s activities, it would appear that I slept the entire day away.

For starters, I awoke after 10:00, the long day previous having sapped pretty much all my energy. Kaz was still here, but preparing to leave for Toyohashi. I needed a shower, and badly,

This was my first Japanese shower. Western showers are tall things, often allowing you to stand vertically while cleaning. In Japan, the shower is a small, open tub in a well-tiled room that has a shower head mounted to the wall.

Japanese flats, or at least Chris’, has no running hot water (there is cold water). All hot water comes from a small water heater that sits right next to the tub. It feeds hot water as needed.

It was then that I realized the things I had forgotten for this trip. Phone numbers aside, I had also managed to forget shampoo and conditioner. I don’t think my scalp will have too much trouble with this humid climate, so hopefully, I’ll be alright.

Kaz left around 11:30, leaving Chris and I to kill a little time until 13:30, when it was time for Chris to go to work. Today, he taught a class in Narita. (Chris teaches in several places, including here in Yotsukaido — this just happens to be roughly in the middle of his various teaching gigs.)

I would go the opposite direction, to Chiba City. Yes, I was there last night, but I wanted to see the city in the daytime. So Chris entered one platform, and I went to another. Chris looked perfect at ease waiting for his train. I felt a little … odd.

I’m finally understanding what it feels like to be the only person of a particular race in an area. Since arriving, Jan is the only other Caucasian I’ve actually met. Today, I didn’t see a single other non-Japanese (not counting Chris).

It’s actually neat in a way — it’s a slight special feeling, but at the same time, no-one really seems to care. It’s kind of like: “oh, look, a strange gaijin…” and I’m forgotten within a few steps.

In fact, the only longer glances I got were from the school girls. And no, this is not a fantasy come true.

I do need to make a note of this, though. Japanese school girls pretty much meet the stereotype we’ve seen in the west: the uniforms, the giggling, and the really creepy sexuality that either their completely innocent of, or completely aware of (and you have no idea which it is). Suffice to say, I saw one girl eating an ice cream cone and … well, it’s something I’ve not yet forgotten.

Chiba doesn’t look much different in daylight than it did at night. The biggest difference were the throngs of people — far more than last night. Of course, it was also a weekend (it’s Saturday), so it might have also been weekend trips to the semi-big city.

I wandered around a little, trying to follow the route we’d taken last night, only in reverse. I missed a turn, though, and ended up with a longer walk. Not that I minded.

I snapped pictures as I wandered around: the monorail and its tracks, the canal it runs overtop of (and the fish that swim in it), city streets, cars, and people — specifically, a guy dressed in a frog suit trying to entice people to enter a pachinko parlour.

Chiba City train station, Japan, 26 April 2003

Along the way, I decided to visit Parco, a local department store In many ways, Parco reminds me of The Bay or of Eaton’s. Lots of small boutique-like areas with each floor dedicated to a specific need. The prices were about right in line with what you’d expect in Canada.

I refrained from buying anything. This is for two reasons: One, I need to look around a little more, first. Second, I have very little money. This is due to lack of foresight on my part. I have no traveller’s cheques. I had assumed, rather foolishly I might add, that I could use my bank card here to obtain Yen directly. So far, I have yet to find an ATM that can access the North American networks. And I haven’t set up my credit cards to allow funds withdrawals.

To anyone coming to Japan for a visit, remember to bring either traveller’s cheques or a healthy amount of yen. Getting access to the funds you need from your back without a lot of trouble is, well, a lot of trouble. In fact, after two days, I get the distinct feeling I’ll need to go into Tokyo to finally get out some cash.

Express train, Yotsukaido, Japan, 26 April 2003

I found my way back to Yotsukaido without too much difficulty. After taking a couple pictures of the train station, I headed back to Chris’ flat to rest a little while before going out to take more pictures. I decided to watch one of Chris’ movies (Blade II) and take a little nap. Chris woke me a bare half-hour ago (it’s now 20:45), having fallen asleep on this futon.

The loose plan now is to go to something called a “VJ party” in Shibuya, one of the districts of Tokyo. The catch? If we go, we’re there until 05:00 at the earliest — the trains don’t run after midnight.

I want to go … I just hope my body is ready for this.