Nudging slowly towards Asia [October 6th, Tokyo (not really)!. 3 Days till Busan]

Mr. Psycho has no front teeth.
The pilot approaching.
Stevedores at work.
I woke up ecstatic this morning. By 4 am I was up on the bridge staring out to the Japanese coast in the distance. We were told that we should have been docked much earlier, but as it goes with ships, things are not always on the tightest schedule. We were quickly approaching the port of Tokyo before breakfast, and I found myself on one of the decks watching as the pilot came on board the ship[1]
I ate a hurried breakfast, then went up to my room and got ready
I love ports!

for a much needed day off the ship. This was pointless, as we would not get off the ship for another three hours. At ten am Stevan, Jane and I received our passports from the captain and waited for the transport agent to come aboard the ship. When he did (sometime around 10:30) the captain approached us with a sly smile and introduced the agent to us. “This is Mr. Psycho” the

Almost there

captain said, his smile stretching just to the point short of being a grin, daring us to laugh at the poor gentleman’s name. This is, to the best of my recollection, the only thing approaching a joke I ever heard from him.

Mr Psycho (this is likely not how his name is spelled. I have no idea what it would be) was very kind. But there were two facts about him that made him a little off-putting; the first, he had the kind of breath that could summon the dead from their graves: the second, that he was completely without all the upper teeth in the front of his mouth. In a manner that I find typical in middle aged people, he was very shy about his ability to speak English, though he certainly could communicate with us, perhaps better than many of the other people we would encounter. At the bottom of the gangplank we found his very tiny car, and the four of us piled in. It
The pilot now on the ship, the boat
begins to leave.

was about a half hour drive to immigration that cut through large parts of Tokyo. It struck me as not being a particularly densely populated part of Tokyo, as there never seemed to be too many people about. Nor did I find the city particularly striking. Specifically, Tokyo suffers from the anonymity of modern cities; if one changed the signs from Japanese to, say, Greek, French or any other language, one would easily mistake the city as belonging to some other country. The city struck me as being extraordinarily clean, which for me is another mark against it.

Immigration treated us very well, and very quickly. Both Stevan and I were of the impression that this was not the standard office for tourist immigration, and was likely an office where they dealt with illegal immigrants. As we were exiting, we saw a whole row of woman seated on the floor, looking a little destitute. They did not seem as happy as ourselves to be there.
Two crew members pulling up gangplank after
the pilot had boarded.

 

Three stamps later, the four of us again piled into My Psycho’s car and drove another half an hour back to a mall that was maybe 5 minutes away from the port where the ship was docked. The mall must be famous, because I had seen pictures of it online before. Notably, the to-scale Gundam that was outside of it. There wasn’t a choice in our destination, but I cannot say that I was too upset with the choice. Our time was limited, and none of us were really willing to risk missing the ship to explore Tokyo proper. What we all mostly wanted to do was walk around and look at things that were not the ocean. And we did this in spades.
Gundam, notably life-size.

We also leeched a whole lot of internet from a Starbucks. We purchased nothing from said Starbucks. I tried to purchase some food and found that none of the shops accepted bankcards. Cash is king in Japan. The minimum withdrawal in Japan was $100, and I had no intention of burning through that much money.

Stevan let me eat part of… something. It tasted like a potato pancake with loads of cabbage in it. Despite that description, I assure it was very good. We did however go into a Japanese equivalent of a dollar store and picked up some silly gifts for Chris (mostly, Japanese candy, including apple caramel flavored M&M’s), whose birthday was in 3 days.
About two hours after we got there Mr. Psycho came and picked us up. From there he drove us half an hour to get back to emigration, where they put another stamp into our passports. On the drive back to immigration I noticed a number of school children, rather young school children, walking around the city on their own. They were dressed in school uniforms, so I assumed they were heading home from school. This gave me the impression that Tokyo is a rather safe city, and it stood in stark contrast to the US, where recently some parents were deemed unfit to parent because they let their children walk to a nearby park unchaperoned.
After immigration Mr. Psycho drove us about 45 min to get back to the ship. We were on

board in time for dinner. Sometime before then I noticed the ship had started to move, and so I ran outside to see how far we had got. Unfortunately, we were well on our way already. The shame of this being that I had been told by one of the crew that when you are leaving Japan the stevedores all line up and wave good-bye in unison. I am sad to have missed this. After diner we were meant to meet up and watch a movie, but everyone was too tired. We all called it a night.


[1]When a ship approaches a port, a pilot from the port come aboard the ship to guide it to the dock.

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