Monday, June 18, 2007

Tokyo Day 5...

A funny thing happened on the way to the Senso-ji Shrine...

Well, not quite on the way. :) We all woke up at our usual 4:00 am-ish (big sigh) & so we had resolved to be back from our travels by mid-afternoon so that we could try napping to see if that might help us adjust to the time difference. The idea was to leave the apaato just after 9:00 am (to avoid rush hour), but Brendan fell sound asleep on the sofa just before we were going to leave. Charlie & I have learned that it's best to let Brendan follow his own body's rhythms, so we tiptoed around for a bit, & when it seemed that he was going to sleep for a while, we turned on the tv in the bedroom & found the cheezy samurai show station. (This is a real station- I'd read about it, but watching it was sublime, although I am a sucker for costume dramas :) Brendan slept for nearly 2 hours, so we decided to check out a nearby restaurant that appeared to have "american food" for lunch instead of jumping on the metro. I was psyched- we've been here for nearly a week & I've only eaten in a restaurant once! The tics were pretty well under control on our walk to lunch & they had fries & a milkshake for Brendan (I carry lactaid tablets for both of us :). We enjoyed a leisurely lunch & the waitstaff seemed to enjoy our (particularly Brendan's) attempts to speak to them in japanese.

After lunch we walked back to the apaato &, at first we thought just Charlie would go on the metro to Tokyo station to buy our tickets for the Nozomi (bullet train) for Wednesday's morning's trip to Kyuushu (to stay with Tomoko & her family). But Brendan decided he really wanted to go shopping we we knew there were department stores near the station, so we all headed for the station, Brendan with a cold coke in hand to fend-off tics. He really seemed like a different kid after his nap. More relaxed, happier, & the tics were pretty well under his control. They were there, but he was able to keep them from bothering him by skipping & holding the coke. We took 2 different lines to Tokyo station, which took about 20 minutes. Our only mishap occurred while Charlie (with some minimal linguistic assistance from me) was buying the tickets. Brendan was sitting on a bench behind us when we heard him yell "mazuey!" (which means, literally, "yucchy", but can also mean "this is bad!"). He'd been swinging his coke & then opened it to take a drink... you can guess the rest. I was able to clean it up with just one mini-pack of kleenex & nobody seemed too fussed. They really cut kids a lot of slack here in Japan, which I am appreciating very much! Brendan & I went out after that & let Charlie finish up his transactions.

We got a picture of Tokyo Station, built in the 1920's & only minimally damaged by bombs during the war...

... and Brendan got another manhole cover-ish picture :)

We headed out for a department store but discovered that they had no toy department (Brendan is really keen to look for Kamen Rider Den-O paraphenalia that he's seen advertised after the show. See- this is one of the reasons we don't watch network tv in the US, & normally we're safe from adverts that originate in Japan, but since we're here... & I'm kind of curious myself about them :). Looking at the map, we realised that we were within a couple blocks of the Pokemon Centre, so we headed back there & Brendan was delighted to find a pokeball set he hadn't seen the other day, plus we got a different Deoxys dvd & a couple more plushies :) For me :) :)

We were pretty tired when we got back home, in the late afternoon, so we hit the 7-11 (& finally found some onigiri & sushi there for dinner- yay!) & then went back & vegged in front of the tv until it was time to eat. We flipped between Disney, marvelling at the japanese dubs for familiar shows, & NHK educational tv. It actually was a treasure hunt, since we really were hoping to catch "Pythagoras Switch" on NHK & Kim Possible in japanese. We hit gold!! We saw an advert (during "Riro andu Suteechi") saying that KP would be on at 5:30, & when we switched to NHK at 5:00 we caught Pythagoras Switch!! Both shows were sublime. We took turns shouting out plot developments as we puzzled them out (during KP) & Brendan decided he really liked the character voices better in japanese, even Rufus' :)

After a yummy dinner of 7-11 onigiri & a huge bowl of edamame, Charlie got Brendan into the shower & jammies, & then we played a few rounds of Uno. Then we put NHK back on until Brendan was practically asleep on the sofa. The kids' programming segued into general educational, & a show came on where they seemed to be interviewing a mother... then I caught a word I recognised: "jiheisho". Autism!! I listened more carefully, & indeed, the show was about a family with an autistic child. I couldn't believe it. We've talked to Tomoko about the attitudes toward autism in Japan & she had indicated that Japan is way behind the US & Great Britain in terms of attitude as well as treatments. It makes sense that a culture that depends so much on conformity would have difficulty adjusting to those who do not fit in & that need specialised help. So I was so heartened to see this programme on tv. The tone was respectful, although definitely not upbeat. I heard the words for "terrible" & difficulty" a lot, but the mom being interviewed seemed loving, if sad. There was discussion of the effect on other siblings in the family, & they definitely showed the child, maybe a couple years younger than Brendan, in a school setting. I wished I could have understood more, but Charlie & I were pretty amazed to have caught it at all.

All in all, the best day yet in Japan! I'm hoping this means that we're all getting accustomed to our new environment. We'll try visiting the Senso-ji Shrine today- our last full day in Tokyo!

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