30 April ? Today?s set-up day, but I?m determined to use every opportunity to work out so I hit the pool and then head to breakfast. We decide to go to the Hapuna buffet restaurant, which offers a giant number of serving stations offering Western, Chinese and Japanese breakfasts.
Everyone makes for the Western station, but I?m determined to taunt my stomach by trying a little of everything. So I end up orange juice and a mini-omlette topped with mushrooms from the western station; rice porridge, pickled vegetables, fish cakes, and steamed egg from the Chinese station; and fish, seaweed salad and ?nikko? (a sticky soy bean with mustard and sauce concoction) from the Japanese station.
I try it all. I like most of it but the nikko goes back mostly uneaten. Interestingly, I still feel hungry and so fill up with a few bananas.
We meet up and head over to our offices just over the hill. From there it?s hours of setting up two exhibition areas and testing the five laptops we?ve lugged all the way with us. But unexpectedly, we?re done by 1pm and so I speed out to make the most of the two-hours I have free.
My Japan-source, Phil, has Philled me in on a bunch of fun and interesting places to go, so I choose to head to Shibuyu, nearest to Shinagawa where the hotel is. Thanks to Phil and Lonely Planet, I negotiate the automatic ticket machines and I?m off.
First stop on my brief window is to find Hachiko, a statue of a dog who came to the station everyday to meet his master and continued to do so for 10 years after his master had died. (I can tell you?re wondering whether the dog was stupid or loyal, but we?re going with the latter, thanks.)
From all I?ve heard and read, I?m expecting a giganto statue, especially because it?s billed as a great place to meet people. But after getting directions from a few kind people I find Hachiko, life-sized and perched on a plinth. A six-foot person standing in front of it would obscure it entirely.
But it?s a cool place to rest and eat my lunch snack, a Japanese dessert in the form of red bean paste in a chewy white glutinous flour ball and wrapped in an oak leaf. Carbs in place I head off to 109 junior to check out this eponymous emporium of all thinks wildly popular and branded for the teeny bopper set.
One hour, nine floors and two practical jackets later (I didn?t expect to be a medium in Japan!) and it?s time to head back to the hotel, change and meet up with Hisashi, my brother?s friend.
A half-hour caper ensues. It is the predictable result of two people meeting each other, neither of whom who knows what the other looks like in a hotel complex that has three ?towers? and 3,830 rooms. The only description Hisashi could get from people who did know me was that I was Asian and had dark hair. That didn?t really help!
But emergency assistance from the folks at Yahoo internet caf頡nd a phone call later and we were off to Hapo-en, former shogun residence with a tranquil Japanese garden. It was a much needed respite from the urbanized environment and frenetic pace.
Then we headed to Shibuyu, the neighbourhood that Hisashi grew up in, to his favourite shushi restaurant, named Autumn moon in Japanese. It was incredible. Eating sushi will never be the same again. Who know that there were such a variety of cuts of tuna, and that some of them, a light pink and so richly marbled, that they melted like butter? Or that crab liver could be so tasty? Or how yellowtail is really supposed to taste like! Wow. It was incredible.
And so, happily well nourished both from the sushi, the sake and the fascinating conversation, I headed off to bed.