Flying to the weekend meeting in Yokohama the sun lays a huge gold stripe down the middle of the Bering Strait, and on the headphones Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons sing Sleepless Nights, fruit of Napster-that-was (I paid for the LP in 1975, and I still have it, OK?); the 767 has laptop power so I don’t care where in iTunes’ 347 songs, one day, 1.47 GB I am, I just let it play. Russia from the air looks different from any part of North America. The music has segued into Fleming and John’s I’m Not Afraid (ripped from my own CD, thank you). I have a ton of fine (some little-known) music on this box, and I bet lots of you do too; wouldn’t it be great if we could post some samples of it and maybe drive a few new listeners to some deserving artists? Instead I’ll share travel pictures.
Above, somewhere down there from somewhere up here; by the clock it has to be Russia. Photoshopped.
Getting from Narita to anywhere is slow and tiring, and Shin-Yokohama is tough because you need to transfer from the airport train to the Shinkansen. This is tricky at Tokyo Station (approximately the size of a small European country) because once you get to the Shinkansen part of the station nothing is marked in English (but on board, the announcements, unlike most trains here, are bilingual; go figure). Fortunately if you ask anyone for directions they’re friendly and helpful, and if you look bewildered enough, random passersby are apt to offer spontaneous help. I think Tokyo people take a perverse pride in the mind-boggling scale and complexity of the big stations, and enjoy a chance to demonstrate their mastery to baffled gaijin.
The meeting is at the Shin-Yokohama Prince Hotel, but we’re not the only game in town there.
During our first lunch break, Tim B-L and I took a walk around Asty’s across the street, which seems to be a Japanese version of Fry’s. Below is a selection of their computer enclosures; note the one with a built-in fish-tank. Yes, it really contains water, and yes, the fish move around, but they’re plastic.
We’re doing fairly well so far at converging on a stable version of the Web Architecture document; the heavily worked-over copy below is Stuart Williams’ not mine. Interestingly, what Stuart’s doing there is called “markup,” that word’s ur-meaning.
Dinner Saturday was sponsored by Keio University at Hagoromo, on the 40th floor of the hotel here; many courses and all of them tasty; thank you Keio!
I was worried about how best to make the trip from Shin-Yokohama back to Narita, so I asked W3C meeting-wrangler Saeko Takeuchi for advice: instead of advice, she researched it all out and went and bought my tickets for me; is that wonderful or what? Thank-you Ms Takeuchi!
Our Sunday noon walk took us into a residential neighborhood. Altogether too much of Japan is paved over, still there are bits to please the eye, for example this tree and van.
The day I left, I got a personal wake-up call from Mount Fuji. I believe that this is what Japan is supposed to look like.
The last picture below, though, from the Shinkansen platform at Shin-Yokohama, that picture’s what Japan really looks like in my mind’s eye. Shinkansen, by the way, is the “bullet train,” and indeed it’s fast; on the short leg to Shinagawa, I glanced out the window and was shocked that the buildings were leaning. But actually the train was banking around a corner too smoothly to notice, it was me on the slant. And across the aisle, two young women had curled up together in their seats sleeping their way into Tokyo, cute as kittens; and that’s what Japan looks like, too.