Tremblor

Mysterious IslandSaturday morning there was a 5-magnitude earthquake in the ocean east of Japan. It happened around 6:40 AM.

The reason I know the time is because I’d gotten up at 6 that morning, then promptly fell back asleep and had the following dream: there’s no snooze button on the alarm clock in my hotel (which is true). Even though they could make a toilet that had a built-in remote-controlled bidet and general-purpose ass-sprayer (also true), they were never able to develop snooze button technology. It had become a source of great shame for the people of Japan, and they had their top scientists working to develop a snooze button that would rival the Americans’. At the moment, though, the hotel had to have employees come into my room and gently rock me awake so that I wouldn’t miss my meeting with my co-workers.

Once awake, I jumped out of bed a lot more nimbly than you’d expect from somebody of my girth and general lethargy. I ran to the bathroom and stood in the doorway, remaining there long enough to realize that it wasn’t a big enough bathroom door to have any earthquake-resistant structure, and besides I’d end up standing on the 20th floor of a crumbled tower of rubble in the center of Tokyo wearing nothing more than my boxer shorts. It would be like the heartbreaking ending of Godzilla vs. Sasquatch.

Most of Saturday I spent with co-workers at the Tokyo DisneySea park. Turns out there’s some sort of seasonal promotion going on, so the Tokyo Disney parks were unusually crowded over the weekend. Note that this is “unusally crowded” for a theme park in a metro area population of 40 million people, “unusually crowded” for a place that was crowded when I went on a freezing cold weekday in December. I ended up only riding two things, because there was an almost two hour wait for each.

That’s not as bad as it may sound, because Tokyo DisneySea is all about the themeing; you could say the rides are secondary. The new Tower of Terror, which opened last month, was pretty good — the building itself is spectacular; the queue is interesting and unlike the US versions, actually looks like a hotel; the pre-show effects are really, really cool; and hearing an elevator full of normally-sedate locals screaming their head off was the highlight.

I also rode the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride, which was better than I’d remembered it. I was a little distracted, because the little girl and her mother sitting in front of me kept saying, “kirei!” (pretty!) and I was marveling that I’d actually remembered a word of Japanese.

After DisneySea, we went to Shinjuku for some very good sushi, then a drink at the hotel from Lost in Translation. The nighttime view from the top floor is spectacular, but the rest of the place I’m content to never see again. Mediocre, overpriced drinks, obsequious service (even for Japan); the whole thing had a very creepy feel of excess to it. Still, it’s a place I never, ever, ever would’ve gone to by myself, so it was worth it.

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