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Visiting Japan: Part 3

This is the third of three posts. The three parts are 1, 2, and 3.

May 28

Once I parted ways with Martin, Kyoko, and Sarah I got on the Shinkansen to Nagoya for the next conference.

That night I stay at a Ryokan, a “traditional” Japanese hostel of sorts. It was of course a tourist trap, but it was also pretty cheap and sleeping on Tatami was interesting. It was pretty good night. I failed to find any of the restaurants I went looking for for dinner, so I ended up just getting convenience store Sushi, which is pretty good in Japan. Also I got a red bean danish, which was awesome. In fact I really wish I could get themhere. That and the awesome green tea ice cream bars. I should try to source them in the US.

May 29

In the morning I had a “traditional” Japanese breakfast involving eggs cooked at the table over a flame and various fishy things. It was good. Then I headed to the conference (WFLP). I was the first to present in the morning and I presented my abstract on evaluating functional programs in parallel using random traversals, “The Random Traversal Technique for Parallel Evaluation of Functional Programs”. It went well and someone told me I was wrong which I was pretty happy about. I mean at least it was interesting enough for someone to have an opinion about. WFLP was only a single day.

Afterwards I had dinner with some folks from the conference and I learned one important thing. There is a lower limit on how bad Soba can be and I’ve already had it. That was so bland and awful. To be fair it was also a 4 dollar dinner (if I remember correctly), so I didn’t expect much. It did give me the sense that even if I try I could probably never make Soba that bad, so I might as well try. I have yet to do it but I do have all the ingredients.

I took the subway a good bit in Nagoya. I liked it. It was insanely clean compared to what I am used to (NYC). The maps were pretty good and most things were at least enough in english for me to guess what was going on. I always managed to get where I was going and I never got lost.

I wandered around on my own a bit after I had dinner with the other people from the conference. I had another not very sweet and very tasty donut and I went looking for Manga to get as a presents for people. I discovered that the “Comic stores” are actually sort of rental spaces. You pay by the hour to hang out and use their library of DVDs and Manga. They have free drinks and things too. I think it’s related to other locations were people pay basically to have a little privacy because they don’t have it at home. Also there was an interesting thing: Pay parking for bikes. You would put money in a machine and the system would lock your bike. I assume you would provide a code to unlock it.

I had a normal hotel that night and I went back and slept the night. By the way the hotels don’t have Wifi. However they do have free internet in the form of an ethernet cable hidden somewhere on the desk in your room. It took me a while to find the cable sometimes, but it seemed to be a standard feature.

May 30

In the morning I had breakfast at the hotel and I made my way to the Nagoya station and bought my train tickets to get back to Narita to catch my plane. My JR pass had expired so I just had to buy a ticket. They are pretty expensive. That trip costed over $130. I also picked up a rice ball (with a little shrimp in it, but I don’t know why. The rice was more flavorful than the shrimp) and a red bean bun like thing to have as a snack later. It was good.

I made it to Narita in plenty of time in fact I had a lot of time to kill and I picked up some hand rolls for the plane and looked for more presents for people though I still failed to anything (in the airport I could find Manga but only in English!). The hand rolls were packed in a quite ingenious way: The Nori was in a little plastic envelope so the rice would not dampen it. So before you ate it you would unroll the roll and remove the plastic and then roll it up again.

In the early afternoon I took off on my incredibly long flight back. The flight from Narita to LA was 9 hours but arrived before it took off (because of time zones), but then I had a 3 hour layover in LAX (which is a really crappy airport). So I killed time by taking some pictures.

I finally made it back to Portland in a haze of sleep deprivation and jet lag. I managed to stay up enough to try to help my jet lag, but it didn’t really work. I ended up sleeping through a 2pm class the next day. But it was OK. I was home and that was nice.

So writing this has made me think about all the good food I had in Japan. I really need to learn how to make rice balls. All they would need is good rice and Nori and maybe some shredded carrots or a piece of fried mushroom (oh that sounds so good). I also need to try to make Soba. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed reading these blogs about the trip.


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