Last Minute Changes with Aunt Marty

Our last day in Osaka, I realized that I had been too ambitious when setting our travel schedule initially.  Not only that, but my priorities had been a bit off.  I had been excited to show Aunt Marty all the traditional aspects of Japanese culture, because that is what I’m interested in.  I had not taken into enough account how much Aunt Marty is not interested the same facets of the culture as I am.  By our last day in Osaka, however, I knew that she would not get much out of a trip to Nara and that our time was much better spent with an extra day in Tokyo.

After breakfast at the hotel, we took the hotel shuttle to Osaka station and looked for somewhere to ditch our suitcases.  Unfortunately, I forgot that there would be zero lockers available due to the long weekend and everyone wanting to ditch their luggage like we were.  Thankfully, the station and foreseen this issue and set up some extra storage options.  It took a little bit of schleping, but we eventually we free to drop off our suitcases and head to Starbucks for a little bit of travel rearrangement.  It took my laptop, Aunt Marty’s phone, my phone, and several phone calls, but eventually we were able to reroute ourselves and secure an extra night at our hotel in Tokyo.  We also booked a new flight and cancelled our Nara hotel.  With that set, it was time to do some shopping we had planned on doing from day one.

We hit the Pokemon Store and I managed to get out without buying a single thing for myself.  I only bought a small present for a coworker.  After that, we walked around some of the clothing stores.  We got a late lunch and went to collect our luggage so we could head on to Kyoto.

Finding a train to Kyoto from Osaka is incredibly easy.  They run practically every three seconds at varying levels of express.  By the time we got to Kyoto station, though, I was motion sick and grouchy.  I just wanted to get in a taxi and get to the hotel.  The rain really wasn’t helping my mood either.  As we approached the line of taxis, there were two signs: “general use” (written in Japanese) and “for foreign tourists” (written in English).  The general use line was much closer to us, so I led us there, unwilling to walk all the way down to end when these taxis were so much closer.  My backpack was heavy and my wheeled suitcase was annoying me.  As I approached the taxi, I did my little head-bob to the driver, the Japanese symbol of, “I would like to get in your taxi please.”  The taxi driver motioned behind him which I thought meant he was indicating we should move in that direction so he would open the door.

He, however, more agitatedly gestured again and refused to open the door.  I was confused.  Why wasn’t he opening the door for us?  A Japanese man standing nearby thought he was being helpful and motioned for us to go down sidewalk to the “for foreign tourists” area.  I was livid.  If my hands were not full I probably would have made some rude gestures at the taxi driver.  I’m sure he had a bad experience with poor communication in the past, but I was so frustrated that the logic of the situation  did not matter.  I had money.  I had our destination.  But he refused to let us get in the taxi.

I fumed the whole way over to the other set of the taxis and aggressively Japanese-ed our destination at the driver there.  So began the list of people who refused to acknowledge my Japanese.  I eventually gave up until even trying and just spoke English until we got to Tokyo and even then, I mostly avoided it.

Still, the hotel was pretty cool.  The whole place was beautifully designed with a blend of Japanese and Western aesthetics.  In the room, we had a tablet that we used to order room service and request extra bottles of water when we ran out.  That was nice.  I went for a run in the hotel’s gym while Aunt Marty took a nap.  After her nap, she went out on her first (and only) solo adventure: shopping.  She took a taxi there, went shopping, and got a taxi back, all on her own.  The only help I provided was writing down in Japanese how to tell the clothing store workers what she was looking for so she could just show them.

We had dinner in the room and I got a hamburger, which is always a special treat for me.

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