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typhoon, yikes!!

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 5:25 pm, Tokyo time

Okay, so maybe I was premature in saying that the typhoon had passed us by.

This morning I picked up e-mail from my father, saying that he had heard on NHK radio that the worst of Typhoon 15 (Typhoon Dana) was going to be hitting Tokyo within an hour or so, and suggested that Jeff and I might want to stay inside until things had calmed down somewhat. When we looked outside, however, everything looked okay. Sort of grey and drizzly, but better than yesterday. We decided to go out anyway.

Our first stop was the Prince Hotel (where Alison first met us) so we could check out the airport bus schedule for tomorrow. A few minutes after we got inside, Jeff happened to glance out the glass windows and noticed that the trees were being buffeted around by a tremendous wind. Huge sheets of rain drenched everything, and we could see people running for the hotel, heads bent down and struggling to hold onto their umbrellas.

Of course I immediately wanted go out in the storm to experience a genuine Japanese typhoon (and get some pictures for Blatherings, of course!!), but Jeff wisely advised that we stay inside until the worst was over. Probably a good thing, since the high winds were probably knocking things around quite a bit (in the news, we later found out that one of the things being knocked about was people (!)).

We spent a few hours in the lobby of the Prince Hotel. Apparently all the subway lines were closed during the worst of the storm, which meant we couldn't go anywhere anyway. We had breakfast in the coffee shop (we avoided another restaurant in the hotel where the coffee cost CAN$14 for a single cup (!!!)), then sat in the lobby for a while; I snoozed on Jeff's shoulder while Jeff read a magazine. There were a group of North American foreigners obviously waiting for their airport bus. One of them mentioned that there had been another small earthquake this morning. Darnitall, I keep sleeping through all the excitement. Some great people-watching during this wait, by the way. There was a female hotel staff waiting by the front doors with a basket of rolled up towels; she handed a towel to each person as they came in so they could dry themselves off a bit.

One of the highlights of our time in the hotel was finding a Solitudes display in the souvenir/magazine shop. There was even a bio of our friend, Dan Gibson! All iin Japanese, of course, but we both thought this was VERY cool. :-)

When the storm had died a bit, we set off in the rain. I had brought a cheapo umbrella that kept turning inside out; I had to hold onto it with both hands to keep from losing it from the gusts. We took the subway (which was running except for the Maunouchi line) to Ikebukuro, which the Frommer's Guide to Tokyo describes as "the working man's Tokyo, less refined and a bit rougher around the edges."

Right outside the station, we saw the two rival department stores, Seibu and Tobu. I checked out Seibu for a travel reading light AND FOUND ONE. This time, I had drawn an elaborate picture of what I wanted, with pictures of a plane, a person reading on a plane, a light on a book, as well as including the Japanese characters for "travel", "small", "lamp", "portable". After talking to several department store staff, I was sent to a shelf with a selection of book reading lights, woohoo!

Some shinkansen trains, subway trains, and flights were cancelled. I hope things clear up by tomorrow, when we fly back! Good thing that Jeff and I didn't take the train to Nagano yesterday, as we had originally planned...we might have been stuck there until today since some of the trains had been cancelled since yesterday.

By the time we got out of Seibu, the Maunouchi line had re-opened (when we passed areas in the subway related to that line earlier, there were handwritten signs in Japanese all over the entry gates..I assume this was an announcement of the closure). I kept thinking of how confusing it would be for a foreigner who wasn't aware of what was happening during a crisis like this, or worse (e.g. earthquake).

Our visits today included the Toyota display in the Amlux building, and the Tokyo Transportation Museum. The first was more interesting than I expected, and the second was less interesting. We had also wanted to check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Artspace, but unfortunately it was closed. :-(

By the time we got back to the apartment, the rain had pretty much stopped. The Japanese television news is currently full of typhoon coverage. The other big news is the discovery of a case of mad cow disease.

Apologies for the incoherence of this Blathering; Jeff has the tv on while I'm typing (listening to typhoon news), so I'm focussing on two things at once. :-)

We're taking Alison out for sushi tonight!

p.s. REALLY hoping that our flight isn't cancelled or delayed too much tomorrow. Please keep your fingers crossed for us, thanks. :-)

Today's Blatherpics:

- I took this picture out the front window of the Prince Hotel. I found pictures didn't do nearly enough justice to the storm; you can't see very much of the tremendous wind and rain in this photo, for instance.

- Jeff looking out the Prince Hotel coffee shop window at the storm.

- Part of the Solitudes display we found in the souvenir/magazine shop in the Prince Hotel.

- Noise-maker thingy in the Prince Hotel women's washroom. Apparently some Japanese women are self-conscious about their toilet noises, and press the button on this gizmo (in each stall) to create the sound of a toilet flushing. The five lights at the top illuminate in succession to show how much time the noise will last. I had to try it, of course, though it was difficult not giggling while I listened to the electronic flush go on and on and on...

- English translation typo in the Transportation Museum.

- Giant train set in the Transportation Museum.

- During our walk after the worst of the typhoon had passed, we saw many fallen bicycles and motorbikes, branches, signs, all tipped over by the wind. Other evidence of the storm we saw included leaking roofs in buildings (lots of pails, escalators covered in plastic and being repaired).

Today's Poll:

Have you ever experienced a typhoon?

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