Yak and I attended the Gonzalez for Mayor party following his defeat on Tuesday. Lots of perceptions, but first, my first night in Tokyo.

I arrived at Narita airport pretty exhausted but excited, too. I’d plotted out my trip, but checked in with the Info booth girls who confirmed my plans. I rented a cell phone, the better to meet up with Brian, who’s in town tomorrow, and Yuko, who will sacrifice a weekend day with her boyfriend to shepard Brad and I around.

Finding the right train was no problem, though I purchased the speedy train ticket before I realized that it left 1/2 an hour later, eating up any time savings I’d have by taking the speedy train. I fell asleep on the ride in, but not before seeing a young boy licking his fingers and tugging at and smushing his nose with both hands, before checking it in the reflection from the window and starting all over again. Weird!

I also had no problem getting from Ueno train station to the subway to Asakusa, (pronounced Asaksa), or deciding to take the exit towards the gate I saw on my map of where my ryokan was.

Upon exiting, however, I rapidly lost all hope of having any clue where I was. There were no street signs. There were walking only streets that I couldn’t tell whether it was a street or an alley or an indoor/outdoor mall. I headed in a certain direction because it looked interesting and I smelled tempura. It got empty in a few blocks, so I stopped.

Then I asked a young guy smoking where my ryokan was. I said the name of the ryokan and showed him on the map where it was marked. Even if I said it wrong, I figured he could read it on the map, and even if he couldn’t read it, I figured he could figure out the map. About five minutes later he seemed to have determined where we were and gave me some directions in Japanese. I realized it was to the left somewhere, but that was about all, so I decided to take a cab.

I easily hailed one near the subway entrance, and the driver opened the trunk for my bags. Some pink washcloths were neatly hung on a clothesline to dry in there. I showed him the map and said the name of the ryokan. He was befuddled. He turned the map upside down a few times. I showed him the address. No avail. Then he started talking to me in Japanese. I shrugged with that helpless but needy – I know you’re trying to help me and I’m sorry to barge into your country, but I have no idea what you’re saying – look. He then went to the cab behind us, and they had a conversation, before he took my bag out of the trunk, pulled his car over, and took me to the police station a few yards away.

Normally, I don’t like to go to the police station, but I was pretty happy to see this one, because the officer probably knew where this ryokan that was famous enough to be printed on a map of his neighborhood would be. Well, he didn’t. Instead, he had to get out a magnifying glass and examine this complicated looking map for a couple of minutes. He and the taxi driver finally spotted it and decided that I should walk. The cab driver acted out me tromping down the street, to show that I should walk, and pointed the way. I thanked him (domo arigato) and he was on his way. The officer then tried to find me a cute map but the only ones he had were printed with the characters, not letters and had pictures of beer bottles on them. So, I just showed him my map. (Thank you, Bettina!)

I pointed to each block of the street I was to walk down and said, ichi, ni, san shi? He got it immediately and counted out the streets for me, hopefully offering up the word “eight” at the end. Connection! I thanked him too, and headed off. Sure enough, eight small blocks later, I found my ryokan.

The ryokan is lovely. My room is on the top floor, and there’s a view of the temple from my window. I have high speed Internet access and a futon on the floor, as well as a plethora of slippers for each different room. There’s hot tea, a TV, and a low table with a guide to ryokan to help me be more polite while I stay here. I’m thrilled and off to the public bath before it closes in an hour. I can’t wait for Brad to get here.