Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Night 18: Flashback to Japan

Lisa and I went up to Little Tokyo today, intending to use the Gold Line light rail (after taking the Red Line subway back to Union Station), but discovered the hard way that the Gold Line extension that direction isn't open yet. However, we could and did walk over and have lunch in Little Tokyo. There was a festival happening in Little Tokyo, and aside from the overly-loud music, Lisa enjoyed walking through and looking at all of the booths. On the far side of the performance stage, beyond range of the over-amped sound, there were some travel-related booths. Lisa ended up talking to a nice Japanese woman who was much taken with Lisa and offered her a business card. A man there said "This woman was a famous film star in her day," and we later looked her up: Yoko Sugi, who was indeed in a number of movies as far back as at least 1950.

I was impressed at how fast Lisa made friends with this Ms. Sugi. (Lisa did similar things with a group of older women that were riding on the Southwest Chief with us from Chicago.) Ms. Sugi was impressed by Lisa having business cards in Japanese, and she simply lit up when we told her about our travel experiences in Japan, particularly the Seikan Tunnel Tour (she'd never heard of it) and our station photo from 125 m below sea level. (The fact that Lisa got the measurement number correct in Japanese further surprised her.) It's amazing what kind of effect Lisa seems to have on people this way.

We returned to our hotel for a while, went back to Union Station again and took the Gold Line up to Del Mar station in Pasadena and field-tested my directions that I wrote for Westercon 63 next year. I discovered that while my directions are technically correct, they may dismay anyone trying to actually use them -- the indicated walking path from the light rail station to the hotel doesn't appear to lead to the right place even though it eventually does so through a residential neighborhood -- and I'm going to need to tweak the article I wrote and re-submit it.

Del Mar station is the site of the former Santa Fe Pasadena station, as the Gold Line is built on the former Santa Fe Pasadena subdivision right-of-way. Up until 1994, our trip from Chicago on the Chief would have taken us through this station -- the current route runs through Fullerton.

We had noticed on the way walking up to the Red Line station a convenience store that looked promising. Checking inside, we had an epiphany. Ever since our trip to Japan in 2007, one thing we've missed was the Japanese-style konbini (convenience store). Famima! is the US branch of Family Mart, an ubiquitous konbini chain in Japan that has opened a handful of stores in the Los Angeles area. After completing our walking tour of the Pasadena Hilton area, Lisa and I decided to simply head back downtown and make our diner from konbini food. We delightedly bought curry rice and rice balls, and once again, Lisa did something charming while describing our trip to Japan and how this store brought back such great memories -- the clerk threw in three free pork buns on top of what we bought. I really hope that Famima expands to the Bay Area. It makes me wish I had money to invest in a franchise.

Combined with our lunch in Little Tokyo, relaxing in the hotel room munching on food from Famima made us feel like we were back in Japan. Except that the hotel room is about three times the size of the largest hotel room in which we stayed in Japan -- but we're not complaining!

Sorry we have no photos tonight. We took lots of them, but got back so late that we don't have the time or energy to process any of them. We may get some done on the train, but thus won't get them uploaded until we get back to Oregon.
Tags: lisa, trains, transit, travel, westercon

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