Friendship in Fussa

There is a slice of America in the city of Fussa – just on the western edge of Tokyo. A sprawling compound the size of a small city itself, the US Military’s Yokota Air Base has been a fixture since the late 1940s. Over the years, it has grown and expanded and is now home to about 14,000 military personnel. It’s a self-sustaining community inside guarded walls.

Planes fly by and suddenly parachutes dot the sky.
Planes fly by and suddenly parachutes dot the sky.

While members of the military frequently go off-base to take in the culture of Tokyo, it’s not often Japanese locals get a chance to go on base to have a taste of real Americana. But, once a year, Yokota opens their gates and hosts their neighbours for the annual Japanese-American Friendship festival. I had the chance to take in this year’s event along with some friends (including two who work on-base), and was in awe of the spectacle.

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Episode 5 – Happy Silver Week

It’s Silver Week in Japan – which means a five-day long weekend.

Monday was Respect for the Aged day, Wednesday is the Autumnal Equinox – and because there are two public holidays with a day inbetween, Japanese law states that the middle day is also a day off!  (How awesome is that?)

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Tokyo is Yours

Burning the Midnight Oil

 

I can’t sleep.

It’s 12:29am and I am sitting in a hotel room in Saskatoon, wide-eyed and unable to doze off for the night.  Granted, the night is ending soon – relatively speaking.  In about 5 hours, I’ll be sitting on a plane which will take me to Minneapolis, and in under 12 hours, I’ll be on another plane about to leave for Tokyo.

I’m not nervous about my trip.  I’m actually more nervous about sleeping through my alarms (as I’ve been doing lately) and missing a wake-up call needed to get to the airport on time to make my flights.  Missing a flight is my eternal fear – reinforced by a lifetime of movies and TV shows where it’s a mad dash to the air terminal where people just get through the security line in time to barely get to the gate before the door closes.

In reality, I’ve only ever come close to missing a flight twice in my life – once in a rather inconvenient fashion after sleeping through an alarm, causing me to speed to the airport only to walk past the president of the company I worked for in the terminal – unkempt and looking like I had just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-grabbed-the-least-dirty-clothes-on-the-floor-I-could-find.  The other instance wasn’t my fault at all, but the ill-fated timing of a connection at Denver’s airport which had Chris, our friend Chris and I running through the terminal jussssst to get to the gate as they were making the final boarding call.

I don’t want the first domino in a three month trip to Japan to be the one I screw up.

So, I’m resigned to staying awake.  With nearly 14 hours in the sky ahead of me (12 of those en route from Minneapolis to Tokyo,) I figure I can sleep when I get up to 40,000 feet.

Here’s hoping I don’t doze off, head falling in to my keyboard, with the imprint of the home row and the trackpad firmly emblazoned on my face.

Getting Naked North of Tokyo

This post originally appeared on my personal portfolio blog – JohnHimpe.com – in January of 2014.  It has been edited for posting here – because you can never edit enough!

I’ve had some pretty awesome hot water experiences over the years.

As a teenager on a family trip to Banff, I discovered how amazing it was to soak up the heat in an outdoor hot tub after a day of lumbering down the mountain.

Like a scene out of "Survivor" - Hot Springs Cove is a Canadian treasure on Vancouver Island.In my twenties, I took a boat excursion to Hot Springs Cove near Tofino, BC.   It was easily the best $100 I had spent on the trip.  The smell of sulphur from the water tingled my nose as the heat screamed from the waterfall as I rounded the corner to the natural hot spring after about a 20 minute hike through rainforest.  The cove was nestled in to a rocky corner and as you followed the water from the falls, you’d eventually end up in the ocean.  The experience was incredibly relaxing.

So in preparation for my first Japanese adventure, the topic of the Japanese public bath came up.

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