megory arrived Tuesday night and hung out at my place on Wednesday while I was at work. On Thursday, after I spent pretty much the entire morning playing the newly released expansion for World of Warcraft, we headed for the airport together.
Our adventure began when we went through the TSA line. I was in front, so when I got through the inspection line I turned around looking for megory, but she was nowhere to be seen. I thought perhaps she had gotten stuck in a different line behind people who were slow taking off their shoes or something. I waited for a while, but she still didn't come out.
After a few minutes, I saw her wave to me from way back in the pre-checkpoint line. Relieved that at least she hadn't vanished, I waited a while longer. It seems that, when JAL printed out her boarding pass, her last name was so long that it didn't leave any room to print her first name. When the TSA agent scanned it, the computer said "do not fly" because it couldn't verify her first name. She had to go back to the JAL counter to get them to print out another document with her full name on it.
It's a good thing we got to the airport early.
Our flight was uneventful after that. I got to watch a bunch of movies, including the latest Stewardess Detective film (now the title of the series has changed to Cabin Attendant Detective...though the characters are all still women). Once again, the vegetarian meal plan didn't include ice cream, though at least this time I knew to expect to be deprived.
I took out an initial $500 at the ATM when we arrived at Haneda and we caught the last bus to our hotel, only slightly delayed by an accident on the highway. (Those roads have a ridiculous amount of traffic in the middle of the night.) When I checked in, I was pleased to discover that we were given a code to access free wifi. It was supposed to be available only in the lobby, but I could still connect from my room, albeit with somewhat slow service and occasional outages. Definitely an improvement over the previous charge for internet.
I tried to sleep in on Saturday, but I couldn't manage to stay in bed long. Since nothing would be open until 10, this left us with a lot of time to kill. I went over our schedule for the day, which was relatively full.
We started out by stopping at the post office so that megory could mail a package. I tried to get another $500 out of the ATM, but I got an error message that I had exceeded my withdrawal limit. I was a bit worried, because I would need more for all the things I planned to buy at the Game Market the next day, but I figured it just needed more time to reset after my withdrawal the previous night.
We hit one of the used manga stores when it opened, where I picked up about half the items on the shopping list I had put together. It turned out to be the store's 20th anniversary celebration, so I got an extra little item as well, though it was an illustration by an artist I didn't know.
After that, ventured into unknown territory to attend a game meetup hosted by a Boardgamegeek user who lives in Tokyo and spends a lot of time helping people acquire Japanese games. She was going to be selling a couple of games of her own design at the event the next day. The meetup was also attended by a group of game designers from Taiwan who had brought copies of their games with them. We got to try out several of them, and megory was impressed enough that she decided to buy a bunch at the market.
We left the meetup a bit early to continue on to Nakano for some more manga shopping, though I didn't find as much there as I had hoped. By that time it was getting past 5pm and we were hungry, so we went to Nataraj for our traditional vegetarian meal. We were surprised to discover that they were having a live belly dancing performance that evening, and the place was packed. Also, they were only serving a buffet for the night, rather than the usual menu. We thought about leaving, but we ended up staying long enough to eat. The restaurant staff tried to convince us to stay to watch the dancing, but we were fading fast.
We made our way back to Ikebukuro, where I stopped for a little last minute shopping at the new (tiny) branch of the Yellow Submarine game store. I was hoping they'd have copies of the Game Market catalogue/ticket, but they were sold out. I dropped by the ATM again and withdrew about $300, which I calculated would be enough to cover my game purchases. This time I didn't have any trouble. We returned to our hotel and mostly crashed, falling asleep by about 8pm.
We got up early again on Sunday (about 3am), which was fortunate, because we didn't have any trouble heading out at 8am. When we got off the train, pulling our little wheeled bags, megory pointed out a person in front of us hauling a huge suitcase. I commented that it was probably a vendor bringing games to sell. Moments later, the person in question turned around--and it was our host from the game meetup the day before. It was an amazing coincidence that we managed to run into her in the crowd like that.
A ton of people were heading for Big Sight, but unlike Comiket, they were going for different reasons. Judging by all the signs that we passed, there were about six different conferences being held at the same time. Game Market only took up about half a hall in the West building (the smaller of the two that make up the complex). We bought tickets easily (there weren't many people there so early), and I gave megory some money to buy the games she wanted and showed her a map of the booths so she could find her way.
When the doors finally opened, I rushed to pick up a couple games that I hadn't been able to reserve. It was only after I met back up with megory that, when I had calculated the amount of cash I would need, I had completely neglected to count all the games she was buying (with my money). She went back to the Taiwan booth and returned two of the games she had bought, but even that wouldn't be enough to cover all of my reserved games.
Just as I was resigning myself to the fact that I'd have to give something up due to lack of funds, megory suggested that I should go look for an ATM in the building. I was afraid that I wouldn't find one to take my international card, or that even if I did locate one, it would give me another withdrawal limit error. Fortunately, there is in fact a line of ATMs near the entrance, including a couple that take international cards, and I was able to get out another $300. That was enough for megory to go back and re-purchase the games she had returned and for me to get all the games I had reserved. I ended up getting nearly everything on my shopping list; I only missed out on one game that sold out before I made it to the booth.
Afterward, we returned to the hotel, where we set up a display of our games with a view of Ikebukuro in the background. (Some of them were acquired on behalf of friends, so my portion is actually much smaller than it seems from that shot, but I still got a substantial haul.) That night we crashed by 7pm.
After packing our suitcases and checking out in the morning, we spent most of the day shopping. First we hit Sugorokuya at its new location, but sadly they didn't have anything I needed. We went to Akihabara after that, and it was much less crowded than on the weekend. While we were browsing in the Role & Roll Station game shop, who should walk in but our game meetup host again! She was going to be playing some games in the back of the shop with the crew from Taiwan as well as a man from Tasty Minstrel Games (who came out and said hello to us). We picked up a couple things there, then hit Yellow Submarine, where I found the last game on my list.
It was getting rather late at that point, so we went back to Ikebukuro and had a mid-afternoon lunch at Miami Garden. We hung out in the hotel lobby for a while, until it was time for our bus trip back to the airport. After checking in for our flight, the hardest part was staying awake until boarding started at about 11:30pm. I was pretty completely zoned out by the time I hit my seat and slept most of the trip back. Our arrival at SFO was uneventful--for the first time I actually made it through customs without being referred for agriculture inspection. We met up with the neighbors as we were getting out of the taxi and ended up all deciding to go out to dinner together.
I had taken Tuesday off work to recover. megory spent a chunk of the day doing laundry and packing for her return trip, but we did find time to play a few of our new games. That was a lot of fun. We also watched a bit of television to get caught up.
It would have been nice to have more time off, but all fun weekends come to a close eventually. It was back to work for me bright and early on Wednesday morning (after getting about four hours of sleep, ugh). Overall, it was an awesome experience.