I just returned from Japan, where I spent three weeks traveling around, and attending NipponCon. I'll repost my posts from nightshade about the trip. I hope this weekend I'll start downloading the photos to my flickr account.
I'm in Tokyo with Eileen Gunn and John Berry and having a great time! Weather is way too warm for running around in, yet that's what we've been doing. Great sushi, went to the folk art museum today. Missed the very early fish market but hope to get there when we get back to Tokyo next week. The Hotel Asia Center is wonderful. Nice people at the front desk--very helpful. Nice enough rooms, air-conditioning, good mixture of western and eastern breakfast at a reasonable price. Free bottled water.
On to Kyoto tomorrow afternoon.
I'm in Yokohama, ensconced at the Intercontinental Hotel for the next few days--World SF con officially begins this evening. It's the first ever in Asia and the Japanese seem very proud to host it. Everyone I have met has been unfailingly polite. I almost kissed the engineer who came to our room last night at 11pm to fix my internet--the wifi signal was too low to work. He took my laptop around the hotel to see if it was the hotel's fault--I have no idea what he found out, but he came back and gave me a dsl thingie and now it works like a dream. Pat Cadigan was asleep from major jetlag while all this was happening.
THis morning we were bussed to the Hayakawa offices with a lot of other sf folk and given a tour. Then walked a few blocks to a restaurant where we had an incredible buffet lunch with everflowing wine and champagne. We were brought back by bus around 3pm.
I registered for the convention then went with Delia SHerman to check out the dealer's room, which is in a different building from where the convention center...they weren't yet set up...I decided to come back and relax until dinner at6pm. I'm meeting Pat, Delia, Ellen Kushner, and a former CLarion student of Ellen and Delia's for dinner in the mall attached to the Pan Yokohama and subway station...not like our malls at all.Kelly and Gavin were supposed to join us but Kelly realized she had to attend the opening ceremony, as her publishers requested her to.
Luckily it's overcast and much cooler than it has been.
August 31: (referring to the panel:
Sprawl Fiction "Sprawl fiction" was coined to show how new writers, most in their thirties, are trying to expand our genre yet still loving its very core, straight SF. Terms like "new Weird", "interstitial", "strange fiction" or "new fabulist" don't cover the trend fully. It is a natural reflection of our urban society and probably heralds the new stage of our evolution; to the stars. We talk about why the new generation slipstream is not the fusion of literary fiction and SF/F.
Ellen DATLOW, Gavin J. GRANT, Lou ANDERS, Yoshio KOBAYASHI
Weirdly, the "sprawl" panel is about the cross genre movements that have created various smaller niches of mags (or have been created by)--nothing to do with cyberpunk. The cyberpunk panel tomorrow is supposed to be some weird performance...I'll try to report on that later.
Attended the SFJA reception this evening and the food was incredible! Lobster, huge fish en croute, shrimp, and peking duck. (more than that) I tried not to eat too much as dinner had been planned for months with the Silverbergs, Eileen Gunn, John Berry, and Pat Cadigan.
I've been having a great time --Pat and I have been hanging out in Tokyo for the past two days. Yesterday we travelled from Yokohama to Tokyo in the afternoon and checked into our Asia Center hotel room. It's much smaller than the one I shared with Eileen and John two times earlier in the trip and we're in the older section called the annex. I think it's because we made this reservation late and they're pretty booked up around now. We went to Harijuka (sp), the area where kids shop and stopped in Kiddyland, where we bought some truly silly stuff and then the Oriental Bazaar where we bought some very nice stuff. But first we went to the top of a very fancy dept store called La Foret where they were having a Svankjamar exhibit.
There were paintings, sketches, prints, and a LOT of three dimensional representations of Jan and his wife Anna's work. Plus some of the pieces used in his various movies such as Alice (In Wonderland) and LIttle Otek--there was even a wooden rendition (anatomically correct) of LIttle Otek. It was a marvelous exhibit--in Japanese and Czech, alas. I bought a catalog.
Then we met John and Eileen and Takayuki and Mari at our hotel and took a cab to dinner at the place where there's a big fight at the climax of Kill Bill I--Compache (or something like that)--also George Bush had drinks there apparently. ANyway, the we drank sake and ate sushi, and other delights. A lovely farewell dinner.
We persuaded Takayuki and Mari to meet us for lunch at noon today at the big lantern at the shrine at Asakusa--I wanted to take Pat shopping there in the morning as there are all these stalls (that I was rushed through) a couple of weeks ago when I was there with JOhn and Eileen). We found lovely kimonas for about $10--yes $10!--vintage ones that were lovely. And we bought some short jackets (we both forget what they're called) for gifts at a different place. Also less than $10 each.
Then we waited at the gate of the shrine and waited. At around 12:30 I went to look for a pay phone--I had to go out of the market area and found one that didn't work. Pat and I decided to wait till 1pm. Around 12:45 a bunch of Americans we know who were touring (including Lawrence Person) just happened to show up. I borrowed someone's cell phone and called each of them but got no response. But about ten minutes later Mari comes running up to say that they were at the other end of the market (the front apparently ) where there is another giant lantern--where we were supposed to meet them (but missed because we entered from a side street)
She got a phone call with no message but returned the call and got the guy who lent us the phone--Jack Bell --who explained where we were--very lucky that we connected. ANyway, we went to a local eel rice restaurant, that specialized on eel on top of rice. We had another fantastic meal with some sushi, grapefruit ice, etc etc. and went to meet their friend Segiguchi (his last name)--I can't remember his first name--who has the largest Barbie doll collection in Asia (and maybe the world). He took us upstairs in the building in which he works (he owns the company) and showed us his collection. It's only open by appt. NOt only does he have thousands of barbies, but he collects Twiggy dolls and ephemera, stewardess uniforms, astro boy dolls, and tons of other stuff. If anyone ever criticizes my various collections I will show them photos of this guys' collections. Amazing.
THen we went to Tokyo Station to buy our train tix to Narita tomorrow. Pat leaves at 11am and I at 3:30 so we'll be traveling there separately.
Ate in the room--take out sushi box from the local AM/PM, one of the ubiquitous 7/11 type stores all around -there are 7/11s too.
And after a very long day I'm home.
Pat got up at 5am and left and 6:30 am. I had her make sure I was up when she left because my alarm clock kicked the bucket a few days ago and I don't think the Asia Center provides wakeup calls. All went smoothly, although when I arrived at Narita airport I thought I was at the wrong terminal so took the bus to the other terminal and then realized I had indeed been at the correct terminal and had to ride back. Luckily I had a bit of extra time built into my planning.
Read Jeff Thomas's DEADSTOCK (great world building as always in his "Punktown" fiction) enroute to Minneapolis. Slept most of the way from Minneapolis to Laguardia but read some of Michael Connolly's ECHO PARK, which I'm enjoying.