After freshening up and resting an hour, itís time to head to shul. Mrs. Shwarmabob takes a rain check, she is completely out due to the heat, our earlier walks and jet leg. Our attempts to convince her donít work, so with a heavy heart we set out on our own. I memorized the route and I really hope that I wonít meet Mr. Amnesia on the way. There is no eruv here and I canít remember either the address of our apartment or the address of Chabad, but I walked through these streets before. Not in a previous life, but on Google Streets.
BĒH we find Chabad, a shul with sefarim, an interesting and friendly minyan of people and delicious dinner. Apparently, the local custom is that everyone new has to say a vort. I say something semi-intelligent about Derech Eretz, the Japanese and Pirkei Avos. Sadly, this rubs some folks visiting from the Holy Land the wrong way who wonít talk to me after this. Oh well, excusez moi
, we have a great time with the rabbi, the Sake, Dr. Tuna and other visitors.
Shabbos morning I sleep in and wake up at 6am. I experiment with dissolving instant coffee with cold water and milk and sip the resulting mixture on the small balcony overlooking the hushed side street for the next couple of hours. Itís the only time I experienced quietness and cool temperature during our stay in Tokyo. As I ponder life observing an elderly lady watering flowers across the street, a young boy of bar mitzvah age riding a bicycle down the alleyway, the feeling downs on me just how totally unexpected our being here is. When I was that boyís age riding my bike, Japan was not even a dream; even much closer destinations were unattainable. Time ticks away, the sun rises higher on the horizon and with it the heat returns and the rest of the Shwarmabobs awaken.
We spend Shabbos in shul and later walk around a bit in Minatoku. As Maariv approaches, there is a tremendous fireworks, everyone piles out to the roofs and to the streets. As I later find out we are witnessing the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. The festival dates back to 1733, when it was established as a ceremony for remembering the victims of a famine the previous year. When we get to shul, we have to wait until the minyan returns from the park where they went to have a better view of the spectacle.
After Shabbos we go out to Roppongi Hills which is close enough to make it home before the metro shuts down. Roppongi is the music, club and bar center of Tokyo. Lots of people walking about, maybe it's the Motzei Shabbos hang out place. It used to be the center of the Japanese mafia/Yakuza, and maybe it is still. There are a few hustlers out on the streets trying to get some tourists into overprices bars. I am the frugal type, Mrs. Shwarmabob keeps an eye on me, they got no chance and they seem to know it. We chill out as Shwarmabob Jr calls it; have a coke at a cinema complex, attempt to take pictures of Tokyo tower in the dark without a tripod and decide to go back to the apartment before the metro stops running.