Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Sunday, March 09, 2008

She Tricked Me With Technology...

The 2007-2008 school year is spiraling in to its (long-awaited but still somehow anticlimactic) end. As an added punctuation mark to that fact, last night was the farewell dinner party for my grade staff. Yes, it has been a very complicated year for us, and we had much to celebrate.

The party was to be held at a venue I didn't know; it was a relatively new traditional Japanese gourmet restaurant located in the hilly and less developed area near the sea. I told the teacher in charge that I wasn't familiar with the place, and she gave me a printout of a Yahoo map showing me where it was. The concept of online maps wasn't new to me. After all, I had used Yahoo maps on a number of occasions before then. Even so, I couldn't help being impressed and thinking what a wonderful era we live in where finding one's way is often a simple matter of clicking a link or entering a line of text.

When it came to be time to go to the party I looked at the map and couldn't help noticing that, though it showed the restaurant's general area, it didn't pinpoint its exact location. In fact, its name didn't appear on the map at all. That presented more than a little problem, so I turned once more to technology. I got in my car, fired up Navi-chan (ditzy computer-music fanfare), and entered the phone number...only to be told it wasn't in the database. That presented an even bigger problem, so I went back into the house, got on the internet, and looked up the restaurant. There wasn't much about it since it's still rather new, but I did get an address. Navi-chan was able to find that okay, so I was soon on my way following the little purple line on the screen.

As I neared my destination, Navi-chan showed me something strange. The restaurant was located on a major street, but the recommended course was to take a back road looping around the block from the other side. Things like that usually happen only if traffic tends to be heavy on the main road. Well, there wasn't much traffic at the time, so I decided to go ahead and approach the restaurant from the main road. I found it and parked without any problem.

The party was enjoyable. The food was excellent, and the members of my grade staff are all great people, so we had a really good time. (The only drawback was the fact that I couldn't drink. I had a 40-minute commute back home to worry about, and I really didn't want to dish out the money for a substitute driver. I tell you; it's not much fun being among people who are drinking while you're forced to remain sober.) When it finally came to an end, the group that was drinking decided to head to a karaoke studio for the traditional "second party", but I went ahead and took my leave.

That's when I had my real adventure. You see, I decided to take Navi-chan's advice this time and take that back road around the block instead of trying to back out into the main street. It started out as a typical Japanese back road, i.e. an avenue about a lane and a half wide threading its way between walled-off yards with a slalom course around parked cars. I really didn't mind when I went around a ninety degree bend and wound up on gravel. Gravel roads are still fairly common in the more remote areas. However, I began to worry when the gravel stopped and I wound up on a narrow, dirt lane that was becoming increasingly overgrown and full of potholes. Next thing I knew there was really no road to speak of at all; though Navi-chan insisted I was still on a street, it seemed more like I was trying to drive on an old hiking trail that hadn't been maintained in decades. I'm sure the distance I covered there was only about fifty meters, but it seemed like fifty kilometers of bumping, bouncing, and plowing through foliage. Once again I found myself wishing I had paid the extra dozen man (10,000 yen, or about $100) for the 4WD version of my BLUE RAV4, but I was actually far more concerned about the tree branches that were screeching against the sides of the car like a chorus of rhythmically inept banshees. I had a terrible image in my mind of arriving home to find a flat tire or two, a bent axle, and several deep gouges in the paint.

Actually, I came out of it without a scratch. So did my car. I did give it a good washing today, though...taking off at least a couple of millimeters of Gobi Desert sand. That means it'll probably rain tomorrow, but at least that will help fill the well.

In other news, tonight my mother-in-law ate all of her dinner for the first time since coming back from the hospital. That's definitely a good sign, but I know she won't make much progress unless she stops feeling sorry for herself and pushes herself a bit more. Giving up is the worst thing she can do, and she seems to be doing it. I guess all we can do is keep trying to push her, albeit gently.


  • Sounds like a fun adventure (tee hee!)...eating more is always good news!

    I'm bummed, we lost an hour to "Spring Forward". Darn, I NEED that hour!

    By Blogger ladybug, at 11:19 PM  

  • Fortunately, Japan is a very small island. Imagine getting lost by your nav system in the US where you could start out in New York and end up in Las Vegas.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 1:53 AM  

  • Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a sat nav with 3D streets and buildings!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 3:05 AM  

  • BTW, I have done the tag :)

    By Blogger Olivia, at 3:13 AM  

  • I remember the story of a guy in Germany who drove his new Mercedes into the Elbe river one night because the Nav system thought there was a bridge where only a ferry crossing existed.

    I washed K's car Sunday. Yep, it rained Monday. Sigh.

    Glad you MIL is eating better. Hope she gets back some spunk.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:02 PM  

  • Ladybug
    I know where that hour is, too, and I'm NOT TELLING!!!! *chortle*

    Japan is about 4% of the size of the U.S., which is still plenty big enough to get lost. If you don't believe me, try driving in downtown Tokyo sometime.

    You are in a maze of twisty little tunnels, all alike...

    The "virtual driving map" (i.e. 3D) view is only available in some locations. It usually kicks in whenever I enter a good-sized city. It is pretty cool, too.

    The coolest thing about it is that it links to a national network via a cellphone-like connection, and the image on the screen changes to show the current weather while giving you traffic updates.

    Where's the nearest crossing?
    Buckleberry Bridge...twenty miles!

    (Do Nazgul drive Mercedes?)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:41 PM  

  • MM! What a terrific story! Technnology at its best and its, um, misguided. I've had co-workers wind up in a not-so-savory part of town whilst following GPS instructions to a restaurant. The other co-workers simply followed verbal instructions and arrived in about 15 minutes ;-)

    By OpenID nikkipolani, at 4:07 AM  

  • The last time I got back home, wondering if my car was scratched from hitting the "banshee"--what an apt description you provided-- branches on the side, I wasn't as lucky as you! My scratches, luckily, were superficial, however. I polished the heck out of the doors, and the scratches vanished.

    Know what you mean about being the solitary sober member of a drinking party. Talk about odd, dull one out. I would've done the same thing though.

    Keep prodding the mother-in-law. As you say, gently. Get her to eat her vegetables. Gently.

    By Blogger San, at 5:35 AM  

  • Glad to know that your MIL is making progress on her appetite (and mood)?

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 4:42 PM  

  • Navi-chan problem would be great idea for Japanese horror movie!

    heh heh

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 11:03 AM  

  • Well, I just found out that update kits for my Navi-chan are available for order, so I went ahead and sent for one. It costs less than 10% as much as a new navi-system.

    Now at least maybe the local city names will be correct...and it won't show me driving through a forest next time I take the Route 18 bypass.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:17 PM  

  • Talk about Navi-chan, Malaysian ones are due for an upgrade as after the general election, the winning opposition party has started changing roadsigns. They now are tri-lingual (Malaysian, Chinese and Tamil). It's about time!

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 6:17 PM  

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