Author Sandy Boyd stands in front of beautiful fuschia blossoms at Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Author Sandy Boyd at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Cdr Per Knudsen, P, grins for the camera as he installs the Tokyo Squadron burgee on Lt/C Gary Thomas, AP's boat against abackground of docked boats.

Cdr Per Knudsen, P, installs the Tokyo Squadron burgee on Lt/C Gary Thomas, AP’s boat.

Tokyo Adventure

Members cross Pacific to show support

On 1 April, my husband, Ken, and I flew 11 hours from Los Angeles to Japan’s Narita International Airport to attend Tokyo Sail & Power Squadron’s Change of Watch. As members of District 13’s Costa de Oro Power Squadron, we wanted to visit the most far-flung squadron in our district.

After arriving, we boarded a shuttle to Tokyo City Air Terminal, a 3-story building where you can catch a bus to the airport, buy train tickets, get cash, exchange currency, eat at McDonald’s and shop. Tokyo Squadron member Tony Whitman met us and got us checked in to our hotel, only 4 blocks away.

We’d stayed at the same hotel when we’d visited the squadron 5 years ago. The room was much the same—small and compact but adequate.

Tokyo Squadron Commander Per Knudsen picked us up the next day for a tour of the city. He showed us the Imperial Palace and environs, and then he took us out for a lunch of sashimi, vegetables and other Japanese fare.

The Japanese subway system resembles those of other cities, except for the language barrier. However, the Japanese are helpful, and Per had given us specific directions to the Change of Watch dinner, which involved changing metro lines twice and taking a monorail.

We boarded the subway, and as I was looking at the map, a Japanese woman offered to help us. I told her we wanted off at Ginza Station, but I should have said Hagashi-Ginza Station. She said she was going to the station and would let us know when to get off. Of course, we passed Hagashi-Ginza Station and ended up at Ginza Station, 1 stop down the line.

When we got off the train, I explained that we had wanted to stop 1 station earlier. So our Japanese helper set about trying to right the situation. But after looking at Per’s directions, she didn’t think we should do things his way. A man came along to help out, and the two argued in Japanese about what we should do while we stood there getting agitated. Not wanting to be rude, we waited for the proper moment to retrieve our map and directions. We returned to the station and were on our way again.

When we reached Hagashi-Ginza Station, we couldn’t find the monorail. We asked the subway station agent, but he didn’t understand us.

It was dark, and we were 30 minutes late for the Change of Watch. Per called to see what was going on. We gave the cell phone to the station agent, so Per could find out where the monorail was and tell us. However, the agent hung up after talking to Per.

Eventually, a man came along who understood what we were looking for. Although he couldn’t give us directions in English, he kindly led us to the monorail station 2 buildings away, and we eventually made it to our destination.

The Change of Watch was held aboard a floating bar and restaurant. Chairs and small tables were scattered around, and dinner was served buffet-style. We saw members we’d met 5 years earlier, and everyone made us feel welcome. Per gave us a framed certificate for attending.

We presented a Costa de Oro Squadron burgee and 15000 yen (about $150) to Hunter Brumfield for the Flags Around the Horn trip that Tokyo member Minoru Saito would begin in October. This west-to-east trip would be Minoru’s eighth solo trip around the globe. You can follow Minoru Saito’s progress at the trip website.

At the end of the evening, we called a taxi to take us back to the hotel. We didn’t want any more adventures that night!

We spent the next few days exploring the city, including the large and lovely Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. One day, we joined several members for a cruise on Tokyo Bay aboard Gary Thomas’ large powerboat, Andiamo.

The flight home was two hours shorter than the one going over, and we were happy to get home to our dog, who we think speaks fluent Japanese.