Japan/USA diary, day 2

Tuesday, 2 June, 2015. 20:54

I slept really badly, struggling to fall sleep most of the night. At one point I opened my eyes and saw the light of dawn coming in the window and thought it must have been almost time to get up, but when I looked at the clock it was only 03:45! The sun comes up really early here. I closed the curtains tighter and went back to bed to try to sleep some more.

I got up eventually at 07:00, quickly dressed, and left to make sure I could find my way to the convention centre okay. I popped into a convenience store across the street from the hotel to buy a couple of packaged rice snacks for breakfast, and carried them with me on my trip into the subway.

I had to get to Higashi station, but managed to confuse myself and got on the wrong subway line, because the station near the hotel caters to three intersecting lines. Instead of the Orange Tozai line, I got the green Namboku line, since it has a station called Hiragishi, which I mistook for my destination in my hurried reading of the maps as I was negotiating the maze of tunnels in a streaming mass of commuters. I realised when on the wrong train, but thankfully before reaching the next stop, so I turned around and only had to come back one station to correct my error.

Sapporo Convention Centre
Sapporo Convention Centre.

From Higashi it’s a short walk through apartment buildings and a few shops to the Sapporo Convention Centre, which I found easily enough. Even with my mistake, I was there almost an hour early, at just after 08:00. I found the registration desk and picked up my ID badge for the meeting, and then waited for other people to arrive. Being a national delegate, I got a seat in the front row with a big AU label on it, with seven other attending national delegates. There are also about 50 other people attending.

The first session was basically a welcome and admin session for the whole technical committee. We broke for lunch and I joined a group of Americans who walked to a nearby shopping centre. We sat in a sushi train style restaurant and had some fairly good freshly prepared sushi. I was in a booth with Jack Ladson (independent colour science consultant), Tom Osborne from Qualcomm, and Scott Geffert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

After lunch it was the ending session of Working Group 18 on digital photography, which was more of the introductory admin stuff. This was the session where I gave my presentation inviting everyone to Sydney for the next WG18 meeting in October. The session ended early and I spent some time meeting people and discussing various things, particularly the texture measurement proposal with Jackson Roland from Imatest. The Americans were planning to meet for dinner, and most are staying in my hotel, so I decided to join them at 18:00.

Odori Park
Odori Park.

I went back to the hotel to drop my laptop bag, and then went for a walk to the park at Odori, and to see the famous historical clock tower, which is much smaller than I expected. It had a spot for tourists to stand to get a photo with the tower, and I had to wait for several people to have a go before I got to use it for Monkey. I also went to see the giant TV Tower, which I’d mistaken for the clock tower as it has a huge (digital) clock on it. Odori Park is very nice, with flowers and grassy areas and plenty of people sitting and enjoying the afternoon, with ice cream stalls and stuff around the edges. There was a small group of people sitting in the park playing some Japanese drums, and looking like they were simply having a fun time. I asked them by gesture if I could take their photo and they were happy to let me.

Sapporo drummers
People having fun with drums in Odori Park.

At 18:00 I met with Jackson Roland, Neelam Sharma of Intel, Margaret Belska of Nvidia, Jonathan Philips of Google, and Ken Parulski of aKAP, to head out for dinner. Jonathan led the way to a place called Ramen Alley, a tiny alleyway lined with dozens of tiny ramen shops. Apparently there is an old Ramen Alley, and a new Ramen Alley nearby, but we only managed to find one. The places were tiny and we were lucky to find one with six seats available, as Hoang-Phi Nguyen from DxO joined is there too. We had to pay by feeding cash into a machine with the menu items displayed on it, which then printed out a ticket for the chefs to refer to.

Ramen Alley
Old Ramen Alley.

I got a ramen dish that cost 1450 yen, and had crab leg meat in it, as well as a couple of very large shellfish which I though might have been abalone, but Jackson said it was something else, though he didn’t know what. It was very good. Signs outside the shops stated in English (and Japanese presumably saying the same thing) that “Barkers at [restaurant name] are not subject to Sapporo ordinances.” None of were quite sure what this meant – perhaps Ramen Alley is so historic that some of the city laws don’t apply there. We joked that the fire codes probably didn’t apply, judging by how they cooked our meals!

Ramen Alley shop
Ramen restaurant in Old Ramen Alley.

After eating, we walked in search of a dessert place that some of them had spotted the night before. We found it after some searching in a vast covered pedestrian mall lined with bright shops and food places. It was a crepe place called Marion Crepes, where we ordered things off the plastic crepe display menu. I got a banana chocolate special, with whipped cream and ice cream. It came wrapped in the crepe in a cone, and was delicious.

Marion Crepes
Marion Crepes.

From there we headed back to our hotel, where I have had a shower and am about to get an early night.

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