On Friday, the 31st, I started out with an autographing session - and it was predictable that, with a dealer's room that was pretty much bereft of English books and the fact that people basically came to Japan with minimal luggage anyway and have no wish to add to it, there was a dearth of actual books that wanted to be signed. But a bunch of people came by with their program books and convention booklets and wanted those signed - and some of them managed to make their intentions clear only by smiling and gesticulating. A Japanese professor came by and appeared to express an interest in YA literature and in teaching same as educational tools - and was VERY interested in my stuff - but just exactly in what way it was hard to tell. He said that he would email me, and gave me his card, and bowed a lot, and we left it at that - perhaps he'll be a little more articulate in email when he has a chance to actually take his time with the language.
Then I had a panel at noon, "Unexplored Alternate Histories". It was my first panel, and it was a doozy because it was one of the sim-translated ones, with everything any of the panelists said being translated into Japanese by a translator sitting across from us, and he was AWESOME, and extremely erudite and fluent and polite. It was an interesting panel and lots of interesting points were raised - and translated - including the "history is written by the winner" dictum, especially poignant seeing as we were literally sitting in the halls of one of the "losers" of the Second World War, whose view of that conflict would probably differ radically from that which the Westerners had brought into the room.
At four that afternoon I signed up to attend a Japanese tea ceremony, performed by several ladies in kimonos with esoteric looking tools with lots of lacquerwork and enamel - tea was prepared in front of us to show us how it was done (very fine green tea, nearly boiling water as opposed to boiling, to preserve flavour and the vitamin C, and then whisked into a lather with a wickerwork whisk) and then instructed how to properly accept the tea and drink it and return the bowl to the hostess. Then they asked for a volunteer to make a batch of tea and I leapt at it and whisked up a green storm - it's harder than it looks - and green_knight took pictures as evidence which she promised to send when she gets a chance ('cept her wireless mojo is not working and her machine won't connect to the network in the hotel or the conference centre which is annoying her mightily). Then carl_allery decided that she felt a little bunged up and sniffly and retired to bed early, leaving green_knight and me to find supper (which we did, in a FUNKY little "italian" restaurant in the shopping complex next door to the conference centre), and then spent hours sitting out in the balmy night in the coruscating shadow of Yokohama's giant ferris wheel (of which I have lots of pictures) and just talking.
After breakfast in our room the following morning (decadent stuff, this) I wandered down to the conference centre for another panel ("Research 101") with Stanley Schmidt and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, which I moderated - and we had a good time with it, with a good spread of interests and experience in the three panelists which managed to cover a lot of ground. Then I went to a panel on "locations", which was a discussion on how place and setting affect a story, and after THAT I was on a panel on "Making writing more vivid and memorable" which I told jaylake that he was to moderate as penance for the fact that he had come to Japan for *a day*. He was an excellent panelist and moderator, and green_knight said later that this was the best panel of her convention - and of mine, too, so far. It was definitely a lively and memorable panel, and much enjoyed.
Then we collected carl_allery and went out to dinner - back to the funky cheap and cheerful "Italian" spot discovered the previous night. After that green_knight and I went to the Hugo awards, and carl_allery retired to the room again. The Hugos ceremony was fun, complete with Godzilla monsters and spacemen and George Takei as presenter, and "Pan's Labyrinth" won the Hugo for best long dramatic presentation which pleased me greatly.
Then I decided I was feeling tired, after all, and came back to bed. It is currently 11:03 PM here, don't listen to what the dateline on this entry might be telling you, this computer still thinks it's on Pacific Time...
In between panels and suchlike I chatted to a bunch of people, both old friends and new; giggled at a laughing dancing robot someone had set up as demonstration at the WiFi centre at the convention floor; watched in bemusement as official pictures were taken of a Japanese wedding that had taken place in the glam lower foyer of our hotel; discovered weird stuff on offer as food in the Green Room and the consuite - lots of tofu, and strange Japanese confectionery, and such stuff; and took photos - the kids running around the place, often in miniature kimono and their hair in little pigtails, are MOPPETS and absolutely irresistible photo fodder.
Bed. Now. I'm kind of tired and zoned out. Tomorrow it's the rasfc breakfast in the morning, and then another panel and my kaffeeklatsch in the afternoon, and then I'm basically done with the official part of the convention and we can start planning our Monday excursion. It looks like we might be going out to Kamakura, a day trip from here, to see the giant Buddha there - so Monday will be my first serious Photo Day, as it were.
More later - update tomorrow on final panels and suchlike, and after that I'm a fully fledged tourist in a strange land.
Sayonara for now from the land of the soon-to-be-rising sun...