Wednesday, May 26—Osaka
As Advertised: Breakfast will be served in your hotel. The Plenary Sessions continue today and the unforgettable Closing Ceremonies are this evening.
Up at 5:10 again. Breakfast in Checkers again. Emboldened by our successful JR adventure the night before, we took the JR Osaka Loop Line to the Dome for the morning’s plenary session, arriving on time for the first time. This was the session in which the voting delegates cast their votes to elect new R.I. officers, but I decided to retain my place in our usual good seats in the stands rather than sit on the floor, where the view of the stage and screens was not as good. I noticed I was not the only person in the stands wearing a VOTING DELEGATE pin, including Sam, who was also representing his club.
The session included a keynote address by Sadako Ogata, reports by RI Treasurer Gennaro Cardinale and RI General Secretary Ed Futa, and addresses by President Elect Glenn E. Estess, Sr., and his successor, Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar of Göteborg, Sweden, who has been nominated to serve as RI president in 2005–2006. The session closed with a special presentation on the 2005 centennial convention, which will be held in Chicago. The announcement that all convention sessions will be held “under one roof” (in the McCormick Center) was met with deafening applause!
At the end of the plenary session, we took the subway (rather than the JR train) back to the hotel. Although this required one change of trains, the station was closer to the dome and the route more direct. After returning to our rooms briefly, a bunch of us (I forget who exactly, but really too large a group for efficiency) went back out in search of somewhere to have lunch. After searching the train station in a futile attempt to find the place Barney and I had had lunch the day before (which we thought was in the train station, but it was not), we settled on Café de Clever, where we had sandwiches. I had a delicious shrimp and avocado sandwich, iced caffe lattè, and pain au chocolat banana: total ¥1,100 (about $10).
Finishing lunch about 2:30, we split up. Sam and Debby went in search of a lipstick, and Barney and I explored the Daimaru Department Store (which was attached to the train station). We rode the elevator all the way to the fourteenth floor (restaurants), quickly scanning the fashions (and prices) on each floor as we went by. We then returned to the room to read and rest.
The Closing Feature was scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and we’d been advised to be at the dome “a minimum of two hours in advance.” Given our experience with finding seats at the Opening Ceremonies, this seemed like good advice, so we met Matthew, Sam, Debby, and Chris in the lobby at 5:30 to take the subway to the Dome. We got great seats exactly opposite the stage, moving several times to improve the seat configuration, and settled down to wait for the crowds to fill the stadium. It never happened. The crowd never materialized. We decided that the Japanese had all gone home, intending to beat the rush.
The session was enjoyable (though not exciting or even especially memorable). Following remarks by President Jonathan, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra played a portion of Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World.” Other entertainment included performances by popular musical and TV star Kaho Shimada; Tsutomo Aragaki, one of Japan’s most gifted tenors; and instrumentalist and singer Hideki Togi, renowned for his combination of traditional Japanese court music and modern innovations. The performance by Tsutomo Aragaki was interesting because he is blind and was holding Braille sheet music at his side and reading it with his fingers. The session closed with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne, preceded by an attempt to sing what was evidently an equivalent Japanese song.
At the end of the session, we took the subway back to the hotel (the last time we could use our rail passes before they expired at midnight), bought half-price pastries at Café Patisserie (on the lobby floor of the hotel), and ate them with bananas we’d sneaked out of Checkers that morning, this sufficing for a late supper before retiring.