Happy Kodomo No Hi
! Today is the other holiday in Golden Week,
celebrating children and their happiness. It's also a good day
for parents and their children to go out and see the sights, and to go
shopping. On my excursions today there were lots of families out,
many more than I've seen on other days. Yesterday was
really busy too, and on that day my friend Keith and I went to
Harajuko, an area on the western portion of Tokyo, where the Meiji Shrine
located. That shrine, which I have not yet visited, is dedicated
to Emperor Meiji
and his wife, whose reign and the Meiji Restoration
ended the Shogunate that had been in control of Japan from 1603.
I hope to visit this before I leave.
Anyway, the trip takes us via several subway lines to Harujuku station
We went there the night before, to the busiest intersection in the
world. Today we're going to a museum and then walk about a mile
to another subway station. Getting off the subway we see what
we're in for, masses of people:
We went to the Ota Memorial
Museum of Art
, which is dedicated to the fine art of wood block
prints. The current exhibit is that of "Women's Lessons
", and has many special pieces of a genre known as
bijin-ga, or pictures of beautiful women. You can click this link
to see an archive of the
exhibition page. As usual, no photos inside, just a picture of me
in front of the museum holding my bag of prints of 36 Views of
Then it was off to see what this shopping area looks like. As you
can see, it's a massive jam of people, not all keeping left. It
was actually kind of painful shuffling along in stretches. But
there are vast quantities of people out on this holiday.
One interesting place people were getting food had this little octopus
logo, and based on what it looked like, it seemed to be pieces of
octopus cut up, breaded and fried. Here's the menu. And let
me tell you, the line was 20 long for this.
This store amazed us. "Used Casual Wear" sounds like usual
vintage stuff. However, they were selling old jeans from the
50's, 60's and 70's, even up through the 80's for more than $300.
There was one pair in a special area that they were asking
50,000¥. And some old faded-bleached-white jeans from the
80's that had rips in the pockets where you put your thumb, were going
for $100. I just threw out a couple of pairs of those, too!
It turns out our direction-finding equipment was faulty, and rather
than heading for Omotesandō station like we expected, we had gone down
Meiji-dori and ended up at Shibuya
again. An American couple was equally lost as us, and
we were unfortunately unable to direct them to the Outback
Steakhouse. But they reminded us that the statue of Hachikō
is just the
other side of the station so we went over to get our compulsory tourist
photos taken with him. Read the wikipedia story
but the short version is this dog was a faithful companion to his
master, and when the master died, the dog continued to come to Shibuya
station every day to greet him, for another eleven years. They
put up a statue in the dog's honor, and the dog was even there for its
Did you note the letter ō I used in the paragraph above? I came
across an article on Hepburn
, which has nothing to do with an actress, but is
rather a standard way of translating Japanese sounds into the Roman
alphabet. Anyway, back to our story.
While at Shibuya
, we were thinking about dinner, and inside the Tokyu
Department Store there is an enormous food arcade selling mostly
prepared foods for take home. We were feeling kind of sushi, and
after sampling this we decided to get the box. 1380¥.
Even the presentation is nice. Here's the bamboo box, top and
And what was inside: crab, salmon roe, sweet egg cake, all on a
bed of rice, with some pickled ginger in the bottom right. My
usual Thursday night fare, to be sure... There was a take-home
menu that shows whole party packages, and the company that makes it has a web site, available here
Today I went back to Akihabara and bought some more presents and
stuff. I have to watch my cash this weekend, because most ATMs
don't take American bank cards, PLUS or Cirrus are not so available
here. I've only been able to use the ATM at the Post Office,
which is of course closed for the holiday. Some other notes, I
got home and there was a message on my room answering machine. I
don't know if someone actually left me a message, but there was some
Japanese and then it played an electronic version of Greensleeves
3 minutes. It was nice, but what did it mean- Christmas is
coming? Yeah, I know, I know...
Also, the Japanese are really into their text messaging
I was the only western guy on the subway today, and out of the ~30
people on the train, 20 were sending messages with their phones.
I find it tiresome to do it at home, but I'm told by an American that
it's actually really convenient to send messages because the phone
prompts you to input the characters in a menu. Maybe. But I
do know that there is some practical use for it here. Street
addresses are not particularly useful because it will only get you
within a few blocks of your destination. Lots of restaurants and
stores have a system that if you text something to a specific phone
number, it will send you back a graphical map on where they are.
That's it for today. One more week or so to go.