Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Friday, December 12

Tomorrow my big suitcase gets shipped to the airport so I won’t have to schlep it. I decided I ought to go shopping today in preparation for leaving. Also, it’s Robin’s birthday and she had a request. I asked one of the young ladies who works at the hotel for suggestions about where to shop. They are very knowledgeable and go out of their way to be helpful. It was a beautiful day, still warm with a blue sky. I probably should have gone to another temple, but the truth is I needed a break. I got to the shopping area about 10:15 and found they didn’t open until 11. Back on the bus to the train station and Bic Camera, a huge electronics dealer next to the station. Robin’s request had been USB gloves, to keep your hands warm while using the computer.

Bic computer is a daunting place. There are seven floors of electronic stuff and every floor has loud music and loud announcements, which I don’t find conducive to the challenge of shopping in a foreign language. I’ve actually managed to purchase two things there at different times: a lan cable and a USB storage device, and failed to purchase a battery for my camera because they no longer carried it. I have yet to find anyone who speaks English there. The battery and the USB device were easy. I just took out the one I had and asked for another. I couldn’t do that with the lan cable since I didn’t have one, making the purchase a lot trickier. This time I was pretty sure would be impossible. How do you ask for something that might not even exist?

I walked around the entire computer floor until I found the obvious place where such an item would be if they had it: a huge case with plastic models of sushi with USB connectors sticking out of them. Amazing! If they had had the gloves, this is where they would be, but no such luck.

Back on the bus, it was lunchtime already, after which I finally went shopping. Most of the fashionable stuff for young women here seems to have at least a touch of that goth-lolita business, making it very hard to find anything I want to buy. I managed to get a couple of things and went back to the paper store where I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the papers no longer carried by the shop in Tokyo.


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Toji Temple has an “antiques market” the first Sunday of every month—my destination this beautiful, cold morning. This is the same market where I bought the bag of fabric scraps last year, so of course, I went looking for more. I bought another small selection of scraps, then blew caution to the winds and bought another obi and a kimono jacket, both to be used as fabrics. Unfortunately, this left me carrying a heavy bag all day.

Too cold for much photography. This was the only good one.

Too cold for much photography. This was the only good one.

The man in blue really intrigued me. Never got a good shot.

The man in blue really intrigued me. Never got a good shot.

Unusual lantern at Toji Temple

Unusual lantern at Toji Temple

I finally decided to cope with shopping crowds rather than crowds of tourists, but didn’t find anything else I wanted in spite encountering several very clever sales women who showed me really tempting things. In one place, I think called El Rodeo, they had some wonderful hand painted and appliqued garments. The clerk showed me a painted jacket with a wonderful lining that might even fit me. Very tempting.

It wasn’t a productive day. I have resolved to do a better job of planning ahead. I have tomorrow all planned out.

Barbara asked me if there was any remembrance of the Pearl Harbor bombing. I can’t answer the question. Not being able to speak or read Japanese I really have no idea what is going on here. I looked at two of the English language papers. The Japan Times had a small article about a Bush proclamation comemorating the event. Otherwise I found nothing about it–not a big surprise. The Japanese would obviously like to forget their entire involvement in WW2, just as we would like to forget dropping the A-bomb on them.

It has gotten quite cold here—near freezing at night. I can feel the cold air coming in around the windows in my room. When I look at the old Japanese houses I wonder how people dealt with the cold. Most of the houses had sliding doors, not the kind of thing you can seal or inslulate. And no obvious means of heating. None of the books ever talk about heating; just occasional mentions of the beauty of snow.

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My beautiful weather ended; although the weather bug thing on the computer told me it would be nice today. Not the first time it’s been completely wrong. I left my cave dressed for this warm weather and immediately returned for more clothing. Stupidly, I did not take an umbrella; after all, the sun was shining.

I had already decided I would go to the Kabuki today. Performances can last about four hours, with intermissions for food. You can also opt to see only one or two acts. Tickets are very cheap and you sit up in the sky. At ten o’clock the line had already formed for the first tickets that go on sale at 10:30. I got my ticket, climbed to the fourth level very quickly (for me) and got a seat. They will sell more tickets than there are seats and people stand. Then I got the English translator that whispered in my ear, a bottle of green tea, and I was ready.

The story is complicated and having opted for only one performance I never saw the whole thing. That’s not the point anyway. It’s more that the scenes and the movements are beautiful. I did this last year, also. I can’t say I really appreciate it as an art form, but it is intimately connected with those woodblock prints I love so much. I feel like I should know much more about it.

There was a man standing behind me who yelled things at the end of some of the vignettes. Maybe this was akin to “Bravo.” Another thing I’ll never know.

The Kabuki theater is in the Ginza district. After the show I walked down the Ginza, which was closed to traffic today, I think because it is a holiday. The stores are filled with Christmas stuff, decorations and merchandise. It’s a big holiday here, where there is no Christ in Christmas. I don’t remember the percentage of Christians, but I know it’s not very large. There actually weren’t very many people on the street, considering how crowded most events can be. I don’t know if it was the weather, or the economy. It started to rain as I walked. I went into Mitsukoshi and bought some bread in the Johan section. I don’t know who Johan is, never met him when I was in Paris, but he makes better bread than most places.

My next stop was the Paperium at Itoya where I got the paper to bind my book last year. Things change, and seldom for the better. I wasn’t serious about buying more paper. I still have five days of travel before I return to Kyoto and I didn’t want to carry it, but they no longer have those lovely papers. They are only carrying printed papers. The beautiful textured sheets are gone.

I began to feel cold drops of rain and started walking to the train station. Next to it is a place called Muji, the Japanese Ikea, only a more manageable size. If I lived here, I would buy all of my home furnishings from them. I had trouble finding the entrance to the train station and walked in to the International Forum to get out of the rain. It’s a huge building with exhibition halls, meeting rooms and passages to several train and subway stations and other buildings in the area. I was able to stay dry until I left Ueno Station to walk back to the hotel.

I stayed in the hotel the rest of the afternoon working on the last post. Putting in all of the pictures takes a long time. I went out for dinner to an Indian place around the corner. It’s the closest to the hotel, but I’m happy I won’t have to do that again.

Now I am sitting on my futon listening to the raindrops hitting something hard outside—a veritable symphony of drips. And it is time to pack. Tomorrow I leave Tokyo for Kanazawa.

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