Monday, April 27, 2009

Japan 2009: Sunday, April 26th

Brendan & I were sure to be up early today, since our favourite tokusatsu shows were on, but we weren’t sure exactly when, so we turned on the tv at 7:00 am. Our first show- Samurai Sentai Shinkenger- was on at 7:30 & it was a lot of fun to see in real time, on a big tv (at home we usually watch it on a laptop). Kamen Rider Decade was on right after. Luckily, we had only missed one episode of each, so we were able to keep up with the story. It was a lot of fun to watch our shows together in Japan :)

The day was sunny & looked to be a lovely day for a day on the town. I did some last-minute washing & was able to move all the partly-dry clothes from the living room onto the breezeway, too, so that we won’t have trouble packing them for the trip back to the US. Charlie & Brendan did some work on Brendan’s school project, researching Shinto & Buddhism- although we have no internet access they’ve been working from books we brought with us. We left for the train station at 10:15, with the goal of meeting Marion at the Tokyo Edo Museum at 11:00. We got a bit turned around & missed one train as we got to the platform, but we were only 5 minutes late getting there, after one transfer. The museum is a very impressive building, built to look like a traditional Edo home built on stilts, but it’s huge & made of concrete & steel. It’s right next to the main Sumo wrestling venue in Tokyo, so we were on the lookout for Osumo-san as well :)

Marion was waiting for us & it was lovely to see her again- last time we saw her was about a year & a half ago when she visited her family in the US (her father is our next-door neighbour). We took what seemed like an endless escalator to get into the museum (you start your visit on the 6th floor) & the first exhibit is entered by crossing a replica of an Edo-era bridge into the city. There was a koto concert played by a woman in kimono going on while we looked at exhibits showing what homes looked like right before Japan was opened to the rest of the world. There was a palanquin you could sit in for a picture (I barely was able to climb in & out of it :).

As you moved through the museum you moved forward in history as well, post-WWII times. It was pretty neat, & Brendan was particularly interested, since they’ve been studying WWII in social studies.

We found a lovely restaurant right in the museum to have lunch, & they were even able to give Brendan just rice & miso soup for lunch- was he ever happy! Charlie had oyako-don (rice with chicken & egg on top) & Marian & I had tenpura, which was served with rice, soup, 2 kinds of veggies, & pickles.
Absolutely yummy! There was a gorgeous view of Tokyo from the restaurant, too, & we were told that on a really clear day you can see Fuji-san from there.

Over lunch we were talking about other things to do in Tokyo & Marian told us about a toy store called Kiddie Land in Harajuku. Brendan was very excited by the prospect of finding more kamen Rider stuff, so we decided to have a real adventure & head on over together. On the way to the station we passed a poplular restaurant & saw two Osumo-san, wearing yukata, geta, & their particular topknotted hairstyle, waiting in line. So we had our sumo-sighting :)

Harajuku is the part of Tokyo where “youth culture” is particularly celebrated- there are cosplayers in the streets & parks & loads of shops that cater to youth culture. What we didn’t anticipate was that most of Tokyo was enjoying a beautiful day in Harajuku as well... it was absolutely packed with people.

The station at harajuku is really quaint, in a european sort of way- it looks like something out of a Miyazaki movie. There was a large (but narrow) pedestrian bridge over the main intersection where people were lined up for a few meters just waiting to climb the stairs. We walked past a park with some cosplayers, & a group of people with signs that read “free hugs” who were getting giving hugs- it was very cute & cheerful.

We made it over the bridge & walked 2 blocks to Kiddie Land, through some amazing crowds.

Kiddie Land was pretty packed, too, but Brendan found his Kamen Rider stuff & was very happy. I found some more mugen pucchi-pucchi (endless bubblewrap gadgets- Brendan was lost at some point on this trip so I wanted to replace it) so I was happy, too :) The walk back to the station was, if possible, even more overwhelming. Brendan was having an awful time with the crowds, & it was only the prospect of getting to look at his new stuff that helped him keep it together. We finally all got to the platform & onto the train. We were making just a one station hop, while Marian was staying onthe train to transfer at Shinjuku Station, so we made our goodbyes on the crowded train & escaped. I was very impressed by how well Brendan kept it together in the terrible crowds- he was in a lot of distress & it was obvious to us, but he didn’t lose his composure. Pretty impressive. Our train home was much less populated, thank goodness, & Brendan got to take out one of his transforming riders & mess around with it until it was time to get off & walk home. We stopped for dinner food, then were relieved to get home for quiet & rest after our mega-busy day.



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