Nakano festival in October
I wish I could say what it was for, but without knowledge of how to read Japanese I have no more details
I get this question often which prompts pondering and analysis of what the day held. I don’t dislike the question or find the asking of it to be unjustified, but sometimes I’m not satisfied with the answer. But what I really mean is, I don’t think the asking party will be satisfied with my answer. Because today I woke up, made and consumed coffee, dressed myself and then walked to the park. I went to the free zoo located in the park, I went to the grocery store and then I walked home. Boiled down - I went to a park and a grocery store. And fed myself. That’s it. That’s absolutely all I did today. Park, store, food. On paper, this sounds simple, too simple. It sounds dull - a wasted day. I’m in Tokyo, Japan. I could have gone to the Imperial Palace, I could have wandered the shopping metropolis of Ginza, I could have visited an onsen, gone to the Tsukiji fish market, wandered the neon streets of Shinjuku, climbed Mt. Fuji, gone skiing in Hokkaido, snorkeling in Okinawa. Those would have been proper answers to the question, “What did you do today?” But I didn’t. I went
to the park and the store.
It was a great day.
I can’t explain why I am so enamored by Japan. Today I went to the park and the store and I loved it, but I can’t describe why it was an amazing day. I try, but it falls flat. I recommend Tokyo to everyone who enjoys travel. I talk it up as much as possible, but I never feel like I do it justice. I've instead resorted to giving a collection of small bits of joy I experienced, hoping the listener (are they even still listening?) can piece it all together and come out with some semblance of what Tokyo must be like. But it never works. I end up in a puddle of frustration wondering why, toting around a journalism degree, I can not explain something to a level that satisfies me.
Tokyo is wearing your favorite pair of shoes. Sure, you own other pairs - probably dozens to chose from. Some are even hopelessly lost under the bed, but you keep going back to that one pair. You begin to rationalize wearing them for any occasion. People wear sandals to the symphony, right? No,
they don't. So you wear a more appropriate pair. But they're uncomfortable and you really wish you could have just worn the sandals. The other shoes just don't fit quite right. They're not as enjoyable as your favorite pair. But tomorrow. Tomorrow you can wear your favorite pair again. So today, wearing the uncomfortable shoes, is made more bearable by looking forward to wearing them tomorrow. And every other pair of shoes you put on gets compared to your favorite pair, and none of them come close to becoming the new favorite pair. Tokyo is my favorite pair of shoes. For me, Tokyo is comfortable and always enjoyable. The world may be crumbling around me, but I'm wearing my favorite pair of shoes, so life is going to be OK. Yeah, I have a list other destinations I'd love to visit, but I keep coming back to Tokyo in the same way I really want to wear those shoes everyday.
I’m not satisfied with that explanation either. Cue the daily bite-size experiences.
Just like every other Tokyo experience we've had, we walk miles every day. In about half an hour we can walk to Tokyo Bay, observing stingrays
(the bay is full of stingrays). From the bay looking right is Haneda airport and to the left is Tokyo Disney. In one glance I can see Disneyland, the ocean and planes taking off and landing - these are three of my favorite things in life.
In about ten minutes we can walk to the shores of the Arakawa River. About a mile north of us is the Edogawa boat races course which I can only describe as mini-hydroplanes. We spent many hours sitting on the river's shore talking physics of the turns, trying to figure out how the starts worked and staring fascinated by how quickly the boats were hauled out of the water once the race was over.
I love the neighborhood and building we live in. We all have shoe cubbies and change into our house slippers there. Someone in our building really enjoys fresh-cut flowers because everyday there is a vase of flowers on every table in the dining area. A girl (I presume) on my floor has put a floral-smelling diffuser in the bathroom. People have hooked up and left various gaming systems by the TV for anyone to play. In Japan, enjoyment
This weekend I walked into a flower potting festival in a park. That helped explain why everyone walking passed me on the path was carrying a hanging basket full of flowers. This flower potting festival also featured a beer garden, because this is Tokyo and it was Sunday and that is beer drinking day. A bit further into the park dozens of kids were splashing around in a fountain that didn't look designed for dozens of children to be playing in, but no one seemed to mind. The kid's bicycles were all laid down in a heap next to the fountain. Their families were pining on blue tarps nearby with impressive food spreads and cans of beer, because this is Tokyo and it was Sunday and that is beer drinking day. And a day of picnicking in the park.
The quiet but spacious pedestrian tree-lined path that goes from our house to Tokyo Bay is a perfect example of why I love Japan. When we arrived the cherry blossoms were showing their first pink petals. After a few weeks and millions of pictures, the path became invisible under a layer of cherry blossom confetti. Next came
the wisteria. The bold purple and floral scents filled the path and covered trellises over benches. When the purple faded into a lavender hue, the azaleas bloomed. Perfectly manicured hedges became blobs of neon pink. The flowers bloomed over any visible green leaf. When those withered, the roses bloomed. Never in my life have I seen roses as big as my face. I could stick my entire face into one single rose. Now the irises and hydrangea are blooming. On one path on the outskirts of Tokyo every flower takes its individual turn being the star - causing everyone to stop and admire the blooming color. There's an appreciation here that I have never seen anywhere else.
On May 4, Japan experienced the biggest earthquake since the aftershocks of the devastating Tokai earthquake in March 2011 that caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Earthquakes are frequent here and we’ve come up with a perfect protocol for handling them. Here are the following steps we take.
First, we wake up confused (earthquakes rarely happen during coherent hours). Next, we confirm with each other that this is in fact an earthquake. After the initial confirmation, we like to look at
one another while we shake and jar about. After some staring we like to say stuff like, “Wow, that was a big jolt,” or equally as intelligent, “This is lasting a long time.” A bit after 5am. on May 4, we did all of this. But it was kind of unique. After the initial confirmation that this was actually an earthquake, the protocol changed to something like: shoot out of bed and move into the center of the room, away from glass windows while commenting we should move away from glass that is rattling. Stand in the center of the room. Comment again on how that was a large jolt. Question what that clanking noise is. Confirm we have no idea what that clanking noise is. Propose the clanking noise could be pipes in the walls, or maybe something on the power lines. Comment that the clanking noise is probably not a good thing. Comment again on long duration of shaking. Listen to car alarms going off. Confirm earthquake has ended but the tall building we live in is still swaying a bit. We’re basically experts. We do, however, have emergency water. I use the emergency water bottles as dumbbells.
Tot: 0.911s; Tpl: 0.068s; cc: 14; qc: 35; dbt: 0.0338s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 4;
; mem: 1.4mb