Jan 28, 2009

Things I'll Miss, Part One

After that little bit snarkiness, a few things I'll miss about Japan. Not big things like my students or friends, but little things about the landscape itself.

Temples and Shrines

Sure, a lot of them look alike. But I like them anyways, especially my local, massive Narita-san. It's nice to see these buildings which are characteristically Japanese nestled amongst all the modernity, reminders that modernization need not mean complete westernization. Here, temple attendees read New Year's fortunes in Asakusa.


Japanese trains are wonderful. I wish I could uproot the train system here and take it back with me to the States. With them, one can go most anywhere rather rapidly and affordably, and I've hardly missed having a car.

Kaiten Sushi

Proper sushi bars, the kind where you sit at a table and order items individually, are fairly expensive. While in Japan, though, I've been to such a place all of one time. I'd rather go to kaiten sushi, the restaurants where cheap sushi revolves around the counter on a conveyor belt, with the chefs often standing in the middle of it. At their best, these places are crowded and raucous, with customers yelling orders at the chefs, and the chefs yelling right back. There's the constant sound of clinking plates and chatter, and the whole place is infused with the distinctive smell of fresh fish. I usually have to limit myself to about seven plates or so, otherwise I think I could devour the contents of the conveyor belt.

The Tone and Edo Rivers

These two rivers have awesome bike paths, and I've quite enjoyed riding along them. The Tone is near my apartment, and it's wind-buffeted bike path is part of my regular cycling loop. The Edo stretches into Tokyo from the suburbs, and down into the Southern coast of the metropolis. I've zoned out on my bike quite a bit on these waterways, and will miss my river-lined cycling sessions.

Yoyogi Park

I've mentioned this place before, I know, but ever since my first day in Tokyo Yoyogi has consistently been my favorite place in Tokyo. On Sundays, all manner of people come out to play. The place is filled with drummers, dancers, jugglers, and, of course, the Elvis-like Tokyo Rockabilly Club.

It's been cold lately, but on warmer days Yoyogi Sundays are virtual outdoor concerts. All manner of bands and musicians are out there, playing for whoever passes by. Here, a solitary trumpeter braves the cold.

The flea market is considerable. Here in Japan I've tried to limit my intake of stuff, given that I'll just have to move it or get rid of it later. Back in the States, though, I would have had a field day with all of the LPs and vintage jackets for sale.

And of course, there are the goths and weirdly-attired youth. Once, I was having a class with an older student, and the topic in the textbook was clothes and appearance. The Harajuku/Yoyogi goths ended up coming up in class. My student said "I think they look stupid, but that's okay. They remind us that we are free."

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