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Just walk, and hope for the best

March 7, 2012

I have just returned from Japan, where I encountered the following small, adorable things:

(1) Bento box supplies at the Tokyu Hands Shibuya branch. Have you ever wanted to make a hot dog (or maybe a veggie dog) into the shape of a miniature octopus? This aisle is for you.

(2) Pink, pint-sized arcade games near the Hello Kitty Pancake Party at VenusFort. I do not have words to describe the color in this place. “Death by glowing cotton candy” comes close.

(3) Chocolate bonbons from the Sadaharu Aoki boutique in the Isetan depachika. Flavors, from left to right: Black sesame, coconut, wasabi, bamboo, yuzu, passion fruit, Valencia orange, strawberry, raspberry, caramel, coffee, blueberry. I am shocked that I refrained from eating these long enough to photograph them.

(4) A single glistening, candied kumquat, part of an everything-in-its-place set lunch at Brown Rice Cafe.

(5) A pristine pick-me-up at Chatei Hatou, a kissaten where, per Oliver Strand, “coffee is prepared with such intensity and grace that it feels as if time has stopped.”

(6) Everyone.

Let me explain. Perhaps it is just because I am an overseas-travel novice, but I cannot get over the fact that my body crossed the International Date Line. Contrary to my expectations, when this happened, Captain Jean-Luc Picard did not beam down into the airplane cabin and ask me if I wanted to join his crew IN THE FUTURE. I just dozed lightly, in my usual mid-flight manner, and then poof! Today became tomorrow. In Tomorrowland, I could read few signs and fewer advertisements. I did most of my communicating by pointing, smiling, and saying “thank you.” I felt a bit like a Martian. Or an artist. Or both.

Now I sleep, and Japan is awake, and the good people of Japan are rushing to catch a train.

And they are hoping and praying.

And they are wishing for love and luck. And perhaps neither comes.
Fold heartache neatly, tie it in a knot, and walk away.

The good people of Japan are also trying to get to work. On our first day in Tokyo, Jules and I entered Shinjuku Station around 7:30 a.m., when approximately everyone in Tokyo was exiting Shinjuku Station.

I used to think that there were two types of people in the world: (1) People who look where they are going when they are walking, to avoid collisions, and (2) People who just walk. Neither type is necessarily bad, I theorized, while secretly congratulating myself for being the responsible, collision-avoiding type.

Shinjuku Station during rush hour taught me that this is just about the stupidest idea I have ever had. There are so many people, and so many trains, and so many zig-zagging paths, that if you tried to avoid collisions in Shinjuku Station, you would never move. You just walk, and hope for the best. The same principle applies while crossing the famed Shibuya Scramble.

Now I am back to my wishes, my prayers, my commute, my work. There are taxes to be done and decisions to be made and I am annoyed that the bus smells like a McDonald’s hamburger, when no one on the bus seems to be eating a McDonald’s hamburger, and I have yet to unpack, and I need to clean the house before the housecleaner gets here.

And it is already tomorrow in Tokyo.
We are such small, adorable things. All of us.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. t.on.air permalink
    March 7, 2012 11:27 am

    Ah that makes me miss Japan even more. Good job. Thanks for posting.

    • March 7, 2012 2:22 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, T–this is a high compliment coming from someone as well traveled as you! I have only been back in Seattle for 4 days, and I miss Japan already. I’m in the midst of planning more posts on all the awesome food we ate there.

  2. March 7, 2012 2:43 pm

    I like the picture of the Maneki Neko cats!

    • March 8, 2012 6:38 am

      Thank you! There were about a zillion of them in the window at this shop in Kyoto. I love how colorful they are.

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