Every day, if I keep the talking to a minimum, I can get about an hours worth of small chat going! This is very exciting as last night night was meet the locals night at the bar under the hostel I was staying at in the beginning of the week. Since I was still technically staying at the same establishment, I got one free drink on the house to show up and be foreign. There is a cover charge to get in for the people not staying at the hostel as well, so basically the locals are paying for our first drink ^_^* The night started off with some sort of bingo game on the television. We all got cards, and they would display the numbers on their big screens and it was actually really fun. This German couple I sat with were doing really well, so thats how I started making small talk. "Sugoi!" I taught them (aren't I so multi cultural?) After bingo they brought snacks out on the tables to keep us all entertained and staying. Most of the locals I met were older men. One of them made friends with me on facebook, and for the longest time I couldn't remember when I met this beautiful girl, until she sent me a message, "Hey, remember me from last night? Me and my friend hung out with you and your blond friend." They really thought it was going to be a double date kind of a thing with me and my "blond" friend. Basically there is this latin woman (I say woman because she had to be the oldest person at the hostels, in her late 30's if not 40's), and she was a tramp. I'm just going to put it out there. At first I really didn't like her because she took up a lot of my alone time in the bed room being hungover. But, I couldn't complain, because she was a quiet hungover person. I would sleep, and she would sleep, and we would only leave the room for tea and going to the bathroom. She was gone every night, but then the next morning I would see her discheveledness on the bunk next to mine, and I knew she was okay. She dressed like she was out of the 80's, and probably because she was, but it was the fashion amongst the Japanese girls, so she looked the part. Big baggy sweaters that are short sleeved and hang off of both shoulders, tight running pants, extremely high heels, and short curly blond hair with almost black roots held back with a big headband. The Japanese boys were all abonds until her notoriety proceeded herself. But this night she was still a hot number, and she was out to be my protecter. She explained to everyone that I had been sick, so she would talk for me, and oh man the trouble I would get into with her if I hadn't only had my heart trampled all over the past month. I was single, and I was completely happy to not date. So what the fuck was I doing out at a bar? Desperately trying to make new friends! I left her to both the boys at one point, and started mingling with a group of fairly adult seeming people, and they seemed genuinely to want to just meet people from other countries. The main guy I started talking to lived in America for a few years in Arizona, so we had a great time dishing about how much we loved it. Then he asked if I had been to Electric Town, and I scrunched my face up. He agreed that I needed a guide, and it really was all it was cracked up to be! He promised to take me there and we would go to this restaurant where they hand cuff you, and lock you in a jail cell, and serve you your food through the bars. Or, if I didn't want something so intensely interactive, we could be the "jail guards" who eat at tables outside of the people in the cells. I told him it sounded interesting, but expensive, and I was really just looking to tour around. But he insisted, and said he would buy, and on top of that, did I want another drink? He started to turn around to the barman to ask for 2 of something, but I told him that I was really alright, and I was still working on my first drink... he noticed it was the same one I got for free like an hour ago, and seemed disappointed, but then I got him back on the topic of showing me around. "Well, you know its a public holiday Monday right?" I looked at him, "Ahh, I don't know much about Japanese holidays..." He laughed, "No, its an American holiday, July 5th" "Ummm, July 4th is an American holiday" "I know that, but the 5th is too, since my American counterparts have off on Monday." He looked at me, trying to figure it out, and so I explained to him that we believe that you should get the day off work for American holidays, so if the holiday lands on the weekend, you still get the closest weekday off. Yay, I'm helpful! Well, anyways, because of the time difference, he wasn't sure if he was going to get off or not, but if he did, he would email me about where to meet and he would take me out to Electric Town. Sure, why not, I wouldn't let him buy me drinks, the least I could do was let him show me around and buy me dinner... riiiight.
Today, however, was Lolita day!!! I remembered Mochan told us that once a week all the girls would dress up like French maids and parade around this one part of town to be discovered for TV. It is actually called "Lolita Square" in my guide book. We took Eelke to see it on an off day, so we didn't really get to see any girls, so I was real hopeful I would get to see a tun!
The train station where all the girls get off to go to the square:
Yeah, I don't see any yet.
Okay, the bridge over the train tracks where there is actually the square where they are all supposed to gather:
Ahah! There's one across the street!
Yeah, she's not really good. They were better dressed in Electric Town, what gives?
There was a kid playing the guitar and harmonica singing J-Pop, and I thought he was pretty good.
But hey, maybe more Lolita's will pop up once I start walking around right?
When I went to climb down the steps from the overhead pedestrian walk, I saw one, and tried to get a quick shot:
People weren't too happy with me because I was forcing them to funnel around me, so I hurried up down the stairs and I found another one, kinda, I think she might be selling flowers at the train station:
I didn't find any more today
but I did find a cool market that sold all sorts of really neat Japanese clothes, shoes, jewelry, snacks, it was like a shopping festival!
I shopped around for a few hours, going into every shop, looking through all the neat stuff, and I even managed to buy myself 2 pairs of earrings! I have been looking for some nice sewing earrings exercise I saw this woman have them what is probably now years ago, but I haven't really been looking all that hard since I don't shop. But here in Japan I have been window shopping a lot, and they have them everywhere! This first one I found I liked because maybe it could be a rain drop? It is a white sparkly diamond in the shape of a diamond. I wanted some jewelry to take the name Rain back for myself (since the name is very linked to Joe because he is the only one whoever says it). I also wanted a sewing earring because I have this cool idea to take the one earring, and instead of wearing it like you are supposed to, wich is to pull it through one hole and let it dangle, I want to make it a short earring and sew it through all 3 of my holes! I know, I'm going to start a trend.
Here is what I am talking about:
Cool right? Then as I kept shopping I found this awesome "Australian" shop called Kangaroo Country (Takeshita Dori, Harajuku), the Boomerang corporation. I remember all this because I still have the little bag they gave me the earrings in because it was so cute. It has little trees with kangaroos and koalas and peacocks and platypuses all on the border around the name. They had cool Jem and the hologram earrings and sewing earrings with a circular blue diamond at the end! Way more perfect, but oh well, this market was actually really cheap, so I didn't mind buying another pair of earrings. I have hardly bought myself anything this whole trip, so I figured, this is the country I really wanted to see, why not get some souvenirs? Also, the last red star earings I bought in Taiwan already broke and fell off my ears, so, I needed replacements. When I took the earings to the counter, all excited for the sale 2 for the price of one, the guy told me thats 2 earrings, not 2 pairs. Well fuck, now the price wasn't so cheap, so I decided to just get the one pair:
I like that pair better, but for the next year (I kid you not, today is August 2nd, 2011 real date, and blog date is July 5th, 2010) I wear one white diamond in one ear, and one blue diamond in the other, both sewn all the way through all 3 holes.
After I made it to the other end of the shopping walk, I couldn't take the crowds anymore, so I made a circle around the block, went back to the train station, and crossed the street to the temple (they literally are everywhere there is open space here).
Now, I'm not sure what this was for, but there was some sort of big celebration, and there were women all dressed up in real kamono's, and they had people escorting them along silk rug paths, and the munks were all chanting while putting up these prayers along the shrine. It was fascinating. I stayed here, watching all the professional photographers set up their lighting and the monks all preparing for some sort of ceremony.
The gossip amongst the guijin (tourists, foreigners, white people) is that it is the temples really really old special you made it a very long time anniversary, so it is a very big deal. But all the fuss was kinda over since they all went inside to have a private ceremony, so I walked around the beautiful temple as everyone dispersed.
Then, my patience paid off, as I was one of the few still around when they exited, and oh my gosh there were so many beautiful kimonos! And they were all being put into limousines and busses, and the people helping them walk would have to put their hands on their hair to help get them into the limos like cops do to criminals so they don't smash their heads into the side of the car. One woman's hair really really wasn't fitting, and they had to try turning her every which way to get her inside, and eventually they opened the sunroof and she had to sit poised under the opening because her headdress was too big for the car!
Now the hubbub was really over, so I walked from the temple, through the gardens, and found a beautiful and extensive series of paths though a public park.
One of my favorite pictures:
And another sign about the karasu's nesting! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Now I was starting to get back into a city area, so rather than risk attack and or getting lost in this place, I decided it was time to start figuring out where the hell I was. I walked through the park for a few hours, and didn't care about what turns I took because there were maps and people everywhere, they could help me find my way out easy, but the trick was finding my way to the train station through the city with no real decent map to speak of... Last resort I could always go back through the park, but I didn't want to backtrack, even though it was beautiful, I wanted to see new things, and so I attempted a walk through the city.
I got so friggin lost I can't explain it. Finally I found a subway station, and I ran to it. I was on the buttfuck other side of the city! Well, not of Tokyo, I can't walk that far, but the suburb i was in was like 8 tran stops away from where I started! I decided to change trains at a new location from before, and I got out and got lunch (they have food inside the train station so you have to actually have bought a ticket to eat at these train "malls" I don't know what else to call them. And here are just some of the stained glass windows at the escalators!
And this one tells the story of the white rabbit going down to Wonderland:
The place was just amazing. The food was per usual, wich in Japan means not bad at all ^_^*