Saturday, July 21, 2007

An Oasis

There are places in Japan where the history sinks into your skin, where the calmness of the earth can center you spiritually, and for any number of reasons, you can feel at peace.

But not in Tokyo. Tokyo is for shopping.

To prepare myself for this rigorous day I started out with a nice bath with my mother. The first time I came to Japan I refused to do the public bath with Eriko and her mother. I still dislike the idea of nudity around complete strangers, but the large room and wooden bathtub are too seductive to be ignored. There wasn't anyone with us anyway, and I had a lovely talk.

Already leery of traveling in a clump we split into two groups, and then three. My father, uninterested with the prospect of either electronics shopping or clothing and fabric shopping, went off by himself to Ueno. My mother, Meggish and I set out to the nearby UNI QLO.

But not before saying hello to an old friend, the giant gold turd.

UNI QLO would prove to be a disappointment both times today, so we moved quickly on to our next stop, a fabric store I'd read about only the night before we left.

Yes, that's what it's called. Five floors of more fabric than you can ever need. I don't even sew that much (though I guess I will now). I picked up a few pieces I'd seen on Superbuzzy and a few other odds and ends that will someday find great purpose.

We moved onto Ueno where without much difficulty we reunited with my father and had one of those lunches that involved a lot of 'what's that?' from the others followed by a shrug from me. Despite this, we enjoyed our food. The train going overhead and vibrating the entire restaurant added some extra atmosphere.

After that Meggish and I deserted my parents and joined up with the others in Akihabara. I'd never been to Tokyo during the weekend, and was unsurprised but still overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. The fabric store, while busy, had nothing on the electronics area. I hit a few old favorites with Tech Support and his gang before we split again, losing Meggish's fiance and his brother and gaining Lil Bro and Tech Support.

Ginza has been described as the Rodeo Drive of Japan. I've never been around Rodeo Drive enough to confirm if this is true, but it seems a little off. Ginza is too wide and varied and big to me. We'd walked about a quarter of the way down one street before we noticed something interesting.

The streets were closed off so we could walk freely on the asphalt. This had the odd effect of making the whole place eerily quiet despite the high number of people tromping around. We made another, unsuccessful, stab at finding good clothes in UNI QLO before hitting the jackpot at Muji. Three cute skirts for me and pants for Meggish.

Now exhausted, almost 7pm, we went back to the hotel, running into my exhausted and confused parents on the way. We were little help to them before Tech Support, Lil Bro and I wandered to a conveyor belt sushi place. I surmised, correctly, that the long line meant good food.

Back at the hotel I gloated over my loot.

Closer up on loot.

Now, exhausted, I think it's time to recover enough to survive the next day.

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