Just what season are we in?
Some random things - plastic sachets here can only be torn in one place. And if you're a millimetre out they will not open. Honestly!
Have I mentioned I've become addicted to Japanese mayonnaise? It's soooo nice. Nothing like the mayo in the UK!
I decided I HAD to try a green tea flavoured kit kat this evening. It was light green and delicious. I felt very sick after eating it though, but chocolate often has that affect (effect?) on me.
I realised I didn't explain clearly about the locking up bike situation here. The reason you get hundreds crammed into small areas here is that you don't lock the bike TO anything. All bikes come fitted with locks attached to the frame that hooks through the back wheel. They all have things to stand themselves up with and, hence, are free standing and crowded in together.
Oh and the tooth thing again: one of the reasons for bad teeth here is the toothpaste doesn't have flouride in it. Something I'm going to have to remember to ask for.
Victoria Beckham (Beck-HAM as the kids say here) is massive here. Apparantly. For any non-UKers - she's not taken at all seriously in the UK and generally annoys the hell out of people.
As the weather here is now all over the place (hot, cold, hot, cold), people have dug all their old clothes out. The stench of mothballs you now get in elevators and on the trains is unreal!
And heating is on everywhere too. Or on and off and on and off in the case of my schools. Means I'm generally too hot or too cold and constantly putting clothes back on or taking them back off again. There have been some lovely sunny days here recently, it's just the nights that are regularly bloody cold!
I have a rug in my 'kitchen' that I keep noticing every few days has moved by half a metre or more. I can't quite figure this out, unless every time I step on it I move it slightly.
Squat loos. I've not mentioned them for a while either. I'm happy (happier) to use them now. I may even try one without the precaution of rolling up my trouser legs next time....
Sunday was fantastic! I went to see the Shichigosan (7, 5, 3) festival at the Meiji Shrine. I had to go to Harajuku station to get there and the area is packed with people streaming out. As you come out the station the first thing to hit you is the massive Snoopy Town shop opposite you. As you enter you're thrown a Snoopyfied Disney shop basically but much much bigger and with everything you could possibly want with Snoopy on, and much more you really couldn't want even if you were certifiably insane. We're talking from Snoopy muffins, to Snoopy ironing boards (no, not ironing board COVERS but ironing boards), everything you could want for the kitchen and every item of clothing imaginable. And too too many other things. I didn't buy anything. I must find a Kittysan shop though (Hello Kitty).
As you leave the shop and head on towards the park to walk through to the shrine you pass a square where dozens of young (and not so young) people get dressed up in costumes, and stand around posing for people to take their pictures. We're talking carnival, gay pride, fancy dress party all in one. Baby doll outfits, bright yellow suits, shoes with big block heals six inches high. Lots and lots of stripey socks. Bizarre makeup and hair styles. The works. I also saw one old guy with a hat covered in a multitued of things including a little plastic bag in which a goldfish was swimming around. Really. I took a few pictures. It was most amusing.
I then crunched my way through a ton of gravel and passed lots of massive trees to get to the shrine, taking stacks of pictures of kids on the way. They were all dressed up in Kimonos and had their hair all made up, etc, and many of their parents and grandparents were also dressed up. Many of the kiddies were in red, but some had pink, yellow or green kimonos. At the beginning I politely asked the parents if I could take pictures of their kids - well, by politely we're talking, sumimasen [excuse me], dozo? [please?] [point at camera, point at kid] - at which point the kids were instructed by the parent/grandparent to pose for me. As every parent said yes, and I saw other people weren't asking first, I stopped asking after a while. I've said before, Japanese kids are really gorgeous. Japanese kids all dressed up are little treasures. And the little boys in little warrior looking outfits... awwww - I want some Japanese children. I just don't want to go through childbirth or bringing them up!
The shrine was something else. Massive and really impressive and there was a load of flowers and bonsais displayed just before you entered. I did the ritual hand and mouth wash thing, and soaked my camera at the same time. Still, I felt it was the proper thing to do. Inside the shrine (a massive square before the 'alter' bit) was a bit like a supermarket. Donno if it was a harvest festival thingy (quite likely I guess) but there was a massive amount of food and drink (including bottles of mayonnaise) all around the outside of the square. Watched and took more pictures of kids and their families and wrote a wish for all my friends that I inserted into a little box around a tree.
I was also lucky enough to observe parts of a wedding whilst there. The bride looked thoroughly bored and someone straightened the bride and grooms clothing every few minutes. Now, they must have been pretty well off to have married at the shrine. Something happened inside, then the whole procession and guests walked outside and sat down for a while as something else went on. They then wandered back inside for something else to happen. She was wearing a white kimono-ish thing during this. Later they came out again, wandered around for a lot longer and disappeared inside again. That time she was wearing a bright kimono. Later, after doing whatever else inside, they came out for another wander around (the whole procession and all the guests) and she was wearing the white thing again. They disappeared inside another time and I had to go so don't know if this went on all night.
After that I met up with my neighbour and her brother and we walked up the road a bit to see some Rockabillies who regularly 'perform'. Japanese rockabillies, complete with quiffs. Very amusing, and they were dancing away too! Apparantly they're there at least every Sunday.
We went into a 100 yen shop that had FOUR FLOORS. Lovely. I resisted buying anything from there though, although I adore 100 yen shops. The world should be full of them!
We also went into Doggy Gap. Okay, it wasn't called 'Gap' but might have well have been. Poor little chihuahuas (yuck!) aren't able to stand the climate in Japan. Apparantly. (bof). Anyway, doggy gap had everything your stylish chihuahua could want, from romper suits, to baseball jackets, to little hats with, or without, added ears. You could also get a Dalmation outfit for your chihuahua, a Mickey (or Minnie) Mouse outfit or, for the seasonal look a Santa or a Rudolph outfit. As I wasn't alone, we were roaring our heads off picking things up and screaming to each other. I can't remember half the other stuff they had there, but suits, t-shirts and jumpers, socks and shoes were amongst them...
I met up this morning with language exchange woman. Oh my god. She's lovely! We had a lovely natter in English and she helped me with Japanese and am definitely going to try to meet up every week. We met at one of the Starbucks and sat outside, as the weather was so lovely. Along with lots of people who all had large dogs with them. Real dogs. Labradores and the like. After seeing chihuahuas everywhere, this was so refreshing. The pipe smokers weren't so refreshing though.
Autumn has been hitting Tokyo the last few weeks, and this afternoon went with a friend to a big park where leaves were all starting to turn red. Beautiful. Would have been extremely peaceful there too, if it hadn't been for the hoards of people!
And all of my thoughts are with Jacks right now for what the next few weeks bring you all. (Okay, maybe not all of my thoughts, but a lot of them!)