Monday, May 10, 2010

Electric Town, Lost and Found

The Mew looked into the terms of the mortgages we can qualify for, and it's looking like we should rent for a little while first. Here's hoping we can find a place that will A) rent to foreigners and B) allow said foreigners to have two cats. Sometimes one cat is okay, sometimes a small dog is okay but no cats, two cats will limit our options.

This past weekend was spent in Shibuya (all things fashionable and pop culture), Harajuku (all things subculture and otherwise bizarre by normal standards), and Akihabara (Electric Town, the place where you can find all manner of electronics and parts, often inexpensively).

Shoes! I'm not really a shoe girl, myself, but I want to do as the Romans do, and that necessitates high heels that I can walk in for miles. Almost all the footwear here is at least a little padded, and I've seen a lot of shoes that I'd wear, at a reasonable price, but none that are big enough for my huge gaijin feet. I think I need to find a drag queen shoe store.

On the other hand, this is possibly the first time that not being overly buxom is working in my favor. I got two new shirts, one in Shibuya and one in Harajuku. You can guess which one I can wear to more places, but the one with the collar rocks so hard I couldn't resist.

I sampled another new soda, ginger-flavored. It's okay, but not my favorite. It's less like ginger ale and more like the ginger you get with sushi, but in soda form.

This is some eye-catching marketing in Shibuya - just below the "WE ARE HERE" is the door to the building. I couldn't back up far enough to get it all in one shot. But I bet I could find this place, even if I couldn't tell you right off what it is, exactly. Bait and tackle shop? Fish store?

This isn't the largest or busiest intersection in Tokyo, but it's bigger than what I'm used to:

GIANT CLAW MACHINES in Akihabara! This is no Walmart, three-year-old-gets-stuck-inside machine. This is a could-be-rented-out-as-a-studio-apartment machine.

I haven't the faintest idea what's in those tubes, but they're about four feet long. Of course the claw didn't pick one up, but that's par for the course.

This one, on the other hand...

I'm not sure how to describe these other than barbecue-flavored churros. Weird.

Near-favorite food: taiyaki (ty-yah-kee). Thin fish-shaped waffles filled with delight. In this case, chocolate waffle filled with coffee-flavored custard or pudding. Mouth-burningly fresh and irresistible. Makes mews happy. There are several other flavors, but I can't remember what they are.

In Harajuku, there are a lot of goth/punk stores and a good amount of candy-colored hair...if only the Mew and I had had access to this ten years ago, before we had to tone down the style and be respectable adults. (Wistful sigh.) At least I got that shirt out of it.

We visited a nearby shrine, and on the way we passed what I can only guess is where the drag queens hung out to be the center of attention. Tourists were lined up around them, taking pictures. I should have asked them where they buy their shoes, but my language skills aren't quite there yet.

They were fabulous. I have no idea what the one on the left is holding, but the one on the right is singing (atrociously) along with some music playing on the stereo by their feet.

Time for the Lost and Found story.
Here is another example of how Japan is amazing. Each train car has a shelf at about eye level that serves as overhead baggage when the train is crowded. We had a momentary lapse of sanity and left a bag on one of those shelves. As soon as we realized it, we said a lot of bad words. Then we found the station master's office where we had four very nice station officers using their limited English with our even more limited Japanese to figure out which train it was, where it was at the moment, what the bag looked like, and what was in it. That same train returned to the station in a few minutes and the station officers got in each car with us to visually scan the luggage racks. We didn't find it, so we got a reference number and claim ticket with instructions to call the next day in case it was found and turned in.

We had our friend that lives in Asakusa call for us the next afternoon, and get this - the bag had been turned in and nothing was missing. Japan for the win.

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