Saturday, May 19, 2007

Day 5 - The kindness of strangers

We were a little at a loss for what to do for our last day in Tokyo, because it was supposed to rain. Mama had already decided to visit her family’s plot at the cemetery and meet with a friend for lunch. I told Rob and Huay that I wanted to go to Yuzawaya, my grandmother’s favorite craft store, and they could tag along or go on their own. They decided to come along.

The store was on the outskirts of Tokyo, so we had some train (mis)adventures along the way. Rob is constantly amused by how many people are able to sleep on the train. As Rob surreptitiously took this photo, the old man next to him caught a glance at the screen and gave a little smile.

The graphics they use on the train for the priority seating are fun!

We went to Kichijoji, where the rain was pouring down but Yuzawaya was in the station – no need to get wet! Rob explored while I shopped to my heart’s content. The floor we entered on had lingerie and toys (!) but one floor up, I saw a display of Liberty fabrics. I turned to Huay and said, “I’ll meet you in a half an hour!”

The gentleman who cut my fabric was incredibly nice. Although our conversation took place all in Japanese, he managed to ask me if I had a frequent buyer card, if I would like one, where I was from, when I was going home, where we were going next, that Liberty fabric was cheaper in Japan because they are allowed to make it there (he said this with quite a bit of pride), and wished me an enjoyable trip. I felt so happy to be able to communicate in Japanese – mine is so rusty that when people understand me it’s quite the thrill.

Outside the store with my purchases – don’t I look happy?

After my shopping excursion, we went to a neighborhood called Sendagi, which is near Ueno Park. Sendagi is part of a larger area that wasn’t destroyed during the war, so the scale is much smaller than the rest of Tokyo.

A beautiful house.

Anpanman is everywhere!

At this point, it was close to 2 pm, and I was fading fast. I think Mama and Huay have learned what a delicate flower I am and that I need to be fed on a regular basis or else I become a little testy. We chose a little café that had a British feel to it.

And what did we have to eat?

Huay had healthy curry.

Rob had hashed beef (more like a beef stew).

I had cheesecake and coffee! The lunch of champions!

The two women who were working at the café were incredibly nice. When I was paying the bill, they asked if we were visiting Tokyo and where we were from. They had some beautiful maps of the area for sale, and when I asked to buy one, they gave us two as presents. As we were walking outside, one of the women asked us we had visited the museum nearby. We hadn’t, and she encouraged us to do so. “It is very beautiful”, she said. But it was also closing in 45 minutes, so she told us to hurry.

The museum was the house and studio of Asakura Fumio, a very famous Japanese sculptor.

Rob and Huay were hesitant to go in, but I bullied them into it. They were both very happy that I did. I wasn’t familiar with his work, but the outdoor statues were reminiscent of Rodin, but with Asian faces. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the house… so I can’t show you what was in the first room. Statues of cats! They were really beautiful and whimsical.

Half of the house was Japanese style and the other half was 30s moderne. On top of the moderne portion, there was a roof garden where Huay snuck a couple of photos.

A view into the courtyard garden below.

A view of the area.

The one problem Rob had was that we had to wear slippers in the museum. Rob’s were too small.

And Huay’s were too big!

We stayed until the last minute, and we all enjoyed the museum immensely. How did the women at the café know we were into art, architecture, and cats?

As we walked back to the train station, we came across a temple and a cemetery.

We met Mama back at the hotel and we went to go eat at a “family restaurant”. A family restaurant usually has a large photo menu, great food, and very reasonable prices. What does Huay think of that?

After our lovely meal, we took the Yurikamome – a monorail that left from our station – to Odaiba, a manmade island with stores and an amusement park.

Crazy Fuji TV building – Rob said it looked like it was made specifically to be in Godzilla movies so he could destroy it.

Not only are there stores, there is also this familiar landmark.

Those French better stop giving out the same gifts to everyone!

The view of Tokyo was very beautiful at night.

Rob was very happy to find a Snoopy Town store in one of the malls. He was even happier to find this guy for sale.

Did you know Snoopy had a brother named Olaf? That he liked to eat and he was fat? (That was the description on the label!)

We walked a little more and found that Ashes and Snow, an art exhibit that we saw in Santa Monica was on the island as well.

Sometimes the world feels very small, doesn’t it?

Today turned out to be so nice, mainly because we had such wonderful service, great recommendations, and hospitality from all the Japanese people we met.

To end our leg in Tokyo, we had to take a certain photo. The hotel also provided nightshirts, which we used every night. Does one size fit all?

Luckily, no one ran into us in the hallway as we took the photo. :)

Next - too many sights, sounds, and food for one post.


yumi said...

Great dinner, Mari! And the one of the nightshirts...priceless. I'm glad everyone's having a good time.

Ashley said...

Oh, goodness! The nightshirts! I am so bullying my family into taking a picture like that.


MinaG said...

How neat that you're finding all these hidden treasures to discover along the way. I love seeing the modern building photos mixed in with the older structures... and the nightshirt photo, how classic! Also can't wait to see the things you have bought!

Anonymous said...

I think this day is my favorite entry so far! Mari, if I'd known you could get Liberty fabrics, I would have put in a small order! and why don't we have Snoopy Town stores here!?!?!

yaiAnn said...

Only 30 minutes for fabric? I would have been 30 minutes late! hee hee.. and EVERY menu everywherer should be a picture menu!