Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Japan Diary # 2: Rain

Imperial Palace grounds.

     TOKYO —The plan was to start Monday touring the city's Harajuku district, talking to the Lolita goths and costumed cosplay kids who hang around the bridge there about Japanese concepts of cuteness, for my article. 
    But it rained. The weather report had said, "Scattered Showers," but they never scattered. They stayed together, pelting down hard, all day. Really, it was like the opening scene of "Rashomon."
     So Plan B. I walked around the Imperial Palace, waiting for the rain to stop.  The place was utterly deserted, such a contrast to the unbelievable density of the Tokyo subway. Then, when I realized the rain wasn't letting up, I gave Harajuku my best shot but, it was raining, there too, and while there were shoppers, the street scene folk who usually enliven the landscape were staying dry. 
     Across the bridge is the Meiji Jingu Shrine, and since I was standing in front of the entrance, I took refuge there, and toured its gardens, contemplating my mission. I was rewarded with a conversation with a pair of garden guards about yuru-kyara—the official mascots I'm writing about—that helped focus my thinking on the subject.
    By 2 p.m., after ... eight full hours walking in the rain, with another few to go before it let up, I was steaming up my glasses over a bowl of hot ramen. I'm not sure whether it was the best ramen I've ever eaten, or merely the most appreciated. But either way, it brought me back to the room. I only slept an hour last night -- even though I had only slept an hour on the plane, my body still thought it was 12 noon, not 2 a.m. So a nap seems in order. 


  1. Must say that dish looks better than pork rectum.

  2. I have to say, Neil, that you're a better traveler than I. Took a trip to Korea a few years ago and on a sightseeing tour the first day there my wife and I took a picture dressed as a Korean king and queen. I looked like I'd been dead and buried for a week and dug up for the photo. It didn't help that misplaced vanity made me remove my glasses. The bags under my eyes would have had to have been checked in if I'd been flying that day. My eyes were so bloodshot, I looked like I needed a transfusion. Everything on my face that could droop drooped. Even my hair looked tired and worn out. To make it worse, my wife looked wonderful. She too often reminds me that I'm older than she, but it seemed she dropped 20 years in the picture. I looked like a greedy old man next to his child bride. Had the disparity been any greater, they would have arrested me on the spot. Eight hours in the rain, a bit of ramen and a short nap -- you're the man!



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