Nar3: Japan

The Tokyo Adventure
Posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2004 at 10:17pm by Brett.
(Sunday, May 23rd, 2004 at 11:17am Japanese Standard Time)

Hisashiburu ne...

Well, now that Angel has finished, we are living in a post-Buffy world. My life has no meaning.

It seems that canceling the show wasn't enough, but the WB had to add insult to...uh...more insult. They've decided to replace Angel's time slot with...no, I can't even say it. It's too horrible.

Moving along.

Yesterday I met with Yuki in Tokyo. As always, it's loads of fun. I had a fews things in mind that I wanted, and that were, as far as I was concerned, impossible to get in Tsukuba. I wanted a shakuhachi (an ancient manly wooden flute), a laptop cooling stand, a Japanese flag for Jason (they don't make these in Japan, apparently), and some T Shirts. I only managed to get one of the above--the shakuhachi. But it was an adventure.

Yuki and I met at Tokyo Station, and there we planned our day. She had no idea where to find a shakuhachi, so we looked in a bookstore for some ideas. She said that probably our best bet was to go to Asakusa or Nihombashi, both traditional parts of the city. She thought one of her friends might know, so she called her and asked, and her friend laughed at her, then told her dad what Yuki wanted to buy, and they shared a laugh together. She told us to try looking in Ginza, which is a yuppy place in Tokyo.

We grabbed some lunch and were trying to figure out what to do, and I decided I wanted to try Nihombashi first, because it was more traditional and I could get some pictures. So we went there.

We asked at a police booth, and they told us to go to Ginza, so to Ginza it was. I didn't get any pictures of Nihombashi.

We got to Ginza, and asked for the Yamaha shop. It was pretty easy to find, and actually really really cool. I didn't exactly know what a shakuhachi looked like, and neither did Yuki, so we just kinda browsed and read the names. They didn't have any on display, so we went to ask. They told us that they didn't have any in the store, but that we could order one. She brought out the catalogue and found the shakuhachi. They were a little more than I wanted to pay...around $300-$600. They were all made of bamboo, which was the reason. I was just wanting a cheap plastic one to learn on, but they didn't have any. They gave us a list of stores and people who make shakuhachi, and we looked over that list.

There were a lot of places that were closed on Saturdays, a lot of places that were selling made-by-order instruments. We narrowed the list down to two, and Yuki tried to call them. The first one, the number had been disconnected, but the second one answered. Yuki talked to them, and asked if they had any for under $100. The lady she was talking to said that yes she did. Her husband was selling them, but he got sick, so now they're trying to clear them out. She said since I was a student she'd give me a discount. Yuki got the directions, and then we were off.

I can't remember the area of Tokyo we went, but if you imagine Tokyo, it's exactly what you wouldn't expect. It looked like a little village town. Yuki said that the lady told her that if we asked around, people would be able to point us in the right direction, but if we got lost to call her and she would pick us up. We asked someone who pointed us in the general direction of the address, and we were walking not 5 minutes before the lady Yuki had spoken to appeared around a corner and lead us to her house.

It was interesting. Going into a Japanese person's house is always a little unnerving for me. There are so many customs to remember...when to put in the shitsure shimasu's and sumimasens's...accept the food, don't accept the food. It's a lot to remember, and very different than western culture. Luckily, Yuki was there so I was able to follow her lead.

There was a grandma and her daughter in the house. We traded our shoes for the slippers, and then they seated us at a table, and then brought out coffee and pastries...Very traditional Japanese way to treat guests of any kind. They chatted with us for a while, Yuki doing most of my talking for me. I understood a good bit, but speaking is still really difficult for me. They were asking where I was from, what and where I studied...things like that.

They brought out the shakuhachi they had. It was really cool. Apparently the grandpa of the house had been making these for a long time, and these were his last work before he got sick. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the real bamboo ones...they were asking about $300 which was amazingly cheap...most of these hand-made ones would run about $500-600+ at stores. They had one that was made of wood, but not bamboo. It was supposed to be used for a display, but she said it was one of the best that they had. Because it wasn't real bamboo, she said she would sell it to me for 5000yen. That was a great deal, so I took it.

They were trying to teach me how to play, and I wasn't doing very well. It's a strange instrument...nothing really like it in western music except for maybe Native American flutes...which are arguably not part of "western music." They were letting me try out all of them. I was able to get some sounds from them, but need to play more to be able to make the pretty kind.

We stayed and chatted with them a little longer, and I took some pictures.

They asked us to come back, and if I can learn how to play this thing, I might...

That little adventure took up most of the day. We decided to go to akihabara, which is famous for electronics, to try to find my laptop cooling stand. They had really expensive ones, but nothing else...

So we went back to Tokyo station, I got a bus ticket, and came home...

It was a fun trip, but I was dead tired. Now I just need to learn how to play my new instrument...

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A Post by dalecam [2004/08/06 07:44 ET]
Well, you must be getting ready to come home soon. No journal entries, but I am sure something is happening over there. How about we hear from you!