27 May 2010

The Helicopters are Fucking up My Sleep

For the longest time, I was in denial about not being in Japan. LB + I loved it so much we didn't want to leave the motherland (yes, I'm Hoppa, in case you didn't know!) + now that were back, we're already plotting ways to go back to Japan next year. As if to symbolize how out of sync I am with the Pacific Time Zone + life back in LA, my body wants to go to bed at 4 in the morning + wake up at 1. And last night, to add insult to comedy, as I was going to bed, I noticed LB was up.

--Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you baby.
--You didn't, she said, it's the helicopters.

I admit, at first, I thought she was embellishing. I embellish from poetic license + she embellishes because she's Peruvian, so you never know. But there actually were helicopters hovering above our bedroom, going back + forth in circles. It sounded like a fucking invasion. But there was still this voice inside my head that said: it only seems like a military exercise to someone with a paranoid mind, but you're not paranoid so let it go. Maybe the National Guard is transporting humanitarian supplies to Louisiana or something. But then, unmistakable as a porn star in a miniskirt, we heard this from the loudspeaker coming from a police car outside our apartment:

--Policía! Policía! Code 3.

24 May 2010

From Space Age Buildings to Rice Paddy Fields

LB + I decided to be modest today instead of walking 8 miles + hitting 2-3 neighborhoods every day. We hopped on the Tokyo subway, which we've become masters of in the past week, + there we were. So Ikebukuro it is.

At first, we gave each other looks like: remind me again why we wanted to come here. But then, as it does so often in Tokyo, we find the answers to questions we never asked out loud. First, found the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, with its permanent raining steel confetti, space-age feel, which was the perfect place for us to eat our packed lunch from Natural House. After a slight stroll, we ended up at Lumine Ikebukuro where we found:

1. An Ikebana (the art of flower arrangement) + a bonsai exhibition

2. The Tobu Department Store, which had floors + floors of dresses, kitchen appliances, bath towels as well as a mountain of clothes, like any other department store, but in addition to all of that it, it also had an extensive book + manga floor. A bookstore inside a department store--it makes so much sense!

3. The Japan Traditional Art Center, which sells handmade ceramic pottery from every region in Japan. Among the many beautifully-made (and very expensively priced) things there, I suddenly found a two-layer, Fukushima cracked celadon-style ochya tea mug with a painted galloping horse on it, the exact same one my obasama used to drink her instant coffee + her green tea each + every morning. I just stared at it, in a trance, before LB walked up, asked me why I was stuck, and then upon hearing my story, said: --Okay, we're buying two of those. For your grandmama

4. As we walked back to the subway, we ran into Echika, Ikebukuro's underground shopping mall, proving once again that some of the most beautiful things about Tokyo cannot be planned

And then, suddenly, it was time to leave Ikebukuro, leave Tokyo, leave Japan. Just like that. And I've never been sadder to leave a place before in my life. It wasn't just the motherland for me (being hoppa, that is, of mixed Japanese heritage) but it was also our honeymoon, a place of intense and amazing discovery for both of us, both individually + collectively. Japan was a dream, one I want to have over + over again

池袋 (Ikebukuro):

And then it was time to leave. Look at LB's face, it represented exactly how I felt too:

22 May 2010

東京の女子 Tokyo Girls + Otakutopia

Today, LB + I finally made it to Yoyogi Park, where we saw the famous Meiji Shrine + watched two separate Shinto weddings, one after another--an auspicious sign, if ever there was one for a newly-wed couple. Then, after eating amazing Bento boxes, some maguro + takoyaki for lunch (yes, we did the macrobiotic switch)+ wandering through random sidestreets in Harajuku, the Omotesando Hills (another mall) and the famously busy + ever-happening Takeshita Street (where many of the class Harajuku stores are), LB + drank some tea + watched pedestrians strutting by on Omotesando Dōri, eventually making our way to the Loving Hut. Unfortunately, the Loving Hut was closed almost 3 hours before its posted closing time (making it the second vegan joint in Tokyo to close ahead of time). So, we opted for more sashimi at a Yakitori (explain that contradiction, Sherlock) + then we took the subway to Akihabara where I bought some manga of big-breasted detectives + futuristic gangs (no hentai, unfortunately). Then, it was finally time to come home.

(Yoyogi Park):

原宿の女子 (Harajuku Girls):

秋葉原 (Akihabara):