June 14, 2010

What to do when you're in Japan ichi

A friend of mine is going off on a research expedition (On a boat! So jealous) and he may be stopping in Tokyo. Which made me think of all the things that I was fond of in Japan and what would be best recommended to others. While it may be the trivial items that I found most satisfying (teasing Japanese children, onigiri from 7-11, telling the lady at city hall that I was leaving and needed to cancel my health insurance in Japanese), these would not be the highlights of a brief visit. I had to split this post into segments because it got too big. Apparently there are a lot of things I liked about Japan.

Buy something weird: The Japanese love kitsch and they love to shop. A lot of my female students listed shopping as a hobby. Most of the train stations double as shopping centers, malls are everywhere, and then there are the actual shopping districts. They also love products with English or French sayings on them. It's really charming. You really don't have to go far to find some random stationary, a t-shirt with a really creepy slogan, a horrifically sexual figurine, or a watch with a lot of crazy buttons. The hyaku-yen shops are great too. Dollar stores. They have so much great random stuff. On one trip I returned with a recorder, a potted plant, scissors, a sewing kit, earrings, a wind-chime, and a notebook with donuts on it.

Climb a mountain: There are some cool places to hike in relatively close proximity to Tokyo. It's gorgeous, there are usually some funny signs, and it's a nice break from the concrete. At most summits there will be some sort of shrine and a village or restaurant area and you can buy food and huge bottles of beer to sustain your descent. There's the added bonus of seeing Japanese in the outdoors. They are super friendly. You will be saying konnichiwa all day.

Skate!: If you skate, you should skate there. Skating around Tokyo is classic, there are all sorts of ledges, steps, and obviously concrete forever. There are quite a few parks around and some shops with mini-ramps but the best thing to do is just wander around. It's nicest in the evening, less people and cooler.

Ferris wheels: The Japanese love ferris wheels. They are everywhere. They are in any city of merit, they are at amusement parks, they are at ski resorts. I recommend buying a grapefruit chu-hi (tall), hiding it in your belongings, and finishing it by the time the ferris wheel has made its rotation.


Kyle said...

Oooo a new entry, I was getting worried there for a few days with no new posts. Glad you are back at it.

I hope either Brian or Kale bring me something back from Japan that is just weird as all hell. Something small that I can display with pride on my desk.

Rachel Wrong said...

I've been in the field and sick. I have to warn you that next week will be a dry spell. I'm going out in the field again.

Kyle said...

Oh man....well in that case we will just have to drink enough on Friday to help those days pass easier.

Elizabeth said...

Agreed, I Kale better bring me something cool, but he is going to have to beat the baton sized pork rinds, overtly sexual anime character with detachable limbs, and sticker books of foreign animals.

Rachel Wrong said...

Brian and I had so much fun searching for your gifts. We were running all over the store picking up things, imagining your facial reaction, and snickering.