Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
 
Ginza

We spent a long time in the Ginza district, partially because we got there a bit too late to see the famous Tsukiji fish market but too early to do anything else but walk around until everything else opened. I get the feeling it's a bit of a tourist trap, but not quite on the Times Square scale of such things. So I was perfectly happy to take in what Bansai and Kimonos I saw. A miniature orange tree on the sidewalk that we marvelled over one hour was sold within the next. Spent quite a while in the Yamaha music store--don't think I've ever seen quite so much space and equipment and text devoted to the production of music. Spent another long while in the Sony building. So many beautiful toys there!

At the Ginza train station a young man carrying a banner was shouting into a bullhorn while a woman next to him waved a sign in the air. I thought perhaps it was a protest. Far from it. As I got closer I saw that her sign was for the Japanese Red Cross and the banner was a list of blood types they were recruiting donors for--the sign was mostly in Japanese but the characters "O!!" were pretty clear. Around the corner were more recruiters, a tent and a Red Cross Bus. They all seemed pretty full. I thought that was kind of cool. A pity that they, like us, have to recruit so hard, of course, but certainly a worthy thing to be shouting about. I wonder what the Japanese restrictions on blood donation are like.

At lunch time I caused quite a stir by trying out a small bit of Japanese. "Watashi wa bejeterian desu," provoked stressed out looks and emphatic gestures to stick to dessert. I didn't mind having sweets for lunch, but one young cashier, Tokuya-san, spoke quite a bit of English and asked me what my exact dietary specifications were. As I was finishing my blueberry pastry, he walked up and asked if I perhaps wanted to try a thing of rice wrapped in seaweed and some miso soup--he had checked with the chef, and there was no fish in that. I thought that was particularly considerate of him, and enjoyed the rest of my lunch, in perfectly reverse order.

I think we also went to the Akhibara Electric Town, but honestly, I'm not sure. After that we were trying to get to a shrine, and at some point we asked someone for directions and found out we were completely in another place than we thought we were. In fact, we were somewhere where people were terribly desirous ofhelping us but had very little English or none at all. Repeated attempts to say "Wakarimasen" (I don't understand?) didn't seem to get across--we experienced the "If I speak very slowly and loudly you will eventually understand me" syndrome, which was amusing. I can't help but try and parse out the patterns in the words I notice.like common suffixes. . .bashi for some kind of place name, dori at the end of a lot of road names. I also have to wonder what Tsuki means, since it's in the name of the Tsukiji stations and sounds exactly like the word tsuki that my Aikido instructors use to indicate a forward strike with a weapon.

But we did an awful lot of electronics, including a Saheli-sized refrigerator. Hopefully tomorrow will go a little more according to plan.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Robert Stribley
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Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
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Yglesias:Tpmcafe
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