October 21, 2012

An Apple a Day Keeps the Yen at Bay

This morning I sprang out of bed. Not because I was particularly awake, but because I was meeting Catherine and Kaorina at the Tokyo International Film Festival to catch the premier of "Japan in a Day". My lack of prep time left me hungry as I walked to the train station, so I popped into the supermarket and was quickly drawn to the apples. While my experience with Shinshu Apple Kit Kats was less than satisfactory, I was told by many people that the apples in Japan would blow me away.

And they'd better, because they cost $3.50. Each.

A normal looking, $3.50 apple.

And you know what? A normal tasting, $3.50 apple.
"Japan in a Day" is a documentary filmed one year after the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan in March, 2011. Much like "Life in a Day", this film
was produced by Ridley Scott and was shot by hundreds of people who submitted their footage to the project. There is no narrator or central character, but instead hundreds of snapshots of what Japanese people were doing one year later.

There were a lot of tears shed, but not because the film was sad. In fact, most of my tears were shed because of the beauty of the human spirit. The most touching scene for me was of an older couple returning to their home, or rather, the foundation as that was all that remained. They had been camping on their lot and that day decided to give a tour of their home. "This is where our bedroom was. Over here is the living room where we have now made a shrine." The woman's voice was calm. She was not grieving, but instead moving forward. I think this was a film about happiness, even in the face of traumatic events.


Hearts for Japan
Three sets of shades to cover 6 red eyes.
Tourists
Skyping with...


This guy!

The three of us made our way to Yoyogi park for a Vegan Festival! I was excited to be able to order whatever I wanted without worrying that some aquatic creature may be hiding in my food, waiting to swim around my stomach. On our way, Catherine fell in love with a handbag and I fell in love with the tiling of the store:


Floored
Check her out
I'm out of puns

We arrived at the park and found a row of vegan-friendly places:


And one very lonely hot dog stand:
Did someone say "hot dogs???"

We quickly discovered though that the Japanese translation of vegan is "over-priced snack food that is already vegan to begin with." Our only real food options were Indian and Thai. Which did I choose?
That's naan of your business
'Twas still an exciting day of people watching, and it's hard to complain when you've got a mouth full of naan. We sat for an hour or two and talked about... well I'm not really sure. It's been the first time this trip I've had the pleasure of losing track of a conversation and just being happy and comfortable with who I was with (with the exception of Taylor and Kelly). It either means I'm making friends or these two girls are really boring.

And for dessert I brought a selection of the finest Kit Kats this country has to offer. My stash has begun to run low, which will be good motivation for another hunt. They say that those who are well off are not motivated to do exceptional things. With comfort comes laziness. I have become lazy on the quest for all things Kit Kat. I am man enough to admit it. I know my dwindling supply will light the fire that once burned so deep within me.
My version of a cheese tasting
Kaorina contemplating the taste of Rum Raisin.
 We touched base with Lizzy, Andrea and Robin and continued our conversation while strolling through the park in search for our friends. To cap off our vegan experience, Catherine and I decided it would be best to share a steamed bum. Filled with pork. If this is the vegan life-style, sign me up!

Nice buns.

 We headed deeper into the park. As the moon joined us, so too did hundreds of dancers, impromptu musicians, cheer circles, double-dutcher jump ropers, free-hug givers, skaters, and some didgeridoo beat boxers. It was then that I realized that this park was famous not for its size or beauty, but because of the thousands of entertaining creatures who inhabit the open fields once the sun sets. There were no less than 20 groups of people practicing dance routines. For what, I wondered.
Lights in Yoyogi park
Friends in Yoyogi Park

The conversations continued through the night. Again, I'm not sure about what, but it was pleasant. I do know we discussed plans for Halloween, which is rapidly approaching. Andrea suggested going to a club he was invited to, so as of now, that's the tentative plan. I need to figure out what mashup costumes will translate into Japanese culture as I would hate to let down the tradition. 

Some ideas floating around:
Doraemon the Exploraemon- Combination of Doraemon and Dora the Explora.
Totoroe v. Wade- I don't even want to know what this would actually be.
Poké-mon- You know, like a Jamaican Pokémon, mon!