Tiny One-Minute Tales of Tokyo
Tiny Tales of Tokyo
Oddly appealing moments
Hello Kitty has a guitar, and a lot more.
You can tell a lot about where you are by the nature of the road kill. Where I live, in Ginza, Tsukiji and the older parts of Tokyo, road kill tends to be, uh, fish. Small flat ones that escaped their styrofoam tombs off the back of a bicycle, never to reach their fated plate that evening, but to remain on the street, gradually smashed flatter and flatter until gone. Gloves. Half of a pair, forever waving to passersby, waving goodbye to their partner glove, waving to that fish on the street nearby.
Today I paid $10 for a small basket of raspberries. I did not buy but inspected cantalopes, to find the $100 splendid specimen nestled proudly in it's handmade box, every vein distinct and stem at attention, to the cheapeset $30 boxless less veined no-stem wonder was still too much.
April 30, 2000. Riding my bike along the sidewalk on an increasingly cold afternoon...ah, there's one of those brave artists I see here and there in Tokyo. Urban backpackers, kitted out with portable tripod foldout chair, little tripod art easel, bottle of water. Hey, what he is painting anyway? This is just a big busy obnoxious street in Kachidoki which I usually avoid. Unending truck traffic, CO2 and noise doesn't faze him. Flipping through my mental Japanese dictionary, I swing back and have a little conversation with him while he begins to pack up. Turns out he has worked on this one for 2 days. It's the 50-year old set of buildings along the otherside of the street with the wrapped tree trunk on this side of the street. It looks pretty good! I'm going to look around more carefully after this. An artists eye sees beauty and a painting doesn't expose you to the fumes and noise the artist endured. Buy more local art!
Honey, what's on Hello Kitty? Imagine the first thing you see in the morning as you fumble about is your pink Hello Kitty coffeemaker. Or your pink HellKitty ocha maker. Sanrio has a catalog for "Hello Kitty" about the size of the old Sears catalog. Frightening, isn't it? I saw an entire kitchen at T-Zone last summer kitted out in Kitty-chan. Rice cooker, refrigerator, andwashing machine (no driers, of course), ... I have also witnessed the all-pink Hello Kitty car flouncing along the street.
Getting Along with Miffy-chan
How to get along with Japanese coworkers. A method not found in the books. Find a cute little cartoon animal and then find who has this creature on display at their cube. I enjoy the ineffable Miffy, a girl rabbit (mental age 6) created in 1953 by Dutch children's illustrator Dick Bruna.
At work, I am in tight with the Premises group, aka "Miffy Club", all Japanese women. Whenever one of us buys a new Miffy item, we show it off to each other, secure in the lavish praise and high scorecards for Cuteness. When I was showing my film at work last week The Miffy Club all came together to watch. Bonding at work is certainly entertaining here.
Let's clean the streets, picking street flotsom out of the gutters, reaching down between the grating, with giant chopsticks. Let's clean the big sign for the store, with a toothbrush. Let's clean the trees with giant firehoses. If you're a taxi driver waiting for the next fare to arrive, open the trunk to the sun, set up the little clothes line and hang up our white driving mittens, towels, and white doily headrests. Then get out the big fluffer and dust down the entire exterior. Noooo, I am not kidding!
There are some very STRANGE jobs in Japan. Here's what I've seen so far:
Sign holders Men (usually) standing all day in one place holding a sign. For what? A new apartment building monstrosity to gobble up more Tokyoites who will never find anything better...or a new store somewhere, or a gambling hall, or telephone center.
Ticket takers The uniformed cutie standing at the bottom of the stairs to Edo Museum. Her job: look at your ticket that you just bought 50 feet away. There is nothing obscuring the view between the ticket vendor and the escalator up. Well, there she is, perky as can be.
Line wavers Wear a suit on a National Holiday and waving people in a long line around the corner or down the way. Like, you could possible get lost from the continuous stream of people standing and walking in line. World record: 22 people during Golden Week waving me along between Ueno train station to the entrance to the Tokyo National Museum.
Car wavers Three uniformed security guards standing in a row to wave the next car into the garage.
Traffic wavers The guy who waves traffic away from the eternal street construction, day or night. When he leaves his place is taken by...a wooden sign waver, mechanical arm rocking. What's that got to feel like?
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