Long day. I got up early, researched some ideas, and settled on hitting Nakano Broadway, because it’s full of all kinds of shops, some of which I may be interested in. Since Time Out recommended a trip, I figured I’d give it a shot. I hopped on the Chuo Rapid to Nakano, got there, and all the shops were closed. Most didn’t open until noon. D’oh. This is just another example of how being over-eager can backfire, I guess. I did see a store with a cool name.Â It’s a used computer/old computer supply store called “Junkworld.” I like honesty in advertising. I also found an umbrella that doesn’t fail. It’s big. So big, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. 75cm is apparently the biggest you can find for under 1000 yen. The downside is that it doesn’t collapse.
Ueno and the National Museum
So on to plan B, the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park. 30 minutes of train riding later, and I’m there. And it’s pouring rain. Well, I can do rain, I’ve done it before. Trudge, trudge. As I approached the big fountain in Ueno Park, I saw there was some sort of giant tent thing there. Was it a festival? No, it was just a flea market/sale thing. They were selling Japanese housewares. Stuff like plates, bowls, teapots, iron rice pots, chopsticks– all neat stuff. I refrained from purchasing, however, in an amazing show of restraint. I thought about buying a set of 4 pairs of chopsticks… it was awfully tempting. I’ve gotten used to using them for salads. I think they make salads taste better. No metallic tastes. But I didn’t particularly want to carry them all over Tokyo with me, and to be honest, you can buy chopsticks just about anywhere. Moving on, the big fountain in Ueno Park: Then it was on to the Tokyo National Museum. Since I didn’t want to spend all day there, I decided to just visit the Honkan, which is where they store all of the important Japanese Art. And boy did they have art. All kinds of neat stuff. The downside is that not all of the exhibits have English explanations… in fact, I’d say 10% do. The rest just have English descriptions. It’s a little frustrating. It’s more incentive to study Japanese. The price is right, too. 600 yen for admission. Just buy it from the vending machine. I went to the gift shop, and found 2 great books in English on Shodo (Japanese calligraphy.) I’ve studied Chinese calligraphy for a couple of years now, and it will be interesting to study the stylistic differences.
Legend of the Fall
I left the museum and headed to Ueno Station: Then it was time to get food. Andersen in JR Ueno Station is always a good choice. They’re the same sandwich shop that chipped my tooth in Kyoto, but I think their food is the best of all the bakeries I’ve tried so far. After that came the turning point of the day. And not in a good way. You know how they say “Mind the gap” on the Tube in London? Yeah… I didn’t. I was stepping on to the Yamanote Line to head to Tokyo Station to pick up the Chuo Line, when I slipped and my right leg went right down the gap between the train and the platform. Owwwww. The shock of falling aside, my biggest fear was that the train would pull away without me, or worse, without knowing that I fell, and before I could get up. The thought of what could have happened still makes my blood run cold. Fortunately, I pulled myself up quickly and managed to get on the train okay… but I tweaked my ankle (on the side that didn’t fall down), and I’ve got a huge nasty welt on my thigh where it slipped down the gap. I also ruined my pants, I think. Train grease and filth… I dunno if I could ever get that out. I’m just going to bag them and give it a shot when I get home. Meanwhile, everyone on the train just sort of stared at me like I was a freak or something. It was really kind of weird. Nobody offered any sort of help or anything. I guess they didn’t want to get involved. If that happened in the U.S., I would probably have gotten a few offers of help, and some business cards for attorneys.
Limping Off to Jinbo-Cho
Then I headed back to Shinjuku to ice down my ankle for an hour.Â But since I was bloody-minded about not wanting to miss more than an hour, after some rest and some Advil, it was off to Jinbo-cho. Jinbo-cho is the book district in Tokyo. It’s full of used book stores and indy book stores. Of course, everything is in Japanese, so while I’m sure it’s a great place, it’s a little over my head at this point. I was there mainly to see if I could find a few more prints. Time Out lists a couple of print stores, and after a LOT of hunting, I did find both, but neither really had anything I wanted. What I really want are some more prints of the 100 views of Tokyo from the 19th century. No luck. Both had a lot of the 36 views of Mt. Fuji, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I did manage to find an Ace bandage for my ankle, so it wasn’t a loss. And Jinbo-cho will be a fun place to visit again when my vocabulary improves. I also saw a really cool shop or two. There was a kendo supply store with a wall full of bokken (wooden swords) that went up into the $500 range; a store full of nothing but brushes of any and all kinds, from toilet brushes to artists’ brushes; and a promising-looking calligraphy shop that closed before I could get in. (Dangit. They’re so fast on the trigger.)
Nakano Broadway Again
After that, it was time to try to head to Nakano Broadway again. So back to Shinjuku, and then back on the Chuo line. Good lord, was it crowded. They almost had to get the guys with the white gloves out to cram us all in. And man, was it hot. Tokyo is the only place I know where it can be 50F outside, but every train, station, store, and bus is 90F. I’m not sure how that works, but it’s like that wherever I go. Everyone else is bundled up, and I’m in a T-shirt, sweating like Sydney Greenstreet. So Nakano. It’s a dumpy little shopping arcade. But you probably knew that anyway. What it does have is a ton of nerd shops. Tiny stores with lots of action figures, toys, old games, old books, all kinds of stuff. I didn’t buy anything, because I’ve already got too much crap already. Most of the toy shops are on the second and third floors. If you like toys, it might be your thing. I also saw some old Godzillas for sale… I wanted one. Oh, did I ever want one. But they were in the hundreds of dollars. I watched a LOT of Godzilla movies when I was kid. Then it was back to Shinjuku to find a few more stationery supplies. If you ever need a cardboard tube to secure your posters, go to Sekaido. Just Google it. Their HQ is in Shinjuku. I took some photos of Shinjuku on the way to Sekaido: Sekaido is nice. Not as nice as Itoya, but it’s close to my hotel. Then I limped back home. And I think that pretty much does it for me for tonight. I’m totally wiped. Depending on the weather, I may either head to Shibuya/Harajuku to watch the Sunday fashion parades, or I’ll head to Odaiba and Akihabara to do other stuff. The forecast is more rain so far, so I’ll probably peek in at Harajuku, then head to Odaiba and Akiba. Oh, before I forget– subway signs and posters! Subway Signs: Today, I was the cucumber!