Local People and Lives, Tokyo
The cats or "neko" in Japan are really cute. Most of them are big faced, round eyed and tortie-white. It is a cherished animal and a really expensive pet in Japan at one time. So charmed are the Japanese by this animal , that they'll put inanimate ones by the window-sill to beckon for customers.
Cool outfits! Freedom of expression. People show their love for colors and unique fashion. That may somehow be influence by Japan rock bands. Teenagers and young adults express their love for art and stylish mixture of color in the form of their clothing, make up and hair style.
They frequently stay and display their euphoric fashion at Yoyogi park during Sundays.
Don't speak much or any Japanese and looking to meet some friendly Japanese people who do? Com Inn is a cozy, little English conversation cafe in Ebisu, near the Doutor building. Most of the time it serves as both a school for Japanese or as a place where Japanese talk to foreigners to improve their listening and speaking skills.
But twice a month, once on Friday and the other on Saturday, the cafe turns into a party lounge for the staff and Japanese customers at night from 7:30 pm. It's a good way to interact with other Japanese people who are very much interested in meeting foreigners. There's food and drinks available.
Also, the place constantly looks for native English speaking staff. So if you're in need of a few yen, this is an easy place to go/
At most Buddhist temples there are thatched walls, where people can write and deposit their wishes, prayers and words of gratitude on small wooden plates.
The picture at the right shows them at Asakusa Kannon Temple , called also Sensoji, in Tokyo
Sensoji Temple is a few steps from Asakusa Station, served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tobu Railways.
A little-known fact outside of Japan is its 200,000 strong Brazilian immigrant community. In fact, Brazilians make up the 3rd largest minority group in the country! And here, at the Asakusa Street Carnaval, they make their presence felt with the biggest samba festival outside of Brazil.
Held on the last weekend of August in Asakusa, Tokyo`s temple district, the parade is a simply unmissable spectacle of thousands of feather trimmed, brightly colored, skimpily dressed dancers- both Japanese and Brazilian - shaking to a samba beat. Its an explosion of color and excitement. Literally hundreds of thousands people come to watch.
But here is an insider tip - dont stand on the street with the locals, make your way to the backstage waiting areas - anyone is allowed- where you`ll see the samba schools rehearsing, dancing, and mixing in their
outrageous costumes, purely for their own enjoyment..a much more "authentic" feel than if u wait on the main street, amongst Japanese pensioners, with leering faces and long-range camera lenses aimed squarely at the dancing girls`s cleavage. Yuck!
The samba festival is one of the most amazing sights Tokyo has to offer, and offers an intriguing look into the "new Japan" of the 21st century, in the globalized age.
I saw little black kids speaking Japanese as a native language, Asian faces babbling excitedly in Portuguese and dancers proudly waving the flags of both Japan and Brazil , (the "Hinomaru" and "Ordem e Progresso").
And of course, seeing a feather topped showgirl in a sequined bikini shimmying to samba, with a Buddhist pagoda in the background, takes some beating!
If you are young, hang out in Shibuya during the day, Rappongi during the night. Go from club to club, bar to bar, and have a blast. The para-para girls come in around 1am after the trains shut down, be sure to visit at least 1 para-para club at this time because it is when the para-para dancers are at their best. Imagine seeing a whole nightclub full of people, shoulder to shoulder, dancing with the exact same moves executed at the exact same time. It is something incredible that you will never forget.
Find some Tokyo youth to hang out with during the day and coax them into showing you a good time at night. Finding a group of teenaged or 20-something guys to hang out with for the day isn't as hard as it sounds if you've got some people skills. Many of them would love to show a foreigner around and party all night with one. You are special for just being you!
If you are a bit older, go to a roadside ramen place for lunch. Get naked and take a peaceful bath in a traditional onsen. You will realize that you've never truly had a bath until right then. You will come out feeling better than ever before; your skin will be clean, clear, and soft and your muscles loosened by the warm springs and pool jets (if they have them). A modern onsen is like a waterpark only without the bratty tweens and the drunk fathers. You are usually completely in-doors (except for onsens in the country side which often have an open-air section that looks out onto a beautiful and remote forest/mountain or perhaps the ocean) and there are all kinds of different ways to take a bath. Try the hot bath, then get in the VERY hot bath, then jump into the icy cold bath, then get out and warm up in the sauna. I guarantee you'll feel like a new person.
If you're feeling a little bit more adventurous, travel through some of the yakuza districts in Rappongi at night. Prostitutes will walk right up to you and tell you what they will do for how much while rubbing your shoulder until you politely tell them "no thank you". I discovered this by accident while walking back to my friend's apartment. A Chinese woman came up to me and said, "massagi? brojobbi? six thousand yen!" It was something so bizarre and unique. For those who don't mind a quick trip to the underworld and back, walk down the brightly lit, but cramped side streets. Trust me, as long as you don't make a scene or cause trouble, you will be completely fine. You are safer walking around the ceedy back streets of Rappongi than walking around in Times Square, NYC.
Last, but not least, visit a small temple. Sure, visit the big important ones too, but find a tiny, tiny one where only the priest and nun reside. Those are where you'll find the real buddhists. The big temple priests are notorious hypocrites. Its not uncommon for them to buy sports cars with the donations to the church. They also have a priest sex service for women who have a priest fetish. A priest signs up and the woman pays the service to contact the priest. Then the priest gets her information and heads on over for a night of kinky buddhist fun. At some of these small temples you might be offered free drinks and snacks, simply because they are delighted to have a visitor, especially a foreign visitor! You will be the highlight of their day, and the will make sure you know it!
Any one who walk in the Ueno Park, will never going to miss the blue tents.
These blue tents are erected by the Tokyos' homeless comunity, they are so clean and tidy and do not bother any one who walk pass them.
They mind their own self and sleep eat and relax all yeat round.
Some are friendly too, and some times they might invite you for a cup of hot sake too.
If you're interested in a typical japanese festival, don't desperate about the dates: almost every week you can find a local one somewhere. This picture shows part of an O-Don festival dance (festival of the death). Sorry, not enough light for a good picture. Anyway, believe it or not, the place is the roof of a big department store in a suburb of Tokyo. And the people dancing where more than a hundred neighbours coming from several kilometers around!
It was nice and into a surprising environment :)
Out of the picture, there were the whole families, with lots of children just runing in every direction, grandma's taking care of the family dinner... looked more like a picnic area in a big park, all packed into the building roof :-)
FALL IN LOVE with a japanese guy!!! just have an open heart and you'll discover new dimensions on the universal, all-pervasive energy...LOVE!!! the forecast promises beautiful sunshine and exciting rain storms...all filled with passion, playfulness, crazy love!!! sincerity, purity, curiosity, magic, adventure...dreams come true!!!
I think most of the people when they are in Tokyo just want to see the great templs and shrines in the middle of this super modern metropolis, but they think Japan is a rich country so they will never see many poor people in this country. Most of the people don't know about the homeless life in this city. You can find them in many big public parks living in tents, they are not really unemployed, some of them go to work wearing suits, some of them are living like this 'cause in this city is too expensive to get your own place, some of them are really poor and this is their only way to survive here. I can tell you they are not dangerous, I met many argentinians who had no place to stay or no money to pay a hotel when the soccer worldcup and these people gave them a place to stay, offered them food also. Why in the park and not in other place? 'Cause in the park you have toilets and you can get water, wash yourself, they live as they can. Not all is good for them, winters are very hard in Japan, so many times you hear about some homeless dead because of the cold temperatures.
Remember not just rich people is living here, remember not to be able to have a place doesn't mean you are a thief or you are bad, and remember no one has the righ to treat them as less human beins just 'cause they are living like that.
(THANTKS A LOT VT BIXENTE FOR THE PIC)
The entire second day in Tokyo was 'off the beaten path.'Our Meguro friend Fumiko had told us the previous night to return to the front of Meguro Station and take the Number 2 bus to Daiyei Supermarket. All I had to tell the driver was 'Daiyei, onegai shimasu'--he told us when to get off. Nihonjin make very creative use of limited space--we had never seen anything like the place. The entryway to the first floor was a large flower/plant shop, leading into a food supermarket. The second floor was clothing, and I do not even know what the other five floors contained. Fumiko and her husband Hirofumi san met us there and took us for a walk through narrow streets crowded with small shops, bicycles and people. Lee complained that the dress shoes she had bought in America were hurting her feet, so our friends took us to a shoe store where Lee soon found a nice looking, comfortable pair of shoes, which allowed her to enjoy the rest of our trip in comfort--halfway around the world to find a good pair of shoes. I had no problem in my dress cowboy boots--nothing better for ankle support. We walked into Makudonaludo (MacDonald's) to put together a bag of coffees and snacks to have in a nearby park. (Receiving a cheerful smile with bow from behind a fast food counter is a unique experience.) The park had a shrine where Fumiko performed the ritual of pouring water on my hands with a long-handle dipper. A few children playing in the park looked curiously at us as we sat in the sun, enjoying our coffee. We went to our friends' apartment, which was decorated partly in western style, partly eastern. Their balcony was full of potted plants, obviously tended with much care. It is customary among Nihonjin to bring a gift when invited into someone's home. The gift does not have to be expensive--something from the guest's country is good; a handmade craft is better. I was proud of my wife for the way she offered her candle gift to Fumiko with both hands and a bow. (She had made candles to present to everyone we visited.) We enjoyed a nice dinner with Fumiko's recently married sister and husband. Then our friends surprised us by bringing out champagne, which they knew from our e-mails we enjoyed. At night, they walked us to a taxi--Hiro san insisted on paying the driver. The next morning we checked out of the hotel, returned to Meguro Station, took the train to Tokyo Station to board Shinkansen for Nagoya Station to meet friends who live in Tokoname (Please click on 'Travelogues' for this part of the trip).
At Harajuku Station on a bridge nearby there are a lot of interesting people such as this person. It is worth taking a look around at the interesting costumes and characters about. The best time to come is on a Sunday.
The Japanese answer to lack of car parking space... but what do you do if you car's on the top, and there's someone else's car on the bottom, and you want to get yours down???
What did I see when I look out from my hotel window? A roof top driving school. This probably only exists in Tokyo.
While I was looking around the Meiji Shrine I was lucky enough to stumble across this wedding procession at the shrine. It was really interesting to watch such a traditional ceremony.