Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Tokyo Weekend

This past weekend was a three-day-weekend and since it's February which is supposedly the midst of winter sports season I thought that the population in this overcroweded city would fan out more or less. Well, perhaps not.

Yesterday I went out first to Shinjuku which is a huge commercial/business district (mostly, added by a pretty big RLD) spreading around Shinjuku station with the largest number of lines coming in and out in the country (...I think) to do some shopping. With Valentine's Day coming up in just a couple of days the town was overwhelmed with girls searching for chocolate and ingredients for sweets (for those who have no idea why Valentine's Day and cholocates are related here, I will write about it tomorrow), couples peering into glass cases at jewelry and name brand shops, and others running for the final winter bargain. The temperature even walking outside was hot rather than warm with so many people.

Then I moved to Harajuku and Omotesando area. Harajuku is a trend spot for fashion, one side for teenagers and the other side for those who are older and are able to afford a little more. Omotesando is an avenue that has luxury brand shops all along the way and is sort of a casually luxurious area (... in my words). The two areas are located back to back and the people walking around is thus a mixture of young to older, casual to rich. Setting my foot in these areas on a weekend required a bit more feeling of preparation than going to Shinjuku because I know these places are never uncrowded on any weekend and as I thought the sidewalks were jammed with people as always.

Omotesando is a straight avenue but forms a very mild slope up and down, so as you walk among the crowd you can see ahead of you how the sidewalks are literally filled with people from side to side. Really. I was amazed even though it's not my first or second time to see such sight. I generally don't like crowd like that, but at the same time, growing up most of my life in Tokyo I do feel like this very crowd is what makes me feel like I'm part of Tokyo and even secure. Friends who come from the countrysides often tell me that they get "peoplesick" or "crowdsick" being in Tokyo. So far I don't know how that feels like.

Oh, speaking about Omotesando, there is this street stall selling Japanesy stuff at very reasonable prices at the crossing along Omotesando. There were kimono-looking clothes, traditional Japanese apron (
maekake) and other clothings that were made of a mixture of traditional and modern textiles/designs. Since they're so cheap though, I kind of doubt the quality but the line-ups were quite interesting.

Later on I went to Roppongi - that's at the moment the richest (if not one of the richest) district in Tokyo with lots of billionaire companies and foreign investment - to see a movie. The movie theater located within Roppogi Hills was packed with people and the smell of caramel popcorn. I come here every now and then, but I think I hadn't seen the theater lobby that full of people for a while.

The information displays on the wall told that tickets for the documentary film "
An Inconvenient Truth" were sold out for the next two showings already even though it was well into a Monday evening. "Even though a Monday", I say, because for this particular film the theater offered tickets for 500 yen (where normally 1,800 yen) on Sundays to invite more people to see. If the tickets were sold out for few showings on Sundays, I would still be surprised since documentary films especially on very serious issues like this have a tendency of not being able to gather as much audience as fiction stories. I felt like the number of people wanting to watch it reflects how much people are interested in this issue and feel at least danger if not also responsibility to the problem of global warming. If it hadn't been for this film not as many people would've really seriously thought to face the "inconvenient truth".

So so that was my weekend (though I only wrote about the last day) which is not particularly different from the other weekends.

Today's update on Japan Mode:
Tokyo Event - this week's events in Tokyo... no huge cultural events take place in the middle of February, but the Tokyo Marathon is coming up this Sunday and some related events.

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