Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Architectural Gems No. 2. Japan

At the risk of being called a Big Girl's Blouse by TCA, I am still very fuzzy headed from the jet lag. Perhaps I just like being cossetted by my family (tea in bed, being allowed to sleep in the afternoons, Badger being walked for me, coffee from Ann at the deli, etc. etc.) but this morning I had a rude awakening by Ann demanding to know when I was going to get my act together, so here goes.

Right. Architectural gems. Number one must be The 100 Yen Shop. A Y100 is about 45p so you can imagine the bargains to be had. I bought Fair Trader a very nifty little orange net bag with suckers that can be stuck to the tiles in the bathroom to keep soap, shampoo etc. in. It was garnished with a very pleasing picture of Miffy. I also bought a rather vulgar pink ornament for Jane at Netto, but unfortunately left it on top of Jack's television.

Two views of the Y100 shop. Please note all the cycles outside. Cycles are very popular in Japan and cyclists seem to be a law unto themselves. They stop for no-one, cycle on the pavement with gay abandon, cycle on the wrong side of the street and think nothing of coming up behind you with no warning and then glare at you if you slow them down by carelessly getting knocked over.

In Tokyo itself cyclists and pedestrians seem to rule the roads equally. There is little traffic in the town as the transport systems is so brilliant. Trains and underground trains always run on time and frequently. There is an illuminated sign that tells you when the next train is coming, where it is at the moment and whether it is a 'local train', an 'express' or a 'semi express'. If the train is more than thirty seconds late, people start getting very twitchy, looking at their watches and generally appearing worried. Dotted along the platform are small markings and people queue up in an orderly line exactly behind them. The train stops with it's doors precisely where these markings are, and then the orderly queue disintergates into a pushing, hysterical mob rushing the train so they might be able to get the last remaining seat that is available. Old ladies, children, pregnant women all get flattened in the rush. There is a line running a couple of feet in from the edge of the platform. If you let your foot stray half an inch over this line, a gentleman in uniform will run up waving his batton until you remove it.

In the streets, zebra crossings tend to be about thirty feet wide to accommodate the vast hoards of pedestrians. Jay walking is frowned upon and you are in danger of getting a whistle blown at you if you try it. Jack frequently gets whistled at, the rebellious little bugger.

This is Marusho, the Hoya's Netto. I loved this supermarket and used to slip down to buy bits and bobs for Miki. I had to guess a lot of the time exactly what I was buying, not being able to read kanji. It once took me nearly twenty minutes to find the eggs. Near Marusho was a really nice baker's. If you spent Y300 or more you were given a token. Collect ten and you got a free plate. Miki was avidly collecting these tokens, and as I got into the habit of popping in daily to buy us a cake each, or maybe some fabulous nut bread, by the time I left she had collected her first ten tokens. She was as thrilled with these tokens as my old mother used to be when she got a free plastic spoon inside her box of Horlicks.

The local Chinese Take Away. We didn't use this at all, but can't help comparing it to the 'New Garden Take Away' in Poynton.

I rather liked this sandwich board outside a coffee shop, close to where Jack worked. One day I went into Tokyo to meet up with Jack who took me to the 'Darjeeling' for a curry. I spotted this sign near by.

Am off tomorrow to stay with the Wren in Brighton for a few days. No doubt there will be some architectural gems around there for me to happily photograph.


Tortoiseshell said...

Excellent article, full of little reevealing insights. Particularly enjoyed the piece about the train system!

Ann said...

Heart-wrenchingly beautiful architecture, I can see why you just had to photograph it.
Train system really funny. Enjoyed it, thanks.

ps. do you need to borrow a case for the 'Wren' trip?

lorenzothellama said...

Tortoiseshell: Thanks for the comment. I have read your article on Faith, and am still thinking about it. I would very much like to talk to you. Has Maalie gone to ground somewhere. Haven't heard from him for ages.

Ann: Yes, they are heart breakingly beautiful. All Grade I Listed Buildings in Conservation Areas and within the National Park so Planning Permission aint easy to get. The Y100 shop has been applying for years to build a bike shed but is turned down because it will show 'demonstrable harm to the green belt'.
I have a little bag for Wren's visit, so I don't need to borrow your huge, expensive case and also I want no regrettable incidents in the train of a vomiting nature.

Tortoiseshell said...

Lorenzo - I haven't received a court circular from the Maalie Kingdom in a while. I know that His Rooyal Highness has been extremely busy in the pressing matter of marsh tits.

lorenzothellama said...

Jack told me that Maalie was particularly interested in finding a Great Tit in Japan so he could boast about seeing a great Japanese tit!
Do you think we ought to put a search party out for him, or is he just twiting about on the marshes?

Maalie said...

I would have thought they would have "English Takeaways" in Tokyo. A timely Kentucky Fried Chicken certainly saved the day (or should I say night) for me'n'Jack in Hokkaido when a bowl of gnoodles and cabbage water proved rather inadequate after a hard days crane-seekeing.

lorenzothellama said...

I heard about your foray into KFC. Apparently after downing a huge bowl of noodles that left Jack bloated, you nonchantly said 'that's the starters, where's the main course?' and dived into a KFC shop.
If you had ever seen any of Jamie Oliver's programmes showing exactly how reconstituted chicken, turkey etc. is made, your poor old stomach would have turned over. Keep to flounder fishcakes in future.

Ann said...

What does 'reconstituting a chicken' mean. Before it is reconstituted, is it unconstitutional. Does reconstituting mean sticking it's arms and legs back on, or does it just mean rearranging them, so they will fit into a burger-bun a bit better. Enlightenment please. Perhaps rearranging it's constitution just means taking it for a jolly good walk - does it?

ps. the word verification was hxpvxvyc - any suggestions?

lorenzothellama said...

Without any vowels it is hard to make a word out of it.
Ann, I have just had two large gins on an empty stomach so will consider reconstitution tomorrow.

The Fairtrader said...

One thing I noticed about the Japanese train system is that as soon as Japanese bottom hits train seat, the Japanese seem to have a uniform ability to fall into an impenetrable slumber which evaporates gracefully the second the desired station is reached, without so much as a yawn or eye rub. Those few that suffer from train-insomnia spend their journey scribing lengthy epics on their phones, which are sent successfully from the centre of the earth.

Mum - glad to know that we are letting you lie in bed and drink hot beverages in the deli. That makes a real change!

lorenzothellama said...

Oh yes, I noticed this ability of the Japanese to sleep anywhere, however uncomfortable. Miki apparently sleeps peacefully in the plane between England and Japan without so much as stirring. Jack says it is because the Japanese work so hard with long hours they are always knackered. Also from babyhood they sleep anywhere their parents happen to dump the futon.

Maalie said...

F.T: Aren't they just playing games on their portable telephones?

Tortoiseshell said...

Hi Lorenzo, just seen your comment on Maalie's blog.

It's about time you posted afresh, too!

I see that you've added extreme tracker to the blog. Nice one.

If you browse through the extreme tracking stats, you'll realise that someone has reached the blog by googling "clingy blouse". Another has been searching for "wet wellies"!!!

I've had hits off such exotic searches as "Beatrix Potter Unitarian Christmas"!

Love - T'shell x

lorenzothellama said...

Tortoiseshell: not quite sure what extreme tracker means and didn't realise I had added it to my blog. Can you point out where? In any case it sounds interesting, as does muddy wellies. Think I will try to find out more.
Yes Maalie, they do play games with their portable mobile phones, but also do a lot of texting. I often wondered, like FT, how they get a signal from the bowels of Japan. Glad you are up and running again. Please be more careful with your beer and any other sticky substances in future.

Barbara said...

Love touring the world from my armchair so to speak so love your photos.