Day 2: This Entire Country Is Shrink Wrapped and Double-Bagged

15Sep13

Me, I’ve never really considered stealing anything.

Then again, I’ve never really held the ORIGINAL STORYBOARDS FOR HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE in my hands. That is, until today. I promise you I had an escape route worked out in my head, and the odds that I could fight off the two guys working the gate were fairly favorable. I actively had to remind myself that a responsible and rational adult would put the CONCEPT ART FOR NAUSICCA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND back on the table in the Ghibli Museum.

Ah, the place had the magic. Even the fact that all the displays were made for kids couldn’t stop me from receiving that distinctly Ghibli feeling, a mix of wonder and respect, a feeling that leaves you satisfied with your place in a wild world filled with mystery.

A low-light room with many dioramas. Reverent music in the background. Film reels spin, exhibits explain animation using motion wheels. There’s a picture of every Ghibli film, starting with Nausicca and ending with the new one in that’s still in theaters. I read the writing through dim lighting, while in the background a diorama of Mai chasing Totoro through a field on a windy day loops. Translated, it reads something like, “In this wide world, there are many things that move. People and animals, wind-blown trees and grass. All our lives are the same. We all are alive.” I nearly tear up.

Thanks to the typhoon, I had to pay 500 yen for an umbrella and the was smart enough to carry it over my head like I’m dainty little Mary Poppins, floating gently in the breeze, an affectation I would later pay for with a soaked backpack. It didn’t help that I got hella lost at the bus station and walked around in the rain for an hour trying to match the kanji on my phone with the kanji on the signs. You guessed it, I was at the wrong bus station. Luckily my terrible Japanese was good enough for the taxi driver. TOTORO NO TOKORO MADE! (to the Totoro place!)

I dunno what I was expecting from a McDonald’s in Japan. Like, a squid burger, maybe? All I got was a shitty Quarterpounder with Cheese at double the price of any other lunch option.

I think I spent at least two hours total lost in a train stations today alone.

Then, I accidentally found the Pokemon Center in Tokyo. And by ‘accidentally’, I mean I hunted that sunavabitch down. After going the wrong way, crashing a traditional drumming demonstration, and passing both the Tokyo Tower and a Buddhist temple, finding the biggest Pokemon store in the world felt as if I were an Arab doing my required pilgrimage to Mecca.

I do remember walking into the door. I can recall a rather sanguine Japanese woman shoving a stuffed Pikachu doll in my face, smiling and saying “Konichiwa! Itterashaimaseeeeee!” and then it’s all blank from there. The receipt in the bag says I spent 10896 yen. I own a Bidoof keychain dongle and a Minccino hat. I don’t even know what happened.

My body hurts. I’ll get to Day 1 and 0 another time. Also, I’ll also re-edit with detail and pictures sometime in the future. Very, very, very tired.

Thought of the Day:

Interesting paradox I noticed: There’s no trash cans in this country, and yet, no litter. And when I say no trash cans, I mean I had to seek out a train station numerous times simply so I could use their bathroom which I knew would have one. It’s infuriating.

It’s especially absurd considering every time you buy something (and you’re often buying things, because you apparently have infinite disposable income), you get two bags and a receipt. I paid exact change something and just wanna put it in my backpack, but I somehow end up with more paper and plastic than the exit of a grocery store.

I can attribute the cleanliness to two things.

1. Everyone’s working. Especially in places we don’t give a damn about in America.

I saw an old dude raking leaves in the park. I took a picture every time I saw someone unnecessarily directing traffic. People pushing bins places, people on the street handing out flyers. People out front of businesses calling you to enter. Every trash can I did encounter had what appeared to be a 50/50 chance of being in the process of being changed. There’s always someone with a broom.

2. Social stigma.

You say littering is bad and people stop littering. I just can’t even comprehend. This extends to other stuff as well. I pointed out that it would be really, really, really easy to shoplift from these stores and Jess insisted that never happens. Even to the most rebellious Japanese person, the shame of being a thief would far outweigh whatever you would steal.

So you end up with this extremely clean, safe country and backpacks full of plastic bags and paper receipts. Props, Tokyo.

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One Response to “Day 2: This Entire Country Is Shrink Wrapped and Double-Bagged”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Awesome! Keep sharing 🙂


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