Friday, January 19, 2018

Modern Japan & Language Learning

This was so cute, I have to write about it.  The photos are on the TGSB facebook page because I can't get them to upload here.  Well, here's one of them, anyway.

The other night, I left The Cupboard Over The Stairs and saw a most marvelous sight.

It was a motor scooter with a heated food delivery box on the back.  It's a lousy picture, but it sure is cute.

It was from McDonald's!

So, naturally, I had to run inside to grab my iPhone to take a picture of such a wonder, and got there just at the same time as the delivery driver returned.  Being Japanese, he had to tell me all about it.  He was very proud of this service, which is new, and not common.  This delivery service is from the McDonald's at Meguro station.  You can telephone or go online to place an order, but you must connect with this store directly, as not all of them have this service.  This one only delivers in Meguro, so he can't go just anywhere.  There is a delivery fee of 300 yen.  People really like it and he enjoys delivering food to hungry people!

Oh -- he also told me about Uber Delivers, which is a service provided by Uber.  Basically, you can call a restaurant, any restaurant, order take-away and get Uber to pick it up and bring it you!  It's not 300 yen, though.

Now this doesn't seem quite as fantastic as all that, except that my Japanese listening comprehension improves every day!  There's nothing like living in a place for learning the language.

Monday, January 8, 2018

I love Japan!

My personal Japan isn't about samurai, chado, shinobi, ikebana and times long past that I hope to recreate in the present, ignoring current realities.  I'm no weeaboo -- one who loves everything Japanese merely because it IS Japanese.  I live in the modern world.  In modern Japan.

The Toki-girl and the Sparrow-Boy series, though, is set in the Meiji era and explores the history and events through which Japan came into the modern world through the lives and adventures of common, though unusual, humans and other beings.  The series examines the culture and character that allowed Japan to make the incredible leap from a decaying feudalism to a first-world power and that persists to this day, permeating the people and the society so deeply they hardly sense it, in the context of personal stories and adventures.  

Yesterday, I went to Sensho-ji, an enormous tourist temple in Asakusa, not far, as it happens, from SkyTree.  It's in the old Edo part of this enormous city and preserves traditional businesses, customs and foods for the benefit of locals as well as tourists.  Tourist temples, on the whole, make me sad because the few people who are trying to practice any form of Buddhism (or Shinto, as they often are coupled with shrines, as is this one) are crowded out by noisy hordes eager to see the architecture and art and to shop.  Sensho-ji's shopping streets and arcades, though, are great fun. 

It was Coming-of-Age day, a holiday recognizing those who have turned 20 as legal adults.  Many wear traditional costumes -- the girls in fancy kimono and the boys in hakama were charming to watch -- and come to shrines, temples and other public forums for ceremonies and public recognition.  Then, as one might expect, they all go out and party!  

I was there to shop, for research purposes.  I remembered a couple of wigmakers there who sell modern wigs as well as theatrical wigs for Kabuki and Noh; wigs for real, professional geisha; costume wigs; wedding wigs, and also display historic wigs.  Japanese wigs, by the way, are of exceptional quality.  Even those made of artificial hair are so well done it's hard to tell even by touch.  Due to the kindness of the shop assistant, I found out what I needed to know in short order, and went exploring.

Many temples and shrines have statues of traditional spirit guardians.  These include Chinese style dogs.  I saw this one outside Sesho-ji's main hall and started laughing.  It is so typical of modern Japan:  a traditional form in a modern execution, in a highly traditional location, sponsored by SOFTBANK, which is cellphone company.  It couldn't be more Japanese.  

This is particularly for author Susan Spann, who writes neatly crafted mysteries set about 300 years before the Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series.  Susan's also a gifted photographer and I envy her photos of traditional sites and ancient monuments.  I, of course, am the World's Worst Photographer, but I had to take this picture (with my Softbank phone, of course.)  I do love Japan!