Gypsy's Travels

Friday, November 26, 2010

Japanese Journey - Exploring Takeshita Dori

Em and I headed down Takeshita Dori ("dori" is street in Japanese) in the early evening and discovered that it was dark by 5:30. The small shops were filled with young teens stopping by on their way home from school, young couples out for a walk, and busy, busy people rushing to whoknowswhere.

I was trying to take a photo of Em when a kind gentleman offered to take one of us together. His English was excellent and he chatted about the time he had spent in California. (Did I mention she LOVED her hat and wore it everywhere?)

Almost everyone spoke at least a little English and several who offered help at various times during our stay, spoke very well. Others, like the gaggle of school girls from whom we asked directions, managed to come up with some very basic English words they had learned in school, emphasized with a lot of giggling. My Japanese was even more basic and really sent them into hysterics. They probably had a good time relating their experience in their next English class.
As we continued our exploration of Takeshita Dori, we discovered that almost anything can be purchased from a vending machine. They are found on almost every street corner and there appears to be no problem with vandalism. We found the Japanese people to be very honest and polite. We never felt unsafe on the streets, even at night....not that we were out that late, mind you.

Small shops lined the passageways, tucked in close like cinnamon rolls in a package, displaying just enough to entice the shoppers. Most specialized in one particular this shop filled with a variety of socks.

Leaving the shopping area, we wandered into an area where masses of people were gathering. Our limited communication skills and the high noise level were not conducive to the exchange of information, but the streets were roped off and a "security" person kept pointing to an area and motioning us to wait and watch - this amid a flow of shouted Japanese completely unintelligible to us. We found a likely spot and waited.
We were soon treated to a parade of costumed people, most with loud instruments of some sort to accompany their"singing". Over-sized drums on a rolling rack required so much effort, that the drummers changed places as they stepped along.
Hundreds (or more) of people lined the route for a relatively short parade. Fortunately, Em and I were a tad taller than most of the natives, so we could see some of the action. We never did discover what the parade was about, but it seemed likely it was Jidai Matsuri.
There was one huge float with mean-looking "warriors" which dominated the parade. and the various costumes indicated it might be part of "Culture Day."
We ended the evening with dinner at a restaurant we discovered on our walk - Wolfgang Puck. The name was quite recognizable, but the food was local and very tasty.

This short video will give you some idea of the parade and crowd.

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