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Amparo Bertram

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07:40 am: Welcoming in the new year Japanese style
As I reported earlier, I went to Tokyo for New Year. I arrived the afternoon of December 27th and met my hostess, on vacation from studying abroad at Adrian College. We spent that afternoon shopping in Ikebukuro and then headed to Yokohama. (The original plan had been to stay at her friend's apartment, but that fell through, so she reserved a hotel in Yokohama instead.) I'm accustomed to seeing a copy of the New Testament in hotel rooms, but this room also came stocked with the Teaching of Buddha. This makes a lot of sense, considering there are vastly more Buddhists than Christians in Japan. In fact, it rather surprised me that they bothered having the New Testament there at all...maybe they get a lot of foreign guests?

On the morning of the 28th, we started off by having breakfast at McDonald's. I bet you thought that the redheaded clown who represents the restaurant was named Ronald, didn't you? Well, not in Japan. On the right is a picture of a holiday note included on the paper placemat covering the food tray. The translation reads, "In 2006, Donald played a lot, laughed a lot, and received a lot of good cheer. That's what kind of happy year it was." Why Japan decided to change his name to Donald is a mystery to me, though it may be related to the fact that R and L are represented by the same character in Japanese and therefore Ronald might be confusing.

After breakfast, we spent the day sightseeing around Yokohama. Mainly, we went to the harbor area, where there are a lot of shopping malls. (The ferris wheel in the picture is apparently from the amusement park featured in the 2006 Meitantei Conan movie.) We had lunch at a buffet restaurant called Harvest that was very tastefully decorated with a simple bamboo theme and had lots of vegetarian options. We spent pretty much the whole day checking out various shops.

On the 29th we got up early and headed to Tokyo Big Site for Comiket. We were extremely fortunate that the weather was sunny and relatively warm. My hostess was surprised by the number of people in attendance, because she had thought the winter version would be considerably smaller than the summer version. We followed that up with another afternoon of shopping in Ikebukuro.

On the 30th, we got up even earlier and checked out of the hotel. We spent another morning at Comiket, then went to hang out and shop in Nakano for a while. We had intended to have supper at the vegetarian Indian place in Ogikubo that evening, but when we arrived we found that they were closed for the holiday and wouldn't reopen for nearly a week. That was disappointing, but we wound up eating somewhere else nearby and then had several hours of karaoke before meeting up with a friend of my hostess. We would be staying at the friend's apartment for the next couple nights.

The next day, after sleeping in, we took a train to Shinjuku, where I browsed Kinokuniya while my hostess took care of some business she had. At one point I wandered around outside and came across a Krispy Kreme doing smashing business. (The line continues around the side of the building.) I don't know what was so special about the place that it was drawing such a crowd, but I wasn't willing to wait in that line to find out. In the evening, we returned to the friend's apartment, where we celebrated New Year's Eve with a meal of toshikoshi soba.

On New Year's Day, we had o-sechi for brunch. This is a Japanese tradition, where each bit of food represents some kind of good fortune for the new year. As soon as we finished, my hostess saw me off at Tokyo station. I arrived back in Moriyama around 4pm in the afternoon. It was nice to get back to familiar surroundings. I now have the rest of the week free to do whatever I please.

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[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:January 3rd, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
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I hope you had fun. I'm glad you got to sleep in a few days.

So, it sounds as though the winter Comiket was not considerably smaller than the summer version. Maybe the fact that it wasn't so hot and humid makes the waiting in lines easier? It actually was so well organized in the summer that it was amazing how fast the lines moved. But that was still a large number of people to accommodate.

Your pictures add so much. Thanks for including them.

I'm sorry about the Indian restaurant being closed, but am so glad you got to do some karaoke.

Krispy Kreme gets that response from people I know here. It's not to be found everywhere, and when they do come across it, people get excited and buy some extra to take home. I can't exactly explain why. I'm sure they are just as fattening as any other donut products.

Enjoy the rest of your vacation. We started work today with professional development and school improvement issues. The students arrive tomorrow.

It's great reading about your trip. Thanks for sharing.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 3rd, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC)
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Why Japan decided to change his name to Donald is a mystery to me

I've always thought it was because they don't really do rhyming like we do, so changing it to "Donald" gives it the same kind of stupid symmetry it has in English. But I don't really know either.

The ferris wheel in the picture is apparently from the amusement park featured in the 2006 Meitantei Conan movie.

Wait, was that the one with the crazy roller coaster that went over the water? Is that really there, or did they just make that part up for the movie?

I don't know what was so special about the place that it was drawing such a crowd,

My guess is that it just opened and/or was recently featured on TV. I've heard lots of stories about people lining up for new or popular bakery and pastry stores.

...I wonder if Krispy Kreme changed their recipe for Japan. Seems to me like the ones they have here would be too sweet and rich to go over that well.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 3rd, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
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Is that really there, or did they just make that part up for the movie?

I don't know. I could see that there was a roller coaster, but I didn't actually go close enough to get a good look at it. I imagine the movie exaggerated, though.

My guess is that it just opened and/or was recently featured on TV.

That's possible. I seem to recall that there used to be a coffee shop in that spot, though that could be my memory playing tricks on me.

...I wonder if Krispy Kreme changed their recipe for Japan.

I will have to try it next time I visit Tokyo. Maybe then it won't be as crowded.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 5th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
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I seem to recall that there used to be a coffee shop in that spot

If I'm right (it's a bit hard to tell from the picture), there was a Starbucks there.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:January 3rd, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
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This is a Japanese tradition, where each bit of food represents some kind of good fortune for the new year.

Or, if you're me, hives. 蝦だめ!
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