What ho, friends, Romans, and countrymen! So yet again I must apologize (can we see a trend forming), for being so long between posts. I suppose my lack of motivation and my lack of having anything interesting to report are just testaments to the fact that I've finally settled into my life here. The glamour of a trip to the grocery is now no more than a crappy chore I have to force myself to do. As with the locals, I'm even beginning to ignore the fact that the ever-glamourous Shibuya is just one stop and $1.30 away because, really 'What do I need there? I can buy toilet paper across the street and Shibuya's just a busy place for trendy teenagers. Kyominai (not interested)." Well, perhaps I'm not THAT far gone yet, but the days of me going on trips every day off, or actually appreciating my prime living location (walking distance to Shibuya, 5 min. by train from Harajuku/Ebisu/Yoyogi Park/Omotesando) are long gone. I've even started sticking my earphones in, when I get on the train, and pretending to be asleep. I am a local. They even broke my spirit and led me down the path of doing something I had vowed never to do (and bravely put off as long as possible): wearing a face mask. But alas, I came down with a cold, and following my host mother's advice (as one really should always do), I wore a freaking mask. And I didn't mind it. You garner less attention that way.
All that being said, after the plague passed over our house, I did manage to make one sidetrip with my mother this past Sunday, to a place called Shimokitazawa (or just Kitazawa, not sure which). Rather than taking a train (the Odakyu line), we decided to walk there, and it was quite a hike, even for me. However, the walk was pleasant, following the river (which became more of a stream), running along a protected, well kept path almost like a path/park, covered by a canopy of cherry blossom trees which, I'm told, are quite glorious come the time for them to bloom. We followed the little stream, which was rather picturesque, with stones and small fish and hermit crabs (really, think of a traditional Japanese garden and you've got the idea), for a long, long way (about 30 min.), then we finally turned off of it, crossed a big street to a 7/11 and then proceeded through a rich subdivision sort of area, where I saw my first real two-story private residence. Usually buildings with multiple floors, even ones built like houses, have multiple tenants, but because this was where the 'really rich' people lived, they had landscaping (on a smaller scale since Tokyo hardly has those things called yards), and massive private entrance gates and two stories. It was all very plush, though one wouldn't think so judging by America's standards of a rich person's home. It was also explained to me that Daigo's (a musician/idol that's popular here) grandfather, who was prime minister, was relocated to this area we were in because as a rule, all cabinet members must live in a house with a police box out front. A police box, by the way, or Koban, is like...if you imagine the little office in a train station for the trainmaster/lost and found, a Koban is like that, but for cops, where they sit around, can go out if the need arises, and people can come in if they need directions/help/etc. So in other words, the moral of that story is: my chances of meeting my beloved Daigo (for he has grown on me immensely since coming to live here), are fractionally bigger now (though still one in fifty million).
So, moving on, we walked past a shrine, and next door to that a Buddhist temple that, strangely enough, had a kindergarten attached. Not much further and we were finally in Shimokitazawa. As a young man in a restaurant once explained it to me, it's where all the young people go to hang out, and while being very similar to Harajuku, is more like a local version. And I would say that's a fair assessment. For those of you in St. Louis, it is more or less like The Loop, only on a much larger scale. It's where all the yuppies and young dreamers come to get together, perform liberal arts, open really unique, independent stores, and overall bask in that 'generation of the future' feel. You see all sorts in this area, from guys with dreadlocks, dressed like hippies, to young trendy girls in the latest fashions. There are a handful of very, very small independent theaters here, the most well known being the Honda theater (not the car company), which coincidentally is also where, in a few months time, Daigo will be playing Seymour in a musical production of Little Shop of Horrors, which I'm determined to get tickets to (see how it all ties together). There are ballet shops, shops selling theater makeup, shops selling handmade clothes, vintage clothes, cowboy boots, dreamcatchers, incense, quirky random cutesy things like dishes and stuffed animals. There was a store selling old vintage 50s/60s American fabrics and knick-knacks like Raggedy Ann toys and antique jewelry. Restaurants here are also frequent, and rather cheap, ranging from American style food to Italian, to bakeries...just about anything but Japanese. Cafes, naturally, and lounges selling alcoholic treats are also in plenty. Basement live houses (music stages) are another thing you might check out, if that's your things. Another thing that seems to be a frequent occurence is young people, typically outside the station, singing or playing their guitar, or handing out politcal fliers. When we went there were two young men, sitting just beyond the station steps, one with a guitar, the other with a fiddle, both with a can of Asahi beer sitting out by the empty guitar case, playing Irish music. And beside them, separate, were two girls with a big poster they had made, handing out flier advocating the end of nuclear weapons, the spread of peace and the improvement of our environment. It was a really quaint, hip place, larger than I could have ever imagined and certainly too large to ever see the entirety of. So, that was my adventure of the week. Hope it was interesting to read. Sorry I don't have any pictures, but my host mother and I were too busy talking/bonding for me to stop and snap some shots. So, I do apologize. Well, したらね！