Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life in Tokyo

It's been a few months since I last blogged, sadly, and that is way too long. I will certainly make an effort to post more often in the future.

It's been about 10 weeks since I first arrived in Tokyo - crazy when I consider how fast that time has gone. I found a place to live quickly, and within 48 hours of arriving in Tokyo I was moved in. My place is quite small, but also somewhat large by the standards of many apartments in Japan. I have two rooms: one with a Tatami mat flooring, the other with carpet. The carpeted room opens out onto a small balcony with a third (fourth floor in Japan - they call ground floor the first floor) floor view out to the city. I am living in Itabashi-ku, maybe about half an hour from one or two of the center's of Tokyo (there are a few). It's fairly convenient, yet slightly away from most of the action, so it's a quieter spot. I'm very happy with the location.

Unfortunately my kitchen is a little bit small for what my culinary interests desire, but there's not a lot I can do about that. Bench space is the major absence - but I make do, and have been cooking some curries, pasta and a whole lot of rice with fish (or Unagi [eel] if it's cheap at the supermarket - yum).

Being an avid city-hater, I'm surprised to realise just how much I enjoy living in Tokyo. It's a very interesting place. There are so many tiny streets, so many little alleyways - and down so many of them you'll find all sorts of people peddling their wares - a tofu store, a small family supermarket or corner store, a clothing shop or even a tiny little restaurant. Sadly I haven't done as much exploring of the local area as I would have liked so far, but it's on my to-do list.

I've been lucky enough to see a few Australian friends in my time so far, too! Maybe others might be keen on a trip to Japan this year, and I can get a little taste of home... www.jetstar.com.au, to drop a not-so-subtle hint to those of you who might be considering a holiday to Asia. When Barry was here, we went and checked out Yoyogi Park, a popular hangout for people walking their dogs, enjoying a day in the sun, Sakura (cherry blossom) viewing - or those who just like to dress up and have fun!

Below are some photos of individuals fitting into the latter category - the Rockers! These guys and girls dress in leather pants and jackets, hair slicked or combed back in hairdo's that were in fashion a few decades ago. They are absolutely fantastic - I could watch them all day. I can only assume this is a (generally) daily lifestyle choice, but on Sundays they bring it all to Yoyogi Park - including generators, speakers and their out-of-control dance moves - for the sheer fun of dancing to rock music.

Every so often one of them would stop, pull out a comb from their back pocket and run it through their hair. These guys are great value. The fact that you can buy Takoyaki (deep fried Octopus dumplings) just makes it even better.

In the past few weeks I've been a little restless - realising that I've spent long enough just bumming around in Japan. I want to get on with doing the things I have wanted to do - studying Taiko, improving my Japanese and seeing more of the country. Unfortunately all of these are expensive endeavours, so until I can find more work in Japan my outings for said activities are going to be limited. Still, as long as I can start to get into them, I'll be happier in how I'm spending my time here.

I'll leave you with an image of Barry with three of the rocker girls... he was loving it! There's more to write, particularly about my gig in Nagoya, the Sakura (cherry blossom) party and the Kanamara Matsuri (phallic festival - they carry a large penis shrines around the streets), but those will have to wait for another time. This post is a bit shorter than the last, I know, but perhaps that will make it more easily digested for all of you.

More soon - and a promise to keep this updated more frequently, too!