New York. London. Tokyo. At the end of the day, they’re all the same. Squint hard enough and the neon lights of Shibuya could quite easily become Times or Leicester Square. The downtown of any city wears the same outfit: a one-size-fits-all suit tailored by starbucksburgerhutpizzaking, topped off with a Ronald McDonald wig. Thankfully, though, it’s all just a facade. The exteriors may be paint-by-numbers but New York is still New York, London is still London, and Tokyo is still, well, Tokyo.
It’s nice when you’re hit full whack in the face by some full-on Japan-ness. Today I was in Nezu, a non-descript little area near Ueno that I had never even heard of. There was a small matsuri (festival) on, and the whole neighbourhood was filled with children playing in the streets, old men drinking cheap beer in the sun, and old women with pensioner hairstyles gossiping about whatever it is old people gossip about.
People smiled and said hello. I drew chalk drawings on the ground with some kindergarten kids and randomly came across a turtle sitting in a box. I made my way to Nezu Shrine where there was a lot of homely stuff going on. A group of men called me over to their stall and insisted I ate okonomiaki with them, taking pictures and asking me questions about the London Olympics as if I was some sort of authority since I’m from the UK.
While I was eating, I noticed an old guy about 70 sheepishly standing there with a big stick of candyfloss. As I finished up and said my goodbyes, he bowed and gave it to me as a present. * Shucks *
Nezu is quaint. It looks Japanese.
Car bicycle park outside the shrine
Torii gates. Best colour ever.
The okonomiyaki was stodgy, but I had an audience so I ate it all.