Sunday, July 10, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 14 (July 10): Flea Market & Art Museum

Tomiokahachimangu flea market

Today Momo came up to spend the day with us. She had found a flea market where kimono & fabrics are sold, so we met her at the nearest subway station to the Tomiokahchimangu temple, where the flea market was being held. Charlie & Brendan visited the temple to say a prayer while we shopped. After looking at a few stalls selling kimono I hit the jackpot & found 5 kimono & 1 large piece of fabric, for 1800 Yen total! That’s about $25.00. Some of the kimono will need a bit of work (cleaning-wise) but most are in really good shape. I was so happy to find them! One is a men’s yukata that I’ll probably turn into a happi coat for Brendan. One is a very light summer kimono that I’ll do the same to for myself. I just love kimono fabrics & have a few houri (short over-jackets) that I wear as sweaters at home. Anyway, yay!
After the flea market we took the subway to the Marunouchi part of town to visit the Idemitsu Art Museum, which Charlie had read about in a guide book. Part of the reason Charlie wanted to go there was that you can see the Imperial Palace grounds from the museum, & since Charlie felt there wasn’t much chance of dragging Brendan & me all the way to see it (you can’t go in, but you can visit the gardens) this was the next best thing. It’s surrounded by a moat of very green water & you can’t actually see the palace for the trees, but you know it’s there :) The museum itself was mostly pottery collections, some of which were 800 years old. They were really beautiful, & I learned the Japanese words for phoenix (fushicho, which means “undying bird) and celadon (seiji, meaning “blue glaze”- in Japanese there is a shade of green that’s referred to as blue, hence the name blue for a green glaze). There weren’t any restaurants near the museum that were open, this being Sunday in the business area of town, so we hopped back on the train & came back to our own neighbourhood & had Chinese again at the restaurant we had dinner at last night. I had hiyashi chuuka, which is cold noodles with toppings in a yummy broth. Mmmmmm...
Then we all came back to the apartment to plan our trip to Kamakura this Tuesday. Kamakura was a major capital back about 500-600 years ago & there are loads of temples to visit, plus the Daibutsu, a huge statue of the Buddha, that’s very famous. We figured out trains & where we’d meet Momo & her friend Hiroko on Tuesday morning to tour Kamakura. Then we walked Momo to the train & did a bit more exploring around our neighbourhood before comeing home. 
It was really hot today, & Momo told us that it’s officially the first day of summer in Japan, the tsuyu, or rainy season, having been officially declared over yesterday, a week earlier than usual. Lucky us! That means it’s not likely to rain on us again, although the weather will just get hotter & hotter as the summer progresses. It was pretty warm today, & as I was folding laundry this afternoon I decided to pay tribute to the little friends that help us bear the heat, our tenugui.
Everyone in Japan carries tenugui hand towels in the summer. Not only are they convenient for wiping the sweat off your face, but they really come in handy in the public restrooms because there are never any towels in a public restroom in Japan. You might find a heater-type dryer, but rarely paper towels. So we’ve been keeping our tenugui handy as we travel around in the heat & I’m wondering why we don’t have the tradition of tenugui at home? 
We had a quiet evening at our apartment, everyone being quite walked-out from the last few days. Tomorrow, I’m buying books! 

Edited to add: we read news reports this evening that there was another earthquake off the coast of Sendai, Japan. Although there were evacuations in that area, we didn't even feel a tremour here in Tokyo (although we've felt 2 small earthquakes since we've been here). It appears that there wasn't much fallout from this one, thankfully!

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