♥ Tokyo – I

It was our second day in the city, and it was one heck of a long day. After traversing the unrealistically complex Tokyo train network to visit a couple of shrines and the imperial palace, we found ourselves in Shinjuku, the commercial center of the city. We ate a very late lunch and then argued whether to call it dinner, but the chill got the better of us Singapore dwellers and soon, we needed coffee. For the last two days and for the rest of the trip, we had made it a point to only visit local cafes and restaurants and avoid the international chains like plague. However, cold noses and chilly toes made us deter this one time and we walked into a Tully’s.

All we wanted was a hot cuppa, but we got much more.

First thing I noticed was how fascinatingly the cafe had been localized. At the entrance, we spotted the quintessential Japanese wax models of the food served. One is used to seeing the udon curry, and katsu don models but seeing wax hotdogs and tacos was something else.

Second thing to catch my eye was the very Japanese asocial-social seating. This term was coined by a dear friend who pointed out, during our first meal in Tokyo, the bizarre seating style where one sits facing the wall, and away from everyone else around them. We agreed that this may have come about as a mean to provide personal space in places with hardly any physical space. For be it a bar, a restaurant, a cafe, or a hotel, everything is tiny.

I particularly like this one as I am a fan of single-seats in cafes.

However, the best was yet to come. As we sat there sipping our hot coffees and snapping our touristy photos, we spotted a group of elderly ladies chatting, giggling, and making origami figures. As their fingers moved expertly over the colorful papers, they caught us staring. While we tried to smile and look away as politely as it was possible at this point, they turned around and handed over a demon like figure to my friend. As we shrieked for joy and thanked them another lady gave one to me. And soon they were teaching us how to make origami oni. Only one of them could speak some English, and our Japanese was limited to one word – a profusely polite thanks – but they still managed to explain how it being the first day of the lunar new year, they gift origami oni to each other. Oni are creatures of Japanese folklore that look like demon, and in one of ladies’ words they are the “demon who take bad things away.”

When they found out we were from Singapore, they only had one thing to say “no chewing gum.” Of course, we did not have the heart (or enough language skills) to tell them that it is no longer true.

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3 Responses to “♥ Tokyo – I”

  1. This is one series I am going to look forward to 🙂
    I ♥ Tokyo and enjoyed my time there and for 2 years have been convincing people to go visit the city. Given a chance, I’d settle there 🙂

    • sunshin3girl Says:

      Oh Tokyo is such a brilliant city. I want to visit it again, soon. There is so much to talk about that vibrant city and its uniqueness; shall write more soon. (:

  2. Love the single-seat concept. We really need them in every city.

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