I’m attempting to read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. The back cover has a bunch of quotes where everyone says it’s hilarious, funny, or the best thing they’ve read in awhile. I haven’t laughed once yet and I’m a bit bored. Second option is to start One Hundred Years of Solitude.
This is, quite possibly, one of the craziest things I’ve ever read.
— Roger Sterling (via matthewolf)
One of the things I collect are kokeshi. They’re traditional wooden dolls that are mainly made in Tohoku, the northern part of the main island. Originally they were created as souvenirs in onsen shops, but many people fell in love with their silly faces so much so that we’re in the middle of the 3rd Kokeshi Boom. The first was in the 1940s and the second was in the 1950s, lasting 10 years. Due to the boom, you may see some kokeshi goods popping up in all sorts of places: towels, cloth, erasers, etc.
Since I was going down to Tokyo, I decided to see if I could find a shop that sells kokeshi. Surely a city that amasses 30 million people and more would have one store…and that’s the story on how I found these guys:
During my research, I stumbled upon a blog called Kokeshi Adventures. It’s about a family that lives in Tokyo that go on road trips to get more kokeshi. It’s quite interesting and informative. I can’t imagine their kokeshi collection…it must be an entire bookcase!
Anyway, the blogger, John, and his family visited a kokeshi shop in Hachioji named Tokyo Kokeshi. I did the math and Hachioji was about an hour away, so off I went on my own adventure…and boy was it an adventure. I got lost for about 30 minutes. The store is quite far from the station and Japanese addresses are longwinded. Eventually I got to the workshop where two old men were chatting in front. It looked boarded up, so I decided to ask them, “Where is the Tokyo Kokeshi shop?” and he simply answered, “Here.” I had been lost for 30 minutes and sweaty, I must’ve looked crazy.
He (I am still recovering from being a mom to Lillian and Andy and returning to work, no time to decipher all the Japanese) ushered me inside the old building where I was met with wall to wall cardboard boxes and sawdust. He asked me what kind of kokeshi I want, how high and brought them out for me. He had several with flower patterns (that’s his style) so I decided with the sakura one. He went to go get a bag and we were just lightly chatting. I told him I came from Sapporo and he said “whoa, Sapporo is…whoa” roughly.
We talked for awhile and then he brought out a block of wood. He then announced that he was going to show me how he makes his version of kokeshi. That’s Japanese hospitality for ya. It was kind of amazing to see a block of wood transform into round shapes. I got hit by some wood chips, but it was so interesting to see how he formed the ring around the neck (he made two incisions and kept cutting wood while the block was spinning).
He apparently has a daughter who lives in NY as a camerawoman and is in a relationship with a Dalai Lama-esque (his words) person. He used to talk annual trips to see her, but after the terrorist attacks, he stopped. He even made it up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. “Nihon wa ii,” he said and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve read those insane news stories, America is crazy at the moment.
At the end he drove me back to the station. I was so tired, I was like “yeah, okay.” I would never do such a thing in America, but this grandad who opened his shop again, chatted with me, gave me a kokeshi, nah…he was probably okay. If not, we would have had a throw down.
I hopped on the train to meet Lillian and Andy. In my message, I said, “oh, I got a story to tell you.”
For about a week, I had two visitors fly into town. My friends Lillian and Andy stopped in Sapporo on their Asia tour. I met Lillian when I was in junior high school and then we went to high school together. After that we went to separate universities, but that didn’t matter anymore because we’d already created a crazy history of past events and inside jokes to fall back on. Lillian and Andy started dating at the end of high school and they’re still going strong.
I had to babysit them for about a week, deciphering food, signs, garbage system, commuting routes and intense shopping trips to the 100 yen store. It was 大変でした but I had such a lovely time. It’s weird because I’d never imagine my old life and new life catching up and molding into one.
We went down to Tokyo and saw some temples. We stayed in a traditional ryokan near the Nippori JR station. The neighborhood is called Yanaka and has a long street with shops donning cat mascots. I recommend this place for people who love cats and 2nd hand books. I didn’t think I was in Tokyo at all!
Yanaka was spared during WWII and that’s why it’s able to exude an old timey feeling.
Along the streets are mom and pop shops selling all kinds of things. Andy was addicted to all the fried food and subsequently we ate fried squid, chicken, and fish at 11 am :(
I wasn’t joking about the cats.
I’m happy to be back in my apartment, just chilling.
He started out cracking jokes, but when I showed him the format of the blog, he got very serious and said:
“I know what I want you to write by my photo.”
“Good people find each other. Bad people get found out.”
Truth! Karma is gonna bite you in the ass.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (via man-and-camera)
I thought I was alone in the school library.
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