Monday, February 2, 2009

First Night

Having no clue about anything in Tokyo (since I did no research and didn't buy a guidebook), I aim for a cluster of restaurants on a map from (which I guess qualifies as research). Anyway, I successfully navigate to the Ginza station which I vaguely recall Leo talking about (he does have a guide, but in French). Turns out that the Ginza station is actually an elaborate underground city. After much wandering, I am able to escape to the street level. I am met with a sight that is far more what I expected Tokyo: bright, loud and busy.

It turns out that Ginza is the high end shopping district and, thus, not a great place to go looking for a cheap meal. I figure I'll wander around for a while and grab something to eat at the first appealing place. I figure it's my first night out, I can waste some money.

I choose a hole-in-the-wall looking Japanese place on the outskirts of the shopping district. I order something that involves shrimp and rice. I decide that holding off on the tourist book for another week or so might be a good idea. That way I'll be even more confused/surprised about everywhere I go.

My meal of shrimp w/ mini-green bean things and noodles is quite good. Bowl of rice side dish is less exciting. Also, I got a soup- it's ok and a particularly large bottle of Kirin beer.

As I wander back to the subway, I pass Kamikaze Hair Salon. This strikes me as being in poor taste. Is this just some lingering effect of being raised in an era of hypersensitivity and political correctness? I mean, I feel like the Japanese would be bothered by that name, but apparently their cool w/ it and I'm bothered on their behalf. Odd.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Brandon! I happened upon your blog while perusing Brooke's recent postings... Reading your entries makes me miss being in Japan!

    I'm also amused by this kamikaze hair salon, and frankly, I don't really know if it's politically correct or not to the Japanese, but I do know a little about the history of it, if you're interested!

    Actually, the word "kamikaze" has been in the language for centuries and it happens to be a point of national pride... Genghis Khan and his hordes tried three (?) times to invade Japan during their military campaigns, and every time they tried, their fleets were miraculously deflected by a typhoon. Eventually, they gave up. So the Japanese came to call these typhoons "kamikaze" which means "divine wind" (kami= god kaze= wind)

    But I think this hair salon was actually trying to be funny, in a typical Japanese wordplay-- The word "kami" also means hair! (and paper, among other things)

    Now you know why they still insist on using Chinese characters in their writing even though they have two perfectly functional phonetic alphabets... there are just too many homophones in the language! A word written out of context in a phonetic alphabet could have any number of meanings, but with a Chinese character, the meaning is specified.