You have to massage your husband! 

Just met this extra nice Japanese oldman and we talked about Japan, travels, languages, and the fact that his wife had a massage studio (I got discount!). 


He asked if I had a husband. When I said I was single (decided against specifying I was divorced), he told me that at some point I would have a husband and that I should give this husband massages. OK. So to all of you who are married: massage your husbands 😉 This has got to be the weirdest piece of advice I’ve ever received! All because I helped him with his tray and smiled when he said thank you in English. He said he liked this coffee shop and was a frequent customer which means I might meet him in the future (because I like the place, too)! I’ll have to learn more Japanese by then and do something about my degree because I told him my plans and he was really supportive (for a total stranger) 🙂 

Lost in the crowd, surrounded by floats

I have to admit, I did not expect Nezu Shrine Festival to be so… full of life, I guess?

I loved every second of it. I took way too many pictures and recorded way too many videos. Won’t post them all here, but if you are interested, you can find them on my YouTube channel.

As usual, I met a nice stranger. Maybe I looked lost? Anyway, some older Japanese man asked me if I spoke English and we talked for a while about the festival, Poland, and my job. Apparently, I was very lucky because this year’s festival was special: normally, they move 7 or 8 floats, but this time there were 30 (he said 300 but I’m pretty sure that was a mistake).

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After all the floats reached their destination (Nezu Jinja), everyone went to enjoy the festivities around the main shrine. The place was crowded. But not too crowded: walking around or finding a place to sit down to rest and/or eat something wasn’t a problem. It was a nice kind of crowded, especially for a solo traveler like me. There was something semi-familiar about it. Probably because the event was very local (I saw maybe 4 or 5 foreigners) and it seemed that it was very important for the community. Lots of families with kids, people in traditional clothes, almost everyone paying their respects at the shrine before going to the stalls.

Oh yes, stalls. With food. Yakitori, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, ikayaki, karaage, jaga bata, kakigor, dango, ringo ame, choco bananas, bebi kasutera… So many different types of food that the first thing I did was checking some basic “Japanese festival food” online – just to know what to expect (and how to eat it). My chopstick skills are still far from perfect, so I decided to focus on stuff that’s “on a stick” or “eat with your fingers”. I ate some bebi kasutera (so good!), some sort of hot pasty with pumpkin filling, and kakigori (or shaved ice). I know these were the safest choices and next time I’m going to try something more… unusual. I promise 🙂

Some randomness

There are so many things I want to write about, like this random lady (customer, not personnel) in a supermarket who gave me a coupon in a bread aisle and explained it to me (using Japanese, English, and gestures) that with these stickers every over 100 yen product would cost 20 yen less. That was so unexpected, so strange, and so sweet. I have no idea why me.

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Thanks to this kind lady I saved 120 yen! 🙂

Or this random guy working in the same supermarket who says hi and smiles every time I’m there. And yesterday I saw him riding a bike and he greeted me, too. I’m not sure if he’s mistaking me for someone or if he’s just that friendly. But it makes me smile.

Or this random and very confused teenager whom I asked about garbage bins at Tokyo Game Show and who didn’t know any English but still did his best to help me.

Btw, Tokyo Game Show without Japanese = 20% of experience (basically only shops and visuals). But I still got some pretty cool (free)  stuff there 🙂

Fan is especially useful (it’s still so hot!)

And this random and very shy kid in a coffee house who told me “dozo” while I was waiting in line for my coffee which made them mix up our orders (I was supposed to get ice coffee with whipped cream) but I said nothing because explaining that without Japanese was impossible. 

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And coffee was great 🙂

(I was writing this on the subway and missed my stop – twice ;))

A little bit of Asakusa

Going to Asakusa few minutes before dusk turned out to be a great idea. There was almost no crowd (at least for Sensō-ji), people were walking and admiring their surroundings instead of running around, and almost everyone looked genuinely happy.

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Like this bike lady 🙂

Of course I had to take some pictures around the temple itself 😉

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After the sunset I went on stroll along the alleys full of the traditional arts and crafts shops. Again: no crowds 🙂 Photos may not look so good (I don’t have a fancy camera, sorry) but everything felt more real.

Loved the atmosphere!

What’s more, I managed to buy a gift for my mom – and she’s not easy to shop for. I remembered her saying a while back that she would love to have wind chimes so when I saw a pottery shop I just had to buy a small bell! I would love to show it to you but my mom sometimes visits this place to see the photos (she doesn’t know English), so I don’t want to spoil the surprise 😉

Not frogs

My smiling theory is working! People are nicer and try to explain things to me – in French. Smiling did not make me understand it. So I did what every hungry person who doesn’t know language would do: I bought my dinner at a convenience store of sorts. My feast for tonight:

(yep, Starbucks and squishy thingy – I feel so mainstream that it’s not even funny)

BTW, I saw it, I misread it, and I can’t unsee it:

Paris

Everything is in French here. I don’t know even one French word. I feel like a barbarian. Or maybe they make me feel like one when they act oh-so-surprised when I reveal my “no French” weakness. Considering that I’m going to Japan with ever bigger weakness (“no Japanese, no sushi, please give me a fork”), it’s a good exercise. Especially as people tend to get nicer when you smile at them. So, smile mode: on.