Monday, August 28, 2006

Back in Canada, for about 20 minutes... technically speaking.

Another weekend over, another trip to blog about... as Scotto would say: "It's a good life, in'it?" Weekend went by a little too quickly for my liking of course, what with me having to don my suit and head in to work on Sunday, but that was yesterday.

This morning, Yoshiko and I hopped on a train bound for Shibuya, where we would be meeting Matt for lunch. Shibuya is of course shopping heaven for the "yung uns" out in these parts. We dropped in there quickly a few months ago, as you can see in the middle of this post. Our reason for heading there today was that Matt wanted to drop by the Mac store, and Shibuya is just 2 stops from Aoyama 1-chome, where the Canadian Embassy is located. As is typically the case for people planning to meet, we made plans to meet at the Hachiko statue outside Shibuya Station.

Hachiko deserves his own little paragraph here I think. You see, if ever you happen to be in Shibuya Station, you will see signs for "Hachiko Exit", you will see paintings of a dog on the walls, and finally you will see Hachiko himself... a statue of Hachiko to be exact. The story of Hachiko dates back over 80 years to the 1920s. The story goes that Hachiko was a faithful dog who would see his master off at Shibuya station in the morning and meet him upon his return from work at night. Every day, the professor and his dog could be seen together, and so continued the routine until the professor's death. His wife packed up her things and moved away, leaving Hachiko with a friend who lived nearby. However, whenever Hachiko was let out, he would make his way back to the station to wait for his master. The kicker here is that the dog continued his vigil until his own death 11 years later. Strangers, those living around the station and even the station attendants took care of feeding Hachiko and provided him with housing when necessary. Quite a touching story, somewhat sad, and goes to the blind love and loyalty shown by dogs. Anybody able to find such a story about a cat? This is the statue of Hachiko, still waiting outside the gates of the station. The real Hachiko is apparently preserved in a museum in Tokyo.

So we did in fact find Matt there, and I was surprised to find 2 of the nastiest girls I have yet to see in Japan at the same spot. I guess with the 127 million odd people in Japan, there's bound to be a few that are pretty scary, but these seem to have put a lot of work into looking the way they did.

I hate to be making comments on people's styles here, but I will anyway... COME ON! After recovering from the shock to our central nervous system upon encountering 3 dogs where there was only supposed to be 1, we walked around a bit looking for a place to grab lunch. We eventually settled on an Oconomiyaki restaurant, and it ended up being pretty good. If you're unfamiliar with this dish, it's essentially a Japanese pancake\pizza combo thing, with cabbage and veggies and meat... you stir everything up, slap it on the grill and cook it. Here it is immediately after being poured.

And then after it's been flipped, covered in sauce and bonito flakes and is ready to eat. YUM!

After lunch, we decided to head over to the Mac store with Matt since we had time to kill and I though Yoshiko would be a good resource should Japanese be needed. On the way there, we walked by this store, which I just HAD to take a picture of.

For those of you unfamiliar with the variety of uses for the word "beaver", allow me to enlighten you. Not only is the beaver a critter that munches on trees and creates havoc in cottage country, it is also a slang word for a certain part of the female anatomy. In an attempt to keep this blog PG, I will not be any more specific than that. Look it up...

After dropping in to the Mac store with Matt, where a live band was playing, we parted ways with the Mac-daddy and headed back to the station where we hopped onto the Tokyo Metro for our quick jaunt down to Akasaka. We found the Canadian Embassy easily, and I was impressed with the ease with which I was able to process the paperwork. For a mere 5000Yen, I signed an affidavit which was then signed by the Consul General of Canada to Japan stating there was no legal or other reason why I could not be wed. The Japanese woman at the counter was quite friendly, and the whole process took no more than 10 minutes. Being quite happy to be back on Canadian soil, though only when thinking in technicalities, we headed into the basement of the embassy to check out an art gallery before "returning" to Japan and meeting up with Matt again. Here is the parting view from the embassy, the Canadian Flag flying against the Tokyo skyline... with the Tokyo tower off to the right, though partially obstructed. I was quite impressed with the Embassy, nice building, lovely interior, it really does feel like being back in Canada when one steps inside.

After a couple of hops on some different rail lines, we ended up in Shinjuku where I spotted Elmo warning us about the next "Big One" and telling us to be prepared. The caption reads: "It's not a matter of if. When the next big quake hits, be ready to survive it." This is the second time I've seen Sesame Street characters used on posters... the first was back in March. A rather blunt reminder that we are in a quake prone region.

We then followed Matt to his brother's apartment, where he picked up his things and we took in the view from 32 stories up. We got to meet his brother and sister-in-law (who is from Okinawa) and their kids who were of course quite cute. These kids are also unique in that they are fluent in Japanese and English, due to their American dad and Japanese mom. Does that mean our kids will be trilingual? We'll have to wait and see...

We then headed to Shinjuku station for the return trip. We were quite lucky to get 3 seats together after only one station, and were able to relax a bit on our ride back home. Not a bad day, relatively painless and productive. Nothing too too special about the coming week, I hope it goes by as fast as the weekend did. ;-)

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