You can’t pass a day
of insane madness,
in this world encrusted on water,
how much fertilizer it takes
to grow the huge watermelons which,
anthropologists have observed,
are the only food eaten by
The Giant Pink Bikini Women of Shibuya.
(Picture taken in Shibuya, Tokyo during Golden Week, May 2012)
It was the first week of May in Shibuya, Tokyo, near the end of Golden Week. The shopping crowds were heavy, and you could hear the right-wing nationalists at Shibuya Station spewing enough loud propaganda to make Hachikō melt on his pedestal.
But there’s something about Shibuya during the middle of spring. The air is warmer and the people are more casually dressed and free with their smiles and movements. It’s easy to pick a spot to stand and watch not only the people but the places they move past.
So I found myself across the street from a giant funky kitty. It seemed as if both of us were watching the people passing through the wedge of sunshine warming the crowded street late on a Saturday afternoon.
I stood there for awhile, taking my measure of the movement of people. What made me happy was I was totally alone in one of the most crowded places on Earth. I like that feeling. Everyone moving by ignored me and the giant kitty.
It was a good day to be alive, to be in Tokyo, and to be on the thin line between shadow and sunshine.
(Photos taken across from the Big store in Shibuya in May, 2012)
I had both a curious and a funny moment today that I did not expect. Right now, I’m too tired from lunching with friends in Roppongi and visiting the Popbox Jump! event at Shibuya Loft to throw anything deep, hard-hitting, or poignant at you.
The curious moment was when I went looking for a shop (shown in the second picture below) that my wife and I saw on our visit four years ago. I wanted to photograph it again, but do a better job. Well, that shop isn’t there anymore. The shop in the picture immediately below is.
Looks like just another hip, urban Tokyo clothing shop. I didn’t find it interesting. This town is lousy with hip, urban clothing shops.
But I was, for lack of a better imagination, minorly blown away that the shop from four years ago was gone. It was not very dramatic, but was definitely a “hit-me-over-the-head” moment. Tokyo is dynamic, organic, changing, and fleeting. The low level of change, and even permanence, in the parts of the city I know well is truly offset by the rising and falling of structures, and the coming and going of businesses. This is just one example. Another is that my favorite Shibuya Indian restaurant in the ‘80s is now a Shakey’s Pizza.
The funny moment today came when the tout for the Hood shop came up to me in the street. She asked me in English if I liked how the shop looked. I started to tell her that her shop used to sell condoms. She didn’t know the word condoms. So I thought about how to explain. Because her English was good, I thought about trying to put an imaginary condom on my right index finger and telling her “To protect during sex, you know?”
But then it occurred to me that talking about sex and making a clinical explanatory gesture that could be seen as obscene to a young woman could get me yelled at or beaten with a police nightstick. So I stopped myself from doing something potentially really stupid. Rather than attempt to explain ‘condom’, I told the Hood tout girl never mind and to have a nice day.
And I walked towards Shibuya Station. And that’s it.