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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon
I've been baulked in my wish to keep up a daily blog since I came to Tokyo simply by lack of time - which is a better reason than some. I've had meetings (some just for pleasure, some academic) set up every day but one - and that was a cancellation - as well as which I've been doing some editorial work (i.e. correcting English) for Japanese academic friends. So, some things have had to give, and blogging was among the squeezable entities that made the ultimate sacrifice. I now have a few minutes to put that to rights, however, so here are some rather fragmentary memories and maunders that should at least get us to the end of last weekend.

I meant to mention last time that, two minutes' walk from my house, stands a Western clothing shop called "Guloucester", which is a welcome reminder of my own Gloucester Rd., albeit only in the matter of spelling, and only that to a certain extent...

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Sentiment is a funny thing....

Sunday was my only truly free day, so I took the opportunity to visit the last day of the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition, which had transferred to Bunkamura in Shibuya from the Victoria and Albert. It was packed, as it had apparently been every day: the popularity of Pooh in Japan hadn't quite been borne in on me before, although I gather from a couple of conversations I've had since I gather that many people believe it to be an invention of Disney. This exhibition would have set them straight, however. Although I could not photograph the MS pages and illustrations, I can at least include the Pooh-sticks bridge, complete with moving water effect:

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I now know that in Japan, When Were Very Young and Now We are Six are translated as "Christopher Robin's Songs" and "Pooh Bear and Me." It's not unreasonable, I suppose, but it does change the timbre of those volumes somewhat. (Far less forgivable is turning The Wind in the Willows into "By the Fun River".)

The misspelling of "Owl" as "Wol" turns in Japanese into "Kufuro"/くふろ (instead of "Fukuro"/ふくろ). Cute.

After that I bumbled around Shibuya, looking at the cool kids and what they were buying. Among other things, I saw a rabbit café next to a cat café, which seems like a recipe for trouble down the line...

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Culture note: Japanese people appear to find the idea of eating rabbits as bizarre as British people might eating, say, cats, although of course their diet includes many things from which the average Brit might shrink. I've known that for a while, but only yesterday did I learn that Japanese people (not all, I'm sure) find caterpillars as creepy and scary as Brits do spiders. I suspect most Brits - gardeners excepted - find caterpillars rather cute. On the other hand, spiders are less of a problem for them. (Admittedly I'm basing all this on the rather narrow basis of my personal acquaintance.)

Meanwhile, in Don Quixote (a pile-'em-high department store that's a great place for souvenir gifts), they are selling T-shirts to commemorate the end of the Heisei era and the coming of the Reiwa at the beginning of next month. Though not a monarchist, still less an imperialist, I'm curious to see how this is going to pan out, and I'll be watching the process with interest from my Odwara fastness on the day:

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Later, I got chatting to Junko, my landlady, and we ended up going to eat yakitori together at one of her favourite local places. I'm sorry to say that I didn't photograph it, not wanting to stand out too much, but it was in any case quite simple fare, though delicious. The guilt of the meat was offset by the healthiness of using raw cabbage leaves to scoop up miso - a surprisingly moreish snack. Junko's almost total lack of English meant that the conversation was entirely in Japanese, and I'm happy to say that it went pretty well.

For some reason, I really like Guloucester. It seems like an improvement on the original.

Fascinating too about the creepiness of caterpillars! It makes sense that there might be a cultural predisposition to certain phobias.

I think it’s plausible that there would be: so much of fear is learned. A Japanese friend in Bristol teased me once about the way British people tend to worry about spiders and snakes if they go to Australia; on the other hand, Japanese people (like Americans) can be excessively worried about the risk of getting caught up in terrorist attacks in Europe. Neither fear is well supported by the stats.

This evening I mentioned the caterpillar thing to Miho, and she suggested that it was because in Japan caterpillars are liable to give you a nasty rash. So that may be the explanation, or part of it - but not, I hope, all.

I didn't know Don Quixote was a real store! They have one in the Yakuza games - and now I'm curious what else is real in them.