day four--nanyoubi desu ka?

It's one thing to not know what date it is; I do that often, writing the 12th on a piece of homework when it's actually the 14th.  But it's a really strange feeling not knowing what day of the week it is, and it makes for this constant stuck in time feeling, as if not being able to label the day is enough to make time pass at a different rate for me.

The weather here is also quite surprising, but in a very pleasant way.  I still see people walking around in jackets and scarves and hats...but then again layers seem to be a big part of the Japanese dress code.  But if this were the current weather situation at home, people would be wearing shorts and forgetting their sweatshirts in their cars.  It's still cold, especially when you get closer to the water and that heavy island breeze comes in.  But it's bright and sunny and I go back and forth between taking my sweatshirt and scarf off, stuffing them in my backpack, and then occasionally needing one or both of them back on, though usually just for a short period of time.  Anyway, the better solution I've found for temporary chills is the hand-warmers located on almost every corner in the form of hot bottled vending-machine coffee.

Not only did I not plan on needing lower ISO's, but I packed my clothing based on comfort and warmth versus looks.  Had I known this would be the temperature, I'd have brought slip-on shoes rather than tennis shoes, skirts and tights instead of only pants, and at least one shirt with sleeves shorter than 3/4 length.  I'd do anything for a light over-shirt right now instead of my one thick SOU hooded sweatshirt (what was I thinking...?).  Especially when I'm already feeling out of place due to how nicely everyone dresses here, and how obviously important clothing and fashion and trends are.  Don't get me wrong, I've often been the least-girly girl in a room before at home, where appearance and superficiality is of course ridiculously important.  But the difference here is that I somehow care about that (and perhaps here it seems to be more of a reflection of character versus the empty American vanity I'm used to, and how looks are often completely unrelated to the person you are).  And the irony in all of this is how people are (apparently) not looking at me or judging me here, while at home I feel like I can count on strangers around me making opinions.  You'd think I'd care less here, but something about that dichotomy between the "American" form and the "Japanese" form creates in me more concern in my presence here.

You don't see people sporting the "lazy college student" look.  If I've seen a pair of sweatpants, they've been designer ones with matching accessories and still probably cost more than my jeans.  Maybe that's why I haven't noticed any homeless people...besides the lack of begging, they're all wearing clothes just as nice or nicer than mine.  It's amazing.  (And I've read somewhere that one reason for homelessness here--especially for elderly people--is more of a rebellion from the trendy and forward Tokyo society, a desire to go back to the older ways and be outside of the commotion, versus the idea of homeless people having "failed" and/or "lost everything").  I can't get over how outwardly collected everyone seems.  Men look competent and well dressed.  People give the appearance of maturity and extreme friendliness, without even cracking a smile or saying hello.

On this note, I read a quote in one of Anthony's Tokyo travel books: "The Japanese have perfected good manners and made them indistinguishable from rudeness."  (It's actually a really depressing book that brings up Tokyo's ugliness and all of the terrible outlets Japanese people find in order to escape from the docile society they've so adamantly created for themselves, while desperately needing to vent their repressed feelings and expressions...I fell asleep last night feeling discouraged and homesick after some late-night reading :P).  But my point is, this quote couldn't be more accurate according to my four day old opinion of Japan.

I'm feeling like I need the country-side.  I hear that away from the city is where you really come across Japan's reputable hospitality and "violent" friendliness, as I once heard it put.  I think we need to take the shinkansen outside of Tokyo and try to find old Japan.


That being said, we're grabbing our things and on our way to Harujuku: the fashion capital known for being a place where you can people-watch the youth of Japan as they wander around in outrageous clothing and costumes.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting opinion of Japan and the Japanese... I always wondered about the "crazy fashion" so nice theory you put out there. I hope you've managed to take a few snapshots of some of awesome trends you see!

    P.S. Remind me to show you what I did for clothing decisions on recent trips :)