Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 12 Part I – Hachiko & Kawaii

Back to the trains! 

Tavin and I hit the subways, feeling pretty comfortable getting around as long as we had a station to go to, and a surface map of the surrounding area.
The first journey turned out to be a trip down memory lane as we exited the Shibuya train station at the Hachiko exit.  I was read a picture book version of this incredibly faithful dog way back when I was in elementary school – and here I was at the actual train station where it all took place!

And the Japanese still love Hachiko.

I got to see the Hachiko wall
Plenty of directions to places refer to the "Hachiko Exit"
This sort of instruction is actually essential since
leaving a train station by the wrong exit can leave you
0.5 km, or more, from where you want to be.

the Hachiko statue,

and there is even a special shuttle around Shibuya, the Hachiko bus.

And for those Akita fans out there… yes, Hachiko was an Akita.

Now notice for a moment what they’ve done to Hachiko on his bus.  They’ve made him super round and fuzzy… really, really, unrealistically cute.  

The Japanese word for this extreme cuteness is “kawaii” (kuh-why).

This is a way of life for some Japanese, especially girls between the ages of about 11 and 18.  And some continue on with it for much, much longer.  It is usually accompanied by high-pitched giggling.

We headed for kawaii central – Kiddy Land – and were not disappointed.  They were remodeling the main store, and had a young woman dressed like a school girl, standing in front of the construction, handing out maps to the temporary store.

Here are a few things we found:

Yes, Hello Kitty in a pink leopard print suit.
She giggles, and that tail makes her roll around.
Yes, it is next to a monchichi display.
This just about undid me - Elmo in a Hello Kitty suit, and Hello Kitty...
I can't even say it.
And yes, just to the left, I now see there was also
 a Cookie Monster option I was blind to at the time.
And we even caved a bought a sushi thumb drive.  And Tavin scored a couple of stuffed animal Pokemon.

And yet, there were plenty of odd gag-gifts

A vending machine that would sell you
your own cringing middle-manager? 

Is this one a commemoration of President George H.W. Bush’s visit?

And we found kawaii in some odd spots in other places – road barriers, 

and souvenirs at the aquarium.  

Hello Kitty, out for a cruise on her pet manta ray.
Hello Kitty really is everywhere! 

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