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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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conveyor belt sushi

(continuation of a multi-part Blathering which begins here)

Saturday, Sept. 8th, 2001

Today we checked out Alison's old neighbourhood...she used to live in Koen-ji about thirteen years ago, studying Japanese while working various jobs, including a being disc jockey in top-40 radio show called FM-Banana, English teacher, and had her own cable television show about Harajuku. Nice neighbourhood, prettier than downtown Tokyo.

I picked up some kanji-practice notebooks in a stationery store. LOVE Japanese stationery stores! All kinds of interesting paper and pens and other office supplies. Heck, I'm an office supply store addict anyway, and adding the unique experience of a foreign country just adds to the lure. I could have spent a lot more time (and money) in the office supply store, but there were other places to see and do. I even found some SUSHI ERASERS, woohoo!

We also visited Shinjuku. VERY interesting neighbourhood, definitely not a place to go if you just wanted some relaxing downtime. :-) Lonely Planet's Japan guidebook says, "If you only had a day in Tokyo and wanted to dive headfirst into the modern Japanese phenomenon, Shinjuku would be the place to go."

All kinds of shopping, stand-up noode bars, pachinko parlours, government offices, huge video screens advertising various products and services, crowded, noisy, the sleazy and classy shoulder to shoulder.

We had lunch at a kaiten sushi shop, where you can watch small plates of different types of sushi go by on a conveyor belt and take what you'd like. The plates are different colours, with each colour being associated with a different price. My dad had mentioned these a lot, so I was very happy to be able to visit one.

The conveyer belt had two levels...the top had the plates of sushi, the bottom had chopsticks, cups and green tea bags. If you wanted green tea, you could grab a cup, stick a bag in it, and get hot water from the small hot faucet in front of you. There were also largish containers of ginger near each person.

Relatively affordable, too...we pigged out on sushi and the total tab for the three of us only came to about 2600 yen (CAN$35).

Alison also took us to Iseten, a huge department store. Jeff and I were mainly interested in the foreign section of the bookstore. I already have some books on formal Japanese back home. The foreign book section had an excellent selection of Japanese language learning titles. After much agonizing (and eavesdropping on a few gaijin who were there commenting on their experiences with various Japanese language books with a Japanese friend), I bought four:

Kanji Pictographix : Teaches over 1,000 Japanese kanji and kana through mnemonics. This will nicely complement a basic kanji dictionary I have back home.

Once Upon A Time In Japan: Contains a number of Japanese fairytales. Each set of facing pages has the text in regular English on one side, hiragana and kanji on the other. Each kanji has the corresponding hiragana in small symbols above. There are also illustrations sprinkled throughout. Very cool.

Beyond Polite Japanese: A dictionary of Japanese slang and colloquialisms. The Asahi Evening News review blurb: "An indispensable reference to have at your side as you switch on the TV to watch a cop show or a soap opera."

Flip, Slither, & Bang: Japanese sound and action words. Looks great...each chapter/topic opens with a sample dialogue (in both Japanese characters and regular English) followed by a breakdown of various sound/action words, each with the hiragana representation, definition, pronunciation, and use in a sentence.

We also went to the basement floor, where we each picked out a bento box and accompaniment dishes to have for dinner that night. It was incredibly difficult choosing...the entire floor was filled with vendors of all kinds of interesting things to eat and drink. Great people-watching opportunities, too, with all the bustle and crowds and vendors calling out (I assume) to those passing by, trying to convince them to try their wares. Free samples, too!

Later in the afternoon we went back to Alison's apartment to relax, do laundry, nap, read. I've found that scheduling a little downtime has contributed a great deal to our not getting overwhelmed/exhausted. Plus it gives me time to do Blatherings. :-)

Hey, I'm almost caught up! One more day...

Today's Blatherpics:

- Basement of Iseten department store.

- Melon in grocery story. Cost: 4800 yen, or approx. CAN$65 for one melon. (!!)

- Fugu restaurant (fugu = puffer fish).

- Conveyor belt sushi.

- Books I bought at a foreign bookstore.

- Alison ordering food from a clerk in Iseten.

Today's Poll:

Do you prefer seeing a first-run movie in a crowded or empty theatre? Choose YES for crowded, NO for empty or if you don't care.

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