Wednesday, 4 June 2008

PostHeaderIcon Golden Week - April 29th to May 5th

Aye aye
I've managed to scrape some motivation together to kick start my blog back into life. Following my dismal last entry I've decided to try and salvage something from the burning wreckage that was my linking to a dodgy Europop video. It's Wednesday morning at work and I've just fired out my lesson plans for the rest of the week in record time (about a half hour) in order to update.

Golden Week - ゴールデンウィーク - Gōruden Wīku

The month of May in Japan begins with a number of national holidays that coincide to create almost a week of time off. I believe there is a day celebrating the old Emperor who's birthday was around this time. Actually, I did a cheeky wikipedia on him just there to double check his name as there is the name of the era and his personal name to contend with; Showa and Hirohito. Indeed, I might have a little study of him later on today to see what his game was all about and by that I mean... the war. There is also the fun sounding Constitution Memorial Day which is pretty self-explanatory. The following day there is the very environmentally friendly sounding Green Day.

I'm going to start a new paragraph here because the simple task of listing the holiday days has thrown up a few interesting facts about them. A little bit of research has told me that Green Day is linked to the old Emperor as well. You see... after his death... the birthday holiday re-branded itself as Green Day in a kind of dodgy continuation of the celebration. Apparently it was called this because the old guy used to love his plants or some other tripe. Then last year they decided to bring back the birthday with a ballsy new nationalistic title of Showa Day. So now Green Day is just an extra holiday thrown into the mix and it hasn't got much to do with saving the planet.

As an additional tangentical side note to my increasingly weak structure; the Japanese are no more environmentally friendly than the rest of the developed world despite everyone thinking they are. I found out a few months ago that the endless sorting of my rubbish was merely so it was easier for the 'recycling' people to decide which incinerator it should go into... everything is burned. The rest of the country is covered in terrible looking concrete. I mean... concrete is never nice looking but this stuff just screams ugly at you. If there was a 'Concrete Beauty Pageant' then I reckon Japan's entry would only come ahead of North Korea.

The last day is on May 5th and it is the day where "children's unique personalities and happiness" are celebrated. I know that the old custom was to eat sweet rice cakes wrapped in a bamboo leaf on this day and that homes usually hang up carp flags like the one below:

From top: Father, mother and son (nae luck daughters)

I don't know why it is called
Golden Week because the only time I got off was a Tuesday one week and then the Monday and Tuesday the following week. Kind of takes the glimmer of that title, doesn't it? "Oh yes a GOLDEN WEEK... a whole week of fun filled delight." I think most Japanese people find themselves stuck in crowded airports going on overpriced trips to Hawaii and panicking about what gifts (omiyage) to buy their office. Sometimes I wish I wasn't generalising for their sake. The whole adoption of the English title is kind of puts me off it a little too. It sounds like something a totalitarian government would call the week where it executed all political opponents and the population were given an extra helping of mud soup in celebration of the great leader.

Nevertheless... I had a few days off work that I was very thankful for. I did think about travelling around Asia somewhere but I didn't have the money or energy to start planning it. Instead I returned to Tokyo with Noah and Andrew for a few days. Once again we stayed at one of Noah's University friends place. I mentioned him before a few months back but his name is Yohei and he's a fine gentleman who likes a beer or two. We met up with some people from last time on the first night for dinner and beers. The following day Noah and I took the train to Kamakura which is a town near the coast. It is famous for this big Buddha statue and has some nice gardens and temples around it too. Trying to get there proved to be agony for the pair of us. Noah was playing football the day before and some Korean guy destroyed his calf, so he was limping about the city. My pain came from my own stupidity as I decided to buy a new pair of shoes but picked up the wrong size by mistake. The pain slowly built over the hours until it was almost unbearable. We then took the wrong path which added to the journey. I lost it at one point and tore off my shoes in an act of defiance to the pain I was suffering. Then about a minute later we turned a corner and entered a busy street full of tourists and I felt a bit stupid standing there with my bare feet.

Eventually we met up with Andrew and another JET in the prefecture called Amber as well as some Japanese friends. That day and night turned out to be a bit of a nightmare though as I was constantly moving about the city meeting up with different people whilst trying to form a plan with Noah about that evening. We all wanted to go out to a club but we still didn't have a hotel and everyone had different preferences. We ended up in an area called Roppongi which is well known for being the foreigner district of the city. The place was an absolute dump and it really didn't feel like Japan. We did have a good laugh at our predicament what with all the terrible sleazy people, hotels and bars but it was a bit of a downer. We didn't really have any solid plans for the next few days but we went to a few art galleries and museums. Also, we went to the Yebisu beer museum one afternoon and spend the other in Yoyogi Park where we saw some unusual chaps doing their stuff. However, most of the time was spent eating lots of different kinds of food. We went to this excellent noodle place, a good izakaya with massive portions, Jamaican style chicken and got a whole Peking duck at a Chinese place. In between all of this was lots of coffee breaks and the like. I don't think we really drank that much alcohol actually... or not enough to actually get drunk. It was another pretty good trip but I think I've had my fill of Tokyo for now. Might start looking to get out of Japan in the future. Here are some of my pictures to conclude my entry:

Here are some pictures of Shibuya crossing.

Hold it.... hold it


Here's a picture of me doing a dance in the middle.

I swore a lot at these shoes

The Great Buddha at Kamakura. Not bad.

Hot Carrot! The old one must have rusted over so they just stuck a new one next to it.

Amber and Noah riding the Yamanote Line. I must have been on it... 14 times.

Taxis from our hotel window in Roppongi.

At the beer museum.

Yoyogi Park. Ye cannae make this stuff up.


Anonymous said...

Do they sort out the rubbish just to burn it? The article about the place in Tokushima ( is the only place that sorts and not burn the stuff or do they burn it too and just not report it?

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.