Fib Sunday is gone. It is no more. It is done.
Trying to break out from the chains of my comfort blanket into a brave new world, I abandon the old and look to the new. Being a creature of habit, though, I am eager maintain a theme for Sundays and seek out a new one. I'll have decided by next week. Come back then, if you do so wish, Sunday girl, Sunday boy.
Ian Thorpe, though, was the last person to submit a Fib and new topic (a lack of understanding in people from other times). In his honour, I offer, without suggestion of a new topic (for Fib Sunday is dead - did I mention that?):
Going back in time.
Grasp feathered birds; not of metal.
Although I hate to admit it, I am thirty five years old, dear reader. As I move, in the Biblical sense, into the second half of my life, not only do I look old, I feel old. Though on the day of my birthday, I felt young, youthful and lithe.
It began, as usual, after rising, washing and dressing, with breakfast. Though not in our usual haunt, a bakery. No. My birthday breakfast was taken in our hotel, the Park Hyatt, Tokyo. I've never paid twenty five pounds for a poached egg on toast before, but I do think it was worth every penny. Well, every ¥en. You see, my little maid, Ian and I were not only paying for the food, but for the view and to experience life how the other half live it.
Intimidated, perhaps, by the surroundings, the millionaries and the staring eyes of the former axis powers, I resisted the buffet table until prompted to do so by our caring waitress. As Jack was baffled by which pieces of cutlery to use and when, I had no idea at which point during the proceedings to go and grab as many pastries, cakes and fine delicacies as possible. My Mother gave me some very good advice when I was a young man and I've always lived by it.
"If you don't know what to do," she said, "do nothing and wait until you do know."
Fine advice indeed - and it works well in all situations, even this one. Unsure when to act, I decided to sit tight and wait. After a gentle and diplomatic prod from our waitress, I knew when the time was right and went for it.
And shit, did I go for it! Not wanting to seem or look greedy and constantly repeating the mantra quality, not quantity, I brought as much back to the table as appeared reasonable. Though in doing so, through nervousness, I'm sure, I made a massive fuck-up. In attempting to transport some cream cheese from a bowl via a spoon to my plate, Minge ended up, with extreme force, splattering a load of white muck all over the floor.
What would the millionaires do? What would the former axis powers do? What would I do?
Reverting to type, skivvy type, I got down on my knees and attempted to pick said splat up. Though, now, what to do with it? I checked to see if anyone was looking before wiping the white goo on the corner of the table before returning with my fine fair to Ian where my poached eggs on toast were waiting.
Breakfast over, we headed off to Yoyogi Park. On the agenda: The Meiji Shrine, the museums and the Harajuku girls!
Shinto, a uniquely Japanese religion, is principally based on the worship of spirits, nature and ancestors resulting in a reverence of wisdom, beauty and peace, all easily felt and tangible inside Shinto shrines and temples. More concerned with the here and now than an afterlife, a respect for life itself fills the hearts and minds of devotees, even the simplest of curious tourists like me.
I have a great admiration for Shintoism and wonder what the world would be like if it were the leading universal religion instead of the horror of the Abrahamic blief systems the world is, depending on ones viewpoint, either cursed or blessed with. Of course, Shinto did not stop Japan's aggression during the course of World War II, so perhaps it wouldn't be such a different place. Having said that, I must repeat my notions of joy and peace as felt during my visits to the holier places in Japan, both Shinto and Buddhist and am reminded of my opinion that religions are often hijacked, their peaceful intentions replaced with hatred and used as banners of war.
But that's a whole other debate, my lamb.
Before leaving the shrine, both Phyllis and I wrote out a prayer on a wooden tablet and hung it about a sacred tree. I hope God or at least someone was listening or can read my plea.
On leaving, we, at first, thought we were quite fortunate to see a wedding procession. Fortune had nothing to do with it, however. As soon as one was over, another began. The Meiji Shrine, it was apparent, is THE place to get married. Also, babies are brought for a blessing and prayers offered for the dead. A good place to visit on my birthday, then - and I did pray that I would one day return.
From the shrine itself, we walked through the park to the Meiji Treasure Museum, stopping en route for a drink from the vending machines which seem to be omnipresent in Japan. Small, with only a few articles on display, all having belonged to the Emperor Meiji or his wife. He looked a proper bruiser, she, something like a primordial dwarf. I know I shouldn't, but I have a morbid curiosity and wondered how and indeed if they had sexual relations. My mind's workings went into overtime and I imagined Meiji's penis being as big as his wife.
An annexe, found elsewhere in the park, was filled with nineteenth Century royal garb, totty shoes and fans. It also provided welcome eating facilities where Phyllis and I gobbled up two huge bowls of ramen. Very little Japanese cuisine was on offer, oddly, in such a Japanese place. Everyone around and about us seemed to be stuffing corndogs and hamburgers into their tiny mouths, swiftly followed by whippy ice-cream.
Lunch over with, we proceeded to another area of Yoyogi Park to visit my adored Harajuku girls (and boys). Their look, whether it be the classis Gothic Lolita or Visual kei, never ceases to make my heart race. If I lived in Tokyo, I am sure I'd be there in Harajuku every Sunday aftenoon, perhaps in a wedding dress and kinky boots. Probably bought at Innocent World.
We were offered and gladly accepted free hugs. Japanese teddy boys danced. Victorian costumes were worn. What a fabulous atmosphere. Add to that the live music, the food stalls, the selling of bizarre old calculators, cables and 1980s computer game consoles and Harajuku was alive with all that's strange, all that's fabulous.
The only thing to stop me from living out the rest of my life with the Harajuku girls was the impending arrival of Alan and Junya at our hotel. Read about the day from Alan's perspective here. And there are some great shots of our meal to behold, too!
But I'm jumping ahead of myself...
We met Alan and Junya in our hotel room during the latter half of the afternoon. At five o'clock, we headed up to the New York bar for a round of early drinks, the beginning of my birthday celebrations. Avoiding my boozing comfort blanket, a delicious Margarita, instead, I opted for a cherry cocktail, made with a traditional japanese cherry liqueur, sake and, I believe something else. What, though, I can't remember. But I can remember how delicious it was! Alan and Junya presented me with a fabulous book, Watching The English by Kate Fox. We had a blast. Really, a wonderfully happy time. I glanced over to where Bill Murray sat in Lost In Translation and was tempted to go and sit there, too. After all, it was my birthday. I felt a bit silly, though, so stayed put.
Next, the Ninja restaurant and my birthday meal, another kind and fabulous gift to me from Alan and Junya. I've never been to a theme restaurant before and didn't really know what to expect. Good job. Expect the unexpected. A lady met us from the door and escorted us along some kind of labyrinth to our table, many scares along the way. Once seated in near darkness, Alan and Junya helped us decide how to order from the menu. A huge benefit to us, I can tell you, my love. What I didn't know, was the number of different courses (all of which can be seen, in detail, on Alan's blog entry about my birthday) we were about to consume! Beginning with Lobster Tofu and, some two hours later, maybe more, ending up with delicious desserts. No! I lie! The meal did not end with desserts, no! We were treated to a private magic show by a Ninja! He made coins appear and disappear and then delighted us with card tricks, allowing me to keep the ace of spades, the card I'd chosen from the deck. What a wonderful treat for wee Minge.
On leaving, we were yet again escorted out of the building, this time by a slighty more direct route and waved off, literally until we were out of sight, by the same woman who'd greeted us hours before.
The night was not over yet, however. A return trip to the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt was absolutely necessary. At five o'clock, during our first visit, poor Alan had been refused entry on account of his sandals. Not any rough old sandals, you understand, but high fashion footwear. Why, I can't imagine, as on our return, we were joined in the bar by several scruffy old geezers in shell suits accompanied, quite obviously, by rent boys. High class hookers, the lads may have been, their clients were definitely low class.