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Bike Ride

July 23rd, 2007

While Sachi was out shopping, I took an hour and twenty minutes to do a bit of a bike ride around the area. I went up through and around Otsuka, down to Koishikawa Park and then back. I took a lot of side streets and got a lot of exercising with the grades and sometimes hills along the way; a good workout in lieu of the exercise machines on our balcony.


Just as I started, I stopped by a local shop called Suzumura to photograph it. The yakitori place that Sachi and I used before, and tried to go to again last week, had been closed. But this being Ikebukuro, we had only to look around to see a few more restaurants worth trying. We were about to cross the street to try an Indian place, when Sachi spotted this one. It’s one of those tucked-away, hole-in-the-wall kind of places run by a mama-san and papa-san, one that’s been there for decades, only has a few seats, and usually some old people around the neighborhood, or oyaji, tend to frequent. We tried it out, and they had great yakitori there as well.

From there, I turned around and headed east. less than a kilometer out, I turned left and hooked around Otsuka Station. I just wanted to check out the area to see what I could see, but there wasn’t much there, at least at first glance. I had seen a barber shop around there that had haircuts for about ¥1400 (didn’t spot it today, though), and I do need a haircut soon. Any place with prices that low tends to be a men’s barber shop–we don’t want to be fussed over for two hundred bucks, we want a cheap haircut, in and out, lowest price possible. There’s a ¥2200 shop around the corner from where we live, and I saw a ¥1000 place on Meiji Blvd. (though that’s low enough to make even me wonder).

Near that area, I spotted a bento shop:


I was about to go on by, when I looked closer at the sign, and it brought back a memory.


In Japan, the “Italian” gesture the woman is almost making here has no meaning, and an almost identical gesture is used to indicate strength, apparently for women at least as much as for men. When I was working in a movie theater back in the S.F. Bay Area just after starting college, we had a projectionist named Kazuko, from Japan. Kazuko was a petite young woman, very quiet and soft-spoken, kind and polite. But it is her size which is relevant here. When a new movie came in (which was several times a week, as we were a rep house), the cans holding the prints were almost half as big as she was. Well, not quite, but it seemed that way. Kazuko would have to practically drag those things up to the projection booth.

One day, the manager (an American guy) noticed Kazuko struggling with a new movie, and suggested that she get one of the strong young men who worked there to help her. Wanting to express strength, Kazuko took up the pose you see the Bento Lady showing in the image above (though Kazuko’s gesture was much closer to the traditional western one)… and shocked the manager in so doing.

Anyway, I kept riding down to my objective for the day: a park which looked nice on the map. I found it, but also discovered something that was not on the map: an admission fee. There’s another nice-looking park nearby listed on the map which is shown to cost ¥300 for admission, but this one looked free. Not so. It cost ¥330. However, from the peek I got, it looked nice enough to visit–with Sachi, sometime soon.


On the way home, I noticed again a restaurant that had caught my eye before. I have to hand it to them, they went out on a limb to name this place, and I do like it:


Whether that’s a literary allusion, or it’s simply how the proprietor felt when opening the business, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll eat there someday and ask them.

As my knee was beginning to get the better of me, I pedaled on back home, and rested for a while with Sachi, who had returned from department-store shopping (which she knew I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about, as much as I gamely hang in when we go shopping together otherwise). We both sat out on the balcony and read books, snacked, and I got a bit of work done on my computer (the WiFi reaches out there just fine).


After that, we came back in and had dinner while watching Lost. Not a bad day, for a Lazy Sunday.

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  1. ykw
    July 23rd, 2007 at 04:28 | #1

    This is a nice photo of you on the porch w/ the buildings in the background !

  2. Luis
    July 23rd, 2007 at 09:03 | #2

    Thanks, I liked that one, too.

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