Uproarious Laughter & Confused Foreigners

Jen and I took off this morning to try to find the antiques fair at the Tokyo International Forum, but were confounded once again by cancellations due to the three day holiday. This is strike two for the fair, and to add insult to injury there was no substitute food fair today — instead there were lots of businessmen staring at computers. To console ourselves and brainstorm what to do instead we went across the street to a little bakery and purchased some pastries.

The Jen-Beast Stalks and Savages the Wild Cheese & Soybean Bread

Jen, you will note, went for the cheese-bread with soybeans option. I went for a much safer (and in my humble opinion, tastier) spice/nut roll thingy. Jen, however, thoroughly enjoyed her prey.

After some consultation of guide books and iphones we decided to go hunt down a few local odds and ends. First we found a hotel bar designed by Frank Loyd Wright that we were unimpressed by, although we resolved to ask Jen’s brother what our heathen architectural sensibilities had missed. Next we happened across another festival in the same park that we had earlier found the bus festival. Guess what kind of festival this was! A train festival! Joy and jubilation! I’ve never before seen people hug poster-sized subway maps to their chests like they were holding charts to lost pirate treasure.

After failing to find the Izakaya we meant to have lunch at, we found ourselves some delicious sushi in a restaurant under the train tracks, where all the lanterns swayed wildly every 2 minutes as a train went overhead. Next up we continued our totally unfulfilling theme of the day by failing to find a large gargoyle touted in the guide book. However, our next mission was actually successful!

Run, it's Gojira!!

We found this godzilla statue in a small square near the fashion shopping strip. He’s a touch small, but perhaps this is a good representation of how large I feel whenever we go out in public.

Next up we located (yay!) and infiltrated a Japanese art museum that had an exhibit of traditional painters up. The paintings were supposedly on the theme of laughter, although despite all the signs informing us that these paintings were uproariously funny, we were mostly just puzzled. There was a picture of a man with a gourd and a fish, more of mountains in the mist, and others of fishing monkeys. Some of them are apparently related to old Japanese fables/poetry/zen sayings, but without reference to the actual sayings, there wasn’t much to laugh at. There was a beautiful landscape done over 12 screens, one for each month, that I particularly liked, but totally fail in grokking the comic qualities therein. The one funny thing we did find was a biography of one of the painters themselves, who was described as an antisocial, alcoholic, art & literature nerd, who visits other nerds and entertains them by playing a lute and painting while drunk. Sounds like quite a house-guest.

View of the Imperial Palace Grounds

The museum did have a beautiful view over the Imperial Palace grounds, where we sat and were accosted by a Japanese man who asked both of us independently if we knew the capital of Idaho.

So although we failed to find half of what we were looking for today, including, apparently, our Japanese senses of humor, it was a good day with plenty of tasty food, odd cultural mishaps, and lots of pretty things to look at.

"I am not afraid of you! My teeth are bigger than yours!"

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3 Responses to Uproarious Laughter & Confused Foreigners

  1. CJ says:

    You do know the capital of Idaho right?

    And I love the Jen/Godzilla picture. It’s true, her teeth probably are bigger than his.

    • tarainjapan says:

      Yes, we do, however the problem was more that his accent was really thick and we couldn’t figure out what he was asking. He would then bounce around and giggle like a school girl chanting “Boise, Boise Boise….”

  2. Calley says:

    I second that – the Jen-Godzilla pictures is *priceless*! I hope this is appearing as a profile pic sometime soon 😉

    Did you by chance find out why the Idaho guy wanted to know the capital? And why he apparently has never learned to google?

    the train festival also sounds totally awesome – I confess I’m a bit of a train junkie myself, though not to train-spotting levels or anything, fear not. More to enjoying-transit-museums and cooing-over-model-trains levels 😉

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