On the mend…

Good news! I think I’ve finally gotten over the worst of whatever horrible flu I had, (thanks to some very effective Japanese medicine) and I’m ready to start adventuring again! Bad news is that the flu seems to be going around now, and everyone else I know is getting sick. So it looks like I’m on my own for a little while again.

Yesterday I took care of some business that had been building while I was incapacitated (rent, paperwork, groceries, etc.) and Brandon and I went on a lovely evening walk around the back streets of the neighbourhood. I was delightfully surprised to discover that there was much more to explore than I had expected.

We simply wandered, picking streets that seemed the prettiest of most interesting, and gradually found our way back home again.

Brandon and I had also made plans for today to go to the Imperial Palace, however overnight he fell prey to the spreading infection, and decided to take a rain check. Not wanting to change my plans completely, I decided to go to the National Museum of Modern Art which is located right across the street from the palace gardens.

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There were some truly wonderful exhibits, including a full floor dedicated to Yasuda Yukihiko.

One of my absolute favourites was called “Rabbit on the Moon” by Yukihiko. He had illustrated an old Japanese folktale on a long scroll. Simple black ink illustrations depicted the lovely story (translated by the helpful guidebook).

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All the illustrations can be found here

Basically the story tells about an old man begging for food, and a monkey, fox, and a rabbit who come to help. The monkey brings fruit, the fox brings fish, but the rabbit doesn’t have anything to offer. So the rabbit asks the monkey and the fox to build a fire so that it can offer its own flesh to help the starving man. As it turns out (like in most classic myths), the beggar was actually a Buddhist deity known as Sakra. Sakra was so moved by the rabbit’s sacrifice that he carried its body up to the moon so it might be commemorated there.

There were also many more “contemporary” pieces which were equally enjoyable.

There was even an entire room paying homage to the city’s natural beauty; where the only frames were windows.

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After that, I followed the heavy stream of tourists towards the nearest entrance of the Imperial Palace. I found myself wandering through the East garden, which had great stone walls and beautiful flowering cherry trees.

However, I found that I was feeling fairly worn out, and weary of the swarms of tourists, so I did not linger. I headed out of the gardens over a lovely wooden bridge and back towards the subway station.

On the way home I enjoyed a can of hot chocolate from a vending machine, which I just think is hilarious.

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Because whoever thought it would be a good idea to put hot beverages in metal cans clearly wasn’t thinking about practicality. But for some reason it’s very common here, and many of the different types of coffee come in cans too. Anyways, just one of those strange little cultural things…

Tomorrow I have a big day planned starting off with the Tsukiji fish market (although I’ll be avoiding most of the fish, and staying in the outdoor section with the nicer-smelling vegetables and housewares), and possibly ending up in Shibuya for the evening. I guess we’ll see what happens!

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