2012 Spring Eric Burton Temple Japan Temple Summer

Jazz, Animals, And a Crowded Ueno Park

Hey everyone.  A while back I took a trip to Ueno with my friend Maki.  I had never been and she hadn’t been since she was a kid, so we figured it would be an interesting place for both of us to go.  The train ride was a long one.  We left from Shibuya station on the JR Yamanote line: a loop that hits every major district in the downtown Tokyo area, and connects with just about every line in the city.  We accidentally got on going the wrong direction which took us in a roundabout way to our destination.  When we arrived, to our surprise, the entire station was packed.  It took us a good five minutes to get outside, only to run into even more crowds of people.  Everyone was out on this brisk, spring afternoon.  We looked around, trying to figure out if there was something special going on that we didn’t know about.  Our ears pulled us to a jazzy melody floating along in the brisk cold air.  The source, still unclear, led us to a huge crowd of people.  Finally realizing that what we heard was actually live, I couldn’t help but take my ear’s lead and try to get a glimpse of what was going on.  It was a live jazz band accompanied by break-dancers.  We stayed for a little bit, enjoying the sounds of the foreign group, which was anything but foreign for me.  We left the crowd, weaved in and out of people and stretched further into the park.  We reached a crossroads lined with cherry blossom trees in full bloom.  We wondered if we should wade shoulder to shoulder and inch our way deeper into the park.  Our other alternative was to take the less crowded path and check out the zoo.  We opted for the latter and made our way towards the zoo entrance.

Near the entrance of the park

Not only was the zoo interesting, the people were quite interesting as well.  As we walked up to cages and exhibits we heard people of all ages exuberantly pronouncing one of three things: かわいい(cute!)、怖い(scary!)、すごい(amazing!).  At some of the more crowded exhibits, like the lions and monkeys, finding an area to get a nice view was somewhat of a struggle itself.  Sometimes it felt like I was on a 7:00AM train that had just stopped at the always busy Shinagawa station.  Crowds were trying to push their way to the front, while others were trying to leave the exhibit.  In such a crowded city as this, it seems like the idea of “personal space” takes on a different meaning.  I could empathize with the parents pushing strollers around that day.

It was a cold day.
It was a cold day.

Everyone huddled close

Tired of walking around we made our way towards the zoo exit, different the from the one we entered.  Near this exit there were a dozen or so food stands selling all kinds of food.  I noticed one that sold big turkey legs for only 500 yen.  Both of us hungry, we decided that the legs would be the most filling (and cheapest) food we could get in the area.  We ate then headed back home.

“楽しかった?(Was it fun?)” Maki asked me.

“とても楽しかった、(It was very fun)” I replied.

To make things better, there were actually some free seats on the train.  I took the opportunity to grab a seat, my legs burning from all the walking I did that day.  Until the next post, Peace everybody!

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