So 2 weekends ago I decided to spend my Saturday in the gorgeous sun in Tokyo. I figured suntan lotion, a bottle of Pocari Sweat and some sunglasses were enough to combat the heat. HA. That was the humidity maniacally laughing at me. HA. That was the heat island effect tittering. HA. That was global warming snorting in contempt. I had checked TokyoCheapo for cheap/free activities going on around the city. I decided to hit up a parade since I have yet to see a parade in Japan. The site said “ The parade will take place on both Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th on Kappa Bashi Hon dori between Ueno and Asakusa stations [...]The parade takes place from 1:15pm to 2:30pm on each day with various festivities continuing into the early evening”. Okay so, great! I decided to take the train to Ueno since I knew how. I went early because I was pretty sure I was going to get lost. I did. I searched high and low for any semblance of a parade, asked locals, showed them the site in Japanese. No one had a clue. I finally asked one guy who said it was much closer to Asakusa, nowhere near Ueno station. So, I hopped on the subway towards Asakusa. Since I was dripping in sweat, I was actually incredibly glad to be getting on a crowded subway. At least they are always quite cold due to air conditioning. By this time, it was around 1:30, the seemingly invisible parade should have been in full swing. Did anyone in Asakusa know anything about it? If they did they didn’t tell me. I decided to give up and wandered upon a huge temple.
It seems I had stumbled upon Senso-ji temple. One of Tokyo’s most famous and busiest temples. There is a very busy market street that leads up to it but I had come from the back, literally just wandering in unaware. It was a great thing to stumble upon.
By this time though, the heat was getting to me and I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. I was regretting not bringing a sun umbrella. Yea, I used to think they were stupid too, until I moved from Canada! What is stupid about bringing your own shade with you? Much better than a hat that sticks to your head in the sun, melting your hair into your scalp! I shade-hopped to an ice-cream stand to buy a cone of frozen gold and sat down under a canopy with other Tokyoites desperate for some reprieve. While sitting I noticed just how many people were wearing jeans and cardigans with arm warmers (to protect from the sun I guess). I was in shock. There I was in my romper and not much else melting in the sun and these Obaachans (older women) were covered from head to toe. I know that wearing a loose, flowing, cotton dress in the summer that covers your skin can be cooler than shorts and a tank top but there was nothing loose, flowing or even cotton about what these women were wearing. (I wasn’t surprised to read later on that from the time rainy season had ended [beginning of July] to July 16th, 41 people in Tokyo alone had died from heat stroke). The past month has made me quite aware of how heat can affect people. After finding out many people died in their homes because the air conditioner wasn’t turned on, my fiance and I decided to leave the air conditioner on at night; at a cool 27 degrees.
After devouring my ice-cream, I decided to move on to the next event that TokyoCheapo pointed out. A festival in Yoyogi park called the “Earth Garden Summer Festival”. Which was just an awesome hippy festival with amazing music. There were many stages set up in the park with different bands and DJs playing. There were also booths set up selling spices and fair-trade tea, jams etc. Walking through the park, looking at the booths, the sound of a fiddle caught my ear. It sounded like….Nova Scotian music! It was, in fact, Irish music (which much Nova Scotian music is). The band was absolutely fantastic and the people seemed to love it! They were called Paddy Field, a quite generic name but the artists were brilliant! I had to put my sunglasses on while listening because the music brought up a few tears of homesickness. Nonetheless it was great to hear Irish staples like “Whiskey in the Jar” again.
I had planned on going to a drag show in Roppongi that night but after filling my bag with fair-trade tea and jam and roasting in the sun all day, I was ready to collapse. I returned home by about 5:00 and basked in the air-conditioning while filling up on freeze-pops (it was literally to hot to eat anything else).
I was passed out in bed by 8:30.