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halloween goes to the dogs in tokyo

2012-10-27 - 6:01 p.m.

halloween going to the dogs in tokyo
all photos © 2012 by elaine radford
man, halloween sure going to the dogs this year

On Saturday, I managed to sleep until a semi-reasonable hour -- 5:45 AM or so -- and then I hopped up to head out to the fish market. It looked and smelled about what you'd expect -- except that the police officer was directing traffic in white gloves.

There are any number of tiny wooden stalls packed with sushi counters. Heck, the fish is not gonna be any fresher unless you catch it yourself, right? I picked one at random, squeezed into the last slot at the counter, and sampled a random assortment. Very tasty, and I experienced the rush of well-being you get when you eat fresh salmon, that you only get if you haven't eaten it in awhile.

Thus energized, I strolled some more. Throngs of people in the fish market and the nearby food and vegetable market. A small shrine nearby, apparently the scene of multiple disasters, until somebody did something auspicious, and the place came under the protection of some giant lion's heads. A very large Indian looking cathedral, with a food fair of some kind going on out front and a ceremony going on inside. Stained glass, pipe organ, an incense smoker, and tons of shiny goldy bronze objects on the altar -- but pretty much a concrete 1930s horror all the same. I shall have to see if I have a photo that captures its bizarre appearance.

Here, I discovered that my maps, guide books, and print-outs had somehow vanished from the pocket of my pink jacket. If it was the first time it had happened, I would assume I'd just put it down somewhere. But I lost my map wearing the same jacket at the mudflats the other day, and I truly believe it's the shape of the pockets that lets things fall out. Argh! I am so done with this jacket, but it's just a tad too nippy to dump it just yet.

At first, I thought I had lost my reading glasses as well, which would have really been a nuisance, but they were simply pushed w-a-y down at the very bottom of my pocket. Figuring I'd lucked out at least a little, I dropped the small coin into the nearest lucky box.

By this time, it looked rather stormy, and I thought it might rain, so I skipped the nearby garden. Instead, I went in search of the new monorail line. Considering I no longer had my map and wasn't entirely sure of it what it was called, I feel justifiably proud of the fact that I located it without too much random wandering. Also, from time to time, I could see the Eiffel Tower, but I never got a good place to take a picture. Unlike the original one, there is no law against taller buildings being erected all around it, and so you can never quite see it all in one piece. Sometimes you'll be surprisingly close and not see it at all.

So, anyhoo, I caught the monorail to Odaiba, which proved to be an elevated track giving wonderful views of Tokyo Bay. A Ferris wheel. A bridge sparkling in the sunshine that broke through dark clouds. Some skyscrapers that stood out because they were designed to look like new skyscrapers bursting out of the peelings of an old skyscraper. Hmmm. Too bad I didn't get pictures of that effect, because it was quite striking.

I might as well admit that I headed out this way because I heard that there were some famous pet shops in the area. I suppose I wondered if I would happen upon any remarkably overpriced peachfronts. A lot of the signs were in Japanese only or only contained unhelpful information in English letters but it was not too difficult to get around because the lay-out of the place made it rather obvious.

Here is the beach with people wind-sailing and playing volleyball. Here is the mall shaped like a huge cruise ship. Here is the quarter size Statue of Liberty with everyone getting their pictures taken.

Here is...oh ho! Here is the level of the pet store and the dog walk, which you sense is coming even before you see it because of all the people sitting in the café with their dogs or strolling with their dogs or playing beach volleyballs with their dogs. An interesting thing about the Japanese dogs is that most of them were little, tiny, and cute, and a great many of them were chihuahuas, yet you didn't hear them yipping and see them chasing ankles the way our chihuahuas do. Yes, the Japanese chihuahuas are pampered and polite!

There was a general pet store, with a huge beauty salon, a vet clinic, pet supplies, dog, cat, and small animal room...but, really, the dogs were the star of the show. There was only one big bird, a greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo who was twice Cookie's size (at least) and much too important to converse or even to wear a price tag. The other birds were a few budgies, finches, and lovebirds. That's it. The small mammal section was a little weird, though. Mostly chipmunks but what the hey? What would you do with a Meerkat?

There was a bridge over the highway to the other side, which was Palette Town and Venus Fort. There were some costumes over here, mostly the girls with doll hair and chiffon schoolgirl skirts, but also a group of...what? Female nerds? This group always went in a flock together. So I dunno. After awhile, some Halloween costumes also showed up. It seemed to be OK and even expected to photograph the Halloween people but I didn't see anyone photographing the doll-girls, so I followed the local custom and did the same. But there were a decent number of girls letting their freak flag fly...guys, not so much.

The Venus Fort was pretty much a cut-rate Caesar's Forum, with cheaper shops and a huge "family" area at the bottom, which catered to kids and pets. You could meet all your needs for dressing your five year old like Katy Perry or, heck, for that matter, dressing your dog about the same. One of the shops proclaimed, "Pets Come First," and by "pets," they meant dogs. Pretty much the entire area was a gathering place for people with cute, foo-foo dogs and the (very) occasional well- mannered larger dog. But mostly little and cute dogs that can ride around in a handbag or pile into a baby stroller. Except these were not baby strollers. They were dog strollers. Sometimes containing multiple dogs.

Someone forgot to tell them about the complete collapse of Vegas and the disappearance of the free car show. So, in addition to the nearby Toyota showroom, where you could take a spin on a new Toyota, there was a huge free antique auto museum. A helpful employee took my photo behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Impala. It came out pretty scary though, so I'll probably delete that one.

At some point, there was a huge gathering of Halloween costumes, with the expected number of zombies, dead Paris Hilton, dead Michael Jackson and his little dog too (Did Michael Jackson have a little dog? I suppose he did, for didn't he have an entire zoo?), dead gothic heroines and maid costumes, dead Johnny Depp pirate and his little dog, and any number of people and their undead dogs that I couldn't recognize.

They paraded through the mall down the escalators and up and then around and then down again and finally back outside, where they all dropped dead on the ground right near the dog walk. Well, by they "all" I mean they "all" people dropped dead. The dogs did not seem to understand the concept of playing dead and mostly the people who held dogs as part of their costumes stayed out of the tableaux. However, dead Johnny Depp tried to make his dog play dead, and it was pretty hilarious. The dog just wouldn't go along.

So, eventually, there were a bunch of people laying there still and dead on the ground, with Johnny Depp's dog standing guard and resolutely failing to acknowledge that he was supposed to lay down, and it looked pretty spooky, to be honest. Then the music changed, and the dead all rose up and danced around, and now the dogs could join in too. Then there was a general rush to mingle with the undead and to snap photos and to ooh and awwwww over the cutest of the dogs.

By this time, it was getting rather late in the afternoon. I hopped back on the monorail, enjoyed the view of the beach, bridge, and various odd buildings in reverse, and stopped off again at Akihabara. This time, I had a bit more energy, and I climbed up several flights of stairs to inspect the merchandise. Guys -- and it was mostly guys -- this is just weird. Flight after flight of dolls. Excuse me, action figures. But, really, dolls. Cute ones on one floor. Violent ones on other floors. Even a floor that held some dinosaur dolls and a huge section of various underwater theme stuff that must be intended to outfit your fish tank in the weirdness of Early Days of the Dinosaur -- Now for Neons! or Outer Space Goldfish Submarine.

The freaks were not particularly freakish and, again, were mostly professional maids handing out flyers, with a scattering of witches working cash registers. I did find the costume shop, but it was heavy on the kimonos and fluff and light on the leather. Maybe I needed to climb some more stairs but I was running out of steam. Fresh fish sushi and orange fish eggs had carried me a long way, but it was time to head back and cook up the rest of the food in my little kitchen.

I intended to head out again later and stroll some more, but I was too pooped to pop, and instead put my feet up while sipping some wine and enjoying the sparkle of lights from my window.

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