Monday, January 28, 2013

Inokashira Koen

I'm a bit behind on the updates guys. Sorry about that. So I'm going to skip back a few days, and tomorrow try to post another update!

So, on the 25th I went to Kichijoji with Kimika. I was expecting a shop or two, not a lot. However when  I arrived it literally looked like an outdoor mall. The streets were overflowing with shops and it was actually pretty awesome. On the other side of the station there were yet more shops, but in a more shops on the side of the road manner.

I'm not going to lie. One of the main reasons for this trip was to find somewhere that sold my brand of contact solution. We succeeded. By that I mean we found two shops that sell Clear Care in Japan. However, the first shop wanted about $38 for two bottles (No thank you) and the second wanted about $18 for a single bottle (again, no way). Throughout our searching I kept noticing another brand that was made by the same company, looked pretty identical and, according to Kimika, has the same ingredients called Ao Sept. Being pretty much identical but for almost half the price (around $10) I decided to opt for it. I've got one more night before I switch over, so hopefully things will be fine.

After walking around Kichijoji for a while and buying some spectacularly cute (and cheap 315円 each) hair accessories we headed for the less main stream area. Before I move on, I just want to say hair ties and scrunchies and the like are ridiculously expensive in Japan. I'm talking most of the scrunchies I've seen are about 600円 and a single hair tie runs around 100円, or a little over a dollar. So 315円 is pretty cheap. So after meandering through the shops in the non-mainstream part of Kichijoji, which looked a lot like some of the hippy shops back home in Eugene, we headed toward Inokashira Park.

First view in Inokashira Park.

So, there are going to be a lot of pictures to go along with this one. This park is pretty big. In the center of it is a really long pond and swimming alongside the ducks in the pond are giant koi fish. What can I say, I'm obsessed with koi. They're massive! So here is a size comparison of one swimming next to a duck so you can see just how massive these fish are.

This koi could eat a person. Seriously.

Of course, just as I'm thinking that if someone was hungry enough these koi would make a good meal (jokingly of course!) I see this sign.

There goes dinner. Haha. So half the pond on the right side of the foot bridge is inaccessible and there are pretty large water fountains dotted throughout it.

Half of half of the pond. I'm an Oregonian. This is most definitely a pond.

On the other hand. Can you guess? Oh do guess, do guess! Did you guess? Paddle boats!!! Car-boat shaped ones, swan ones and regular row boats were waiting in the docks on the other side. So we decided to check it out. I had never ridden in one of these boats and it looked so fun! We were afraid that it would be too expensive, but we went to look anyways.

Car-boat paddle boats.
To our relief and delight, the car-boats (and regular boats) were only 600円 for thirty minutes. Which sounds short, but once you get in one of these things your legs are dead five minutes in. The swan boats were an additional 100円 though. My recommendation, if you come anywhere near Inokashira Park and you have a half hour to spare, give it a try! It's fantastically fun! Just look out for the ducks, they like to swim right out in front of your boat! There are also the massive koi swimming on this side of the pond and they'll swim right alongside and under your boat!

Let's go!!

Being thirsty we stopped off at a water fountain afterwards. I was baffled by this thing, there was not a lever or a button to be found. So, tucking my pride I asked Kimika how it worked. Turns out there is a twist knob where the water comes out. You twist it, the water shoots up and then you reverse to turn it off. Simple enough, except my hand ended up soaked!

Japanese water fountain at Inokashira Park.

So at this point you're probably wondering if Japanese culture has come into the picture at any point during this trip. Needless to say I'm in Japan, so of course it has! However, on this trip we also went to a temple (I'm pretty sure this one was a temple!) in the park!

According to Kimika people go to temples to pray! But before you can pray you have to wash your hands at this little station where you dip the dipper in, pour some water on one hand, then the other and replace the dipper.

Place to wash your hands at the temple.

After that is done you take out some money (we used 5円 coins) and you walk over to this big hanging rope with a box behind it. Long story short you toss the coin into the box. After that we swung the rope to ring the gong thing at the top three times. This is going to sound like I wasn't paying attention, but I can't remember exactly what we did next. Next we did some bowing and clapping followed by making our request/prayer or our お願い (onegai).

All in all, I feel like I finally did something Japanese other than wear slippers in the house and eat Japanese food as corny as that sounds. More to come tomorrow! My host family and I'm off to the Ghibli Museum tomorrow! So look forward to more soon!

Sign in Inokashira Park leading the way to the Ghibli Museum.


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