Today, we had the day off of school, because it was a Japanese holiday. Only after exploring for most of the day did it occur to me to check what holiday. Apparently, it's Ocean Day, and is also supposed to celebrate the return of Meiji from Hokkaido. I guess the aquarium was a fitting thing to go see on Saturday.
As I was walking, I noticed a mascot, an announcer, and a decent crows of people, so I paused to watch them. From what I could make out, the mascot was playing 'Rock, paper, scissors' with audience members. (I later looked around and saw a line of people waiting for their turns. Winners got a bag with things inside, not sure what. Also not sure what the purpose was.
I went to Harajuku through the similar route I'd used to get back home yesterday. For a bit I thought I might need to make a new plan, since there was a large group of people marching the opposite direction. However, there were also people going the way I wanted to go, so I followed them.
During weekends, Harajuku and Shibuya are mainly the domain of Japanese teenagers. During national holidays, apparently it belongs to anti-nuke protestors? Or maybe that was just today.
It didn't take me that long to get the rough idea of what they were protesting. I couldn't read most of their signs, but I took the first flier I was offered, figuring that even if I couldn't read it then, and I'd be able to later with liberal use of a kanji dictionary and Google translate. The flier had an english phrase that said 'No Nukes!' so that made it pretty obvious.
I'm not sure if it got any more specific. There were a couple of signs in English. One was protesting nuclear energy, another was asking Obama to stop nuclear weapons. So it was probably just protesting nukes in every way, shape, and form.
Should have paying more attention to the flier when they gave it to me, though. Apparently Oe was one of the more public figures who was involved in it. Now that I'm looking, I can see his name (listed as one of the calling/appealing people.) Nice to know he's still doing something after he publicly declared he's not going to write any more books.
I first saw the protest in the NHK (broadcasting company) section. There were also stalls selling food and clothing and such. I'm not sure if they were there because of the protesters or in spite of them. One of the stalls had a 'Save our children, stop using nukes' sticker on it, but that could have just been a general show of solidarity.
I ended up following some of the protesters for a while. Not intentionally, just by chance. I very briefly ended up walking with them. (I was walking nearby, and then there was a car in my way, so I went closer to them. Once we'd passed the car, I went back on the sidewalk.) I tried to figure out what they were saying, which was difficult because it was a protesting chant in Japanese. The only word I could catch was 'Is not necessary.' I was kind of tempted to ask someone else what they were saying, but didn't.
At one stoplight, it took normal civilians a shocking length of time to realize they could just walk across. There were a steady stream of protesters, and police making sure they weren't run over. We didn't need to wait for a walk light to go.
The protesters and I finally parted ways, and I went off in exploration. I made the mistake of buying food (ice cream, no less) without there being a place to eat it, and then needed to walk around quickly looking for a bench, or at least for somewhere to sit. Once if ound it, I realized that the street was incredibly quiet. It felt slightly lonely after the chants.
Is Open Campus day a thing? Because I passed two different universities which had large signs proclaiming 'open campus!' (One of them in English, the other in katakana.) I took advantage of both, using one as a shortcut, the other as a place to sit down. (They had lecture rooms unlocked with nobody in them. Hey, they said it was open. No wireless, though.)
When I passed people taking pictures with their college bags by the entrance, I was torn between feeling guilty that I was an obvious foreigner who probably wasn't looking at the campus for legitimate reason and trying to figure out where I could get those bags. I ended up lingering around both campuses for longer than I should
In summary, despite all my wandering around, I could not find the yarn store I was looking for. So at some point, I decided to give up and head back home. I started off, following a combination of signs and my idea of where things should be.
None of the buildings looked familiar. At some point, the sidewalk started looking familiar. But if it was, I was on the wrong side of the street, so I crossed over. And then I kept walking, and eventually the signs went away. Shortly thereafter, I reached a pedestrian overpass.
My first thought was that it looked familiar be the overpass I take every day to get to the park (and beyond.) My second thought was that Tokyo, and Shibuya, were big, and it couldn't possibly be. (Tied with that thought was probably: 'stairs. Do I need to take them?') Then I got up and looked around. And maybe it looked familiar? Most of the buildings didn't. The roads looked like... roads. But there was one building that had a picture of a rose on it. And I thought I'd seen that before.
I looked down, realized I was trying to navigate based on the location of vending machines, and that if I actually wanted to know what building that was, I'd need to go down and check the name. So I formed the concrete thought in my head 'If that's Tominaya springs,I'm going to do a happy dance and run up the stairs, because I'll know how to get back from here.' As I was on my way down, it occurred to me that if that building wasn't Tominaya Springs, I had no idea how to get back, or even what direction I'd come from.
The building was Tominaya Springs. I did a really pathetic dance (I can't dance) and ran up the stairs with a new-found energy that lasted until the next hill I needed to climb. But at that point, there was a very imminent end in sight, so I managed to make it up the hill and back to the house.
Long day, and interesting, though not in the ways I was expecting when I headed out this morning.