“First Steps in the Ginza”

This is one of a series of blogs which describe my trip to Japan in April 2012.  To see further blogs in the series, click on “Japan Odyssey” in the Tag Cloud.

The first day in Japan is still not over and at 3pm we venture out onto the streets outside our hotel in the Ginza area of Tokyo.

A bewildering mixture of people, unreadable signs,

luxury designer label glitzy shops,

restaurants with windows full of plastic plates of food, sushi everywhere, lots of noodles.

Bars with stairs leading up to the first floor or down to the cellar, but if they are on the ground floor, they have solid doors so either way you can’t see what you might be walking into.  It is similar to the hotel entrance but you’re less confident of the outcome.

A queue out of nowhere, at least a hundred yards along the pavement outside some big shops.  Must be a sale – but no, when we reach the front of the queue – NOTHING.

Walking by on the pavements are lots of small people – men average around 5′ 6″ – women more around 5′ 0″ and most women do not have high heels. Most of the men are in suits and ties.  The women are much more varied – most with coats (it’s a cold, spring day) topped with scarves or shawls/throws, nearly all with boots either knee or angle length.  Many of the ankle boots are topped with frilly lace or animal fur.  Younger girls often wear socks to the knees.  Overall there is a smartness about the place – jeans and open neck shirts don’t seem to have blessed Japan yet.  Very occasionally you see a kimono which looks very elegant.  Just once I caught a glimpse of an elderly couple both in kimonos.

There seems to be very few tourists, certainly not European or American.

The biggest surprise was to see lots of people walking towards you wearing a large white surgical style face mask.  I had already heard about it before I came, but it is still a shock to see so many people with them.  You see them outside and inside shops and offices.

Explanations given to me include:-

  • Protection against pollution
  • Protection against getting infections
  • Protection against giving infections
  • Protection from pollen
  • Providing modesty for girls

None seems very convincing for such a dramatic appearance.  Yet at least 30% of people seem to wear them.  Strange!

I did see one green mask on a man who I suppose could have been a travelling surgeon.  I also saw one girl with a very fetching leopard skin mask who must have been a model I guess.

End of a very tiring first day in Japan.  Brain scrambled and befuddled.


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1 Response to “First Steps in the Ginza”

  1. John T says:

    Only John Graham could so entertainingly take all of us along on such a wonderful trip. Thanks for so much fun thus far. Have just gotten to read your articles but am looking forward to all the rest..

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