Bringing back momentos and presents from Japan is something I make some effort to do. Its not just about the item itself, its craft, or its price, it is just as much about the story of its purchase. Relevance and importance that becomes part of the gift
I can remember just about every place where I got those gifts for others. The tea cup ‘for every day use’ for my mother from the laneway in central Nara; the locket for my wife in Kawagoe, made by a local artisan; the flamboyant glasses case for her as well in Numazu; the exquisite Noritake cup and saucer than came with elegant wrapping and box from the Matsuzakaya Department store in Shizuoka; the old ceramic bowl for my daughter from a tiny store in Mishima. Intangible memories now attached to tangible goods.
Not necessarily gifts that are unique to Japan, but from a place that is unlikely to be visited again.
While the outcome has mostly been satisfying, the process does not come that easily. I am not a great shopper! In fact, it can cause me grief, and take out a day from the travel itinerary.
You might have seen me: grey haired man, furrowed brow pressing forward against shop windows, straining to eye off that special gift. That’s usually me.
Careful readers might note that the examples above relate to girls in my life. What about the boys?
Last trip it got easy. With 4 nights in Mishima (about an hour south if Tokyo) I got to walk the streets a fair bit. This was particularly in early evenings, on the prowl for that special place to eat after a long day seeing and doing.
I did pass by the closed Esuno-ya t-shirt shop and was struck by the mix of 60’s psychedelia, thrash-metal, J-Pop and politics jammed into this tiny place. This eclectic place sang ‘my boys’.