Tokyo Christmas and New Year - seasonal scurrying / 22 December 2014
I've been on a most unJapanese mission to acquire the ingredients for an English Christmas cake.
Not far from Tokyo station there is a shopping complex/department store with a baking/cooking ingredients and implements section on the first basement floor. Heading out into glorious sunshine and a bitingly cold wind, I'm surprised to pass incredibly long queues of Japanese people at bus stops and at, possibly, a lucky lottery ticket seller. There is a familiarity in the sight of winter-clad humans. Cold weather gear unites the winter world; these people could be anywhere.
Near the Kabuki theatre a solitary kimono-clad female, wrapped in a woollen shawl and scurrying small steps, is looking desperately cold.
I pass a shoe shop with 'a holy Christmas selection' and a shopping mall playing the slowest, most mournful version of 'White Christmas' you could ever not wish to hear. Various little decorations proclaim Christmas is here; Scandinavian Juletide is popular.
Arriving at 10.30 I am dismayed to discover that nothing opens before 11.00; there are people queuing outside. In spite of the cold wind, sunshine, blue sky and the wonderful clear light lift my spirits, but I'm not as hardy as the queue. I wait inside the neighbouring mall and get a hot fruit drink from a vending machine.
The Aladdin's cave of baking/ cooking supplies could have entertained me for hours; it stocked interesting takes on all of the ingredients I needed for my traditional family cake and Scandinavian Julekiks (biscuits), plus all sorts of tempting side steps into intreguing meal options for fusion foods.
The rise of the down jacket,
one design to rule the world,
takes me by surprise. The world
being winter wrapped, feather clad
in warm, universal down,
packaged in the shiny wind-
proof black of polyester;
and who knows the down is
probably poly too.
One idea to warm the race
one design to rule the world;
the rise of the down jacket.