Monday, March 1, 2010

Hamburgers & Moonwalking

On the move in Shibuya… I am surprised to find the sidewalks manageable, the elbow bumps fewer and the stagger-step flow of people smoother than usual. Perhaps because it’s midday and school is keeping the area’s most infamous habitués away. The teenage mulligrubs are still at their schoolbooks and I am pleased as punch because of it. But there are the usual numerous tissue-touts, those part-timers hired to hand out to passing pedestrians free tissue advertising this or that service or store. I also have to walk around the two or three homeless people asleep on the sidewalk beneath their multiple overcoats. One of them I’m unlucky enough to notice, has thrown off his cover and blatantly unbuttoned, works hard at picking and scratching at something in his fully exposed pubic patch.

First, to one of my favorite bookstores, Tower. The first six floors are given over to music and DVDs, and the in-store music this time is the Michael Jackson classic, “Beat It.” His posthumous documentary, This Is It has become a flying-off-the-shelves bestseller here in our Japan. But my path is around Michael and the moonwalk, straight to the seventh floor bookstore. Looking for nothing special, I browse the shelves and aisles, happy enough with that; spend a few minutes looking at Moleskine notebooks, almost tempted to buy a large sketch book, but the ¥3,400 ($38.00) price, along with my less than favorable feeling about Moleskin paper puts the stopper on that. I was hoping to get a look at the new Moleskine Passions series, but those aren’t in stock at Tower yet. A new Ian Baruma book (The China Lover: A Novel) catches my eye, but a quick read of the first chapter turns my mind elsewhere. A writer I’ve long liked is Irishman John Banville, and I spot a small paperback titled The Lemur, (Banville writing as Benjamin Black) published in 2008. This one I buy.

Walking up Aoyama Dôri I’m a little surprised to see that Office Max is gone, replaced by a men’s suit store. A bit farther and around a corner brings me to what I believe is the best place in Tokyo for a hamburger, the Hawaiian chain, Kua Aina. It should surprise no one that good hamburgers can be had in Tokyo at several different places. Freshness Burger makes a good hamburger (despite the store name), and their hand-cut, homemade French fries are the best. There used to be a place in Shimokitazawa called the Rock ’n Roll Diner that for many years made the best burgers, but these days nothing beats Kua Aina. It’s a little pricey however, and today I pay the equivalent of $15 for a ‘sandwich set’ which includes a hefty bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion, French fries and a medium iced coffee. Despite the price, you can hardly beat it for flavor.

I head back toward Shibuya Station and a small shop called Croissant that stocks a bath soap I like. The Shibuya area has no shortage of quality soap emporiums, such as L’Occitane and The Body Shop, but my preference is for a generic type of plain unscented, mild white soap that I find at Croissant, a bath & kitchen shop located inside Tokyu Department Store. Six bars of soap later I’m all done and passing through the Itô-ya stationery store downstairs. I consciously avoid the ink counter because I’d rather not be tempted by the Iroshizuku colors I don’t already have. The ladies working there are too nice, too helpful, and for this customer at least, altogether too convincing in their enticements. A train home is the best bet for me.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know there were homeless people in Japan. Also I love the word mulligrub.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America