Monday, January 01, 2007
New Year's Day (2007) - Pt. 1 -The Shopping Street
My husband and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood on New Year's day each year to see what's going on but this year I couldn't make it due to some health issues. However, he took my camera and went out and captured a lot of great scenes for me that explain a lot about what happens on New Year's day as well as some of the more interesting aspects of our neighborhood. Because of Blogger's laborious picture insertion procedures, I'll be posting about the day in segments. (As always, you may click on any picture to open up a super-sized version to see more detail.)
This is what we both expected to see a lot of on New Year's day. These are closed signs for shops that will be out of commission for an extended period of time during the holiday. They are mass-produced and merchants can write the date when they will re-open at the bottom.
What we didn't expect is that there were actually quite a few places open. In the years we've been here, we've seen more and more places open each year on January 1. I guess that sentiment comes second to commercial opportunity.
This fellow must have been out too late partying and forgotten to put up his "closed for the holiday" sign. This picture was taken around 3:00 pm and he's out in his pajamas putting up a homemade sign.
From one end of the street, things look pretty empty and deserted. This is the end which is furthest from the Japan Railway (JR) station nearest our apartment. The shopping street in these pictures is very long and takes about 10-15 minutes to walk through if you walk at a reasonable pace (neither slow, nor fast) so it's quite long. One end opens to a major street in Tokyo and the other to the station. The street end was quite dead.
As one approaches the mid-point though, more and more shops are open and the place starts jumping and it gets increasingly crowded as you get nearer to the station.
The Baskin Robbins which recently opened was quite busy despite fairly cold weather (about 50 degrees F./10 degrees C.). The line was 5 people outside the door around 4:30 pm. My husband noticed a few things about the people that he saw out and about. First of all, there were a lot of kids and families (which may relate to the popularity of ice cream).
The other thing he saw a lot of was people taking elderly or handicapped relatives out in their wheelchairs. Since this is the most important holiday of the year, I guess that's not too surprising. Suffice it to say, it's not altogether unusual to see people out with relatives or the people they care for in wheelchairs but the frequency with which one sees them is lower.
One of the reasons kids are out with their parents is that they received gift money (o-toshidama) for the New Year. In order to capitalize on this, the local toy shops remain open on the first. There are 2 shops on our street and both were open. This one has a variety of dolls and balls out front and features more toys for younger kids. The plush toys include popular Japanese cartoon characters like Doraemon, Anpanman, and Keroppi as well as well-known Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) and Winnie the Pooh.