Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day (2007) - Pt. 2 -The Station Area

This is the station end of the Pearl Road shopping street. The McDonald's on the corner has stood the test of time over the 17 years or so we've been here while nearly every other shop in the area has gone out of business at least once and been replaced. You can see another woman taking a relative or person she cares for out as well as the thickening crowd.

Of course, the pachinko place nearest the station is open. The sign near this young woman says "happy New Year" and "please take care in the following year". She seems to be giving away packets of hand towels but it's hard to tell from the picture. I can read some things on the sign but they don't make much sense without having pachinko experience. It mentions something about "gold dolphins" and that there is a special new year's campaign from the 1st to the 3rd. I wonder if the "gold dolphins" may be special gold balls put in the machines which warrant special prizes if you get them.

This is a fuller shot of the Ultraman display behind the woman giving away free gifts. In the previous picture, there's also a big Ultraman banner hanging inside the shop. The cardboard box has the gifts she's handing out. Just inside the window, behind the box, you can see several plastic containers of steel balls that someone has won while playing. They trade these balls for gifts when they're done playing then take the gifts somewhere else to trade for cash. Since gambling (via pachinko) is illegal, this is a backdoor way of playing for money.

The Starbucks in the staton was open and pretty busy. This shot may look like a bunch of people in line but I encourage you to click on this picture and look closer at the little girl in the blue coat at the front of the line. She's holding three ten-thousand-yen notes (about $260) in her hands and buying what appears to be an espresso machine by the size of the box. She also appears to be unescorted by her parents. I guess not all kids buy toys with their New Year's gift cash. I wonder if she'll be getting her caffeine fix then getting a pack of cigarettes. ;-)

This is a sign in front of a "conveyer belt" sushi (kaiten zushi) restaurant with a nice decoration and a sign announcing their change in hours during the holiday. The sign at the bottom lists prices for various types of sushi by plate color. In this type of sushi restaurant, you take all you want from the conveyer belt and they add up your bill by the number and type of plates you have accumulated. In this case, they have green, purple and blue plates and the blue is the priciest.

Seiyu supermarket was open and selling decorations for the holiday. I'd think that this would be a bit late in the game for such decorations but I guess they might hope to catch a few people who didn't have much holiday spirit until they got out and about.

Seiyu was also pushing tiny rolls of pork for about $9.50. I've never heard of pork being a traditional New Year's dish but perhaps they felt it was appropriate given that this is the year of the boar.

My husband took the two previous shots inside of Seiyu and was politely told he wasn't allowed to take pictures in the store. Belatedly, he noticed the sign outside the store (with the three red circles) saying no pets, no pictures, and no smoking were allowed inside. Oops.

This is a shopping area on the north side of the station (the shopping street in part 1 is on the south side). It's got decorations which resemble fireworks rather than traditional Japanese New Year's decorations. This area leads to a small shopping mall and has an underground grocery store.

This is a sushi place which very nicely displays all the traditional decorations. Most places seemed to have one or the other but not all three.The ornaments on either side of the door are kadomatsu and welcome ancestral spirits. The ropes hanging above the door are shimenawa and are for purification. They are quite familiar to me as part of the sumo wrestling grand champion's (yokozuna's) dress attire.

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