After a horrible Saturday, it was great weather Sunday and I went to Sakura-shi in Chiba with Benjamin 2 号 to visit the Jidai Matsuri (the period festival), where they were also celebrating 400 years of Dutch-Japanese international relations. Though it was quite hard to find anything Dutch at the festival, except for the Australians who were acting as the Dutch in some costume play and whom we learned some Dutch words.
Anyway, the matsuri was great, lots of people just having fun with taiko performances, odori and delicous foodstuffs.
Tuesday we didn't have class because it was Queen's Day. Alright, technically, the 28th is not Queen's Day, but because the Dutch Embassy was having its party that day, we all pretended it was. All that counted was that we had a free day. In any case, most of us picked up our gaikokujintourokushou, our identity card and afterwards, I went with a small group to Nakano Broadway to go to slightly more underground manga shops. I picked up a nice (and quite gruesome) comic adaption of grandfather of the Japanese detective novel Edogawa Rampo's Panoramatou Kidan ("The Strange Tale of Panorama Isle"), for which the author Maruo Suehiro actually got this years Tezuka Osamu's Cultural Award: Best New Artist award. I am happy to say that I can even buy manga for the sake of research into Japanese detectives.
The party at the Embassy was kinda boring in the beginning, but actually ended up to be fun. The current Embassador is a really nice and funny guy. For some of us who really missed Dutch cheese, there was plenty and some even smuggled cheese back to the mansion. And the six degrees of seperation theorem certainly seems plausible now, as I indirectly know the Japanese emperor and the Dutch queen.
The Embassy is by the way pretty much right next to the Tokyo Tower and after the party ended, we wandered towards the pretty lights of the Tower, but they just closed when we arrived. In fact, they actually waited till we stood in front of the counter before they closed.
Wednesday was a national holiday (birthday of the Showa emperor or something like that) and I went with Marit and Benjamin 1 号 to Takao-san, an hour from Shinjuku. Takao-san is not mister Takao. It's a mountain. And I am sad to say I actually misheard Marit at least 3 times and kept asking her who that Takao was she was talking about. But anyway, I once promised her I would go with her to watch birds, as she is a birdwatcher, so I went bird watching. It was quite fun, walking to the top of mister Takao (stats: 599 meters high) and it made me realize that non-smogged air is indeed better than smog-filled air. Too bad it was a national holiday, because it was fairly crowded and the top of the mountain was pretty much the same as any big park in Tokyo. Crowded with people picknicking. Those people probably didn't even go the hardcore walking way, but took the easy path with the cable car going through monkey parks or something.
Birdwatching was quite hard and I only spotted a couple of them with my bare eyes (Equipment: +10 glasses) and only one with binoculars. It's like those birds are mocking you with their calls, luring you like a Greek Siren with their voices. You just know they are there, somewhere, but they never show themselves. Birdwatching also reminded me a lot of the game Pokémon Snap, and yes, somehow, it would have been awesome if I could have let two birds fight each other by throwing Pokéfood between them. Maybe next time.