It was clear to both of us that the 6 hours of walking in Kamakura (including impromptu 2 km hike) just wasn’t enough. More walking was required. Hours more.
And so it was to be. We woke up at around 10am and after stretching our tired (but not tired enough) legs we set forth on a magic journey of discovery. Our mission was to find the mythical land of books known to local Tokyo-ites as Jinbouchou, where over 150 book shops huddle together for shade under the harsh Japanese summer sun, sheltering their pages from UV death rays.
Our first mistake was made early, and was almost fatal. It certainly resulted in wounding. Instead of my wife checking the map as per usual I decided to, thinking that because this trip was about books I would be the best person to take the lead. Furthermore, even if we did get lost I, as an academic, would be able to follow the scent of musty. knowledge laden pages on the wind and lead us to our destination.
However this impeccable logic proved flawed for at least two reasons. First, as I have proved on numerous occasions I am crap at orienteering, mostly due to my inability to conjure up images and remember stuff. Secondly, I am an academic, not a blood hound.
Therefore we wandered in the general direction of book land, never quite sure where we were going or how we would know when we had arrived. What google maps promised would be a 49 min walk turned into a 2 hour hike, during which my wife’s feet were eaten by her cute but utterly impractical shoes. (Jo: practical for a 49 min walk NOT a 2 hour hike!).
But we did make it and it was good. I could quite easily spend the next month or so wandering around the streets and diving into the piles of books (not literally of course, that would get me deported. It would also hurt, cf. Peter in Family Guy diving into piles of gold a la Scrooge McDuck and breaking his back). There were history books, culture books, art books, design books, film books, magazines, photo collections, novels etc. etc. etc. all of which looked out at me like puppies at the dog shelter desperate for a new home, their black puppy eyes watering in anticipation, their big puppy hearts full of love to give. I wanted to pick them all up and tell them ‘yoshi yoshi, it’ll be all right’ and take them all home. However the sheer volume of material was a little daunting and I only had a very vague idea of what I wanted. And its 120 yen to the pound so…
Ultimately we bought the grand total of nothing. I ended up getting the first volume of Yamamoto Naoki’s Manga ‘Red’, which is about the United Red Army, and Jo bought the next volume of her basketball manga. I will have to buy the rest of Red for an upcoming paper on contemporary representations of left wing terrorism in late 1960s/1970s Japan. I also picked up a collection of Ozu films for £20, which cant be bad.
So you DID get something I hear you say (yes yes I realise nobody is reading this but I am using the phrase as a literary device. Literature, pah! I hear you say…see?) but no, we bought these things in Akihabara, which is only a couple of stops away on the train from Ueno.
My wife’s foot looks really sore.