This is post #6 of our Tokyo-Seoul trip: part 1 of Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
Today is the day I’d set aside to track down a Blythe doll in Tokyo. I was determined, equipped with a hot spot and working phone, to track this tiny shop, Junie Moon, and buy myself a doll. They are pricey little creatures in the United States, but if I picked one up in Tokyo, it would be about half the price.
Dave went off to his meetings, I figured out my transit and headed out. Here’s some of the sights that morning:
Upon opening the hotel room blinds, I see that the rooftop garden has been thoroughly excavated, and now they are working on another section.
A block down the street, the make-up teams and dressers are welcoming the contestants for the 57th Miss International Beauty Pageant, Tokyo. I am always so taken in by the uniformity of everything: all the dressers/make-up team are dressed alike, down to the types of shoes they wear. (click to enlarge the photos)
I figure out which train to ride, loving the conductor for the previous train gesturing out his window as he took off. The train car I was in was like a curated art exhibit for the watch Why Knot, which looked to be one of those watches for which you trade your firstborn son. By the time I watched the little video above my head, I’m convinced it was the best watch on the planet, and not just because it reminded me of my father, who is always asking “Why Not?” I snapped a photo and sent it to him along with a short note on the jiggling Metro car. I realized I could get very used to having a hot spot/portable wifi when we travel.
I always think I’m prepared for travel, and then I get upstairs out of the tunnels and am completely flummoxed, as even though I know which stop, I don’t always know which exit to use, which is usually a critical piece of information. I stop to ask the station master at his window. Just as I was about to ask, a young woman came rushing up, asking him (in rapid Japanese) a question. He put up his hand to indicate I should wait a second, then answered her first. I suppose there is a protocol for attending to tourists, and having been in her shoes, she had the greater urgency.
I follow his directions to go down the stairs and out, but to “please use the pedestrian bridges.” Will do.
I only took one wrong turn, which is pretty good. The day was threatening rain, but so far — no drips. The street I walked along was next to part of the train station, and I could hear the little tunes they play when the trains arrive and leave. They are called “eki-melody” and each station has their own jingle, which is played when the train enters the station (although some say, as it departs). Luckily I don’t have them fixed in my head, or they might drive me nuts. Here’s one of them in Tokyo.
I catch a glimpse of the Junie Moon Shop, as on this drab day, it’s like looking at a pink doll house. It’s the first floor of a building, with mint-green shutters and large pictures of the Blythe doll, whose claim to fame is that she can have her eyes moved into three different positions, each position a different color. I know, I know. This doll also has a bit of a cult following. Some resourceful people take the basic doll and change it, either via wigs or sanding down the face and applying new color, or adding eyelashes, or changing facial characteristics. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot that are elven in quality.
I arrive at 10:57, and knowing about Tokyo’s punctuality, I wait outside until the young woman looks at me at 10:59, and I decided it’s okay to go in. I’d been following the Blythe craze since it first started around 2010 or so, and you could buy them easily in the U.S. but I never had the funds to be able to buy one. I’d put them in my Amazon cart until someone else purchased it, then repeated this until there were none available. I was still wasn’t 100% sure I was going to buy one, even though I was here.
The shop was like being at an art exhibit with posed tableaus; these dolls aren’t for sale. In the middle of the shop were round tables with doll merchandise, books and accessories, including different wigs. I rifled through the book on how to personalize the doll, but it was in Japanese.
I finally looked at the dolls for sale. The shopgirl (I began to think of all these young woman as shopgirls) spoke no English to speak of — about the amount of Japanese I speak — so there was a lot of gesturing, and me pulling out my Google Translate. I bypassed the smaller dolls, with no moving eyes or moveable joints, in favor of the taller dolls. In my journal I wrote “I probably should have purchased one of each?”
One of the two dolls looked so pale: no color, no lip color, as if it were a doll to be personalized. The other doll had a shiny face, which I wasn’t that keen about. I asked about the matte face, but the shopgirl said “Special order. Two months.” By now I had decided that I was leaving with one of the dolls. I compared two more (did I mention that these dolls cost some serious change?), and went with the one with more hair. I did add a pair of glasses to match mine. I pointed it out to the shopgal, and she took it to the register. Below is the website description:
Then I had to read the agreement to purchase, and sign a paper saying I agreed with it. I signed. As I was signing the register tape receipt, the time stamp was 11:20. All of this only took twenty minutes. She put the doll in a large shopping bag, slipping a clear plastic bag over the handles and taping it on the bottom. “For rain” she said. She gave me two extra stickers and I was off.
I retraced my steps, heading towards what I thought was the Shibuya scramble intersection, but it was the wrong direction. I retraced those steps, heading up and over the pedestrian walkways (thank you, Station Master). I felt incredibly conspicuous with my bright pink Junie Moon bag with a large Blythe doll looking out at people, but I had come to find a Blythe doll, and it was mine. Now to get it home to the U.S., but I wouldn’t have to worry about that for a while.
Next post: Shibuya, lunch, home, then out again.