Odyssey Day 3: Seattle; turning Japanese

©2022 Michael Raven

No, I didn’t listen to the Vapors on repeat all day, or even once until I just got the urge to give it a listen. Today, I decided to take the rail to Uwajimaya in the International District of Seattle and, I guess is reverting back to being known as Chinatown, even though I’m pretty certain there was a hard fought effort to get it renamed “International District” in the late 80s or early 90s. By the time I moved here, people corrected you if you called it Chinatown, but now it is on all the official signage. /shrug/

The thing is, my recollection has always been that this neighborhood was more Japanese than Chinese (with a significant Yakuza presence at one point), so I’m not quite sure why the area would seek to reclaim the name. But, I suppose Japantown doesn’t roll off the tongue in the same way. Regardless…

I went shopping at Uwajimaya grocery store to see if I could find anything for my Japanese-loving daughters. Anime and cosplay have a significant role in the household, but only my eldest is fanatical about it. But, all three girls love many things Japanese, and I ended up finding a few unique imports to give them, as well as some candy that might have different character than what they are used to. But it was hard to decide which, as I didn’t know what half of it was. Here are just two rows of about six total of things to choose from. Most of it had no English at all on it.

I picked up a few things, and then some sushi for my lunch that was really budget priced at the grocery store. The cashier was all apologies, but wanted to know if I was a senior. Guess the grey hair is giving away my age. And then I went to the bookstore in the same building to see if there was any manga that might be in English when I about fell over.

The mother of all Totoros.

Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret. I finally got around to watching Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro about a year ago and fell in love with Totoro… and the dust motes. I obviously couldn’t afford the mammoth one, but they had a huge selection of other types. Guess what I had to buy.

Then, feeling bad for thinking about gifts for me and not the girls, I looked around and found some chopsticks from other Ghibli films (No Face, Kiki’s cat, etc.) and because everyone wants to use chopsticks when we get carry-out, I decided to get some permanent ones. The twins adore Molang and Chickie, so when I saw some stuffies for those two, I picked them up. Manga was still only in Chinese or Japanese and I didn’t see anything for the older daughter, so I trekked back up through Pioneer Square to the Public Market to see if I’d missed anything for her.

Pioneer square isn’t as bad as I had been warned about. Sure, there were a few tents up and a few mentally ill people without homes. Everywhere you walk in Seattle there is the smell of cannabis, so it was there as well. None of the stores grabbed me along the strip, and the old used bookstores were gone. I didn’t snap any pictures as I didn’t want to upset some of the people living on the street, but the Square was about the same as I recall, just filled with rich-people’s kind of things for most of the stores.

I ended up back at the collectables store, so I took a few pictures of their cardboard stand-ups:

I found a Nightmare Before Christmas wallet for her, and felt better about not finding anything Japanese that would interest her.

Then I came back to the place I’m staying at. It’s early, but I’m exhausted from the past two days.

I think I might crash and cuddle my Totoro before my hosts return…

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