The universal appeal of mice and curry / 2 September 2013
Station access improvements mean I can now take a train around the coast and explore wider Tokyo. So today we head out east and I get seat-side view of a popular commuter belt: neat little houses with small clumps of greenery around them, interspersed with tower blocks of flats, sprawling IT businesses and occasional unexplained rusty eyesores. And these groups are repeated like flowers in a Gertrude Jekyll garden, stretching, curling around the coast accommodating roads, rail and rivers.
We pass the utterly incongruous fantasy of Disneyland Tokyo and the industrial yellow and blue cube that is Ikea. At the Disney stop our carriage is invaded by Mouse fans.
We leave the train to climb lifts and curling ramps up over roads and railway line to the mall where we are to sample Nepalese cuisine. Curry is conquering the world.
Access is great, tables are pushed around and we are made comfortable in the small restaurant whose interior is decorated to resemble a wooden hut with layers of faded, peeling paint. The place is famous for its nan bread and I choose a sesame nan with a prawn curry. The nan is impressive: fresh from the oven, massive, rich in sesame seeds and flavour; the curry an afterthought of four prawns in a small bowlful of tasty curry sauce. Diners are entertained by a large screen video of Nepalese singing and dancing with Mount Everest in the background.
On our way to eat I noticed a sign for Tokyo Hands so after the meal we take a small detour. Each store has its own personality and I am slightly disappointed to discover that this one is not quite so well equipped with basic nuts and bolts and creative stuff. It is however, full of nifty gadgets for homes, leisure and personal grooming.
With a mixture of curiosity and disbelief I am drawn to the large pet shop next door. A good 60 percent of the space is filled with dogs clothes - most being the kind of thing I might expect to see in Mothercare. The main window is devoted to stacks of small clear boxes each containing one puppy curled up asleep in a pile of wood shavings.
She stood unselfconsciously
rocking with the motion,
Minney Mouse ears protruding
from pink plastic head-hat,
snout in fake fur, with black
blobby end, poking out
from her forehead. Mouse dress
and feet dangled down the back
of her neck from this monster-mouse
headgear. She waved her
three children into vacant seats
and family rode the train with
Disney bags, Disney clothes
Disney memories of their day out.