I’ve brought back a lot of reminders from my trip abroad. Many are intangible, such as memories. It’s unfortunate that these most important ‘reminders’ will fade with time. Memories are stored in a data bank that has no efficient backup system. The brain is unlike an external hard disk one can simply plug in to recall forgotten experiences.
I suspect it’s for this reason humankind likes to collect physical keepsakes. I have ticket stubs from my first Shinkansen ride. A torn and battered map of the Tokyo Metro system. The crew and passenger list from my first freight ship experience. These are the types of souvenirs many people put into scrapbooks or collages. In a way, my blog has become my scrapbook. It doesn’t encompass my entire adventure, but gives glimpses I can refer back to, and easily share.
What I’m not willing to share are the more personal reminders of where I’ve been since November. Well, I’ll share, as in write about them or show them off, but y’all ain’t gettin’ any for yourselves!
These are the cute little amulets I picked up along the way. Some have specific memories attached to them, and others signify something more vague. Some ended up in my possession just because they were adorable!
Japan is big on talismans. Omamori are (often religious) charms that are believed to bring protection, fortune, prosperity and are a little more traditional in terms of their aesthetic. Modern-day omamori are available in non-spiritual versions. Not necessarily good luck charms, these cute-ified little trinkets hang from a ribbon, chord or string. There are Pokemon, and anime characters; Snoopy and sushi – really anything at all that can hang from a string and be attached to luggage, cell phones, shoelaces, etc.
I bought quite a few Pikachu charms, always thematically associated with the city they represent. This one features Pika hugging or climbing (?) the Tokyo Skytree. Kawaii!!!
If you’ve been following my A to Z Challenge, I already mentioned the story about the panda charm that fell off my purse in Shanghai. Some readers have asked me what it looked like, so voila!
I picked up quite a few panda-themed charms, both in China and in Japan.
And of all things… this grumpy little fellow from Asakusa, Japan is in fact “Made in China”.
This elegant panda is a key holder. I like oddball stuff, and thought this fit the bill, considering I was in an omiyage store dedicated to bunnies on Okunoshima. It was the only panda item in the store, and it was on sale perhaps for obvious reasons. One of these are not like the other...
I did also pick up some kawaii rabbit charms in the same store, though.
One of my prized ‘oddities’ is my “golden turd”. The charm represents my time in Asakusa (Taito) – one of my favorite areas of Tokyo. The charm is a cuter version of the city’s much less poopy emblem, the Asahi Flame. During my stay, I was intrigued by this bizarre sperm-looking thing sitting atop Sumida River. I meant to ask a friend if he knew what it was, but forgot. It took me until reaching home to research what the golden sperm…turd…flame really was. I was amused to learn it was the Asahi Beer building, and that people literally called the ‘beer head’ flame a turd.
The charm catches the light and makes a pleasant dingling sound, similar to the chimes in Baoding balls.
The last charm I want to ‘share’ is a reminder of the time I got lost in the mountains looking for Edo Wonderland theme park. Their onsite omiyage shop sold almost exclusively Nyan-mage items. At the time, I was rushed but absolutely wanted a souvenir to remember the slightly messy arrival at Edomura. In my haste, I was certain that Nyan-mage was a samurai-dog. I judged only by his appearance, since I didn’t know his name at the time. As nyan means meow, the ‘nyan’ would have given it away. Anyway, he was cute, and I needed to add him to my charm collection!
When I look through my souvenirs from abroad, the ones that stand out most apart from the emotional and sentimental ones, are the charms. They are reminders of places or feelings I may not be able to revisit in person. Maybe one day, if sea travel becomes more accessible… but for now, Japan and I will not meet again for probably an extended amount of time. It’s sad, but the dangling amulets make things a little more positive 😉