Woke up this morning to a rattling hotel room. Yes another earthquake at 7:42 am. This time a 5.5. What a way to start the day! This was Josh’s last day of his certification course so he was off to work and Emma had a date with a friend from school (at OHS she’s got friends around the world!)
So Max and I had a day to hang out together.
I realize that much of Max’s time is spent accompanying us to places he’s not really interested in. He likes food, but is not insanely excited about visiting a tiny smoky yakitori stand from the 1890s. He likes beautiful places, but is not burning to see a temple in a remote location that requires a three mile hike in the rain. He likes shopping, but not wandering through store after identical store looking for the perfect tiny necklace. So basically Max is patient with the three of us and has a generally good attitude as long as he gets lunch. I am exaggerating here a bit, but you know what I mean.
So today I had time with the boy to do things he wanted to do. First stop was the Pokemon Center. What is this place? Why have I not visited it on my previous 5 trips here? It is a deluxe Pokemon store, where loyal pokemon fans make a pilgrimage to purchase and admire all things Pokemon.
As you know from earlier posts, people in Tokyo are Epic Fans of Everything. So I was not surprised to see outside the Center a roped off area where people congregate to play Pokemon. They are not playing with each other, rather they are playing the the company of others who share their passion for the game.
Inside the doors, let your imagination open wide. All things pokemon seem to exist, stuffed toys, pencils, hairbrush, lunch boxes, compact mirror, iPhone cover, bathmat, umbrella, truly a pokemon accessory for every room in your home. Max is hilarious in situations like this. He took a first look around at all the merchandise and then we agreed that we should look at it all again. He never asked for a single thing, and just took pleasure and admired all the details and colors. Max patiently told me about the characters, their powers and weakness. I know this sounds crazy, but I was a little impressed with the depth of his fandom.
On the third trip through the Pokemon Center, I was no longer looking at the stuff on the shelves, rather the mega-fans in the store. I can understand the appeal of the game for little kids, but what cracked me up the most were the 20-30 year olds (not there with a child) who were so excited to get the latest and greatest Pokemon gear. Seriously.
We were really happy to get gifts for Max’s friends at home and very satisfied to navigate our way there without getting lost. Then I suggested we keep going and head out to Akibahara, Tokyo’s Electric Town. This is a shopping area with densely packed electronics stores and video arcades. The streets were thrumming with lights, lasers, tinny video game noise and packed with people. Max and I were both a little overwhelmed but dove into it.
We wandered through the streets a bit until we followed a father and son upstairs to an arcade level. There were so many games to choose from, but we found a SuperMario cart and stuffed some Yen into them and started driving. The game was fantastic, graphics awesome and with the special effects, it felt like I was really a little mushroom guy driving a monster truck upside own on a ski slope. But the best part? Max and I were in the game together, helping each other out and crashing into bad guys together. At the end of the game he gave me a high five and we hustled outside for fresh air and sanity.
Back on the train home, Max told me today was a perfect day. Spending time with him, trying to really pay attention to what he had to say and letting him guide me was not effortless for me. I need to work a little to appreciate things Max likes. But this made me only love him more. I had a lot of fun with my boy.