On the third Saturday of the month a Shrine Sale is held in Yamato near the train station. This is about an hours drive from the Yokosuka area (if you leave early) – and early did we leave! 6:30 a.m. was the pick up time, as four fellow Navy spouses headed outside the gates for another adventure in Japan.
Shrine sales are a lot like our flea markets back home – only much, much better. If you plan to visit Japan and looking at interesting items from another culture sounds like fun – I would highly recommend including a trip to a shrine sale. There are many shrine sales but all of them have their own schedule – I counted at least seven in the Tokyo area on varying days of the month.
The Yamato Shrine Sale is the favorite of many in the Yokosuka area – there were many vendors (I didn’t count but I would estimate over 100), selling all kinds of different items. I really didn’t have anything on my list – I was more curious than anything. It was an absolutely beautiful Fall morning and so, equipped with Yen (no credit cards), a shopping bag and a piece of paper with 2 key phrases I set off to search for treasures.
Gateway to purchases: “Sumimasen, Ikura Deska?” “Kaite Kudasai”
There was so much to look at – buttons (now that’s bad … I have a penchant for buttons, even with no sewing machine for three years I could envision just what I’d use all those very cool buttons for), kimonos – tons of kimonos. Kimonos on hangers, kimonos folded and stacked neatly in piles, kimonos piled up on the ground (see photo). I saw an American woman looking through kimonos at one of the vendors and stopped and asked her, how does she know what she’s looking at? There are more kimonos to look at than you could get through in one day. Apparently the hierarchy goes something like this: hanging – very good quality more Yen, folded on tables – good quality but there may be a spot not as much Yen; on the ground in a pile – you are going to cut these up and use the fabric for something else very inexpensive. Shockingly I stayed away from the Kimonos – I am in no rush, with very limited storage space and no sewing machine I decided to wait and learn more about Kimonos. There are cotton, polyester, and silk Kimonos with such a wide range of prices that without guidelines I could see I would get overwhelmed quickly wading through the rainbow of colors and textures. There were many vases of varying sizes, dishes, cups, tools, really just about anything you could imagine – many of which I had no clue what the heck they were for but no worries, I will be on a quest to find out! Not that I’ll use it for the original intended purpose but if I end up buying a Japanese bedpan thinking it’s a vase then I’d kind of like to know that! I’m all about repurposing.
The plan was to scope first and buy later (after checking everything out) but of course I didn’t even get to the half way point before that plan was blown out of the water. Equipped with my precious piece of paper – I whipped out my “gateway to purchases” and looking at my paper asked “Sumimasen, Ikura desuka?” (excuse me, how much?) as I pointed to a pretty blue and white vase. I think she got the sumimasen part (excuse me) but after that there was no connection – mmmm, guess we know who needs to work quite a bit more on her Japanese. So instead, I handed her the piece of paper that my Japanese Conversation teacher had written down for me along with a pen and said “Kaite Kudasai” (please write it down). I then received the response I was hoping for “Hai, 1000 Yen” – so Yen was exchanged and I didn’t break the bank on my first purchase and I have a pretty little vase. Yeah! Empowered, I moved on in search of more “must haves.”
One Persons Trash is Another Persons Treasure
I am not sure if we’ll have that saying on my dad’s grave marker (certainly not if he’s sharing it with my mom!) but at the very least it needs to go in his obit. My gene pool apparently missed out on the beautifully decorated house and food presentation skills (sorry Jeff) but it most definitely did not miss the “trash pickers” gene. Even my mom would have to reluctantly admit my dad has found some real treasures on the side of the road in someone elses trash pile. He has the eye for potential. While I’m not sure if I have that gift (jury is still out on that one) I do love rummaging through piles of well, apparent trash to find that one piece of treasure. So which picture do you think I plucked my pretty little vase from? The nicely lined up selection of various vases and pottery or the piles of stuff overflowing on the table? You decide.
One down – twelve to go!
One down – twelve to go!
By car or by train there are at least twelve more shrine sales within a reasonable distance to Yokosuka. Before we leave I plan to hit every one of them – at least once. It was great fun looking at all the different wares and getting to the shrine sale early was key. By the time we left, close to noontime, the aisles were packed. Yes, I did make a few more purchases – and I started on my Japanese button collection, buttons don’t take up much space or weight. Now that’s thinking like someone who’s moved more that a few times! Till next time, sayonara.