Dec 17, 2006

Yesterday I met up with my friend Megan and we took a train trip down to the town of Kamakura, about 30 miles south of Tokyo.  It is famous for a big Buddha and a lot of Shinto shrines.  It is here that I learned an interesting socio-religious fact.

There is a coin here called the 1 yen coin.  It has a value of slightly less than a penny.  There is literally nowhere you can use these.  Machines don't accept them, and when you deal with people it is always a rounded number.  (They don't tack on a sales tax, so almost everything is rounded to 50 or 100 yen.)

I finally discovered what to do with them at Kamakura.  In the front of every Shinto shrine is a little grating that people throw coins in before they pray.  At first I thought this was an offering to the gods, but now I realize it is the only way to get rid of 1 yen coins!

The implications are astounding.  If the majority of Japanese people stopping being Shinto, then the 1 yen coins would begin to amass in such great quantities that they would spill into the streets, causing chaos and anarchy.  Also, the combined weight of so many 1 yen coins would cause the Earth to change its orbit, eventually spinning into the Sun.


Anyway, we saw the big Buddha and the temples, and then went back to the ritzy part of Tokyo for the evening.  I got to meet a bunch of Megan's friends and try out my crappy Japanese on them.  Luckily, every single person asks the same couple of questions, so eventually I will get good at answering them.

Prease to enjoy photos.

A Shinto temple in Kamakura.

A 1 yen coin depository.

Ms. Megan.

The Diabutsu, which literally means "Big-Ass Buddha".

The Japanese know how to party.

Street traffic in Shinjuku.

A bit off the main drag.