Ho Hum ...

Many years ago, when I worked in the music shop in Canada, we had sometimes become very frustrated by delays in the postal system. Most of the suppliers of the sheet music that we sold were located in America, but because packages coming to Canada from the US had to go through Customs inspection, it was not uncommon for them to sometimes take weeks to arrive. We wanted to offer much quicker service to our customers, so we came up with the idea of renting a small warehouse in a location in the US - just across the border from us. We asked our suppliers to ship to this address, which for them was in the same country, so packages arrived there very quickly.

Then, once a week or so, we drove across the border, collected the waiting packages, and brought them back to our shop in Canada, stopping again at the border to make the necessary Customs declarations. This took a few hours, but that was certainly faster than the couple of weeks that the packages would otherwise have taken.

Our shop was in Toronto, and the warehouse we rented was in a little American town located at the closest point to us. You might recognize the name: Niagara Falls, New York.

Yes, every Monday morning I got in the company van, drove down the freeway to the border, then passed over the high bridge that crossed the river just below the Falls. I guess the first time I made this trip, I stopped for a time at the tourist area to get a good view of the famous attraction, but it soon became routine, and I am sure there were times when I drove across without even giving it a glance ...

I was reminded of those times yesterday, when I had to run an errand from our Asakusa shop. A small package had to be taken to the local Post Office, and - knowing where that is - I 'volunteered' myself instantly. Let's make the journey together ...

Down the stairs and out the front door of the shop, we turn right, and if we didn't mind the crowds, we could walk along the famous Den-po In Street, named after the large temple compound it borders, but we'll head up along 'Hoppi-dori' instead. All along the length of this famous street, we'll be subject to the calls of the waitresses outside the bars and eateries on both sides, but we're on a mission, so we will resist.

We then have a choice of either Okuyama Strolling Street or Nishi Sando (which seems to exist solely for the sake of its many festivals each year), passing by the old Mokubakan theatre, and as we get to that point, we can see just ahead of us one gable of the grand roof of Sensoji.

A few seconds later, we come out onto the open space and can see the entire temple, which looks absolutely stunning in fresh red and gold after a recent refurbishment. We're crossing against the flow of traffic here, and cutting across the line of people who are waiting in front of the offertory box, we don't pause to get wafted by the incense from the giant 'kettle'. Next we pass the buildings of the old Asakusa Shrine; today in the bright sunshine we can simply stroll by in a carefree mood, but on a misty fall evening, standing in front of the fox statues in the old little shrine at the back - which escaped the wartime destruction - you feel like you are right in a mysterious scene from a Ghibli anime ...

And we're nearly there; we make our way out of the temple grounds through the ancient Niten gate, going up and over its gently arched walkway, and are suddenly out in the 'real world', crossing a main road and entering the post office ...

The first time I made this trip, the staff looked at me when I got back, "You just went to the Post Office. What took you so long?"

Hah!

 


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