YouTube’s Ken Tanaka & Inokashira Park

Do you know Ken Tanaka? He hosts two web shows: “Cooking With Dog”- a Japanese cooking show, and “How to Speak Japanese Without Hardly Saying a Word”- a language satire vlog.

I was really excited this morning, because today was the day of Ken Tanaka’s Meet-and-Greet in Inokashira Park. For those of you that are unfamiliar with him, he hosts two web shows on Youtube, “Cooking With Dog” and “How to Speak Japanese Without Hardly Saying A Word.” I discovered him through the second blog a couple of years ago, but his cooking show has been the one I’ve enjoyed the most. Basically, he does the voiceover for a poodle named Francis, and explains the ins and outs of Japanese cooking in Japanese and English while a woman cooks. Once Nicky and I are settled in Kyoto, I plan to use his show a lot more to ensure we don’t starve. As well, in 2009, he received an award from YouTube Japan for his video “I Am Robot” ... In any case, I was pretty excited to meet him.

However, when we got to the park, the gathering was pretty small, and as I’ve discovered most times when meeting people with small or large fandoms, it’s usually the fans that make or break the experience. There were several (really one) truly obnoxious guy there that made me hesitate in trying to break into the crowd, and when I finally met Ken himself, it was extremely awkward. He remained in-character to an extreme extent, so... after I got my photo opp, Nicky and I decided to explore the park instead, since Inokashira Park is actually really cool.

There was a massive lake in the center of the park where you could rent a boat for thirty minutes, so we headed that way and rented a paddle boat shaped like a swan. It was so fun! Also romantic, which was nice, since Nicky and I have rarely had a chance to be alone together since getting to Tokyo, since there’s so few places to be so. It’d been a long time since I’d been on a boat too, so it was a great experience.

Afterwards, we decided to make a loop around the park, since there was supposed to be a zoo there. Unfortunately, the zoo closes on Sundays at 4pm, so we weren’t able to enter (though they have Fennec foxes there!). Instead, we continued to explore the open areas. While we were crossing a bridge I found a snake swimming across the water (only recognizable as it swam like a water moccasin). Then we found a small fox shrine right on the bank. Foxes are considered to be akin to faeries in Japanese folklore, as well as tricksters and an animal with the ability to take human form. There are lots of shrines for them in Japan, and this was the first one I’ve seen. it reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, which was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. (A book I recommend, by the way).

Just beyond the shrine, there were a set of small tori gates, and then a wide path that circled the whole of the park. We passed by some musicians doing a park concert, and also some really wide and steep stairs that led into the local neighborhood. There was one house in particular that exceeded the scope of even a mansion- it was literally an entire temple, gated off and converted into a home for some family or other. Nicky and I were blown away. On the way back into the park, I found a sign warning people about the crows, since apparently they attack people sometimes. I’m not surprised though, as the crows in Japan are even bigger than the ravens we have back home.

Afterwards, we started heading back to the station to go to Takaido sentou, but were stopped by a man passing out flyers. Of all things, it was a Jehova’s Witness. You can’t escape them! We politely took his flyers since we was polite and all, but really... I was hoping to escape the propaganda in Japan... oh well ^^; ...we went to the sentou after that, though, sadly it is more expensive on the weekends.

Overall, an interesting day!