Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

025 : Rick Kennedy in a pastry shop in Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Born 1935 in USA, Rick Kennedy currently works as a editor. He came to Japan on a permanent resident visa. Why Japan? Why Not? He digs the following Tokyo bits: Jimbocho for used books, Nakameguro along the river, Kagurazaka, coffee beans, and etiquette He, however, is a touch miffed by the island mentality, sparkling new shopping centers a la Las Vegas, fascist LDP politics, dumb NHK evening news, and thoughtless, automatic sexism For more info on Rick Kennedy you should send an email.

image: J.L. Olivares

“... but anyway please take one of these little cheese cakes ...”

I was looking for canvases, having taken up oil painting. I knew I could buy some at an enormous art store in Shinjuku, but here I was in Shibuya, wandering around, and I saw this store called “Palette” which looked as though it had some painting equipment in the window. So I knocked on the door; maybe they’d have some.

“Excuse me, I’d like to buy some canvases,” I said.

“Canvases? What are canvases?” said a long, lanky young man.

“Ah, I don’t know the Japanese for canvases. That’s the English word. They are used to paint pictures on.” And I pantomimed painting a picture.

“Hmm. Oh, you mean kanbasu. For oil painting.” He pronounced the word a little different than I did, in a Japanese way.

“Well yes. I thought I could buy some from you.”

“Ah, we don’t have any…but please come in. I will make some telephone calls. I know some places in Shibuya which might have canvases.”

I thanked him and went inside the shop, which upon closer inspection revealed itself to be a pastry shop, not an art-supply shop at all. The name of the shop, Palette, was a metaphor.

After five minutes, the young man came to me to apologize. He could discover no place in Shibuya which sells canvases. I would have to go to Seikaido[1] in Shinjuku, 10 minutes away on the Yamanote line, instead.

“I am so very sorry,” the man said, “but anyway please take one of these little cheese cakes …”[2]

referenced works

  1. Seikaido in Shinjuku is a 6-story shop selling every art implement ever imagined.
  2. Cheesecake in Japan is generally either "rare" or " baked". By "rare" they mean the fresh, unbaked cottage cheese type.

location information

  • Name: a pastry shop in Shibuya
  • Address: Aoyama Dai Building, Shibuya 2-9-10, Shibuya-ku
  • Time of story: afternoon
  • Latitude: 35.660679
  • Longitude: 139.707019
  • Map: Google Maps


019She laughed at my effort and responded in English, ‘Long time, no seduction.’ — Qi Rari

018In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.— Momus (aka Nick Currie)

017I was fifteen years old and it was one of those nights.— Yuko Enomoto

016That ear of corn just wanted to go home— Guttersnipe Das

015With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind— Digits Wolfowitz

014Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.— Olly Denton

013I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.— Daphné Haour

012A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.— Adam Greenfield

011Jumbled Escheresque insanity where geo­graphy in any traditional sense ceases to exist.— Joseph Badtke-Berkow

010I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...— Uleshka

009Shibuya was like a stroke.— Alice.d

008I cried for a while and wiped the dead bracken off my karate pants.— David Cady

007Both my tie and my disposition hang limp as I calculate the remaining distance to the station.— Chris Tobber

006I once read about a Chinese maiden whose feet were unbound by a cruel man …— Claire Tanaka

005The Bad Girl strutted off and I was left with a ham egg pie.— Guttersnipe Das

004I arrived expecting an irritated Japanese person to step out of the crowd and identify himself as Hideki.— Ashley Rawlings

003The woman at the ticket window seemed surprised to see another human being. I was the only visitor.— Andrew Douglas

002Flanked on either side by adult manga shops and the like, the smell of yakitori in the air.— Jean Snow

001For two weeks the day began with this morning walk, our shared routine.— Joseph Squier


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