I’ll confess: I have a weakness. Some folks lose their head over Italian handbags or beautiful shoes. But for me, it’s a well-turned pen. One that writes cleanly, smoothly across the cream colored expanse of a new sheet of Crane’s Regent Blue Triple Hairline. Disposable fountain pens? Sure – I’ll try anything once, even though I’m a confirmed Parker 51 girl. How about a .001 midnight blue roller ball? No hesitation. Each and every office supply store in Tokyo has something to offer me.
Every time I visit Tokyo, I feel like Dorothy hitting the Emerald City — Japan is a country that celebrates its postal culture, and that translates into Technicolor for a girl like me. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be another homage to that “T” shaped logo, another item sporting a smiling postal logo or a contest to mail the most packages. Incredible.
That’s why a trip to the Tokyo Communications Museum (“Tei Park”) is always so much fun. Located in Tokyo’s Otemachi neighborhood, Tei Park is a hands-on, interactive museum focusing on different aspects of daily communication: television, telephones, and (of course!) the postal system. What’s not to love?
My favorite part? The fact that they always have some sort of decorated envelope or mail art show happening (no joke). And then there’s the fact that you can dress up in postal worker uniforms and snap your photo via webcam, print it out, and mail it at the counter! (seriously.) You can “ride” postal motorcycles while racing through the streets of Tokyo (a simulation) and look through the awe-inspiring library of postage stamps. Guess what? You haven’t even hit the gift shop downstairs!
I always find myself at Tei Park on a weekday; it’s one of the benefits of being on vacation, and the museum is always empty. (This makes it easier to snap illicit photos…) I have no doubt that Tei Park is full on the weekends with school kids and stamp collectors; however, I’m always thankful to have the place to myself when I visit.
(a word to the wise: when you visit the museum, you’ll purchase your entry ticket at a vending machine outside and hand it to the lovely staff at the front desk, as you enter the building.)
Back to the trip: alas, my time in Tokyo was coming to an end; just a day or two left. I found myself at a Daiso in Harajuku, and guess what?! More postal love to be had…
For me, the end of any vacation trip is always filled with two conflicting feelings: an infinite sadness that I’ll be leaving the place where so many new adventures have taken place and the I can hardly wait feeling of sleeping in my own bed.
Tokyo never lets me down, ever; there’s always something to be discovered, a new place to fall in love with, a way to remind myself that this is a city unlike any other place on earth. It is a vast metropolis that inspires, frustrates, delights, and humbles. True: it’s not for everyone. But with your eyes and heart wide open to endless possibilities, Tokyo is the one city on earth that can show you what the future has in store.
PS: for those who’d like to know more about the history of the Japan Post logo, The Japan Times published a story in yesterday’s paper — read and enjoy!