Perry rides the subway!

Dear bear friends:

The end of another day in Tokyo! I am one tired (but happy) little bear. We learned to use the Tokyo subway today!

Before one can ride the subway, one needs to have money. In Japan, we call it, "yen". There are yen coins and yen bills--no dollars and cents, just yen. If you have one American dollar, you can exchange it for 118 yen. A large apple, which sells for 500 yen, costs about $4, or four American dollars. Yes, FOUR dollars!

Doctor Steve has many, many yen, so we are ready to ride the subway. It will cost 160 yen to ride to our destination: Ginza, the shopping area. First, we must find the subway station near our hotel--only it doesn't seem very near to me! My poor paws are about walked off! At last, we see a sign with a large letter "S", and we go down the stairs to the subway station.

At first, it is very bewildering! All the signs are in Japanese characters, and we aren't sure which direction we need to travel. The station is crowded with people hurrying here and scurrying there. Doctor Steve consults his guidebook, and Miss Cynthia consults her map. There! Right there, the Ginza line! That's the one.

Now that we know where we want to travel, we need tickets. Big ticket machines line one wall of the subway station. Even though there are no English instructions, we learn how to use the machine. How? We watch! We watch other people use them, and soon we're able to step up and put our yen coins in the right slot. 160 yen for a ticket for Miss Cynthia, 160 yen for a ticket for Doctor Steve--but teddy bears ride for free!

To go to the subway platform, where we'll meet the train, we pass through a machine. Feed your ticket into the slot! The machine lets us pass through the gate, and hands us our stamped ticket, too! What smart machines!

We climb down many stairs and corridors, and finally reach the subway platform. A big tunnel extends both ways from the platform. That's where the train travels! We don't wait long; a wind rushes from the tunnel, and then the train is here. We climb on board with everyone else, and are lucky enough to find seats.

All too quickly, our subway ride is over. We're here! Off the train, up the stairs, and back out into the sunny day: we're at the Ginza district, and we've learned to use the subway!

The Ginza district has wide streets. It is where large department stores are located, stores eight and nine and ten stories high! My bear nose twitches: food . . . and fish! Yes, there's food here!

We visit one department store, and wander around its Food Fair. Two whole floors are devoted to delicious foods. I see sushi (raw fish and rice) and Miss Cynthia buys potstickers (fried dumplings) from a man who's making them fresh, right there. Miss Cynthia is very, very fond of potstickers, and says these are the best she's ever had. There are fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, cakes and chocolates--as well as Japanese snacks that we've never seen before.

I've told you about traditional Japanese breakfast; now it's time for lunch. Japanese office workers buy lunch from food fairs or neighborhood shops: a small tray subdivided into compartments. In one compartment, there will be rice, tucked neatly into small rolls. Here is some chicken, battered, fried and sliced! Another lunch tray will feature sushi--raw fish. (I beg your pardon, but we bears--and Miss Cynthia--are quite partial to sushi). Neatly sliced fruits nestle next to the rice, and some vegetables, raw or steamed, are placed tidily in their own compartment on the tray.

Now I understand something! In Japan, if a mother doesn't do her job just right, it's called "sloppy lunch box". Looking at these beautifully presented lunch trays, I see what they mean. Poor Miss Cynthia! When she's busy writing, she's certainly guilty of "sloppy lunch box!" Never mind, I love her anyway.

The Food Fair has made us hungry! Miss Cynthia has her potstickers, but what about Doctor Steve? McDonald's to the rescue!

We find a McDonald's restaurant with windows that overlook the busiest street in the Ginza. A good place to watch the people passing by! Doctor Steve orders a "teriyaki burger" and some fries, and we all order sodas. We receive our food, and find a table with a good view.

Japanese people are very polite, but I suppose they're not accustomed to people who travel with bears. Miss Cynthia helps me into my seat, and folds a shopping bag under me so that I can see out the window. At the next table, four young women shoot shy glances my way. When Miss Cynthia begins taking my picture, they smile!

Miss Cynthia smiles, and says, "Konnichi-wa!" The girls giggle, heads together. What to do? I know! We forgot to bow! So I give the girls my very, very best Japanese bow, paws at my sides (and tummy sucked in just as flat and tight as i can manage). The girls laugh, and begin to pat me.

One of my new friends, bolder than the rest, asks for my name. She's speaking English! I'm too shy to talk, so Miss Cynthia answers for me: "Perry. Perry Kuma." I pass from lap to lap, as the girls say, excitedly, "Peri. Peri. Peri Kuma." They giggle and smile and pat my fur. I have made some friends!

So Miss Cynthia takes our picture, and one of my new friends takes a picture of me, Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve. When it is time to leave, I do my best bow, and say, "Sayonara!" My new friends understand! "Sayonara, Peri Kuma!"

Miss Cynthia IS right: teddy bears make friends wherever they go!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: