Saturday, September 24, 2011

I needed a shot of those stripey socks

Every so often there's a flea market in a large parking lot down the road from the Meiji Jingu baseball stadium in Kasumigaokamachi, in Shinjuku-ku. You can reserve a spot on the pavement for a couple thousand yen, so a friend of mine booked three spots, and a few of us spent the day selling old clothes, toys, books, random household items and electronics all donated by ourselves and some other friends. We were lucky to be across the aisle from a coffee truck and a few food vendors, and managed to unload heaps of stuff, while practicing the art of bargaining, which I am not good at and which is not usually done here in Japan (it's probably considered poor manners to argue over price). I tend to give in too quickly -- whatever it takes to get rid of that Toy Story puzzle or that large plush mallard duck, I say. But this over eagerness did not always serve me well - when one couple asked how much for the ginormous stuffed lion I practically screeched "200 yen!" and thrust it forward, prompting them to back away, slowly. (My friends at the other stall sold it later for 500 yen - they clearly have the gift.)

So why do we do this? All our proceeds (I think we earned in the neighborhood of 50,000 yen, all told, which ain't too shabby) will go to charity, though we haven't decided on a recipient yet. Last time we did it we gave money to a friend of a friend who was making regular runs up to Tohoku, buying and distributing fresh fruit and veg to those barely scraping by among the wreckage of the March 11 tsunami. Maybe this time it will go to an established NGO like Peace Boat. In any case it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, and by the end of it we were giving lots of things away for free. These lucky customers (below) looked thrilled to score this plastic Pokemon toy, so in return I asked them to pose for a photo. I think we all know who got the better end of that deal.

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