Serene and surreal visit to Yumenoshima
On Friday we decided to take a trip to Yumenoshima to look at the marina and the tropical greenhouse dome. Yumenoshima is a man-made island situated in the eastern part of Tokyo harbor, easily accessed by train (get off at Shin-Kiba station on Rinkai-line or Tozai-line) and it also has a large park where you can stroll around in peace and quiet, being quite close to the sea and that was something we thought would be a nice thing to do on a day off.
Wehn we got off the train at Shin-Kiba station, the first thing we noticed though was that there was a LOT of people there. OK, a lot of people visiting a nice big park in the center of Tokyo on a National Holiday is nothing strange, so we thought nothing more of it. However, we turned around the corner outside the station and suddenly we were face to face with about 30-40 cops dressed in protective gear equipped with shields and everything – fully prepared to combat a mob of angry somethings. A lot of “regular” cops were around as well as police dressed in civil clothes. Police cars and vans everywhere around us and above all, tons of people, all pretty much walking in the same direction as us, towards Yumenoshima Park. Man, there goes our peaceful afternoon strolling around in the park. We still did not know why there were so many police in the era. We saw some sigsns of a “matsuri” (festival) and that answered the question of why there were so many visitors, but not why the police had brought everyone and his brother to join the action.
When we closed in on the entrance to the park, we were met by people handing out leaflets to passers-by, we didn’t read all of them, but some were Anti-North Korean. “Hmmm….” why would people hand out leaflets urging people to take action against North Korea outside a festival??
And then we finally reached the entrance and saw that the Japanese Communist Party had occupied the whole of Yumenoshima Park for their “Aka Hata Festival” (Red Flag Festival). Wow….I mean, wow. There were thousands of people there, and they were listening to speeches, engaging in discussion groups, taking up donations (FOR North Korea, perhaps?) etc. The funny thing is, I did not realize it was a commuinst festival at first – it hit me afterwards… There a few hints along the way I should have picked up on of course (Red Flag anyone?) but the nickel just didn’t fall all the way down in the slot…. My wife said she felt a bit uncomfortable at times walking around inside the festival grounds, but I was blissfully ignorant and just thought it was a bit sad that the place was so crowded…
Well… We did get into the tropical green house, which was pretty empty considering how many people were in the park next to it – so it felt like an oasis in the middle of a red desert.. I can highly recommend it – but do check the calender before you go, so you don’t end up right in the middle of the next radical party festival….