We went to a sushi bar where the plates where RFID-chipped, so that the waitress can just swipe them with a reader to figure out how much we needed to pay. Leave it to the Japanese to incorporate the latest technology into every-day life.
Thu, 04 Mar 2010
is such a thing:
you possess it.
Kai has a picture book explaining the sounds that things make in Japanese.
- A car goes boo-boo-boo-boo.
- The dog barks wan-wan-wan-wan.
- Water from a tap runs jaa-jaa-jaa.
- Papers rips like bili-bili-bili-bili-bili-bili.
- The vacuum cleaner goes buiin-buiin-buiin.
- A rooster cries kokekokkoooo.
- A railroad crossing (weird choice when one is limited to eleven pages) goes kan-kan-kan-kan.
- Babies from time to time go aan-aaan-aaaan-aaaaan.
- Airplanes make boon-boon-boon-boon.
- The cat meows nyan-nyan-nyan-nyan.
- A trumpet sounds puppuuu-puppuuu-puppuuu.
About a dozen guys (no girls) with serious camera equipment have gathered downstairs at the railway tracks. They have been at it for quite a while, and I do not think that JR has arranged anything special for them today. It is starting to rain now, but they show no signs of moving, just spanning umbrellas over themselves and their tripods.
I am pretty much against big government spending to bail out collapsing businesses or to compensate for declining consumption by the private sector. But that does not mean that I won't take money thrown my way, of course. And that just happened.
The Japanese parliament has decided to hand out 12.000 yen in cash to every resident, including foreigners. Children under 18 (that includes Kai) and people aged over 65 even get 20.000 yen.
For the first time after what must have apparently been many months, I dropped
by Shibuya after work today, intending to pay a visit to the imported comic book store near
Tokyu Hands (I need some Watchmen and some more Sandman). Unfortunately,
the store was no longer there. Next stop: the fancy superhero collectibles
boutique near the Apple Store, only to find out that it has been replaced
by a fancy regular boutique. After that, default to the landmark Bunkamura-dori
Book First, one of Tokyo's largest bookstores. Guess what, the whole building
has been torn down, and big posters there are announcing that H&M will soon
Shibuya truly fashionable.
So on the way back to the station, I paid more attention to my surroundings and found that about half of the shops are not what I remember them. There is a huge eight-floor electronics store halfway between the remnants of Book First and the 109, and I had not even heard of that chain before (LABI).
Feeling old now...
I have mentioned the bizarre musical choices that grocery stores make in Japan before. The supermarket downstairs greeted me with the German national anthem today. Now that I think of it, I should have bought some Gerolsteiner and sausages.
Bananas have always been the most affordable fruit in Japan and become a cornerstone of my diet. Unfortunately, the so-called Morning Banana Diet (eat only bananas and drink water at room temperature for breakfast) has recently become extremely popular, and banana sales have spiked 70% compared to last year. Retail prices have soared as well, and quiet often bananas even sell out during the day.
Last year the same thing happened with natto, and after scientists debunked the magic weight loss properties everything went back to normal.
Tokyo has not only one, but two Disney theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, and even though they attract a combined 26 millions of visitors a year and are just 11 km away from our apartment (they sit right next to each other, complemented by a couple of Disney resort hotels, shopping malls, cinemas, and venues for musical performances), I have not been there yet. Well, this week Jutta wanted to go, and so I accompanied her to DisneySea (because it has faster and scarier rides). She even made me ride a few of these so-called attractions that I would otherwise have stayed away from. The biggest concern I always have with theme parks are the potentially very long lines. But this was not an issue today: Because the park was not very crowded, probably because there was supposed to be rain, which did not happen, it was sunny all day long, most lines were just ten minutes or less long. You could get into even the top attraction in less than half an hour, or much less if you got a Fast Ticket in advance (assigns you a time slot in which you have to show up).
For years now, the Tokyo trains and subway stations have been advertising that the police are now on high alert, that increased security is being implemented and that any suspicious persons, objects or activities are to be reported immediately. Thanks to the upcoming G8 summit in Japan, they are currently putting some extra effort into it, such as shutting down all coin lockers in subway stations.
Earthquakes are quite frequent in Japan, but now we had three tremor days in a row, which is a little unnerving.
And did I mention that Earth's rotational speed has increased recently, for unknown reasons nonetheless?
Circle K sunkus wishes to offer you a unique and cozy store to put a smile on everyone's face. That wish has born a new concept Cherie Dolce. Its comfortable and warm atmosphere will smooth you and ease your mind anytime. We wish to begin a new style of c-store with this new concept Cherie Dolce. It would be a little bit comfortable c-store for you.
Just like the New Tokyo International Airport, and Tokyo Disney Land (and Sea), the Country Farm Tokyo German Village is not really in Tokyo, but in the neighbouring prefecture of Chiba, where things are less crammed and there is more space for roomy ventures like, well, an international airport or a theme park. The German Village is mostly a big park (in the traditional sense, with meadows and flowers, and ponds) which is intended to bring a healthy breath of country-side lifestyle to stressed big city families. It is only mildly interested in trying to recreate Germany (or Bavaria): You do get beer tent background music, imported sausages, beer, Maus and Diddl goods, and Haribo, but there are also completely generic attractions like golf courses, a petting zoo, a pizza restaurant, a video game arcade, a Ferris wheel, and decidedly un-German foodstuff, such as dried jellyfish and other local (as in Chiba) snacks.
Japan has a new mobile phone service provider: Disney Mobile launched at the beginning of this month. They are a virtual network operator using Softbank's infrastructure (and also collaborate with Softbank in other ways, such as marketing, there are posters all over the place now). There used to be a Disney Mobile in America, but they failed and folded last year. In Japan they target women in their twenties and thirties rather than families with children in the US. This could actually work, Disney's various franchises are very popular in that demographic and they can also draw on an existing base of three million subscribers to their mobile content offerings (ring tones and such).
There have also been rumors that if the iPhone gets introduced in Japan, it would be on Disney Mobile. Unless this is going to be a non-exclusive deal, I do not think that this is a good match, seeing how Disney only targets a very specific market, and how both of these strong brands would probably not like to share the limelight with the other one. On the other, Steve Jobs is the biggest individual shareholder in Disney...
In any case, au sent me (completely unsolicited and for free) another three months' worth of pre-paid calling cards, so I am good until November now.
We have just returned from a three-day sightseeing bus tour through Japan's western-most island of Kyushu.
- The flight to Fukuoka in completely clear skies offered the most spectacular view yet of Mount Fuji.
- Much to Cissy's dismay, all public toilets were Japanese squatting-style.
- Scores of Korean tourists.
- A hotel that spanned two prefectures: The lobby was in Oita, our room in Kumamoto.
- Onsen, onsen, onsen.
- The governor of Miyazaki used to be a popular comedian and many local products bear his likeness. The one-man publicity campaign has boosted sales and helped the poultry industry weather the impacts of multiple bird flu outbreaks.
- Many outgoing and connecting flights were cancelled (not ours, fortunately) because of adverse weather (wind and snow) throughout the country.
Welcome to the small house of the cats!!
NEKOBUKURO is the strange space which twenty cats live in freely !
It is the wonderful space where we see cats and it touches it and it plays together.
The eighth floor of the Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands department store houses a room with two dozen cats in it. Not in cages (only when they are off-duty), but out in the open. Admission is 600 yen per person. Excellent idea for a city where not everyone who wants to have a cat can keep one at home.
It is a drink of the jelly type with which a necessary nutrient is anywhere easily ingestible when there are neither a busy morning nor an appetite.
The taste is atrocious, too.
A product of the otaku cosplay scene, maid cafes are restaurants where the staff dress as (manga fantasy versions of) French maids and treat the customers as masters returning to their private homes. Akihabara is home to over sixty maid cafés, as well as a few butler cafes. Welcome back home, Master.
I have to say I was disappointed. Since the point is to feel like the master of a wealthy estate, I pictured heavy carpets, comfortable slippers, a dark red velvet smoking jacket, and arm chairs. That may have been completely overblown expectations (hell, I even shaved and dressed up a bit for the occasion), but considering the amount of detail that goes into other theme restaurants such as the Alcatraz in Shibuya (fashioned after a mental hospital/prison ward, guests get to sit in cells, and the staff are dressed as nurses and doctors), or even Hard Rock Cafe or TGI Friday's the very bare-bones cafeteria that it turned out to be was quite a let-down. Even the New Year decoration on the wall kept falling down.
(Lack of) interior design aside, Wikipedia
although exemplary customer service is typical of Japan, maid cafés
take special care to pamper patrons. No one was prepared to take our coats, though.
Speaking of patrons, they were a mixed lot, we were not the only foreigners (there was even a non-Japanese, but still non-French, maid), and Cissy was not the only female, either. The menu was okay for a cafe in Akihabara I guess (we had cake), but most certainly not the base upon which their business was built. Picture-taking was strictly forbidden, except for having the maids take polaroids, on which they would then also scribble something cute. That would have been an extra 500 yen, as would have been a game of cards or rock-paper-scissors.
We received membership cards (Licenses of Majesty, Level One: My Master -- a few dozen more visits would promote us to Glorious Masters), but if there is a next time, we definitely have to find a more upscale establishment.
We started the year (well, the first afternoon of the year) at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of those who died fighting for the Emperor, and among the 2,466,532 enshrined are 1,068 convicted World War II criminals. It has become a mecca for the political right, and each visit by a high-ranking government official sparks outrage in China and both Koreas. Nonetheless, recent prime minister Koizumi used to go every year.
The shrine also houses a museum of the history of Japan, whose representation of war-time events is also widely criticised as being revisionist. But you do get to see a kamikaze airplane and even manned torpedoes.
By breaking down old customs and producing consistently original items, we are pursuing a new level in chocolate enjoyment.
Our artisans make the finest in premium chocolate.