Sunday, 15 December 2013

From Our Own Correspondent

A few of my most recent observations from the most distant outpost of the SkipNorth community.

First up, the japanese like to nap in places that might seem odd to your average england-dweller.
Sleeping Girls on Metro
Pooch tells me there is a Tumblr dedicated to people asleep on the Tokyo Metro and I can believe it. You can also see people napping on the benches in the stations, in cafes and on the waiting benches in department stores. I can only guess it is down to long working hours. Or it could possibly be altitude sickness, caused by no one ever finding themselves on the ground floor.
Elevator Buttons
In all of Japanese society, there is no such thing as the ground floor or floor zero. The ground floor is the first floor. God knows they don't need to pretend their buildings are taller than they really are - Pooch's office has 12 floors - but there you go. Our new flat is on the third floor, except it's really the second. I try not to worry about it though. 

Next observation concerns language. I believe I have previously mentioned that anything French is considered extremely chic and cool. As well as smattering french throughout their shop names, there is extensive use of english. 
Book - She Knows Muffin
Although not always in a strictly correct way. 
lame pen case
I don't get this. The japanese have three alphabets, none of which is the english one, and so it makes no sense to use a fourth in their lives. In england you don't get adverts punctuated with bits of arabic in order to seem trendy, but there you are. I am not complaining as it is often the only way I know whether I've chosen a hot chocolate or a deep fried trotter. 

My penultimate observation concerns gambling - from the mild to the severe. On the mild side, you get whole floors full of these machines:
Arcades in Tokyo
We used to have them in the Herne Bay arcades when I was growing up and we weren't supposed to "waste our money" on them because they'd pick something up and then as the claw got to the top it would open slightly and drop it again. Goddamnit. However, here there are legions of them. Perhaps not strictly gambling but then you have the Pachinko Parlours which are brightly lit cacophanies with line after line of garish machines with little silver balls falling through them. I have yet to go into a proper one because I am frankly scared I'll never come out - they are portrayed by Pooch as addictive as crystal meth - and he's watched the whole of Breaking Bad. Here is some other brave soul's picture:
Playing Pachinko
It seems weird to me that such a controlled society would take such risks but then I suppose these are safe risks, except for the whole losing all your money thing. The area where the japanese least like to take risks, which happens to be my final observation for this post as well as the thing i find MOST annoying about Tokyo, is crossing the road. 
Japan Road Crossing
You see how the road between these masses of people is completely clear? Empty? Contains no cars? Yet you notice how the people all wait, patiently, for the red man to change to green? GAHHHHHHHH! It drives me mad. I have started using the waiting time to calculate how much more profitable the japanese economy would be if this time were put to other uses rather than standing idly either side of an EMPTY road waiting for the lights to change. 

Why don't I cross? What? Not conform? Stand out from the crowd? Why, you clearly have very little understanding of how we, here in japan, roll. 


Carla said...

That muffin book is so funny. Great post. I am enjoying your Japan experience. Thank you for sharing.

Frances Meredith said...

Loving your reports from Japan!

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