I wonder if you know how they live in Tokyo (hai!)
If you seen it then you mean it then you really have to go
*Ahem* Couldn’t help myself.
So originally Captain Crunch had crafted together a plan to visit Tokyo in February utilizing a rare 3-day weekend. However, various circumstances, (oddly enough the earthquake was not one of them) kept pushing the date further and further back until we eventually decided on going at the end of April during Golden Week. For those of you who don’t know, Golden Week is a string of national holidays that somehow ended up being celebrated in succession leading to (almost) a week of vacation. It’s pretty sweet.
Captain Crunch, Peaches, and I went to Tokyo by plane and after gathering our bearings, made our way to the first super-awesome sightseeing spot on our list, the BEMAC Tokyo Branch Office. Whee.
To be fair, it wasn’t that bad and it was actually nice to see how other branches in our company operate. Though it sucked because their offices were way better than the ones we have in Imabari, aside from Mirai Kojou (“We’re Cooler Than You” Factory). I’ve never gone into much detail about the office I work at, but that’s mainly because there’s really not much to say. Imagine your average office, get rid of the cubicles and kind of mussy up all the office equipment and you get a pretty good idea of what it’s like here. Well, we also get dual monitors which is pretty cool. I feel obligated to always use the second screen though.
Workplace Tip: Having some type of programming code displayed on your computer monitor makes you look super busy and smart.
But back to what I was saying. The Tokyo branch is located in a large building filled with various companies. Given that we visited during Golden Week, most of the other offices were closed. Yes, please try to ignore the fact that employees at our Tokyo branch had to work during Golden Week. Taking vacations in the Japanese work culture is more like a privilege than a right. During all the morning meetings leading up to Golden Week the bosses pretty much said “Work extra hard right now so you don’t have to work during Golden Week and can relieve all of your work-related stress.” Which struck me as a bit ironic, maybe they were worried that people wouldn’t have enough work-related stress to blow off during Golden Week? I dunno.
Crap, I got sidetracked again. So we visited the super-stylish Tokyo branch, saw their comfy chairs, sleek equipment, comfy chairs, show room, and comfy chairs. Than we sat down in their comfy chairs and proceeded to whine about work for about an hour and a half. At some point there was talk about sending a spy to infiltrate another company. But that’s kind of hush-hush. Also, comfy chairs.
After parting with our Tokyo brothers we wandered around to various shops in the area. For lunch we went to an Italian buffet that served pizza dripping with oil and various concoctions made with some combination of noodles, cheese, rice, and tomato sauce. It was pretty good. We then jumped around Roppongi, Ginza, and a few other places; eventually making our way over to Tokyo Tower when it started to get dark for a night view of Tokyo. The place was packed with couples. This was kind of awkward because almost every window was occupied by a couple getting touchy-feely. Though it did explain why they set out a bottle of sanitizing alcohol for visitors to use.
Tokyo Tower Tip: Don’t touch the windows.
Leaving the tower and heading towards the subway we passed by a line of police cars parked in front of the Russian Embassy and a Dragon Quest themed bar. I had a lot more interest in the latter. Unfortunately the place was packed and we were told that we’d have to wait for over an hour to go in. Abandoning the chance to try themed drinks and various delicacies in the shapes of slimes we retired to the area near our hotel for dinner and some drinks.
I woke up early. Much earlier than I wanted to.
Not being able to go back to sleep I strolled around the area to check out the local shops. Not finding anything interesting, or open, I retreated back to my room to read some manga.
I’m going to take this opportunity to plug Sket Dance, a comedy manga I highly recommend; it’s fairly verbose but the gags are pretty good and the characters are surprisingly deep. It’s the first comedy manga I’ve read with actual character development. The anime is airing this season as well so check it out.
After a rather languid morning, the three of us departed for Akihabara Electric Town. Peaches vowed to show me the ‘real’ Akihabara and after spending some time navigating the roads I found myself in an electric parts shop. Kinda different from what I imagined. The place was filled with compartmentalized stalls, each an independent store, carrying a variety of electrical components, antique equipment, technical manuals, and other specialized items. I kinda forgot that Captain Crunch and Peaches are electrical engineering geeks. We canvassed the place with Captain Crunch and Peaches assessing the value of the various items on display while I tried my hardest to figure out what the hell this stuff was used for.
Peaches pointed out one item in particular to me.
–Warning: the following is a rant about the porn in Japan–
Peaches: Hey, check this out. It’d be pretty useful don’t you think?
Me: Huh? What is it?
Peaches: You use it to remove the mosaic on videos.
Me: Why do you need that?…Oh!
I had forgotten one of the weird laws in Japan.
In Japan all genitals in pornographic material have to be covered with a mosaic. This law makes absolutely no sense to me. Japan has an age restriction on pornography (18 years old) but still feel the need to block it out? I mean, I think I can safely assume that everyone has seen one of the two varieties of human genitalia that exist in real life. And if they haven’t, well, they probably wouldn’t be watching porn in the first place.
However, this law gets even more mind boggling if you enter any convenience store. Laid out right next to the regular magazines are porn magazines on full display. There are actually some places where you have to pass through the porn section before you can get to the magazines marketed AT KIDS. And there’s no black covers or anything, nope. Just look a little to your right or left and bam! Boobs.
But, I’m not done yet, oh no. I mean, some of you might think, “Well even with covers kids could look if they wanted to, the important thing is that they don’t buy it.” And on that note, I have found ‘normal’ magazines that I thought were porn magazines. I had to do a double take to make sure it hadn’t migrated over from the adult section. I mean, I think there was some actual content in the magazines; but it was kind of hard to find amongst all the pictures of girls rubbing themselves in little to no clothing. Not that I looked in-depth or anything…
Blogging Tip: Don’t write too much about pornography on a blog that your parents read and has your actual name written in the title.
On another occasion I picked up a photo/gossip magazine. Or at least I think it was, I just saw SNSD on the cover and grabbed it. When I flipped to the section about SNSD coming to Japan they had the usual splash page with a group picture along with member bios. Then I flipped to the next page and saw that they had zoomed in on a picture of the girls sitting down in hopes of getting a shot of their panties.
Welcome to Japan SNSD.
Our next couple of stops in Akihabara were hobby stores with various goods on display: figurines, plastic models, dolls, life sized dolls, games, manga, etc. The sheer amount of things on sale was rather mind boggling. I picked up a few figurines and proceeded to remind Captain Crunch and Peaches that I’m an anime and manga geek. They countered by getting super excited about a model of the Hayabusa.
The final stop on our Super-Happy-Fun-Time Tokyo Tour was Ueno. There is a somewhat famous marketplace in Ueno that is filled with clothing, accessory, and food shops. I kinda forget the name of the place though…
Some of the shops were in the midst of a sort of “Panda Fever” because of the recent arrival of a panda at the Ueno Zoo. All sorts of cheesy panda related goods were on sale from stuffed animals to panda-shaped toy cars.
Before catching our bus back to Imabari (12-hour bus rides suck), we stopped by an internet cafe to rest. The place specialized in video rental and had rather comfy rooms equipped with ginormous TVs. I got kind of a weird feeling when we went to the registration desk. The store had hung down blinders so you couldn’t actually see the workers face. Also, when registering, they recorded your finger prints. Everything kind of came together when I went to the bathroom. Inside was a vending machine that sold, for lack of a better word, pleasure enhancing tools. Oddly enough the machine advertised them as “Joke Goods”.
Or maybe it’s just a brilliant marketing strategy.
Customer: What is…? You use it for that? No way I’m not going to stoop that low.
Customer: Oh it’s a joke good. Well, I guess I can buy it for a laugh then. Ha ha ha…
I was kind of uneasy about sitting down in the chairs there.
Video Room Tip: Don’t touch anything.