Friday, March 21, 2008

Shopping List

I sent an email to most of my friend in New Zealand with a list of items I could buy and bring back for them when I come next week. The most popular of these was a hello kitty personal massager, so in case anyone had any doubts what I meant heres a picture of what happens when sexual liberation and the Japanese fondness for cute intersect.

(And yes, if you are interested in one let me know by Monday, same goes for ipods)


I was slightly surprised a few months back to see Nazi arm bands for sale in a store in Harajuku, and couldn't help but laugh at the idea of Japanese dressing up in costume wearing them. I passed it off as Japanese people not really knowing the significance, which when you consider how much history of world war 2 they learn in school is entirely plausible.

Recently I was slightly more surprised by the swastika shaped spa pool I saw being advertised in Shinjuku. Yes I know its actually a sensible shape for certain things, but it is one of those things you probably wouldn't see in the rest of the world.

A little bit of history...

One of the things I most enjoyed while traveling around Europe was spending an hour or two going through antique shops in each new city I visited. They were like museums filled with exhibits that if you really wanted to, you could purchase.

Japan of course has antique shops, but for some reason I don't find myself as attracted to them. There is a difference between browsing through 2ooyear old furniture and books, and 30 year old godzilla figures and comic books. I shouldn't compare, its just you don't see "antique" used to describe something made of plastic.

Halloween Special

Can't find a pair of shoes to go with your Jack O' Lantern Halloween Costume? If you live in Japan wouldn't be an issue thanks to the inspired design of these limited edition special Halloween Vans sneakers, available in not 1, but 2 Halloween styles!

Oh and by the way, I took the photo in February so perhaps they weren't enough of a limited edition.

Im lost

Now if you are a person who has trouble with reading maps you might want to take a guide while looking for a toilet at this Tokyo subway station. They kindly provide a map, but its the sort of map that I think Escher might be proud of having drawn. Its still comprehensible, but considering this is a map of only a quarter of the station, I think the full version might be slightly scary.

Perfect for Chocolate Cake

Ok, I have to admit this is neither strange, nor unbelievable, but is simply a good example of Japanese style. Spade shaped spoons. Cute and slightly unpractical, but still very cool.

Umm, well ok

There are times when I just don't know if its a mistake or if they actually know what the English they are using means. This poster advertising a concert locally is a good example of that sort of English.

But I don't want to carry it all day.

The following picture shows the rules for use of coin operated storage lockers at Shinjuku Station. Click for a larger view. All pretty standard until you get to 2.7...

Of so its prohibited to store this corpse I have been lugging round the city with me all day while I go and do some shopping? What am I supposed to do with it then? If I leave it here, someone might steal it and then I'd have to go report it to the police...

Eggs in a hurry

If I had to describe Tokyo in one word it would be "Convenient". The ubiquitous 24hour convenience stores, wonderful public transport, shops selling every service you could imagine, and vending machines selling six packs of eggs. The last being something I discovered while riding in one of the less densely populated parts of town.

Admittedly I don't often wake up at 3am in the morning and think "I need eggs", but if I do I now know where to go. Its not using the services that matter, just knowing they are there if I need them. But to be honest, I think the watermelon vending machine I found in Nara is still my favorite.

I guess you could say I am fluent

In the run up to my entrance exams at Tokyo University I had to deal with all manor of paperwork at a time when I would have much preferred to actually have been studying. I eventually finished all the application documents and took them over to the administration office only to be told that I needed to include my TOEFL score.

Now for those who dont know, TOEFL stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language, and due to the F component I naturally assumed that it wouldn't apply to me. I pointed this out to the people at the office, who agreed that my taking it would be completely pointless, but continued to insist that I take it. Bureaucracy.

Ok, so I looked into taking the test (and how to pay the $170 it cost) and found out that I had missed the application deadline to have my test results back before my entrance exams, so went back to tell the office that I couldn't get the results in time. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but their response was that because I am a native speaker my results don't really matter that much... relief, I just saved $170 I thought... but it just matters that I can show I took the test. What? They want me to take the test even though they won't get the results in time?? Apparently.

So I take the test, it wasn't actually all that easy and felt horribly artificial. Moreover it is a completely inappropriate test of English language ability for average Japanese people which is what it is used for. I sadly didn't get a full score, but considering my speling it is lucky that I only lost one make in the essay section. So I am now able to Prove that I speak mostly correct English.
This page has been responsible for distracting Free Counters people since 18/11/2007.