Vending machines seem to be in breeding overdrive in Japan. I heard one source say there were over six million and still going strong.
I think they would only work in a society that is on the whole very law abiding, like Japan.
As a visitor it is the vast range of products that is available that amazes. Whilst soft drinks seems to account for about half of the the range, the selection of wierd concoctions available is suprising. It makes dandelion and Burdock look somewhat tame.
We saw machines for coffee in a tin (not as bad as it sounds), beer, food, Johnnies,manga and porn.
The illusive one was the machine that sells used schoolgirl panties - do they really exist or is it an urban myth?
The Japanese have always had a reputation for being polite and our short experience of Tokyo confirmed this.
On our first night we ended up at the wrong hotel, in the dark and pouring rain. The bell man at the hotel got a taxi to take us to the hotel we were booked at and even helped us load our suitcases into the taxi!
On our first day we were standing in the train station and were trying to make our way to Harajuku but unfortunately neither of us speak or read Japanese so even though we had Harajuku on our English/Japanese map we struggle to work out which stop we needed and how much the fare was going to be. A lovely Japanese man approached us even though he could not speak a word of English, somehow with alot of pointing to various maps etc we got to Harajuku and suddenly the Japanese system seemed to be a whole lot clearer!
When we got to Harajuku we had some lunch at Wendys (don't judge us! we were experiencing a culture shock and we don't even have Wendys in the UK). Anyway, we were trying to work out how to get to the Oriental Bazaar shop and a really nice girl who was also dining in there came up to us and asked if we needed any help, told us how to get to the shop and then asked if we needed any more help!
We also met a friendly random man in Akihabara who asked if he could take our photograph and got us to guess his age... i think he just wanted to practice his English on us!
The only disappointing thing about the Japanese was that none of them did the Hiro Nakamura (from Heroes) Yatta!!! ;-)
We found the Japanese to be very polite and welcoming people. We constantly needed help with directions and no one turned us away or ignored us.
I was taking a picture of the front of the restaurant and noticed that the guy behind the counter stopped cooking and posed for the camera. It always makes me laugh!
Fashion in Tokyo can be strange. I found girls with kimonos, girls with school uniforms (and they didn't go to school), boys and girls dressed with cartoonish stuff and so on. I put on my multicolor socks; that was an opportunity to dress extravagant!
Golden Week may be the best, and worst time to see Tokyo. It comprises four holidays, and is one of the busiest times of the year for tourism. Most Japanese tend to get up and get outta town during this week. As a result, views from the Tokyo tower are better, and traffic is less congeted.
There is a downside though. Many of the local attractions and businesses are also closed. So whatever else is left to see, isn't going to be much. If it is open, and it is outside of town, you can even forget seeing it. Trying to get to Mt Fuji is going to be impossible.
If you have to travel to Japan, it is best NOT to travel during golden week. But if you are there already, try to enjoy what you can. In 2005, Golden week falls on April 29th, to May 5th. But this tends to spill over onto the weekends too.
Behave calmly and respectfully. You are not supposed to visit a shrine if you are sick, have an open wound or are mourning because these are considered causes of impurity.
At the purification fountain near the shrine's entrance, take a provided ladle, fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Then transfer some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spit the water beside the fountain. You are not supposed to transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth nor to swallow the water. You will notice that quite a few visitors skip the mouth rinsing part or the purification ritual altogether.
At the offering hall, throw a coin into the offering box, bow deeply twice, clap your hands twice, bow deeply once more and pray for a few seconds. If there is some type of gong, use it before praying in order to get the kami's attention.
Omikuji are fortune telling paper slips found at many shrines and temples. Randomly drawn, they contain predictions ranging from daikichi ("great good luck") to daikyo ("great bad luck"). By tying the piece of paper around a tree's branch or rope, good fortune will come true or bad fortune can be averted.
From my research and also what I observed, the Japanese love to dress up. The men and women are very well-groomed and can be seen in business suits everywhere, even when riding their bicycles!
However, another interesting thing about the Japanese, is that they love to dress up in costumes! For example, I noticed people of all ages participating in the Asakusa Samba parade & festival (Aug each year). Here's a picture I took at the Asakusa temple groups immediately after the parade. Notice, both the young and the young-at-heart getting into the spirit of things!
Where to buy: At an ordinary supermarket near this temple, there were groceries, kitchenwear, alcohol, ubiquitious household sundries, electrical items and last but not least, party favours and costumes of all kinds for adults and children. With costumes, life is so much more fun!
(ahem, ahem, apparently some people find it sexy too...)
More on the cell phone,
Refrain from talking on the phone in the train and subway, it is impolite to talk on the phone loudly in Japan, besides, it will effect the pass maker to the patient of heart illness.
New trendy for almost all young people, no one talking on the phone but almost everyone using cell phone sending massage to their friends as showing in the photo. This we call them `fingers fellows'.
It seems easy.. just walk up to a girl and talk and you might get a date with her... !! That's how Japanese guys date girls...
It is really amazing to see how guys try to date girls on street... especially at night in Kabukicho, those guys would gang up and approach girls and ask them to go out and have a drink.. or have a date with them~ and its like some very normal practice that the girls would talk to them and actually go out with them or exchange phone numbers~~!
If you want to keep those guys away from you, just reply in English and they will vanish away~~~~~
A democracy is a form of government in which the people, either directly or indirectly, take part in governing. However, the term is also sometimes used as a measurement of how much influence a people has over their government, as in how much democracy exists. The word democracy originates from the Greek "demos" meaning "the people" and "kratein" meaning "to rule" or "the people to rule" which meant literally: "Rule by the People."
A modern democracy implies certain rights for citizens:
* right to elect government through free and fair elections
* freedom of speech
* the rule of law
* human rights
* freedom of assembly
* freedom from discrimination
Verbatim form the web. But at least, i say it!!!. (-;
Around the city you will still find many refrences to Astroboy, even Tokyo now being advertised for vacations with him now!
You can also find him in Yokohama at the aquarium, at least when I was there last year their was a group singing the theme song and selling shirts and other things, never got that close to see what it really was all about.
Also Harajuku had the jingle, loved to hear that everytime. ;)
If you're interested to know what life is like in Tokyo for foreigners, there's a funny novel called Tokyo Stories which was featured in The Japan Times on March 6 and in the Tokyo Weekender on March 5. These publications have websites so you can check them out.
Information on Tokyo Stories is also available at www.tokyostories.net
Pick up a copy of the map in both English and Japanese, when ask for direction, Often you get better result by just point to the Japanese characters and speak English slowly. With the combination of sign language, as least you get the general direction of where you are going.
Some observations of the local Japanese: Business casual hasn't caught on here, most salarymen dress in conservative blue or gray suits. Women seem to have
excessive downtime, the vast majority of shoppers in Ginza and Shinjuku are women and the stores reflect and cater to them...how many shoe stores does a city need? Cellphone penetration is extremely high, not
unusual to have >2 mobiles.
Catnaps on the train are common, heated cushioned seats and smooth rides make
it all the more accomodating.
Shoppers, especiallywomen love Louis
Vuitton products--from handbags, umbrellas, hats, etc.
I'll say over 90% of Tokyo women have some hair coloring done, while the number for men is alarmingly high as well. Was told that since hair coloring is seen as a rite of passage as it is prohibited when attending school. It is more uncommon to see a Japanese adult with his/her natural hair color.