Friday, December 16, 2011

Observations About Tokyo and Why I Like Tokyo + Japan

A Few Observations About My Tokyo From My Trip
  1. Most people are very polite and try to help you in Tokyo if you ask for it.  It is every man for themselves on a crowded train though.
  2. Coughing not always covered up.  Lots of people wearing the face masks, but lots don’t.
  3. Not everyone is a super cool dresser like the stupid guide books always say.  Dressing nicer always works to your advantage though.
  4. No soap in train station bathrooms, or hand dryers.
  5. Not all types of snacks and snack foods are in all the convenience stores, you’ll have to check each chain and store to find some items.  Hunting is required to find some limited edition Kit Kats, Goota Noodles, Gundam Cup Noodles (when these are available), etc.  Remember many snacks are seasonal or one time promotions that may have passed.
  6. I helped people by returning runaway hats, dropped scarfs and documents a few times and they were thankful.
  7. On the trains people played with Cell phones, PSPs, read manga, and read books in this order from most common to least common.
  8. Before the stores open, lots of stores have security / storm shutters down and it makes the neighborhoods look deserted / abandoned prior to 10 or 11 AM.
  9. Lots of narrow streets and navigating is hard.  Use Google Maps to orient yourself and pinpoint locations before you arrive in Japan.  Small shops with just a street address you cannot pinpoint on a map can be very hard to find.
  10. Akihabara is a very busy district – not half empty or for otaku only.  It is a hive of activity.
  11. Lots of character mascots for everything.
  12. Train stations and train lines have particular songs / chimes for their announcements.
Why I like Tokyo + Japan
  1. I watched Godzilla movies when I was a kid.
  2. I was hooked into watching anime by and Japanese Pop Culture by Full Metal Panic!, Cowboy Bebop, and Love Hina. Gundam Seed, the Gundam reboot, was pretty darn good too and helped to seal the deal.
  3. The Japanese have always had predisposition to mega projects and I like this a lot.
  4. They have F-15 fighters and Aegis Destroyers (see Zipang for a cool anime).
  5. They invented the Giant Robot and Astroboy.
  6. They built the NEC Earth Simulator and K Supercomputers.
  7. They do really big urban megastructures that I really like the Tokyo City Hall, Shiodome, and Roppongi Hills megaplexes. Tokyo Skytree looks fun too. Lots of cool architecture to photograph and wander around in.
  8. They do other really big megaprojects like the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (G-Cans), and Tokyo Geo-site projects.
  9. Akihabara and anime pop culture.  Too many catchy jpop songs from anime.  The model figures are pretty darn cute and so detailed.
  10. Japanese video games like Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and all of the stuff you played in the arcades in the 80's and 90's or earlier (look out - it is the Space Invaders!).
  11. Lots of cool tech comes out of Japan.  However, that doesn't mean they have a lock on high-tech.  See the iPhone as an example of a Japanese cellphone killer.  Japanese telecoms are now introducing their own smartphones, even though Japanese cells were a decade ahead of everyone a decade ago.  If you look for anime character goods, you'll find tons of cases for iPhones.
  12. Japanese vending machines.
  13. Japanese convenience stores or konbini (outstanding selections of snacks and other convenience products - even though you can't get an aspirin).
  14. Japanese gashapon.  Gotta like these capsule toy machines with decent capsule toys.
  15. Japanese are pretty good at robots, even though it was an American robot from iRobot (they make the Roomba) that got into the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. But they know how to take down the alien war machines in the War of the World remake with Tom Cruise.
  16. I like Japanese cars.
  17. RAMEN... so good...
  18. Lots of other tasty Japanese food.  Okay, I'll mention sushi - the international smash hit. And Japanese style curry and gyudon (Japanese beef bowl).
  19. Brainwashing from a lifelong exposure to asian and Japanese pop culture.
  20. There's other good reasons, but lots of cool things just happen there, so pick a reason.

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