Random Japanese curiosities

Last piece on Japan for a while, I promise. This one’s just a collection of stuff that wouldn’t fit neatly into a coherent, themed post.

Electricity cables in the UK were undergrounded (yes that is a verb) a while ago, but in Japan they’re still all out in the open on top of poles. An awful lot of them.

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Most of the cars I saw in Japan were this snub-nosed, compact and boxy type. The engine mut be pretty small.

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One of the large chains of booksellers in Japan is called “Book Off”, which doesn’t make it sound particularly welcoming. But this time I found out that they also sell secondhand hardware in a sister chain called “Hard Off”, which sounds even less family-friendly.

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This place, on the other hand, has the perfect name:

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At most shinto shrines you can write a wish on a wooden card and hang it up on a rack.

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A snack store in Harajuku pre-empted my own reaction to the description of its wares.

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Many of the clothes stores in Harajuku specialise in the Goth/Lolita/Alice In Wonderland fashion sub-culture, although this place seems to cater to even more obscure splinterings. “Qutie Frash”? Or maybe that’s the name of the brand? I didn’t go inside the check.

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Cat cafés. They’re a thing outside of Japan too now, and even Brussels has one. We visited one that specialised in Bengal cats and featured a faux jungle decor to complete the vibe.

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Another café in Kobe even offered an unique real/virtual cat combination.

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Other animals are available. We also saw ads for otter cafés, although a lot of these placed feature obviously doped animals, charge extortionate entrance fees and don’t even offer much in the way of coffee.

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Idiosyncratic use of English is another Japanese cliché, but this one in particular caught my eye. No way you’d get away with a magazine title like that in an English-speaking market.

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Finally, two videos. One of the famously busy pedestrian crosssing in Shibuya. I crossed it a few times and there was always a large number of people (including myself obviously) filming or photographing as they crossed. Some of them even stop to sit on the floor to get a selfie of the crowds swirling around them.

And on one occasion there was a very un-Japanese commotion as a car attempted to drive through the crowd at speed, right past me, honking its horn repeatedly. As it passed I noticed the guy in the passenger seat reclined, covered with a coat and with his eyes closed, which led me to the assumption that he was injured and his friend the driver was taking him to a hospital. Police gave chase on foot, and I think they managed to get it to stop just after the crossing but I never saw the conclusion so I don’t know if they arrested them or let them continue on their way once they’d established what was happening.

And here’s a minute of Japanese cityscape scrolling past a train window. I don’t know about you but I could watch this kind of thing all day.

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